Saturday, June 30, 2012

Please Standby

Still no power...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Technical Difficulties

Sorry, folks. Storm blew in, power is out, and this phone keyboard is driving me nuts, so this post is short, sweet, and over for tonight. I only pray that we have power restored by early tomorrow- it promises to be another hot one. Stay cool out there!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In All Honesty

I sometimes wonder where I'm going with this.

The immediate, clear-cut answer is: it's just a blog, about my family, for my family and friends to enjoy.

But what if it's not?  Now that I've started scratching that "writing itch," it gets my mind wandering throughout the day to the edges of possibility- those crazy, abstract places that used to send me skittering away behind that nasty block I've hidden behind whenever anything academic was required of me.  I would always say to myself, I'm not a bad writer, I just hate doing it for school.  And that is all very true, but I think it's about more than just my dislike of chewing up and spitting out information that is only vaguely interesting to me, in a format that I feel simultaneously claustrophobic within the limits of and too perfectionistic to work without.  It's mostly about fear. 

Fear of my limitations, and perhaps even more of my capabilities. 

What happens if I really have something worthwhile to offer?  Should I stick with my simple Mommy blog formula, with its cutesy stories and completely amateur pictures?  Or should I come up with things to say, and say them? 

Or would I even reach anyone if I did? 

I'll admit, as much as I keep reminding myself that "it's just a little blog for friends and family" in order to keep myself focused and plugging along, I'm spending more time than I'd like to admit, face to the computer screen, tracking those stats.  I'm boasting a maximum of 39 page views for any one post, which, I'm quite certain include many of my own, despite my frequent attempts to instruct blogger not to count me.  And I'm starting to feel frustrated about it, for reasons I can't quite understand.

I know that there are ways to get myself out there.  To become a presence in the blogosphere.  And I've begun to explore it now, myself, for the first time- reading other blogs, seeing what they're about.  Which, I suppose, is what has spurred this little mini-crisis tonight.  I'm asking the inevitable questions about how I compare to them, in terms of writing style, photography, quality of content.

And what is the quality of my content?  Well, it's about my family, which is everything to me.  I suppose I shouldn't worry so much about what it is to anyone else, though I know that I will.

I do know one thing that I want in this blog above all else, though.  And that is what is honest, and what is real.  That I can promise, to myself; to my readers (however many there may be).  And I suppose that is all the focus that I need right now.

That, and some quality time spent reminiscing about those kids of mine...

Recalling the joyous moment that Tom and I spent this morning, celebrating the momentous occasion of two back-to back shifts of over two hours from little Michael through the night (he slept from 8:30-11:30 and then from 12:00-3:30; it got a little touch-and-go after that but man, was that a victory).

Making mental notes of all of the achievements that I've yet to brag on for little Abby.  Like how she knows all of the colors of the rainbow, plus pink, black, and white, and has since 18 months old.  And how she's starting to understand numbers, and can count to two.  How she's down to one nap a day, and has been since the middle of last week.  How she lined up her bath toys on the edge of the tub this evening, which I found to be so adorable that I just had to snap a picture:

Please excuse the lovely grime.

Because, in the end, no matter what I am writing about, I am writing.  And that is a pretty big deal, after all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Michael's Bath and Abby's Favorites

Survived another day, and it's ending well so far.  Abby let me get away with just one story, and went to bed with no complaints.  And even more miraculous, after a bath, a bit of nursing and a very little bit of standing and swaying, Michael went down like a dream at about 8:30 pm.  How long he'll stay that way remains to be seen, but I can't complain about the ease with which he went down.  If only the bath had that effect every time, I'd make sure to fit one in each night.  As much as he loves his bath, though, and as much as I've heard anecdotally how much it can facilitate the bedtime routine, I've never actually had it work that way for me before.

I did get some cute pictures, though.  I think these are the first that I've managed to take of him in the bath, somehow...

But on to Abigail, for I really intended this post to be about her, tonight.

She's growing and changing so fast.  I know that's true of all children, but she seems to be in a particularly unique stage at the moment, and I can literally say that almost every day there is something new to report.  Like today, when she indicated to me that she's begun to understand consequence.

To my great dismay, she loves to stand and jump on furniture, and tonight was no exception.  She understands "no," but doesn't conceptually get what it really means in the grand scheme of things.  So, telling her "no" generally produces squeals of laughter, and more maddening, exuberant chants of "sit down!" as she continues on with her deviant behavior.

The particular circumstances, tonight, though, involved me just having put on some music for her, which it occurred to me in the spur of the moment to threaten withdrawal of.  I told her that if she did not stop, I would turn the music off.  She didn't, I did.  She immediately sat down and began to cry, at which point I turned it back on, and she was well-behaved for about three minutes.  That is, until a song that she didn't particularly like came on.

She has learned to indicate her boredom or displeasure with particular selections of music and videos (we rely entirely too much on YouTube, at times, unfortunately) by saying "off," which really means, "next, please."   So, when this unpopular song began, she started chanting, "off," but I was busy with Michael and not particularly inclined to encourage her tendency towards switching gears in the middle of something new instead of seeing it through.  I get nervous that I'm helping her develop a tiny attention span.

Her response to my lack of action was to get back up on the chair and begin to jump again, this time with a twinkle in her eye and a challenge to her look.  The little stinker figured that I would definitely turn it off if she tried that, since I was very clear in telling her the reason why I turned it off earlier.  Well, as impressed as I was, I wasn't going to play that game.  I walked over and physically removed her from the chair, and that was the end of that, thankfully.

Long story short, I've been meaning to do a list of her current favorites for days, so I can get it all down before they change (and/or I just plain forget what they are), and this little incident reminded me that I don't have a lot of time to be stalling, since tomorrow may already be different than today.

So here goes-

Abby's Favorites

Songs- William Tell Overture, If You're Happy and You Know It
Food-  Strawberries
Books- Good Night Gorilla (by Peggy Rathmann), Sesame Street Musical Treasury Good Night Stories Book
Toys- Two cloth dolls, one blond and one brunette, both in pink dresses (I'll have to get some pictures of them, because I have no idea what they are called)
Color- Purple
Sayings- "Sit down!" and "No screaming!"*
Characters- Elmo (even though she has never actually seen Sesame Street), Biscuit
Video- Baby Einstein World of Rhythm
Activities- Reading with Mommy/Daddy, walks in the stroller, bath time
Clothing items- Socks**, Purple Tutu
Miscellaneous- Butterflies, stars, the moon

*When she says it, it actually sounds like "no sheemin," and for the longest time I couldn't figure it out.  Even though I'm generally the one who has to translate for Tom, I've got to give him credit for deciphering that one.
**This evening, I had to put socks on her little feet before she would allow me to pull her pajamas on, even though tonight this included a brand-new Elmo shirt.

Oh!  And big news of the day- Michael's clogged tear duct has finally cleared.  I noticed it yesterday, but was afraid it might be a fluke.  Nope.  Still looking good today.

And to celebrate the fact that I've been working on this post for an hour now and Michael is still sleeping, I'll throw in a few pictures I took of Abby and her "fort" earlier today.  They came out a bit grainy, unfortunately, but they're all I've got.

That's Michael's playmat.  Back when it used to be hers, but she had essentially grown out of it, she used to use it this way quite frequently.  She hadn't done it in a long while, so I was amused to see her at it tonight.  Maybe one of these days I'll dig up the older pictures of her and do a side-by-side comparison.

The little orange thing she's sitting in is the insert to the Summer Infant Superseat that I bought for Michael, but, like nearly everything we've tried with him, he never really tolerated well.  Now, the seat is being used (without the insert) as a booster for Abby, who has turned up her nose at her high chair, and has not sat in it for almost a month now.

I keep forgetting what a big girl she's become.  She even took a nap in her toddler bed today- without me in the room.  Where did her baby-hood go?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Time to Rest

Well, last night was a disaster of epic proportions. I don't have the strength to get into too many details, but suffice it to say, my "experiment" was no miracle-worker, and I did not end up getting much sleep at all.  It was largely my fault, I know, for allowing him the first couple of hours in my lap on the couch, because I didn't think I could handle another failure in my attempt to put him down.  After all, my first attempt got me all of five minutes, and the second, just over an hour.  I let Tom go on to sleep ahead of me, and when I finally came into the bedroom around 1:30 am, I had this crazy notion that if I let Michael stay close to me in the bed, that the night could continue to go on peacefully.  I was willing to compromise my ability to sleep deeply and peacefully for the few moments I could get in the hopes of not having to drag my tired self out of bed multiple times in the night.  That plan backfired, and after a couple of tortuous hours of intermittent fussing from Michael, and kicks and punches to the face, I gave up and had Tom take him out of the room after one last feeding (which he promptly vomited all over Tom's shirt). 

I always hate to do this prior to 6:00 am, because while Tom tries very hard to give me opportunities to make up for some amount of lost sleep, he never takes any himself.  And while he insists that he's fine, and that the caffeine that he can have and I can not is enough to get him through the day, I see it wear on him.  Like when he starts having the kinds of lapses in memory that I'm so prone to.  Just this afternoon, I went up to investigate why he had twice gotten such push-back from Abby when he tried to put her down for a nap.  He had forgotten to give her a binky, which she never sleeps without.

But despite his early morning- it's all a big blur to me now, but I think he may have gotten up as early as 3:30 or 4:00 am, Tom made it his mission to get me as much rest as possible today.

I thrashed around in bed until about 7:15 am, when I came out to feed Michael.  Then I napped in the chair downstairs until Abby woke up around 9:00.  I'm amazed to admit that I don't really remember what happened to the rest of the morning.  I think it was at that point that Tom allowed me to crawl back into the bedroom for a couple of hours. 

I did hang out with everyone at lunch time, and then sat quietly on the sofa in the living room during Abby's nap, when Tom volunteered to take Michael on an errand.  Once again, their nap times had essentially coincided, but Michael boycotted his nap about 20 minutes into being put down, and Tom hoped that he could keep him asleep in the car. 

Michael slept through the whole trip, and we now finally have a changing table for the basement, which Tom had driven out to Manassas to pick up..  Michael was in a sufficiently good mood upon waking that we had our first successful experience with the jumperoo that's recently been brought out of storage.  I wasn't timing it, but he lasted a good 10 or 15 minutes (my last three or four attempts to put him in have ended in tears after about two minutes), and I got a chance to play around with my camera and new speedlight.

Despite the tremendously low-key day I've had, I'm feeling pretty ragged, and I wonder whether tomorrow will be worse or better than today.  It's the oddest thing, but my body seems to forget how much sleep it's missing until I actually get more than usual, and then all sorts of physical ailments suddenly appear.  Like day-long headaches that increase in intensity towards evening, body aches, and stomach complaints. 

But despite all of that, I cherish this day- and my husband, for giving it to me.  Whatever tomorrow brings, I hope that I've at least reset my stress threshold a bit, and can face the day more courageously than I've been able for the past week or so.

I've learned not to hope too much, but this evening has started off  well, at least.  I tried the cereal again, which he's kept down so far (last night he vomited much of it up between his first and second waking), and he managed a two-hour shift after being put down around 8:30 pm.  Tom just joined me downstairs after putting him back to sleep from that waking with relative ease, and whatever the rest of the night may bring, I've now found the energy to finish this post (which I began at around 7:00 pm and was feeling convinced a mere 20 minutes ago that I couldn't possibly return to tonight), and I think I'll go ahead and add some pictures, too.

You've followed along with me this far, and I feel that we all deserve a happy ending (with super-cute babies) to this day.

I was struggling a bit trying to find the proper angle to get the best lighting with the speedlight.  I know that I can't depend solely on it forever, and if I really want to start to get good pictures, I need to learn how to make some manual adjustments to the camera itself.  That photography book is calling my name, if only I could get my life organized enough to start reading it and practicing in earnest.

Here are some shots with Abby joining in:

It was so funny to me, seeing him so drawn to that purple rhino.  Abby was always partial to the monkey, which you can just see peeking out behind Michael's head.

I also got a kick out of seeing Michael make this face, which Abby began to do at around his age.  It occurred to me, though, that we eventually realized Abby was doing it due to teething pain and discomfort (it started happening right before those lower teeth popped out), so I think that poor Michael is going through the same thing right now.

And if that wasn't enough cuteness for you, here's an Abby moment to picture:

Tom came upon Abby playing with his shoes this morning, and asked her what she had there.  "Shoes," she replied.

"Whose shoes?" he asked.

"My shoes," was the confident response.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Taking the Plunge

I've mentioned briefly some of the trouble that I've been having with Michael and sleeping.  I've honestly tried not to focus on it too much, because while I know that not every post can be amusing, or "full of sunshine and roses," I do want to make an effort to focus more on the positive than the negative.  After all, there is so much positive to be found.

But I would be lying if I said that the situation was no big deal, or even that I can push through it all because I know that this time in his life won't last forever.  Because I truly don't think that I can for much longer.

Today was one of those days where my ability to cope just ground to a sudden halt, and I had to depend on Tom to step in and take over where I could not.  It's times like this that I know with certainty that God is watching out for me and for my family, because if this had happened a year ago, Tom would have been in a more traditional work situation, and would not have been around to help.  But around this time last year, he switched jobs, and has been working from home ever since.

This was an incredible godsend during my pregnancy with Michael, especially towards the end, when my capabilities were drastically inhibited by terrible back pain and constant contractions.  He completely took over the physical aspects of Abby's care, as I could no longer lift or carry her.  It continues to be an incredible blessing now, for though the lion's share of the children's care is left to me between the hours of 9 and 5 on weekdays, he's still physically present in a pinch, and often available to step in for extended periods of time.

Like today- when the kids went down for naps within 15 minutes of each other, and driven by a burst of adrenaline from the excitement of this achievement, I gave myself about 20 minutes to play around on the PC, and then grabbed a huge pile of laundry that's been sitting in the dryer for days, waiting to be folded and put away.  It was like I jinxed myself.  Almost immediately, I began to hear Michael wailing over the monitor.

If he stays down for at least an hour, I will often leave it at that and bring him back out to start the Eat, Activity, Sleep cycle all over again.  But he was only down for 30 minutes, and he skimped out on his nap this morning, too.  So, suddenly feeling exhausted, I brought him into bed with me, to nurse him side-lying.  Well, he wasn't having that.  I sat up instead, and let him suckle himself to sleep.  The urge to just hold him that way was overwhelming, but his already terrible sleep habits have taken a turn for the worse lately, and I'm convinced that it's because I keep giving in and letting him sleep in my arms during the day- he's starting to hold out for the same treatment at night, and is at times nearly impossible to put back down after a waking.

So I laid him in the bassinet, and struggled to calm him for about 10 minutes.  When the massaging, back rubbing, patting, repositioning, and constant re-insertion of the binky yielded no results, I picked him back up to try again.  Within 15 minutes, I faced the same dilemma as earlier, only I was more exhausted at that point.  So, when Tom came in to check on us, I asked him to try putting Michael down.

He was no more successful than I was.  And my stress and frustration grew as I watched him try.  I sort of lost it, then. I just went limp.  I began to cry and insist to Tom that I just couldn't do it anymore.  And in that moment, I really could not.  I could not do anything other than lie in my bed, feeling utterly defeated.

But Tom had my back, and he spoke words of encouragement as he swept little Michael up in his arms, and left me to rest.  He gave me at least two hours, which I spent in fretful half-sleep, but it was something.  And it was just enough.

I came out of the bedroom feeling more tired than ever- tired to my bones, but infinitely more functional than before.  And we discussed again the thing we'd been discussing for the last few days: whether to try what I consider an extreme measure and experiment with solid food a few weeks ahead of schedule.

I finally decided to go for it.  I'm a big believer in following the six-month guidelines, but it's down to trying this, or trying some cry-it-out (CIO) method of sleep training, and I just can't do the latter.  I did try a bit of CIO with Abby, but not until she was much older than Michael is now, and I never felt very comfortable with it.  And Michael is such a different personality, too.  I never felt the sense of urgency from her in her need for me, all the time, the way I do with him.  I really feel that it would do him some amount of harm.

Given his terrible tummy issues from the start, I fear that this may do him some harm as well, but I feel as though I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, because if I can't restore some level of functionality to myself, I won't be able to dedicate the amount of energy, love, and affection to my children that they both deserve, and need most of all.

Tonight was the night, and we started with about 1.5 tablespoons of rice cereal.  I was very impressed with how well he did initially, but after the first few bites, he did prove to still have a bit of residual tongue-thrust reflex, which filled me with doubt all over again, and made for a bit of mess.  He did, however, seem to really enjoy it, and that fills me with a hope that I'm a little afraid to even let myself feel.  After all, even if he does okay with it digestion-wise, there's no guarantee that it will help him sleep longer.  I'm not even sure how much his frequent wakings have to do with hunger to begin with.

But what's done is done, and now we wait.

And, as always, we got some pictures out of it all (Tom was my photographer for all but the last one).

He seems to think that high chair trays are good for cleansing the palate.

After awhile, Abby decided that she wanted a bite.

Don't mind my utter unkemptness. Can you see how exhausted I am?
She liked it!  Here she is, asking for more.

And that she wanted to feed Daddy.

My sweet girl.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Just Say "No;" Life's a Picnic

Up until recently, Abby has been a bit of a "yes-girl."  She hardly ever said "no."  That's not to say that she never refused anything, she'd just stare you down or give you a blank look and wait until she heard an option that she liked, to which she would respond, "yeah!"

Even when she first started signing and communicating non-verbally, she never really caught on to shaking her head in disagreement.  But she began to nod her head around the same time that she learned to say, "yeah."

All of that changed (once again, overnight) on Friday.  I heard more "nos" from her little mouth that day than I've heard in her entire lifetime.  And the trend has continued.

It's really rather cute, since she's not actually any more stubborn or combative than usual (though her default setting is "challenging")- she's just learned to say "no" in the proper context.  Like when she doesn't actually want Joe's O's for breakfast.  Or when she doesn't want the water in her sippy.

Sometimes, I think she just likes to hear herself say it.  And it makes me smile.  Reminds me of my sister when she first began to talk- it was her very first word, and she was quite fond of it.  I'm making sure to cherish it now, because I know all too well that once she really starts to put that word to good use, the cuteness will fade away...


I finally got to try out the Nikon outside today, at a picnic.  Once again, though, since we were all hanging out together, Tom, my sister, and I all took turns with it.  I think we all got some pretty good shots.

She looks so much like Tom, but those crazy faces that she makes?  That's all me.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Turning 29 (for the "nth" time)

My birthday is actually tomorrow, but my family and I planned ahead of time to celebrate today, as we've made arrangements to attend a church picnic tomorrow afternoon.

I had expected a dinner and cake in the early evening, but the doorbell rang just after breakfast, and as I was rushing around trying to make sure I was adequately dressed to answer the door (Tom was busy with Michael) and wondering who it could possibly be, I heard familiar voices drifting down the basement stairs.

We haven't been married long, or even known each other long, in the grand scheme of things, but I should have known that Tom was up to something, because when it comes to my birthday, he always is.  Last year, he arranged a surprise party for me on Father's Day weekend, and I was totally blown away.  He even got my sister to fly up from Tennessee unbeknownst to me, so that she could be one of the faces waiting the crowd to surprise me, and was there celebrating with me on my special day.

This year, he knew that the thing I wanted most was to have our house start looking like a home.  We've been here almost a month, and we're still spending our days weaving between and tripping over boxes, and searching for clean clothing out of huge plastic bags.  With two little ones running around all day, and one little one up all night, I've had virtually no time or energy to get any unpacking done beyond the stuff that was done within the first 48 hours, while we had a team of friends and family around to help.

So, he had my mother, sister, and good friend Lisa come by to surprise me and provide three extra pairs of hands for childcare, unpacking, and cleaning.  And let me tell you, we got a lot done. Plus, Tom was free to go run a couple of errands and pick up a few things that we still needed to get a bit of organizing done.

It seems funny, in retrospect, that a large part of my gift involved so much good, old-fashioned work on my own part, and it was exhausting (and not exactly fun), but it felt, and still feels, really, really good.  It's been a long time since I've had the freedom to do much of anything outside of caring for my two children when I'm at home (for any significant amount of time, anyway)- I couldn't even really participate in our recent move, since someone always had to be watching and tending to the kids.  But the best part, of course, is being able to walk through the rooms of my house without having to guess at what they might look like someday, under and behind all of those stacked boxes and scattered paraphernalia.

And the kids had a great time, too, playing with "Mima," (my mother), "Mei Mei" (my sister), and "Yeesha" (Lisa)- all names courtesy of Abby- who all switched off between helping with clean-up and helping with the kids.  Tom, my sister, and I were all able to get a few shots of Michael and Abby with my newly equipped speedlight (a birthday gift from my wonderful mother and father-in-law).  It's incredible how natural the lighting looks in almost all of the pictures now.

In fact, the light is so good in this picture that you can clearly see how badly in need my cat is of brushing.

It did come out a bit grainy somehow, though.  I'm hoping I can start to figure out how to work around issues like that once I get a chance to dig into the photography book that Lisa gave me today- "Digital SLR Photography for Dummies."

But here are some pictures of the kids:

And now, Mima comes with an I-pad...

Even Tom and Michael got a chance to play.

By the way, if you've never tried the pastries in Wegmans' bakery department, you really should.  Tom went all-out and got me a huge Napoleon (that was my cake), and a sampling of some smaller enticements: a lemon tart, fruit tart, chocolate mousse cake, mango cake, and some decadent chocolate-infused slice of chocolatey chocolateness. A-MA-ZING.

 And tomorrow, I turn 29 "for real."  Again.  ;)

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Amazing Technicolor Baby

Late night = short post.

But, since it is Friday, I will stay true to plan and go back in time to Abby's infancy.  Specifically, the very early days, when she had this amazing talent for turning the color of a tomato.

Like during her first bath at the hospital.

Just hours old

And her first bath at home.

2.5 weeks old
No worries, though.  She didn't hate her baths forever.  By the end of her second month, she was handling it like a pro.

8 weeks old
I'm a little bummed to have to report that I won't be able to include fun statistics in these posts, like her weight and length. I was am terribly disorganized, and didn't write any of that stuff down, thinking I'd be able to look it up later.  Well, while I tried to save the print-outs she got from the doctor, I'm sure I didn't manage to save all of them, and I have no idea where the ones I still have are.  And I thought I'd be able to look all that up online (her doctor can), but it turns out that my online access to her health records doesn't have nearly the amount of information available that her doctor's does.  Which makes sense- I guess I just thought that someday I'd find her growth chart stored in there somewhere, along with her vaccination records.

I'm pretty sure that by one month old, Abby was over 11 pounds and 22 inches long.  But you'll just have to take my word (and trust my terrible memory) for it.

I do have photographic proof that she was much more forthcoming with the smiles at that age than her brother is, even now.  Here's a picture of her mischievous little grin at just over three weeks old.

And here's a bonus pic that I just had to include, because it brings to mind last night's post

10 days old

She always has been a precocious little thing.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Little Sailor-Girl

I'm realizing, as each day passes, that we're clearly in the middle of a huge breakthrough for Abby in terms of her verbal development.  I mentioned the other day that she is now incorporating basic advances in grammar comprehension: sentence phrases, adjectives, possessives.

She also appears to be on the cusp of another huge surge in vocabulary (her first one was back at 16 months) and has begun eagerly naming everything in sight.  The most recent addition to her vocabulary?  Fork.

Only, picture how it might sound coming from the mouth of a toddler.  I'll give you a moment to giggle like a schoolchild (come on, you know you want to.)

It's caused a bit of a sensation for Tom and myself here at home.  Don't get me wrong, we're not big on cursing, and to be honest, I don't particularly like to hear it- especially that word.  But when you're as sleep-deprived as we are, you're looking for just about anything to send you into peals of delirious laughter, and forget for a few moments just how close you are to losing your marbles at times.  Besides, coming out of a toddler's mouth, it just sounds so innocent and, I daresay, cute.

Of course, the word itself is silly enough, coming from her mouth.  But it doesn't end there.

I realized, once it was too late, that my excited response of "yeah!" every time my little angel correctly identified some new animal or object, led her to believe that this word was somehow intrinsically linked to every other.  So it was never just "flower," or "shoe."  It was "flower-yeah!" or "shoe-yeah!"  I've been making an effort lately to instead say, "That's right, Abby!"  It did seem, for awhile, that she was breaking the connection.

However, this new vocabulary surge seems have re-ignited that tendency.  So all day long, as she played with the little dish set that I just brought out for her for the first time, I could hear a tiny little voice piping, "fork-yeah!"  My little baby girl, "cursing" like a sailor.

Speaking of sailors (sorry, just had to throw it in here):

My little sailor-girl, with her Daddy
 As for Michael, we're still going through a bit of a rougher-than-usual patch with reflux and sleep issues.  The past two nights have found both Tom and me awake for extended stretches with him, working through quite a bit of crying and vomiting.  I think, perhaps, the gripe water that we've recently starting trying is to blame.  So, no gripe water tonight, and here's hoping for a better one.  What do you think, Mikey?  Can I get a "Fork yeah?"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Take The Pledge Campaign

Today, I'd like to take a moment to talk about something I've been wanting to spread the word about since I first came across it:  The Take The Pledge Campaign.  Started by Elizabeth Flora Ross, it encourages moms on the internet to take The Mom Pledge, which " about women standing up, speaking out and coming together to end cyber bullying among moms."  You can check it out here.

I wish I could plaster it all over the various Mommy forums I've been a part of over the last couple of years.  You hear all sorts of stories all the time about how becoming a mother can change a person, for the better, and I still believe that to be true in most cases, but wow- does it bring out the worst in women when they get together to discuss the parenting experience.

I don't know how much of it comes from the competitiveness encouraged by today's culture, and how much from personal insecurities being transferred to perfect strangers on the web, but in either case I think an important step for all mothers, as they enter into discussion about the various choices they make for their children, to make use of something that I think motherhood brings out or enhances to some degree in all of us: compassion.

And even better: empathy.  I know that I can't claim to never feel those pangs of inner judgment, but before I allow them to color my attitude towards another mother- or worse- my words to her, I try to consider the following:
  • Circumstance- no two relationships, home environments, or children are alike.  All of these things will play a part in the choices a mother makes, and will influence the limits of her capabilities.
  • Personal difficulties- every mother has them, be they health or personality-related.  Some moms are physically incapable of handling more than a certain amount of stress, and others have emotional limitations, which will play a part in decisions such as whether or how long to breastfeed, and how to go about sleep-training.  (And let me express here how much I hate the popular argument that you "sign up" for certain things as a parent, or that tending to your own needs at all must necessarily be a selfish decision.  Sometimes, things end up being harder to deal with than you could ever have imagined, and you may find yourself tending to your own needs first in some rare cases because sparing yourself  an overwhelming amount of hardship is what's best for your child.) 
  • Access to information- you may have spent so much time doing research in preparation for parenthood that you forget what is "common knowledge" (which, by the way, is all relative) and what is not. Never assume that someone is being purposely ignorant.  I think it is important to educate when and where we can, but always with a pure heart and without condescension.
  • Differing priorities- there are many issues that I consider to be of utmost importance, and those issues form the center of my parenting philosophy.  I can't help but feel passionate about them, but I always have to keep in mind that not every woman shares my passion, and that is always going to be the case.  Even if it's an issue that I could back up with loads of research, it will only be a relevant one to someone who considers it important in the first place.  Much as I may disagree with that differing perspective, it's all part of the human experience.  We are never all going to see every issue the same way.
  • The bigger picture- there are some rare occasions in which I am in such disagreement with what I am seeing or hearing, it's really hard to not get a little judgy despite my best efforts.  It's at these times that it's important to remember the argument that I think this blog post really nails.  Whatever fellow mother I may meet is just that.  A mother.  Meaning that her child is with her, loved by her, being cared for by her.  Let's not fight over the way that mother loves her child- let's fight for those children who don't have a mother to begin with.

And, in other news, Abby now has enough hair for us to do this:

Good times.  :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brain 'Splosions, Super Naps, and "Month" Pics

Michael slept decently last night, after all.  Not really much better, but certainly no worse, than his usual.  Abby, however, woke at about midnight and took approximately 10 minutes of soothing to go back to sleep.  I chalked it up to teething this time (though I've not yet seen any evidence of those two-year molars, she does have days where she's snotty, cranky, drooly, mouthy, or some combination of the above, which suggests that something may be going on), but when I saw her at breakfast this morning, I suddenly had another theory.  Maybe her little brain had a tiny "explosion" of knowledge, and it woke her.

For the past week or so, she's begun to speak in "sentences."  I've put quotations around the word because, while I consider "Music on" to be a sentence when you're 19 months old, Tom maintains that it's a sentence fragment and therefore does not count.  However, it wasn't until this morning that she suddenly began to use possessives and adjectives in her phrases.  She pointed to the table where Tom had placed it and identified "Daddy's phone."  She then proceeded to request some "Elmo crackers" (Elmo being the descriptor- the brand is Earth's Best Organic, but since Elmo is displayed prominently on the box, she identifies the type of cracker with him).

When I shared some of my lunch with her, she made sure to point out that she was eating "Abby's pizza," and afterwards, while wandering the living room, proudly announced to me (as she placed her tiny feet in each one), "Daddy's shoes!"

Nap time today was a tiny little miracle.  I had the thought, during those beautiful two hours in which the babies' naps overlapped, that perhaps God had made sure to give me this little break today to make up for all the exhausting chaos of the last few.  

I had taken both children up to Abby's room after breakfast, as has become our routine, for some quiet play time for Abby.  She's been delaying her first nap and dropping her second for three or four days now, so I figured I'd let her play until around lunchtime and then see about getting her to nap.  Today, she seemed to be tiring just a little bit early, so I gave her a snack to tide her over in case she needed to sleep before lunch, and as she ate it, I noticed that Michael's little head was nodding forward in sleep as he sat in my lap.

I laid him down in the bassinet at 11:45, and then asked Abby if she was sleepy, too.  She said yes, so I decided to try the toddler bed, since it was in the same room, and it had been a couple of days since I really made an effort to get her to use it.  She got in with no resistance, and made herself comfortable right away, so I sat in the glider and figured I'd sit with her until she got tired of it and then move her to the crib.

It took her awhile to actually fall asleep (I think it was around 12:30), but she lay virtually still until then and did not fuss or try to get out.  So I allowed myself a cat-nap, too.  I didn't sleep long, or deeply, but it was definitely refreshing to have the opportunity.  The only caveat was that I was stuck in the room even after I had gotten all of the sleep that I could, for fear that opening the door would wake one or both of the children.  But it was worth it, to see them both get a good nap, and to have the opportunity to sit in silence and watch them sleeping so peacefully.

At one point, Abby rolled onto her tummy and let her little feet hang over the edge of the mattress.  It was so adorable that I badly wanted to snap a picture, but there was so little light in the room that I would have needed a flash, and I wasn't about to risk it.

2:00 rolled around and Abby began to wake, but Michael was still slumbering peacefully.  She woke with a smile, and as she did, looked at me, pointed to the bed, and said proudly, "Bed!"  It was just one word, but I got the sense that she was bragging to me that she was able to take a nap in it.  I was so proud.

And little Michael.  He slept until 2:30, giving me time to spend a quiet lunch with Abby downstairs before retrieving him, and clocking in not one, not two, but nearly three hours of sleep for his afternoon nap!

As for his five-month pictures, I did attempt that again this morning, with some amount of success.  I think the shots are pretty cute, but he was being Mr. Serious, and I could not get him to smile. 

That is, until after his nap.  The picture quality is not so great in these, but I think that his expressions make up for that.