Friday, November 30, 2012

May 2012

May was a big month. A pretty life-changing one, actually. It was the month that we all moved out of our tiny apartment, into our very own home.

But it started out (mostly) business as usual, as far as the kids were concerned. They were increasingly involved with one another on a day-to-day basis, forming and nourishing a pretty special relationship.

In the meantime, amidst haphazard attempts to get some packing started, Tom and I were constantly brainstorming ways to help keep Michael happy.

One idea that I came up with was trying out a Summer Infant Super Seat. I figured that since gravity can help to keep stomach acid down where it belongs, Michael might benefit from being able to sit up for short periods of time.

Like every other thing we tried with him, before and since, it was a bit of a disappointment. This wasn't the fault of the product- I, personally, still think it's a neat little thing. As for Michael, he didn't hate it, but he didn't love it, either. On the first attempt, he tolerated it long enough for me to snap a few pictures, but not for much longer.

Abby was pretty fascinated with it, though. And with seeing her brother sitting in it.

Our sleep issues with Michael continued, as well. I purchased a sleep-training book to help give me some ideas- The No-Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley- and Tom and I began trying to put some of them to work. The first step was to get Michael used to the bassinet during nap times. It was an adjustment for everyone, because difficult as it was to have to spend an hour or two wearing Michael in shifts three times a day to enforce his naps, it was much harder to have to spend up to an hour picking him up and putting him back down, over and over, only to gain about 30 minutes of sleep out of the whole thing.

We often gave up midway and just let Michael do his thing.

We did seem to make some slow progress, however. For a couple of nights, we got some three- and four-hour shifts out of him, before the reflux got the best of us all, in the end.

As tired and disorganized as we were, we likely wouldn't have gotten any packing done ahead of time for the move, were it not for the near-weekly visits from Nana. She came armed with boxes and other packing materials, and, best of all, an extra set of loving hands.

Despite all of the craziness, we did manage to make it up to Mima and Granda's once or twice that month, as well, and I couldn't help but snap this picture of my two worn-out babes upon our arrival home one evening.

Speaking of worn out, here is photographic evidence of the one-and-only time that either of my children has been so tired that they fell asleep on the spot, right where they lay.

If only it were so easy, every time.

Though Michael kept our hands full much of the time, Abby took a step towards independence, finally, that we found to be quite helpful. She mercifully acquiesced to holding her own "bottle" on a regular basis at the ripe old age of 18 months.

I put bottle in quotations because it was really more of a hybrid drinking apparatus. I started trying to wean Abby off of bottle nipples at twelve months, but she was stubborn. So, for a long while I got her used to the idea of drinking from a different shape by putting the soft-spout sippy attachment on her old Nuk bottle canisters. From there, we slowly moved on to straw and hard-spout sippies, but for as long as she required a pre-bedtime "bottle," that's how she took her nightly dose of warm milk.

Here's a picture of Michael, back in the Super Seat with tray attached. He didn't really appreciate the colorful toys attached for his amusement, but his sister sure did.

May 15th- one of the last group hang-outs on the "big bed" in the old apartment.

And May 19th- a "Nana visit" day, and this time, she brought an awesome hat for Abby (Tom calls it her Carmen Miranda hat). Forgive me as I deluge you with many photos of it.

She has food on her nose in this one, but it was too classic not to include, anyway.

Introducing Miss Abby-Carmen Miranda!

May 20th was when I finally got around to taking Michael's "month" pictures. He wasn't too into the whole process.

I got him to perk up a bit for many of them...

... but he wasn't particularly cooperative, overall.

On May 23rd, my little man rolled from belly to back for the first time.

Finally, around rolled May 25th, the closing date. We had to bring both babies to the title office, and what I remember most about the closing was the mind-numbing theme song of Angry Birds playing over and over on my Kindle Fire, which was left on to amuse Miss Abigail during the proceedings. Michael added to the din by attempting to cry and fuss over all of the other noise. It was good times.

But once it was over, we finally got to walk in the front door of a cute little Cape Cod, and call it home.

Though it was nearly two years after we were actually married, Tom finally carried me over the threshold.

As expected, the move was utter chaos, but we had plenty of family around to help with carting boxes back and forth, and keeping the kids occupied.

At one point, we had Abby set up nicely in the lightly-furnished living room, in front of a borrowed laptop playing a Baby Einstein DVD.

One of the toughest adjustments for all of us was figuring out how to police Abby on the stairs. Having lived in an apartment all of her life, she rarely had to navigate them, and the ones leading up from our main floor are steep and hardwood.

Predictably, she got away from me once, and tumbled down a few. Thankfully, she was not seriously hurt. And unsurprisingly, the incident did not sway her from going for the stairs again, at the very next opportunity.

We made it through, though, like we always do, and now, over six months in, we are about 95% unpacked and settled in. Moving is always tough to do, but was definitely a whole new ballgame with two babies in tow.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Monkeying Around with Michael

Despite continuing to struggle a bit with that darned tooth, and missing a nap (due to our attendance at this morning's play date) Michael was in pretty good spirits today.

He was even still going strong a bit past his bedtime, enjoying some play time with Mei Mei, who stopped by for a visit after work.

He was particularly interested in her watch.

Though, he also took some time to ham it up for the camera.

If you look very closely at the above photo, you can just see the tip of that brand-new tooth poking out on the bottom (his left, your right).

By the way, that's formula in his eyelashes (above). The little stinker decided to pull an unfinished bottle out of his mouth and hold it upside-down over his face just before these pictures were taken. It dripped everywhere, including right down into his eye.

I can't decide which I love more on babies: gummy smiles, or smiles containing four (or less) teeth. Either way- adorable.

Those wide-eyed gazes, though. Almost too much to bear.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Little Goofballs

Blerg. It's another dry night for me, idea-wise. But I do have a fun picture to share.

Goofy as they look here, I don't think they were really trying to be. Abby was actually reading the book in that position, so it just happened to get in the way of her face, and Michael was hanging around near her, as usual. Also, if you'll notice, he's standing. He spends a lot of time on two feet nowadays, often cruising around or banging on the surfaces that he can reach with his hands (he's in mid-bang in that picture, as a matter of fact). I suspect that he'll be taking his first independent steps before too long.

An early Christmas present for Mommy, perhaps? Though, this little desire of mine definitely falls under the heading of "Be Careful What You Wish For..."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Keeping Up With Miss Abigail

Michael struggled a bit last night, but had a much better day today. His gums are looking better, as well. Me- I'm still trying to get by on the less-quantitative, less qualitative sleep than I've been getting for the past few nights (which is never quite enough on a good night, as it is), so I'm feeling too lazy and tired to come up with anything substantive to write about.

But, I've been collecting Abby snippets to share over the last week or so, and tonight is as good a night as any to just get them all out there in a nice, unstructured way.

I'll start with last week's little gem, that Tom emailed me a line about to ensure that he would remember to relate it to me at some point. As he paid for his pre-Thanksgiving groceries in the Wegmans checkout line the on the Sunday preceding it, the cashier asked him if he would like any cash back. Abby, carefully observing the interplay, chose that moment to begin singing, "I want my money back! I want my money back!"

On the following Tuesday, when Tom brought Michael into Abby's room with him to bring her downstairs for breakfast, Abby declared, "I need to change Michael's diaper."

Then there was the Friday after Thanksgiving, when Abby got cute and creative in an empty box.

Then, she was so amazingly cooperative during finger-and-toenail clipping time that I had to get a record of that, too.

She's gotten better and better about it, particularly in recent months, and was actually getting her toenails clipped per her request. Tom started off interested only in her sharp little fingernails.

We had our share of moments today, too. This afternoon was a big one for Tom. He had to go into the office for part of the day today, and did not arrive home until close to dinnertime. As he descended the stairs to greet us upon his return, Abby cried out, "Daddy's home!"

The grin that spread across Tom's face was priceless. But then, he asked for a hug and kiss, which Abby was not inclined to give, having already fixed her interests elsewhere (though, she did continue to chant, "Daddy's home," as she went about her business). That is, until she saw her daddy swoop down to pick up her little brother. Suddenly, it seemed there wasn't nearly enough of Daddy to go around.

Jealous as she gets of her little brother, she can be so sweet with him, too. I was trying to sneak some semi-sweet chocolate chips after dinner when Tom brought Abby into the living room. Michael was already crawling around the floor there, still blessedly oblivious to what I am eating most of the time (outside of meals, anyway), so long as he finds other things to distract himself with. Abby, however, is far more observant. She made a beeline for me, and my little bowl of chocolate, so of course, I had to cough some up. However, after reaching out to grab a second piece from me, Abby turned right around to her brother and said, "Michael, would you like some chocolate?" It was so precious, I hated to intervene, but I had to explain to Abby that Michael is not old enough for chocolate just yet. I made sure to tell her how proud I was of her, though, for offering to share.


In other news, as of 6:27 pm (Central Time) on November 25th, 2012, Abby and Michael have a new little cousin. Congratulations, Michael and Aimee!

Is it weird that I feel so much more grown up now, having suddenly become an aunt, than I ever did becoming a parent?

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Big Meanie Tooth

I took this picture this afternoon, as Michael lay in my arms, crying in pain and frustration.

I was trying to be quick, so that I could get back to my futile attempts to make him feel a bit better, and I couldn't really get in close enough. Thus, it's not particularly clear or well-lit, and doesn't remotely showcase the horror that is Michael's gum line right now. Which, by the way, bruised as it still is, actually looked much better today than the day before. My poor baby boy. How terribly unfair it all seems. :(

So, as you can see, we're smack in the middle of Teething Hell. Again. Michael's had a couple of rough days and (especially) nights of it, which means that the rest of us have, too. Tom and I have been doing our best to soothe him with occasional doses of Tylenol and teething drops, cuddles, snuggles, gum rubs, and offerings of chewable toys, but one quick glance at the state of his mouth is enough to indicate to me that he must be in quite a bit of constant discomfort. It's that top-left central incisor that seems to be the instigator of all of the trouble, and here's what I have to say to that Big Meanie:

Quit it with the nudging, inching, readjusting, noncommittal, back-and-forth whatever-action you've got going on in there! You're turning my baby's gums a shocking shade of purple, and they're swollen and bruised. For months now, we've seen the faintest evidence of your existence just beneath the surface of the gum, only to find, in the next day or two, that you've burrowed back to wherever it is you came from like the coward that you are.

Come out already, and do it soon. And remember this: some day, in the not-too-distant future, it will be your time to be replaced by a bigger, kinder tooth. When that day comes, you'll drop out of your cozy position, into the world beyond, and you'll be at my mercy. See to it that I'm not still feeling so resentful that you find yourself taking a long dip in a nice, tall glass of Coca-Cola. 

Take a pointer from your sister-tooth, Left-hand Lower Lateral Incisor. She snuck in like a ninja, and it was only just today that I noticed the very edge of her head peeking through Michael's gum line. Her entrance was quiet and unassuming, and as a proper tooth-breakthrough should be.


One Desperate, Overprotective Mama Bear

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Raspberry: 22 Weeks

Dearest Raspberry,

I seem to have developed a weakness this pregnancy, which is a new concept for me. I never really had cravings with your brother or sister, outside of chocolate, which is a craving I get at random times anyway, pregnant or not. Sadly, my predilection involves a seasonal item which went out of season right around the time that I first discovered it: Thomas' Pumpkin Spice English Muffins. I toast them, load up one side with peanut butter and the other with Nutella, and the result is tres delish. And, thankfully, easy on my poor, temperamental tummy, too.

It's probably a good thing that the near-empty package of pumpkin English muffins sitting atop our microwave is the last one that we'll have for a good long while. Peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches aren't the healthiest of snacks, after all. Though I'm sure that I will still be making them, with plain English muffins if I have to. After all, it's really the Nutella that's got me hooked...

But it's all good. I've heard that chocolate lovers have the sweetest babies (I'm a fan of the book, too- a very interesting read!), so I'm sure that you'll come out all the better for it, in the end.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Library Day (and Bonus: More Flashback Photos)

Every few Saturdays for the past couple of months, Tom has been taking Abby to the library to pick up some books for himself, and some new installments of Madeline for bedtime reading. Thus far, he has brought home Madeline in London, Madeline and the Bad Hat, Madeline, and Madeline's Rescue. We weren't sure what we would find this week, but the two books that we had out were due, and we knew that Abby would love the trip, regardless.

This time, Tom even got me to tag along with Michael. I tucked him into our newly purchased ErgoBaby carrier (which I love), and Tom pushed Abby in one of the umbrella strollers. Once we were situated, and had picked up Madeline's Christmas (perfect timing, right?) and Madeline in America, I let Tom wander off while I watched over Abby in exploration mode.

I wasn't sure what to expect. Normally, in public places, she is inclined to run off in unpredictable directions, and can be difficult to catch. But in the children's corner of the library, she was in her element, and had no apparent desire to flee. She started off browsing some books laid out on a workcenter/bench dealie, and showed off her familiarity with written numbers. Though she initially confused nine with six, she correctly identified numbers one through nine. Seems we'll have to work a little more to get down 10-12. She also has a little ways to go before she fully comprehends the concept of counting. Though she can list numbers in order, she doesn't seem to know when to stop. For instance, she'll see an open hand, and if you ask her how many fingers there are, she will sometimes count from one to five, but more often will continue beyond, and answer you with whatever number she stops at, be that six, or ten.

She then moved on to the back corner, by the windows, and began pulling books out willy-nilly, looking through them and then dropping them to the floor to search for another. What followed was a timely lesson about the importance of picking up after oneself, and not throwing things to the floor. Though I did get her to pick up the books that she had dropped (while I was standing there, anyway), I was unsuccessful in instilling the message that books do not belong on the floor in the first place. Baby steps...

Doesn't she look so grown-up, though- standing there, "reading" a book? {sigh}

Michael began to get a little antsy in the carrier when I got too tired to stand and walk around with him, so I let him out for a bit. He's too young to really get the point of a library, but he did appreciate the little tables scattered throughout. They were, after all, a perfect surface for banging and drumming, a favorite new pastime of his.

The whole thing drives me a little nuts, though, I must admit, because though it's cute when he does it, it's less cute when his sister mimics him, creating twice the noise. Many an attempt to sleep in, courtesy of my lovely husband's willingness to volunteer for breakfast duty, has been foiled because my children do not know how to eat quietly anymore, without accompanying percussion, and our dining room is situated just feet from the master bedroom.

All in all though, a successful and enjoyable trip. Michael's banging did not echo in the carpeted library, and therefore did not create much of a disturbance. It also did not last long, as it soon occurred to him that crawling around in a heretofore unexplored environment might be a more worthwhile use of his time.

I, myself, left empty-handed, as it has sadly been so long since I even stepped foot in a library (or read a book that I don't already own, for that matter) that I had no clue where to begin looking for something interesting. I wandered through the general fiction and Sci Fi sections, but gave up searching when I couldn't even think of a particular author to help me narrow my focus. It made me pine for my days as a library page (back when I was an early teen- though I can't say I'll ever wish to actually relive that stage of life), when so many interesting books passed through my hands on their way back to the shelves that I was perfectly positioned to come across all kinds of new discoveries.

When it came to it, Abby did not want to leave, but she held off on threatening any tantrums until we reached the car, and we were able to get her in the car-riding spirit by pointing out that she could now listen to fun songs on the radio. I made sure to sit and read her her new acquisitions as soon as we walked in the door at home, to which her response was the predictable request: "Again?"


And now, more Flashback Friday pictures. It suddenly occurred to me when I awoke this morning that several pictures (that I spent over an hour editing and watermarking in preparation) never ended up in yesterday's Flashback post. They only cover a singular event, which I didn't want to dedicate a whole post to, but I couldn't bear not to include them after all of that work, and because they document an event that I think was definitely worth noting in the grand scheme of things (there were a lot of "firsts" involved for Abby).

So, I bring you: Abby's Trip to Meadow Lane Park (April 20, 2012)

First ride in a Cozy Coupe

First tricycle

Really big ball

First trip down a slide

Picking dandelions

Last, but not least- first carousel ride

Friday, November 23, 2012

April 2012

Sometime in late March, Tom got Abby a set of Dr. Seuss's books to feed her growing love of reading. She was an instant fan. I snapped this picture of her browsing through the new additions to her library on April 1st.

Tom and I were not quite as fond of the books, however. Who knew that Dr. Seuss wrote such strange fare as could be found in One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish? (That one was her favorite). Though, long as it was, I didn't mind reading that one so much. It was Fox in Socks that always made me cringe. Not only was I not particularly fond of the relatively non-existent story, it's a bear to read aloud.

So, I was all too happy to see Abby quietly enjoying her books. And it always makes for a good photo op, since she sits nice and still to do it.

I got so excited about my rare opportunity to take my time with framing a shot that I took a moment to play with some settings, too.

Sadly, the Easter Photo Shoot, on the seventh, did not afford me such opportunities. Between the awkward lighting and complete lack of willingness to cooperate, it was a bona fide disaster. This was the best picture that I got.

However, this one...

... was a much more accurate depiction of the whole affair.

That was just the pictures, though. Easter itself was lovely, and we spent the whole weekend at Mima and Granda's, where Abby got a chance to play with infrequently-seen toys and run around in the backyard, meeting the neighbor's pet dogs.

Back home at the apartment, we got back in the non-swing of things, and were immediately thrust back into our never-ending (and losing) battle to get Michael to sleep.

Not only was he waking every hour at night, he was refusing to nap during the day, and I had begun resorting to baby-wearing several times a day to enforce sleepy time. It was hard on me, though, hardly ever having a free moment to myself, because when he was awake, he was still usually on my person, either nursing or seeking soothing from his constant, reflux-related discomfort.

Finally, Tom ordered his own K'Tan (he couldn't use mine since they are size-specific), and took on half of the baby-wearing duties. It was a huge relief, and a huge help to me.

And Tom learned that certain perks came with wearing the baby. It was hard to do much else with a newborn strapped to his front, so Tom used Michael's nap time to work in some gaming time for himself.

We both walked around zombie-like, tired and disheveled, amongst the chaos of a barely-tended to apartment, but it felt like a "win," all the same. For awhile, anyway...

On Sundays, we got a bit more relief, in the form of extra hands and fresh company, when Mima, Granda and Mei Mei made their weekly visit.

One such occasion brought an added bonus for Abby: bubbles!

Michael did have some good moments, though, and began to enjoy increasing amounts of floor time. Abby thrived on these times, as it gave her access to her brother, and opportunities to play and bond with him.

Thus, the sibling loving really began to flourish. It was heart-melting.

April 18th meant it was time for "month" pictures again! Michael was not amused by the prospect, and was not particularly cooperative.

The lighting was weird, anyway, and I didn't know how to work around it, so it was a doomed attempt from the beginning.

No smiles to be found amongst the best of the shots. However, after it was over, the sticker was pulled off, and Michael was seated comfortably in his bouncy chair, he granted me little grin.

If only the picture had been in focus... Ah, well. At least I was able to capture his dimples. For some reason, that's really hard to do, though he flashes them all of the time.

Because wearing pants seemed only to aggravate Michael's tummy troubles, and he had a wealth of onesies but very few sleepers, I invested in some BabyLegs.

Here he is, modeling a new pair as he lounges in Mima's lap during a Sunday visit...

... and relaxes with Granda later that afternoon.

Then, at the very end of the month (the 28th) came a rare bit of excitement. My family and I were invited to my cousin's daughter's Sweet Sixteen celebration. It was a big event, and a chance to get out, dress up, visit with rarely-seen family, and (hopefully) dance a little bit. I was particularly excited on Abby's behalf. She had a beautiful dress and fancy coat hanging in her closet, given to her by her Great-Aunt Irene, that she had not yet had occasion to wear. This was the perfect opportunity.

Sadly, we had to pair her fancy ball-gown with sneakers, as they were the only pair of shoes that she owned.

Once inside, I tried in vain to get a good picture of Abby in her dress, but she was (as usual) not at all interested in standing still.

When I tried to out-maneuver her and jump in with the camera anyway, I just ended up doing things like cutting off the top of her head.

Her main focus seemed to be on the balloons scattered about the place, though she seemed to have a preference for a particular pink one, and had it in-hand almost the entire night.

Except for that time that she grabbed for a silver one, instead...

... and that other time that she chose to model with a black one for a group photo.

Of course, my favorite balloon-free moment was the one in which she acquiesced to dance with me. Michael Jackson's Billie Jean came on, and though the floor was empty (what? how? with Michael Jackson playing?!), I couldn't resist.

Abby ended up bringing that pink balloon home with her, but learned a very sad (and sudden) lesson the next day: balloons are highly pop-able.