Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hopping on Pop

Over the last few months, I've noticed that Michael has been nurturing an interest in books (one that does not pertain to ripping, bending, stomping on, or eating them, that is). It started shortly before Mia was born, when he would linger nearby as I read to Abby. It's continued as he's begun to bring over specific titles for me to read, and even to verbally request that I do so, though I've only ever had the privilege of hearing him utter the command once. In the last three weeks, we've finally gotten to the point where we can sit him down for about a minute to read a bedtime story (The Going to Bed Book), and in the last few days, we've gotten him to sit through a second one, as well (Where's Spot?).

However, that seems to be his modus operandi in many things. He'll become involved in something to a degree, and appear to be only mildly invested. Then, all of a sudden, he's in with both feet. He's done this with food: only nibbling bits and pieces for months, then joining us for full-fledged dinners practically overnight. He's done this with clothing: for many months occasionally picking up a sock and tossing it around; now, clamoring for any item he can get his hands on to pull up onto his arm or over his head like a fashion accessory.

Finally, he's (seemingly) doing it with reading and speaking at the same time. My use of "seemingly" is a testament to my determination not to read too much into whatever developments I might observe in a single day. I'm desperate for my little guy to truly start speaking, but I know he's bound to go at his own pace, and I don't want to set any expectations- for myself, or for him.

Though he's barely done so for the past few weeks- with the exception of a broken copy of The Itsy Bitsy Spider, which he'd toss into my lap and run whining from as soon as I began to sing the lyrics contained within- he brought a book by for me to read to him yesterday. It was a cardboard, abridged version of Hop on Pop, which even in its shortened state was of a length I did not expect him to last through. Not only did he sit, transfixed, through the whole recitation, he lifted up the book and waved it in my face afterward. "Again?" I asked. I took his gleeful, "Eee hee!" as a "yes."

I ended up reading that book three more times in one sitting, and a couple more times over the course of that day. I've read it several more times today. He is obsessed with the thing. That- in and of itself- has been wonderful enough, for him to have so beloved a favorite book (though I will admit to being long past tired of reading the thing). However, something magical has occurred in all of the telling and retelling.

Michael has started to repeat the words within. Though I'm lucky to get one or two new words out of him per week (that he rarely, if ever, repeats again), I've heard three today- all from that book. This afternoon, as Tom sat reading it to him: "Hop! Pop!" This evening: "Fall." Not to mention his use of "up," which I don't count as new since he's said it before, but which he was inspired to repeat a couple of times today.

I'm not sure what delights Michael so about the book. I've never been a fan, myself- though I'm much more partial to the abridged version than the original- but my attitude is swiftly changing as I see the wonders it's doing for my son. Perhaps he's recently noticed that it contains a word that he knows (up). Perhaps he likes the simplicity of the language, or the obvious rhyme scheme. Perhaps he relates to it, because he surely likes to hop on pop himself.


Whatever the reason, I'm thrilled for him.

And now I'm plotting how to get him hooked on a Charles Dickens book next. That should really diversify his vocabulary, no?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Jolly Jumper

I'm continually amazed by how much Mia loves her jumper. Abby liked it fine, and though Michael initially hated it, he came to enjoy it occasionally. However, even at their most receptive, neither of them stayed as content in it is Mia does.

Perhaps it's because I leave her in there longer than I ever did her two siblings. I was paranoid about ever passing 15 minutes, having read about the possibility of hip dysplasia and other scary-sounding unlikely problems from overuse. However, my life is not so simple now that I can ignore a working situation, so Mia has probably clocked more time in the thing in two months than Abby and Michael did over the course of their usage, combined.

However, it's not just that she seems more accustomed to it. While she doesn't jump continually (in fact, she's only active in short bursts every few minutes or so), when she does, she's so jubilant, her pleasure is quite infectious.

I realized the other day that it's more than just the squeals she produces and the energy she puts into bouncing that makes her look so happy. It's also the faces she makes, which are bursting with excitement and personality.

Funny thing is, when I tried to catch those faces in still-shots, they looked anything but happy. In mid-expression, her emotions come across as varying degrees of anger, annoyance, fear, disgust, and shock.

Of course, the most amusing examples were among the first pictures I took, before I got the focus figured out adjusted.


I decline to say "figured out," because though I finally got the manual focus set properly for my distance from the subject, the camera seemed to be set on getting great shots of the cute little red bird instead of the super-cute bouncing baby, and I always have a hard time overriding where the focal point is locked (especially when I'm trying to take multiple shots in a short amount of time).

Still, her face finally started coming out sharp enough that I felt I could display these full-sized:










You'd never know it from the pictures, but she was having a blast.

And hey- two teeth down and a day before five months young- why shouldn't she be?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How to Terrify Your Toddler Without Really Trying

In her short life, Abby's been racking up a list of oddball things that she's afraid of. These include:  unfamiliar dogs, Santa, jack-in-the-boxes, snowtalking bushes, and full-sized (as opposed to inflatable) pools. She's also begun selectively noticing things she sees on television that she'll later label as "scary" and whimper at upon her next exposure.

Her timidity is endearing and sweet, but makes me worry sometimes. I try to be careful now about introducing her to new things because I don't want her to feel scared of the world around her. I was especially disappointed that we both missed out on experiencing the first real snow of the season this past winter. Though she has assured me since that she wants to try it out at the next opportunity, I wonder how she'll really feel about it when the time comes.

Partly because of her history, I was elated to see her interest and excitement regarding the caterpillar that I brought home for her to observe a few weeks ago. I counted it as a win that she at least does not have an innate fear of insects. (This was understandably not my first reaction when she tried to eat a dead bug in our old apartment, but that was a different instance, entirely.) Though I realize that she'll have to learn which ones to avoid over time, I myself have fond memories of spending hours in the yard discovering various worms, pill bugs, ants, and beetles beneath stepping stones and under rocks. I hope that she will have the benefit of doing the same.

However, I seem to have inadvertently set her a few steps back from ever attempting such an encounter.

A few days ago, she announced to me while playing in the basement, "Mommy, there's a spider under Obibah's dress."

I perked up immediately and began to approach. Though I'm very appreciative of all that spiders do, I'm not fond of having them anywhere in my immediate vicinity, or that of my children, and we get some pretty big ones around here at times. Even though I prepped myself for seeing one that was potentially a quarter-size or larger, and took my time lifting the doll's dress, I was not actually prepared to see something large and black jump out from beneath the fabric.

I screamed so loudly that I could hear Tom startle in the dining room above. Abby jumped back at least a foot, her eyes open wider than I ever thought it possible for them to go. A split second too late, I realized two things: 1) What I saw was just an ordinary field cricket and 2) I had just needlessly terrified everyone in the room, and beyond.

I tried to fix things. I scooped up the cricket (on perhaps my eighth attempt) in my bare hands, laughing and smiling all the while. "Oh! It's just a cricket! What a cute cricket!" I garnered as much enthusiasm as I could when I offering my cupped hands to Abby, trying to coax her into taking a peek. "Abby look, how cute! I used to keep crickets as pets when I was a little girl. See? Look."

She would not be convinced. What she seemed to find most relevant was my initial reaction, and her opinion was set. She wasn't coming anywhere near the thing.

I guess that now I'll be adding another item to Abby's list. The question is, will it be crickets, or spiders, or both? Hopefully there's still a chance she'll give a worm or beetle the benefit of the doubt, someday.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Keeping Perspective

Monday night was my night to cook. However, the lead-in to dinner prep was rather chaotic: Michael didn't get a sufficient nap, Mia had pretty much refused to nap at all, and Tom was itching to get outside and move around. He offered to take all three children on a walk, but I'd just given Mia a bath and didn't want her getting bathed again in the sweat from her daddy as he wore her in the Ergo. I suggested instead that he put Mia in the back of the double stroller, and Michael in the front, while I kept Abby with me in the kitchen.

So it was that I found myself watching Tom through the window as he retreated down the sidewalk, all the while positioning Abby in Michael's booster seat (the closest one at hand) and propping up the Kindle tablet on the kitchen island as Curious George began streaming over Netflix. Though she had a bad habit of reaching for the island and kicking the lower doors every few minutes, Abby stayed pretty well entranced with the available entertainment as I chopped, sauteed, boiled and mixed in the space around and behind her.

As he walked, Tom's mind no doubt strayed to the odd reversal he was experiencing: little one in the back and big one in the front, only this time it was Michael who defined "big." Just over a year ago he began the first of such walks around the neighborhood with Abby at the helm, Michael at her back, and Mia only a twinkle in my eye.

I was lost in a very different set of thoughts. I kept looking over at Abby and wondering what my life would be like were she my "only." How simple such a thing as dinner preparation suddenly became, even with her in the room! Though Curious George played a large part in ensuring her good behavior- I'm sure- even when I cut her off after two episodes she continued to amuse herself for the next twenty minutes, singing to herself and chatting with me.



Of course, the realization did not escape me that it's all relative. Were I childless, I would find the addition of Abby alone somewhat taxing and complicated suddenly mixed into my daily routine. When she was my "only," caring for her legitimately felt all-encompassing and overwhelming, the same way having three does now. Because, the truth is that what made it so hard (beyond the typical newborn stuff, which is behind us now) was that it required such a drastic life adjustment on my part. So many contingencies to account for. Later, multiplied by two. Then, three.

When over half of the contingencies suddenly fall away, the air is almost too pure to breathe, the silence near-deafening. I bask in the vacuum on such brief moments as these, but harbor equal amounts of fear and anticipation for the days when my children will be gone from me for far longer- all grown up and off to school in a future only seemingly so far away.

And I wonder, too, how much each little unit of my family is shaped by all of the others within it. Would Abby have learned to sit quite so patiently without the daily practice required of her as I triage a near-constant chorus of concerns? Would she have so impressively mastered the ability to self-amuse? Would she have developed a such a clear streak of independence? Would she so cherish her time in the kitchen with me were it a daily requirement, rather than a rare and special opportunity?

These are questions I'll never know the answers to (except maybe the last one- a resounding "no"), and I'm glad of it. As difficult as managing simple tasks might be right now, as exhausting my days, as practically nonexistent my free time, I love every little (and not-so-little) member of my family, and live in awe of the awesome dynamic it entails. I love that Abby has a constant playmate (and once Mia is mobile, she'll have two), and will have great opportunities to learn responsibility and leadership. I love that Michael gets to be both a big and a little brother. I love that Mia has two amazing older siblings who cherish her as much as I do.

So, while I can't deny the fleeting moments of envy I've experienced when I think about the (relative) simplicity my life would suddenly approach if we were still just a family of three, I couldn't really even imagine it, were I asked to. Though on a very basic level I can certainly remember a time before Abby, before Michael, before Mia, on a very visceral level I really cannot. Too much about me has changed since they came into my life that cannot be changed back. While I can access memories that existed before them, I couldn't possibly relive them now in the same way that I experienced them then.

And what would I do with all the time I'd suddenly have, anyway?

Sleep, though- sleep, I could use.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Five Fleeting Months

Five months!
Five months!
My little girl's five months!
No time to say, "hello, goodbye."
Five months, five months!














I blinked. It went just that fast.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back in the Highchair Again

There's been a bit of regression going on here lately. I know that changes are tough on little kids, especially, so it's not exactly surprising to see- even five months out- that they are struggling to adapt to the arrival of the newest family member. However, it can get a bit frustrating for me.

I also find it a bit odd that it's taken so long to manifest, because for the most part, I haven't seen much going on until very recently. Michael's always been a cuddle-bug, but he's stepped up the clinginess quite a bit in past weeks, and I can't really blame it on teething any longer. Abby's been doing just wonderfully with forks and spoons, but has waited until now to spurn them.

She's also started baby-talking, though I can see that the timing of it has to do with Michael's current forays into vocal communication. It seems that, rather than it being a regression on her part (because she's still speaking just fine the vast majority of the time) it's her attempt to make sense of the differences in the way that she and her brother speak. She starts it up at the dinner table, when Michael makes his attempt to ask for more milk; she mimics him, rather than utilizing the diction she is so capable of.

Though we've made no changes to our dinner routine (with some rare exceptions) throughout the course of our time as a family, dinner time does seem to be the place where all of the anxiety works its way out. The biggest issue we've been running into with Michael since it came time for him to be fed in a chair is his terrible lack of patience with confinement. Most nights, we're lucky if we get ten minutes of peace before he's throwing food, cups, plates, and utensils around, and clamoring to be released.

Several months ago, we moved him from high chair to booster seat in the hopes that he'd be happier seated around the table with us. However, we immediately found that we could not put him directly at the table without real chaos ensuing (Must. Grab. All the things!), so he's effectively remained in a high chair- just lower to the ground. He seemed to be happy with the transition, and the chair and booster took up less space, so we went with it.

The booster, however, has a tray that requires force, rather than latch release, to be removed, and Michael has learned that he can simply rip it off. This he did- several times- this morning, when he awoke so miserable and congested that he refused to eat, let alone sit in his chair. When we gave him a sippy of milk to drink, he gulped it, then allowed the liquid pour straight back out of his mouth as he let out a long, mournful wail.

I took him out of his wet onesie and brought him into a long, warm, mucous-loosening shower with me. Though still cranky, his mood was markedly improved for the rest of the day. We did still encounter issues at lunchtime, so I finally just switched out the booster for the high chair. There's no easily removing the tray on that thing; even Tom and I struggle with it on occasion.

He actually seemed to like the new old seat. I suppose the higher vantage point was novel after all this time.

And, unlike his sister- for the few minutes that he dedicates to getting the job done- he's still using a fork to eat with.



I've got to count the wins wherever I can, right?

(The fact that Flickr's photo editor has elected not to work tonight is decidedly not one of them.)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mobile Moments, 8/19-8/25

Abby has spent the past several days discovering some more hand-me-down dresses from Mei Mei and me. She's absolutely smitten with them (a development I find fascinating, considering that I, apparently, would wear nothing but dresses around age four or five). Mia has sprouted her first tooth. Michael? Well, he's figured out how to throw a pretty hefty tantrum, and has been practicing his new skill with great frequency. Most of his meltdowns appear to be born of frustration, but I've yet to figure out a reliable way to help prevent them, other than temporarily assuaging him with food or giving him what he ultimately wants (and can't have): access to my lap and the viewing pleasure of a few of his favorite TV programs on the Kindle tablet at all hours of the day.

To top off the week, some nasty germs have descended upon us in the last 48 hours, and we all (except for Tom) have runny noses and/or itchy throats to show for it. Mia seems to have been hit the hardest; she was running a low-grade fever this morning, has some pretty heavy congestion, and has been fighting sleep all day despite her obvious puffy-eyed exhaustion. She's finally down for the night, and I hope- for her sake- that she gets at least one really long stretch in.

Abby and Michael have been their usual selves, plus copious amounts of booger. They, however, didn't take to bedtime quite so easily as all that...

Hooray for cooperative play!

Hanging out.

A little light reading.

All "toqued" up.

Self-measuring.

Fun with blankets.

Blanket Fort!

Tummy time times three.

The pre-pre-crawl.

Grumpy (I'm not feeling good, so leave me alone) Face.

Sharing germs with Mei Mei.


Overheard this week:

Abby

First thing in the morning, noticing the similar shades of our two shirts: "We're two pink girls!"

Any number of times: "I want to wear my pretty dress."

Michael

Gracie (Raaaaaycie!)

Mia

{CHOMP}

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sniffly Saturday

Amelia woke up sniffling this morning after a troublesome night. I held out a faint hope that it was teething-related, until I noticed that Abby is sniffling, too. By the end of the day, Michael had joined in with a sneeze or two, and I could feel the tell-tale postnasal drip beginning at the back of my own throat. Though I'm praying I'll find out tomorrow that today was just a fluke, I'm trying to prepare myself for the possibility that we might just have one more summer cold sweep through here before the month is out.

It's been an otherwise uneventful day. I've been feeling wiped and Tom is always anxious to take advantage of good weather, so he took the two big ones off my hands on a long walk before lunch, and then took the little one on an even longer walk after. I got a short nap in while the big'uns were sleeping and the little'un was strolling, but I'm so perpetually drained, I can hardly tell the difference now.

As always, even though I'm tragically uninspired, I felt compelled to write some sort of post anyway. Good thing I have a cute video to share, which was ultimately the point of publishing in the first place (since I clearly have nothing interesting to say). Here's a short clip of some brief peaceful play within the fort, taken when I managed to set it up again for five whole minutes at the tail-end of the evening yesterday:


video



Needless to say, after the predictable unraveling of both the fort and the moods of my two eldest children when the five minutes were up, I did not repeat the adventure at any point today.

Friday, August 23, 2013

We Make This Look Bad (and not in a good way)

I'm in a challenging spot right now, and I know it: with three under three, all at varying levels of dependence but none completely capable of doing pretty much anything on their own, I rarely catch a break. This is what I try to remind myself on the very worst of days, when my main goals are to maintain a state of semi-consciousness through the morning, keep the kids alive, and get through the day.

I generally have no extra energy for planned activities, special outings, games, projects, or lessons. I am the opposite of a Pinterest mom (heck, I've never even been on Pinterest), and though I hope to do better someday, I've given up on expecting that day will come anytime soon.

I do, however, have moments; rare bursts of inspiration. All too often they are born of desperation (please, please make the whining stop!), but they're fabulous when they come. Almost every time, however, they fail to have the intended fabulous result.

Take, for example, the first time I brought home special markers and paper for Abby to color on. They kept her fascinated for a time, but then Michael woke up from his nap ready to eat the markers and rip the paper. Ditto for any combination of crayons, markers, chalk, and paper I've ever offered. Michael and/or Abby end up using them inappropriately, and more-fantastical-than-ever tantrums ensue when I a) have to set the special items aside to move on to something else, like lunch or b) have to reclaim the items to prevent further damage.

Today's bright idea was to create a fort. Easy, right? I grabbed a sheet, spread it across a couple of desks and a chair, and secured it the best I could. The kids were thrilled. I had to show them that the whole point of the thing was to hide out under the sheet, but once they saw how cool it looked, they simply had to try it out, too.

As I watched them giggle and squeal with delight, I spent about a minute feeling proud and accomplished. That was all the time I got  before Abby started drumming on the top of the sheet, and had to be redirected. However, while I got to her in time to prevent her pulling the whole thing down, Michael had learned by example and repeated her behavior with enough enthusiasm to wreck the tent in just one hit. Then, he declared his triumph by sitting down on the sheet.

Abby was incensed. I tried to fix the sheet, only to find that Michael had made an instant game of wrenching down the sides that I had just propped, and I soon realized that I was fighting a losing battle. I rolled up the sheet and threw it down the hall to the laundry room, feeling defeated.

Though Michael shook it off and moved on, Abby's tears of frustration continued on. They were doubly hard to take, considering that I knew exactly where she was coming from, and I didn't think it was fair, either.

We worked it out in the end: she found some other book or toy to interest her, and I plopped gloomily back into my seat, out of fresh ideas for the day.

I guess it's just a sign that I'm not quite ready for Supermom duty. Not yet, anyway.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Breakthrough

For the last couple of nights, I've experienced a bit of relief from the sleep-strike that Mia initiated about three weeks ago. We're still a long way from where she was at her best (sleeping 6 and 8 hour stretches here and there), but she's managing three and four hours at a time now for the majority of the night. It still gets a little tricky after 4 am, when she starts to get uncomfortable because she has to poop, and finally does so sometime between 5 and 7, at which point she either has to be changed and then won't go easily back to sleep, or falls asleep but doesn't stay that way long due to the diaper situation.

I'm tempted to try a probiotic again to see if it will help her get on a less inconvenient schedule, but I haven't yet had a chance to pick one up that's free of milk protein. (We had her on one for about four days that had casein-derived cultures in it, which she seemed to have a bit of an issue with.) However, it seems that our main problem was- as I suspected- largely teething related, and our recent respite has just perfectly coincided with a big milestone event.

Mia is now sporting her first tooth!

Let's all take a moment to welcome little Lower Left Incisor (whose mate is clearly not far behind).

From the right:


From the left:


From the front:


As for Mia, though she continues to gnaw and drool buckets, she's napping better and feeling pretty good lately.

And, despite my fears that she would fuss and fight me over these pictures, she was a real sport.


In fact, I think she rather enjoyed the gum massage that she got out of the whole ordeal.


My goofy girl. Goofy one-toothed girl, that is.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello...

It's finally, finally happening. The Terrible Twos are letting up a bit with Miss Abigail.

That's not to say that things have been perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. She's still hard-headed and prone to throwing, hitting, pushing, and screeching, but (with the exception of the first transgression I mentioned), she's doing such things with less frequency.

Perhaps I feel the change more than I can really see it; it's in the notable lack of tension that I experience as she approaches me. It's the reflexive, unbidden smile that I feel upon my face in response to her various interruptions, which used to seem more like intrusions when my patience was stretched to its max. It's in the pride that- more and more- comes welling up within me as I see the way she interacts with her siblings, with her father, and with the world around her.

Maybe the change is in me. Maybe it's in both of us.

All I can say with certainty is: my little girl is growing up, and I'm really digging the person she's becoming.

Of course, as I discovered long ago, this parenting journey never really gets easier, so much as it gets different.

The strides she's made and is making set the bar higher in my mind. Therefore, I find it that much tougher to be patient when she does  things (to be fair, rather typical toddler things) that I feel she should have moved beyond. It makes my skin crawl to watch her toss her fork to the side in favor of her fingers at the dinner table. It makes my blood boil when she throws that same utensil to the floor, "just because." It's getting harder and harder to passively accept that she's not ready to potty-train.

And then there are her siblings, whose own changes continually make my life both harder and easier at the same time. Just as Abby seems to be exiting the worst of her "difficult phase," Michael is entering it with a vengeance, and on an even earlier schedule than his sister kept.

While Abby chose the two weeks preceding her first birthday to learn the art of Tantrum, Michael has elected to begin a full five months shy of that milestone. For the last two days, it's been nearly non-stop fit-pitching around here. I feel for the guy, as it seems to me that half his troubles stem from the frustration he's now so keenly feeling at being unable to fully communicate.

Hopefully, as his vocabulary expands, things will get better before they get bad again.Heck, maybe I'll get lucky and Michael will sail right through Year Two once we get past this little speed bump (not counting on that, though).

Luckily for Michael, though- he's got a pretty great big sister to lean on through it all.


As for me, let's hope I've learned a thing or two from being "broken in" by Abby. A little experience should go a long way, right? (Please say yes.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bathtub Reminiscing

Just one measly little week left before my littlest baby turns five months old. One month shy of half a year.

Has it really been so long since that unforgettable day? I remember details of it like it was moments ago, flashing back to me at odd times. Oddly, they tend to strike when I am doing other, unrelated things, and rarely when I'm actually standing in the room where it all took place.

There will always be something about that room though, now. It's just a bathroom, and a pretty unimpressive one, at that. To me, however, it's a place of great significance, and will probably be the only thing I truly regret leaving behind when the time comes to move on from this place.

Despite laughing out loud in response to Tom's jibe that I should take my time re-entering it for the first time, I did have to take a moment and adjust to the sight of my own washroom upon my arrival home from the hospital. I didn't find it scary, or anxiety producing. Rather, it seemed imbued with a sense of power- the same sense that I felt in myself after having undergone such an intense, personal, and independent birth experience within it.

I am forever changed by the ordeal (to be fair, I can say that about each of my births, but not for quite the same reasons), and though I hardly ever consciously view it from that perspective anymore, I suppose I feel on some level that the room has been changed as well.

As for Amelia- it's the only birth she will ever and could ever know, and which she will know of only through stories, but what a legacy she'll carry as she grows.

My, how she grows.


Now, if you're feeling sufficiently sentimental about the whole affair, take a moment to rediscover it over at Domestic Pirate, where I've guest-posted as part of her Birth Story Celebration Series.

Don't mind me as I blubber over a glass of wine considering how big she's gotten. Hopefully by next Tuesday I'll be ready to embrace reality again.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Outnumbered

Ever since Amelia joined the family, "outnumbered" has been a constant state-of-being around here.

Somehow, however, it's easy for me to maintain a pretty steady state of denial about it all when I can hear the clacking of Tom's laptop keyboard from the top of the stairs, or perceive his footfalls on the floor above me throughout the day.

While his very presence is quite comforting, he's most useful in the aid that he can provide when things get sticky. Mia needs to go down for a nap but I don't want to leave my other two wild things alone? Tom can step in. One, two, or three of the babies are getting fussy during lunch? Tom can run interference. I'm starting to lose it on one or more of my precious darlings? Tom can back me up, calm me down or give me a moment to step away.

When Tom is not in the house with me, I can count on none of those things. So, I count my blessings every single moment that he is, and wait with baited breath upon his return when he is not. So far, I've only had to suffer through without him for an hour or two at a time (generally, when he goes off to run various errands; or when I take the kids to play dates, where help with monitoring is built in but coming and going is tough; though there was that one time three weeks ago that I actually managed to drag all three munchkins to church by myself and the monitoring was all on me).

This is because, up to this point, I've had incredibly generous family members donate their time to spend Tuesdays with me (the one day that Tom has to go into the office for work). Today, however, Tom had an extra work thing to do, on a non-Tuesday day, that sort of snuck up on us all. And so, I was sort of forced to do the thing I've been meaning to try to do soon anyway (I've got to spread my wings eventually, right?): I took on all three babies, alone, for the day.

Although Tom stayed long enough to help with breakfast, I was not feeling particularly confident upon dragging my all-too-sleep-deprived self out of bed this morning. However, once he was gone, some level of adrenaline seemed to kick in, and I found myself (as so often happened when I was alone with Abby and Michael) feeling rather more motivated and organized than usual.

It also helped that the kids were relatively cooperative. Michael was a bit restless and whiny at times, but Abby was cheerful and helpful for the most part. Most impressively, she did not monopolize the keyboard that I resourcefully pulled out of storage and put fresh batteries in, but rather played on it with him, side-by-side. This bought me thirty minutes, at least.

Mia, too, seemed to be under some kind of cooperation spell. She required very little assistance in going down for her first nap, which was a godsend given that both of her siblings followed me into the bedroom when I got up to take her there, and were wandering around my messy bedroom in the dark, just itching to find some kind of trouble to get into. She only slept for an hour in the morning, but she took a 2.5 hour nap after lunch, which allowed me to not only eat, but also to clean up the lunch and breakfast dishes and even shower before Michael (who was the first to rise) began to stir.

Though the shower (and some quickly inhaled chocolate morsels) were somewhat rejuvenating, I really started dragging by around 4:00 in the afternoon. We all made it through with the help of the jumperoo (to keep Mia occupied), fun books to read, smart phones to steal, and a kids station on Pandora radio, but every one of us was all too happy to see Daddy descend the stairs to the basement when 5:30 rolled around, at last.

Here are some pictures taken courtesy of Michael as he sat around for awhile, unchallenged, with my phone (can you guess where he was?):




 


Though the night was far from over when Tom came home, the gain in reinforcements was a welcome sight to behold. I didn't even let it bother me too much when I had to almost immediately  relinquish his company to get some dinner on the table at a decent hour. We may be perpetually outnumbered around here, but I'll take an occasional 3:2 ratio over a continual 3:1, any day.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mobile Moments, 8/12-8/18

Michael turned 19 months today. I'd like to say that the swift passage of time- especially as it relates to the growth of my kids- has ceased to phase me, but I now know that it never will.

It's hard to soak in much of anything that's been going on around me though, sleep deprived as I've been this past week. We finally had a decent night with Mia last night, managing five hours between feedings (Tom had to step in and help her twice to make it to 2 am, then she stayed down from 2:30 to 7:00 all on her own), but insomnia reared its ugly and perfectly-timed head, as usual. As a result: virtually no sleep for me.

In the last day or so, however, I have confirmed two things: 1) as gigantic as Mia has been looking to me, she still needs to grow about three more inches to be as close in height to Michael as Michael is to Abby and 2) Leaf has definitely changed his state-of-being in a permanent way. I just hope that his apparent pupation is the first step towards metamorphosis, rather than death, and that I didn't mess anything up for him in my (perhaps misguided) attempt to get a picture of his cocoon.

On the plus side, Abby's ceased to ask about him, so if he doesn't make it through I think we can save the story of his demise for some far future time.

"What is this 'sitting up' thing you speak of? I'd rather LUNGE!"

Making sillies for Amelia.

All decked out in Mei Mei's hand-me-down dress.

Who knew an empty bottle could double as a teether?

What big eyes you have...


Mia hug!

Members only.

Reaching for the brass orange ring...

... Got it! (And made the music play, too.)

"So long as I can still see Mom, I'm okay. Right?"

Sweet dreams, little Leaf. The cool breeze of an early Fall evening awaits your newborn wings.


Overheard this week:

Abby

As Tom was preparing to begin some afternoon bread-making: "Daddy, you put on your apron- just like me. Daddy, where's your toque?"

Observing Tom as he poured some red wine in a glass for dinner: "Is that pink beer?"

Michael

No new words this week, but he did repeat "Mima" and "Nana" on command, and has been increasing his usage of the word "up" and the phrase "more milk" (which still sounds like "mo mih," though he's saying it with great confidence now).