Monday, September 30, 2013

Turn, Turn, Turn

We crossed over into Autumn some days ago, and though I've noted its coming in the air, the colors, and the shortening of days, it wasn't until this afternoon- out under the trees- that I was struck full-force with its arrival.

A new season, come 'round like years before. A cycle I well-know, and well-love (and hate).

Naught else can reinvigorate me in quite the same way as crisp Fall air after the seemingly-endless stagnation of late summer, but once the pumpkins have lost their novelty, the bright-burning leaf shades have smoldered into tones of decay, and the mornings have forsaken me, instead I mourn the loss of daylight that I once took for granted.

 This year, I find myself mourning yet another facet of the changing season.

Mia has started upon a new leg of her own personal journey, taking steps once taken by her older sister and brother before her in their own due time. She's tentatively breaking free of dependence on me as her sole nourishment as she manages her first tiny swallows of solid food.

I just can't get excited about it this time around- not in the same way as I did when it was my first, as well as Abby's. Just as my affection for beloved Autumn is tainted by the sorrow that it carries in its wake, the retracing of each old-new baby step brings ever-increasing feelings of bittersweetness my way.

Beyond the now thoroughly-established realizations of the many downsides now to come my way in the form of smellier diapers, more complex meal routines and messier mealtime aftermaths, I see in every bite she takes the future that awaits me not too far along the way.

Once impossibly-chubby legs, now lengthening with grace.

A tiny, tottering pre-toddler metamorphosed into unstoppable force of curiosity and mischief.

Mewling princess replaced by warrior queen.

Downy fuzz turned thickening mass of tousle-hair.

Trading the wild abandon of early toddlerhood for brief, but ever more common, moments of introspection.

I never saw it so clearly as now, but they each had seasons of their own- seasons that Mia is destined to follow.

Her infancy is half-behind us now, as we venture forth into the same old ground with a brand new theme. I can't help but draw parallels between my perilous relationship with Autumn and my reluctance to leave her babyhood behind.

It should make no sense that I love this season so, when it reverberates so hauntingly in-tune with the darker sides of my soul. Though I must move beyond my deep-budding despair to find enjoyment in the many beautiful things it has to offer, every year I make the effort to do so, and every year I feel more certain that I could never live in any place that didn't experience such a transition.

However, as I look at it in the context of the repeating cycles I've experienced in the raising of my own three children, I see that it boasts the same features that those very early years hold in abundance: fragility, transience, reminders of the preciousness of now.

As hair-wrenchingly difficult as these days have proven are still proving to be, I already sense how much I will miss them when they are gone. So it is that though I'll be rejoicing on some level in the vasts leaps of independence that Mia makes as the days press on, I will be dragging my feet ever harder than before at each approach. The wisdom I've gained from having done all of this twice before certainly tempers my daydreams of a time in some far-flung future when I'll have more moments to myself and nights to sleep again, knowing that such things will be found in a world where the familiar rhythms of babyhood have ceased their rotation.

I don't suppose I can ever again look at it as just a spoonful of banana mush. It's a new beginning, and a new end, all at once- a season perhaps to be re-experienced with another baby, but one day, some day: never again.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mobile Moments, 9/23-9/29

Aaahh Ba de ya - say do you remember
Ba de ya - dancing in September
Ba de ya - never was a cloudy day

Here's what I remember- of the very last week of September (I dare you not to read that in disco)...

  • Mia started sitting up, turned six months old, took her first trip to Wegmans, and figured out how her thumbs work.
  • Michael has learned to operate buckles, and is chattering away with a vengeance. The onus is now on me to better and more quickly become capable of understanding him (maybe Abby will be able to help me with this, soon).
  • Abby has begun to participate in family prayer, and is quickly mastering the art of sass. Also, she can now boast to having sat upon a horse. Some kind neighbors who often ride through the neighborhood not only let her say hello, they let her get up-close-and-personal. The experience first excited, then terrified, then saddened her (for having given it up so soon). Maybe next time, Abby, you'll give it a little more time than ten seconds or so.

Sitting-up success!

A rare shot of all three.

Fun with perspective. (Though, from Mia's expression you'd think Abby really was that much bigger.)

Less dramatic; still cute.

The Little Doll-baby Who Lived in a Shoe.

Mia's first ride on Daddy's back.

The Buckle Monster Returns (reincarnated).

Building a chair tower.

Creative reading position.

Swing time!

Aunt Lisa reads The Jungle Book.

How many friends does it take to make a lounge chair for Abby?

Super Mei Mei!

My little man: Sipping "coffee" and reading "the paper."
Wegmans run (where, despite her girly legwarmers, Mia was complemented as a "very handsome boy.")

When your balance is in doubt, grab a nearby sofa.

Abby's not-quite-fifteen-seconds of awesomeness up on a horse.

Overheard this week:


A propos of nothing: "Only grown-ups can call Granda 'Alan.'"

After being chided for messing with the swing adapter again: "I'm just going to fix this. It's gonna be a masterpiece!"

Random narration while engaging in imaginative play:

"A dragon tried to steal my ice cream but I took it away, and I screamed 'Really!' as I did it."

"The teapot broke and is pretending to be a monkey. The monkey's tail is pretending to be some tape. I like the tape and I'm not going to eat the tape."

Between Abby and Me

M: "Abby, it's time to take a nap."
A: "I don't wanna take a nap."
M: (Observing as she put her head down on the dining room table), "You look pretty tired..."
A: "Can I sleep here?"

Between Tom and Abby

T: "Do you know what day is your birthday in November?"
A: "Yeah."
T: "Okay, what day is it?"
A: "Ice cream cake."


"Car, bird, Wegmans, chair, pajama time, blah, help."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mia Learns to Bend Her Thumb

This is way too entertaining not to share.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Our Six-Month Sensation

The Easter before Abby turned six months, she received this dress from her Nana:

Though she didn't wear it for Easter, since I already had a different dress picked out, I was excited to see her in it and so dressed her up for the "month" pictures.

Michael, of course, had a different outfit entirely.

The shots I got of Abby in that pretty pink dress remain some of my favorites to date, however, so I thought I'd continue the tradition with Mia when she hit six months.

That day was today for my little fuzzy-haired princess, and though she was rather distracted by her friends Pooh and Piglet when I first began to take pictures of her...

... she pretty quickly got into the swing of things.

I love how well her smile shows off those hard-earned first couple of teeth.

She's still stubbornly hanging onto the stork bites she's had since birth. Even in photographs you can still see the ones between her eyebrows, though the patches above her right eye and on the back of her head have faded quite a bit.

It's fascinating to observe how the different smiles reflect the different personalities. When fancies were appropriately tickled, Abby could nearly always be counted on for a goofy smile; Michael for a beaming grin; and Amelia? She seems to have mastered the mischievous smirk (see below). When she and her brother start teaming up, life as I know it really will be over...

Though she still has zero interest in pacifiers, Amelia adores chewing on her hands and various cloth items, like her buddies Piglet and Bunny Foo Foo. She also will happily suck on the nylon straps of her bouncy chair for seemingly endless amounts of time.

She's still got such long, delicate fingers. I wonder if she'll take to the piano, like her Papa and Great-Uncle Richard.

"Oh, hey! Here's a nice cloth item to chew on."

Again with the teeth. I can hardly stand it. I thought I loved her gummy smile; I love this more.

As you can see, she's been learning how to point her toes, too. Oh, the possibilities...

Though she started off leaning back against the pillows behind her, she got brave towards the end and began to sit forward.

All the better to investigate her dress...

I let her go with it for awhile, even as I remained poised to leap in her direction.

This was the point at which she made the somewhat-predictable attempt to roll off of the sofa.

And so, having gotten quite a few memorable shots under my belt, I decided to call it a wrap.

It's been quite the experience, poring over these pictures and comparing them to her siblings'; remembering how small they once were, noting all of the small variations and differences. I've been prompted on more than one occasion to offer the opinion that Mia is a "good mix of her two siblings, while favoring Abby," which a lot of the time I find to be true. However, if there's one thing that's surely clear to me from looking at all of these pictures its that- more than anything- Mia is uniquely herself.

Also, in the category of Most Hair Growth for Her Age, she's unquestionably the champ. Oh, boy, am I ever going to miss that fuzz when it's gone.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Potty Training or Tween-in-training?

I've given up on potty training for the time being. Though Michael's technically old enough to try it out on, I can't get him to sit still for story time, let alone for potty time. As for Abby, she's been outright refusing every time I ask her to give it a go.

Then, on Tuesday, in the middle of lunch, she sat up in her chair and said, "Oh! I'm pooping!" She seemed to mean it.

However, when I got her out of the chair, there was nothing in her diaper. This posed a bit of a dilemma for me as she hadn't yet gone that day, she won't nap when it happens in bed, and the fact that she mentioned it might mean that she actually had to go. So, even though she initially refused my offer, I persuaded and cajoled until I got her sitting on the potty in the upstairs bathroom.

Then, I waited. Michael was already upstairs napping but I still had to get Mia down, so I couldn't let things drag on forever. After about 15 minutes of uneventfulness, I put Abby back in a diaper and got her settled upstairs so that I could focus on getting Mia nice and sleepy.

The entire day went by yesterday with no interest in the potty, and it was just as well. I didn't really have the energy to deal with it, anyway.

Today, however, Abby announced just before lunch that she wanted to try. Nothing happened, but kudos to her for making the effort. Then, after dinner, she wanted to attempt it again.

I'd already started taking Michael downstairs at this point, and Mia was still content in her dining room chair, so I left Tom upstairs with the girls to wait things out. In the course of things, Tom and Abby had the following conversation:

"Abby, did you poop?"


"Are you going to poop?"

"No. Go away."


(Pointing at a picture in the book she was perusing) "This is a bunny."

"What did you say to me?"

"I don't want you to be here."

The request that followed to have the door shut and locked for her was- of course- summarily denied.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When Mia Sits Up

As I was going through pictures on my phone today, I realized that all of the best ones I got of Mia a couple of days ago, when she first sat forward, were taken before I got out the big fancy camera. Though at first she seems shocked that I'm paying attention, she looks pretty proud of herself by the end, don't you think?

I love the faces on this kid.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Learning by Example

For as long as Abby has been alive (and beyond), Tom and I have said a prayer before eating. Though we each elect to do a quick, private version for breakfast and lunch, we hold hands and say it out loud together when dinner is served.

At various times, we've tried to hold Abby's hand during the process, but she's historically never been too interested. She was always too busy digging into her own food or finding other ways to occupy her fingers. For this reason, though I've always been taught that it's rude to begin eating before prayer, I haven't yet passed that particular lesson on. I suppose I could have just kept the food off of her tray until afterwards, but routine has instilled in me a desperate need to have every little thing ready for her, including all of the food that she will likely consume, before I even sit down in my own chair to take a breath.

As far as asking her to wait, I suppose I could have, but it never really occurred to me to do so. I guess I figured at some point, when she was a bit older, it would feel like the right time. The one time I doubted this decision was some months ago when we had some friends over with their daughter, who is about six months Abby's junior. I watched them as they instructed their little girl to hold out for the family prayer before reaching for her food, and was astonished when I observed her comply. However, at that point I knew that trying to alter Abby's routine when it was so well-instilled before really being able to explain to her the reasons for it would likely be a bad move. So, I've made no changes.

However, Abby is a smart and observant girl, and she's managed to pick some things up all on her own. For the past three weeks or so, she's sporadically shown an interest in holding Tom's hand, and looked sadly over at the empty space to her right, lamenting that Mima, Mei Mei, or Granda were not present to hold the lonely hand.

Tonight, she took things one step further. As Tom and I were double-checking that everything was set before holding hands, ourselves, Abby was reaching for Tom. She seemed to be trying to grab at something.

Tom turned to her. "What do you need, Sweetie?"

"Can we pray?"  she asked, with great anticipation.

I noticed that she had not yet touched her food. She was waiting for us. "Of course we can!" I replied enthusiastically. The three of us took hands and began, while Abby beamed with pride at Tom and me.

It seems that once in awhile my intuition serves me well. The "right time" has come at last, and my work is already done.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Raspberry 5.4.1

Mia's been making overtures to sit up lately, so I've been encouraging her when I can. I know that she'll love nothing more than to be in the thick of things on the floor with her siblings, so we've been practicing a little bit each day to help her attain that goal sooner rather than later. She seems to have strength in abundance, but has been lacking the innate sense of composure and balance required to maintain position.

When I first placed her down on the floor alone, about a week ago, she did better than I expected, but not as well as I'd hoped after all of the little mini-sessions she'd had on the couch cushion next to me.

Though she looks pretty solid there in the moment, I had to let her hold my hand for several seconds before she could find a precarious balance, and only held it for just long enough that I could quickly snap three photos before needing to drop the camera and help her topple gently onto her side.

We've continued on, undaunted, with our practice sessions, but I've been more careful not to rush her since. I figure that natural equilibrium is something that can really only come with time.

Then, today, something miraculous happened. I laid her in a reclined chair to relax and watch the goings-on of lunchtime, only to find- as I glanced over while eating- that she was sitting forward.

She had pulled herself up by reaching for a dangling toy, but was holding the position largely by herself.

Though she didn't seem to think it was a particularly big deal, I was shocked and ecstatic to see such an unexpected explosion of independence.

Once my lunch was consumed, I brought her into the living room and set her down on the floor again to see what she could do. The change in her was breathtaking to behold.

She needed hardly any spotting once situated, and- while still a bit shaky- had an awareness-of-self I'd never observed in her before.

When her over-eager reaching caused her head to plummet towards the floor, she pulled back to counter the motion.

If she leaned too far to one side, she corrected to the other.

She managed three straight minutes this way before tipping over the first time, and perhaps five straight minutes after that.

That was about the limit of her stamina, and once fatigue set in she was tipping left-and-right, so we converted to floor play on her back for a much deserved (and needed) break.

Clearly, she's got more work ahead of her to master the skill, but it seems that all of the necessary components have finally clicked into place to make it possible.

As I babbled on and on about how flabbergasting it all was, Tom joked to me that Mia must have installed an Operating System update overnight. I laughed, but at the same time, I marveled at how, really, she had done just that.

And, with much more flair than an iPhone could ever hope to.