Friday, February 28, 2014

Easygoing at Eleven Months

Eleven months has rolled around at just the wrong time. February being a short month, this particular milestone put me at T - 28 days until the much bigger, scarier one: the day she turns one. Given that I've hardly been able to consider the impending occurrence too terribly much lately, yesterday's realization really knocked the wind out of me. My littlest baby will be one year old long before I've begun to digest the reality of it, and time will not be stopping to let me catch my breath.

I will say, though, that this particular "Month" photo shoot was a memorable one, for sure. Though it doesn't necessarily contain the best pictures, I'd say it's probably the one I'm most proud of overall.

It actually started off as a bit of a group shot, since Abby was hanging out while I got busy with the preparations and insisted on sharing the couch with her little sister, initially.

The hot flash was low on battery and acting finicky, so I took the plunge, switched to manual, and went without.

It was refreshing to work with natural light for once, but my babies' sudden movements were making me jumpy on such a low shutter speed, and I wasn't terribly pleased with the high contrast and graininess of the pictures.

I switched back to my old standby setting of Auto and a hot flash for the next several, though I did come to regret it just a bit when the flash failed me on a couple of key shots (though I did manage to mostly salvage them in editing). Because finally, I had my intended subject alone, and I wanted her clear and well-lit.

Amidst all of the clicking and flashing, she finally revealed all eight of those beautiful, hard-earned teeth.

And here comes my favorite shot of all, which I was thrilled to capture. Mia shook off her hair bow during the afore-pictured giggling session and confusedly tried to get it into her eye line as it dangled precariously from the ends of just a few strands of hair.

Got it!

She was so excited about her small success that she had to get up and start moving. I took advantage of the little break from posing to get some action shots.

Tom set her down then, for one last go-round, and I tried my hand at manual again. Of course, this time the flash went off when it was not needed or wanted.

Finally, it occurred to me to just turn the thing off, and after one last shot, we called it a day.

And what a day it's been. She's continued to repeat the second new word in her verbal repertoire, "bottle," and has tried her hand at some new ones, such as "don't."

Best of all, though, was her impressive attempt at "Pumpkin," the nickname of her once soon-to-be and now brand-spankin'-new younger cousin.

"Puh-kih," she mimicked, and I'm sure it was her way of saying what we all are thinking:

We love you already, little Joey. Welcome to the world.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Most Amazing Thing

For the past few weeks, I've seen it coming. Mia's been babbling more than ever, the sounds she's producing coming ever closer to resembling recognizable words. Most telling has been the mimicry, which started in earnest about a week ago. Countless times, I could have sworn that she attempted to repeat me when I said certain words to her, like "bottle." Now, I'm quite sure that's what she was doing.

However, you're never really ready for that first time, that first occasion when a word spills out that's not Mama or Dada, a word that's used in context and directed at something.

For Mia, that word was "bye-bye," and she blurted it out tonight, complete with a cutesy wave of her hand. When it happened, Tom and I exchanged astonished looks, but we both assumed it was a fluke, or perhaps another bit of possible mimicry.

However, we asked her to do it again, and again. And she did. And she did.

It's a thing, now. A thing that I am quite sure she learned from her older brother, which is perhaps the most amazing thing of all.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Monkey Hear, Monkey Sing

Ever since I first started potty training Abby, I've offered her encouragement in the form of a song I made up, off-the-cuff, to be performed with each success. Though I've ceased to follow up every session with treats like chocolate morsels and stickers, stressing that using the potty is merely one our normal daily tasks now, somehow the song has stuck. She asks for it every time she goes, and I'm loathe to refuse her since it's a pretty simple thing to provide and it makes not only her, but also her siblings, exceptionally happy to hear it.

Thankfully, everyone is of the understanding that it's a bonus rather than a requirement, particularly since Daddy's rendition simply won't do. It must be Mommy each time, if she is available to fulfill the request. Knowing this, I'm comfortable playing along indefinitely, and I'm sure that the positive association of the experience will serve me well when it comes time to jump into training for Michael.

However, there does appear to be a consequence of this routine I hadn't much considered until this afternoon, when I slipped off to quickly take care of my own business. From the next room I heard it,  a slightly altered version of my own Dora the Explorer rip-off ditty:

Mommy sat on the potty and made a pee-pee, yeah she did it.
She did it, she did it, she did it.
She knew she had to go, so she went to the bathroom, she did it.
She did it, she did it, she did it.
Now she's gonna stay nice and dry,
And her girl is so proud of her,
'Cause she did it.
She did it, she did it, she did it, she did it, she did it! 

I couldn't stifle my giggling despite a brief, impulsive flash of embarrassment at having my private operations so enthusiastically acknowledged. Despite the fact that I could not see him from where I sat, I was quite sure that Michael was dancing around to the performance, as he so often does, and I could hear quite clearly in her voice the true pride that Abby felt for what was- from her perspective- a personal success on my part.

All good things. However, I can see that future trips to public restrooms with my oldest (and indeed, likely any of my children going forward), will be quite the entertainment for all else present. It could be worse, I suppose. I'd rather a personal cheerleader than a descriptive narrator in the stall with me.

Of course, knowing Abby, she'll probably play both cards someday.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mobile Moments, 2/17-2/23

I can hardly believe that it was just last Sunday that I typed the previous Mobile Moments post from the basement of my in-laws' house in New Jersey. Though the past week has not felt particularly long, that visit that culminated at the start of it seems almost a lifetime ago already.

Perhaps it's because we all so very quickly fell back into our usual routines, after a bittersweet evening on the night of our return home in which we marveled at the quiet and solitude of our little house in comparison to where we'd just been. Perhaps, for me, because a few days mid-week were overshadowed by my fixation on the news I received following the completion of the pathology results from my miscarriage. Perhaps it's because we've managed some major changes around here in such a short time, including a new haircut for Michael, the self-installation of  new DIY shelving in our basement, and the accomplishment of some long-needed and insanely mood-improving strides towards getting the house clean and functioning again.

Perhaps it's just because we miss everyone so much that it doesn't take long to feel like it's been too long away.

Our last goodbye to the snow in New Jersey.

Enjoying pretzels and taking selfies at the Delaware Welcome Center.

Mia takes advantage of Michael's distraction to swipe his toy car. Sadly, he quickly noticed and countered the transgression.

"Helping" Daddy fold laundry.

Abby finds a new use for big girl undies and tries to bring Mia in on the fun.

Because just one pair is not enough.

Mei Mei performs a nail-bitingly exciting rendition of The Paper Bag Princess.

Abby proves that peeking out of suitcases never gets old.

Still slow on blogging lately, but steady on stitching. Making good progress...

Overheard this week:


As the first lines of Queen's We Will Rock You begin to play over the car stereo: "You guys won't rock me! You'll never rock me!"


"I want that."


"Zzzz..." (Despite falling back into old habits in NJ, she's been sleeping through the night like a champ since our first night home.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Taking Care of Business

Between last Thursday and yesterday, three in our family of five got fresh, new haircuts. For Abby, it was the special occasion of her very first, and for Tom and me, one of many but long overdue. We took advantage of the extra childcare available during our visit to finally take care of ourselves a little bit, which was nice. Also, in my case, I was finally collecting on what should have been part of my Christmas present in December.

This left Amelia, who has a fine head of hair that needs no alteration, and Michael, who I've long thought needed a haircut far more than Abby did. What started off as a little rat-tail soon became a bona fide mullet, and I've been impatient to see the wildness that has taken over in back get tamed.

However, true to form, I've not been able to organize a plan of action for doing anything about it, and though I had a thought that maybe his Nana should give it a try after seeing how well Abby's turned out, Tom and I were not on the same page at the same time. Once he realized that a trim was something that I actually wanted for Michael, it seemed that his impatience to see it done began to exceed even mine.

All throughout the day today, he made mention of giving it a try himself, and so- trying to put faith in his enthusiasm- just before dinnertime I helped him set up. I watched with great nervousness as he began, but things seemed to start off well.

Michael did not wiggle or complain, as I feared he might do (the offering of my cell phone for his use helped a lot in that department), but since we positioned him in front of a mirror, he did have an unfortunate penchant for swinging his head unexpectedly behind him to check out what was going on back there. A lot of jumping and gasping, on the part of Tom and me, ensued.

Still, Tom's hands were pretty steady, and- almost instantly- the tail was gone.

But then it happened. Perhaps Tom got too comfortable. Perhaps he was distracted. Perhaps it was just a rookie mistake (it was bound to happen, as neither he nor I have ever cut anyone else's hair before). Tom took a little too much hair at once, a little too high up, and snipped. Suddenly, there was a bit of a bald-ish spot in the back of Michael's head.

I jumped in and desperately tried to fix the damage, though I knew right away that there wasn't much to be done short of buzzing everything.

Though it was a hard-won battle against my OCD tendencies, I finally tore myself away after about ten minutes, terrified that I would just end up making things worse and hating myself for having messed with it too much.

It was not so terrible after all, anyway. He did end up with one decent side (apart from that area above his ear that I was a little too timid in for fear of snipping his ear; upon later consideration I realized we probably should have run the clippers briefly over that spot).

As for the other side? I want to cry a little each time I look at this picture, but in all honesty it's not as bad in person, particularly from a distance.

Ironically (I know, wrong use of the word but give me a better option), I think I managed a better job of the hair just over his ear on that side.

Regardless, I know that soon enough it will grow out again, and when it does we can take him to a qualified place, secure in the knowledge that he will not likely throw the half-crazed tantrum we'd had a thought he might have.

In the meantime, bad haircut or no, he's still my handsome little guy.

When he wants to be, anyway.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Though it seems to be the rarest of the known chromosomal defects that frequently cause early miscarriage, the pathology results that I received today have revealed that it's what precipitated mine:

92 chromosomes, XXXX. Tetraploidy.

A girl then, I suppose, though with so many chromosomes, she never could have approached becoming one.

I wish I could say that the knowledge brought me some sort of comfort and closure. I won't say it hasn't, but trying to process all of the new information has definitely reopened some wounds that I thought were starting to close. It's also left me with more questions. What might have caused things to go so terribly wrong? Could it have had anything to do with that second yolk sac, a possible indicator of some early vanishing twin? Did a blastocyst-turned-embryo that should have become two babies instead stall out in some complicated cell division attempt gone wrong?

I'll never know.

I can at least put my mind at ease that there was anything I could possibly have done to effect such a terrible outcome- there clearly wasn't- though there's a small part of me that's still desperately trying to blame myself anyway.

And now I know. The baby-that-might-have-been was daughter-that-might-have-been. Sister-that-should-have-been.

I feel a strong desire to give her a name (that I will likely keep mostly to myself) but, having chosen it, it's been hard to implement. For all of her short life we knew her by her in-utero nickname, Chickpea. I imagine that's the first name that will always come to my head whenever I think of her, the one I reach for when I choose to include her in our prayers.

Whatever your name, Little One, I dearly wish I'd met you.

Maybe someday, I shall.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mobile Moments, 2/10-2/16

February has been a far kinder month than January or December. While winter itself has done its darndest to wear everyone around me down with cruel weather and tiresome illnesses, I've found hope in the lengthening of days, safety in my forced captivity, beauty in the snow.

Best of all, despite the scheming plans of mother nature, Tom and I were able to take advantage of the small window we had to get out ahead of the storm and make our way to New Jersey to see most of the extended family that we dearly missed over Christmas.

The visit has been lovely, has provided opportunities for a little pampering in the form of haircuts and a long awaited date (on Valentine's Day, no less), and was planned out for seemingly the perfect length of time: just long enough to get a good amount of visiting done, and just short enough to leave me pining for a little bit more.

We'll be headed for home tomorrow with more memories and less hair all around, and though I'm not looking forward to the long drive or the stress of re-situating upon our return, I know for sure that all of the downsides were well worth it. I have only to look at the happy faces of my family to be reminded of this truth.

That date, by the way? Amazing, made all the better for the fact that it was our very first one since June 3rd, 2012. Here's hoping we get another one in before almost two years pass by again...

Mia finally accepts a bottle on the eve of our expedition.

On the road.

Hypnotized by the latest episode of The Magic Schoolbus.

Date night!

Bonding with Papa.

Abby's first haircut.

New hairdos make Abby and Mommy feel like acting silly.


Overheard this week:


In response to Tom's prompt of "Allons-y" to encourage movement during bedtime prep: "No, don't say that! Dr. Who says that."

In reference to Mia's messy lunchtime face: "She's Mrs. Jellyface."

As her new friends were saying goodby and leaving Nana and Papa's get-together this afternoon: "Wait! I have something to tell you... Stay here."


"No." (It's great fun when he gives it as his response to the question, "Michael, can you say yes?" A real comedian, that guy.)


{Gulp} (Yay for finally taking bottles, even if we can only get her to drink almond milk for now.)

Saturday, February 15, 2014


As so often happens during hair appointments, I got to talking with Nana's stylist, D, (who so graciously took me on for my big haircut) yesterday. Eventually Abby- with her fine, wispy, had-earned head of hair- came up in conversation. Nana, who was sitting nearby and keeping me company, expressed her desire to finally see it get cut. Like Mima, it's been causing her distress to see the uneven, unkempt strands stray further and further beyond the end of her earlobes. Wise grandmothers that they both are, they knew all too well just how adorable their little ray of sunshine could potentially look in a bob.

I didn't disagree, but I've spent every day of the last three years (and some months) watching my oldest baby struggle to grow all of that hair, and I haven't been ready to see it altered in any way. I've stalled and made excuses. However, the instant excitement produced by the suggestion that perhaps D should be the one to give the first haircut finally swayed me. I knew that I could potentially make a lot of people happy with one little decision (which had to be made eventually) so I tentatively agreed. "Bring her by anytime tomorrow!" I was told. "No need to even make an appointment!"

I spent the afternoon considering it, wondering how best to go about "stopping by" without interrupting anything. However, when Aunt Ali made a last-minute appointment with D for the next morning, I knew that there was no getting around the inevitable. We popped the car seat into Ali's car as soon as she pulled it into the driveway on her way to the salon, and took a group field trip there.

Abby was incredibly calm, and so brave. She sat perfectly still through her beauty session, though I could see at times that she was rather skeptical of the whole process.

Though I could now come up with any number of amusing captions to accompany the second two photos based on the faces she was making, I was amazed at the time to see how still she kept herself, with nary a complaint apart from her initial distress over having a drape put on.

She remained quiet and uncomplaining through most of Ali's appointment as well, crying only when she had the misfortune to drop her last bit of bagel onto the hair-covered floor, never to be seen again. She also took great umbrage with the fact that there was hair being dropped in the first place, but I assured her that this was par for the course in hair salons like the one we were visiting.

Once we got back to Nana and Papa's, the coat was taken off and the tenacious little girl was free to be herself again, I finally got a good look at the new 'do. It was quite something to behold the transformation in my toddler-going-on-big girl. Based on appearance alone, she was clearly a toddler no more.

For Abby's part, though the experience has given her a fresh source of pride and a new story to tell, it's had no major effect on how she sees herself.

In fact, I'd say- if anything- she's been rocking that bob since the salon drape slipped off her little shoulders hours ago.

For me, it's still taking some getting used to.

To be fair, though, I'm still getting used to my own little act of bravery from yesterday. But just give me some time, and I know we'll soon both be rocking our new looks, together.