Monday, March 31, 2014

BOOM Went the Camera

One-year-old cherub, in the white chair
Sweet little baby, tails in her hair
When she goes diving, how she will fall
And down will come Mommy, camera and all...

I got some beautiful photos out of this last attempt at Month pictures, but there was a price to pay, unfortunately.

I should have known better than to put her up on furniture without Tom nearby to spot, but I wanted just a couple quick shots for a one month to twelve month comparison, so the chair is where we started. As it turned out, those first two shots weren't bad, but I was feeling unsatisfied with the look of the flash, so I switched to manual and started trying to use natural light instead.

Mia took full advantage of my divided attention and began attempting to climb over the back of the chair. 

I quickly realized that I couldn't fiddle with camera settings and keep her from landing on her head, so I put Mia down on the floor and followed her around for a bit.

Once she found the X-box controller, however, she was pretty content to sit in one place and mess with it. Since the location she chose was directly in the middle of some pretty hardcore sunlight, I had to shift her over a bit, and she continued on with her fixation.

She did allow me to distract her into looking at me at this point, which was excellent, but I began to find that from my new vantage point I couldn't quite fit her in the frame.

So, I played around with a couple of different angles, and took some closer shots.

Finally, I found a good spot to set up for a full-body shot, and what should happen next?

Someone tried to literally eat the controller. She actually bit a piece off of one of the joysticks.

Here she is, looking marginally penitent (and very drooly) for just a moment before setting off to get into trouble again.

There she goes!

As she cruised along the chair, I got the impulse to put her up there one more time for a comparison shot with Pooh. I'd tried to line him up next to her on the floor, and it simply hadn't been working. Since the whole point of taking pictures with him from the beginning was to see her size grow against his, I really wanted a good shot for her very last official portrait session with me.

By this time, she was really disinterested in sitting still, and I had to weave and bob just to get two shots in before my worst fears were realized.

You'd never think it looking at her there, but she had big, clear plans to get herself back on floor level and she lunged with a speed I had not quite anticipated. I jumped for her, just a moment too late to catch her fall. Tears ensued, which came on immediately and were soothed quickly as I picked her up and definitively ended our little project for the afternoon.

What did catch my fall, though, was the camera, something I did not even realize until later when the fingers on the hand that were holding it began to lightly throb as I tried and failed to get a response from the shutter while pushing down the button that controls it. Though I continued to count my blessings that Mia came out unscathed, I began to despair for my beloved camera.

A bit of experimentation later in the afternoon revealed that it was not the camera that had perished, however, but the lens. Less bad news, but sad news all the same. Though it was a mere kit lens, it's the only one I had capable of close-ups, and has long been my favorite for taking portraits. But while I truly regret its demise, I am quite grateful for its sacrifice. A lens is a much less costly thing to replace (someday), after all.

As for Mia, I was all-too-clearly reminded of one major reason why I don't attempt Month pictures anymore after twelve months- the little rascals are just too hard to keep up with after that. In the end, though, she provided me with four options to choose from for that comparison I was so determined to make.

And what a difference. My, how she's grown.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mobile Moments, 2/24-3/30

It's happened. She's turned one, and suddenly my littlest little isn't looking so little anymore.

I'm drained and exhausted from the emotion and merry-making that has ensued, so I'll just skip to the pictures, but if you're interested in what else went on this week, you can view a little homemade music video, peruse my retelling of Abby's first impressions of Frozen, or read about Mia's very ordinary-but-special day.

Someday, hopefully soon, I promise to have pictures of the month-anniversary sort. She's due one last set, after all.

My two girls. What a lively (and loud) duet they make.

Large, medium, and small.

Movie time.

Brother's birthday bottle backing. (Say that five times fast.)

Couldn't have set this up if I'd tried.

Sweet Michael provides solidarity during Abby's time-out.

Nana helps the birthday girl find her toes.

Overheard this week:


Though I can't for the life of me remember the context: "It needs to froze. No, no, no, it can't get freezed."

After he gave her a bear hug to help her through a time-out: "Thank you, Michael. I feel much better now."

During dinner one evening: "Oh, I got a little mushroom soup on my dress. Guess you've gotta throw me in the washing machine now!"


Though he's often hard to understand, so we're almost never certain that we've actually heard what we think we did, it seems that he attempted the following:

"Don't, don't do that!"
"I want a cookie."

He most definitely announced "apple" quite clearly after I turned to an illustration of one while we read through a new book, which was a first for him (verbally identifying without prompting) and a moment of great excitement for us both.


"Bunny, up"

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Another Day, Another Birthday

After all the build-up and countdown to the "big day," Mia's first birthday turned out to be rather ordinary. Worse, due to Tom's unexpected call into work, Abby's tendency toward the "spirited" (to put it kindly), Michael's moodiness, and Mia's exhaustion from two nights of waking too early and napping poorly, it was rather a trying day for me.

Thankfully, the weekend prior held some excitement for all of the kids, with the introduction of a new movie experience (played on a newly-installed TV screen that was purchased as a group gift in lieu of more toys that we don't need), and the beginning of the week brought with it a surprise visit from their second cousins (and first cousins, once-removed). Yesterday turned out pleasantly as well, with an enjoyable play date hosted in Mia's honor, and this weekend holds the promise of their dear Nana and Papa.

Mia was thrilled to get some one-on-one time with her younger cousin; perhaps it made her feel "big."

Certainly, it made her look big, and imagine how it pulled at my heartstrings to witness the interplay. Just this past Christmas, Mia was the tiny baby in the carrier, with an admiring older cousin at her feet.

In the meantime, having failed at managing the last of her "month" pictures or making her day particularly special in any way, I was determined to mark the occasion in some way.

For dinner, she got some "birthday" pizza,

and after dinner Tom threw together a little tart for her out of an edible sponge cake cup, homemade whipped cream, and berries.

She couldn't have known how good it would be, never having been given one before, but her face sure did light up at our approach. Most likely it was due to the serenade that came with it, a repeat performance of the one she was given over Skype about an hour before by her aunt Ali and uncle Joe.

Regardless, once she got a taste, she was hooked.

 She found the whipped cream particularly fascinating.

The cake seemed to be her least favorite part, but her siblings were all too happy to take care of that for her, in addition to gobbling down their own portions.

In the end, we had one happy baby (though infant no more), and one proud Mama feeling mighty bittersweet about it all.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Advent of Empathy

Especially having children so close in age, it's been interesting to observe the different tracks they've taken in their individual paths of development. The most clear divergence I've seen so far has been in language acquisition. Abby was early and clear; so far Michael is a little later to the game and a lot harder to understand.

However, looking back, I can see that this is a trend that has been steady from the beginning. Listening to Mia's constant babble, I can easily compare it to what we so frequently heard from Abby at her age, and clearly remember that Michael was always lacking. He's just never been a chatter. He's always been a thinker, pensive and plotting.

Certainly, his propensity for creative trouble-making has always far exceeded Abby's. Long before it seemed he should be capable of such strategy, there he was: two moves ahead. He'd get you distracted with one thing so that he could shoot across in the other direction to grab the phone you left behind.

He's also proven to be the intuitive and sensitive one. On the day, almost a year ago now, that I gave birth to Mia practically in front of them both, it was he who sensed that something was amiss, though he was barely a year old himself. Abby was far more concerned about the graham crackers that he had and she wanted. Even before that, about as far back as we began administering time-outs for Abby, nearly every time he'd sidle right up to her in an attempt to provide comfort. He still does it occasionally today, though he's learned that it often earns him a shove or punch (and extra time-out for Abby).

If I lose my temper and my cool, it just gets Abby fiery and defiant. But poor little Michael, he's made of tenderer stuff, and always has been.

Imagine my surprise, then- this past Sunday- when we reached the climax of Frozen on our first viewing together, and my brave, steel-hearted Abigail crumbled to pieces before my eyes. In my shock, it took me a moment to respond to her, overcome with a sadness I'd not yet seen before. It was not tears of pain, fear, or frustration that began to pour out of her, but rather the soul-deep, grief-filled "ugly" cry that contorts the face and folds the body with the force of its weight.

As her head fell into her little hands I grabbed her up and tucked her into my lap, holding her tightly and whispering words of comfort in her ear. Even as I began to encouragingly point out and narrate to her the good that was coming out of a deeply emotional scene, I tried to ascertain where her reaction had come from. Was it the tears on her Mima and mother's faces, the atmosphere of the room, or did she have a clear understanding of what was playing out before her on the screen? Due to the fact that she was thoroughly glued to the movie, I suspect the latter, but regardless of where she picked up on the current of emotion, the clear fact was that she was empathizing, a thing I'd never really seen her do before in earnest.

I've had flashes here and there, moments where she noticed my distress and questioned it, but she rarely offers comfort in response. And after months of trying to explain to her that Mia's cries mean she is being too rough, and Michael's screams mean that she's doing something to make him unhappy, I'd begun to wonder whether she could empathize much at all, yet. To be fair, I think much of the problem with the situations I've just described is not that she can't see the effect she's having, but more that she's caught up in her own momentum and doesn't have the impulse control to stop.

Still, it's left me curious as to just how emotionally conscious she's managed to become, and I suppose that now I have my answer. Though it broke my heart to pieces to see her so sad, she was quickly wiping those tears away and beaming with equal portions of happiness as she enjoyed the fairy-tale ending that was promised her. And though I never want to see her look so sad again, I can't deny the pride I felt in the moments just afterward. She showed me the size of her heart that day, and she sure does have a big one.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Night Music Club

Feast your eyes on these two little beauties, featuring Abby on keyboard and Mia on percussion. Monday blues, begone!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mobile Moments, 3/17-3/23

We're midway through March now, and though the forecast is calling for still more snow, I'm mainly focused on the fact that this is my very last Sunday before I have a three, two and one-year-old in my midst. It's been fairly difficult to concentrate on much else, like prepping the house for Mia's upcoming family-attended celebration, the play date I'm scheduled to host this week, and actually implementing my plan to potty-train Michael.

The poor guy is so eager to flush that potty, but he's got to learn to put something in it first. Though we've had a couple of successes thus far in our current experimental stage, I think it's going to take some serious diaper-less time to help him figure out the process. However, I'm still trying to figure out the best time to start and have a good span of days without interruption.

I'm also still trying to figure out how to get back into blogging more regularly again. Lately, the days have seemed too long and exhausting, and good ideas for content have been few and far between. While it's been a bit of a relief to slow down from the daily schedule I used to keep, and I think it unlikely I'll ever return to such a commitment, I've begun to fear I'm missing out on recording all of the little things, which I did try to catch up on this week.

It's late now, and I'm getting too tired to figure out how to wrap this up, so here come the pictures:

Morning squats with Daddy.

She's got her eye on the doorknobs, now.

Putting that desk to good use, finally.

Abby has claimed the ball pit as her castle.

There she is, in an 18-month size sleeper for the first time. It shouldn't fit so well, but it does.

Can't go wrong with french bread and fancy cheese.

Mia's new favorite trick: to lie flat on the floor as if sleeping, then pop back up again, newly refreshed.

Roses and ribbon are done. Next up: the leaves.

Overheard this week:


(In response to my request that she stop her current shenanigans): "No, I never stop. I wanna break stop. I wanna throw stop. I wanna smash stop. I wanna eat stop."

(Creating dialogue for one princess figurine to another): "Princesses don't dance. They swim."


"Circle, please."


"Mei Mei." She's also mimicked any number of random words and phrases, and perfected her wave-on-command and hi-five.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Odds and Ends

Particularly with my blogging slow-down of late, I've been anxiously watching developments and achievements of note go by without mention or record for posterity. Sometimes its because I didn't blog about them in a timely manner, and then couldn't think just when to fit them in, sometimes it's because they escaped my notice for long enough that I was no longer sure when they began. Some, I've been keeping a tally of in my head in the hopes that someday I'll figure a way to work them in.

Here's my best solution. I can't claim to be the best at keeping track of what the kids are up to all of the time, but at least I can say I wrote this stuff down somewhere, right?

Without further ado, here's my best summary of where the kids are at and what they've been up to:


She's really good with both letters and numbers. She can count to at least twenty, sometimes beyond with assistance. She is able to recognize every letter by sight and knows most of the sounds that each makes as well. Though she's not catching on to the concept of sounding out words, certain ones she does recognize reliably, like her own name.

There's practically nothing she can't articulate, and no question she won't ask. In fact, she's just begun a new and exciting phase of asking some very sensitive-type questions (complete with sensitive-type terminology) at completely random times. I'm just waiting on the day that she does so in public, or in front of someone who might potentially be embarrassed, or just embarrassed for me...

Potty training days are far behind us now, and though she's never been tested in a large public restroom, she's proved herself in a one-person room at the doctor's office, and at other people's homes, whether there's been a seat available for her or not. If I were giving tokens for days gone without an accident, she'd have earned two months plus by now.


He's still slow to use actual language to communicate, preferring instead to grunt, signal, and- when necessary- scream. However, he has worked certain ones into regular use, the most notable currently being "no." I caught him today attempting the word "don't" amidst his peers, as well. Though he doesn't speak much, he understands quite a bit, and has a broad knowledge of many things. He's been slow to pick up on identifying colors, but he can point to various body parts, and is very good at following instructions (when he so chooses).

He's working hard on those two-year molars, and I can confirm the emergence of the bottom two thus far. He's got one mostly out and one about halfway. Don't ask me exactly when it all started, though. I'd guesstimate about two months ago. Same goes for jumping and kicking, which he can now do and has been demonstrating the mastery of for some time now.

He's also in a bit of a personal exploratory/ I'd really rather go pants-less phase, likely related to potty-readiness. We've had four incidents of hand-stuck-down-soiled-diaper, but thankfully though the first resulted in poo smears all over the crib and sheets, he quickly learned his lesson and began to come to us right away when he made the mistake of sticking his fingers where they shouldn't be. However, since washing poo off of anyone's hands is no pleasant task, I've curbed the problem by putting him back in onesies. Next step: potty-training for realsies.

Most excitingly, he can now be trusted with any book, and will no longer try to eat, rip, or disassemble it. I've witnessed a slow progression over the last six months or so, and suddenly, it just is. He's coordinated and careful as he cradles the cover and turns the pages of every kind of book that we own. His little sister, though, is her own kind of enemy to books at the moment, so it's still a battle trying to keep them intact.


Somewhere along the line, she figured out how to crawl with her tummy up off the floor. She's fast and she's steady, and though I wish I knew just when that started, I'll have to claim ignorance once again. I'm pretty sure that it happened in the last two months, however.

She's by far my best eater of the three (not yet having reached that lovely picky stage that toddlers are so famous for), preferring fruit purees over veggie- with the exception of squash and sweet potato- but she's game for any table food I put in front of her on her tray, from tuna to mushrooms. She's also finally taking bottles, and now regularly takes a six-ounce one each afternoon.

Most recently, she's begun to talk, and she seems to derive inspiration from whatever it is her brother has to say. Though her first word beyond Mama and Dada was bottle, she quickly picked up "no," which is one of Michael's favorite things to repeat.

Not too much else new has happened with her that I've ceased to mention, except for one: this evening, after noticing how tightly the feet of her sleeper were encasing her little toes, it occurred to me to try her in the next size up (18 months). Though I willed it not to, especially after eyeing how  big it looked held up in front of me, it fit almost perfectly (just a little room to grow). There's no going back, now. I'll be packing up her 12-month size outfits, one at a time, over the next few weeks.

I suppose the timing is appropriate, since she's about to put those first twelve months behind her for good.

It's a pretty certain bet that even though I've devoted an entire post to catching what I missed, I forgot a good half of it in my attempt to get it down. No worries, I suppose. That will be the stuff of some other similar-type post on another low-inspiration evening just like this one.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pottying on St. Patty's

I'm determined to start Michael potty-training sooner than I did Abby, having learned that defiance is quite a thing to contend with during the process. Though I'm hopeful that Michael's personality is less defined by the stubbornness that his sister has displayed, I still feel it would be prudent to get a jump on the upcoming phase in which some level of it is sure to show its terrible face.

My progress has been slow but sure. About a month ago, I ordered some tiny t-shirts and boxer briefs. I followed that up with the purchase of a pack of pull-ups, for night- and nap-times. I even got a new over-the-toilet potty seat that has a built in splash-guard for those special little boy type messes. Most impressive of all, Tom and I finally cleared out a bit of space in the normally closed-off section of the playroom, where I plan to keep Michael while he's prone to messes so that I won't have to worry about Mia wandering into them as the soiled spots dry.

However, though the underwear and t-shirts have been washed, the room has been readied, and Abby's been getting good use out of the new seat (we keep it in the downstairs bathroom and store her other one for access upstairs), I still haven't taken the last step: a commitment to some serious diaper-free time.

I've been waiting for a decent span of consecutive days in which Tom will be around to help out if things get sticky. Last week's extra office-runs delayed my plans, and threw me for a bit of a loop. I'm hoping perhaps to jump in by this Thursday, but in the meantime it seems that Michael has picked up on my wavelength.

Perhaps it was that weeks-ago introduction to the pull-ups. I'm not even sure he knew exactly what they were, but he was sure excited about the Lightning McQueen character displayed on the packaging.

It's possible that he's finally beginning to observe and understand the daily habits of his older sister.

Maybe, it's just time.

I do know he's gotten a bit too exploratory for my taste, necessitating a return of the onesie after an unfortunate morning in which he stuck his hand down a soiled diaper and then spread the mess in an attempt to clean off his poor little hand. I've noticed that he's not been a fan of his pants lately. And over the last few days, I've tried to follow his cues and let him do some bathroom runs when he feels the inspiration.

Most have not produced anything but a little grin and giggle and an excited rush to flush the toilet afterwards. Yesterday afternoon, though, we did get a little pee, which so pleased him that he felt compelled to say the word for the first time, too.

I'm trying not to get too hopeful about all of this. I know I've likely got a challenge ahead of me, and one that will prove to be so in very different ways than Abby's experience was challenging. However, I have a feeling that my little guy will have enough enthusiasm to get us through it with fewer tears this time around.

That's the little hope I'm nursing, anyway.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mobile Moments, 3/10-3/16

When it comes to this week, I'm not sure where to even begin. Three days of face time in the office for Tom, who normally works from home every weekday but Tuesday, made for more hectic lunch and nap times for me. This was, of course, the perfect circumstance in which a late-winter cold should strike both Mia and me, making everything just a little more difficult to cope with. Though it waited to show its face until after our mid-week play date, we were forced to sniffle and cough through a shopping trip on Friday and bridal shower festivities on Saturday. Well, I did, anyway. Mia has thankfully been handling the virus better than I have.

All of these outings meant lots of time in the car with Abby, the cutest backseat driver that ever there was. They've also meant that I've had hardly any time to rest and let my immune system do its thing, but I can't really regret the great time that we had on or mall trip, witnessing Abby's awe at the ferocity of the wind that evening, spending time with good friends as they celebrated their upcoming nuptials, and stepping outside my front door to experience the beauty of the day yesterday, which rivaled even last weekend's surprise pleasant weather.

And how are we capping off all of the craziness-slash-loveliness? Why, with another snow storm, of course, which began a few hours ago. The reports of it have been to irritating even me, who never gets out of the house much regardless of what's going on outside of it. I must be ready for spring when seeing delicate flakes begin to fall outside of my window ceases to fill me with the same thrill that it once did, not so very long ago.

Give it a couple more days, though, and I'm sure we'll be jumping in mud puddles all over again.

Independent parallel play means no bickering, fighting, or stealing- a rare but beautiful sight amidst young siblings.

Mia discovers the best toy evar at Wednesday's play date.

Never too late to bring out a Christmas present, right?

Now that the ball pit has been inflated, it's great fun for everyone.

Abby proves that she's now big enough to push her little sister around. Her steering needs some work, though.

Sweet Michael got nary a drop of yogurt on his shirt as he sat in a big boy chair and sipped his milk through a straw.

Abby plays dress-up on her sister.


Overheard this week:


Eyeing the freshly-cleaned playroom that I tackled while she was upstairs coloring after lunch: "It's still a little bit messy. There's a lid on the floor."

During storytime, as her father reads out loud that 'Mammals are warm-blooded animals... with hair or fur': "I have hair or fur!"

While attempting to dress her little sister: "Mia, don't take off your hat! You could damage it."

Thinking out loud while watching Cars, as Lightning McQueen exclaims that 'Doc is a famous race car!': "Well, he was, but he's not now..."


"Book, cheese, bus, pee-pee."


"Buh!" (Is she following in her big brother's footsteps again, and attempting "book," perhaps?)