Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Hunt

We embarked on another exploration today. We’re coming to the end of these new-town investigations—there’s one more day trip we might do, but now we’ve seen all the options at least in passing and can start focusing in on our top choices. Today we drove north to Scarsdale, Chappaqua, White Plains, and Pleasantville. Scarsdale was pristine and lovely—like a magical fairytale hamlet—but those fairytale houses were so close together it was like someone had fitted them together into a puzzle. There were no yards to speak of with many of the properties, and everything was way out of our price range anyway. For some reason I’ve always associated Scarsdale with the kind of suburbia that would inspire Richard Yates—engendering a particular sort of existential despair rooted in disillusionment, isolation, burst dreams. I have no way of knowing whether this is accurate and suspect it is not. But with house prices in the $1 million+ arena, we probably won’t find out.

There were some pretty properties in White Plains—but we were surprised at just how much of a city White Plains is, and not a very nice city at that. We felt stressed while we were there, trying to find a place to park to have some lunch, ending up in a parking garage underneath an Atlantic Terminal-like shopping center, hauling toddler and infant carseat down a city block to get to…an Applebee’s. It was not a restful place, not a place we felt we could take deep, wide-open suburban breaths. This was an easy one to cross off the list with no qualms.

Pleasantville was our pleasant surprise of the day. Gorgeous streets, tons of trees, large, beautiful homes. We found an open house and went in, and it was exactly the kind of house we’ve been looking for. Six bedrooms, ample living space, lots of character, a huge yard…and, we found out inside, a $1.4 million price tag. Alas. Pleasantville might prove to be out of our range; plus, the commute is questionable, and there wasn’t any of the walkability we liked so much in Maplewood and, especially, Montclair. But we’re keeping it on the list for now.

Incidentally, I think Lucia is getting into the spirit of the house hunt. When we left that beautiful house, I was gushing about how much I loved it, and Lucia, holding my hand as we walked to the car, announced, “I love it too!” (There were stuffed animals in the attic playroom—of course she loved it.)

Before heading home we decided to stop at a glorious suburban Target. The girls had been great travelers all day, but this proved to be One Stop Too Many for Greta; she screamed bloody murder the entire time we were there. Other than that, it was a good trip.

We’re really narrowing down now. We’re considering an exploration of Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut, but our eyes are focusing slowly but surely on Maplewood, South Orange, and Montclair, New Jersey; and possibly Rowayton, Connecticut. The true search is going to be starting alarmingly soon, in just a couple of months…

Friday, January 27, 2012

Letter to Greta: 3 Months

Dear Littlest One,

You marked your three-month birthday by hitting an exciting milestone: you rolled over from tummy to back today! In just a couple of days, you went from screaming bloody murder during tummy time to doing strong, prolonged neck lifting and, today, to actually turning over. I hadn’t even been practicing with you; you were just ready. You found yourself in the right position and over you went. Then you did it four more times as Lucia and I cheered you on. What a wonderful end to the week. (And your sister was truly excited: she grinned and laughed each time you rolled over and were concerned when you seemed to hit your head on the floor.)

You continue to be a lovely, easy baby most of the time. You are still a champion sleeper: from 7 or 7:30pm till 7 or 7:30am, with just one night feeding—sometimes at 2, more often at 4:30. You aren’t the greatest napper, and the only time you take really good naps is when you’re in the Bjorn or in my arms—which is why it’s best when we can get out and about in the mornings. When I take Lucia to playgroup or the playground or music class, you can easily nap for two hours. You’re still taking three naps on ideal days—morning, noon, and late afternoon—though you still get exhausted in the evenings and cry hysterically until we put you to bed.

You are the best little nurser. And now you’ve started clutching my shirt in your tiny fist while you nurse, pulling it toward you, and I know it must give you such comfort. I also think you’re wise: you know that when you’re nursing you have my undivided attention (well, for the most part; I’m usually reading a book to Lucia or otherwise interacting with her, but at least you have my full attention physically)—a rare thing to get when you are a second child.

You wake up happy in the morning, looking up with bright open eyes and smiling when I lean down to pick you up. Your whole face lights up when you smile. I have yet to get a good picture—the days of simply standing over a baby with a camera, poised for the perfect shot, are nonexistent now—but I will get one. I had your passport pictures taken and you’re giving a tiny smile to the camera, so that’s something.

Your favorite book right now is White on Black by Tana Hoban—a board book of white silhouettes on black backgrounds. You love a page with four button silhouettes—when this page appears, you fixate on it intently, and you begin smiling and gurgling, almost giggling. Something about those buttons just tickles you. Even if you’re fussing, if I show you that page, your face lights up.

You are just so sweet, littlest one. Cuter every day. I know you’ll be just as feisty as your sister someday but for now you are just my little baby, there for the snuggling.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dark Days / Light Days

Yesterday and today, Andrew had to go into work early and stay late (late as in out-for-dinner-and-drinks late, getting home past midnight late). This meant I was on my own all day for two days—and, more significantly, two bedtimes. These days were so different I just had to capture them in a post.

I thought yesterday would be the easy day, since Kate, our sitter, had agreed to stay through bedtime to help me manage getting two babies to bed. But Greta chose yesterday to mutiny. She fooled us into thinking she was going to be the easy one by sleeping through the night—straight through, from 7:30 to 6:30. But then she napped badly all day—trying to nap, needing to nap, but napping fitfully and waking before she was ready. By 3:00pm, she was a screaming, inconsolable basket case. I passed her off to Kate and took Lucia to the grocery store for a little breather; she fell asleep immediately once we left. There was a 45-minute period of peace when we got home, and Lucia and I baked cookies. Then Greta woke up and all hell broke loose. Lucia decided to mutiny as well. It had rained pretty much all day; she’d been cooped up with a screaming baby; and she just started running wild, literally running in circles around the coffee table and then hitting my legs wildly for no reason. I felt like I should have been in that old public-service-message commercial: Stop. Count to ten. Before you pick up your child. Greta screamed throughout Lucia’s bathtime and bedtime. Thank goodness I had someone there to rock her and try to calm her. It was an evening that, were I not already mom to the little monsters, would have served as outstanding birth control. I can’t adequately capture the insanity. It was like a scary circus inside an insane asylum.

Then there was today. It was sunny and warm (well, mid-forties, which seems warm). I hustled everyone outside for a walk at 9:00am; Lucia seemed thrilled to be actually walking outside of the apartment. We spent the morning at a friend’s house with our playgroup; Greta slept in the Bjorn. When we left, we walked to the playground. Lucia ate her whole lunch on the way. Greta took another snooze. Everyone had a great nap once we got home and woke up in good spirits. We went back to the playground at 4:00 and got home just when it got dark. Lucia played calmly. Greta kicked in her bouncy chair. Lucia ate a good dinner. There was a blip when I went to put Greta to bed—lots of tired screaming—but then she fell asleep and stayed asleep while I gave Lucia her bath and put her to bed. The day went quickly, pleasantly.

I could congratulate myself, but I think the true hero in this story is the weather. Things are just better when we can go outside. Lucia’s happier. Greta naps better. I feel saner. Down, down with winter. Let’s hope this mildness sticks around.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

More Exploring

We headed out to the burbs once again today, this time to drive around Montclair, New Jersey. And we really loved what we saw. We’d been to Montclair several months ago on a very preliminary exploration—it’s where we bought Lucia’s very first stuffed Elmo—but this time we were looking more specifically at houses. There are some beautiful, tree-lined streets, large, interesting houses, nice-sized yards, good parks, lots of places to walk to. The schools are, I’ve read, outstanding. We went to just one open house today but are definitely putting Montclair high on the list for future hunting.

Once again the girls were great in the car. However, Lucia seems to have gotten it into her head that any time we get in the car, our destination is a playground. As soon as we get on the road, her chant begins: “Playground? I go a playground?” We did find a playground for her, since we had some time to kill before the open house; we stuffed her into her snowpants, hat, coat, and mittens in the back of the car and then traipsed through a snowy park to a great playground. Unfortunately, the equipment was all too slippery, but she still had fun tramping in the snow and watching Andrew throw snowballs at trees.

We could see ourselves in Montclair. It only takes twenty minutes to drive from there back to the city—which means we can still do city things once the kids are a) old enough to take the train in with me to a museum or event, or b) old enough to be left with a sitter so Andrew and I can drive in ourselves for evenings out.

Another successful exploration. The time for real hunting is getting closer and closer…soon we’ll have to start narrowing our focus.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A First

Today Lucia, Greta, and I went out to lunch with a friend and her daughter. I was anxious about the plan—even though I’d proposed it, since I had a Groupon that was expiring tomorrow, and going out in the evening for dinner just isn’t realistic, what with Greta’s witching hour. Going to the playground by myself with both girls is pretty much the extent of our public excursions, so a restaurant was kind of a big step.

We went early and sat in a booth, and the toddlers were content with the basket of tortilla chips the waiter brought over. No one else was in the restaurant. We ordered our meals, and some rice and beans for the little ones. Greta fell asleep in the stroller. Lucia stood happily in the booth eating chips. Though she refused it at first, eventually she even ate some rice and beans. I was feeling proud, confident, powerful—out in the world! with two babies! having lunch with a friend in a restaurant, having a conversation!—when, out of the corner of my eye, I suddenly saw Lucia bend over and vomit dramatically all over the seat of the booth. And then vomit again all over the floor. And then again, either on the seat or the floor; I don’t remember. It doesn’t matter.

I jumped out of my seat and pulled her away from the vomit; miraculously, it hadn’t gotten on her at all. She was whimpering but otherwise seemed fine, and almost immediately began saying “I sick! I sick!” and running back and forth along the length of the restaurant. Meanwhile, the horrified waiter brought me a towel, and then a roll of paper towels, and then a plastic bag in which to seal the toxic mess. I cleaned everything up as well as I could, on my hands and knees under the table. “Do you have kids?” I asked the waiter, who was hovering nearby. He said he did not. “Well, then, you hate us right now,” I acknowledged. He gave a little laugh but seemed mollified when I handed over a gigantic tip with the bill.

We left, Lucia cheerier than ever, waving and saying “Bye bye!” to the tight-lipped manager, running ahead of the stroller down the street saying “I sick! I sick!”, nibbling on a tortilla chip she’d taken with her.

She did not seem sick, then or beforehand. But when I think back over the day, I should have seen a few red flags—mainly, that she refused to eat any breakfast at all and refused to eat any snacks in the late morning, not even a beloved Clementine or a Nutrigrain bar. She ate nothing but a few pretzels and one or two bites of toast the entire rest of the day, but seems otherwise okay.

We may be awoken tonight with a vomit-filled crib and/or a raging fever; who knows. Those would not be a parenting first. A pool of vomit in a Park Slope restaurant, however, definitely was. You’re gonna miss this…

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Ghost Report

The ghost continues to make appearances in our kitchen. Yesterday, Lucia was about to enter the kitchen but stopped short and said, “I see a ghost.” She said the ghost was at the stove, cooking soup. When she said she saw the ghost, she actually hurried behind me, as though hiding. A day or two before that, the ghost was first in the kitchen and then outside: “Ghost outside, looking for stones.” (The ghost is often carrying stones while in the kitchen.) And also recently (can’t remember the specific days) she was running back and forth from the living room into the kitchen—until she said a ghost was in the kitchen, at which point she would come to a screeching halt at the kitchen threshold and refuse to enter.

I’m really intrigued by all this, especially the idea that she somehow has understood that a ghost is something to be afraid of, something to avoid. Where did this knowledge come from? And just what is it that she’s seeing?

A First

***This is the first of a new series of posts that will highlight parenting firsts in the Littell household. Of course, there is the possibility that this post will be the only one in the series. But onward regardless.***

Last night, I went to the basement to get our laundry—a load of whites—out of the washer. When I opened the lid, I was horrified to see that the entire load of clothes was mixed with a snowdrift of gelatinous slime reminiscent of an exotic breed of translucent fish eggs. The slime was all over and in the clothes; it lay in piles at the bottom of the washer like an overabundance of priceless caviar. It dissolved when I touched it, leaving no soapy or slimy residue, and it fell free from the clothes when I shook them. Nearly gagging, I threw the clothes in the washer, having no other recourse: we were out of quarters, it was 10pm—and Lucia’s blankie (pulled from her sleeping arms under cover of darkness) was in this hideous load. We had to just see it through.

When the dryer cycle finished, I opened the door with trepidation. However, I was surprised and relieved to find that the clothes were, for the most part, free of the gelatinous slime. Not so the lint trap, which was thick with it; and snowdrifts of it were all over the inside of the dryer itself. I carried the clothes upstairs and dispatched Andrew with a roll of paper towels to clean up the hideous mess.

We had no idea what could have caused this. We’d done two loads of darks prior to the whites, so it wasn’t anything wrong with the washer. Only when I began folding the whites did I finally discover what had happened: somehow, someway, one of Greta’s diapers had gotten into the laundry. The gelatinous slime was the absorbent gel from inside the diaper. Whether the diaper was clean or dirty, only God knows, and, with no more quarters and the clocking ticking on towards midnight, only a better parent than I am cares. It was all washed, is my reasoning.

This morning, I took a pair of clean white socks from my drawer and pulled one onto my foot. To my horror, my toes squished into a cold mass of the gelatinous slime that had gathered in the toe of the sock. Surely there is no more disgusting way to begin a day than this.

Washing a diaper with the laundry: a first.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Letter to Lucia: 27 Months

Dear Little One,

What a run for our money you’ve given us this month. The holidays were hard on all of us: two weeks of visitors, a tree in the living room, an overload of presents—couple all this with some late-arriving sibling jealousy, an ear infection, and general two-ness and you have a recipe for an explosive finale to the year.

Things are better now that we’re back in our usual routines, though some of the jealousy and two-ness remain. It’s immediately apparent when you’re starting to go into the “red zone,” as a parenting book described it. Your whole face changes; the look in your eyes is pure challenge and defiance. You lash out with your arms, trying to push away or hit whatever offends you. Your voice pitches higher and tilts into shrill screams. We try to deflect it when we can. When we can’t, we’re trying out other ways of halting things before they get out of hand.

Fortunately you don’t direct your anger at Greta. She’s the source of much of your frustration, of course, but you seem to understand that she’s a baby and not really at fault. You might say “No Greta” when I retrieve her from a nap, or tell me to put her in the office when you want her out of the way, but you still give her lots of hugs and kisses and are, more often than not, happy to see her.

You like to show things to Greta—toys, and things you can do. “Look, Greta,” you’ll say, holding out a stuffed animal. “Look, Greta,” you’ll say, doing some sort of acrobatic maneuver. You usually offer Greta a bite of your snacks.

Your language continues to rapidly develop, and you narrate your actions constantly throughout the day. “I put it over here.” “Where’d paw-paw go? I see it! I found paw-paw.” “Read Olivia Goes to Venice.” “The baby dropped his ice cream.” “Move high chair over there.” “I’m making a stack.” You can sing your ABCs.

Favorite toys and things to do this month: Play-Doh, especially “tiny balls” (which you always say in a high, tiny voice)—tiny balls of Play-Doh that have hardened into colorful pebbles and which can now be found all over our house. Much of your day is spent arranging them, transferring them among containers, finding them, hiding them, pushing them in your stroller, or “cooking” them in a pan. Other favorites: your new doll; stuffed animals (always); small basketball; buckets; stickers; small canisters of Play-Doh you can stack; a Little People pig from your farm, which you hide around the living room; sitting at your little table to draw.

Favorite books this month: Olivia Helps with Christmas, Olivia Goes to Venice, Frosty the Snowman, Henry in Love, Madeline, Memoirs of a Goldfish.

You miss our Christmas tree. For a week or so after we took it down, you’d run over to where it was, spread your arms, and say, “No tree!” Then you’d give me a serious look and say, “Get another one.” You also seem eager for snow to arrive, though you really, really hate the cold; after a certain threshold you won’t walk on your own, and if we do manage to get to the playground you are listless and uninterested. It’s been a mild winter so far, but the cold has definitely reached us now, and long days inside aren’t good for anyone. It would be wonderful if you like the snow, but I’m not banking on it—though I did buy you snow pants just in case.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Greta is an easy baby. (Knock, knock, knock wood.) She is easygoing and calm, and if she prefers being held to being put on a playmat or in a bouncy chair, so be it; she’s a baby, and our apartment is quite cold, and if I were her I’d want to be on a warm person too. But Greta is also demanding, a true child of a mama who likes routine and regularity. If it’s time for her to eat, she begins screaming bloody murder with no warning whatsoever. FEED ME. NOW. The worst is when Greta gets sleepy. She becomes an insane screaming infant, face red, lips quivering with rage, crying so hysterically she ceases to let out any sound at all. She is then nearly impossible to calm, and even when she does fall asleep, she wakes up a couple of times and needs to be soothed once again.

Greta’s witching hour begins promptly at 5:00pm, just when I need to start getting Lucia’s dinner ready and a good bit of time before I can count on Andrew walking through the door. It is the toughest part of my day. There’s nothing I can do but rock her and try to get her to sleep, which is all but impossible with Lucia tagging along. I’ll go into our darkened bedroom to rock Greta, suggesting that Lucia stay in the living room; of course she says “I come too” and follows me in, jumping and chattering despite my admonitions that she be quiet. I feel for her at these times, I really do, the screaming interloper monopolizing my time and delaying her dinner.

The problem is that Greta for some reason cannot settle down for a late-afternoon nap. She naps in the morning, and then again around noon or one while Lucia naps, but then can’t let go for a nap at four or four-thirty—when she really needs it. If I could focus on Greta 100%, I know I could get her down. But I don’t have half an hour to rock her in a dark, quiet room. And so a nap doesn’t happen. And then the insane witching hour begins. Bedtime for Greta has become six or six-thirty just because she simply cannot stand being awake a minute longer, and it is both cruel to her and excruciating to us to try to get her to stay up till our preferred bedtime of seven.

Ah, Grets. I’m planning to rework her sleeping situation in our bedroom to improve things. Right now our room is very very bright, and she sleeps in a bassinet. But she is so tall that she’s outgrowing the bassinet already. So room-darkening curtains and a real crib are on the horizon. I also need to try wearing Greta for that four-thirty nap. If she’s too upset she can’t settle herself; but if I catch her before she gets worked up she might just sleep for me in the Bjorn. Here we are once again in the land of infant strategizing...

The Ghost Report

Yesterday, Lucia was kicking a beachball around the living room while I nursed Greta on the couch. She was in a testy mood, and she kept kicking the ball dangerously close to me. Trying to deflect a confrontation, I suggested she kick the ball into the kitchen. “No,” she said. “Ghost.” She said it matter-of-factly. “There’s a ghost in the kitchen?” I said. “Yes,” she said. Further questioning revealed that the ghost is (still) a baby, and it was standing by the stove, cooking soup.

The Hunt

Early this morning, the four of us set out in the car for more explorations of possible places to live. On the agenda today: Mamaroneck, Rye, and Port Chester, in New York; and Darien, Rowayton, and Cos Cob in Connecticut. The outstanding school districts in both areas are extremely appealing, the commute humane, the taxes much more palatable than New Jersey. We expected our trip today to shake up our top new-home choices.

But despite our enthusiasm going in, we were surprised to find that we didn’t much like Mamaroneck. There were some beautiful homes, but it seemed remote—and, in an odd way, there was a malaise hovering over the town. I didn’t see a cozy suburban life there—I saw isolation. Perhaps the gloomy day had something to do with it, but neither of us could quite imagine ourselves being happy there. Same for Port Chester. We felt differently in Rye: a really cute downtown, beautiful homes. It seemed livelier somehow; and we could better imagine a home there.

It became clear very quickly that we can’t afford to live in Darien, and probably not Cos Cob. We might not be able to afford Rowayton, either, but we hope we can—this was a really cute place, right on the water, a charming little town that conjured images of fireplaces and cozy evenings at home, hunkered down against the weather.

It was a very educational trip. These explorations really are helping us shape our search, even when we don’t go to any open houses.

The girls both did splendidly in the car. It was a long day—we left around 9:30am and didn’t get home till around 4:30pm—but there was nary a fuss. Greta slept most of the time in the car, and Lucia kept up an amusing monologue. We stopped for lunch at a McDonald’s in Mamaroneck—possibly the longest McDonald’s stint ever, between running out to the car for things, changing diapers, nursing, everyone ordering and eating, etc etc etc—but Lucia enjoyed her French fries and two chicken McNuggets and the toy from her Happy Meal. Greta spit up down the neck of my sweater, but she was still cute. We stopped at a second McDonald’s in Cos Cob before heading home so Greta could nurse and Lucia could have some ice cream. (Really, is there a better place for a toddler? Junk food, a booth to stand up in, no one around to care if she runs around.)

Lucia’s monologue truly was hilarious; at times it seemed she was just saying words she knew, calling up pieces of her vocabulary in free-association fashion:

“Snowman. Santa. [high, tiny voice:] Tiny snowman! Tiny Santa! I taking a shower. I wash face. Lots of soap. Mama, wash face. Dada, wash face. Shoes off. Wash back. Mama, wash back. Dada, wash back. Holly bush! Open it. Fish. Ice cream. Cheddar bunnies? Chocolate bunnies? I need wa-wa. Stinky diaper. Out. Out. Up. No. Playground! Playground! Park! Home see Bibi. I have paw-paw. Uh-oh—I drop tiny ball. Greta sleeping. Greta awake! Greta has paw-paw. Snack? Cake! Cake!”

A successful trip.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Two Cute Girls

Let the House Hunt Begin!

It’s begun: our house hunt. After saving for the past four-plus years, we are ready to buy a house. Well, we’re ready to start the process of preparing to buy a house, with the goal of moving by the time our lease is up on August 1. That seems like a really long way away, but it’s not when you factor in six to eight weeks for closing. So it’s time to start the hunt.

Today we drove out to Maplewood, NJ, a pretty town that’s surprisingly close to NYC—we got there in about half an hour, which means Andrew and I could conceivably come into the city to do fun things on nights when we have a sitter or visiting grandparents. The commute for Andrew is humane, and the community for me seems, from preliminary observations, very nice. We were anxious about making the drive with both kids, but they did great: no carsickness from Lucia, only minimal fussing from Greta, and a manageable amount of whining from Lucia that focused on her desire to go either home or to a playground. Both kids ended up asleep by the time we got to the first open house.

Andrew and I alternated going into the houses we’d selected, which won’t be a really viable way of operating once we’re actually looking to buy; but it was fine for today, since our objective was just to get a feel for what’s out there and to see what it’s like to be inside these suburban houses, looking out. We didn’t see anything that fit our idea of Our Suburban Life—the main problem in Maplewood is that the yards are really, really tiny—but it was pretty exciting to imagine eventually finding the right house on one of the pretty streets. And to realize that within a year we are going to have space, space, space. We’re looking at 4+ bedrooms, and some places even have a finished basement—all have formal dining rooms, most have fireplaces, many have dens in addition to living rooms. It is going to be glorious, just glorious.

I know we’ll have to revise our wish list eventually, but for now, here it is:

nice backyard
4+ bedrooms
2+ full bathrooms
at least one wood-burning fireplace
front porch
large kitchen
space for a playroom
space for an office
a craft room! a laundry room! walk-in closets! a hoooooooouuuuuuuuuussssssse!

We are excited. And we did find a playground for Lucia once the open houses were done, where she happily collected stones and sticks until it was time to go home.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Another Ghostly Encounter

Late this afternoon, Andrew, Lucia, and I were all in the living room while Greta napped in her bouncy chair in the office. Lucia had just woken up from her nap but, nonetheless, was in a cheery mood. She was performing some acrobatics on the floor—spinning, splits—and giggling. Then, out of the blue, she looked at us and said, “Ghost in kitchen.” And then kept saying it, just as she did yesterday. “Ghost in kitchen. Ghost in kitchen.” She answered our questions consistently: “What’s in the kitchen, Lucia?” “A ghost.” “Where is the ghost?” “In the kitchen.” I asked her where the ghost was standing—by the island, the stove, the table? “By the table.” We asked if the ghost was a man or a woman, or a baby. “A baby!” “What is the ghost wearing?” “A dress.” “What color?” “Pink.” Then I asked if the ghost was carrying anything, and Lucia said immediately, “Stones.”

This was all pretty freaky. But it got downright terrifying when Andrew asked if Gray Bunny wanted to say hi to the ghost, and she held up Gray Bunny, facing the kitchen, and began calling, “Ghost…ghost…ghost…” She stood that way for a long time, holding out Gray Bunny toward the kitchen. Andrew and I were truly afraid.

An unrelated aside: Even scarier than all this is a bill from Blue Cross that came in the mail today for $138,131.68 slated as “Amount you owe to provider.” We’re pretty certain this is a mistake, since it’s billing us for 30 days of hospital room and board for the entire month of November—when I was home, sitting in our apartment, healthy and healing, Greta already born. Nonetheless, our faces were as white as they were when Lucia held out Gray Bunny for his ghostly encounter.

Friday, January 06, 2012

A Ghost Came Through the Kitchen

Lucia genuinely freaked me out tonight. It was around 4:30pm, dark outside, and she and I were in the living room; Greta had just gone down for a nap in our bedroom. Most of the apartment was dark. Since we play almost exclusively in the living room, by the end of the day we usually have lights on only in the kitchen and living room. I was sitting on the couch, and Lucia was playing with something on the floor. Then, suddenly, she ran into the kitchen, looked around, and said, "Ghost came through the kitchen. Ghost came through the kitchen." She ran back to me and just kept repeating this over and over and over again, staring at me with her saucer eyes. "Ghost came through the kitchen. Ghost came through the kitchen." She said it exactly the same way every single time.

I kept asking her to explain what she meant, or say it a different way, or show me the ghost. At one point she ran to the kitchen doorway and called out to the ghost: "Ghost.....Ghost....Ghost....." I was truly frightened. I didn't know what to do. I kept asking her if she really meant to say "ghost," and she would say yes; but she would also say yes when I asked if what she actually said was "chicken" instead of "kitchen," so I couldn't fully trust her answers. I asked if the ghost was a man, and she said yes. I asked if the ghost was a woman, and she said yes. So I wasn't sure what to think.

Regardless, she just kept saying it. Again and again and again. I wanted to run back and get Greta, but I was afraid; finally I turned on all the lights and went back, finding her sleeping soundly. I hadn't realized that Lucia had followed me back; when I turned around, there she was. "Ghost came through the kitchen."

Fortunately, Andrew came home early tonight. But I had no idea he was going to, so when I heard our door rattling and then opening, I screamed. (Well, a controlled scream, so as not to frighten Lucia.)

The mystery of what Lucia was actually saying, or if there was really a ghost, remains. I've never felt a haunting presence here, but perhaps this winter will bring some supernatural to our lives.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

I Walking a Cane

Lucia’s been saying the funniest things lately. This weekend when Andrew and I were sitting on the couch and Lucia was amusing herself with something on the coffee table, she suddenly looked up and said, “I’m so happy!” That was pretty cute. She also says “I’m walking with a cane” and then limps around the room with her abacus as a cane; “Each one has a flower” when we’re reading Madeline; “She drank the whole thing” when she gives her doll a bottle; “Mama, where are you?”; “Where Dada go?”; and much, much more. Recently she ran into the bedroom, looked at me, and said, “I can’t find paw-paw.” It was just so clear. And yesterday we were both having some turkey breast and she said, “We both eating turkey.” Really fun to see this all in motion.

Oh, and today there was this exchange:

Lucia, randomly, while standing at her art table: “Happy birthday!”
Me: “Whose birthday is it?”
Lucia: “Markers’ birthday! They have a cake.” She then grabbed a handful of markers and observed, “Lots of them!”

However, Lucia sometimes also seems to be speaking English as a second language. Often, when she attempts to say a preposition + article construction (with a, on the, in the, etc.), she simply says “a.” So she says a lot of things like, “I put it a table” and “I walking a cane” and “Go a living room.” She sounds like a charming little European visiting our humble home.


Greta had her two-month checkup yesterday and weighed in at a hefty 11 pounds, 1 ounce. She’s 23 ¼ inches long. The doctor called her “robust.” Robust! I can’t believe I have a robust child, especially since this child was born three weeks early. I sort of wonder if she’s eventually going to catch up to and then surpass Lucia. Lucia didn’t hit 12 pounds till she was eighteen weeks old. More importantly, this all means that Greta is probably going to grow into six-month clothes this winter, and all Lucia’s old six-month clothes are sundresses and sleeveless onesies. So much for hand-me-downs.

Greta is also smiling and cooing and just generally being adorable these days. She continues to run hot and cold with the pacifier, accepting it grudgingly now and then but always spitting it out just before or immediately after falling asleep. She loves to look at Lucia. And today when we were playing with her and making faces at her, she mirrored me when I stuck out my tongue, which Lucia thought was hilarious.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy #@!$#ing New Year

I hate January 1. Always have, probably always will. Today, though, was a doozy. My parents went out to load their car so they could get on the road and head to Molly’s—and they discovered that everything in it had been stolen, despite the fact that the car was parked immediately in front of our apartment. Their GPS, their iPod, and, worst of all, their Christmas gifts for Molly and Ian. I called the cops, who came for their report, but obviously there’s nothing they can do. People who steal wrapped Christmas gifts are on the same low level of humanity as people who smash pumpkins.

Happy New Year! Fantastic!

January 1 also finds us in a new chapter of our life entitled Lucia Is Two. More will perhaps be said about this at another, less frustrated time.

Happy New Year! Splendid!

On a brighter note, my big novel revision is done, thanks to Andrew’s and our parents’ willingness to brave both babies on their own for the last two weeks. I became a regular at a nearby coffeeshop and might just have to make up some other huge project I just HAVE to work on in order to continue my daily three-hour doses of alone time.

Happy New Year! Superb!