Monday, February 27, 2012

Letter to Greta: 4 Months




Dear Littlest One,

You’re four months old! And so ridiculously cute. You smile pretty much all the time, whole-face smiles that could make even Hello Kitty grin. (Because she doesn’t have a mouth, see.) You are screeching and cooing. You laughed on Saturday, though no one heard it but me so it has yet to be confirmed. You still do your cute little wiggle when you wake up in the morning and I lean over to greet you.

You are still sleeping well, from 7pm to around 7am, with one night feeding around 4 or 5am. You take three naps, morning, afternoon, and late afternoon, with varying degrees of success for the first and third. You still eat like a champion. Nursing you has been so much fun, so easy (after the pain and the engorgement wore off, of course).

You are rolling over from tummy to back, and starting to grasp toys. You are kicking things around on your play gym. You’ve begun sitting in the Bumbo chair. It’s extremely cute. There’s something about the Bumbo that just makes a baby seem cuter and more roly-poly than she already is. You love sitting in it, and you stare avidly at whatever Lucia is doing. You want so desperately to crawl on over and join in. Of course, Lucia, too, wants to sit in the Bumbo. As soon as I put you into it, Lucia announces it’s her turn to sit there. She squeezes herself in for a minute or two and then carries it around the room. You take all this in stride.

For Valentine’s Day, Grandma and Pop-Pop got you and Lucia new stuffed pigs. Lucia is very, very excited that you have “matching Piggies,” and she makes sure that you have your Piggy at all times. When you’re sitting in your bouncy chair, Lucia dumps Piggy into your lap. If you’re lying on your play blanket, Lucia arranges Piggy beside you. It’s very cute, especially because at random times she’ll look at you and exclaim, “Matching Piggies!” So your big sister is already watching out for you. There are going to be lots of matching clothes and matching toys in your future, I think.

You are a big baby, already wearing six-month clothes. If your cheeks were any rounder and fatter they’d swallow your whole face. You have rolled, wrinkled thighs and dimpled hands and rolls of fat at your wrists. You just could not be any pudgier or cuter.

You’re a true joy, littlest one. Seeing you smile at your sister and daddy, feeling you snuggle into my neck when I hold you—I just love you to bits.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Ghost Report

Lucia’s ghost followed us to Connellsville. “I see a ghost,” she’d say, just like she does here in Brooklyn. “I see a ghost coming through,” she said once, looking at the stairway. When she and my mom went down to the basement, Lucia asked often if there was a ghost. When I put her down for a nap one afternoon, she lay down then raised her head and said, “Ghost?”

Ghosts may have been on her mind because one of her favorite books of last week, Patrick Goes to Bed, had Patrick worried that a ghost would come through his open window; but it was only the wind. Still, though.

And today, I was washing Lucia’s hands in the bathroom, and when we came back to the hallway, she said, “I heard a ghost! I heard a ghost coming through!” She then stared down the hall to her nursery and began saying, “Bye bye, ghost!” Then she turned to me and said, “I saying goodbye to the ghost.” Again to the nursery doorway—“Bye bye, ghost!” When I asked her where the ghost was going, she said it was going to Gra’s (Grandma’s) house.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Greta’s Baptism





Greta was baptized today. This is the first time I’ve mentioned Greta’s baptism, I think, which may surprise you regular readers, who were with me when Andrew and I embarked on the process of getting Lucia baptized in California—a process that involved having to first get married in the church. This time around, it was easy. I started going to a parish in Park Slope when I got pregnant so I could become an official parishioner, and because of my forethought (applause, please), it was easy to schedule the baptism. But then Dad was able to get the priest from Geibel to agree to do it at his parish here, which was fantastic. I just had to get a letter from my Brooklyn parish giving me permission to have Greta baptized elsewhere, and we were in.

So this morning we all set out for the church, Lucia in a new pretty dress (“I look so pretty!” she kept saying into the mirror) and Greta looking angelic in her white dress, sweater, and tights. She wore the same white dress Lucia did for her baptism (fitting perfectly at three months, while Lucia wore it at six). Uncle Don and Aunt Joanie came too. It makes such a difference to have a ceremony like this in a place where people know you; it just feels more personal and meaningful. Fr. Bob did a wonderful job, and we were all very happy with the whole event.

The girls both did splendidly. Greta cried only once, when Fr. Bob made a cross on her forehead, and then only for a second; she didn’t cry at all at the oil or the water. Lucia was calm and quiet, for the most part, but somehow her new stuffed pig wound up sitting on the altar—in the priest’s usual seat—throughout the ceremony. Greta fell asleep the instant we got back in the car.

Afterwards, we went out to breakfast, where Lucia finally got the pancakes we’d been promising her all morning. “I go to church again?” she requested in the car.

There’s something so pleasing about public rituals, even if there remain so many institutional things that give one many, many moments of pause. It is nice to hear familiar words, have another daughter wear a white dress, welcome her into something larger. “Greta was baptized!” Lucia announced in the car. A nice way to spend one of our final Connellsville days.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Letter to Lucia: 28 Months


Dear Little One,

You’ve been lucky enough to spend your twenty-eight-month birthday at Grandma and Pop-Pop’s house, where you are clearly the happiest baby on earth: unending attention, unending toys to play with, a houseful of wonders to amuse you. Whether Daddy and I are here is of little matter to you; you are fully occupied with your grandparents and all the new fun things to do. It’s been cold and rainy the past few days, but somehow, here, it makes no difference. Staying home all day just feels different when we’re not cooped up in a small apartment. (Of course, I’m taking liberties in saying this, since I’ve been at the library all day each day—perhaps Grandma would beg to differ about feeling stir-crazy.)

You’re starting to enjoy the fun of hiding, though you haven’t quite gotten the idea of it down. “Mama, I’m hiding!” you say, running behind my chair. Then I go through a dramatic litany of where you might be—“Is Lucia at the grocery store? At the playground?”—before you lean around the chair and beam at me. When we’re all sitting around the table here, you hide behind each of our chairs—“Pop-Pop, I’m hiding! Gra, I’m hiding! Dada, I’m hiding!”—and it doesn’t get old.

You’re excited by the idea of “matching” right now, and it’s amusing for you when you and I wear similar colors (last week we were both wearing black leggings and striped socks, which you loved). You also enjoy when you and Greta wear matching clothes. “I match Greta,” you announce when you’re wearing identical pjs. I’m sure you won’t feel this way forever, but for now it’s very cute.

This month you’ve been most engaged with letters: naming letters, making letter sounds, watching your video The Letter Factory, singing the ABCs. You can identify and name about half the alphabet so far, and you know the sounds for about ten letters. You mix up the words “letter” and “number” and usually say “That’s number K!”, but we’re working on it.

Probably the cutest thing you’re saying right now is “It’s okay.” When something is amiss, or if you’ve been disturbed by something and then reassured, you’ll go around with a serious, comforting look on your face and tell us seriously, “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

Favorite things right now: stuffed animals (always), beads (always), seeds collected from the playground, pots and pans, your play kitchen, your doll (you mimic so many things I do with Greta—burping, bouncing, swaddling), Olivia on TV.

Favorite books: The Salamander Room, Read to Tiger, Blueberries for Sal, Imogene’s Antlers, Patrick Goes to Bed, Olivia Goes to Venice, Moon Rabbit.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Week in a House


We’re in Connellsville this week, for many reasons, primarily because Molly’s shower is this weekend and we thought we’d make a longer trip out of it. We drove in late Friday night, and the car trip went smoothly—both girls slept almost the whole time and went right back to sleep once we arrived. It’s snowy and cold here, and Lucia couldn’t be happier. There are tons of toys to play with, unending attention from the grandparents, and, a few days ago, that snow—on Sunday she shoveled and rode on a sled down the alley.

We made a Pittsburgh trip Sunday morning to visit the Clarks—and it was fun to see the five kids playing together (well, four were playing; Greta nursed and/or slept and/or sat on a lap). Lucia opened up quickly, and we had a great time all together for the first time on the East Coast.

I’ve been at the library every day this week, working on another big round of revisions to my novel. It’s harder to get away this time than it was last summer since I have an infant who needs to nurse and who must compete for Grandma’s attention with her attention-demanding sister, but I’ve managed to get work done, and Greta has survived. (And so has everyone else, so far.)

Lucia’s language development has just taken off this week, and she’s talking almost exclusively in complete sentences now, formulating sophisticated thoughts and narrating her actions and thoughts to all who will listen. She sings songs and asserts that she wants to do things her “own self.” Among the funny things she has said: “Good job, Gra,” when Mom helped her pick up Q-tips in the bathroom; “It’s not a ghost; it’s just the wind,” describing a scene from a book from the attic called Patrick Goes to Bed; “We’re all eating soup/hot dogs/etc.,” when we all sit down to eat; “Gra has to teach; I be quiet,” when Mom’s students start arriving. Her articulation is getting really good, and it’s a lot of fun just to listen to her.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Bits

Last week in music class, when it was time to “blow out the lights” for the quiet song, Lucia ran across the circle right up to the teacher, wanting to be the child chosen to be lifted up and allowed to turn off the light switch. The teacher lifted her up, she flipped the switch, and she then ran back to me with the happiest grin on her face. She was so, so thrilled. In the same class, Greta chose not to nap in the Bjorn as she usually does, so I took her out and she sat with us for the duration. During the dance song, a dad I’m friendly with danced with Greta, so I got to dance with Lucia, doing the spins and dips she loves (and which I can’t do when Greta’s on my chest). A fun class all around.

We had an arduous experience on Thursday. I’d misjudged the weather, thinking it was warmer than it was, and I loaded us all up for a playground trip in the morning, only to find the playground snow-covered and freezing. Lucia ran after some pigeons for a while and Greta snoozed in the stroller, but it became quickly clear that it was too cold to be outside. I didn’t want to go home, though, because I wanted Greta to keep sleeping. I suggested to Lucia that we go to a cafĂ© for a bagel. “That sounds yummy!!” she exclaimed. It did. But when we got to 5th Ave. and started walking the five blocks to the bagel shop, the wind picked up, and it was just bitter cold. Greta woke from the wind in her face and started screaming. Lucia began whimpering because her hands were cold. I suggested we just go home and, through her tears, she moaned “Nooo……bagel………” I just felt paralyzed. We weren’t near home, we weren’t near the bagel place, I couldn’t carry Lucia because I was pushing Greta in the stroller, the wind was blowing. Fortunately a grocery store was right across the street. I hustled us over, and we bought bagels and ate them at home. I just felt so done with the city at that moment. I wanted a car to zip us over to a bagel place. I didn’t want to be leading my kids on a forced march just so mama could get out of the house. Ridiculous.

I was blowing on Lucia’s oatmeal the other morning, cooling it off, and I tasted a little bit to make sure it was okay. “That’s mine,” Lucia yelled. “Don’t eat it!” The things she says are just getting funnier and funnier.

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Hard Things

Difficult things are looming on the horizon with Lucia. There are four major changes we need to make, and I’m dreading them. Well, that’s not accurate. I’m dreading two of them, the two that have the potential to disrupt our fragile nighttime peace and upend our luxurious ability to both put Lucia to bed with little hassle and bid her goodnight until the morning with nary a peep heard in between.

The biggest thing we have to do is get rid of the pacifier. She is more attached to the paw-paw than ever, having quickly wised up to my attempts to distance her from it a few weeks ago. For a day or two she went along with my requests that paw-paw “take a rest” while we played, and she’d forget about it while she sat at the table to eat. Now paw-paw can’t be out of her sight. She carefully places it alongside her plate, or arranges it on top of Bibi, while she’s eating; and she’ll only rarely put it aside while we’re playing. I’ve never even attempted getting her to sleep without it. Paw-paw is a vital part of her comfort ritual, so closely linked to her required safety totem of Bibi that she discusses them together as one thing: Bibipawpaw.

All this is to say—yikes. If she flips out because she can’t find paw-paw for one second, I have no idea what she’ll do when she can’t have paw-paw at all. It is going to be bloody. Really bloody. And I’m terrified that this is going to both wipe out naps altogether and decimate her stellar sleep.

As of yet, I have no strategy other than just…not thinking about it. I’ll cut out the daytime paw-paw use first, saving naptime and bedtime for last. But wow. This is the one that makes me break out in a cold sweat.

The other biggie is transitioning her to a toddler bed, but I’m really in no rush to do this. She’s not ready yet, and we’re already planning to buy a crib for Greta, so my plan to have only one crib in our apartment is already shot. This, too, has the potential to disrupt/destroy sleep/life as we know it.

Third is potty training. Again, I’m in no hurry, though it definitely seems like she’s ready to start. This will be hard, but I’m not dreading it. Indeed, I’m counting the minutes.

Fourth is the bottle. For some ungodly reason I still give Lucia milk in a bottle before nap and bedtime. For a long time we didn’t do this. Then I decided she needed to drink more milk and the way to get her to do that was to give her a bottle. And it worked; she was drinking ten ounces of extra milk a day. Lately, though, she usually takes just a couple of sips and says “Finished!”, so I think we’re both kind of done with this.

The bottle is the low-hanging fruit, so I’ve jumped in with this one. Today I gave her milk in a new sippy cup, calling it the “new milk” and acting like nothing was wrong. Lucia looked at the cup like it was a glowing, alien object, took a couple of tentative sips, and declared herself “Finished!” She didn’t go right to sleep at naptime, but she eventually did, and bedtime went off without a hitch. She might rebel a little in the next couple of days; we’ll see. For now, we’re off to a good start.

What’s next? Surely the paw-paw has to be the next target. And I will offer a substantial reward to anyone who steps up and offers to do this for me. If ever there was a time to outsource parenting, this is it.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Hunt: Stamford, Greenwich, and the River Towns

We set off this morning for the last of our exploratory day trips. Our destination: more of Connecticut, and two of the River Towns.

First up was Stamford, which we did not like. It’s a city, and had that stressful city feeling of too much traffic, too few sidewalks, no place to park at a storefront McDonald’s. And we really, really needed that storefront McDonald’s. After a run of several successful (i.e., no-motion-sickness) car trips, Lucia threw up pretty much as soon as we hit the Stamford city limits. And this was epic vomiting. It was everywhere. All over the carseat, all over her clothes, all over Cat and Elmo, some on her boots. It gushed down the neck of her sweater and around the back of her neck. It was horrific. And it was so cold outside, so the poor sweetie was shivering, her teeth chattering, as I changed her clothes in the trunk while Andrew cleaned up the carseat. I’d gotten lazy this trip. I’d still brought a change of clothes and a big box of wipes (we keep paper towels in the car now), but I’d neglected to bring a plastic bag, so we had a pile of vomit-laced clothes and paper towels nestled against the spare wheel. Ick. Lovely. Welcome to Stamford, indeed.

We continued on with the trip. Oh, yes, we did. We figured we’d made it out there so we might as well do what we’d planned to. We are not really bad parents; it’s just that the time for our Real House Hunt is coming closer, and we’re out of weekends (the next two weekends we’ll be in Connellsville; then Andrew will be in India for the following two weekends; and then it’s March and time to start the hunt). So on we went.

Anyway, we drove on to Greenwich, to another McDonald’s where we could actually park, where a more cheerful Lucia ate her entire Happy Meal. (She seemed warm, however, and has been touching her ear all day, so I suspect more fun is in store for us.) Then we drove around Greenwich a little. It was really pretty there, with a fancy downtown (would the Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren stores welcome my sticky little ones?), and is probably a little too pretty and fancy for our budget. We’ll keep it on the list until we’ve done more research.

Next we drove to Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, both of which we liked a lot—we’ll keep these on the list. Cute downtown in Tarrytown, lovely streets and houses in both places. Sleepy Hollow, especially, felt like a place we could call home.

At this point we’ve narrowed it down to eight places: Rowayton, Greenwich, and the Shippan Point section of Stamford, CT; Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, NY; and Maplewood, South Orange, and Montclair, NJ. Only the New Jersey towns seem to hit all our wished-for elements, and though the taxes make them less than perfect, it’s becoming more and more apparent that these will likely end up being our final three.

Greta had a diaper disaster in Sleepy Hollow; we changed her clothes (poor shivering baby!) and piled more dirty laundry in the back of the car. She screamed much of the way home. Lucia alternately cried/whined, sang the ABCs, and engaged us in prolonged conversations like this:

“Mama. Mama. Mama.”
“Yes, sweetie?”
“Tiny feet.” (Holds up Cat’s legs.)
“Yes, Cat does have tiny feet.”
“Tiny hands.” (Holds up Cat’s arms.)
“Yes, Cat does have tiny hands.”
“Dada. Dada. Dada.”
“Yes, love?”
“Tiny feet.” (Holds up Cat’s legs.)

Etc.

And she’d sometimes erupt in mournful laments that Bibi was not with us:

“Biiiiiibiiiiiiiiii. I want Biiiiiiibiiiiiiiiii.”
“Bibi’s waiting for you at home, dearest.”
“I go home see Bibi.”
“We’re on our way home now.”
“I want Bibi. I want New Elmo.” (New Elmo was vomit-covered in the trunk of the car.)
“New Elmo needs a bath. You’ll see him at home.”
“I have Cat. Tiny feet! Tiny hands! Tiny ears! Tiny eyes!”

Etc.

It was a long day, but it was a necessary trip. Now we can begin the next stage of our hunt.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Cuties

Greta is at that roly-poly stage that makes me want to just gobble her up. And Lucia's pretty cute, too.




Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Wednesday Bits

Today, a cranky Lucia began pushing Greta’s bassinet around our bedroom while I changed Greta’s diaper. When the pushing began getting out of hand, I told her to stop, and then I carried Greta out to the living room. From there I heard her yelling at me: “I moving the crib! I moving the criiiiiiiib!” When that didn’t get any response from me, she ran out to the living room and stood there screaming: “I moving the criiiiiiiiiib! Mama! I moving the criiiiiiiiiib!” It is so hard sometimes not to laugh at these ridiculous episodes. And it is also so incredible that such nonsense can be so infuriating.

Lucia is still very much into collecting things. This summer it was stones; now it’s seeds from trees around the neighborhood. The seeds are small, smooth, and brown—quite pretty—and gathering them is the focus of our walks and, sometimes, of our time at the playground. Today we walked to music class, and by the time she got there she had about twenty of them in her bucket, which she proudly showed the teacher.

Greta has discovered her reflection in the mirror. Super cute. Lucia likes to lie down with her, and together they look at themselves.

I’m not sure why I continue to be so astonished at Lucia’s language development. This is what two-year-olds do: they learn to talk in phrases and sentences. But it just seems so amazing to hear her say things like, “I go have bathtime with Dada” and “I put paw-paw beside Bibi” and “When Dada gets home I have a cookie” and “It’s getting dark outside.”

Yesterday while we were at the playground in the late afternoon, Lucia pointed to the moon and said, “The moon! I want it.” She reached and reached and seemed only partially accepting of the fact that it was too high for her to get. Today she saw an airplane and said, “Airplane! I want it!” Again I explained that it was too high, and she stared after it mournfully, saying, “I can’t reach it. I can’t reach it.”

Greta slept through the night two nights in a row, 7pm to 6am. Knock wood etc.