Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It Begins

Potty training has begun. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off and finally, on Saturday, I just didn’t put Lucia’s diaper on, explained she could have chocolate if she used the potty, and went with it. She went several times both Saturday and Sunday, with a few accidents. Monday she went just once, but our sitter was here in the morning, and then we went out to a playground in the afternoon, so it wasn’t prime conditions. In any case, we’re on the potty-training path. I cannot yet see the end of it.

At least when it comes to #1, Lucia knows exactly what she’s doing and (when conditions are right) will say “Mama, I have to go to the potty” when she needs to go. Then she’ll sit down with a smile, and sit and sit, and occasionally she’ll say in a sing-songy voice, “I’m goooiiing…I’m goooiiing…” And then she goes, and she beams. She’s totally ready.  

And while we’re sitting there, of course I have to bring Greta along, and while I sit in the bathroom doorway she proceeds to pull all the Tupperware off the shelf into a huge pile, before moving onto the box of bibs. The house has gotten messier since Greta has gotten mobile…

Monday, July 30, 2012

Letter to Greta: 9 Months

Dear Littlest One,

What a sweet little banana you are. With your whole-face smile, ear-shattering happy-shriek, and adorable crawl, you are just a jolt of snuggly joy. Of course, your sleeping is atrocious; you’ve been biting me while nursing; and you’ve begun a charming lip-buzzing that spews baby food all over me as I feed you. Still, to me you seem pretty perfect.

You are crawling quickly and determinedly. You’re pulling up on every possible piece of furniture, and you seem to be trying to crawl on top of the low ottomans. You have just realized you can stand in your crib, so now when we hear you “calling” for us, we often find you standing there, watching the door. You now sleep with a small lamb stuffed animal. I put him in with you for the first time two nights ago—and your sleeping that night, and the subsequent nights, was much better. Coincidence? Or will you eventually have an animal-overflowing crib just like your big sister, comforted and happy with an entourage of friends?

The day after you turned nine months, you began clapping. You clap for no reason, you clap when I clap, you clap when Lucia does funny things. It is extremely cute.

You are still determined to participate in whatever it is Lucia’s doing, and since you’re mobile now—and strong—you get yourself exactly where you want to be. This is not always pleasing to Lucia. On good days, Lucia will allow you to have an item; on bad days, she’ll push you away or grab things out of your hands. One day, I’m sure you’ll happily coexist. For now, you’re grabby and your sister’s possessive. There are daily bumps in the road.

You love to eat. You eat so much yogurt in the morning that I had to ask your doctor if I should cut you off. You eat some kind of cereal at dinner, mixed with veggies, and sometimes an entire jar of baby food or another couple of cubes of my homemade baby food after that. Then you move on to finger food—cantaloupe, bananas, blueberries, puffs. You eat and eat and eat. When you’re eating something you particularly love, you make a low “mmmmmm mmmmm” sound the entire time you’re eating it. You are getting better at feeding yourself—whereas before you would kind of just poke at the pieces of food, now you’re pretty adept at picking them up with two fingers. Of course, there are exceptions. I gave you some roasted sweet potato this week, and you just picked it up by the fistful and crammed it into your mouth. You had sweet potato in your hair, your ear, all over your face, covering your arms.

Because you were three weeks early, you’ve already been living outside the womb longer than you were in it. And though you are a true snuggler and still love to nurse, you are definitely happy to be out here in the world—curious, nosy, active.

Favorite toys/activities: Little People, pulling bibs out of the bin in the kitchen, pushing around toy cars, chewing on your Lambie, eating, sitting in the grass and pulling up grass/dirt/weeds, playing with sand in the sandbox, reading (you’re rapt! unless you’re trying to eat the books.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Sale, and Possibly the End of My Marriage

Have you ever been around someone who only talks about one thing—something completely uninteresting to you, like the stats and performance of a sports team, or, even better, some kind of fantasy-league sports team. On and on and on. Talking and talking. You can’t even feign interest because you have no idea what the basic parts of the subject are. It just seems to involve a lot of time on the computer, looking at players’ faces and some numbers that have to do with them. Boring. Painfully boring. (Andrew likes sports and has done the fantasy-team thing, but fortunately conversation about them is minimal.)

Alas, for the past few weeks it is I who have become the deadly bore. Of course, my topic of obsession has nothing to do with sports or fantasy sports. Instead, I have been talking much too much about a sale at the local Methodist church. They call it a “turnover sale,” and this is the seventy-eighth year the church has held it. Donations come from all over, and all the money raised goes to charity. And since Andrew is sick of hearing about it, and since yesterday was the last day of the sale, I will take this opportunity to talk about it one final time.

How to describe the sale? It’s not just a few tables of odds and ends set up in a church hall. The sale is meticulously organized in a gigantic outdoor tent and over two floors of the church’s social hall. Clothes, appliances, books, furniture, toys, tools, holiday decorations, baskets, jewelry, frames, makeup pouches, workout equipment, records, lamps—every category has its own dedicated space. It’s like the greatest garage sale or stoop sale multiplied by a hundred. It’s a treasure hunt. It’s eBay and Half and Craigslist and the Park Slope Parents Classifieds listserv all rolled into one. It’s like a Gabe’s for everything imaginable. And the best part—everything is pretty much as close to free as you can get.

My blood pressure is rising just remembering it. The sale was open for business six times; I went five out of those six. I filled the trunk of the car four times—literally filled it; once I had to put things aside in the church parking lot so I could drive back to get them. I hadn’t even known about the sale at first—I kept seeing a sign for a “Turnover Sale” whenever I drove past the church, but I didn’t know what it was. We drove past on the opening day, and a line to get in stretched down the block. “I think I better check this out,” I told Andrew. I hurried over after bedtime and from that moment there was no going back.

I’ve been garage-saling, flea-marketing, and Gabe’s-ing all my life, so I know how to look through junk. Getting down on the floor to root through tangled boxes is my forte. Doing this isn’t for everyone, of course, including my dear husband; but finding treasure among other people’s junk is second nature for me. Give me a tent’s worth of stuff that looks like it’s spent the past ten years out in someone’s garage, and I’ll find something worth getting excited about. And talking about way, way too much.

I could go on and on. I found great stuff, and I had a lot of fun finding it. And on Tuesday, I hired a babysitter, and after the girls were in bed I finally dragged Andrew along. He wasn’t into it at first—things were really picked over by then, and he stood idly by while I did some serious box-excavation—but he got more excited when we found a great chandelier for $5 and an even more fabulous vintage hunting-scene lamp (perfect for our library) for $10.

I bought so much I can barely remember it all. But here’s a partial recounting, totaling around $90. If the prices seem odd at times, it’s because sometimes I’d bring over a stack of stuff and they’d say “Take it all for $1”:

vintage Memory game, $1
vintage Perquacky game, $1
vintage Pit game, $1
chairs stacking game, $0.75
canister of letter-stickers, $0.75
large bag of tiny interlocking cubes (I think they’re used to teach “units” to kids), $1
Little People ferris wheel, $1
Little People amusement park (roller coaster and airplane-swings), $2
Little People garbage truck, $1.50
Two Playskool trucks, $0.50
Crayola easel, $5
vintage “toddler rocker”, $5
Sit n’ Spin, $5
lawnmower scoot-toy, $2
three outdoor wooden chairs with cushions, $5 (total! They were wobbly but Andrew fixed them.)
doll-sized jogging stroller, $7
doll-sized pack-and-play, $3
set of fireplace tools, $3
10 baskets, $1.75
fondue set, $5
serving tray, $3
knife sharpener, $0.50
large bag of tiny plastic dinosaurs (a counting toy), $1
bag of mini foam alphabet tiles, $2
gigantic foam-tile map of the U.S., $8
Lamaze-brand texture-caterpillar, $0.33
10 rings to attach things to stroller, $0.33
teether-ball thing for Greta, $0.33
bag of misc. ribbons, $0.25
craft-organizer drawer chest, $1
portable high chair for our porch, $3
2 buckets, $0.66
red stepstool, $0.33
chandelier, $5
vintage hunting-scene lamp, $10
4 picture frames, $4
tiny plastic mouse character, free (Lucia was with me that day and found this and the next two items on the floor. That’s my girl!)
orange plastic hand, free
a single metallic purple coin, free

Next year, my whole family plans to journey to New Jersey for the sale. I guarantee we will be among the first in line on opening night.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Letter to Lucia: 33 Months

Dear Little One,

It’s been a big month for you. This month, we said goodbye to everything you knew: your home, your room, your playground, the familiar streets where we walked, the shop windows you knew by heart. Here, everything is different: you have different-colored walls in your room; you have a new carpet; you have new rooms in which to play. There’s a different playground—we haven’t quite found our ideal match yet—and different rhythms to our days. It’s a lot for me to handle—I can only imagine how confusing it is for you. You’re handling it very well overall.

Some new things, you love: the duck pond, the pool we joined, painting rocks on the porch. Some new things, I thought you’d love, but you’re taking your time coming around to: the backyard, mainly. It’s currently shaded by a cloud of mosquitoes, so I don’t blame you for keeping your distance. I’ve bought a sprinkler and a sandbox—all yet to be set up—so I’m hoping we’ll venture there a little more often.

You love to sing. Every time you spend a few days with Grandma, you come away with a new song or two; this time, “Where Is Thumbkin?” really made an impression, and in quiet moments (or when you’re supposed to be napping), I hear you singing multiple verses—Thumbkin, Pointer, and Ring Man.

You like doing a five-minute countdown to bring activities to an end, and you’re trying to arrange your fingers into five, four, three, two, one, and zero. You generally accept that reaching “zero minutes” means it’s time to leave or stop or whatever. However, you don’t seem to get the idea of counting one, two, three to make you stop misbehaving. Instead, at each of my counts, you simply do the forbidden action: “One…” [hit Greta’s saucer.] “Two…” [hit it again.] “Three.” [hit it again and then yell “I don’t want a time-out!”] Definitely some work to be done on the discipline style.

You like caring for Greta. In the car, if she starts fussing or crying, you sing the ABCs at the top of your lungs, certain that this makes her happy (and sometimes it does, indeed, make her stop crying; other times I just have one hysterical child and one scream-singing child). You like to wash Greta in the bathtub, though this sometimes seems like you’ve just found a sneaky way to be allowed to pour water over Greta’s head. And you love to feed Greta—a messy, awkward process, so I limit it to one or two spoonfuls. Of course, you also have your moments of snatching toys out of her hands or refusing to share or demanding that she not chew on things. “Lucia,” I sometimes say when she’s getting upset that Greta is touching a book or toy, “it’s okay for her to hold that.” “She can hold it,” you relent, “but not chew on it.”

You are amused by Greta’s crawling. “Look,” you tell me sometimes when Greta starts crawling somewhere. “Look, look. She’s crawling!”

You are full of personality and drama these days. There is never a dull moment.

Favorite activities/toys: Little People, sorting, stretchy vibrating alien, tiny superballs, ice-cream-cone bubbles, blowing bubbles in general, Sit-and-Spin, painting rocks, throwing your Hello Kitties high into the air in the backyard

Favorite books: The Patterson Puppies and the Rainy Day, The Patterson Puppies and the Midnight Monster Party, Geraldine the Music Mouse, Where the Wild Things Are, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (can’t we please get over this book??), In My Tree, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, A Baby Sister for Frances, Best Friends for Frances

Friday, July 13, 2012


We had a lovely visit this morning from some friends from Brooklyn, two little boys each three weeks older than each of my girls. Lucia was thrilled to have someone to chase all around the house, and Greta enjoyed crawling around and chewing companionably with another little baby. Later in the day, inspired by this other baby’s ability to pull up to standing, Greta decided she, too, would stand. She pulled herself up on the flowered ottoman, arranging her tiny feet underneath her and then pushing right up. Sometimes she starts out in a very wide V and then scoots her feet together inch by inch. Standing! Able to reach newly out-of-reach surfaces! Nothing is safe!

I can sense her preparing to practice this newfound skill all night, robbing me of yet another night of sleep. Note to Greta: Don’t make me do sleep-training, my sweet little baby. Please don’t let it come to that. But when you wake up every hour from 10:30pm on and I’m still nursing you three times a night and you’re eight months old, you’re leaving me very little choice here. We can still turn this around, right? Right?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Greta is full-on crawling now. It started off slowly, just a few tentative paces, but now she’s off. Yesterday, for the first time, she crawled from the living room into the kitchen to find me. I could hear her coming; she is so excited by crawling that she squeals the entire time she’s moving, and soon her tiny head peeked around the doorway. She was smiling hugely and could not have been more pleased with herself. Then, in the space of about ten seconds, she got into the bag of recycling; ate the bottom of an empty paper bag; put a magnet in her mouth; and pulled two potatoes from a bag on the floor. She is absolutely into everything, and all she wants in life is whatever Lucia has, the smaller and more poisonous or hazardous the better. I never had to worry too much about baby-proofing with Lucia, but I see that my efforts with Greta are going to have to be a little more intense. Starting with the basics: no bags of recycling—no bags of anything—on the floor.

Greta’s number-one goal in life is to eat one of the leaves from the tree in our front yard. Somehow she found one in Lucia’s room tonight. It was well on its way to her mouth when I spotted her.

Also, we have a mouse. I found droppings this morning.

Leaves, mice, dirt, dust—and Greta’s fat little hands all over the floor. Ick. We got a recommendation for a housecleaner and are calling her ASAP.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Fourth of July Tidbits

Things have been so busy around here that I haven’t had time to keep up with regular blog posts. Hence this little list of tidbits.

The Pool

We’ve joined the Maplewood pool, which, according to everyone I’ve talked to, is what everyone does during the summer. “Have you joined the pool?” “You have to join the pool.” “Everyone goes to the pool.” So we, too, joined the pool. (A little technology aside, for readers twenty years from now to chuckle over: The first day we went, intending to just check things out, we were surprised by the fact that no day passes were available; so I did the whole registration on my iPhone and showed them the email receipt to secure our entrance. That whole process would have been unthinkable even five years ago; it will seem archaic, what—next year?)

Anyway. Lucia loves, loves, loves the pool. It’s actually a pool complex, all outdoors, consisting of four pools: a real diving pool with two platforms, an Olympic-sized lap pool, a kid pool going to about three feet deep, and then a kiddie/baby pool that gets no deeper than about a foot. This is, of course, where we spend our time, and it is wonderful. There are two water-shower-sprinkler things, and some little fountains that shoot up. Greta, too, has been having a great time splashing and kicking like a tiny maniac. Few things are cuter than a tiny baby with swim-wet hair. The challenge, of course, is making sure we go enough to get our money’s worth—which means I need to go during the week with the girls. It’s been daunting enough just loading everyone up to get to Whole Foods. I think I can do it, though, and it seems like the ideal way to spend some of our long summer afternoons.


Greta is now crawling. She started doing a real crawl—as opposed to just scooting around on her bottom, or doing a lying-down-sitting-up-lying-down inchworm maneuver—last week. She doesn’t go very fast or far yet, but she is crawling, and she is also very, very, very determined once she sets her sights on something. She will crawl methodically toward her target (Lucia’s bibi! a pile of screws and bolts!) again and again, each time seeming certain that this will be the time I won’t scoop her up and place her back out of harm’s way.

Today, on the 4th of July, her third tooth broke through—she has three all in a line on the bottom now, and her wide, toothy grin just got toothier. She is just too cute. But she’s breaking out of her easy-happy-mellow-baby stage and getting a little feisty, too. When I (or, more often, Lucia) take something away from her now, she gets angry and lets us know it. She does not like the fact that she is too little to play with some of the things Lucia likes, like tiny plastic counting bears or small super-bouncy balls. Her greatest thrill is when the stars align and she and Lucia find something to play with together. This morning, both girls were doing puzzles. Well, Lucia was doing puzzles. Greta was chewing on the pieces. Still, they sat there together, surrounded by puzzles, and it was pretty cute. Little People are also a frequently shared toy, though somehow Lucia always ends up with about fifteen of them while Greta gets just one, which she chews on determinedly while Lucia pushes her cache around the room in the Little People schoolbus.


Lucia is really into keeping tabs on what’s going on. When I’m fixing Greta’s dinner, she’ll say, “What’s she HAVING?” It’s not enough to tell her she’s having sweet potatoes. “I want to SEE them,” she’ll demand, and I have to show her the food cubes in the bowl. When she came downstairs this morning, she saw that we’d relocated a small rug from the office to the front hall. “That goes in the office,” she instructed. She’s quickly learning her way around the new house and seems happier day by day.