Wednesday, August 14, 2013

too much, too little, and not enough

Two months since my last post?  It feels like a week.  Or forever.  Time is not consistent these days and I can't keep track of anything any more.

So much happening with my girls.  It's been an event-full summer.  We took a vacation, but our 6-day retreat turned into a 9-day marathon when my father ended up in the hospital an hour away from the rented cottage.  We tried to squeeze in some vacation-y things, but spent every afternoon driving, visiting, and driving back again.  Maggie's afternoon naps were all in the car.  Oh, and the rain.  I'd never seen it rain so hard or so often- major thunderstorms every afternoon.  Usually twice each afternoon, and for more than a week straight.  We had one day without rain while we were away, but nothing ever truly dried out because of the humidity.  I'm glad we were there, though, since otherwise my mom would have been dealing with dad's health scare alone.  Dad has some extended treatment to go through, and underwent surgery before returning home a week after we did, but he's doing well now.

We dropped Maggie's morning nap.  I don't remember when that happened; maybe before my June post.  She falls asleep in the car whenever we go somewhere before lunch, but she never gets cranky.  She loves her afternoon nap and usually goes down around 1:00 for 2-3 hours.  Both girls sleep like champs at night- Maggie from 7 to 6:30; Charlotte from 7:30 until 6:30.  We lucked out on the sleep front as we almost never do battle over bedtime.  In fact, the girls and I shared a room on "vacation," and no one had any trouble going to sleep and staying there.  Except me.

I am still having sleep issues (posting at 3:30am after falling asleep on the couch for 4 hours; dreading going to bed because it makes my back ache).  I think I'm functioning well on 4-5 hours per night.  Others in my life may beg to differ.

I've been trying to DO a lot with the girls this summer.  For the last 4 years, I've been either pregnant or caring for a newborn, so it's been fun to experience a lot of local attractions and see what my children get excited about.

Interactive art exhibit at a local museum/garden.  The metal rods are meant to resemble giant blades of grass.  Charlotte loved dancing through them.

Blackberry season was sweet, but way too short as the heat dried out the last of the berries before we could eat them.  Charlotte and Maggie made a valiant effort, though.  Not a single picked berry went to waste, but they didn't leave me any for baking.

Maggie has discovered carousels and LOVES them.  Here she is on her first solo ride on a real, up-and-down carousel horse at a local carnival.

And now it's mid-August.  We went to the Boston Children's Museum Monday, and they both loved it.  To add to the adventure, we took the train into the city.  No mishaps (aside from leaving the museum pass in the car and missing the first of our intended trains into town), no meltdowns, no 'accidents.'  The girls amazed me by staying awake for the hour-long train ride home.  They got a little antsy, but their restlessness manifested in a most adorable hug-fest.

Charlotte spent much of the early part of the summer having several potty accidents every day.  She owns 14 pairs of "big girl underwear," and I had to do laundry at least every other day to keep clean ones available.  It was horribly frustrating, and I was almost ready to put her in diapers again (I did for occasional outings when an accident would have been a really serious problem), but suddenly, two weeks ago, she righted herself and has had just one accident since.  And that accident was only because she was way overtired and forgot to put the seat up on the potty we almost never use.  I had mentioned to her that she couldn't go to school this fall if she was still having lots of accidents, so now she tells me every night that she's ready for school.  Plus, she gets a lollipop and watches something on TV while I put Maggie to bed if she's stayed dry all day. 

Maggie has begun telling me just before she poops in her diaper- "Potty!  Poop.  Diaper."  She absolutely refuses to sit on a potty, but loves to watch Charlotte do it.  She's Charlotte's little cheerleader, clapping and singing "Yay, Charlotte!"  It was around 19 months that Charlotte first seemed interested in using the potty, so maybe Maggie will have a similar interest in a month or so.  Meanwhile, I appreciate the warning.  It allows me to adjust our schedule so she never has to sit in a soiled diaper for more than a couple of minutes.

Maggie talks and signs magnificently now.  She is obviously proud of making herself understood.  She attempts new words fearlessly, and has come out with a lot of expertly pronounced doozies- spaghetti, sandwich, zipper, towel, and blankie are in her usual repertoire.  She mastered all the Baby Signing Time signs quite a while ago, and now requests ("Sign Time! Please.") Signing Time almost every day.  We bought just about the complete set last Christmas and have been unwrapping a new one every month or so.  Charlotte watches too, but doesn't seem quite as interested.  Maggie soaks them up, and shows me new signs almost every day.  She's discovered opposites and loves "arguing" with me- I say yes, so she says no.  I say hot, so she says cold.  Up, down.  In, out.  Repeat, repeat, repeat until we're both laughing hard.

Charlotte wrote her name.  Somewhat legibly.  I had to coach her through the letters and remind her that they needed to be in a row, not scattered all over the page, but she drew each letter herself.
I think I'll try to nap a little before the kids get up.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

peace at last

I'm reluctant to admit it, but it seems that Charlotte can survive without a nap.  I was becoming less and less successful at getting her to lay still and close her eyes long enough to fall asleep.  We were both miserable, and poor Maggie wasn't getting a decent nap because all the ruckus woke her almost every day.  So, I gave in and tried a few days sans nap.  We survived, and Charlotte wasn't a sourpuss like I thought she'd be.  Instead of sleeping, Charlotte spends an hour or so doing something quiet.  We read together awhile, then she plays while I do some housework or read something for myself.  We're working our way through the Disney princess movies, too, and our play time has been centered on reenacting princess stories.  Sometimes, Charlotte likes to be the princess.  Sometimes, she's the prince or the villain or the mother or the father.  Anyhow, without a nap, the God-awful threes are a whole lot easier to deal with.  She still fights me on everything, and seems to need a threat of some sort before she'll cooperate ("If you don't go potty now, we won't go to the playground at all.").  She demands that I count before she'll do what I ask of her, which I really hate because my parents used to do that to me... often without the request, skipping directly to the "1.. 2... 3!"  We're getting along a lot better though.  It's been more than a week since she last told me, "Mommy, I love you, but I don't like you very much."

And some days, she does take a nap...
Then there's Maggie.  She is the most laid-back, easy-going child I could imagine.  She asks to nap when she's tired, and if no one pays attention, she just falls asleep wherever she happens to be.

Maggie is speaking more and more words every day.  She tests them out, then once she can say something well enough to be consistently understood, she just keeps repeating it over and over and over again.  Today's word was "sleep," which comes out as "seep."  When I told her it was time to get ready for bed, she essentially sang it to me the entire time I was changing her diaper and putting her jammies on her.  She likes to "argue" with me, repeating "no, no, no" to which I reply, "Yes, yes, yes."  Charlotte has started telling knock-knock jokes, so Maggie likes to yell, "Knock, knock!" while pantomiming knocking on a door.  Both the arguing and the knocking make her laugh.  Maggie has started running, which makes her extraordinarily happy.  She wants to jump, too, but hasn't yet figured out how.

Summer paid us a visit, then disappeared again but left us with an itch that can only be scratched with trips to the beach.  I plan to introduce Charlotte to backyard camping the next weekend without rain; full-blown away-from-home camping is on the agenda later this summer.  The girls and I will be vacationing with my parents at a house they rented on a lake later this month, then I'll have my knee tune-up a couple of weeks later. Summer is filling up already.

Friday, May 31, 2013

the longest time

I think this is the longest I've gone between posts since I started blogging.  There's just so much going on, and so few hours in each day.  The girls are wonderful, almost all of the time.  Maggie is going through a verbal explosion right now- clearly speaking new words daily.  One of my favorites is "Daddy."  For a while, she would run through the house yelling, "Die!  Die!  Die!," and I wasn't sure what she was really saying since no 15-month-old in my life knows the word "die."  One day, it evolved into "Da-eee," and the next it became "Daddy!"  Needless to say, C is much happier now to see Maggie running to him when he gets home from work than he was a week ago, when it sounded like she was cursing him.  She also clearly says, "I want that," "Orange (understanding both the color and the fruit)," [enough with the quotation marks] up, down, more, thanks, yes, yeah, hi, bye, Momma, Grampa, and Gamma (for Grandma).  She meows like a pro and seems to enjoy pretending to BE a cat.  She has moved on to the "big kid" Signing Time videos and asks to watch them by signing "signing time."  I can't count the number of signs she uses regularly, her current favorite being "picnic."  She has an infectious laugh, extremely ticklish armpits, and a love for putting things in the trash (we have to inspect daily to make sure we don't take anything to the dump that shouldn't go there).

Charlotte goes from angel to demon and back again in the blink of an eye.  She's easy-going and fun to be around for about 22 hours a day, but those other two hours test my patience and sometimes leave me wondering why I ever wanted to become a mom.  We're still working out the best way to handle her tantrums, which generally center on either nap/bedtime or she and I disagreeing on what needs to be done at a given time.  Sometimes, I think we've made it past a situation that could have triggered an outburst, only to see her blow up at something trivial.  Leaving her alone to cool off usually works, but sometimes her fits involve pushing or hitting Maggie- I need to discipline her and attend to Maggie, but I really don't know how to discipline a child her age so I simply hug Maggie in my lap and tell Charlotte that I don't want to be near her when she's being mean.  I have told her on several occasions that, even though I will always love her with all my heart, I sometimes don't like her very much.  She understands, and when we're getting along she likes to tell me that she loves me and likes me.  Three is challenging, but she's becoming such an amazing little girl.  She's incredibly articulate and likes to tell knock-knock jokes.  She's been in a tap/ballet class since September and will have a recital in 2 weeks.  She grew nearly an inch in the last two months; more than 2 inches since Thanksgiving.

The bottom line is that I love my girls more than I ever imagined possible, and I'm amazed at how quickly they learn and grow and change.

As for me, I twisted my knee a month ago while brushing my teeth.  Dramatic, no?  I had to turn abruptly when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, Charlotte shove Maggie. My knee is already unstable because what was left of my ACL was removed in October 2010, so my quick pivoting tore some cartilage.  An arthroscopy to clean up my torn meniscus should alleviate the pain and stiffness, allowing me to walk without a limp again.  My orthopedist would also remove two screws that were installed in a 1991 ACL reconstruction so that another reconstruction effort would not have to work around old hardware.  Then, if my knee continues to be too unstable to run on, he'll reconstruct the ACL in a separate procedure.  I hope to have the first procedure within the next couple of weeks.  I currently can't walk without a dramatic limp, and I'm in near-constant pain.  I know from experience that the arthroscopy will take care of my immediate issues.  I guess my soccer "career" is over, but I think I'd be happy to simply run again.  I don't know how we'll pay for it, but I can't imagine continuing in this state for any longer than absolutely necessary.  I am so lucky to have my parents nearby, and in good health, to help out with caring for my girls.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

losing track of time

I'm not going to say it.  How is it possible that tomorrow will be May already?  I'm glad to see the warmer weather of spring, especially after that last big storm knocked out the power for two days.  But where did March and April go?
Charlotte shows Maggie how it's done.

 Maggie's first ride.

 Hurray for Spring and playgrounds with swings!

I really have nothing big to say.  Maggie signs 50+ words and almost daily shows me at least one new one that I missed.  Today was picnic- we decided to eat lunch outside, under our beach tent.  When I asked Maggie if she wanted to have a picnic, she said, "Yes," and signed "picnic."  Maggie babbles a lot, with serious gesturing and intonation.  She loves to "talk" on the phone, and uses just about anything as a phone- remotes, keys, bananas, sticks, rocks, and actual phones.  She walks like a pro and has begun trying to jump, but doesn't come close to getting either foot off the floor.  We've dropped the morning nap  (had I mentioned that before?)- having to work around one made essentially the entire day useless.  Now, we can be out and about until 11am.  After 11, we're booked...  11:15 lunch; 12:00 potty (Charlotte); 12:15 story time; 12:45 Maggie goes down for a nap; 1:00 Charlotte goes down for a nap.  And they both sleep until around 3:00. Then we play a little, make and eat dinner, play or bathe, and go to bed at 7 and 7:30.  Sometimes.  Sometimes, getting them down is a struggle and naps start closer to 2 or 2:30.  On those days, I end up waking them at 4 so the bedtime won't be affected.

Charlotte has been trying to drive me insane lately.  She'll shove Maggie to get my attention.  She often refuses to nap and ends up losing all sorts of privileges (i.e. we're NOT going out to lunch with Grampa tomorrow after music class).  She giggles maniacally in my face when I try to discipline her or explain what she did wrong.  She intentionally wakes Maggie up.  She wakes up almost every night, some time between 12am and 3am, and comes to ask me to put her blankets back on her.  She refuses to sleep in the dark, but a nightlight isn't enough for her so she has a table lamp on all night with the dimmest bulb I could find.  But her moods turn on a dime and she'll go from complete freak-out to lovey-dovey "Mommy, I promise to cooperate now" in just seconds.  She's wonderful most of the time.  I just don't know what to do with her when she's misbehaving.  It would be easier without Maggie, but I can't just leave Maggie to her own devices every time Charlotte pitches a fit.  We put a doorknob cover on the inside of her bedroom door for a while to keep her contained at nap time, but then she figured out how to open the door in spite of it.  Parenting really is a challenge with a 3-year-old.

Oh, we do have news.  There's a public preschool here that's geared primarily toward children with developmental challenges.  They take a limited number of "peer" students without such challenges, and those spots are doled out by lottery.  I applied.  I don't think Charlotte "needs" preschool, but I wasn't sure she'd get in, and if she goes at 3 she's guaranteed a spot at 4.  We won the lottery.  Big time.  She was accepted for the 4-mornings-a-week program.  FOUR days!  I didn't ask for that one, but if I turn it down, we get nothing.  So, we'll try it.  My only real objection is that the commitment will make it next-to-impossible to go anywhere on weekdays because we'll have just one weekday per week available, and what are the odds that weather will cooperate?  It's a big commitment, giving up our freedom, but I'm sure Charlotte will love it.  And it'll give me a little time every day to spend with Maggie, one-on-one.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

and that's that

Things happen pretty abruptly in our house.  Or so it seems lately.  Transitions are not gradual, although they can be anticipated for quite a long time before actually happening.  Take walking...  Maggie just suddenly stopped crawling.  She was about 60/40 on the crawling/walking ratio until one day (2/13/13), the balance flipped and she decided not to crawl any more.  Boom.  Done.  She's a walker now, and that's that.

Potty use.  We've been embarrassingly casual about it, and I was starting to dread having a 3-year-old in diapers.  I was proud of Charlotte for dropping bottles by the time she turned one and for never needing a paci (I'm not judging parents or kids who use a paci.  I tried on several occasions to get Charlotte and Maggie to suck on one when I couldn't figure out how to console them.  Neither of them showed any interest, so we never had that habit and the need to decide when to beak it.).  I didn't want to deal with potty training, though, and kept putting it off thinking that "next week" might be better... less on the calendar, fewer stresses in our lives, etc.  But next week was likely never to come.  Charlotte finally took charge and told me one morning that she was not going to wear diapers any more.  She's had two extremely minor accidents (her underwear was slightly damp, but her pants were dry) in the five days since and has even gone entirely by herself on a few occasions (at home).  She has not had an accident during her naps, ever.  She wants to go to bed at night in her big girl underwear, but I'm not ready for sheet-changing at 2am so that's where I draw the line for now.  So here we are, a little over two weeks from her third birthday and Charlotte is done with daytime diapers, and that's that.

I've been toying with the idea of weaning Maggie.  We were down to two real nursing sessions each day- one first-thing in the morning, in the peaceful predawn before Charlotte woke each day, and again at bedtime.  The rest of the day, she'd nurse five or six times for 2-5 minutes and be on her way.  I was feeling like the glass of water I leave on the kitchen counter and sip from all day.  On Sunday, Charlotte woke at the same time as Maggie and was dancing around the room while I tried to nurse.  Maggie was on and off the boob, more interested in watching Charlotte than anything else.  She was kind of nipping at me each time she disengaged, and now that she has three teeth (two below, one on top), it hurt.  So, when she popped off for the fifth time, I decided that enough was enough.  We were done with nursing.  I think I have enough frozen breast milk to last about a week.  I'm mixing in a little cow milk to get her used to it, upping the proportion each day until we run out of the frozen stuff.  So that's that... she's weaned.  My breasts have hardly noticed.

In other news, I did not get the promotion.  I'm a little relieved since I wasn't really ready to give up the time I spend with my girls.  To celebrate, I rejoined my gym.  Childcare is included in the membership and Maggie is showing a bit of separation anxiety (she's fine being left with my Mom when I go to work).  I want to lose about 30 pounds to get back to my pre-IVF weight, and I'd like both girls to socialize and get used to being in a daycare environment.  It's good for all of us.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A year already

I'm not sure how it happened so quickly, but Maggie had her first birthday this week.  To celebrate, she started walking.  She's been cruising and taking as many as 12 steps at a time for several weeks now, but the day before her birthday, she started toddling around without looking for her next handhold.  It was as if a switch had been flipped.  No more crawling here.  We had to break out Charlotte's smallest snow boots, which are a size-and-a-half too big, so we could all play in the snow.

Being our second child, poor Maggie lost out on a big celebration.  I had to work on her birthday, which fell on a Thursday.  We hung a banner and sang "Happy Birthday" to her about a dozen times throughout the day, but there was no big party with a guest list to rival our wedding.  I plan to make her a cake on Monday (we have a baby shower to attend tomorrow)- apple-banana-cherry, per Charlotte's request.  C and I haven't settled on a perfect gift for her, so we haven't even given Maggie a birthday present.  I feel awful about all that, but she's happy and doesn't need anything.  I want to make her a tutu, like I did for Charlotte, and may still do that.

Speaking of tutus...  Charlotte does a series of "dance moves" every time she goes to bed.  Maggie has seen this a few times when Charlotte goes down for a nap before Maggie does.  Maggie has started doing arabesques when Charlotte does now, and she often taps her toe on the floor while saying, "tap, tap, tap."  It's adorable.  I'll try to catch a photo of the two of them in their tutus, dancing, when I make one for Maggie.

Maggie is still our easy baby- eats anything we put in front of her, sleeps when we put her in her bed, almost never cries, and is wonderfully healthy.  She'll have her 12-month ped visit at the end of March, on the same day as Charlotte's 3-year.  She has three teeth now, with the first having surfaced on 1/21, so both girls will also go to the dentist at the end of March too.

I have been having some issues with sleep, which is why I am still awake at 3:30am.  I seem to function fine on almost no sleep, but then I fall asleep at the drop of a hat all day long.  Then I fall asleep on the couch after the girls go to bed, when I enjoy my only alone time of the day, and have to clean the house when I wake up or else the messes will linger until the next night.  It's a vicious cycle that I manage to break out of a few nights a week, but I haven't been consistent since Maggie was born.  My back aches when I sleep on my back.  My shoulders and hips ache, and my hand falls asleep, when I sleep on my side.  Sleep just isn't the bliss it used to be and I don't sleep for more than three hours at a stretch.  I'm hoping the efforts of my new chiropractor will have an effect on my sleep.  We'll see.  I think my next post might be more about life with two kids and less focused on what my darlings are up to.  Now, I'm going to grab some shut-eye before the girls wake up.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

It's been a while

Just chugging along here.  The girls are fantastic, especially when their nap schedule is respected.  When it isn't, look out!  Maggie is always mellow, but an overtired Charlotte is not a pleasant sight.  She argues, debates, attempts to negotiate, or completely ignores me.  After lengthy protestations, she finally passes out in her bed (she always makes it to her bed before falling asleep- I've never seen her sleep on the floor or in a chair), then wakes up her usual cheery and amazing self.  That would be fine if she didn't have a little sister, but her shenanigans usually wake up Maggie, who both needs her sleep and hates when it is interrupted.

Maggie finally dropped her twice-a-week midnight snacks and consistently sleeps from 7 until around 6:15.  She naps easily twice each day, usually 90 minutes at 9am and then another hour or two at 1:30.  She has preferences- favorite books, favorite toys, preferred foods (bananas!)- and is very good at voicing them.  Maggie signs sleep, frog, clean, shoes, banana, book, baby, hat, cold, bird, and perhaps a few other words that I either forgot or failed to recognize.  She has taken as many as 12 steps independently, and walks confidently holding just one finger on an accomplice's hand.  We're still nursing- new territory as I'd stopped nursing Charlotte by this age.  Maggie eats, and enjoys, pretty much any food we're willing to give her.  I think she eats more than Charlotte does.  She'll have her 12-month ped appointment at the end of March, when Charlotte goes in for her 3-year visit  Both will visit the dentist that day too, now that Maggie has a tooth (broke through on 1/21).  She wears 12-month clothing, size 3 diapers, size 3.5 shoes, and she has a lot to say.  Maggie loves to give hugs and kisses (she presses her face against whatever or whomever she's "kissing"), especially to her big sister and to the sleeping babies in her favorite book.

Charlotte... Oh, my, what a girl!  She has an imagination ("Imagination is when I read a book with no pictures, but I see pictures in my mind"- her definition) and enjoys telling me all about it.  She loves to talk- tells stories and makes up songs all the time.  She's about 3-feet tall, wears size 3T and size 7 1/2 shoes, and dancing is her favorite thing in the world.  She has dance class every Saturday and a recital scheduled for June.  Everywhere we go, she looks for her "friends," anyone she can talk to or play with no matter how old they happen to be.  I've seen her charm uninterested tweens into sliding down playground slides with her.  We love books, and now that her collection fills all the shelves in her room, we're not buying any more so weekly trips to the library are a must.  Charlotte always finds friends there who join her in lining up all the cube chairs into a train or stacking the blocks until their tower is taller than any of us.  In some situations, Charlotte acts far older than her not-quite-3-years.  She's compassionate and smart and confident and curious.  At home, though, when she's a little overtired, she's all toddler.  She can scream and rattle a door with the best of them.  At night, though, she goes down without a fight at 7:45, with just a bit of creative stalling, and falls right to sleep.  She's very good about staying in her room, quietly, until her clock turns yellow (it's blue when she should be sleeping) at 6:30.  Charlotte is my hiking buddy, my baking partner, my craft pal.  She's never been a terribly picky eater, but has been kind of reluctant to try anything new.  Lately, though, she's begun trying new things willingly, sometimes pursuing something new without anyone asking her to.  And most of the time, she likes what she tries.  I've been a horrible slacker when it comes to potty training.  Charlotte almost never poops in a diaper, and she uses the potty 3-4 times every day, but that's as far as we've gone.  I still hope to have her out of diapers before her birthday in March.

I've been working a p/t retail job twice a week since June.  Luckily, my parents are very willing babysitters since my paycheck would never cover any kind of childcare.  I recently applied for a "supervisor" position, which may involve a small pay raise but will certainly add a shift or two each week.  I held the same position with the same company 9 years ago, but I don't think I'm a shoe-in.  Three other folks applied too.  I think I've decided to stop pumping and just let nature take its course as far as breastfeeding goes.  I have a sizable stash of b-milk in the freezer.  Maggie nurses 4 times each day, but only her first morning feed lasts longer than 10 minutes.  I'm more than ready to wear a normal bra and to get dressed without worrying about boob access.  Maggie eats everything, so breastmilk is kind of an afterthought at this point.  AF returned for the first time on 1/1/13... Hello, New Year.