Alice: Six Months

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Alice recently celebrated her half birthday, which means we have all survived the first six months as a family of four. I have lots to say about all the crazy that’s been associated with that (not to mention a few more grey hairs). I just wish I wasn’t too tired to write it all down.

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At six months old the only thing this girl seems to want to do is move! She’s surprisingly strong and has been working hard on getting all of her limbs coordinated enough to crawl. She can rock back and forth on all fours now and I’ve witnessed a few scoots here and there, so it’s only a matter of time until she’s off. She recently discovered that she likes to “stand” and play with her toys rather than sit on the floor with them.

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Those chubby little legs!

B wasn’t as curious of a baby as Alice is, so we’ll need to do some serious childproofing in the near future. Alice has plenty of intiative and already has a way of getting into everything! The minute we walk her into a room, she surveys the landscape for things to grab. Changing times have become quite the wrestling match, as she tries to pull the wipes, diapers and toys out of the bin next to the changing pad.

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She loves banging things together and could spend hours rifling through containers of toys and dumping them out onto the floor. She tries steal everything B is playing with. For the most part, B is pretty patient with this, and says “Okay, Alice, you can have a turn!” and makes sure that her baby sister doesn’t put small objects in her mouth. But, of course, we have some moments where B whines and says “No, Alice, your’re too little for that!,” while she wrenches the object away, leaving Alice in tears. At least it’s only blocks and stuffed animals now…before we know it, the battles over clothes and boys will start.

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BFFs

Last month, I said that Alice wasn’t really a snuggly baby. Well, I stand corrected, as she has become a champion snuggler as of late. I forgot how perfectly a baby’s head fits between my neck and shoulder. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want ten more of babies…but then B starts yelling at me and I come to my senses (also, did I mention that I’m tired?). Stranger danger has yet to set in for Alice. She chats, smiles and flirts with everyone she meets and will let just about anyone hold her.

At her six month doctor’s appointment, Alice tipped the scales at 18 pounds, 7 ounces and was 2 feet, 2.6 inches long. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to reuse a lot of B’s clothes because the seasons would be off. But, since Alice is already wearing B’s nine month sized summer items, that hasn’t really been an issue so far.

Her steady progress in the size department can probably be attributed to the fact that she eats everything we put in front of her (and if she could steal our food before it makes its way to our mouths, she probably would). Her appetitie wasn’t even dampened by the minor cold she caught from B recently, and she added peaches, prunes and squash to her repetorie this month, as well as a bit of protein in the form of pureed turkey (blech).

IMG_3810Alice loved her first ride on the swings, and B loved the company!

IMG_3869Partying it up for our friend Jack’s third birthday.

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Happy half-birthday, Alice Girl! I love you more than peanut butter!

Alice: Five Months


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No matter how hard I try, I can’t get those little wisps of hair on the side of her head to go down…and I don’t really want them to.

This has been a month full of milestones for Miss Alice! And, as usual, I’m late with this update, so let’s get right to it!

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Love that smile!

First and foremost, the transition from the Rock and Play to the crib was pretty painless. We put her down the first night, and she whined for about twenty minutes, before flipping over on to her side. She breathed a contented sign and snuggled in for the night. It’s been smooth sailing ever since.

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Second night in the crib!

Room sharing with B has gone pretty well so far, too. Sometimes, Alice wakes up super early and starts to babble in her crib, as if she is trying to talk to B. Generally, B just turns on her Glo-Worm, as if to say “I can’t even…” and they usually are both are lulled back to sleep by the music in a matter of minutes. If Alice is really vocal or starts to cry, we’ll bring her into our room or just head downstairs, depending on what time it is time. But, those occurances are pretty isolated and Alice has settled into a routine of waking up at a reasonable hour (generally, between 5:30 and 6 a.m.). Naps are also slowly getting better. There are still some days where she is wide awake after 15 minutes, but we also have more frequent instances of snoozes that are at least an hour (or sometimes two) long!

We started solid foods this month, which has been fun. I can’t say what her favorite thing is at the moment, because she has eaten everything with gusto. She has been eating mostly fruits and vegetables, with the occassional serving of oatmeal, and is already up to eating two small meals a day. I am hopeful that she won’t follow her sister’s lead and turn into a picky eater as she gets older.

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B cheered her little sister on as she tried her first food: sweet potatoes!

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At first she wasn’t quite sure what to do…

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…But in no time, she was trying to wrestle the spoon from my hand.

In terms of her personality, she is still our sensitive girl. My mom and B call her “Cry Baby Blue” for her ability to turn on the waterworks at the drop of a hat. Sometimes, it’s legitimate (as in the other day, when B whacked her in the face with a play telephone). Other times, it’s just because.  There are many times that I hear her sobbing in her crib only to look at the baby monitor to see that she is still sound asleep. I guess she is worried that we’ll forget about her since we still spend 98% of our time keeping up with Hurricane B.

I call Alice “Squirmy Worm.” Unless she is really sleepy, she doesn’t love to be cuddled. Instead, she prefers to roll around on the floor and practice her new skill of sitting up without support (It’s a good thing she doesn’t need the Bumbo seat anymore—her butt kept getting stuck on it!). Related to this near constant motion, she also seems to get bored pretty easily, often whining to ask us to help her change position, give her a different toy or take her to look out the window.

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Discoveries this month included her feet, Tracy and playing peek-a-boo. She now reaches for people, instead of just her toys. In her affectionate moments, she’ll grab both of my cheeks and pull me in for a slobbery kiss (I forgot how gross and adorable infant kisses can be!). She can blow raspberries now, and has been making a lot of new sounds during the past few weeks, including “ma” and “ba.”

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Next month will be Alice’s half birthday and B’s third, so there will be lots to celebrate in the coming weeks!

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In the Kitchen With B

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Cupcakes!

B and I have been developing some common interests for awhile now: Starbucks dates. Stickers. Coloring. Puzzles. But, the thing that I think we both enjoy the most is baking together.

At almost 3 years old (!), B is at the stage where she likes to make a mess, be helpful and eat sweets. Fortunately, baking appeals to all three of these things.

I usually pick something simple like chocolate chip cookies, banana bread or a basic cupcake recipe. Toddler attention spans only hold out for so long, after all, so things that I can do from memory and that don’t involve a lot of steps or ingredients are a must.

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When it’s time to get started, we grab our aprons and her stepstool, line up all of our ingredients and get to work. I measure out the butter, sugar and flour for her to dump into the bowl. She whisks up the dry ingredients and I mix everything together in my Kitchen Aid. She is always in charge of sprinkling in cinnamon, dumping in the bag of chocolate chips or lining the cupcake tins with wrappers, depending on the recipe.

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I love how she will stick her nose in the mixing bowl and say, “Yum! Smells good!” even if the bowl contains only flour and baking soda at the time. I try to set a good example by not licking the bowl (or eating cookie dough), but she seems to have figured out all on her own that taste testing is one of the best parts of baking.

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Of course, there are mishaps. Handfuls of flour end up on the floor. Entire containers of rainbow sprinkles scatter across the counter, while I frantically corral them before B eats them all. Meltdowns ensue when as the 13 minutes that it takes to bake a tray of cookies crawl by.  As with most situations involving a toddler, patience is key.

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Finally, the baked goods make their way out of the oven and onto a plate and a few seconds later, B grins at me with a chocolate-smeared mouth and says “I did a great job, mama…” And, she seems so happy that I don’t even realize that she has danced her way out of the kitchen to go watch a show, leaving me with the clean-up.

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Alice: Four Months

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This was the month that I really fell in love with Alice. That might sound weird to say, but I remember that this feeling hit me at about this point in B’s life, too. Between three and four months, there are more smiles than tears, routines are somewhat more established and little personalities start to shine through. Basically, babies become more like real people and less like little blobs and life doesn’t feel like it’s spent in constant survival mode at this point.

All that to say, I just can’t get enough of this smiley, chatty, giggly little girl! When I am having a rough day, or B is screaming at me because I put her juice in the wrong cup, one grin from Alice can instantly send my bad mood packing (and, of course, wishing that I could keep her little so that she won’t be able to yell at me, too).

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At her four-month doctor’s appointment, Alice weighed in at 16 pounds, 1 ounce and was 2 feet long. Alice has seemed increasingly interested in the food we are eating lately and puts just about anything in her mouth, so I was excited we got the go ahead to start solid food. We’ll start experimenting with fruits, veggies and oatmeal over the next couple of weeks.

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Sleep continues to go well at night, probably because like every other baby I’ve ever met, Alice loves her Rock and Play sleeper. I said last month that we would be making the move to the crib, but the few naps we have tried there have been disastrous, so we have chickened out. Since Alice seems to have fallen into a pattern of day-time cat napping for 20 to 40 minutes at a time, her hours of stellar sleep at night are pretty important to all of us, as she does get pretty cranky when she is sleep deprived. But, she is soon going to outgrow the Rock and Play, so we are biting the bullet and sending B to my mom’s for a long weekend sleepover over July 4th while Alice gets used to her new situation.  Wish us luck, and please send wine and coffee.

Alice loves sitting with me and B while we read stories and even tries to turn the pages herself. Her favorites are anything featuring Clifford, “Time for a Hug”, “Guess Who?” (mostly, because it’s filled with mirrors and she loves looking at herself) and anything with different textures to play with (the “That’s Not My…” series has always been popular in our house). She has been loving her exersaucer and jumperoo, and still enjoys spending time on the floor from time to time to practice her rolling skills. Since her initial roll last month, she hasn’t really done it again, mostly because she gets stuck on her side and her chubby thighs and belly prevent her from making a full turn!

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I am sure I sound like a broken record at this point, but the thing I am loving most about having two kids is watching how much they interact with each other. I love seeing Alice reach for B and hearing B laugh, even when Alice has managed to grab a fistful of her hair. When B is dancing around the room to the “Hot Dog Dance” from “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” Alice looks at her as if to say “Are you always this crazy? And, can I join you?” At the end of the day when Alice is clearly ready for bed, B will pat her on the head and say “What a good baby you are. Mama needs to put you to bed. See ya tomorrow.” Of course, there are the less adorable moments where one of them starts to cry and whine, which immediately sets the other one off. As you might imagine, it’s louder than ever in our house these days.

It’s also funny to see just how different siblings can be, even at such young ages. I mentioned last month that Alice seems to be a bit more sensitive than B, and I’ve noticed that she also is generally less wary around strangers at this age than B was (and continues to be!). B was also the type of baby that would happily nap for three hours in her car seat on a long drive or stroller while we ate at a restaurant or went shopping, but Alice get antsy after being confined for 30 minutes or so. In short, all of the things that I learned and came to expect with B definitely do not apply to Alice.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from Alice’s adventures during the last month:

IMG_3148In coordinating outfits for a Memorial Day barbecue at Auntie B’s

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Longwood-1Enjoying a stroll through Longwood Gardens.

Father's DayDaddy and his girls on Father’s Day

Happy four months, Baby Alice. You bring such joy to all of our lives–we love you more than ice cream on a hot day!

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Alice: Three Months

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And, just like that, Alice is already three months old. These first few months definitely felt like they went by more quickly than the first months with B.

Alice didn’t have a doctor’s appointment this month, so I don’t have any weight and height stats to report. But, she is in size six month clothes, and as you can tell from the photos, she is well fed. She finally has been able to stretch her feeding schedule out to every four hours. If mealtime also coincides with naptime, she seems to know just when to wake herself up so she isn’t even a minute late for food!

Last month, I was worried that my comments about her stellar sleep patterns would reverse our luck, but it has been pretty much smooth sailing on that front. She generally goes down—with minimal fuss—around 7 p.m., and will sleep through until around 5 a.m. Yes, that is still really, really early, but at least we are done with those middle of the night feedings. She will be moving in with B next month, so I’m hoping that I won’t have to report that sleep is a disaster for everyone as a result of the shared room situation.

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Bed head.

Alice is generally a happy baby. She stares at us until we smile at her, and then grins back at us. I tickle her constantly just to see her gummy smile and hear her giggle. She is also really nosy. She likes to know what is going on around her at all times, and prefers to be held facing outward so she can survey the room.

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Love this grin!

She is easily annoyed, though. I remember there being occasions where B would hit herself on the head with a rattle or toy and not even flinch. Alice, on the other hand, sobs like the world is about to end and it takes forever to calm her down–unless you hand her a muslin blanket. We stopped using them for swaddling awhile ago, but holding on to them still seems to help her unwind. I think she is going to be the sensitive one.

Alice worked on rolling over a lot during the past few weeks. She could get onto her side, but then couldn’t seem to figure out how to get her arm out from under herself so that she could make a full turn. She finally got it all figured out just yesterday!  She can bring her toys up to her mouth and seems to have taken a liking to B’s old Fisher Price puppies and this cat. She enjoys making faces at the baby in the mirror, surveying the world from her Bumbo seat and imitating the babbling sounds that we make at her.

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B, is by far, her favorite person. Alice follows her big sister around with her eyes, sometimes contorting herself around my shoulder so that she doesn’t loose sight of B. and I get the sense that she can’t wait until she can join B in dancing around the room and playing at the park.

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This month, Alice went on a few fun, first outings, including a trip to the zoo, Drexel Alumni Weekend and Spruce Street Harbor Park.

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Alice is not impressed by this rhino…

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…Or, this dragon..(although B really was!)…

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…But, she did decide that Spruce Street Park was slightly impressive.

We are looking forward to more fun in the sun, during the upcoming summer months. Now that I’m back to work full-time, I live for our weekend adventures. There’s nothing that I love more than spending time with A, B and C!

Weekend Adventures: Spruce Street Harbor Park

On weekend mornings, when B wakes up, we tell her that we are going to get ready to go on adventure. Sometimes, it’s a trip the park and Starbucks for a cake pop and caffeine fix. Other times, we take advantage of our memberships at the zoo or the Please Touch Museum (if the weather isn’t great). B is happy doing just about anything and Alice just goes with the flow. And, we all are a bit happier when we can get out of the house for awhile.

Luckily, this is also the time of year when the weather is changing and there are plenty of fun, kid-friendly things to take advantage of in the city. One such destination is Spruce Street Harbor Park, which recently re-opened for its third season along the Penn’s Landing Waterfront.

There are hammocks to lounge on, games to play and food options galore, including an outpost for Jose Garces’ Distrito, Kevin Sbraga’s Fat Ham, Franklin Fountain and Federal Donuts. A converted shipping container has been turned into a Boardwalk style arcade, complete with video games, Skeeball and a photo booth. On weekends, vendors from the Art Star and the Punk Rock Flea Market set up stands near the Columbus Monument for those who want to partake in a bit of outdoor shopping. Later in the season, the RiverRink will be transformed once again into an outdoor roller skating rink, which I would love to try out with B!

This past Saturday, we had a great time looking at the boats, eating fried chicken from Federal Donuts and playing with gigantic Legos at the park.

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How she usually spends most of our adventures.

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IMG_2875Actually awake, but pouting about it.

IMG_2882In addition to giant Legos, you can also play giant Jenga, chess or Baggo

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Our waterfront has long seemed like a long stretch of missed opportunities, so I love seeing the space transformed in this way. I think we’ll be spending a lot of time here this summer!

Alice: Two Months

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The flu hit our house recently, so I’m a little bit late with Alice’s two month update. Chester, B and I all came down with it, and we decided that it would be best for her to go stay at my mom’s while we were all full of germs. Although I am so grateful that she didn’t get sick, it was one of the longest weeks of my life. I missed her like crazy!

At her two month appointment, Alice weighed in at 13 pounds and 15 ounces and was 23.5 inches long. This kid loves to eat, and will rarely go past three hours without a feeding during the day. Luckily, nights are much better. She has been sleeping through the night and then some (sometimes for up to 12 hours) for the last couple of days! Of course, I’m sure I just jinxed our good luck by putting that in writing. Oh well…

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In addition to her food, Alice loves to suck her thumb (she’s still spitting out those pacifiers), grab for her toys while on her playmat, look at the baby in the bathroom mirror and hang around with her big sister. She has revised her previous opinion on white noise and now loves to fall asleep listening to nature sounds on my phone. She is also a champion snuggler and there’s nothing that I love more than the feeling of her little head buried in my neck.

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She has crazy hair, just like her sister did.

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Alice went through a fussy period at around six weeks, during which I was convinced that I had given birth to The Most Miserable Baby in the World. We adjusted her formula and she went back to treating us to gigantic smiles and silent belly laughs on a regular basis. I think she is going to be a bit of a goofball.

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Sometimes, she just cracks herself up for no reason at all.

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Alice slept through her first visit to the Please Touch Museum…

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…and through most of the Easter festivities, including an egg hunt, basket opening on Easter morning and dinner at my mom’s. But, she and B looked absoutely adorable in the matching dresses. I still can’t decide who wore it better!

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Super excited to go egg hunting!

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We tried–and failed–all day, to get a picture of the two of them together…

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…And to get a picture of Alice when she was awake. This was the best we could do, just as she woke up from a nap.

I will be heading back to work in a couple of weeks. I can’t believe that three months went by so fast! I could use more time to really figure out how to manage two. Still, I’m grateful for the time with Alice and the opportunity to spend some time with B, while she is at such a fun age. Although I am looking forward to getting back into a real routine, I will miss both of my girls–and our morning snuggles–tremendously!

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Alice: One Month

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As I look back over our first month as a family of four, I can safely say that going from one child to two was a lot harder than going from zero to one.

At the moment, Alice is the “easy” one because her needs can be boiled down to three categories: food, diaper change and sleep. But, I had forgotten how tough it is to decipher which of the three an infant needs at any given time and how difficult it can be to figure out how to best satisfy them.

Early on, I fell back on what worked with B (well, what I could remember working, that is. It turns out that my memory of B’s early days is actually pretty foggy), but Alice has completely different preferences. For example, the white noise machine could lull B to sleep in a matter of minutes minutes; Alice just seems to be annoyed by any type of shushing sound and prefers the quiet (and, randomly, when I sing God Only Knows by the Beach Boys and when my mom sings Thank God I’m a Country Boy by John Denver). B loved her pacifier from day one, but Alice will spit it across the room when she figures out that there isn’t any food coming from it. I definitely feel like I am still getting to know her.

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When we brought B home, we could still find moments of calm amid the chaos. Now, the house is always noisy and someone is always demanding something—food, a nap, attention, help going to the bathroom, an adjustment for a crooked sock, etc. We have also had some really special moments when B and Alice go into meltdown mode at exactly the same time. It’s like they have already learned how to egg each other on. Infants and toddlers are needy in different ways, and we usually don’t have the luxury of just focusing on one person at a time anymore.

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In the past, we used to do a St. Patrick’s Day photo shoot. This was the best we could muster this year.

I thought that the process of leaving the house with just one kid in tow was ridiculous, but it turns out that getting two out the door is even more of a herculean effort. How can I start getting ready for an outing at 5 a.m. and still not be ready to go six hours later? By the time I pack up half of the house, dress two kids and haul everything out the door, a walk to the park hardly seems worth it. But, if the alternative is staying home with a stir-crazy toddler and an infant who can’t take a decent nap because of said toddler yelling at top volume, then I most certainly will use my last bit of energy to haul 100 pounds of infant car seat and double stroller out of the door.

Basically, life feels like one of those episodes of Grey’s Anatomy where the victims of a major catastrophe have descended upon Seattle Grace (wait, that’s every episode of Grey’s Anatomy) and the doctors have to figure out who to help first. Luckily, we haven’t lost anyone yet, but Chester and I definitely have acquired a few more grey hairs and an even greater appreciation for bedtime.

Fortunately, Alice is generally a very content baby. With the exception of the hours of 5 to 8 p.m., she has been smiling pretty much since the day she was born. “Poor Alice” is sort of her nickname at the moment, because she just hangs out in the background while we go about our business and her big sister takes up everyone’s attention. When B cried as a newborn someone picked her up in less than five seconds; Alice might have to wait until we are finished wiping B’s backside or dispensing cheese crackers to get any kind of sympathy.

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Poor Alice will probably have to share spotlight with B during her monthly photo shoots.

Alice is very alert and would rather watch what’s going on around her than take a nap. She makes a lot of eye contact and has pretty good control of her neck already. At her one month doctor’s appointment, she weighed in at 11 pounds, 2 ounces and was 22 inches long, making her look more like a three month old. All of these things make her seem much older than a month. I sort of feel like I got cheated out of the delicate newborn stage, but at the same time, it was nice not to feel like I was going to break her!

I am glad that we battled through our exhaustion during her first week at home to do a photo shoot, that captured what she looked during the brief time in which she was still teeny tiny. I go back and forth regarding who Alice looks like. There is a resemblance to B, of course, which I think is most noticeable if you compare newborn photos of them when they are sleeping. The consensus seems to be that she resembles me/my side of the family quite a bit. Specifically, I think she looks a lot like my grandfather, so sometimes we call her “Little Chick.”

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These photos were taken by the incredibly talented April Ziegler. Her blog has plenty of additional images of our newborn session and of our family/maternity session, from January, if you are interested in checking them out!

B was a a bit timid around Alice for the first couple of weeks, but now the minute that she wakes up she asks to “go see my baby.” As annoying as Daniel Tiger is, I think I owe him a thank you for teaching B how to be a good big sister. She loves to hold Alice and stroke her head, and sometimes she’ll grab Alice’s hand and say “she’s touching my paw!” just like Daniel says about his sister, Margaret. B loves “playing” with her, which at the moment basically involves Alice laying in her baby gym while B shoves a variety of toys in her face and says “Look at this, Baby Alice.” I would think that that would overstimulate a baby, but Alice doesn’t seem at all bothered by it. She definitely responds to B’s voice and reserves her broadest smiles and sweetest coos for her big sister.

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First trip to the park together.

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Brunching at Sabrina’s

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Taken the first time that B held Alice. She was such a proud big sister!

Watching B and Alice get to know each other was definitely my favorite part of the last month, and I’m sure it will be one of the highlights of the year to come.

Little B: 2.5 Years Old

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Photo by April Ziegler 

It’s been a momentous couple of weeks in our house, as Alice was born a little over two weeks ago and this past week, B turned 2 1/2!

I have missed sharing monthly updates about B in this space, so I thought I would put together a little half-birthday update to commemorate this milestone. Here is what she has been up to!

Stats

At her 2 1/2 year check-up, she weighed in at 26 pound, 10.8 ounces and was 2 feet and 10 inches tall.

Personality

When I was being a particularly difficult child (which was often), my mom used to say “I hope you have ten just like you.”

Well, I have at least one.

Dramatic doesn’t even begin to describe our Little B. When she’s happy, she’s really happy. When she’s angry, she’s really angry. You really never know from one minute to the next which B you are going to get. Sometimes, she will hug me tightly and sweetly declare “we’re best friends” and in the next instant she will throw a punch at me because she wanted “box Cheerios” and not the kind that I dared to give her out of a ziploc baggie.

I have also noticed a bit of a bossy streak in her lately. “Playing” with B involves taking a lot of orders. You may only dance or sing if she explictly asks you to. She will hand me a crayon sometimes and say “Mommy, do it!” and God help me if I don’t color the exact spot that she had in mind. This morning, she dumped all of her play food out of it’s storage container and sweetly said “Mommy, clean it up” before walking away to destroy something else.

Needless to say, she is becoming quite familiar with the time-out chair lately.

On the positive side, B can be pretty funny. She LOVES to talk and seems to know just what to say and the tone of voice to say it in to get people to laugh. I like that we can have “conversations” now, about the important things in life, like her favorite TV shows.

I’ve shared a few of the gems that have come out of her mouth in an earlier post, and since then I have added a few new favorites to the list:

  • Sometimes, she’ll snuggle up next to me on the couch and say “B hang with Mommy.”
  • When I was pregnant, she would rub my belly and say “Mommy’s tummy aches.” At least she was sympathetic.
  • If she sees a commerical for something she really likes, she’ll yell, “Oh look! It’s so cute!”
  • When she’s in a good mood, she’ll say “B is happy for… [insert whatever is making B happy at the moment]”
  • She picked the word “friggin’” from Chester. In public places she has been heard to say, “this friggin’ dog/toy/car seat/etc.” at top volume.
  • “Probably” is by far her favorite word at the moment. I lose count of how many times in a day she says it lately. Sometimes, she will use it correctly and other times she just throws it into a sentence, just because (as in, “Tracy is probably a dog.”)
  • Occasionally, she’ll reply “Okay, sweetie pie!” if we ask her to do something.
  • Sometimes, she’ll squeeze her eyes shut and yell, “I can’t see my eyes!”
  • One of her favorite TV shows at the moment is Bubble Guppies and she says “B have a tail, just like a Bubble Guppy.” Recently my mom asked her where her tail was, and B showed her the tag sewn into the back of her underwear.

Favorite Things

B could spend hours doing puzzles, building with blocks, playing with Play-doh and reading. I introduced her to the idea of picnics on the floor recently, in an attempt both to get her excited to eat and also to avoid lifting her in/out of the chair when I was at my most gigantic. Now, one of her favorite activities is to line up all of her stuffed animals on the floor and set up a picnic for them using her play food.

In addition to Bubble Guppies, she loves Team Umizoomi, Paw Patrol, Blaze and the Monster Machines and also has a strange obsession with surprise egg videos on YouTube (If you have no idea what I am talking about, here is an example. I don’t understand why anyone felt the need to make these videos and put them online, but there are hundreds of them out there, and some of them have millions of views).

She loves to sing with her microphone, “just like the Bubble Guppies” and she takes dancing pretty seriously, too. I love when I hear her yell “I need my dancing shoes!” (which are either her Uggs or our pink polka dot rainboots, depending on the day) because I know that means she is about to break into the Hot Dog Dance from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. 

Eating

B is still very picky. Her favorite things at the moment are mostly of the carb variety—Cheerios (still), oatmeal with honey, crackers, frozen bread (yep, she will chow down on it straight from the freezer) and spaghetti. From time to time she will mix it up and eat shredded cheddar cheese (which she calls “sprinkle cheese”) or an apple and butternut squash pouch.

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Pink cake pops from Starbucks are her new favorite treat. 

Milestones

There were quite a few big accomplishments during the last six months.

She made her first trip the dentist (no cavities!). As you might imagine, she was less than thrilled about the whole experience. But, five months later, she is still talking about the purple balloon that they gave her as she left the office.

She made great progress on the potty training front. She now only wears pull-ups at night and accidents are few and far between. So far, though, she is only comfortable using her little potty. So, sometimes outings are a bit stressful as we race to get home before she needs to use the bathroom.

In preparation for her little sister’s arrival, she vacated her crib and moved to a real bed in January. On the first few nights, things started off well but major meltdowns ensued when Chester and I left the room after bedtime stories. She settled down within a week, though, and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. Now, I think bedtime is one of her favorite parts of the day and she has a whole routine which involves arranging multiple stuffed animals (which she calls “pets” or “friends”), rubber ducks and other toys in her “big girl bed.”

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First night in the new bed!

Speaking of her little sister, it’s safe to say that Alice’s arrival was the biggest thing to happen to all of us in the last six months!

When B came to visit us in the hospital the day that Alice was born, it seemed as if she had grown up overnight. Next to her baby sister, B looked like a giant, and not like the little girl who I had kissed goodbye only the day before. Fortunately, I had mentally prepared myself for the fact that this might happen, so it didn’t send me into a post-pregnancy meltdown.

I have been so proud of how B has handled the chaos of having a newborn in the house. She seems to be getting more comfortable around Alice with each passing day. My heart feels like it might explode when she says “I love my baby” or I catch her giving Alice a gentle pat on the head or tickling her feet while she lays in her Mamaroo or Rock and Play.

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Taking their first nap together, on Alice’s first day home.

Fun Experiences

The last six months were very busy, because they involved a bunch of our favorite fall activities, the holiday season, and our last few outings as a family of three. Here are some of the highlights:

September

I had a weekend event in Washington, D.C. for work, so Chester and B came with me. B loves pandas, so we planned a trip to the National Zoo to see them.

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We spent the better part of the day waiting for the pandas to come out and play. When they finally did, B was asleep!

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The next day, B and daddy got to hang out at the park while mommy worked.

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October

She went on her first apple-picking adventure at Linvilla Orchards!

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We had a family outing to Boo at the Zoo. For the second year in a row, B refused to wear her costume, but seemed to enjoy collecting treats anyway.

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We bribed her with the promise of bubbles to get her to dress up on Halloween.

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Trick-or-treating at Tee-Tee’s

November

We took a trip to the Strasburg Railroad to meet Thomas and Percy.

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Taking a ride on Thomas

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December

We had a lot of fun during the Christmas season, including cookie baking, a visit with Santa, a Christmas card photo shoot and presents galore.

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Enjoying the carousel at Franklin Square Park

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Checking out the holiday train display at the Reading Terminal Market 

It was unseasonably warm in December, so we were even able to squeeze in a few trips to the park!

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And, when the weather is dreary, the Please Touch Museum always entertains! We made it a point to check out the special Clifford exhibit, since he is one of B’s favorite characters (she even had a chance to meet him in person on a prior visit to the PTM!)

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January

We did a photo shoot at Longwood Gardens to commemorate our last few weeks as a family of 3. B was having none of it at first, but after she ate a peanut butter sandwich and some owl crackers, she was hamming it up for the camera, as usual.

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A blizzard named Jonas dumped more than 2 feet of snow on Philly. I would have loved to have taken B out to play in it, but at more than eight months pregnant, it just wasn’t going to happen. So, we watched daddy clean up the mess from the comfort of our living room. B loved when he threw snowballs at the window!

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On Valentine’s Day we went to the Please Touch Museum, to check out the new Curious George exhibit.

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B got to meet the George himself! I can’t even describe how excited she was about it. She talked non-stop in line while we were waiting for our turn, and when she got to the front of the line, she basically just screamed with delight at George and could not stop looking at him.

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Also, I’m gigantic here.

Thankfully, this happened just four days later.

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Whew! I’m exhausted just reading all of that.

I am sure that the next six months, as we count down to B’s third birthday, will be just as busy! I’m in no hurry for that day to get here, though. I don’t think I’m ready to handle a threenager!

Introducing Alice!

I’m so happy to officially introduce the newest addition to our family!

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Alice Bing

Born: February 18, 2016 at 7:53 a.m.

8 pounds, 6 ounces

21.5 inches long

Yes, I missed out on having my Pisces baby by just one day. But, Aquarians are awesome too! And, by the time 39 weeks rolled around, I felt so exhausted, tired, achy and large that if I had remained pregnant even just one day longer I might have jumped off a bridge.

Fortunately, my blood pressure was high during my weekly doctor’s appointment and after an afternoon being hooked up to monitors at the hospital, the doctors decided to induce labor to avoid any further complications.

The induction was a long process, taking more than 12 hours from start to finish. I would have preferred to spend the early part of labor up and about and distracted by other things, like I did the first time, instead of being in an uncomfortable hospital bed while trying to watch reruns of Downton Abbey on a TV that alternated between losing its picture and sound. But, overall, I was a lot less anxious about giving birth because I knew what to expect and I was just relieved that the end was in sight. And, the thing I was most apprehensive about—getting the epidural—went a million times better, thanks to an anesthetsologist who actually knew what he was doing.

So, now we have started a new chapter in our lives as a family of four. Nearly one week in, and we are all still alive!

My diaper changing skills are rusty and I had forgotten how scary it can be to handle a person who can’t hold up their own head. But, I feel more confident in my ability to care for a tiny human than I did when B was born. So, I’ve actually been able to squeeze in a bit of sleep at night, instead of spending time Googling “why does my newborn sneeze so much?” and other first-time parent concerns. Which is good, because the newborn phase is even more exhausting when you are also trying to keep a toddler fed, happy and entertained.

As for B, she seems very happy with the new addition. Although we have told her it’s okay to give Alice a gentle pat or a kiss, B prefers just to stare at her, giggling ocassionally at the funny noises her sister makes and declaring “I like the baby!” She gives Alice a pass for all of her crying, telling us “She’s just a little bit fussy!” She helps us grab diapers, burp cloths and books to read to her sister upon our request. I’m hoping this attitude stick around, and she isn’t asking us to send Alice back by next week.

While I was in the hospital, the doctors and nurses joked that I made having a baby look so easy that I should just keep doing it. Um…I think I’ll pass. Our little family is perfect, just as it is.

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