Archives for March 2016

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!