Monday, August 29, 2011

Status report: Maia, Month 4

What a beautiful thing a happy baby is. The smile, the contented gurgles, the almost-giggles when her belly and hands and toes are kissed...the lack of crazy-making crying. Maia has been happy a lot this past month, and that makes all happy.

Her four-month checkup went great, with her big sister holding her hand for her shots, and she's been cleared to be started on cereal. "You may have to," the pediatrician added, because she's 95th percentile on head, height, and weight. Why do we have such huge babies? The six-month pajamas are mostly okay on her, but some were too short (the Circo ones), and the okay ones don't have a lot of room in them. It's time to break into the nine-month clothes box. (Ha! Like I've got them all organized and labeled!)

Sleep has gotten a lot better this month. She now takes one or two naps during the day pretty regularly, and at night will have a last feeding somewhere between eight and nine and get a change, pajamas, and bed in the crib. We're still working on sleep training, so sometimes this involves forty-five minutes of crying and intermittent checks on her, and sometimes it requires only one or two checks before she grumbles herself to sleep, and sometimes she goes down silent and smiling. And sometimes she's already asleep, but that's okay too. Once I started forcing myself to stay awake for her first nighttime feeding, she slept longer intervals in the wee hours, so evidently I've only been depriving myself by trying to nap through that feeding. Ah well.

She does a lot of grumbling and growling at the bottle, and some at the R.I.N.D.S., but she's doing well on both. We did start her on cereal a couple of days ago, and last night she had her "Oh, this is how you eat!" session. At the beginning the food we spooned on her tongue got deposited on her lips as she moved her tongue in vague confusion; at the end she was moving it to the back of her mouth and lunging forward to get the next bite. We're giving her one more day of cereal, and then she can graduate to something fun, like squash or carrots or bananas. Chloë was interested in her cereal and wanted to have some, to the point of telling me not to give Maia any more the other day, so that's another reason to put it away for now. Not that I think she'll be less interested in the squash or carrots or bananas, but maybe we can convince her that her own big-girl versions are tastier.

And last night she slept from eight-thirty to three o'clock. Yay semisolids!

She's sucking and chewing on everything now, and much more interested in toys than she was last month. We have a dragonfly/butterfly (I'm not sure which) that we stole from Eric's mom when Chloë was this age, and Maia adores it. She sits happily in her carrier in the kitchen while we're making dinner, squeezing its crinkly wings and chewing its soft body. She loves her Winnie-the-Pooh mobile and the toys on her little bouncer. She watches Chloë's shows with her, though she's very easily distracted by a toy or a face or a "It's a baby!" with a kiss.

She's such a contented baby now most of the time. I love spending time with her, and I feel guilty that I don't get to do it as much as I did with Chloë...though I'm not positive this isn't better, since she gets Chloë too. She's a little confused when she gets put in Chloë's lap, or held upright to "stand" and hugged hard by her, but she seems to like this not-quite-so-huge bigger person in her life, and Chloë seems to like her. It's all good.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Status report: Chloë, Month 25

Chloë caught the bug too. "Koë neck hurt," she announced the other day, feeling at her neck. We've given her baby ibuprofin (which she loves-- "Koë have medi in mouth?" she asks regularly) and are trying to keep her warm and snuggled and rested. I told her the other day I was sorry she was sick. "Koë sick?" she said, and looked intent. "Koë not two any more?" I hastened to assure her that I'd said sick, not six, and she was still two.

I've marveled this past month at how big and grown-up she's getting. Her two-year checkup proved her to be thirty-four pounds, just under three feet tall. She's in 3T clothes mostly, with some 4Ts fitting fine (and others, like the pants Mom sent, too long, but she wants to wear them anyway so they get rolled). She's been jumping up a storm lately, and has started balancing on one foot, which I think is ahead of her age for motor skills. Apparently the jaundice had no serious lasting effects.

Playing pretend has developed and blossomed this month. She likes to feed me and herself pretend food, and plays "water park" all the time: on her bed, on our bed, on Maia's blanket, on the couch. She offered me a fish from the water this morning, and when I complained it spit in my eye, ate it. "Candy fishy," she explained, which relieved Eric and me both. Occasionally she'll go "shopping," usually for jelly beans. And today after watching the Care Bears movie, she wanted to chase butterflies, which is what Secret Bear did at the beginning of the movie. I didn't mention that real butterflies should not be caught; there's time to tell her about that later. So we chased butterflies by running around the house, pointing at imaginary butterflies. "What a pretty butterfly!" I said when she decided she'd caught one and proudly showed it to me in her empty hand. "Sparkly," she added.

Bathtime is marvelous these days, except for tonight when she was punished for not picking up her toys when told by not being allowed to have bath paints. But normally, she helps undress herself (including taking off her diaper now, useful when she's on the potty), settles into the tub with her duckies and watering can and paints, plays for a while, helps scrub herself, lies down to have her hair washed and rinsed, and stands still to be rinsed with the shower head afterward. It's wonderful. I hope it lasts a while.

She's definitely fond of sparkly and pretty, and of her hair and jewelry adornments. Also of big cheesy grins. Her cousin Addie smiles the exact same smile sometimes. Where do toddlers learn to do this?

She seems to be starting to have a better understanding of numbers, as the sick/six thing shows, though she's still weak on anything higher than two. We're continuing to work on that and on her letters. She stopped at Kroger the other day to point out some lit-up A B Cs on a cookie display. If you ask her what B stands for, she'll tell you "bath!" or "ball!"

She's been doing very well with Maia; she continues to like to hold her and talk to her, and always wants to know where she is. During Dad's visit last weekend they were going to go for a walk while Maia and Eric stayed behind (because I had the stroller in my car and I was at work). Chloë loves walks, but Dad says that before they'd gone more than five feet down the sidewalk she wanted to know where Maia was, and insisted on going back inside to be with her. She likes it when I stand Maia up, and will come close and compare heights, and then hug her. "Two sisters," she says.

She's been a real couch potato lately, probably because in the last month either Eric or I have been sick and so we've been more lax about the TV, and has learned how to turn the TV and DVD player on and off. But she's also enjoying being read to, and we're getting into the longer books now, the Berenstain Bears and Olivia and P.B. Bear and Dr. Seuss. We picked up I Wish That I Had Duck Feet at the Borders sale, and she tells me, "Chloë want to have whale spout. Whale spout on Chloë head." And she can tell you that Big Bill Brown can only wear one hat. (I also recommend Pirate vs. Pirate, which I also got then and is great fun to read aloud.)

She usually picks her own breakfast these days, and occasionally if we're uninspired we'll ask her what she wants for dinner. Usually her answer is "pasta," but sometimes she'll say "pizza," or "grilled cheese," or "cheesy pasta" (and once, "oatmeal"). Her memory is amazing. (Also her appetite sometimes.) She's loving the tomatoes; she's going to be sad when tomato season goes away. But then, that will make it apple and squash season, and then orange season, and I think she'll be all right. She's all right all over.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Eric caught my cold, unfortunately. The girls so far are okay (and Maia at least is probably immune). Eric's been eating a lot of chicken noodle soup, and Chloë has asked for a taste repeatedly, but always after he's started eating. So he's had to deny her, but tells her why. The other night at dinner she said knowledgeably, "Daddy eat noodles because Daddy sick." I'm not sure if she actually said "because" or not, but that was the clear meaning. We had some canned chicken in the pantry from the farmer's market, so I made up some chicken soup of her own so she could eat it with Daddy. (Did you know I once promised myself never to personally serve my child meat?)

She's started calling me Mommy sometimes instead of Mama. In particular, when I do something she doesn't want, such as finger-combing her hair, she's started saying "No, Mommy," instead of just "No." But when she calls for me, it's usually Mama--as she says herself: "Chloë say Mama Mama Mama in the morning."

We bought her some bath paints recently, which was a horrible mistake. She loves them. She's clamored for a bath all day, every day, since we introduced them. "I think you need to wash your hands," I told her one night when she said she was all done at dinner.

"I think Chloë need to take bath," she replied. (Note: she does not use personal pronouns yet.)

(She's also started playing "water park" all the time. Her bed is the "old water park," her blanket on the floor (to guard against hurting herself if she falls out, though she hasn't recently) is the "new water park.")

Dad is coming for a visit today (actually, should be there now; I'm leaving work in a few minutes) and she's been looking forward to it. I told her last night "Grandpa will be here tomorrow." We often talk at bedtime about what the next day will entail, and so she responded, "Chloë wake up in the morning, Mama go work, Mama come home, Grandpa come home?" And then, "Chloë have bath?!"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ahhh, dahhh, zzz

Eric says that Maia giggled the other day. She's certainly a smiley girl. I've had her on the verge of a laugh myself, with belly-raspberries and peekaboo and saying "Boooooo" when she's cooing and saying "Ahhh." I don't think Chloë was this effervescent this early, but I also don't remember playing with her this way this early--not personally, that is. I think Eric did.

Now that we've gotten out of the newborn stage, I'm finding myself enjoying the baby phase possibly more than I did with Chloë, probably because I know what I'm doing more this time around. I like holding Maia; I like having her near me in the kitchen or the bedroom. I like that she'll sit in the carrier and watch, or play with a toy or her hands, while we're making dinner or doing dishes. (She lasts longer if I put her somewhere my back isn't to her all the time.) I like having her sit in the booster seat with us at dinner rather than relegated to the swing (anyway, she's started to twist about so we have to strap her down in it now). I like holding her in one arm while the other is curled around Chloë while we're reading. I'm at least entertained by the fact that she'll squall when I put her in the swing at dinnertime but smile and gurgle when I put her in the chair. I like her development into a real person.

What I don't like is the sleep issue. Theoretically, she should be able to sleep for at least six hours every night. The most sleep I've gotten in a row is four hours. Usually, she gets to sleep, wakes up an hour later, goes back to sleep, stays down for three or four hours, and then rouses about every two. Part of the problem is that I've been relying on nursing to get her to sleep more this time around, probably because I have a 6-7 AM wakeup call every morning and don't want to mess around with what sleep I get, so she expects to nurse all the time, and when I've been woken up twice already I tend to just give in rather than try to rock or bounce or outwait her. I'm trying to decide whether to try the Ferber method, which we did with Chloë, or stick with the gentler approach we've been taking so far. I'm not going crazy with sleep deprivation, but I'm not excited about continuing this way, either. It's a developing situation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Making a splash

Playing pretend has branched out. Predictably, from food we've moved onto...water. First the sky portion of Maia's quilt was a pool, which Chloe splashed in, jumped in, and caught a fish from to bring to me. (It slapped me in the face with its tail, so I tossed it back.) Later, she borrowed a (green) kitchen towel to spread carefully on the living room floor and put her inflatable ring on as a boat, which she then sat in. Ducky and Oppy swam a little. More fish came out ("candy fishy," she explained, which was good since I wasn't thrilled about the idea of a stack of pretend fish stinking up my living room as they pretend rotted). She laid down in the water and said, "Chloë hair get wet. Chloë shirt get wet." I told her that she'd need to get a towel to dry off, or let the sun dry her, and she looked up at the overhead light and stretched her arms up to it, basking in the sun. I know it's only been a few weeks, but so far, two-year-olds are the awesomest thing ever.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Feed me

Chloë ate a ton of peanut butter toast this weekend--I think she had something like four slices altogether, plus another this morning. This morning Eric said for the first time that we need to make sure she gets enough vegetables. She's been eating well at breakfasts and dinners but not so much at lunch lately, and we don't generally serve vegetables at breakfast so that limits the possibilities. However, she also ate a ton of tomatoes this weekend (we bought a pint of yellow cherry tomatoes at the farmer's market Saturday that are nearly all gone, plus there were our tomatoes and pasta sauce) and she'll eat those any time of day, so it may be tomatoes for breakfast for a while here. I've got a couple of plants in pots in the backyard, and they look like they never produce anything, but in fact a couple get ripe every day; it's just that whenever one even nears redness she picks it and stuffs it in her mouth. (She's learned that it's best to put the tomato entirely into her mouth before biting it, to cut down on her shirt changes.) Hey, it's summer; she needs to enjoy them while she can.

(Also, the imaginary food game gets ever more interesting. Yesterday she handed me some pretend cheese to put on some pretend pasta. I sprinkled it on and tasted it, and offered her a bite. She refused, because, she said, it was spicy cheese and she didn't want spicy cheese.)

And Maia has decided that nursing for more than ten minutes at a time is for suckers. So to speak. She sits down with me readily enough and nurses for about five minutes. Then up pops her smiling face. She gurgles. She grins. I wipe her chin. She nurses again for several seconds, then stops, and smiles, and repeats. Eventually I get tired of it and switch her to the other side, where the same thing happens, and then I give up. The only exception is when she's tired, when she'll actually settle down. It's much faster than nursing used to be, but I worry a bit over whether she's getting enough, and particularly whether she's getting enough hindmilk (the fatty stuff). Still, she's moving out of her 0-3 month clothes and into her 3-6 month clothes right on schedule, so I'll try to trust she knows what she's doing.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The new winner

"Mama shirt have tear in it from Chloë eye."

(And don't look like that. She was crying because she didn't want to take a nap.)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why, why, why

Chloë finally seems to be understanding "why" questions. It's been so wonderful to be able to communicate with her, and now that we can ask her about her motivations, communication gets ever more interesting:

Jenny: Chloë, why is this piece of pizza on the placemat?
Chloë: Mmmm...Chloë put it there.
Eric: (chokes with not-silent-enough laughter)
Jenny (teeth gritted against a grin): Please put it back on your plate.

Chloë (looking at a picture of Elmo holding a long, gray stick): Elmo hungry?
Jenny: Why do you think he's hungry?
Chloë: Elmo have knife.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A smorgasbord of delights

Chloë did breakfast this morning. Clad in her diaper, her blue sunhat, and her matching blue handbag, she paraded past where I was changing Maia's onesie on the floor. "Chloë go shopping," she said brightly. "Chloë get ice cream, popsicle, banana." She showed me her bag, zippered shut.

"Ooh," I said. "Can I have one?" She said yes, so I said, "I'll have a popsicle. Mmm, chocolate." I gobbled it up. She took one too, though she wasn't as noisy about eating hers as I was about mine.

"Chloë go shopping again," she said. "Ice cream, popsicle, banana."

"Could you pick up some apples for me?" I said.

"Yes." She handed me what I think was an entire bag of apples. I took one and said, "Wow, this one's huge!" I took a bite. "Mmm, yummy."

She took one too. "Huge!" she said. "Mmmy." Then she decided she wanted another popsicle. Those bananas never did get touched. She did offer her upside-down hat to me, saying, "Pasta?"

"Thank you," I said, picking up a foam X from the floor and using it as a fork. "Ooh, delicious."

"Chloë get cheese," she decided.

"White cheese?" I said. "Swiss? Or cheddar, the yellow kind?"

"Yes." She thought. "Spicy cheese."

"Spicy cheese would be good," I agreed.

But she didn't go; she got interested in the pasta in her hat again. "Chloë need fork. Chloë need spoon." I suggested she look in the bin of toys. "Spoon?" she said, holding up a foam 1. I agreed this would do nicely, and she dug in.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The downfall of please

I've had a tenacious cold for a week, and so far have had success in keeping it to myself. (Knock on wood.) I wondered vaguely the other day why colds last so much longer than they used to. Partly it's because I'm older; partly, I think, it's because MY CHILDREN DO NOT SLEEP. Ah, children, the first best form of birth control:

Last night I laid down with Maia at about 9:30 and, after getting to sleep, coughed and hacked so much I was having dreams about being a series of mini-storms lost on the ocean, with a vague idea that I had an identity and senses outside of the coughs/gusts but unable to find either. (Partly this is because I'm reading a book that contains a sea-battle.) Maia woke me up sometime in there to re-latch. I woke again when she attached again and got up when she finished, around 1, because the coughing was nauseating me, and decided to sleep in the glider. I got settled there (with the electric kettle, bless Eric) and went to sleep around 1:30. At 3:15 Maia woke up to eat. At 3:30 Chloë woke up with a minor nosebleed, and I went in to help her with Maia still attached. At 3:45 Maia went back to sleep and so did I. At 4:30 Chloë woke up with what seemed like a bad dream and I went in with Maia in my arms. At 5:15 Maia woke up to eat. At 5:45 I put Maia in the bassinet and went back to my bed. At 6:30 Chloë woke up and dragged me out of bed. We climbed up on her bed and she actually went to sleep again for a few minutes with her head on my leg, and then again when we cuddled together on the pillows, but that didn't last long. At 7 Maia started mewling.

I got her, changed her diaper and onesie, and went back to Chloë. She was demonstrating an oppressive amount of energy by jumping all around the bed refusing to lie down for the diaper change she requested (she knows she needs a diaper change and clothes on before going downstairs), and when I yelled at her I realized I was not capable of dealing with both of them that morning, so Eric woke up a little early and took charge of Miss Energy while I fed Maia. At least she behaved for it, instead of popping on and off and grinning innocently at me as she's been doing lately. She fell asleep afterward--I was jealous--and I put her in the swing downstairs and went back up to change clothes for work.

Chloë came up to investigate what I was doing--"Koë check on Mama"--and watched me get into my work clothes. "Mama going hork?" she said.

"That's right," I said. "Come on, let's go downstairs."

She walked to the doorway of our bedroom and stopped. "Mama carry Koë," she said. "Pee."

Since she had seen Maia with me every time I checked on her in the night, this was pretty predictable, and mostly I'm happy to carry her if it will make her feel better. But I felt lousy. I shook my head. "No, sweetie. I still don't feel good."

"Pee. Pee. Pee," she repeated. "Koë tay pee." And my heart twisted, because--and here's the point of the story; this wasn't completely gratuitous whining, honest--she's only recently started really applying "please" with the understanding that it's, well, a magic word. If she asks for something and doesn't say please, we generally wait to respond until she does; once she does, we almost always get her whatever she wants with all speed. She knows that when she says "please," we say "yes." Thus, "Chloë say please" really meant, "But I obeyed your rules."

And here I was, refusing anyway. We've worked so diligently to get her to say "please," teaching her that it will get her what she wants. But now that she's learned it, she also has to learn that it doesn't always work. What kind of a crappy lesson is that to teach a child? A useful and practical one, I suppose, but it seemed like awfully sad policy to me while sick and sleep-deprived on a Monday morning. I didn't carry her, but I held her hand as we walked down the stairs, and thanked her profusely when she pulled my work shoes out of the rack for me, and hugged her good-bye as tightly as I could while trying to avoid breathing on her. She skipped off to read one of her new books (from the Borders liquidation sale) with Eric, and I wished she had stopped to wave good-bye to me, as she does most days. But you don't always get what you want, even when you ask, and I hadn't.