Saturday, January 19, 2013

Let's all go to the liquor store!

Lily has a very active imagination. With absolutely zero encouragement from me (there is still time to nominate me for Mother of the Year) Lily latched on to a set of doll house dolls when she was about 18 months old. They were the first toys that she really played with. According to my very conservative estimation I have personally endured over 150 hours of playing "Mommy Doll".

ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY HOURS. Give that a minute to sink in.

150 hours of:

Me: "What do you want to do today Daddy Doll?"
Lily: "Chase me up the stairs and fall off the roof!!!!"

Me: "What do you want to do today Daddy Doll?"
Lily: "Chase me down the stairs and fall down in the kitchen!!!"

Me: "What do you want to do today Daddy Doll?"
Lily: "Chase me up the stairs and fall into the potty, HAHAHAHAHAHA.!!!!!"

You get the idea.

After 15 months of all consuming dollhouse play, I have groundbreaking news. Lily has a new favorite form of pretend play. Without further ado, "Let's all go to the liquor store!"

As the name would imply Lily packs each of us a purse and we strike out to the dining room to go to the liquor store. In a truly hilarious twist, the dining room also doubles as church. The kitchen is always the store and the living room and sun room alternate between the playground, the doctor, outside, and school. The playroom is always home.

Before you run to get the phone and call child services I think it bears mentioning that in MA the only place we can buy beer or wine is a liquor store. The only reason I mention it is that I understand that in states where hooch is easier to come by the idea of going to the liquor store is hardcore. In either case, I wouldn't say that I am proud that my 2 and a half year old knows the word liquor, but it's not like she knows what she is saying. It certainly doesn't help that the cashier at our neighborhood store gives Lily a lollipop every time she is there. Which as my friend Vicki pointed out, just seems "wrong" (albeit comical) for some reason...something about luring kids into a liquor store with candy. Anyway, it is Lily's favorite errand to run with her daddy. The kicker, we don't even let her eat the lollipops! As everyone knows, lollipops are for big girls that poop on the potty...a feat that Lily is still refusing to do.

Anyway, while I certainly wouldn't say that this new form of pretend is my favorite activity, it is a nice change from all of the dollhouse nonsense. Mommy doll is tired of falling off the roof. The biggest drawback, in my eyes, to her new game is that she wants to haul two thirds of the toys out the the playroom all day long. That might not seem too terrible except that a) I am a control freak and can hardly think straight when I am trying to cook dinner ankle deep in toys, b) she has less than zero intention of helping me pick up any of it, c) I am forced to referee no less than 30 squabbles a minute because "No, Ben that is mine. Put it back on the floor in the middle of the room where Mommy can step on it while she rushes me to the bathroom in a few minutes!!!" -I might be paraphrasing that last one.

I am glad that she has an active imagination and I have to admit it makes me chuckle every time she shouts, "Mommy get your purse! It's time to go to the liquor store!"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Living Simply

As I mentioned in my Christmas wrap up, this holiday season had me doing a lot of thinking. The bottom line, I need to write more so that when I do sit down to start a post I don't feel so blocked. With so many thoughts bouncing around in my tired brain it is almost impossible to grab just one and start writing without sounding like I need to be committed. Let's face it, there is a good chance that I do need to be committed, but I can still strive to sound coherent while I babble to myself, no??

So here is today's rambling...

On the one hand, I want my kids to have it all. More toys than they could ever play with, adorable outfits for every day of the week, and an endless buffet of sweets and goodies. On the other hand, it is all just so much. It is all wonderful but more than once this Christmas I felt a little sick about the over abundance.

I imagine I am not the only mom out there feeling conflicted.

I want my kids to have an appreciation of their things, AND I want them to be just as excited about the experience. I know...I know, talk about projecting. Right now they are obviously way too little to understand any of these feelings. But how on Earth do I raise kids that are not greedy in a world that places so much emphasis on having stuff? Let it be said, that around here, materialistic is not necessarily a "four letter word". Dingle loves his possessions and has worked hard to earn each and every one of them. Personally, I don't care as much about owning stuff and, as if the post hadn't already alluded to this, too many possessions make me a little uncomfortable. It is really interesting to me that growing up in households where money was sometimes tight shaped Matt and I very differently. I like knowing we have money in the bank and he likes knowing he can buy just about anything he wants! I will say that over the past five years we have both shifted towards a middle ground. He almost never makes an impulsive big purchase anymore, and I no longer break out in a cold sweat if we put something extra in the shopping cart. None of this changes the fact that our kids will have more than either of us did growing up, and some days I am convinced we are going to ruin them! Add to this the fact that we live in a community where I regularly see toddlers in UGGs and moms accidentally pick up the wrong Coach diaper bag at the playground. I don't care if other people think my Graco stroller is ghetto, but some day Lily will. It is overwhelming.

SO, in addition to all of the wonderful traditions I mentioned in my previous post I have two new ones to add. Both are post-Christmas traditions that I hope will restore some balance to the kids' lives in the wake of the new toy tornado. First I would like the kids to make/write thank you notes. I know that this will be super time consuming for me, but leading by example when it comes to expressing gratitude will hopefully make all of the getting easier on me too. Second I want them to "help" sort through the old toys and choose some to donate or sell (we will donate the money) to make room for the new toys. I know it will be more than a few years before either of the kids understand any of this but getting an early start can't hurt.

Ultimately I am glad I waited a few weeks to write this post. Now that the craziness of Christmas has died down I can appreciate it for what it is. A once a year indulgence, even if it does go on for weeks! All of the things we did to make the holiday memorable made me so happy. And it makes other people happy to buy kids stuff. Were they totally spoiled this year? Yes. Will it ruin them forever? No.

Moral of the story: Two weeks before Christmas is not the time to stress out about living more simply.

Hopefully this post will serve as a reminder for next year, or maybe it will just highlight how neurotic I have become. Either way I now have one less free radical bouncing around in my brain, so that is good.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Where did SHE come from???

Let it be known that I have never worn a tutu.

Coo coo girl, you are amazing and I love you!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Christmas Wrap Up!

I know that you all have endured two weeks of Christmas blog posts on your google readers, but my Halloween post was 2 weeks late and my Thanksgiving post is no one should be surprised that I am just now getting this done!

Lily sort of understood the whole idea of Santa this year, and she certainly knows what a present is. I have done a lot of thinking about this past holiday season, and I will organize my thoughts a little better in a post coming up. This year was so wonderful, and it really got me thinking about what traditions I remember and which ones (new and old) that I want to pass on to my kids.

We started out the season the weekend after Thanksgiving, a tradition we will keep, so up went the tree. Ben was pretty tickled about the whole thing, and Lily wanted to put out every decoration we own. Matt inherited more than a few Dept 56 houses from his grandparents (which he has such fond memories of setting up = tradition we will definitely keep), but this year we decided it was too many delicate pieces for too many little fingers. Our tree was not as short and fat as I like, but it smelled amazing. It did stop drinking water as soon as we got it in the stand, and by mid-December it was so droopy and dry you couldn't walk by it without a bucket of needles falling off. The kids couldn't have cared less, as long as it was plugged in from 7am-7pm.

Matt strung the outside lights, but the ones on the second floor weren't working. He never did make it back up there to fix them. Eh, maybe next year. I hung the beautiful wreath my dad made (another tradition I would like to have passed down). Overall I think Colby was pretty impressed. 

On the weekend of the 9th we went to breakfast with Santa. I already posted the picture of the kids with the world's youngest Santa Claus, so here are a few from breakfast and crafts. I don't think we will keep up this least not this particular breakfast. Tickets were expensive, and too many Santa sightings this year made Lily feel like seeing the big guy wasn't a big deal. 

The following weekend we went to Vivi (Silva) and J's to decorate cookies. This is a must keep tradition. So much more fun with friends than alone in our kitchen. Also, J makes the best Bloody Marys ever.  

A few days after cookies we packed up and made the hour drive to Edaville. On our drive down the sky was looking ominous despite there being no rain in the forecast  Matt and I joked that the world might actually be coming to an end the following day and that we had better hurry up and ride the flying elephants. It was sprinkling by the time we got to Carver so we decided to stop at McDonalds for a little dinner before trying the park. I sat in the car and nursed Ben, Matt ordered Lily her first ever happy meal...which she wouldn't eat...go figure. By the time we were done with dinner, the rain had stopped and we were raring to go. The is another must keep tradition! 

The following day we packed up our sled with all the foof for the Who girls and boys and headed to Maine. It was a looooong drive. The weather was terrible, and local traffic getting to the highway was nuts, but we made it and that is all that matters. The few days leading up to Christmas were filled with family and quick trips out to the mall to get "one last thing". (Sidenote: I am well aware that Lily is wearing her winter hat both indoors and out in almost every picture. I honestly don't even notice it anymore. She insists on wearing it 18 hours a day.)

And then came the big day! Christmas morning at my parents' house followed by Christmas afternoon and evening at Matt's parents' house. My mom and dad have started hosting the entire family so that Matt and I don't have to drag the kids all over town. It is big, and loud, and there are people everywhere. In short, it is total chaos. I love it all. 
Matt's mom and dad's Christmas is smaller (Mimi, Doe, Aunt Becky, and the four of us), much more quiet, and relaxed. Each present is beautifully wrapped, we listen to Christmas music, and drink our coffee. It is equally wonderful, in a completely different way. This year Santa even ordered up a little snow! 

Thank you again to everyone who helped us make so many wonderful memories for not only my kids, but for Matt and me as well.

Monday, January 7, 2013

8 Months!

I know that this is over a week late but this time it is all Ben's fault. I tried on FOUR separate occasions with two different assistants to take Ben's 8 month photo...

At first he was so sullen...

Which escalated to agitated...

And then came angry...

And then he was gone...

Ahhh, such is the life of my busy little man. No time to sit around and smile for pictures when there are so many of Lily's unsuspecting toys just waiting to be destroyed!! December went by in the blink of an eye, but luckily I took a million pictures this month to document all of the fun we had. Ben changed more this past month than any other period of time up to now. 

We have settled back in to our normal routine after being in Maine for Christmas. Ben's day looks something like this:

7:00am - Wake Up! Babble and bounce loudly to be sure that Lily is also awake.  
7:45am - Mommy kicks Daddy out of bed to go get the kids, she can sense when the natives are getting restless. 
8:00am - 6oz bottle and a diaper change make for a happy baby. 
9:00am - Exhausted from being out of bed for an hour, Ben desperately whines to nurse and go down for a nap. 
10:30am - Wakes up, fusses for a few minutes, finds blankie and possibly even paci and goes back to sleep. 
11:00am - Officially ready to rejoin Lily for some play time. 
11:30am - Nurses for 5-10 minutes in 30 second intervals. Mommy thinks this is especially annoying. Ben doesn't care in the least what Mommy thinks. 
12:30pm - Lunch! 
1:30pm - Afternoon nap. 
3:30pm - Regardless of how much or how little sleeping was done, Mommy caves and nap is over. 
3:30pm - A little more pop-on/pop-off nursing
3:35-5:15pm - Playtime, mostly used for tormenting his big sister, touching absolutely everything naughty, repeatedly getting stuck under the exersaucer, scaling the couch, and banging things just to see what happens. 
5:15pm - Dinner! 
5:30-6:45pm - More play time, mostly supervised by Daddy. Mommy suspects someone is going to break something one day very soon. Hopefully it is the coffee table and not someone's nose. 
7:00pm - Bedtime! A 6oz bottle, story, and lights out. 
7:45pm - Last peep...although most nights we do not turn on the monitor until later, so this is just an estimate.

Again this month I do not have any stats or numbers but I would be willing to bet that Ben will still be in the lower percentages come his 9 month appointment at the end of January. After his crazy growth spurt in November I haven't noticed any significant change in his weight or length. He is still wearing size 2 (*correction! sz 3) diapers and 6-9 month clothes fit a little snug, whereas 9m are really too long.  

Likes: Getting into everything, Jazz music (seriously), shoving everything in his mouth, Lily, the remote, the phone, the dog's water bowl, crawling, pulling up on everything, cruising the furniture, escaping from the playroom, blankie, Mommy, splashing in the tub.

Dislikes: Being told "no", something about the high chair (we can't pinpoint exactly what he is so unhappy about), not being able to reach something, sleeping through the night.

Nicknames: Lily has started calling him now we all do it obviously. 

Milestones: Crawling, pulling up, cruising the furniture, distinct babbling of both Mama and Dada...on a few occasions it seemed awfully deliberate, a million new foods. 

Feeding: Nursing is still chugging along. My supply has remained about the same for the past few months and barring something beyond my control I fully expect to continue to nurse Ben on a similar schedule for the next couple of months. I know as he begins to eat more solids he may want to drop one of the daytime nursings, but for now I am going to be pretty insistent on them. I don't love pumping, in fact I really dislike it, but giving Ben a nice big bottle at bedtime is the only way I can be sure that his nocturnal shenanigans are not the result of being hungry. In theory the morning bottle should afford me an extra hour of sleep but it almost never happens. 

I have always had a harder time reading Ben than I ever did Lily, and the topic of solids is proving to be no exception. Ben seems to like food but for some inexplicable reason cries through every meal. Some meals go better than others, but I haven't noticed any obvious patterns. He seems to cry a little less (??) for Matt than when I feed him. Clearly I am finding it hard to isn't screaming but it is more than fussing, and he doesn't turn away from the spoon, but he isn't exactly bouncing in anticipation either. It is very odd. The minute the meal is over he is back to mr. happy-go-lucky. I am certainly open to hypotheses on this one...

Sleeping: Ben is not sleeping through the night. To say that this statement doesn't horrify me would be a lie. I am known to get up a time or two (or twelve) to pee during my second and third trimesters. Given that fact, it has officially been more than a year since I have slept through the night with any kind of consistency...more than a year. Maybe there are some other moms out there shaking their sympathetic heads at that statement (my whole heart goes out to you!) but my suspicion is that the majority of the people who read this blog have no idea what it is like to go a full calendar year without sleeping more than a few hours at a time. I wouldn't wish this kind of torture on my worst enemy. 

In the name of being completely honest some nights are significantly better than others...and some nights are much MUCH worse. As I have said before I am a supporter of a little cry it out sleep training, as is my pediatrician. A little over four months ago I started to let Ben cry himself to sleep at nap time and it worked like a charm. He may not be a marathon nap taker, but I put the kid down in his crib wide awake twice a day, and he never cries and always soothes himself to sleep. At night it is a whole other nightmare story. He goes down just fine. He and Lily chatter and play a bit, but in less than 30 minutes both kids are out like a light. Dingle and I check on the kids before we go to bed around 10:30 and Ben stirs a little but usually stays asleep. At some point between 12:45 and 2 he wakes up screaming bloody murder. This screaming usually only lasts a few minutes, but it scares me to death and I lay awake in bed watching him on the baby monitor. For the next hour he alternates between fussing and sleeping and I do not usually feel compelled to go in and soothe him (but I am certainly not sleeping either). On really bad nights he continues fussing for more than an hour, I go in to soothe him, he gets even more mad, wash-rinse-repeat until dawn. 

With Ben it is always something. First it was teething, then a major growth spurt, after that a horrible cold, and now...who knows, possibly another growth spurt or more teeth? The guy, and by extension I, can't catch a break. All I know is that every night I go to bed hoping to sleep for more than four hours and very rarely do I get to. (sidebar: For those of you wondering why I don't go to bed earlier...that is the downside of pumping a bottle for Matt to give him in the morning. The only way to pump enough milk is to stay up a little later. Like I said, in theory it is an excellent practice it worked beautifully with Lily...bottom line I need to be more resolved to stay in bed in the morning.) 

At this point feeling rested is a distant memory. It makes me sad that I am so tired. Some days I feel like I am the worst version of myself for my kids and my husband. I want to want to play, and make a delicious dinner, and keep a clean house but I am just too worn out. I just have to keep telling myself it will not be like this forever. 

Odds and Ends: Ben is so wonderful. I know that might seem like a silly statement given the above paragraphs, but it really is true. He is crazy about me, and I am a sucker for babies that are crazy about me. He is so busy, busy, busy during the day but just before (and sometimes after) naps he still likes to be cuddled for a few minutes. He snuggles his little head in to my neck and just lays there being held. Understandably, it is my favorite three minutes of every day.  

From this point forward whenever I say that Ben is "busy" you should read: "you people are screwed." We are seriously under prepared for such an active baby. Lily didn't really get to moving until she was 10 months old, and even when she did she was so cautious and delicate. We never baby proofed a thing, and to the best of my recollection she never broke anything. Just today Ben knocked a candle off the entertainment center, repeatedly knocked over the cat's water bowl, and pulled my laptop off the coffee table. All of the above was done under my supervision, what can I say...he is strong and he moves so damn fast! He is very busy. 

It took Ben less than three weeks to master crawling, pulling up on everything, AND cruising the furniture. Today on several separate occasions I witnessed him in the "bear-crawl" position as if he was thinking about standing up on his own. Seriously Ben, s-l-o-w down. I am too tired to literally chase you around the house. Can't you just sit on the couch and read books for an hour with me and your sister? (High-five Lily you are awesome!) 

The holidays went by in a blur and I felt a little bad that "Ben's First Christmas" was completely over shadowed by "Lily's Third Christmas" - yes I know that isn't really a thing but you get what I am saying? Lily was just so excited, and for the first time sort of understood presents and Santa...and no one could outrun the whole wonderful tornado of it all. Ben didn't even wear the baby's first Christmas onesie Mimi bought for him. An oversight on my part for sure. All that being said, we had an amazing Christmas as a family of four and I still can't get over how much our lives have changed since last year. I do have a Christmas pictures post in the queue, stay tuned. 

Up next: 9 month check up, the addition of a third meal per day, and some serious baby proofing...Ben is busy!