Tuesday, April 30, 2013

You are O-N-E!

Dear Ben,

You are one! I am afraid I may have given you reason to think that this is a sad milestone for me, but I want to assure you that I am not sad. I just love you so much, that sometimes it is hard for me to keep from thinking about the days when you will no longer want to be snuggled every minute of every day. I just have to remind myself that by then you will have other ways to show me how much you love me...and that no matter how much time goes by you will always be my son. You and I, little man, have a strong bond. I don't always know what you need or want, but I do know that you always look to me when you need something. Over the past year we have logged a lot of late night hours together rocking and dancing in the moonlight. Even though there were days I was so tired I seriously don't know how I took care of you and your sister, I am grateful for all of that time together. That being said, you are one, and it is time for you to start sleeping through the night, okay?!

When you were born we told Lily that no matter what changes might take place, bringing you home meant more love for all of us. At the time we had no idea just how much you would change our lives but we were certainly right about the love. It may be that sleep deprivation has caused me permanent memory loss but I definitely struggle to remember what life was like without you. After a long talk with your sister a few days ago about how much we love you, it became evident to me that she literally doesn't remember a time when you weren't here. I know there are going to be times when you two do not get along but my wish for each of you is that the bond you share now only strengthens as you grow. After all, there is no one else who will understand better what it was like to have me as your crazy mother. A word of advice, your smile gets you a long way with her...use it to your advantage!

Let me tell you some things I know about you.

1. You smile with your whole body
2. You love your blankie
3. You like to be read to and have a long attention span for books
4. You do not like to be alone and always sleep better at night in the same room as Lily
5. You will eat almost anything
6. You love to splash in water, specifically the dog bowl
7. You like to play outside but are suspicious of grass
8. You are very ticklish
9. You seek out balls, trucks, and any toy small enough to be a choking hazard
10.You are a climber

You really are a sweet, laid back guy. You seem content to hang out in the background and take it all in...while Lily twirls in the center spotlight. You are a little unsure about new people and situations but as long as we give you time you usually warm up. Only time will tell if you are going to be shy like Daddy or if this is just a phase. In any case I can't wait to see your little personality develop over the next few months and years.

Being your mom brings me so much joy. A year ago God sent us the perfect addition to our little family and we are all so grateful. You are a giggly, snugly, laid back dude...with a devilish glint in your eyes. So here we are, you are one, and I want you to know that I love you more than anything. Thank you for all of the love that you bring to each of us every day.

We love you so very much tater tot!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Boston Strong

This June marks my ten year anniversary of having moved to Boston. So as not to sound like a poser, we haven't lived in Boston proper for a number of years (we now live 7 miles north) but five of the best years of my life were spent on those same streets where so many people's lives changed forever last Monday. Boston is a small city. Every single person I know was exactly one degree of separation from the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

On Monday afternoon I got a text from my husband asking if I had the marathon on? I had watched it for several hours but had turned it off so that I could catch up on some DVR. When I turned the TV back to the race my heart stopped beating. How could this happen in my city? The very first thing I did was thank God that the kids and I didn't go and that Matt was safe at work. For those of you who are not from around here, the marathon really is an amazing day in the city and for many a tradition not to be missed. Matt's fraternity house sits on Beacon St, less that a 1/2 mile from the finish line. For years we could be found lining the streets and cheering on our many friends who were brave enough to take on heartbreak hill.

The second thing I did was post to facebook that we were not in harm's way and request that other people check in as well. My phone buzzed continuously with messages of love and "we are all safe" for the remainder of the night. Everyone was filled with a complicated mix of gratitude and sorrow. I can't emphasize this enough, we all knew someone running or someone watching and each of us felt that those injured could have just as easily been "one of us".

The four days that followed the bombing are sort of a blur. The news was speculative and everyone was heartbroken as we all learned the devastating details about those who had not been as fortunate. On Thursday night Matt and I actually made it to bed early and missed the breaking news that would blow up our phones all night long. On Friday morning I nursed Ben around 5:30am and when I came back to bed Matt was sitting up scrolling through his phone. He told me I had better turn on the TV, there had been more violence overnight. An MIT police officer, a 26 year old man, had been shot in cold blood in front of the Stata Center. For years, Matt's office was in that building.

Over the next 15 hours I could not turn the television off. I prayed hard that the people in question would be taken into custody before another innocent person was made a victim. When it was announced shortly after dark on Friday night that the suspect was apprehended (alive) the entire Boston community breathed a tremendous sigh of relief. What happened next still brings tears to my eyes, even days later. People of all ages lined the streets to express their gratitude to the first responders, police, FBI, and special forces who had worked so selflessly to keep us all safe. Some people criticized those seen "celebrating" on TV but let me tell you something about the people of this great city. We are proud and tough, loud and abrasive  loving and loyal...and an attack on our friends was terribly humbling. When the whole ordeal was put to rest the people of Boston simply couldn't contain our gratitude and it poured out into our streets. It wrapped our neighbors, our friends, and our children in a genuine embrace of raw human emotion. It was not celebratory, it was relief expressed with a heavy heart. It was pure and it was raw, and in this blogger's humble opinion  a telling snapshot of the genuine spirit that makes this city such a special place to live.

We are Boston proud.

There is a lot of healing left to be done and questions to be answered but that one thing is certain, we will remain "Boston Strong."

Here is a link to to a local news website if you are looking for suggestions on how to help the people affected by this horrible act of violence.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy Birthday to me - a post about toddler puke!

You all know how much I love my daughter, and if you know me (either in real life or through my blog) you probably also know that I love my birthday. 

This year the little girl that I love so much gave me the gift of midnight toddler vomit for my birthday. Lots and lots of toddler vomit. 

If you have never had the pleasure of taking care of a toddler with the pukes let me tell you, it is a scaring experience. A few weeks ago when she was sick I thought it was pretty rough and coined the phrase "panic puker". In hindsight that day had NOTHING on the 18 hours of pure misery that Lily put me through on my birthday this year. It is safe to say that I would relive the hangover of '03, during which I had to pull over on I90 in Boston to get sick on the side of the road. Not exactly my proudest moment, but at least that night I had some fun before I had to spend the night on the bathroom floor. 

It started when I heard "the cry" around 11, coincidentally about 30 seconds after falling into a deep sleep. I shot out of bed and ran to the guest room (Ben's non-sleeping had been taking a toll on Lily so I had separated them once again) to find Lily sitting bolt upright in bed drenched in sweat, covered in puke, and screaming like a pissed off banshee. I'm serious, she was livid...and the instant our eyes met I knew she had found just the person she was looking for. Not to comfort and protect her, no no. Surely someone must be to blame for this disgusting injustice, that person must pay. That person was going to be me. 

I put her in the tub, washed her hair, put her in clean jammies, stripped the bed, started a load of laundry, rinsed out the tub, changed her jammies again, spot cleaned the living room rug, and made a "special bed" on the sun room floor all while being verbally abused and berated. Just as I was about to close my eyes on the couch she threw up with no warning all over her "special bed", I glanced at the clock 12:02...happy birthday to me! 

The night was looong, neither of us slept. At one point she looked me square in the face and said, "Stop making me throw up." Poor baby, I had no idea so much horribleness could come out of one little body.

Matt got up and went to work and I did my best not to cry at the thought of more puke. I prayed more than once that Ben would not wake up with whatever was raging inside Lily's tummy. (My prayers would not be answered, however there was a 24 hour break between illnesses.) Ben spent most of the day in isolation in the playroom and Lily spent the entire day watching TV between demands for something to eat or drink. When it had finally been a few hours since her last upchuck I allowed her some crackers and water. By the end of the afternoon she was finally looking a little better and had stopped cursing me under her breath. 

When Dingle came home from work we both agreed that eating cake in front of Lily would just add insult to injury and so we postponed my birthday festivities until the following day. I was so grateful to sleep in my own bed that night, aside from Lily feeling better, it was the best gift I could have gotten. 

The following day everyone was feeling better, I went for a massage, and we all had some chocolate cake. It was certainly a birthday that I won't forget any time soon. Motherhood comes with highs and lows and in the end I am certainly grateful that this was just a stomach bug and not something more serious. 

That doesn't mean I have to like toddler puke.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

You're Three!

Dear Lily,

You are three! My sweet sweet girl you take my breath away. As a matter of fact it has taken me over a week to write this letter because every time I sat down to do it I felt like I could not possibly do you justice. You are that fantastic.

This past year has been the best of my life. You became the sister I knew you would be. You were so gentle and doting with Ben when we first brought him home from the hospital. Now that he is bigger, you are patient and so very proud. Making Ben laugh is a special skill of yours. I am not going to sugar coat things, some days being a big sister is hard. There are times when you don't want to share, when Ben destroys something you have been playing with, when you are tempted to yell or hit (only rarely do you give in to those temptations). But I want to point something out, you never let that little boy forget how much you love him...and that will be your job for the rest of your life. A job I am confident that you will cherish as much as I do. Even when you are having a tough time navigating this new relationship, you always have a kiss and a kind word for your brother. You are nurturing and have shown such selflessness this past year. I would be lying if I said I don't feel guilty sometimes when I realize that all you really want is to have me to yourself again but I promise I will always have time for just you and me.

This past year you celebrated so many milestones. You are less and less like a toddler every day and at some point I am going to have to admit that you are a "big girl". Daddy turned your car seat around this past weekend and you love your new view! I especially like that now I can actually hear you talking to me, even when you intentionally use your "quiet voice". You are still sort of clumsy and I have always joked that anyone who has spent five minutes with you has seen you fall down. But you are showing more and more coordination every day. You can hop, skip, run, and pedal a bike (almost). Above all else you love to dance, specifically twirl. In October you surprised us all by slipping on a pair of water wings and swimming unassisted in water well over your head. I really don't know if I should be proud of your foolish bravery but it is endearing. You really are fearless...and just a little clumsy. You have mastered the potty during the day and if I am patient enough you can dress and undress yourself. You love to pick out your own clothes.

We can work on humility later, for now let me tell you, you are brilliant. Your vocabulary is impressive but your ability to use words in context, conjugate, and express your ideas, literally blows my mind. You are such a thoughtful listener and are always ready to draw conclusions from your curiosity. Don't even get me started on your memory and how yesterday you reminded me that we stacked creamers while we waited for our dinner at Cracker Barrel...in October of 2011. While your command of the English language really is impressive you do have several toddlerisms that crack me up. Instead of saying "by myself" you say "with myself".  You call your bathing suit your "babing suit".  Instead of "I'm thirsty for water", it's "I'm thirsty of water".  Recently you're also very aware of my tone and will often request "Mommy, can you say it nice?"

Today while watching TV, which we do let you do while Ben takes his morning nap, you correctly determined that one less than three is two. Like I said, you listen and you are brilliant. Your favorite shows to watch are Curious George, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Octonauts, and Doc McStuffins. I personally love them all and usually watch right along with you. What is the biggest drawback to your brilliance you ask? Girl, we have our days. Days when Mommy can do no right and you are so frustrated that all you can do is yell and cry. You are not mischievous and very rarely do you use your intelligence for evil but you do have a temper and you do not like to be told no.

This September you will be starting preschool. I searched high and low to find just the right school for you. I chose a very small school where you will be loved and (I pray) feel safe. The world is a scary place and there is a big part of Mommy and Daddy that wishes we could keep you at home forever. That being said I am SO excited for you! You are going to love school! I can't wait to see how much you learn and grow. This is it lady, the world belongs to you.

You want to know what else you are? A total princess. Where did you come from? Mommy is not necessarily known for her femininity, yet here you are decked out in (not one but two) tutus, three headbands, a necklace and half a dozen bracelets...and that is just a Monday morning. Your favorite colors are pink, pink and pink. You tolerate purple, green and blue. For your birthday you were lavished with princess themed gifts much to your delight. You are now the proud owner of a different tutu for every day of the week.  Over the past year, your love affair with all things stuffed has only deepened.  Your entourage is officially out of control.  Not only is it more than I can carry, but there are so many "friends" that even you lose track of who's in the bed with you.  Lately you have been biting your nails, which I remind you not to do 100 times an hour. Today the pediatrician recommended that I offer to paint your nails as incentive to stop. HA. I believe that is called opening Pandora's box.

I spend my days revolving around you and your brother. There is nowhere else I would rather be. Today we went for a walk and watching you pick up every rock on the street, with the sunshine in your hair, I thanked God that you are mine. I listened to your story about how the nurse at the doctor's office gave you a "sparkle" band-aid and when you asked me to hold your hand I gladly fulfilled your request. I say it all the time but it bears repeating, these are the best days of my life. I was born to be your mommy.

I love you coo coo girl.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A birthday fit for a princess.

Lily had to share her birthday with Easter this year. I mean I supposed there are worse things than sharing a party with the Easter bunny and the resurrection of Jesus, but I still felt a little lame doubling down on the holiday weekend. It is the curse of having an April birthday, and with so many April birthdays under one roof it is inevitable that one of us will have to share the spotlight on our special day.

As I mentioned in a previous post Lily received no less than 6 princess themed gifts for her birthday. For several days she wore them all at once. My only rule on the subject is that she may not wear more than one tutu out of the house at once. I also had to have a very difficult talk with her about the risks of eating while princessing...a hard lesson learned after I was unable to get a tomato sauce stain out of her purple fairy dress.

Her birthday week extravaganza kicked off with a trip to her favorite playground. It was downright cold so I wore Ben in the pack and did my best not to look completely miserable. I think she was cold too but knowing better than to admit it, repeatedly told me she was having fun...even when I hadn't asked. Friday through Sunday were spent in Maine. The weather was nice and she was thoroughly spoiled by both sets of grandparents. On Monday I took her out to lunch at Panera and she had her favorite mac n' cheese. Tuesday was a quiet day at home, I had intended to take her on some sort of outing but it was literally 20 degrees out and I just couldn't muster the necessary enthusiasm. In lieu of an outing I let her watch the Tigger Movie while Ben took his afternoon nap and we made cupcakes to take to her playdate the following day.

On Wednesday Matt went to work early so that he could be home in time for dinner. It was a great idea in theory but I think we were all a little sad that Daddy wasn't there to say happy birthday first thing in the morning. I took some pretty hilarious pictures and made her pancakes for breakfast. In the afternoon Daddy arrived with balloons and her new carebear (only after locking the keys to his car in his own trunk at the grocery store and literally running home, excellent). I had a pink cheer bear when I was a little girl. It is neat to see them side by side.

A friend of mine was kind enough to offer up her amazing playroom for a very small party with a few of Lily's fiends from music class. The kids all played and ate cupcakes.  It was very low key and exactly what Lily had requested.

Consider this three year old officially one happy little girl. Birthday week extravaganza, nailed it! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

11 Months!

Oh my, that stings.

I should probably start by saying that as I sit here on the couch on the eve of my daughter's third birthday I am in no position to write this month's post. My heart is both busting with love and breaking into a million tiny pieces. Excuse me while I go and get a tissue...or the whole box.

Have I mentioned that I love having a baby in the house? Even though it is a tremendous amount of tedium there is nothing better in the world than a warm, sweet, baby snuggled into your neck at the end of the day. I will miss these days for the rest of my life. I hope I never forget just how much this little boy loved to be held. Ben reminds me every day that, in some ways, my children are very different. I really do count my blessing twice that God has given me the opportunity to be a mother all over again. I can not imagine who I would be without these two perfect little people in my life. The snuggling though, boy OH boy, I am a sucker for the snuggling.

Likes: Snuggling (did I mention that?), Mommy, blankie, paci, wheels, taking baths, Lily, any toy that Lily is currently holding, the cats, people in hats, men with beards, crashing, banging, climbing, climbing, and climbing.

Dislikes: Being cold at swimming, not being permitted to stand on chairs, being alone, sleeping past 5am.

Nicknames: Benja and Tater has proved to have staying power. That being said I very rarely call either of my children by their given names and will often substitute any number of random nonsense words...all of which they answer to. (Ben does absolutely know is real name however)

Milestones: Clapping (finally!), another new tooth (4 on top, 2 on bottom), officially standing, a few very uncertain steps.

Feeding:  The question of weaning has been popping up all over this month. Several of my friends and family have expressed a little surprise at Ben's continued enthusiasm for nursing. I don't really know what to say. I do not have a plan. I guess I will continue to nurse Ben for as long as he wants (within reason), although I have decided to drop a feeding here and there. As it stands right now he nurses first thing in the morning (5ish), before his morning nap at 9, occasionally at 11:30 (which we are dropping), before his afternoon nap at 1:30, occasionally at 4 (which we are also dropping), and before bed at 7. I take partial responsibility for "too many" nursing sessions. I still have more than enough milk and part of me is a little relieved when he wants to nurse. Like I said I do not have a plan and I may very well decide that it would be better for me to start the weaning process sooner rather than later. I couldn't be happier that our nursing bond is still going strong and I am thrilled to have gotten Ben off to such a great healthy start. The only major drawback I see (other than fleeting "selfish" thoughts about having my body back) is that he really has no interest in learning to use a cup. He likes to hold it, and bang it repeatedly on the high chair...but he isn't actually drinking anything from the stupid thing.

Solids are still going great. Ben officially eats Lily under the table on a meal to meal basis. There isn't anything he won't eat at an alarming rate. It is hard to name favorites because he is such an eager eater. I think he really likes cheese, banana, chicken, and strawberries. When I asked Matt, and he finally stopped laughing and shaking his head, he also added graham crackers and eggs to the list.  At least one of my children will have eaten something this year!! Mother of the year!

Sleeping: Again this month I will be brief here. Unlike last month I am not completely fed up with the sleeping situation, there just isn't a lot to say. Ben takes two regular naps and sleeps with little regularity at night. I no longer answer his squawks in the night unless I think he is in real distress. He is an early bird, which is not how the rest of us roll. In fact, Lily is still sleeping in the guest room, but that will be coming to an end once Aunt Kate moves in. That gives us roughly 7 more weeks. A lot can change in 7 weeks, right??

Odds and Ends: Ben is on the verge of walking...and I am terrified. I already spend half the day prying him off from the coffee table and bookshelves, once he can turn on a dime and take off in the other direction I am in big trouble. His climbing skills are unbelievable. In three years it has never occurred to Lily to stand on a chair. Like I said previously, I have two very different kids. For obvious reasons I don't have any pictures of his dare devilish antics but the day he swings from the dining room chandelier you can bet I will have my camera ready.

Ben is starting to really understand what we are saying and it is amazing to watch him transition from blob to person. I have started doing our sign language which took Lily almost no time to pick up and once she did it was amazing what she could do. I suspect it will take Ben longer but you never know. He knows what the word "no" means and is usually pretty receptive to it. That doesn't mean he won't be back at it in 10 seconds but for a brief moment he respects my authority.

A few weeks ago we started swim lessons at the Y. Ben loves to splash in the tub and has never shown any fear of water. That being said he HATES the pool. I don't think it has anything to do with the noise or the large space, poor guy is just freezing. He shivers from head to toe almost as soon as we get in the water. It is so sad and definitely something he has in common with his sister. I don't really have a solution other than to hold him tight and move around a lot. I do think he will love our pool this summer...but we are two for two on kids who would rather stay home and pick up the playroom than go swimming at the Y.

The weather is starting to resemble spring and last week I took the kids outside to play almost every day. Ben loves to push the walker outside! It is adorable. Lily is the proud owner of a new trike and I imagine that Ben will thoroughly enjoy riding on the back once he is a little more stable on his feet.

As I mentioned, Lily turns 3 tomorrow so I am not even going to address the fact that next month Ben will be having a birthday of his own. For now I am desperately just soaking in every last second of babyness.

Up next: Don't even go there...but first I turn 32!