Thursday, August 22, 2013

My six-month baby

Mare-Bear. Hello Sweetheart. Yesterday, you turned six months old. You are the loveliest baby. You are a mama’s girl; you can’t wait to play hard with your sisters; you are so ticklish, especially when your dad is the one doing the tickling.

You have sat at the kitchen table with us for most of our dinners and you are very interested in eating table food. The other night, we gave you a piece of flank steak and you sucked that thing to death. So far, you’re mostly interested in throwing the rest of the foods we’ve offered you off your tray.

You roll over quickly from your back to your tummy and you’re fairly happy that way (as long as you can see Jane and Lucy) until you scoot yourself off your play mat and onto the carpet. Then you start to howl. Can’t say that I blame you. We aren’t very good at vacuuming.

You love to “stand”. Almost anytime I’m holding you while sitting down, you begin to wiggle and squirm until you’re in an upright position. You want to put your weight on your legs and you begin to bounce. Then you start talking, loudly, at your sisters.

You love to take a bath with Lucy and Jane. You are happiest when you’re in the tub, on your back, almost floating, and just kicking away. You love it when Jane and Lucy pay attention to you, and you seem to really love it when you make them laugh.

You take a bottle at daycare and when Nana has you, but it definitely isn’t your preference. Your preference is to be up with me all night eating. (We’re working on changing that habit.)

You have eyes that are sometimes blue, sometimes grey, and they are always sparkling. You have adorable hand dimples and pudgy little legs. You have serious cheeks.

You are six months old. Please stop growing up.

All my love,

Friday, June 14, 2013

And then there were five

June 2013

Ladies! Our lives have changed in these past few months! There are five of us now. Obviously we felt like a family when we were four, but there’s something about there being three of you girls that makes me feel complete in a way I didn’t previously know we were missing. These past four months have been a blur in the very best of ways.

Mary, you came into this world during a blizzard that shut the metro area down. You are my sweet little miracle (I know, I know – all babies are miracles, but you… you are exceptionally so). Here’s the proof: I was only seven weeks pregnant with you when our brand new minivan was sandwiched between two UPS semis on I-70. That was probably the most terrifying experience of my life so far, and I began sobbing immediately. I didn’t feel pain right then, I was just so very scared that you were hurt. Later that day, the doctor’s scan showed your beautiful beating heart and I cried with relief.

Shortly after that, and through the rest of the first trimester and into the second, the doctor was concerned about your small and oddly shaped gestational sac. It is so hard and scary to try to be hopeful yet also prepared for the worst.

At 20 weeks, we found out you were a girl. We also found out that I had a complete previa which left us terrified for a few weeks and on edge for the rest of the pregnancy. But you, my smart little girl, made things as easy as possible in this case by lying transverse the entire pregnancy. My doc said this is what saved us from any hemorrhaging, and we made it all the way to your scheduled c-section date at 37 weeks. And since I had gotten the steroid shots a few weeks earlier, and since your sisters were born at 36 ½ weeks with no lung issues, I just knew that everything would be fine and you’d be going home with me when I was discharged in a few days. As usual when I make assumptions, I was wrong. I cried and cried when I was in the recovery room and the neonatologist came in to tell us that you were going to have to be in the NICU for a while. Your lungs weren’t developed enough yet, and you had to be on oxygen. Because of this, the nurses thought it would be best if you would only be held three times a day at most. For the first several days, you were only on IV fluids and I couldn’t even try to breastfeed you. And since I had lost so much blood and couldn’t stand up without feeling like I was going to pass out, any time I wanted to see you, your dad had to wheel me the short distance down the hall to your crib. I felt physically better after my transfusion, but I have to say, it is sucky stuff to want to have a normal pregnancy and delivery and get to do all the things that I assume happen in normal situations – hold your baby right after she’s born, nurse her right away, introduce her to her sisters the day she comes into the world – and instead have pretty much the opposite of all that happen. Sometimes people say that the delivery doesn’t matter as long as you end up with a healthy baby. Rubbish. That’s absolute rubbish. It sucks to have a baby (or three) in the NICU. Regardless of how healthy she eventually is, regardless of how great the nurses are, regardless of how nice the lovely new facilities are. You and I spent 14 very long days in the hospital. And then, almost suddenly, you got to come home! I remember, it was the day before you were discharged when the team was doing rounds. They got to us and were once again debating your feeding/eating. They had finally taken the tube out and it had been your first 24 hours on oral feeds only. You had lost something like 3 oz. Finally the head neonatologist said, “well, what do you think Mom?” I told him that I was taking you home the next day, that we were going to be fine. He nodded and said, “Yes, I’m kind of inclined to agree with you”.

Your sisters were so excited to meet you. They acted all shy but couldn’t stop smiling. Lucy kept repeating, “she’s so cute”. They continue to take care of you, helping with baths and diaper changes and trying to keep you entertained when you get fussy. They can’t wait until you’re old enough to play with them.

You are a sweet, easy baby. You smile so easily. Your eyelashes seem to grow longer and curl upwards even more when you grin. When you’re lying on the bed, you jerk your head around quickly to find Jane and Lucy when you hear them talking or laughing. You poop all the time. You throw your arms up straight over your head and squint your eyes and raise your eyebrows when you’re finished eating. You already want to be a part of everything, wanting to be carried upright and facing out so you can watch. You are my baby. I completely understand how the baby of the family becomes the baby of the family, because for me, that has already happened with you.

Jane and Lucy, you are officially big sisters. And you are officially three and a half. You girls are hilarious and smart and awesome and a complete handful. Did I mention how funny you are? I’m not going to lie – three years old continues to be a challenge. The whining and the fit-throwing are the most difficult parts for me to handle. I have to remind myself not to roll my eyes when you can see me. But, when you’re not whining, when you’re not throwing a fit, you are fantastic. You are best friends except for when you’re not: like when you’re trying to make each other jealous – “look Jane, I’m wearing the Dora socks today” – and Jane, when you’re not pulling Lucy’s hair or screaming in her face.

You all are loving the warm weather and spending lots of time outside. Every evening, you want to run over to visit Nick (our 60 something neighbor who really likes you girls – don’t worry, it’s an appropriate like). You usually ask him for a flower and he cuts a rose off one of his bushes, even de-thorns it for you. He knows which of you is which and thinks you’re both hilarious and beautiful. He never refers to you as “The Twins”. No wonder you like him. You also like to play with the neighbor girls, Lily and Kiley. This is one of those seasons when I’m so glad we moved to the suburbs because if I’m in the back yard and you run around to the front yard, I don’t feel the need to freak out and chase you. If you leave your big wheels at the edge of the driveway, I fully believe they will be there tomorrow. I can go into the house while you’re playing to get everyone a freezer pop. Or a Bandaid. Both happen pretty frequently.

You are picking flowers like mad women. Your dad has turned into a bit of a rose bush enthusiast and I think he probably looks forward to the day that the two of you let us enjoy the flowers while they actually remain on the bushes, but for now, it’s still kind of sweet to me that you want to pick everything. You especially like to make a nice bowl of food for the rabbits. This involves picking a variety of hosta leaves, random flower petals, some grass, a few tree leaves, shredding it all and tossing it into whatever kind of container you can find. Sometimes you leave it in the container, other times you make it into little mounds all across the sidewalk for the bunnies to enjoy.

You know, way back when I was first pregnant, and the ultrasound tech said, “This one is definitely a girl. And it loooooooks like this one is probably a girl, too”, I was shocked. I had some crazy idea in my head that I would be a mom to boys. Then, not so long ago when another ultrasound tech said, “Definitely a girl”, I couldn’t have been happier. I can’t imagine my life or even a day without the three of you being part of it, part of me.

All my love,

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 2013


You are three years old. I had been told that the terrible twos was a myth, that really it’s three that is the most, um, challenging year. Good to know. Thanks for proving them right. Someday, you may have your very own three-year-old. And then you will know. Until then, I’ll just write that I’m so very thankful you also have the moments when you are lovely and delightfully funny and sweet. For instance, this morning, when I went in to your bedroom to wake you both, you were snuggled up together in the middle of your beds (currently pushed together). Arms entwined and everything. Ridiculous. And then I woke you up and the sweetness ended and your monster-self emerged (Jane), but oh, you have the fluffiest fuzz-ball head of hair when you wake up, so how can I not smile a little bit? Lucy, thankfully you remained as sweet as in sleep (this particular morning, anyway), but only because I pretended to be Harry Potter complete with my abysmal accent.

It snowed recently on a Monday. It was so beautiful. You both ran from room to room, window to window, to make sure it was coming down all around the house. After you woke up from your naps, we got bundled up and went out to make your very first snowman, complete with carrot nose, blue chalk pieces for eyes (what? It’s what happened to be available), stocking cap and scarf. You were both surprised when we finished, you proudly told her (everyone is a her) that her name was Frosty, and she didn’t talk to you or begin to dance around. Ah, well, a lesson in reality.

You love to watch movies (Harry Potter and Star Wars with the occasional Bambi thrown in) and videos (Yo Gabba Gabba, Alice in Wonderland, anything with a fairy in it). A movie is something you watch on the television, a video is something you watch on the computer. Thankfully, you also still love to play, so we can usually wrestle you away from the intoxicating appeal of the screen. You’re big fans of climbing on and jumping on beds and couches, you love to run circles around the inside loop, chasing each other until Daisy makes this impossible (usually by knocking one of you down and you collapse into a river of tears), you like to do huge, take up the whole floor puzzles, you draw and color, use a dry-erase marker much too freely, race through the house turning on (or off) all the lights, and at the end of most days, it looks like your absolute favorite thing to do was to transport all of your books, toys, dolls, stuffed animals from the playroom to any and every other room in the house. Then, inevitably, you desperately need one of those books, toys, dolls before you’re able to fall asleep.

You are anxiously awaiting the arrival of your sister. (But maybe not as anxiously as me.) You are going to be the best big sisters. And I hope you know you will always be two of my very favorite and most loved people. Even as three-year-olds.

Hug and a kiss, hug and a kiss.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Twas the night before Christmas...

Let's be clear. I don't think there's ever a time when not a creature is stirring in our house. I'm okay with that. Just wanted to mention it.

The Christmas season is fully upon us, and we are having the best time. Your dad and I have made a conscious effort to not try to do too much but to make sure that we are enjoying this season and you two as fully as possible. That said, we have done and are doing a lot! We have two trees this year – one in the living room, all twinkling and pretty by the fireplace and one upstairs in your playroom that you got to “decorate” to your hearts’ content. That poor tree (a little tipsy and crooked) is still being decorated as you change your minds about best placement of favorite ornaments on a pretty regular basis.

The stockings are hung by the chimney (had to be with care since the stocking hook holder things are rather precariously perched) and SaraBeth (your elf on the shelf) is the highlight of your morning, Jane, as you slide down the stairs and find her in record time. Then, you’re happy to race back up to your sister to help her find her. Your helping usually involves a gleeful, “Luce! Luce! Come find SaraBeth!” And then you run to wherever she’s hiding and point her out. Pretty cute stuff, Kid.

You both love projects and helping in the kitchen, so we’ve done some holiday crafty stuff, and, most importantly, made cookies! Cut-out sugar cookies, complete with frosting and loads of sprinkles. It was maybe the best mess we’ve ever made on a stay-at-home Monday. We made cinnamon applesauce ornaments and gingerbread houses, and although you consumed quite a lot of candy in the making of those houses, I’m shocked and pleasantly surprised that the houses themselves are still standing and haven’t been chewed on at all (by you girls or Daisy!).

You’ve been involved in the wrapping of most of our Christmas gifts, and I’m anxious to see how it goes when it’s time to give those gifts. You know who is getting what, and I’m curious to find out if you tell people in advance what they’re going to be opening or if you’ll just be standing in front of them jumping up and down, hoping they’re as excited about it as you are.

We’ve been to Union Station (one of your favorite places) a few times this season, and you’ve loved seeing the holiday decorations (Lucy, you are quite unhappy that they took down the blood sausage exhibit, and I haven’t figured out how to tell you that it might not be coming back. Ever.) When we go to Union Station, your dad always gets a mocha from Parisi (only the best coffee in the city), and you two always pick out a truffle from the chocolate store. That’s right. A truffle. They make some really cute candies/chocolates designed to appeal to little people like yourselves (think marshmallow on a stick, dipped in sprinkles), but no. You ladies want a truffle. And it’s quite a selection process, in which you, Janey, change your mind about 7 times, and you, Lucy, know within 30 seconds which one you want. And then. And then, it is one of my favorite things to watch the two of you enjoy your truffle. You savor that thing. And I love that about you both. That you already appreciate certain foods and know when something is good.

We took you to see The Polar Express movie, and you both loved it. That night, when we read the book, Luce, you pointed out to me all the differences. You had a couple of Christmas concerts at preschool (one for the grandmas and grandpas, one for the tree lighting), so you’ve been practicing a few songs very enthusiastically. For some reason, your favorite place to do this is at the kitchen table while we’re eating dinner. One of you bursts into song and then we all join in, and then all of a sudden, Deck the Halls is being sung at the tops of your lungs, in the screechiest of voices until we all fall apart laughing. Best dinners ever.

We’ve driven around in some of our favorite Christmas-lit neighborhoods. The joy in your voices as you stare in wonder out your windows (which you demanded be rolled down) and hollered, “LOOK! It’s Santa!”, “LOOK! It’s Frosty!”, “LOOK!, It’s a giant snowglobe!”…

Here's what I know. This is my favorite Christmas so far. The joy and wonder that I get to see and experience through your eyes and voices and exuberant little bodies... I love you little meatballs.

Recent Quotes

While playing doctor with Ralph the cat. Lucy: “Uh-oh. Looks like you have some beans in here” (peering in his ear). Jane: “and some pizza!”

Jane to me: I just don’t like you.

Lucy when it was cold outside and you had a runny nose: My nose is watering!

Jane, when you found out our friend Katy’s cat had died: But she doesn’t have to be sad anymore. Tell her I’m growing a new Tiny Zorak for her in my belly.

Janey, you have picked up the word “apparently”, and you use it often and in the correct context. It’s kind of adorable: Apparently some sprinkles fell on the floor and I ate them.

You were both racing around the house with your Star Wars action figures. Jane, you had Luke in one hand, Darth Vader in the other: We have to save the empire! And the pizza!

Friday, October 26, 2012

My little meatballs

Happy 3rd Birthday, Girls! It seems like you have been a part of my life so much longer than three years. And it also seems like you joined us only last week. You both love to hear the story of your birth. Luce, you especially like the part about how my friend Stephanie brought you your very first cupcake to the hospital (I have conveniently left out the part that you didn’t actually get to eat that cupcake. It makes for a story you much prefer).

This birthday of yours, you two turning three, has made me weepy. It’s probably at least partially related to pregnancy hormones, but I also am very aware of the fact that you two are no longer babies. Not even toddlers. You’re in the official “preschooler” category, and more and more, you’re my little girls. Don’t get me wrong. That’s so wonderful. I love this age, this stage, the things you do and say so much. We talk. The other night at dinner, Lucy, you said, “Mama, let’s have a conversation”. Seriously. So I love it, but I also miss you two as babies and toddlers. When you hold my face with your hands, they aren’t chubby anymore. You want to be snuggled, rocked, and held much less often these days. You have both become independent in so many areas, which is absolutely as it should be, but also absolutely difficult and tear-inducing as I learn to be a mama who is willing to let you grow up. So be patient with me, little meatballs (you will always be my little meatballs). We’re learning a lot together as you two grow.

Things I know about you:

Lucy. You like to snuggle –deep under your covers, you like to feel the weight of something (or someone) around you. You are sensitive – you get these beautiful big worried eyes if you think that someone isn’t being treated fairly (a real someone or a book or movie someone). You also cannot handle it if your sister or your dad or I talk to you sternly. You’re convinced that if you are corrected, it means you’re in trouble. You take off running and through your tears, you tell us that you’re running away and “you’ll never see me again”. You are a leader. This is more than being bossy (yes, it’s true, sometimes you’re that, too!), it’s something quieter and more confident. You are content to be dropped off at preschool and quickly start doing your thing. You give me a hug and a kiss and you’re off. You love stories – books, but also the made-up ones that your dad and I tell you. You have a mind like a steel trap; you routinely correct us on facts (“no, Shawna gave me this”), and you also memorize your books so you can “read” them to me and Janey. You love the color purple, cupcakes, washing dishes, and chicken (plain, of course). You’re such a little nurturer – you happily cover Jane up with her blanket when she can’t get it right, and I’ve seen you stroking her hair when she’s upset. You completely dress and undress yourself, usually insisting that we don’t help you, even when this ends in tears because you just can’t get your shoes or that one sleeve to cooperate. You still have the best full belly laugh I’ve ever heard. You love to sing and dance (dancing involves one elbow being thrust into the air and then you basically spin around that point) and do projects.

Jane. You love animals. Ralph is your favorite (along with the concrete cat that you carry around and the ceramic bunny and the bronze lion), and you often holler at Daisy when she’s being too rough with him. Speaking of Daisy, you started calling her Daisy Jr. completely out of the blue. You hate to be covered up in bed and either sleep spread eagle on your back, or curled into a tight ball on your stomach with your arms directly underneath you so your hands stick out just under your bottom. You have such command over your body. I love to watch you at the park as you race up stairs and ladders and climb any- and everything. You jump or run or gallop almost everywhere you go, and you never seem to tire. You adore your sister, often telling her that you love her (unprompted!) and going in search of a toy for her when she’s otherwise inconsolable. You refer to her as “my Luce”. You are willing to eat almost anything, and you like most of it. You also hate to stay seated at the table. In fact, I don’t think we’ve had a meal since not being strapped in your high chair where you’ve been able to remain in your seat the entire seven minutes. You prefer to eat fast, jump down, dance, run, and hop around, coming back for a bite every now and then. I think you would be perfectly content to let me dress and undress you for the rest of your life. You are adamant about picking out your shirt, but other than that, you’re pretty hands off. You are the one who is a bit reluctant to let me drop you off at preschool, and you’re also the one who gives out hugs to all the kids in your class when I pick you up. You are not afraid of anything.

Lucy and Jane, you are two of the most wonderful people I know. You are funny and kind, smart and inquisitive, beautiful and creative. I truly couldn’t love you more. Thanks for letting me be your mama. Oh, and Happy Birthday!

All my love,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Almost Three?!

Ah, my sweet, little, chocolate-covered, Lucy and Jane. You have become older, wiser, funnier, taller, smarter people since I last wrote. You are almost three. THREE! I’m still not entirely sure how that happened.

You love Daisy, our new mini-van, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We can’t go to the library, the park, or Costco often enough. You preface about a third of your comments with, “When we were little…”. You are so good at puzzles, naming your feelings (Jane, you scrunch up your face and say, “I’m kinda nerbous”), and giving hugs.

You’ve been to Wisconsin with the Stroessners (now you like to say “it’s hard to keep track of all my cousins”); you’ve seen the giant bean (or goose egg if you insist, which you almost always do – insist, that is) in Chicago; you’ve learned that you’re going to be big sisters.

Jane, you love this little stone turtle that the previous owners left in the garden. I mean, you LOVE that turtle. You carry him (her?) all around the yard with you, and you’ve been known to sneak it into the wagon so he can go with you to the park. That poor turtle got sat in the middle of an anthill one day, and you were beside yourself when you found him covered in ants. You quickly picked him up to brush them off, then almost as quickly began crying when you became covered in ants.

You also love to get dirty. We had a huge pile of dirt in our front yard, and you and Lucy both enjoyed helping your dad shovel it into a wheelbarrow and dump it in the backyard. Luce, you stayed as clean as you could, which means you had dirty shoes and socks. Jane, you got as dirty as you could, which means you decided to slide down that hill of dirt. On your stomach. Head first. Repeatedly.

When you can’t be dirty, you like to be naked. You especially like to strip off all your clothes, let yourself out the front door, and run around the yard. Our neighbor, Nick, has had the privilege of enjoying this a couple of times, watching me or your dad chase you down and bring you back inside. Last time we were outside together, he asked you about it, and you told him (no kidding) “sometimes I like to do it when I’m mad at my mom”. What?!

Lucy, you are a hilarious sister. You want to be right, you want to be in control, you want to call the shots. This would be so much easier if Jane would just cooperate with you  A couple of weeks ago, the two of you were having a fairly heated debate about whether or not there was a bug or a “bug statue” in the car. I had decided not to get involved. Finally, you said, “Okay, here’s the deal. You think it’s a bug; I think it’s a bug statue. Okay, sweetie?” I love that you’re learning you don’t always have to be right; there doesn’t always have to be a winner; sometimes, it’s okay for you and your sister to think different things.

Luce, you are so capable, insisting on dressing yourself, even down to your shoes and socks. You have some pretty strong opinions about what you like and don’t like, especially when it comes to food. Although you’re eating better these days, you still don’t always want to try new things. The other evening, you helped me make soup; I thought for sure since you had helped you’d try it. I was wrong. No amount of pleading, bribing or cajoling could get you to put that spoon in your mouth. Finally, you looked at me, frustrated I’m sure, and said, “Mom, you know I like food plain. Remember?” An hour later (after you and Jane had been playing, the kitchen had been cleaned, and Daisy had gotten into your untouched bowl of soup), you decided you were ready for a “sample”.

Ladies, I don't want to give you the wrong idea. You're not always particularly pleasant. We have had moments (days, even weeks) of experiencing THE TERRIBLE TWOS. But even then, even when you're at your most frustrating, most whiny, most buggary selves... well, even then, you are still my amazing daughters, my meatballs, my chicken-littles, and I love you very, very much. Even then.

All my love and then some,

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Your Dad


Guess what? (Whenever I say that to you, neither of you says “what?”. You always say, yeah. Weirdos) It’s Father’s Day. Woo-hoo; I know. That doesn’t mean a lot to you beyond the fact that you’ll probably sing Happy Birthday to your dad. It’s one of your favorite songs and you sing it to people regardless of whether or not it really is their birthday.

In honor of your dad and the day, I thought we'd play the interview game. Even getting ready for this game was funny. I told you I was going to interview you and said that means I'd ask you a question and you'd tell me what you think. Jane, for some bizarre reason, you shouted out "PINK!". Well, at least we know what you're thinking...

What is Daddy's name?
L: Um... Jeff!
J: I don't know.

What do you love most about Daddy?
L: I'm not a daddy. Strawberries!
J: Crackers!

How do you know Daddy loves you?
L: (she grins) He loves me thiiiis much (stretches out arms). And he lets me get babydolls.
J: He loves me thiiiiis much (attempts to stretch arms wider than Luce) and he gives me vitamins.

What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?
J: Play basketball!
L: Make ice cream.

Is there anything you want Daddy to know on Father's Day?

I want to take a minute to tell you about this guy who is your dad. He loves you both so much. He adores you. He misses you when you have a slumber party at Nana’s house.

When he pulls in the driveway from work in the evening, we’re often sitting outside on the front steps eating freezer pops. Or sometimes coloring on the sidewalk with chalk. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, as soon as you see that he’s there, you race to the garage and are bouncing around before he even opens his door. If he’s lucky, you’ll follow him inside so he can change into shorts. But you know what? He doesn’t even care. If you’re insistent and less willing to let him change, he just sits on the sidewalk in his work pants and colors with you. Or helps you water the plants. Or lets you drip melted freezer pop on him. That’s how he is.

Daddy pulls out the watercolors and paints with you. He lets you use the glitter glue to your hearts’ content. He helps you catch and inspect all sorts of bugs. He is infinitely patient with you.

He’s the best tickler/chaser/hide-and-seek player. You love to wrestle with and climb all over your dad. You beg for more “shark kisses”. He pushes you highest on the swings and helps you dangle from the monkey bars.

Daddy is so proud of you, Jane. He is so proud of you, Lucy. He’s your biggest fan and always will be.

We're pretty lucky to have him.