Monday, December 20, 2010

Brain Rules for Baby

I recently read the book, Brain Rules for Baby, by John Medina and I found it to be interesting, pertinent and well written. Medina's "Brain Rules" are things "we know for sure about how the early-childhood brain works." They're not fads or the latest innovations and many were reassuring to me, as a parent of a young toddler. These rules kept emphasizing the importance of simplicity; of basic toys; of talking to and playing with your child. They talked about the negative effects that television, texting and all these "educational" toys are having on children today. Basically, these rules sound like words that I have heard directly from the mouths of my parents.

I'm not going to try and summarize the book but there are a couple of parts that really stuck with me. Medina said that, "having a first child is like swallowing an intoxicating drink made of equal parts joy and terror, chased with a bucketful of transitions nobody ever tells you about." How true that is! I couldn't have said it better myself. Luckily, in my case, there is less terror as I have parents that I respect and look up to; parents that I can talk to when I have questions about how to be a good mum. Talking to Mum and Dad makes being a parent less terrifying and more fun. It also helps to have a husband that sees things the same way I do (most of the time, anyway.) Jim and I turn to each other sometimes and just shrug our shoulders. We don't know how to react when Lilly looks at us with a defiant smile and sprints in the opposite direction. It's a smile that's as much cute as it is naughty. Watching such a tiny person sprint is hilarious. Knowing that she's running away on purpose isn't quite so funny. And Jim and I have to learn, together, how we're going to react to it.

According to Medina, all of the following are myths:
  • Playing Mozart to your womb will improve your baby's future math scores
  • Exposing your infant or toddler to language DVDs will boost his vocabulary. He says that most DVDs actually reduce a toddler's vocabulary and while the number and variety of words you use when talking to your baby boosts both vocabulary and IQ, the words have to come from you--a real live human being.
  • To boost their brain power, children need a room piled with "brain-friendly" toys and a library of educational DVDs. In reality, the greatest brain-boosting technology in the world is a plain cardboard box, a fresh box of crayons and two hours. The worst is probably your new flat-screen TV.
  • Continually telling your children they are smart will boost their confidence. Medina says this actually makes them less willing to work on challenging problems. Instead, parents should be praising their children's effort instead.

The introduction to the book is fantastic. I specifically enjoyed Medina's job description for being a parent:

"Why would anyone willingly take on the line of work? The interview for the job, that single act of sex, is certainly fun. But then you get hired to raise a child. There are wonderful moments, but the essence of the contract is simply: They take. You give. You never get a paycheck with this job, only an invoice, and you'd better be prepared for some sticker shock. You'll be out more than $220,000--before the college loans. This career comes with no sick days or vacation time, and it puts you permanently on call nights and weekends. Its successful execution will probably turn you into a lifelong worrywart. Yet thousands of people every day say yes to this job. There must be some compelling reason."

I found this book to be a great read, but like I said earlier, so much of it seemed like common sense. The fact that it's a best seller suggests that there are more than a few people out there looking for parenting advice and while I enjoyed reading it, I couldn't help but reflect on how sad it is that our society needs a book to tell people to turn off the television and open a book. Or to put away the DVDs and educational toys and give children musical instruments and legos. I understand that things change but children today need the same things that children needed 50 years ago. And in many cases, they're not getting it. I am by no means an expert in the field of parenting but I think that my parents, having raised four children in what has always been a happy family, are as close to experts as you can get. If they wrote a parenting book, I guarantee it would be a best seller.

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Huge Baby Orange"

I've been tutoring and teaching SAT classes like crazy the past couple of weeks. Between tutoring every night and teaching SAT classes on the weekends, I sometimes feel like I don't have a moment to stop. I have Lilly's nap time every day, and I have the time after I get back from the gym in the morning, before Lilly wakes up, but it's not the same as having evenings. I miss our relaxing family dinners and appreciate them even more on nights like tonight when we can sit and eat and chat and I don't have to sprint out the door to be somewhere at a certain time. I'm looking forward to being down in Florida with my family for 10 days, where there is nothing to do but relax, hang out, read and enjoy being together. We head down on Christmas Day and I can't wait!

I hope Lilly gets the memo that Florida is going to be relaxing. A 20-month old's chatter is anything but relaxing. But it is always entertaining, and boy, does she come out with some great expressions. The title of this blog, for one. Yes, that's right. A "huge, baby orange." Lilly calls anything small "baby..." so she started referring to clementines as baby oranges. Now, when we have regular oranges, she calls them "huge baby oranges." Pretty cute if you ask me. It's amazing to me that Lilly, this tiny human being, arrives at conclusions on her own. She doesn't just repeat everything we say anymore. She put two and two together and referred to an orange as a "huge baby."

Our little chatterbox is talking more and more every day. She likes calling everyone by name...over and over again, until that person responds to her. In fact, in the morning when Lilly wakes up, she plays for awhile and then starts calling, "mummy, daddy...." and if we don't respond we now get this tiny voice yelling, " (for Amelia), Jim, me-ah..." until one of us goes in! She does this with a huge smile, knowing that she's not supposed to call us Jim and Amelia but that it always gets a response.

Today, Lilly and I had an amazing day of nothing! We didn't have errands to run or grocery shopping to do. We couldn't go for a walk because it was seriously cold outside. The picture at the top of this blog is her playing outside the other day. I went to take her for a walk and checked the weather on my phone. It said, "21, feels like 13" so instead, we bundled up (which took a good 20 minutes) and then went out the back for maybe 10 minutes. But Lilly loves being outside so I try to let her go out and play at least for a little while during the day.

Anyway, today we stayed at home and had a day of cleaning, organizing and rearranging. While I was doing things that I'd been wanting to do for months and crossing things off my "to do" list, Lilly would wander by with her little tote bag full of her toy vegetables, and hand them to her teddy bear, one by one. I'd hear a little, "one, two, tree (for three!)" as she put them back in her bag. She'd totter by with her dolly who was strapped into her stroller with a blanket wrapped around her. She'd come out of our bedroom wearing my shoes and saying, "kick, kick (for click, click) as my shoes clicked along the hallway tiles. She'd take ornaments off the Christmas tree and say, "oh no, hep peese" (help please, for those of you that don't speak toddler), and then I'd help her hang the ornament back up. She'd go to her dresser, get socks out of the bottom drawer and try and put them on her doll. I'd hear a "doyy, shocks" as she was putting the socks on. She found my goggles, put them on herself and then on Lilly Lamb. She stood at the back door waving and saying hi and bye to birds, squirrels and airplanes. Our tiny little place provides Lilly with hours of entertainment. I think she was as happy as I was to spend the day at home. She would go up to the computer and ask for Glee name! It used to be "gwee" but we get an "l" in there sometimes now so it's an unmistakable request.

I never want Lilly to get bigger but unfortunately, that's unavoidable. From her earliest days, Jim and I have tried to savor every moment and appreciate all her milestones. We thought that 6 months was the best. Then she started crawling so 7 months was even more amazing. And then walking so 1 was unbelievable. At 18 months, she was a real little person, trying to talk and loving to play, so we loved that stage. Every time a new stage arrives and we love that one even more. That's the way it is at the moment. 20 months is nothing but energy and excitement. Lilly is full of smiles and laughter and is such a fun little person to be around. Don't get me wrong--she has her share of "no's" and she is one tiny stubborn person but we don't want her to keep growing! I'm sure that the next stage will be just as much fun but I wish I could slow time down.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

There's Something About Dads...

Dads have a special relationship with their children. I've noticed differences between Jim and my relationship with Lilly from day one but I think that over time, these differences have become even more apparent. Yesterday, I was at Home Goods (one of my favorite stores) alone. I stopped on my way home from an SAT class and enjoyed the freedom of being able to walk around the store at my own pace, without a little voice asking to hold everything that looks even a tiny bit interesting as we walk by. As I was waiting in line to pay, there was a dad with his daughter, who looked to be about Lilly's age, directly in front of me. It was clear that Dad was in charge for the day. His daughter was wearing (mismatched) sweats with some semblance of a pony tail in her hair. Her nose needed wiping and she was holding one of her shoes in her hand. She was playing with some kitchen utensil that they must have picked up, and when her dad went to put it away, this little girl screamed. Her dad gave her that utensil back so quickly it was comical. He looked behind at me apologetically with a face that said, "anything to make her stop screaming." A few seconds later, this little girl decided she was done playing with this utensil and so logically, she dropped it on the ground. We moved forward a few inches in the line and this girl picked up a bag of jelly beans that were on the shelf next to her. Her dad responded by saying, "I knew you'd see those. Okay, we can get some jellybeans." He found another bag that said, "kid flavors" on it (whatever that means) and convinced his daughter to trade the bag in her hand for this bag of kid flavored jellybeans, and off they went to pay. I smiled, knowing that this was one smart little girl. She knew how to get what she wanted from her dad, and there is something very sweet about seeing that relationship.

Sometimes I see differences in the way that Jim and I interact with Lilly. See exhibit A (Jim putting on Lilly's pajama pants) below. Jim seems to have endless patience with Lil, especially when it comes to getting dressed or putting on her diaper. He'll let her roll around, stand name it, she does it!

Just in case you need any translations (I can't imagine why!) Lilly starts off saying "cheese" when she sees the camera and she asks for a hug when she wants to be picked up at the end.

Other times, I hear about things Jim does differently. Jim usually puts Lilly to bed at night and as far as I knew, Jim and I both had the same bedtime routine for Lil. The other day, Jim informed me differently. I now know that Jim lets Lilly listen to a few stories while she's sitting on his lap and then he lets her have a run around the room before returning to his lap to finish reading books. She knows their routine and is comfortable with it so she follows it. When I put her to bed, it's a little bit calmer--she must save her running around for Jim--but either way, she ends up in bed and asleep. She understands the difference between our relationships. Neither way is
right. After all, Jim and I are both learning how to be parents and as long as we're happy with the way Lilly is turning out, we'll keep on doing what we're doing.

I think one of Jim's greatest "Dad" moments happened a few weeks ago after we came back home after being in DC for awhile. We arrived home early on Sunday afternoon and I had to go right out to teach and tutor and Jim was putting Lilly down for her nap. We didn't have any milk in the house and so I called Jamie, our neighbor, and asked if Jim could come over and get some milk to give Lilly before she goes to sleep. Jamie, of course, said absolutely. So imagine my surprise when I get a text message from Jamie a couple of hours later saying that Jim hadn't come by for any milk and asking if I wanted her to drop some off. By this point, it was definitely past the time Jim would have put Lil to bed so I couldn't wait to hear how he had taken care of this situation. When I got home and asked Jim about the milk, he said he "improvised." How one improvises when it comes to milk was beyond me...until I opened the fridge. I turned to Jim with a look that said, "seriously?" He gave her a cup of half and half. Yep, he let Lilly drink cream before her nap. And Jim's response: "She couldn't have been happier. You should have seen her milk mustache." I would never in a million years give Lilly half and half to drink. That's what dads are for.

Finally, I am always impressed with Jim's ability to pay full attention to Lilly,
when he wants to. Otherwise, he has this amazing ability to tune her out. That used to happen at night. Actually, it happened in the hospital the night after Lilly was born when the nurses brought her in for me to feed her and change her, twice, in the middle of the night. Jim was sleeping on the couch next to my bed and in the morning was impressed that Lilly could go a whole night without being fed. Not only did they bring her in to me, but they turned on all the lights to wake her and me up. And Jim didn't even move. To this day, he doesn't hear a single noise at night. But, to be fair, he goes and gets her in the morning...hence the reason Lilly's first yells in the morning are, "Daddy....daaaaaddddddyyyyyyy."

I could go on and on all day about our differences in parenting, but let me finish by saying that I love our differences and I love that Lilly understands those differences. She knows what makes each of us laugh. She knows that if she wants to be thrown up in the air or propelled onto our bed, she has to go to Jim. She knows when Jim is going to work or coming home for the evening and knows when I'm leaving to go and tutor. She understands that we are different people, but she trusts us both and she is happy when she is with either one, or both, of us.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas and Chatter

It's December? Really? Where has the year gone? Our house is beginning to look a lot (or a little) like Christmas. Jim went out early this morning and got our Christmas tree. We used to go out together and choose one but let's be honest, Jim has a little bit of a stronger opinion when it comes to choosing Christmas trees than I do. Does this surprise anyone? So instead of chasing Lilly through the crowds around the Christmas tree lot in the freezing cold, we decided this was an easier alternative. Thanks to Jim's careful selection, we have a beautiful Christmas tree that is all set up in the corner of the living room...without a single decoration on it. This is another one of those things that used to be easier before Lilly came along. Now that she's such a big help, it is impossible to attempt a task like decorating the Christmas tree while she is awake. So we're going to reserve most of the decorating for times that Lilly is asleep. We're not grinches or anything--we want Lilly to enjoy Christmas. We'll save the soft ornaments for Lilly to put on the bottom of the tree but Jim and I would like to enjoy this part of Christmas too. After all, wine and Christmas decorating go very nicely together.

Lilly has quickly taken to the new Christmas books in her book collection. She has one with a Santa that says, "ho ho ho," so whenever she sees a Santa she says, "Hi Santa...ho ho ho." Jim caught her on camera while she doing this yesterday morning. She was sitting on my lap reading her Santa book. Sometimes she'll sit there for ages saying, "ho ho ho" over and over again. Unfortunately, on this occasion, she discovered play-doh on her sock and that took precedence over Santa.

Lilly seems to like having a tree in our living room, although she keeps pointing to it saying, "Hi tree," with a look of confusion on her face. It's not every day that Lilly wakes up to a giant tree in her house. Although it's always fun having a toddler, I'm beginning to see that it's extra special seeing Christmas through the eyes of a toddler. Everything is new and exciting. There's something so sweet and innocent about being able to talk about what we're getting Lilly for Christmas in front of her...and putting her presents in a corner of her bedroom where she looks at them every so often.

Lilly's language has exploded over the past few weeks. And I mean exploded. She repeats everything we say...she orders us around...she loves to tell us to "sit" next to her when she's reading a book or playing with a toy. To the average ear, Lilly saying "sit" might sound like she is swearing. Keep in mind this is the girl who says, "yesh" and "teshy" (for Tessy) so her version of "sit" is the unrated version and it never fails to amuse Jim and me, as you can see from the following video which took place last Sunday afternoon. She kicks it off with her favorite expression at the moment, "oh boy, oh boy" which she says when she's
really excited about something!

Yesterday, just before Jim came home from work, I was very proud of myself. Lilly was freshly bathed, in her pajamas and happily playing. The house was clean...and I mean clean by Jim standards of cleanliness. I had even cleared off our little table so that the three of us could sit and have dinner together before Lilly went to bed. All of a sudden, my perfect evening came crashing down on me when Lilly came running over to me saying, "oh no, wine, oh no, wine." My first thought was a mix of pride and horror that Lilly recognizes a glass of wine and knows it by name. My second was immediate panic; nothing good could come from this statement. Lilly had pulled my glass of wine off a corner table and there was red wine all over our white carpet. It looked like a crime scene and I knew that if Jim saw this, it would put a damper on his Friday afternoon, end of the work week, happiness. So, I did what all people would do in this situation. I googled, "how to get red wine of white carpet" and followed all different kinds of advice. How did people survive without google? I know that without these stain removing tips, I would have done everyone that everyone said that began with "DO NOT....." I was blotting up the wine with a towel, trying to stay calm, while Lilly was sitting on my lap with a tissue, "helping"clean up saying, "oh no, wine" over and over again. To make matters even better, the wine was all over Lilly as well. She seemed to be most upset about wine being on her socks. Apparently, she's not impressed with impurities on her white socks. (I'm having horrible flashbacks to the days of Ellie's white sock tantrums. This better not be genetic).

I could bore you with all the details about how Jim remained amazingly calm through the whole experience, how Jim and I miraculously got the wine out of the carpet and how our carpet is now cleaner than it was yesterday morning, but I won't do that. I will say that this experience seems to have stuck with Lilly who has now added, "oh no, wine" to her repertoire of words and expressions to say when she doesn't know what to say. Let's hope this is one that disappears over time.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Over the past few months, I've thought a lot about life. Being pregnant and losing a baby almost half way through a pregnancy has made me question what is and isn't fair. I often ask myself, why us? Why did we have to go through this? I hope that I one day look back on this as a memory, but at the moment, it's still a very raw experience. I know that because of what we have been through, Jim and I have a stronger relationship. We were forced to have some difficult conversations and were the only ones who knew, deep down, how the other person was feeling . We were there for each other, as we promised to be the day we got married. We were also there for our daughter. Actually, when I think about it, it was Lilly who was there for us. We have loved Lilly from the second we set our eyes on her but over the past few months, we have loved her even more...if that is possible. She is happy, healthy and everything we could ask for in a daughter. Even though I was thankful for the strengthening of these relationships, I still didn't understand why. I don't need to know why anymore.

Yesterday, two things happened that helped to put things in perspective for me.

In the morning, Lilly and I were at the grocery store. I turned away from the shopping cart to get cheese, and heard Lilly saying (yelling, actually), "hiiiiiii." I thought nothing of it. After all, she says hi to everyone at the grocery store. When I turned back around, I saw Lilly chatting and waving to a little boy in a cart next to ours. This boy was no more than three. He was talking to Lilly about his shoes and socks. Listening to them, you would have thought it was an ordinary conversation between two toddlers. Looking at them, you would have seen that the little boy had cancer. He had no hair; just a few pieces growing back in where it once was, before cancer treatments took it away. My heart dropped when I saw him. His mom started talking to me about how how disgusting it is that toddlers put everything in their mouths, just as Lilly was putting her mouth on the shopping cart. She was smiling and mentioned how she has to disinfect everything her son touches as his immune system isn't very strong anymore. Then, she started talking about reasonable places in the area to buy clothes. As we walked away, Lilly waving and saying "bye bye" until she could no longer see this little boy, I wondered how this mother gets through every day. How does she have normal conversations about clothes? How does she not burst into tears mid conversation? What does she think when she sees other toddlers--toddlers without cancer? I haven't stopped thinking about this boy and his mother. Is he going to be okay? I keep thanking God for our healthy little girl. I know you can't compare situations, but what Jim and I have been through doesn't compare to what this mother goes through every day.

Then, last night, I woke up at 1am and saw that I had just missed two phone calls from Jamie, our neighbor. I knew that something had to be wrong so I immediately called her back only to learn that Parker, her daughter, woke up shaking with blue lips. Parker hasn't been feeling well this week and I knew she had croup but it was clear that something was wrong. An ambulance was on its way and Jamie asked, apologetically, if I could come over and stay with Owen while she and Scott went with Parker to the hospital. I threw on some sweats and sprinted over there, begging Jamie not to apologize. I knew she would do the same for me in a heartbeat. In fact, she has helped me out on more occasions than I can count. Thankfully, Parker was okay and seemed to have a bad reaction to a fever, but again, this was an eye opening experience for me. Every day, I wake up expecting everything to be the way it was the day before, just as I'm sure the mother of that little boy did--until the day she discovered that her son had cancer. I know Jamie didn't wake up yesterday morning expecting to be in an ambulance taking her daughter to the hospital at one in the morning.

It is easy to take the blessings in my life for granted. When I'm exhausted at the end of the day as I'm running out the door to tutor and just want a minute to sit down or some quiet time to myself, I'm going to be thankful. Thankful that I have these opportunities. Thankful that I am able to spend my days with Lilly and my nights teaching--doing what I love. Thankful that my husband supports me in my desire to stay home and never, not even for a second, makes me feel guilty that I'm not out earning money every day. Thankful that at this moment, Jim, Lilly and I are happy. We are healthy. We are a family. We love each other and adore spending time together. We have healthy brothers, sisters and parents who all love each other. We have amazing friends. What was my problem again?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No, Please.

Watching the progression of Lilly's language skills has been one amazement after another.  Jim and I are not too well educated in what milestones Lilly should be reaching and when, which is completely fine with us.  What we do know is that when all of her babble turns into words, which it is quickly doing, we are going to be in a lot trouble, and what little bit of silence is left in our lives will be gone...forever.  Lilly learned how to say "no" when she was in DC at the beginning of September and Tess was trying to eat her food.

For a good month, no was her favorite word.  Lilly soon discovered that saying no often did not get her what she wanted.  Saying please got her things.  So, she combined these and "no please" or "noooo peeeeease" became Lilly's way of saying yes!  And it worked.  No, please progressed to "yesh" so our toddler can officially tell us what she does and doesn't want.  And boy does she tell us!

I wish I knew how Lilly's little brain worked.  When our computer's screensaver goes on, all the pictures from iPhoto come up in a slideshow.  We can sit for ages watching that slideshow, and often, you'll find one of us stopped by the computer watching pictures pop up from college, rowing, our wedding, all the Ironmans, Thanksgivings, family vacations in Bali and camping in Australia, and of course, pictures of Lilly from the past 19 name it, they come up.  Well, we always tell Lilly who is in the pictures since she's learning how to say everyone's name.  In looking at these pictures, Lilly has decided that she associates any pictures of someone on a bike with her Grandpa, or as she says, "Papa."  It's very cute to hear this little voice from by the computer saying, "Papa, papa" over and over again when she sees someone riding a bike.  When I heard her doing this the other day, I walked over to see what the picture was, and it was in fact Jerry, racing Ironman Coeur d'Alene!  I had a good laugh, called Jim who laughed, and informed Dad and Jerry, both of whom got a kick out of it for different reasons, I'm sure.

Lilly says "hi" and "bye bye" to everything and everyone.  She greets her stuffed animals, her toys, even the traffic lights when we're in the car.  We've said to her that green means go, so after a light turns green and we drive away, she says, "bye bye go."  Lilly also likes to tell us when she wants to do something again, or as she says, "nan, nan..." until we play another song or read the book again...or until Jim throws her onto the bed or up in the air...or when we tickle her.  She says it all the time.  Yesterday afternoon we went to church, where we are trying to teach Lilly to sit quietly and in a confined space for an hour.  Let's just say that church isn't as relaxing as it used to be.  Anyway, when the priest (who read his homily from an iPad, by the way...) held up the bread and wine and an alter server rang the bells, Lilly loved it.  She loved it so much that in the dead silent church, she started saying, "again, again, again...." until we distracted her with a piece of apple.  Lilly has no sense of volume yet, although she is much quieter in church now than she was even a month ago.  And she loves shaking hands and saying "peash" or as we like to say, "peace."  Lilly says "peace" to us at home now; she alternates between that and giving high fives.  Life is never boring with a little one and every day, we are amazed by something new.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Just Another (A)Typical Friday

Today started just like any other week day; Jim got up and went to the gym and was back by 6:15, handed off the keys and it was my turn.  I was back by 7:30, and Lilly was still asleep.  Jim and his dad were sitting in the living room having coffee.  Jim's dad stayed here last night in between meetings and was able to stay later than usual this morning to see Lilly (or so he thought).  Jim said that he heard Lil chatting away at 6:30 but after we set the clocks back, we've been trying to leave her in her crib until 7 so that she adjusts to the time change.  And it's been working.  Most days, she's been back to her normal routine of waking up around 7:30.  Anyway, Jim left her today and when he went in to get her around 7, she was asleep again.  When Jim's dad left at 8, she was still asleep.  She was sleeping when Jim left for work at 8:15...when Mel, Margot, Liz and Stella came over at 10...when I opened her door at 10:30.  Finally, Stella and Margot's noises woke her up at 10:45!  It was unbelievable.  She's slept until 9 before, but this was insane.

Then, after a busy morning (can you even say morning when her day started at 11?) of playing with Stella and Margot and lunch out with Liz and Stella, she was back asleep at 2...and is currently sleeping.  Whoever said that babies need a lot of sleep was not lying.  I think this excessive sleeping is due to Lilly's teeth coming in.  Lilly's way of dealing with teeth (and after she gets her shots) is to sleep.  This is when my genetics come into play big time.  I fall asleep within 30 seconds of my head hitting the pillow--that is no exaggeration.  Just ask any of my siblings...or college roommates...or Jim...they'll all tell you the same thing.  Most people love to sleep but I don't just love it; it comes naturally to me anytime, anywhere, whether I want it to or not.  I can sleep for 17 of the 18 hour direct flight to Singapore.  When Jim and I would fly over to visit my family, I slept the entire way, while Jim watched every movie he could get his hands on.  On any road trip where we're (well, actually, when Jim is) driving for more than an hour, I will sleep.  I'm every driver's worst nightmare; the ideal night time passenger.  When we're at the movies, I will sleep, even if I really want to see the movie.  I fall asleep on the couch half (?) of the time, whenever we're watching anything.  I fall asleep mid-conversations in bed.

When I brought this topic up with Mum and Dad one day, they both looked at each other and started laughing.  Apparently, I have inherited this quality from Mum, who does all the same things that I mentioned above.  All of them.  Sleeping on the plane, at the movies, on the couch, in the car.  Mum even fell asleep while she was at a rock concert!  So, given this information, I understand why Lilly sleeps the way she does.

I don't like to sleep in, though.  I'm just not a night person.  Come 7am (or maybe 8), I don't want to be in bed anymore.  I want to be up, enjoying a cup of coffee after a workout.  Or, as was the case this morning, I want to enjoy every second of starting the day without a tiny little shadow everywhere I turn.  I enjoyed the unexciting ritual of putting on lotion after my shower, quietly.  You wouldn't think that putting on lotion requires a whole lot of talking.  Well, if you put on lotion with a 19 month old in the room, you would be wrong.  For me, this is usually accompanied by a little voice saying, "pampoo??  pampoo??  peeeease?"  Lilly calls all toiletries "pampoo" (or shampoo).  She knows what to do with each one (shampoo, lotion, deodorant, hair gel), but still thinks that they all have the same name.  When you give her lotion, she pulls up the bottom of her pants and rubs it on her legs, like she sees me do.  When she picks up deodorant, she lifts up her arms and tries to put it on, over her clothes.  When she finds my curly hair creme/gel, she pretends to scrunch her hair too.  But to her, they're all "pampoo."  I enjoyed drying my hair without worrying about a little 19-month old standing on the toilet seat next to me, looking at herself in the mirror and dancing, while I think to myself that she's going to fall off and land on her head.  I got dressed without Lilly handing me every one of my shoes, saying, "shoe, boot, boot, shoe..." every time she brings me another one.  I sat down and had coffee and listened to music without a little voice saying, "" every time she doesn't like one of my song choices.  I downloaded some music and didn't have to worry about a toddler gaining control of the mouse.  I loved my quiet morning.

I enjoyed the peace and tranquility because it happens so rarely now.  But don't get me wrong...I'll be ready to have my little companion back to help me start my day tomorrow.  It's much more fun with Lilly around, offering advice and moving furniture.  I hope this isn't a habit.  One ridiculous sleep in is allowed.  But after 8, I miss her.  And Jim misses her if he doesn't get to see her before he leaves for work.  We'll see what kind of sleep tomorrow brings.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nap Time

Nap time is sacred time for a mother.  Just ask any mother of an newborn/infant/toddler/child.  Lilly has recently transitioned from two naps a day to one.  Lilly always, from just a couple of weeks old, took an amazing morning nap, which lasted from two to three hours.  The afternoon one took a bit longer to develop.  I would use the afternoon to go for a walk while she slept in the stroller, or go out and do some errands while she slept in her car seat.  Or she would take catnaps all afternoon in her bouncy chair.  It wasn't until Lilly was about six months old that the afternoon nap really took shape and lasted a solid two hours, like her morning one.  From six months until 18 and a half months, Lilly took those two naps every day.  She took them like clockwork.  Over the summer, I had students come over to tutor during her nap time.  I was able to ride on my trainer or get dinner ready.  I could count on them as periods of time where I was able to accomplish what I needed to.  Then, a couple of weeks ago,  those naps started to get shorter and she spent more time playing in her crib than actually sleeping.  For about two weeks, we alternated daily between one and two naps and now we're officially at one.  The amazing thing about one nap is that when it's nap time, Lilly is so exhausted that she generally lies down and goes straight to sleep.  There's no wondering if she'll just happens.  I like the one nap a day.  I love being able to go for a walk in the morning, or being able to go out first thing to the grocery store.  By 11:30, I'm ready to be home for lunch and then by noon, I'm ready for some quiet time as well.  In the afternoon, we'll often go outside or go and play with a friend.  Or Lilly is very happy being at home and playing with her toys (or moving furniture, taking everything out of drawers, closets, etc...) So it works out nicely for both of us.    

My current problem with nap time is overbooking; I have a list of about 25 items that I would like to accomplish during Lilly's nap, when all I really want to do is sit down, have a cup of tea and read or catch up on the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy.  My list looks something like:

* vacuum
* put on laundry
* fold and put away clothes
* get dinner ready
* respond to parent emails re: tutoring
* work out tutoring schedule for next week
* get materials ready for tonight's tutoring
* reorganize Lilly's toys
* write a blog
* respond to other emails
* there's always some sewing or knitting I'd like to be doing
* order photos/make photo albums
* get organized for weekend SAT class

My list generally looks the same every day and contains much more than I can accomplish in a 2-3 hour stretch.  However, this list is comprised of things I want to do during nap time vs. things I should be doing during nap time.  I never know what is going to win on any given day.  Today, it's the blog and an episode of Grey's...with a little laundry, tea and clothes organization thrown in.  That *me* time is so valuable.  It gives me back my energy and allows me to do things that I love, which are much harder to do with Lilly's "help," like download music (one of my favorite pastimes!) and make playlists.  The other day, Jim informed that I'm not as good at making workout playlists as I used to be.  I would like to argue that it's not that I'm not as good.  It's just that every time I try to sit down and download music and make a playlist, Lilly comes running over to the computer with her potato in hand, asking to listen to "hot potato."  How can I say no to that?  It's not like she's going to do this forever and I love seeing her dance with her potato in hand.  So, inevitably, we end up listening to Lilly's music instead of what I'm trying to listen to, and downloading music gets relegated to my list of things to accomplish during nap time.  Hence, when I was listening to my shuffle at the gym this morning, I skipped 90% of the songs that came on as they are overplayed and are slowly driving me crazy.  Maybe I should be making that playlist instead of writing this blog. 

I love the days when Lilly takes really long naps.  The problem with those naps is that once she crosses the two hour threshold, I expect her to wake up any time.  So I can't start anything new and I am constantly listening for, "hiiiiii mummmy, hiiiiiii mummmy, daaaaddddy....." whether I realize it or not.  So if she ends up sleeping for three hours, that last hour is often wasted time.  

Last week, Jim came home from work early on Thursday.  And by early, I mean 11am!  It was amazing.  I had no idea that it was even a possibility but it was Veteran's Day and so Jim was able to leave.  When he showed up at the door at 11, Lilly and I were just getting back from a walk and so we all sat down and had lunch.  Jim and I decided to celebrate his early arrival home with a beer.  We put Lilly down for a nap and tried to be productive but soon realized that the early morning gym visits were catching up with us, and paired with a beer at lunch, it was the perfect nap time for us too.  10 minutes later, we were asleep.  We awoke to the little voice in the room next door two and half hours later.  It was an amazing nap for everyone.  The only downside to sleeping when Lilly's asleep is that there are so many other things I want to do during that time, so it's not often that I decide to have a nap too.

Over the past few months, I have grown to appreciate nap time even more than I used to, since as soon as Lilly goes to bed at night, I am heading out the door to tutor five nights a week.  While I can't complain as I enjoy all the families that I work with, it is great income and I get to be home with Lilly all day, that time at night right after Lilly has gone to bed is amazing for sitting on the couch, and I miss it.  So all my *me* time occurs during the middle of the day, during that magical nap time.  I have at least an hour more to go today.  What to do, what to do....  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Back Down to DC

We're back from a few days in DC where we visited Mum and Dad and went to Christine Freund's wedding. It was a busy few days but it's always fun to be there, no matter how short the time. The drive there and back went well but given Lilly's latest chatterbox tendencies, they were long drives. On the way down, Lil slept for a total of 30 minutes of the five hour drive, and talked for the other four and a half hours. On the way back, she slept a little bit longer but she is still so excited about her expanding vocabulary and somehow, she managed to talk for the remainder of the trip. Jim and I heard every word that Lilly knows how to say during that drive. We've progressed from "mummy, daddy, mummy, daddy..." to "hi mummy, hi daddy, bye bye daddy, bye bye mummy...." over and over and over again. A sample minute of our drive sounded like, "wow, tuck (truck)...bye bye tuck, bye bye tuck...peeese (please, meaning usually she wants a toy or a snack)...oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no (she's dropped her snack/toy/blanket)...mummy, mama, hi mummy, mummy, daddy, daddy, hi daddy, dadddy, mummy....yesh (yes), bye do you do (when she sees a bird, thanks to Grandma's rhyme!)...uugh (when she has a dirty diaper)..." I'm tired just typing Lilly's chatter, so imagine four and a half hours of listening to it! Try 45 seconds (with some pictures from Lilly and Grandma's yoga):

It's always fun for me to see Mum and Dad with Lilly. I feel like I get a glimpse into what they were like as parents when we were little, although as grandparents there is probably a little bit more spoiling going on. Lilly said "Grandma" once and calls Dad "Papa"...although she gets a bit confused and started calling them "mummy & daddy" as well. I can see how it's confusing, given that I call them Mum and Dad! Lilly gets so excited when she seems them--and when she sees Tess, of course. The afternoon we arrived in DC, Lilly got to help give Tess a bath. Lilly definitely enjoyed it more than Tess did. During this trip, Lilly learned how to say "Teshy" whenever she saw Tess, so there was really no peace for poor old Tess.

Trying to find a quiet spot to sleep.

Giving Tess a kiss

Sharing Tessy's bed

Hitting the "gog" (Lilly's word for gong)

Getting measured for a sweater from Grandma

On Friday night, Jim and I went out to a pre-wedding party and got to meet up with a few high school friends. We stayed out too late, had too many drinks and felt not so great the next morning. We all decided to go for a walk along Beach Drive to get some fresh air before it was time to be social again. Dad was going for a run so I decided that I would go for a little run too. The only problem with that was that it is impossible to go for a little run with Dad so my little run turned into an hour long run which was double the time of all of my runs recently. Dad and I had a nice chat and I'm finally starting to feel like myself again physically so aside from some tired legs, I had nothing to complain about.

The wedding was a blast. Christine was my very first friend at Stone Ridge, when we were both new in eighth grade. We did everything together that year...took the same classes, were in the same advisory...and stayed good friends throughout high school. Christine keeps in touch with everyone! So I got to see lots of girls that I haven't seen for 10 years and when we were back together, it felt like no time had passed at all. Except that there are now husbands, boyfriends and children in the mix. Jenny, Patricia and I were all at the same table and quickly reverted to our our high school days. Jim only knew a couple of people at the wedding, but given how much he loves weddings, this didn't matter at all. He was the first one out on the dance floor (well, he tried to be the first one out there but I made him wait it out for a song) and Jim spent the night dancing with everyone, including boyfriends of my friends. You can take Jim anywhere and he'll have a good time!

Our table just happened to be next to the photo booth...

As you can see, the boys clearly did not get the hang of the booth.

We knew we had to leave early on the morning after the wedding so that I could be back in CT by 1:00 for an SAT class. We packed up everything the night before and were pretty excited that we were getting an extra hour of sleep. We had planned to wake Lilly at 6:45 and put her right in the car and head home. She has been waking up between 7:45 and 9 lately so we figured there was no way she'd be up. Boy were we wrong. At 3:45am, we hear a little voice from upstairs saying, "mummy, mummy, daddy, daddy...." for a few minutes, and then quiet for awhile. We heard it again half an hour later, so Jim went up to check on her and five minutes later, I heard little footsteps running back and forth. I knew that was it and Lilly was up--at 4:15am. Even though it felt like 5:15 because of the time change, I still couldn't believe it! Dad, who routinely gets up at this time anyway, made tea and toast and the entire house was officially awake. The plus side of this ridiculously early wake-up was that we got to get on the road early...and Lilly slept for almost 15 hours the following night. The down side was that Jim and I both felt like we had been run over by a bus for the duration of the day. I cancelled a few tutoring sessions during the week so I could head down to DC earlier and decided that Sunday evening was a good time to make those up; as a result, I tutored until 10:30 that night. Pair that with a 3:45am wake-up, four and half hours of constant chatter on the ride home and a 3 hour SAT class and I officially needed a weekend to recover from my weekend.

This was taken at about 4:30am

Back home in CT, Lilly had her 18 month doctor appointment yesterday morning. I was dreading the appointment since she was pretty miserable after her shots at 15 months and she seems to have formed a few more opinions since then. We also woke up to hail and sleet yesterday morning--the perfect day to venture out of the house. Lilly weighed in at 23 pounds and is now 32 inches tall. She laughed when the nurse measured her head, and was very cautious when Dr. Brown listened to her heart and looked in her ears. She cried when they gave her her first shot but had stopped by the time the last one was given. She left with a plethora of stickers in her hand and walked out the door like nothing had happened. When we were leaving, she even said "bye bye" and waved to the nurse. She was a happy camper for the rest of the day which was complete with a 3 hour nap! What I thought was going to be a miserable day turned into an enjoyable one. Here's Lil talking to the fish on her way out of the doctor's office:

It was a fun filled few days and now I'm looking forward to an evening of NO tutoring (it was cancelled tonight!), a quiet dinner and relaxing on the couch with Jim and a movie.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lilly's Hair

This blog entry has been in the works for some time.  The day I created the blog, I knew that there would have to be an entry on Lilly's hair.  Today is the day!  Lilly's hair has been a topic of conversation since day one.  Usually, when babies are born, they look like a newborn; tiny little features complete with a tiny little bald head.  Sometimes babies have a thin layer of hair, which tends to fall out in the weeks following birth.  So, from the day of Lilly's birth, while she was unique in many ways, her hair set her apart from most other babies.  Nurses kept coming into our room saying that they were told they had to come and see this baby with all the hair.  She surprised everyone who walked into our hospital room to come and meet her; she definitely surprised us!  I have a feeling that this was just the first of many surprises that Lilly has in store for us.  Here she is on April 11, 2009:

Everywhere we went with Lilly, people had something to say.  At our first trip to Starbucks, when Lilly was 3 days old, a woman stopped us and told us it was all going to fall our and grow in blond.  That's what happened with her daughter.  Jim and I soon learned that everyone knew what was going to happen with Lilly's hair; everyone except us.  When we told people it wasn't falling out, they didn't believe us, or told us to give it time.  Not a single person told us she would keep all this hair; not a single person guessed correctly.  But, Lilly's hair never fell out; in fact, it just kept growing.  This is one of my favorite pictures illustrating Lilly's Elvis hair, taken at 1 week old:

Being born with so much hair comes with some difficult moments:

Lilly had to have a daily bath, which most newborns do not need.  Otherwise, her hair would get greasy, just like an adult's hair.  I think this is one of the reasons that Lilly doesn't mind having water poured over her head today--she's had to experience it almost every day for the past 18 months!

Lilly progressed from her little Elvis hairstyle, complete with sideburns, to a stylish pixie cut (according to my hair dresser), and then she soon had enough hair for a ponytail.  We didn't cut it when summer came since it was long enough to pull back.  Then, fall arrived and Jim and I decided that as much as we love Lilly's hair, we didn't want to be those creepy parents who never cut their children's Lilly got her first haircut!  Following is an attempt to capture the progression of all of Lilly's hairstyles leading up to the actual haircut.

1 month old

2 months old 

 3 months old

 4 months old

5 months old

 6 months old

 7 months old

 8 months old

 9 months old

 10 months old

 11 months old

 12 months old

 13 months old

 14 months old

 15 months old
 16 months

 17 months

When you watch the video, make sure you change the video quality to 480 (or whatever the highest quality is that the video allows to improve the picture quality).  I have to credit Jim with choosing the perfect song to accompany Lilly's haircut.

18 months