Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Home, Home, Home!

Almost 2 weeks ago now, Lilly and I got back from spending a week with Mum and Dad. It was nice and relaxing and as always, I enjoyed being at home. As our family knows too well, Dad wakes up at an ungodly early to make tea. He's pretty notorious for this as he does it wherever we are in the world. We all make fun of him because he tries to not wake us up when in fact it is impossible to sleep through all the "tea-making" noise. The running water, getting out mugs, opening the fridge for milk, the dinging kettle, the stairs...it's all loud and inevitably, if you are sleeping anywhere near the kitchen, you are a victim to these early wake ups as well. I can't complain too much because I always end up with a cup of tea in bed; it's just usually at 5:30 or 6 in the morning! So, Lilly adjusted to life with her grandparents and started waking up at 6:30 instead of 7:30 (thankfully, as soon as we returned home, she started sleeping until 7:30 or 8 again) but while we were with Mum and Dad, it was perfect. Lilly got to spend time with Dad before he left for work and we had nice mornings sitting outside, drinking tea and coffee while Lilly played with her watering can. Mum bought her a watering can so she could help water the garden while she was staying there and naturally, Lilly prefers to use the real watering can to water the plants and only uses hers to water the ground.

It's amazing how many things Lilly can learn in a week. She learned how to laugh while covering her mouth, like Grandma does. If you start laughing with your hand in front of your mouth, she will now do the same. She does it all the time on skype now when she talks to Grandma! Grandpa taught her to open her mouth when it's full of food and show it all to him. What a fantastic life skill. Luckily, she reserves this trick for Grandpa and it is one that hasn't carried over to her daily life. She learned how to say "shhhhhh" (which sounds more like "sssssss") while putting her finger over her mouth. I'm trying to get a picture of this because when she does it, she not only puts her finger over her mouth but she rests the tip of her finger in her nose. Naturally. It just fits. Every time she does it, I laugh even though I know I shouldn't and it's a bad habit. But I just can't help it. Lilly wants to help with whatever anyone is doing, so she was very interested on using the broom whenever Mum brought it outside. She wouldn't let anyone help her with it so we sat there dodging the broom handle while trying to enjoy a beer.

She was also a huge help in the garden and loved going down whenever Mum had to move the sprinkler or pick some lettuce. One time, both Mum and Lilly came back soaking wet. Apparently, the sprinkler won.

Mum has a bowl full of decorative eggs from Bali, I think, and Lilly loved these eggs, especially when she learned that Grandpa could drop the eggs and make them spin! So she'd pick up the eggs and bring them over to Dad and he'd have all these eggs spinning around her. Naturally, Lilly wanted to try dropping them and making them spin. Unfortunately, when she did it, she'd just hurl the eggs on the ground and they'd make a really loud bang before rolling somewhere. She got the point but didn't quite have the technique down. Maybe next time. Lilly also got to watch some cycling with Dad, and Dad could tell her all the "interesting" things he wanted since she was locked into her high chair with nowhere to go.

Lilly heard Mum telling Tess to "sit" so now, when Lilly sees Tess, she points her finger at her and growls. It must be her way of telling Tess to sit. Poor Tess. She's such an old dog and continued to be tormented by Lilly for the duration of our stay. Lilly even learned that if she carries a cracker around, Tess will follow her. So she'd do this for ages, running laps around the house with Tess hot on her tail. Eventually, Tess would always get the food so it worked out for both of them. Lilly tried to give Tess whatever was in her hand so Tess was subject to everything from magnets to a brush to a shovel to fruit. She loved patting Tess, especially her nose and eyes. It was an exhausting week for Tess and I'm sure she's still recovering from our visit.

It was a week where I had so many intentions of things to do and people to see but as is the case so often when I'm home, I ended up just being home. Mum and I enjoyed coffee and fruit together for hours in the morning while Lilly was having her nap. We had BBQs and beer and wine at night, watched a baseball game or two (or twenty...) with Dad. It was a great week that flew by and before I knew it, we were heading back to CT. We skyped with Jim in the mornings before he went to work and at night before Lil went to bed which we all loved. Lilly showed off her newest tricks and Jim got to be a Dad and make his silly noises and faces that make Lilly laugh. Technology is amazing and Lilly is going to grow up with Skype as a part of her daily life. Pretty unbelievable. When she hears the skype phone ringing or the ding of a skype chat, she goes sprinting over to the computer! She's our little social butterfly.

We've been making the drive down to DC since Lilly was only weeks old and it's definitely gotten easier. The fact that I don't have to feed her every 3 hours combined with her ability to entertain herself makes the five and half hours not so bad. This trip was great. She had some toys and for the first time she was interested in reading some of her books! We stop once to have lunch each way, and Lilly usually sleeps for at least 2 of those hours so it goes by pretty quickly. Mum's in Italy until July 30th so our next trip down will be sometime in August when Ellie will be home!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Uncle Edward!!

We tried, unsuccessfully, to get Lilly to hold the sign for Edward a million times. We then resorted to taping the sign on Lilly's toy, which lasted until she realized it was there and was ripped off shortly after. Oh well, it's the thought that counts! You can see our efforts below.

The Water Table

We set up a sand and water table outside for Lilly and it has quickly became her favorite activity. She even learned how to open our sliding door to get outside to play with her table at her own convenience. Jim and I learned this one day when we were both inside and looked out the door to see Lilly happily playing, with the door half open. Neither of us had let her out so it was time to start keeping a closer eye on Lilly! Anyway, this table has been the perfect addition to our house this summer as it seriously entertains Lilly (and Jim) for hours. The two of them will sit outside and pour water everywhere, except in the table. There's a water mill that's just a little bit too tall for Lilly to reach so every time she tries to pour water in the top, it ends up going right over her own head. Needless to say, every time the water table gets used, Lilly comes inside soaking wet and with a giant smile on her face. She's not really into the sand side yet except when she realizes that she can put the sand in the water. I think when she can build sandcastles she'll enjoy the sand more. Until then, the sand is just an accessory to the water.


The first day that we had the sand and water table set up, some of the neighbors' kids saw Lilly playing and came running over. They were older kids and what started out as innocent fun soon turned into a giant mess. You should have seen the look on Jim's face when they started putting all the sand in the water and the water in the sand. The best part of the whole situation was that I had to leave to go and tutor so Jim was sitting outside watching the chaos taking place. While I was tutoring, I got a text from Jim saying that the kids were trying to come in the house, even though Lilly had gone to sleep and Jim had tried to send them home numerous times. Jim was sitting on the couch reading and these kids were knocking on the door! I came home to a sand/water mess outside and to an exhausted Jim. We hosed everything down and have not invited those kids back. In fact, when we see them come outside, we go inside.

Who knew a water table could be so entertaining?!

Drinking the water...of course!

In shock after just pouring water over her own head!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mums Don't Get Sick Days

...but if they did, I would have used one or two over the past couple of days. Jim had a cold while Lilly and I were in DC, and when we arrived home, Jim declared himself "not contagious." Now I'm not pointing fingers, but if there's one thing Joseph has taught me, it's to always place blame. So, in this case, the blame would have to be placed on Jim. Even he said he will have to reconsider his theories on when a cold is contagious (apparently, it always is). But, let's face it. It could have been much worse. It was just a cold. Lilly seemed to come down with it on Sunday afternoon and by Monday, she was pretty miserable...and then on Tuesday, she was better! She learned how to blow her nose (or at least, how to pull tissues out of the box and blow air out of her mouth while putting the tissue on her nose). It's amazing how quickly babies heal. When she was really little and had scratched herself, she would wake up from her nap and the scratch would be gone! So Lilly is back to her normal self. I, on the other hand, seem to have a lingering cold that is running its course in a fashion similar to Jim's. And over the past 2 days, I have realized how hard it is to look after a 14 month old when all I want to do is lie on the couch. After all, we all know that Lilly is an *extremely* active 14 month old. It wasn't easy going to school and teaching when I didn't feel well, but teaching my four classes with built in breaks was much easier than being a mum all day.

Jim feels horrible and made me 3 cups of tea this morning before he left for work! He's been feeding Lil and putting her to bed and letting me rest when he's home, which is amazing. I keep thinking of Mum whose morning sickness got worse with each pregnancy...so how in the world did she look after a 5, 3 and 1 year old when she was pregnant with Edward?? I have absolutely no idea and I hope I don't ever have to find out.

So, I have a newfound respect for mums, who are always mums and don't get to call in sick.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Family BBQ and a New Friend

On Saturday, we went up to Jim's aunt and uncle's house for a family BBQ. On the way up, we stopped in to meet Lilly's newest friend, Margot Ruggieri. Jerry and Mel looked fantastic and were both smiling, proud to be new parents. Margot is so cute, I loved holding her and Lilly loved meeting her. Unfortunately, Lilly wanted to pat her head and kept trying to touch her eyes, so we ended up limiting the interaction between Margot and Lilly but it was a great introduction for 2 girls who are destined to be friends!

It was a gorgeous day for a BBQ and we enjoyed an afternoon full of lots of food, games, cold beer and catching up with family. Lilly got to play with all her cousins and was on her feet for the entire day! She literally didn't stop (despite the fact that we tried to convince her to have a nap). At the end of the day, we were all exhausted, especially Lilly. She was sound asleep before we even got on the highway to head home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father and Daughter

Over the past 14 months, everyone has offered their opinions on who Lilly looks like. When she was born, Jim and I were not the only ones who were extremely surprised to see a head full of black hair; the nurses were just as shocked. One was shocked enough to ask Jim if he was the father! We had a good laugh and soon discovered that this was just the first of many observations about how Lilly looks nothing like either of us. When she is with Ellie, you would swear that Ellie is her mother given that there is much greater resemblance between those two (in more than just looks - anyone who knows Ellie and Lilly knows what I mean). Over the months, Lilly's hair has lightened up and more and more people tell me that she looks like me, or Mum...but then, the other day, a friend from high school who has not met Jim said, "wow, Lilly looks nothing like you...she must look like your husband..." which just goes to show that there is not a clear resemblance between Lilly and either one of her parents.

Despite the lack of similarity in their looks, I always tell people that I think Lilly is a little cookie cutter image of Jim's personality. On Jim's second Father's Day, I thought it appropriate to discuss the traits that both my husband and daughter share. We saw one in full force this morning. The three of us were sitting outside; Jim and I were talking while Lilly was playing in her water table. Over the course of our time outside, our neighbors started to have friends over and there was soon a full blown party going on next door. Jim's attention wanders whenever there are other people to look at. He loves keeping tabs on what everyone around us is doing. So he was sitting there staring at what was going on. Lilly was captivated by what she saw as a new audience. She commenced her playing in the water table and started walking over to the party without so much as a glance backwards. She was walking and waving, babbling away, trying to draw attention to herself. Boy does she love crowds...just like her dad. She loves being the center of attention and knows what smile or laugh really gets everyone going. Jim has this fake smile that he does, where he sticks his tongue between his teeth. This smile comes out often for pictures. Lilly has perfected her fake laugh so when she hears other people laughing, she's got her fake one ready. It prompts everyone to look, and then laugh at her, which just makes her laugh more. It's one of her favorite games!

So, there's the "loving an audience" similarity. Another one that I've seen recently is how Jim and Lilly handle themselves when they're sick. Lilly and I got home from DC this week to find a sick Jim, home from work early and lying on the couch. Jim ended up having a pretty bad cold...but you would have thought he was dying of pneumonia (no offense, Jim. I love you even when you're sick...) I hear this is pretty common among men. In talking to my friends, their husbands or boyfriends seem to react the same way when they're sick. I know my dad does. (This conversation usually turns into one about how men could never go through childbirth, but I'm not going to go down that road...even though I agree 100%). So, Jim like some extra attention when he's sick; no matter how mild the illness. Well, the other day, Lilly was doing her usual laps around the house, dragging a bag behind her and carrying a toy in her other hand, and she tripped and landed on her face. It was definitely the worst fall Lil has taken and scared me and her. She was screaming, her nose was bleeding, and it took a long time to calm her down. After a good nap, however, she was back to normal and was just a bit crankier with a bruised nose. Jim came home from work nice and early because he knew I was worried about Lil. When he walked in the door, Lil was having her dinner. As soon as Jim walked over to her and asked if she was okay, Lilly's smile turned into the saddest face, and she pointed at her nose and looked directly at Jim. She proceeded to milk that fall for everything it was worth. And now, Lilly has Jim's cold and is a mini Jim, making sad noises and looking for that extra bit of attention. They are one and the same.

I've already discussed their dancing similarities in an earlier blog, but Lilly continues to swing her little hips when she hears any kind of music (or even the washing machine!)...and if you saw Jim dancing, you would see where she gets her skills. They are going to make a great couple at a father-daughter dance one day!

A father and his daughter have a special relationship that starts on the day his daughter is born, and I have loved watching Jim and Lilly's relationship form over the past 14 months. It's a relationship full of games, treats, songs, hugs, dances and tickles. From the earliest days, Lilly would get excited when Jim came home from work. She has gone from lying on her back, kicking her legs and smiling when Jim walks in the door, to sitting up and toppling over from waving her arms and legs so much, to crawling at full speed over to Jim, to a full on sprint, complete with laughter, arms up in the air and tripping over her little feet because she is trying to get to him so fast. No matter what kind of a day Jim has had, he is happy when he walks in the door. With a little person running over to greet you, how could you not be?

During our first weeks together as a family, we discovered that Lilly was a great little baby. A good eater and sleeper and overall a happy little girl. However, there was a period of time every night, usually between 8 and 10:00, when Lilly was particularly fussy. We didn't know why and Mum told me that each of us had a fussy time of the day when we were little. So, we had to figure out what to do with her during this time to prevent a two-hour feeding from taking place. Jim and I often have music on; it is playing from our computer all the time. Jim decided to use this to our advantage. He put on some fun music and gave dancing with Lilly a try. It was an immediate success! Granted, it was a lot of work for Jim. Lilly didn't enjoy soft, quiet music and slow dancing. She wanted some upbeat music and some serious dancing...and she was as happy as could be! So, for those early weeks, Jim and Lilly had their evening dance. The two of them loved it, and it was great entertainment for me. As Lilly started going to bed earlier, the dancing faded out but we have great pictures and video of some of these moments. Now, Jim often puts Lilly to bed at night and I hear him singing her a song or two. It's usually James Taylor, Paul Simon or Greg Laswell--his 3 favorite artists to sing. Most recently, I heard Paul Simon's "Father and Daughter" coming out of Lilly's bedroom and smiled, knowing that I would always remember that moment. Jim and Lilly are certainly a special father and daughter and this is just the beginning. Happy 2nd Father's Day Jim! Here's a look at Jim's 14 months as a dad.

Day 1 as a Dad!

Still in the hospital.

Training for the Ironman together!

Taking the train to NYC at Christmas.

Right after a nap!