And now it’s the beginning of December! It’s hard to believe that in just a few weeks, we’ll be welcoming another little girl into our family, and then there will be three updates to include! But for now, let’s talk about Lily and Lu, because it’s been ages:
At four and a half, Lily is looking very grown up! I swear that every time I pause to just take her in, I’m stunned that I have such a big girl. How did that happen?! She is so tall and lovely, I’m sure no one expects that she’s four, and instead assumes that she’s five or even six… She certainly doesn’t wear anything in 4T anymore! These days, she’s firmly in the girls’ section, wearing clothes meant for kids ages 5 – 7. She towers over the other kids in her class, and I’m finding that her hand-me downs are much to big for Lu, who is still a little mini.
I made a resolution about a month ago to stop complementing Lily on her appearance. Full stop. I know that sounds a bit drastic, but I’m actually feeling pretty good about the change. Joshua and I had started to notice a series of comments and behaviors from ourselves as well as Lily that were appearance-focused, and we just realized that we don’t want Lily to feel like her value is so wrapped up in her looks. It also feels like a completely pointless topic of praise because there’s very little Lily does that contributes to her looks. I know that culturally, Americans (and millennials, sigh) tend to lavish on the praise, and it’s certainly a strong temptation for us as well, but we’ve had lots of conversations about what types of praise we feel most comfortable doling out. For example, we give ourselves carte blanche to praise process, effort, or behaviors that demonstrate perseverance and compassion. Now, instead of complementing Lily on her looks, I try to pause and replace the complement with praise along these lines or just a simple statement of love. I’ve had a few slips, but actually, I’ve been doing much better than I thought I would!
Oh, it’s been much too long since my last update on this girl, so I’m sure to miss some golden nuggets, but I’ll try my best:
- Has started calling me “Mommy-ette.” Ha! Definitely a riff on Daddy-o (which he’s pretty much called exclusively by both girls) and her own name.
- Eats cuties by the dozens.
- LOVES swimming and asks to go all the time. This is definitely her happy place. Hm. Wonder where she gets that from?
- LOVES stories. Books AND those told by mom and dad (and guests! We run out of story juice, so it’s nice to pass along the request to Grandmas and Grandpas and other visitors :))
- Playing “doctor” is still her favorite, but more often than not, she’s wrapping up baby dolls in scarves and blankets and laying them down for “naps.”
- Still a champion sleeper. In fact, we’re regularly calling her a “sleepy bones.” She easily sleeps two hours at nap and 10 hours at night.
- Insists that pink and purple are her favorite colors (eye roll, but whatever. I’m hoping if I don’t make a big deal about it, it’ll pass. Luckily she’s willing to wear other colors!).
- Loves play dates.
- Loves her yoga class especially. She’ll often pull out the yoga mat and announce, “Boat Pose! Star Pose! Fish! Shavasana!” as she performs each pose.
- Has become a bit lukewarm towards her dance class, but has been practicing “Silver Bells” for her performance this weekend, and watching that child twirl about the room as she practices is… All the heart eyes.
- A fairly good eater, although I’m often bargaining: eat your broccoli and you can have macaroni and cheese! Finish your salad and you can have the bread! One thing that impresses me is that she’s pretty good at monitoring her own sugar intake. The other day, she told her dance teacher, “I’m not going to have a piece of candy today because I already had some ice cream.” Ah! Success! Sometimes I feel like we could be doing way better in terms of diet, but other days, I feel like she’s on a good path.
- Lily is a self-proclaimed vegetarian. She used to eat bacon too, but about a month ago, she decided that she needed to be a purest. We really respect her choice to go meat free, though I’m hoping she doesn’t discover veganism for a while 😉
- LOVES to help me cook. Stacy just recently gave us a kid’s knife, and Lily is all about chopping veggies, pouring, measuring, and mixing.
- Did I tell y’all that Lily can ride a bike?! On October 30th, we bought her a “bike with pedals” from the thrift store, and THAT NIGHT she biked down the alley all by herself. It was pretty crazy. I guess stryder bikes really do 🙂
- Can be the sweetest big sister and play with Lu for hours. Yes, she can also pick fights and refuse to share, but let’s look on the bright side! I adore their sisterhood. Last night when I went to check on them, Lu had her head on Lily’s chest and they were fast asleep, snuggling.
- We’ve had a ton of guests in the past month and a half, and each time they leave, poor Lily is heartbroken. This child has such a big heart and loves her family and friends so much. She’s definitely got all the big emotions, but I’m happy to report that tantrums are mostly a thing of the past. These days, we have other fish to fry 😉
- Lily’s drawing and painting skills are really taking off! She can do a bunch of basic shapes and she even did a sweet family portrait the other day (of us in a magic forest!).
- Our big struggles recently revolve around whining (lord preserve us) and freaking out rather than using our words and explaining what we’re looking for and need. We had a rough patch last month, but the past couple of weeks have actually been really, really good.
You guys. This age. So good. Lu’s language is taking off more and more, and she’s so much fun. She’s still a little peanut (as demonstrated when I was going through hand-me-down boxes and realized that she fits better into 18 month clothing…), but she’s also trying her very best to keep up with her big sister. A couple of days ago, we walked out the gate on our way to the P’s, and she looked up at me and announced, “I run all the way to Ellison and Bierstadt’s!” And she did! She ran the whole way, and she was red faced and breathing hard by the time she got to their front doorstep.
Last week, we went to the dentist for the first time for Lu and the second time for Lily. The first time for Lily was sort of a nightmare, but on a friend’s recommendation, we went to a different dentist, and this place was great. They were so good with both girls, and they actually loved it. Lily had a full teeth cleaning first, and then Lu just hopped up and wanted the whole shebang too, even though they were thinking they’d ease her in for the first visit. It was a great visit, except for when we discovered that although Lily’s teeth are pretty much perfect, Lu has not one but two cavities on the backs of her front teeth! Gah! I felt so bad. And now we have to get them filled 😦 Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been pretty half-assed when it comes to dental hygiene and our children, so it should really come as no surprise, but in my defense, I’m super arrogant. I didn’t go to the dentist for over ten years, and I’ve NEVER had a cavity in my life. And Lily, who has been subject to all the same (bad) habits that her little sister has been, got off scott free. Anyway. I have been reformed. We’re now brushing twice a day and I bought those super wasteful little floss sticks. Joshua thinks I’m single handedly causing climate change by that purchase, but then he picked up one and flossed his teeth with great drama, making it obvious that he has never really flossed his teeth and the wasteful little floss sticks are the inspiration he needed to begin 😉
Okay, another random list that will certainly miss some of this glorious stage, but hopeful capture some of it:
- Loves the purple, grape-smelling play dough at her “school” (the day care I bring her to for an hour each T/Th while I swim).
- Good sleeper. Tends to nap for about an hour and a half, but then falls asleep easily at night and sleeps for a good 10+ hour stretch. She also loves to “hide” in her blankets before nap time, falling asleep buried and then waking up sweaty. Ha.
- Loves playing with her big sister. I often see her cooking in the kitchen and playing with babies or pretending doctor with Lily. On days that Lily is in school, Lu will start asking about when we’ll see her within a couple of hours, and just before nap, she’ll start to get sad because she misses her.
- Easy to please. On the days that Lily is in school, Lu and I spend an hour at the gym, hop over to the grocery store on Tuesdays, and spend some time cleaning on Thursdays. I take time to read with her or include her with lunch prep or cleaning, and on Thursdays, I’ve been taking her swimming with me for 30-45 minutes after I swim my laps. But the thing I notice most is just how content she is to go about daily life. She’s entertained by simple things like good company and even chores, and as a result, she makes an excellent, easy going companion.
- Affectionate. Lu will almost always freely give me a smooch or a hug when I ask for one, which is often 🙂 And that girl gives great hugs. She hugs her daddy when he gets home from work, and when we have guests, it doesn’t take long for her to warm up. Really, this is true about both girls (although Lily can be a bit more judicious in her smooch and hug giving).
- Steals all of my grapefruit and kombucha. Wants my tea and even my salads. If mama is consuming it, it’s automatically more delicious 😉
- Likes blueberries and bananas (4ever), oatmeal (her biggest meal of the day), lara bars, cheese, clementines, apples, pears, olives, pickles, nuts, and dried cranberries. Obsessed with bread and cheese. Will usually eat eggs, avocado, steamed carrots and broccoli, and most squashes. Likes beans and rice. Ate fish last night, but not a huge meat eater.
- Still using the big girl potty very well, and even sleeps now without a diaper. It’s been nice to get this reprieve from diapering before this next baby!
- Has been complaining of “tummy aches.” We’re not entirely sure what this is. Sometimes, it seems like she’s hungry and a snack or a meal solves the problem, and often we ask her if she needs to sit on the potty, and more often than not, that works. But then there are the times when she’s in trouble or doesn’t want to do something, and her tummy hurts! We suspect it’s a catch-all phrase for discomfort. Just this morning, her tummy hurt and she threw up, so I guess it can also mean just that.
- Her language is really developing! We’ve noticed an increase in fluency and sentence complexity, especially in the past couple of weeks. I really love this stage when she starts expressing herself more and copying so many of the words she hears us say. She’s also fairly easy to understand, although sometimes I’m squinting my eyes and frowning and crouching down face to face, just giving my very best effort to understand something, and it’s not quite intelligible.
- “I got it, mama.” She’s getting more and more independent with things. Also, “I careful, mama.” As in, back off. I can see you’re worried, but I’m going to do this anyway.
- Great climber! Loves climbing features on playgrounds and the new ladder on her bed (which is epic. Joshua mostly, with a small bit of help from me, made this gorgeous lofted “nest” for the girls that includes tree branches and a fort… So it’s making all of our childhood dreams come true).
- Loves shakes, even her daddy’s (which don’t taste as good as mine ;)).
- Gentle. Lu is pretty good at sharing with other little kids. I’ll often see her hand over a toy when she sees another kiddo crying. She also is so careful with other babies – I’m hoping this holds true for her new little sister! We have struggled a bit when it comes to sharing with her sister, but otherwise, she’s pretty good at this so far.
- Still a mama’s girl. Whereas Lily started experimenting with rejection and phases of intense preference for certain individuals around 18 months, Lu hasn’t done much of that. She seems to be able to engage with others without also needing to reject at the same time. I really don’t say that as one being better than the other (although Lily’s version was more painful!), but as just two unique and valid social progressions.
- Looking forward to school next year. She loves exploring Lily’s classroom, and she wants to do all the same drop off rituals, like washing her hands and taking off her boots. Between the short stints and day care and her familiarity with Lily’s classroom, I have a feeling she’s going to take to it like a charm.
- Overall, I feel like Lu’s strengths are: ease, equanimity, contentedness, and self-possession. I have no idea where she got those traits from. I identify much more with the feelings of anxiety, worry, and even melancholy I sometimes see in Lily. I often joke that things will get much easier in about 25 years for her… That’s about how long it took me to start getting a good handle on those traits!
- Although some days it feels like we have few struggles, there have been patches where I think, “where is my easy going child?!” The two weeks just around Thanksgiving were one of those patches. We had a couple of tantrums, lots of tears and lots of “I’m upset, but don’t you dare comfort me!!” type behavior. Luckily, we seem to be back on the happy train this week, but man! When it hits, I realize that adding a third could be a real doozy!
Well, we have less than a month, and I’m fully expecting things to shift pretty dramatically for a bit, but this is where we are right now, and it’s a really good place. I’m so grateful to get to spend this time with our girls, they really are such gifts, and this stage of parenting has been more ease than struggle. Here’s to one last holiday season as a family of four and getting ready for life as five!