Feathered Aspen


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8 mos/35 mos

Hello World!  The sun is shining, Stacy and Ellison* are in town, and this coming weekend we’re off to Salida!  Life is so good, especially now that February or as I like to call it, the longest shortest month of the year, is done.  There are many things I love about winter, but without some nicely groomed ski trails nearby, the cold and the ice can be a huge drag.  Especially with kiddos.  Plus, there’s something about those dark months of January and February after the bustle and cocoa of the holidays that’s just plain lonely.

But right now, we’re feeling great! Nothing like friends and a little Vitamin D to give you a whole new perspective.

So, in those 10 minutes when both of my daughters are sleeping, I thought I’d share a few brief updates:

Lu:  Eating more and more these days.  After a slow start (she really wasn’t interested until a couple of weeks ago), she’s now grabbing for my food, reaching to intercept spoons, and getting frustrated when she doesn’t get a little of what we’re having.  She’s had pureed tortellini with pesto, egg, purreed rice with kale and mushrooms, broccoli, potato, polenta with ragu, apple, carrot, and a bunch of other little nibbles of anything we’re eating.  She’s got a pretty strong gag reflex, so we’re trying to blend everything or give it to her in tiny grain-sized bites, but I’m looking forward to when I can just hand her an apple to gnaw on.

In terms of movement, she’s leaning over and grabbing things, scooting on her butt, and traversing quite a distance that way.  She’s pulled herself up onto her knees a few times, and she also has gotten onto her hands and knees and rocked, but no crawling yet.  She loves picking up small objects, and I like letting her do that while I watch because she’s so graceful and focused on coordinating her fingers.  Right now, she’s loving anything that’s paper, and I’m constantly removing choke-sized bits of paper from her fists, much to her dismay.  She also loves plastic bags, so I let her play with little sandwich sized ones sometimes.

In terms of interaction, she’s smiling so much these days, fooling people into thinking that she might want to be held by them 😉 She’s so easy going, but it’s rare that she’ll tolerate someone other than her mama holding her.  Joshua definitely has the most luck (though I’m afraid it doesn’t feel like it to him).  She also is giving snuggles that look and feel more and more like hugs, and the other day, she even played a little peekaboo with my scarf and then leaned her face into my chest every time I asked for a hug.

Lily:  Is potty trained!!!!  Hurrah!  Sure, it may have taken almost exactly a year, but when it really happened, it happened fast.  One day we were in diapers, and the next, we were only in diapers for nap and night.  We had two accidents in the first couple of days, and now, I’ll sometimes ask her if she needs to go, but usually, she just takes care of it herself or let’s me know when we’re out and about.  I’m so proud of her.  In the end, it took the push of me saying, “no more diapers” and her crying a little bit, but the transition was so quick that I think she really was completely ready.  I know there’s lots of kids out there that have been potty trained for ages and Lily’s might seem late, but it doesn’t diminish how proud I feel of this independent little girl.  You go Lily!

This past week, we had another rough patch.  Lily tried something new:  an insult.  I’d like to be that confident woman who is not even phased, but even after years as a middle school teacher, it still hurt, aaaaand as usual, my wounded response just made things worse.  God, I can be such a mope sometimes.  I texted Brittaney, and she was just great.  She’s so encouraging, and I come away from those exchanges feeling like this is normal! Keep on! Show her love and be firm!  It’ll be ok!  There’s nothing wrong with you or her!  And it’s that last one that really gives me the strength to go back and set the tone.  To show her that it’s not ok to treat others poorly, but even when she does, I’m not going away and I’m strong enough to be there through it all.

And then, like any other almost three year old, she can also be so sweet.  “I love you SOOO much, Ellison!”  Kissing my “lonely” cheek, and curling up on my lap for stories.  The other morning, I was at my wits end trying to get out the door, but once we were outside, she grabbed my hand (unsolicited) and announced cheekily, “Mama, I’m a monkey.  I’m a green monkey!”  (She had dressed herself from head to toe entirely in kelly green.)

I was asking my mom about myself as a little girl, curious about how Lily and I were similar or different.  I think our intensity and affinity for order and schedule are very similar.  (For example, whenever we move furniture, Lily breaks down in sobs.)  Although both my mom and dad say that I was a little more serious and quiet.  I do see some of myself in her in social situations where she’s clearly fascinated by watching other people and seeing them interact, but often too shy to go and join in.  And, like me, when she is comfortable with a group, she has no problem talking up a storm and being in the thick of it.

That’s all for now.  Spring is in the air, and even though I’m sure it will snow again, our little seedlings are coming up and the sun feels warm on our bare arms.  I feel like singing 🙂

*Yeah.  That’s my name.  Yeah.  That’s this little one’s middle name.


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Snow Day

 

We woke up to snow and cold temps, so we made french toast, coffee, and an addition for Lily’s dollhouse.

Materials:

  • One Diaper Box
  • Duct Tape
  • One Country Living magazine
  • Mod Podge
  • Three Hours

I think I had way more fun than the toddler 😉

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  • photo 2 copy
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  • photo 3 copy
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So fun!  Hope you’re having a lovely President’s Day…  A bit of a strange holiday, but I’m not complaining.


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A Letter to Lily at 34 Mos.

Dear Lily,

Today, you split your lip.  It was chilly outside, and you and daddy walked to the 7-11 around the corner for milk.  You had your hands in your pockets, and when your toe caught a crack in the pavement, you couldn’t get them out in time.  You came home sobbing, blood dripping through your fingers and your lip already swollen.  I gave you a wet rag and a little ice pack, and you sat on the kitchen island with tears streaming down your face, gasping between your cries.

Later in the day, I watched your eyes light up with delight when I asked if you wanted a mini cupcake.  You peeled off the wrapping, licked off the frosting, and savored every last bite.  You had on skinny jeans and a super girl t-shirt.  Your hair was pulled into a little pony tail, and before you left for nap, I crouched down next to you and asked for a kiss.  You leaned in, and at the last second, you gave me the briefest peck on the cheek, your eyes elsewhere, but your weight threatening to push me over.

You painted me a pink heart for Valentines, you held our hands all the way to playground, you asked “why?” a dozen times.  You noticed the kitties, the other little girls.  You wanted to walk across the bridge.  When you got tired on the way home, your daddy picked you up and you leaned in and said, “I love you, daddy.”

At home, you wrapped your baby doll in a blanket, painted some more, and nibbled on pieces of cheese I fed you as I made dinner.  When your sister cried, you ran over and sat next to her, offering her toys and tucking the blanket around her.

For a treat, we watched the last half of Mary Poppins while we ate dinner, and you sat entranced, mouthing recurring phrases like, “close your eyes” and “chim-chiminey.”  You looked at me with your eyes wide when you watch the chimney sweeps dance across the rooftops, and you asked me to turn off the TV when the fireworks shot through the sky.  As you ate your soup, you said very seriously, “this is good for me.  It makes my tummy feel good.”

Past your bedtime, I finally laid you down in bed and sang you our songs:  the Sh’ma and “New” Song (which is the Part of Your World song from the Little Mermaid).  I laid with you for a few minutes, running my fingers through your hair and telling you about our day.  You closed your eyes.

I sense you’re on a cusp.  At times, you are unbelievable mature and I look at you, unable to fathom how you’ve grown so quickly.  At others, you are still a two year old, figuring out how to use the potty and bursting into tears when we rearrange the furniture.

I’ll see you in your skinny jeans and a pony-tail, scuffing the dirt with the toe of your tennis shoes, and I’ll think, “how on earth did you get to be so big?!”  And then, I’ll melt when you ask me to snuggle.  You’re still small enough to need me for big and small things, but there’s an independent, wise and self-possessed part of you emerging.

A new development is your ability to “calm down.”  You’ll be losing it over something – the wrong breakfast, the wrong shoes, the wrong vehicle – and I’ll tell you that it’s time to calm down.  In the middle of tears and screams and back-arching toddler tantrum, you’ll start to exhale loudly and purposefully, stilling your limbs, and going a little red in the face as you hold back the next scream.  “Ok.  K.  I calm down.  Calm down.  Ok.  I’m calm.”

Or the way that you freely tell me and your daddy that you love us, without us even prompting.  You’ve started saying thank you for more than just simple exchanges, for example in the middle of a meal when you’ve realized that I cooked something just for you that you really like.

I love you, my dear.  You’re funny and kind.  You’re sweet and you’re smart.  You’re beautiful and opinionated.

Love,

Mom


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Ate my ‘tato

Some of my favorite Lily-isms from this past week:

“Dearest wife? May I have some pancakes?”

“It stinks like someone pooped.”

“Lu is ridiculous.”

“I need some assistance.”

“It’s a beautiful day.  I bring the potty outside.”

“Oscar’s a naughty boy.  Ate my ‘tato.  Oscar like ‘tatoes, mommy?”

“Lu not eat lunch.  Lu eat boobies.”

“No want anything in my hair.  So long and pretty.”

***

In my last post, things were a little rocky, but I thought I’d come back to say that things are better again.  I’ve been so blissfully happy this fall and winter that I wasaught unawares by that bump.  I just have to remind myself that I set the tone.  I’m the adult.  I was responding to her outbursts with sadness and frustration, and then she was feeding off my sad/frustrated responses with more negative behavior.  But the next morning she erupted over something and I kept it light, smiling and making a silly joke.  She laughed, and the whole week unfolded with few mishaps.  It’s really astonishing.  Of course, I still get frustrated or feel like I’m not getting something quite right, but if I fake calm and ease, Lily responds positively, and we avoid that downward spiral.

Teaching, I tell you.  These were all part of my tool kit:  fake it til you make it, set the tone, keep it light, be the adult, and when all else fails, make a silly joke.  Glad they’re coming in handy now that I’m the parent of a toddler.


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7 mos/34 mos

It’s 11:30 PM on Sunday night and the house is sleeping, quietly.  I’ve just finished some homework, and I’ll crawl in bed soon too, but for now, a short post:

It’s the first day of February, and it wasn’t until someone asked me at church tonight how old Lu is that I realized that I had missed her monthly birthday for the first time.  I’ve been so good about remembering the 30th and documenting with a photo, but I suppose this is a bit of a milestone, too:  she’s old enough that I might casually live through the 30th day of a month and forget that that means she’s a month older.

Lu is a gem.  She is very content, smiles often, plays well, and remarkably resilient.  She’ll sit for 30 to 45 minutes at a time, playing with her toys.  When one is just out of her reach she’ll fold in half, reaching with all her might to capture it.  Sometimes she succeeds, but it amazes me how, even when something doesn’t come to her right away, she doesn’t grow upset.  She keeps trying.  As a result, she’s scooting on her butt, getting up on her hands and knees, and ending up on her tummy pretty often these days.

Lu has started saying, “mamamama.”  It’s very intentional, but I’d hesitate to say she knows what it means.  She knows we smile and mimic her when she says it, and she loves that.  She has a beautiful little voice, and sometimes she’ll use it the whole time she’s in the car, just cooing and ahhing all the way to wherever we’re going.  She’s been sucking on her upper lip a lot lately, which results in a funny smacking noise, and she also likes to fake cough.  Lily is still the one to make her laugh most often, but mommy’s also a pretty good tickler.

This month, Lu hiked to the top of Mt. Sanitas in Boulder, swam in the Wheat Ridge Rec Pool a couple of times, and even let Joshua and I go on a date for a few hours without crying (thanks Grandma!).  She’s getting so much bigger, and I feel so lucky to be able to spend every day with her and watch it happen.

Lily is has been doing very well for the majority of the month.  She’s been really helpful, cleaning up, getting things ready to go, getting dressed, and keeping Lu ‘safe’/keeping her company.  She’s doing so much better as an older sister, testing the boundaries much less often and even showing interest in sitting next to Lu and playing with her.  (Next up, please don’t take away Lu’s toys….  A struggle, as ever.)

Her language is getting stronger and stronger, too.  Her sentences are more varied, and she’s including words that you would never expect out of an almost three year old like, ‘assistance,’ ‘ridiculous,’ ‘nervous,’ and ‘especially.’  My personal favorite is ‘also.’  She’s very funny, and she tries to make jokes often.  Her face is so expressive, and her ‘I’m sorry, but that’s just how it’s gotta be’ -face is hysterical.

I love this girl to pieces.  Before she Lu was born I remember wondering if it would be possible to love another baby as much as I loved Lily.  Well, I do.  The love I feel for Lu is simple and full and satisfying.  She is such an easy going baby, and it’s so comfortable to snuggle her and love her all day long.  I know what she’s feeling from each cry, and I feel confident in my abilities to address her needs and soothe her.  And I love Lily too, and the love is the same, but it’s also different.  They’re both my daughters, both flesh of my flesh, borne of me, grown from me and with me, but they’re also so different.  With Lily, I’m a little less confident, less sure.  When she throws a fit for….  Three days, let’s say, I’m completely broken.  I’m frustrated, yes, but I’m also distraught.  What am I doing wrong?  What could I be doing better?  How can I teach her to regulate her emotions and treat others with gentleness and love?  I’m absolutely in love with this mostly sunny, sometimes volatile little girl, and it shakes me when I can’t get it quite right.  But that’s love too.  In fact, that’s a love I’m pretty familiar with:  the kind you have to work at, the kind that has a sharp little underbelly but an absolutely gooey and lovely center.

Sometimes when I write these things, I worry that Lily or Lu will come back when they’re older and read this and think, ‘see?  This is how I’ve always been, how you’ve always seen me.’  I don’t mean to do that at all.  If I’ve been learning anything this year, it’s that people can and do change and what is true now won’t always be true next week.  But for now, this is how it is.  This week/end has been tough for me, tough for Lily.  I’m hoping for a better week.


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Thanksgiving, 5 months, 2 years 8 mos

As Lu gets older, those moments where both of the girls are sleeping are fewer and farther between, but now is one of those lucky times, so I just knocked out the last of my homework for nutrition and now on to a much overdue post!

I had intended to write thirty posts of thanks in homage to this thankful season, and while initially, I had thought that I might be able to check off thirty in the month of November, that proved to be a bit too ambitious.  Nevertheless, the season for thanks is still upon us, so I’m not completely ducking out of the resolution.

Family Update

This past week was wonderful.  My dad, Mandy, Hannah, and Eamon made the drive down to Denver, and we spent four solid days together, including multiple runs, a few walks, Thanksgiving dinner, shabbat, the Art Museum and even a spontaneous nose piercing excursion!  In fact, I ran so much that I’m up to 37 miles for the week!  I can’t remember the last time that happened, and what’s more, I hardly noticed the additional challenge of that increase, because I had such great company.

It’s always good to catch up.  Hannah is about to begin her last semester of her undergraduate, Eamon is a sophomore and excelling in Cross Country, and dad and Mandy are active in the synagogue, running, working long hours, and overseeing a long overdue kitchen renovation.  Rather than getting easier with experience, saying goodbye seems to get harder.  Just think what Lu will look like in two months time!  What will Lily be saying or doing next?  I’m just so grateful that the girls love these guys as much as I do, and watching Lily’s special relationship with Eamon in particular is a treat.

Thankfully, Joshua also had the past week off, and after many long hour s of working on our back two rooms and Sarah’s house, it was a relief to have a bit of time off.

Lu

Lu turned five months yesterday!  And it’s true.  Time absolutely flies into hyperdrive with the second baby.  She’s loving her little excersaucer, rolling onto her front and her back, sitting up unassisted for a few seconds at a time, and even responding more her name and our voices.

For a while there at the beginning of her fourth month, Lu’s wakefulness presented a new set of challenges, and Lily definitely noticed the reduction in the amount of time devoted to her.  It felt like Lu never slept during the day and I could hardly put her down.  Thankfully, that stage has begun to ease a bit, and in the past few days I’ve been able to set Lu down for a few naps.

Despite that challenge, Lu is really an easy, happy baby.  She hardly ever cries, endures the knocks and longer periods of independent play required of a second child with grace, and smiles with all the warmth in her little body.  I’m also so thankful that another stage seems to be passing:  she’s taking the bottle from Joshua better than ever, and they’ve seemed to have worked out a special bounce to ease my absence.  Evenings are still a little tricky when I’m in class or otherwise engaged, but they seem to be getting easier.  As much as I enjoy being able to soothe Lu and getting her smiles, I am relieved when I see her relax without me, and I know Joshua can’t wait for their relationship to take on more and more importance.

*Likes:  Rorsie Lion, the crinkle book.  Her play mat and the dangling toys.  Her exersaucer!  The Bjorn and facing out more and more over all the other carriers.  Snuggling with mommy.  Giggling at sister’s antics.  Car rides (hooray!).

*She’ll pass:  on anything other than a quick nurse in the middle of the night, waking up early (she sleeps in until at least 730 most mornings), a pacifier, and startling noises.  Me being gone in the evenings.

Lily

Oof!  The beginning of November was challenging with this little girl!  We had temper tantrums, tears, and heartache all around.  It really made me sad to see her struggle, and I felt terrible.  You know.  ‘Cos I’m supposed to be able to prevent that from happening 😉

I really do think this past month has been the hardest thus far in terms of adjusting to life with a little sibling.  Lu demanded more attention than ever before, and Lily definitely noticed.  There was some moments of naughty behavior including poking and biting (!), but I’m so happy to report that Lily’s attitude towards Lu has really shifted in the past couple of weeks.  I credit the exersaucer!  All of a sudden, Lu seems like more of an independent little person to Lily, and Lily will play next to the saucer, singing, dancing, and making Lu laugh.  Nothing makes me happier than watching the two of them lock eyes and communicate.

I’ve also had a chance to see more toddlers in action over the past month, and it really makes me appreciate Lily’s individual personality.  Yes, she has moments of naughtiness when it comes to her sister, but she’s actually showing remarkable poise when it comes to sharing and being gentle.  She listens to me very well, and she’s a great and adventurous eater.  She definitely has pretty intense emotions, but as she learns to communicate more and more, those extremes do seem to lessen.

I’m so thankful for this time with Lily.  Our first conversations are pretty thrilling, and I love hearing what she has to say.  Watching her make believe is a new frontier too, and watching her imitate us makes me feel a new surge of responsibility.

*Likes:  the Children’s Museum, Church (“can we do it again?”) and more specifically, the nursery at church and the other kids there, pushing her stuffed toys in strollers, walks, her “big slippy jacket and boots,” the train, going to the park, and dates with mommy and daddy.  And hot chocolate, of course.  Three books and three songs before bed.  The ABCs.  Practicing with scissors.

*She’ll pass:  on my outfit choices, hats, having her hair brushed, using the big girl potty (:(), fried collard greens, and waking up from nap.

Well, that’s all for now.  Lu just woke up, but it’s good to catch up!  Hope you had a wonderful holiday and gave lots of thanks!


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Another Month

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I’m a fairly patient momma, but the past couple of days, I’ve raised my voice.  Even as I’m doing it, I think, “this isn’t helping,” but at the moment, I’m not sure what would.  Reasoning with a two and a half year old is…  Interesting.  Yesterday, after running around the Children’s Museum for the last 15 minutes, refusing to do anything I asked and doing everything I said NO! to, I picked Lily up kicking and screaming, stuffed her in the stroller, and high-tailed it outta there.  On the walk, I started with, “Momma is really upset with you.  I’m sad and mad and upset.  I don’t like what you did, and it made me angry.”  I was speaking sternly and Lily just had this vague look on her face like, yeah, yeah, yeah, whatevs.  Finally, I stopped walking, crouched in front of the stroller and asked a series of questions.  “Should you wait for Momma or can you leave and run to the next room?”  “Wait.”  “How did it make Momma feel when you left her?”  “Sad.”  “When Momma says, STOP shaking the tree, what should you do?”  “Stop.”

We apologized to each other and hugged, and then we were good, but man, was I ticked walking out of there.  I don’t usually get ticked like that.

And then today.  Lily tried to pour water over her sister, and then a little later, she jumped near her head.  I go a little nuts when I think she’s going to hurt Lu.  “Time out, now,” I said, through clenched teeth.  I pick her up and sit her next to the wall.  She fiddles with the baseboard for a minute, and then she looks over at me with a smile and says, “say sorry now?”  Completely unaffected.

But then there’s last night.  We’re all walking back to the house after Lu announced she was done with all that running nonsense, and Lily got out of the stroller to walk Oscar.  It was seriously the cutest thing ever, and Joshua and I were looking at each other and laughing quietly to ourselves.  Oscar’s gate is more of a run for Lily, so she’s running to keep up with him and shouting orders the whole time.  “No Oscar!  This way!  Not safe!  Stop!”  After running almost a full half mile, Joshua and I were nearly in tears laughing.

“Lily, look at you run!  I’m so impressed!  You’re legs must be really strong,” I say.  Lily glances over her shoulder, “Daddy run in mountains.  Lily someday.”  And then, if that didn’t just melt us, she says, “Bear Hunt!”  “Are you gonna catch a big one?” we ask.  “Beautiful day!” Lily responds, “not scared!”

Or today, we’re walking back to the train, and Lily says, “Eat banana on train?  Go home, snuggle?”

And “hot potato!  Lily sweating!”

Most of the time, I just want to scoop her up and tell her that she’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.

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This one is four months old today.  Her personality has really begun emerging this past month, and I’m constantly in awe of her size.  How did she get so big?  Now when I nurse her, she sits in my lap.  She loves being supported while she stands, and half the time when she’s laying on her back she’s flexing her abs and curling in, trying to sit up.  Her neck is super strong these days, and it makes things so much easier.  I can carry her with one hand or hands free with a carrier.

She’s been grabbing for toys and chewing on everything in sight, but I’ve yet to see a tooth.  Within the past week and a half, she’s really begun laughing, and of course, it’s her daddy that’s the best at getting her to giggle.  Lily makes her laugh, too.  Oh and yesterday when I was recounting the story of our dramatic exit from the Children’s Museum and mimicking my stern voice for Joshua’s benefit.  She thought that was hysterical, too.

Unfortunately, we’re struggling a bit on the sleeping front.  While I’m fairly certain that Lu slept straight through her first three months of life, she’s been making up for it in the past couple of weeks.  She still sleeps through the night, but then she’s championed the 15 minute snooze during the day.  And let me tell you.  I am not a fan of the four to five 15 minute snooze schedule.  In my humble opinion, she should be banging out three hour+ naps.  For Lily, nursing worked.  Whenever she seemed sleepy, I would nurse her and she would fall asleep, and then I could get some s*** done.  Not so much with Lu.

Anyway, I better not complain too much, because hey, a babe that sleeps through the night on her first night home from the hospital is a precious unicorn.