Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hello, 30!

Wow.  What a difference a year can make.  
I celebrated another birthday this past week, and of course, it had me thinking back over the year.  Last year, I wasn't yet pregnant.  While the idea was already being discussed, I didn't expect a second baby before my next birthday.  Last year, the idea of moving wasn't even on our radar.  We were grateful Tyler had a job, even if it included traveling, and we thought we'd be in Chicago indefinitely.  Last year feels like half a lifetime ago.  
This year, I welcomed a new decade- my 30s.  Thanks to the past year, I have plenty more life events checked off my bucket list, and then some- like living in New York City, a dream of mine back when I was in high school, but one I let go years ago.  I not only had a second child, I had her at home, in a tub in my own bedroom.  I became a La Leche League leader.  I knit matching hats for my daughter and my newborn, and I put my daughter's hair in a ponytail.  
So what does this next decade hold?  I've learned not to plan too much, because I never know what is coming.  I welcome it with open arms, an open mind, and great enthusiasm.  But if this next year holds fewer changes than the last, I'd be okay with that, too.
Many, many, many thanks to my friend Amy Postle, who photographed me with my girls on my 30th birthday!  What a treasure.

Monday, April 16, 2012

In tandem

 Tandem nursing isn't always easy.  I sometimes feel like I have someone attached to my boob morning, noon, and night (especially night).  But I absolutely think it makes parenting two, who are only 26 months apart, easier.  When both are grumpy, we can sit on the couch and everyone can cheer up together.  When both are tired, I can get everyone to sleep at once.  And there are plenty of moments like this that make it all so very worthwhile.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tye and the Big Black Eye

Remember how I talked about the stomach flip-flop sensation when something bad happens?  Well, this past week, I experienced something worse.

Wednesday morning, the girls and I went to the local La Leche League meeting in the home of one of the leaders.  Near the end of the meeting, Tye became restless and started playing in the hallway just outside of the room.  With Etta in the carrier on my chest, I followed Tye and found a place where I could see her and still participate in the discussion.  Then, Tye walked over to the steps and started to sit down at the top.  As I started towards her to ask her to stay upstairs, Tye's socked foot slipped out from  under her.  I watched as she tumbled, end over end, down the entire flight of about 20 steep, wooden stairs, begging God to please protect her head while I  whispered, "STOP! STOP! STOP! PLEASE STOP!" 

Never before have I experienced my child's life flashing before my eyes.  I remember thinking of all kinds of horror stories of people dying from falling down stairs, and how those stairs were probably just like these- a really long flight, hard, and so steep that even adults climb them extra cautiously.  Then I remembered asking Tye to put on socks that morning because I was afraid her feet would be cold, and then how Tye chose yellow leopard print socks and put them on by herself- one inside out.  At one point, I saw Tye's face looking up at me with her eyes wide in terror as she barreled down the stairs.  Ugh.  Just thinking of it now makes me want to cry.  

An eternity later, when Tye finally reached the bottom and stopped tumbling, I was already halfway down the stairs.  Tye had a swelling, purple bump over her right eye along with a tiny cut.  When I asked where she was hurt, she could only point to her eye through her tears.  With Etta still on my chest, I threw Tye on my hip and walked her up the stairs. 

One mom fixed an ice pack for Tye and another took Etta while the meeting continued.  As Tye nursed, I was extremely grateful to be able to nurse her, both to comfort her and to calm my own frazzled nerves .  But every time I closed my eyes, I saw her face, frozen in terror, as she flew down the stairs, out of control.  After about 30 minutes of ice, we decided to head home.  Not much later, Tye was more than ready for her nap, during which I snapped this shot.  
And here she is later in the week as the bruising progressed.  

I alternated applying arnica cream (a homeopathic remedy to heal the bruising) and lavender essential oil (to reduce the swelling), but Tye usually didn't want any medicine on it.  Thankfully, kids heal quickly.  I was amazed by how much the bruising changed shape and color even during the course of one day.

In the end, Tye learned a new, healthy respect for stairs.  I learned that when we remove our shoes when we enter someone's home, we also remove our socks.  I was reminded how amazing children's bodies are- that they can roll, bounce, and collide much more easily than adults, and that they heal so much more quickly, too.  I now have another scary experience under my mothering belt.  And I have a new understanding of why parents attribute their gray hairs to their children.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Things I Learned this Easter

1. Plan on coloring eggs more than once, because it is a favorite activity that will be requested every day for at least a week after.
2. The Easter Bunny should only put as much candy into an egg as a child can fit into her mouth at one time.  Because it all goes in at once, no matter how much is there.
3. When the Easter Bunny is overzealous and leaves too many eggs, the thrill of the egg hunt becomes the task of cleaning up after the Easter Bunny.
4. Never again will Mama ask the Easter Bunny to bring her favorite chocolates (Milka brand, imported from Germany) on Tye's behalf, because Mama eats them.  All.  (Thanks for sharing, Tye!)

5. Egg hunts should be conducted after the girls are dressed and photos are taken, or the risk is run of photo opportunities coinciding with sugar crashes- the kids and mine.
The only Easter photo I managed of both girls.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

To Etta, at 3 months

Dear Etta,

Happy three months, Etta!  You've had quite a month, with your first plane ride- and four of them, at that.  You saw the ocean, felt warm weather, and met PaPa in Palm Beach, and you met aunts, uncles, and friends in Chicago.  At home, you started staying awake during our walks long enough to actually see parts of our neighborhood- and you couldn't have had better timing, because our neighborhood was filled with flowering trees and beautiful gardens exploding in color.

You are getting to be such a big girl!  Your eyes continue to lighten and your hair is thinning, but you still have a thick patch of soft, dark hair above your neck. You have some seriously chubby cheeks, and I secretly look forward to every diaper change just for the opportunity to see the rolls on your thighs.  I am so grateful that clipping your tongue made our breastfeeding relationship (and those rolls) not only possible, but so effortlessly enjoyable.  When you unlatch at the end of a nursing session, sleepily smacking your lips with a great sigh, I know we are both fully, completely content in that moment.

Your smiles take less time to coordinate these days, and you're smiling quite frequently- especially at your big sister.  You've also just begun to use your hands to reach for items.  When you lay on your playmat, you look up at the mirror, the lights, and the faces on the animals and just beam as if you've never seen anything so wonderful.  After a few minutes of happy smiles, you finally realize you can actually reach for the toys and make them move, eliciting even more smiles.  

One of Tye's favorite things you do (other than burp) is talk.  As you gaze at us, we speak gently to you.  When we pause, you coo back at us. This back-and-forth conversation makes Tye giggle louder and louder until she eventually scares you back into wide-eyed silence.  Someday, I know you two will have plenty of long, drawn-out conversations.  

You've grown into a very happy, easygoing baby.  Though from the time you arrived, it was hard remembering life before you, you're now a more active, engaged member of our family.  You're right where you belong, Baby Girl.  Thank you for the joy you've brought to all of us.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Smiley Sisters

Bald No More

Tye's first real, functional ponytail- can you believe it?   After many months of baldness and many more of mere whisps, we finally have a little ponytail.  

I look at her now, with her hair tied back, and I just about start tearing up.  She looks so grown up!  Where did my bald little baby go???

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Conflict Resolution 101

For the past few months, Tye, Etta, and I have been attending a great little playgroup hosted by a local mom in her family's home.  She has a boy several months older than Tye and a girl just a couple months older than Etta, and many of the other children who attend are similar ages to our children.  It's been a really wonderful opportunity to meet other families in the neighborhood and for Tye to engage with her peers.  

Of course, any time a group of preschoolers assembles, conflicts are unavoidable.  Last week, as Tye was trying to squeeze through a small space at the same time as a little boy (we'll call him Jamie), Jamie hit Tye on the face.  Hard.  She ended up with a slightly black eye and some missing skin under and next to her eye.  That night, she told Daddy, "Jamie hit me at Jack house, give me owie on my eye."  She brought it up frequently that day, the next, and throughout the week.

I make a point of always paying attention to Tye's owies, big and small miniscule.  By reacting with love and compassion, I'm teaching her to empathetically do the same when others are injured.  This time, while I made sure to care for her physical wounds, I also jumped at the opportunity to use this as a learning experience.  Tye had just recently begun to hit Tyler and me when she was upset- not hard, but as an expression of her frustration.  So every time Tye mentioned Jamie and her owie, I reminded her, "Hitting hurts.  We don't hit.  We use words."  Then I'd model words she could use if she was angry in place of hitting- "I'm mad! I don't like that!"  I also sometimes went on to model phrases she could use to communicate with Jamie, like "Don't hit me, I don't like that," hoping it would give her a feeling of empowerment should the situation arise again.  

Today was another playgroup day.  Within minutes of our arrival, Jamie pushed Tye down from standing, her bottom landing on the sharp corners of wooden blocks that laid scattered on the floor.  Tye bawled.  Jamie- who is a really sweet kid with a warm, sparkling smile and a very kind, involved, totally apologetic mother- apologized.  Not long after, while Tye was playing catch with another friend (such a precious exchange, by the way), Jamie walked up and hit her in the face.  Tye cried again, though this time, I think her feelings were hurt more than her face.  

Now, I wasn't there to witness this next part of the story, but my friend, the hostess, was.  While Tye and Jamie were sitting at the table eating popcorn together, apparently they had a little conversation that went like this:
Tye: Jamie, you don't hit me anymore, okay?  Hitting hurts.
Jamie: Okay.
Tye: Thank you.
Then they continued eating their popcorn.  Later on, they ran back and forth down the hall together, shared trains and balls, went up and down the slide together, and ate more popcorn together, all without incident.  

When my friend relayed the kids' conversation to me, I was first totally shocked- and then so totally, completely filled with pride.  Tye found a calm moment and talked with her peer about their conflict, resolving the issue without adult interference.  That's something many of us adults have a hard time accomplishing, and Tye's not even two and a half!  

The solutions to Tye's problems won't always be this easy.  With all my heart, I dread the day I'll have to console her after a major conflict with a peer.  But, as is the case with many lessons in life, she'll have opportunities along the way to develop and practice conflict resolution skills.  In many ways, today's exchange has laid the groundwork for talking through a quarrel with a friend or confronting a bully in the future.  It may not have been a painless lesson to learn- unfortunately, they rarely are- but it is one that will serve her well as she continues to grow.  


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