September 2009


Posted by Fitzy

The envy of all our friends, my husband and I took off for a long weekend to celebrate our fifth anniversary.  The Bean’s grandparents came to get her a day early, and we busied ourselves with the logistics that come along with going on a trip.

The first night, home alone, was a novelty.  There were no little feet pounding on the wooden floors, there were no little hands reaching up to be held, and there were no anti-bed protests.  It was quiet and peaceful.  We didn’t know what the heck to do with ourselves.  We ended up finally watching a Netflix that has been gathering dust in our entertainment center, and going to bed early.  It felt like my right arm was missing, that’s how strange it was to be at home with my husband but without our Bean.  We laughed about it, knowing that as soon as we were away these thoughts would evaporate.

The next day, we whisked ourselves to our fantasy suite.  We enjoyed an amazing gourmet dinner, had a glorious evening, and reveled in our alone time.  The next morning we woke up at a leisurely pace (woo hoo – 7:15!) and spent the entire day walking around a beautiful town, enjoying its sights and sounds.

By nightfall, our hearts were aching.  We missed our Bean so much that our main dinner conversation centered around how early we could get up the next morning to drive the two hours separating our daughter and ourselves.  When we finally got back to our hotel, we packed everything to make our getaway that much more hasty.  We went to bed, rose early, and despite a divine breakfast at Annie’s, we did everything in our power to get to our Bean as fast as humanly possible.

After what seemed like an interminable drive through the Connecticut back country (seriously, there’s a Scotland, CT?), we FINALLY arrived at my parents’ house.  We went in, and didn’t hear a peep.  We finally located the family in the basement, and when the Bean saw her dad…well, I can hardly think about it without getting a little misty.  She ran towards her daddy with all the power in her little legs, jumped in his arms, looked at me, and yelled, “HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!”

My husband and I tried really hard to come up with a meaningful way to celebrate our anniversary, and we had an absolutely wonderful time together, reconnecting.  But we learned more about each other – and our family – in the few seconds that it took our Bean to cross the room and jump in our arms.  Maybe someday we’ll enjoy vacations without her, but for right now, we seem to have a two-night limit.  Any more than that and we’re just counting the minutes until we see her again.

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Posted by AVM

Hello, again.  As some of you may know, I gave birth to a beautiful little girl four weeks ago.   CeeCee arrived with infinite more drama than her sister did nearly three years prior, but now, four weeks out, it’s water under the bridge, and the memory of the circumstances is already starting to fade.  Here we are on the other side, both healthy and in the swing of the insane phase known as infancy.  Or, as a mom I know put it: Survival Mode.  You do what you must to get through – best laid plans be damned.

In general, I try to be as positive as possible with my blog entries.   After all, I have so much for which to be thankful.  I have two daughters.  I have to repeat that to myself a few times during the day, as it’s how I always envisioned my family – and now it’s come true.  The gift of sisterhood is something that I am lucky enough to have, and I am so thrilled that my children will know this joy in their own lives.  My girls are doing great, CeeCee is proving to be an easy baby, a good sleeper and eater, pleasant and happy –  I don’t have much to complain about in my life.  As I said, I try to remember that with all of my blog entries, as I know that the winds turn easily and swiftly – I never want to be ungrateful lest the universe gives me something to really complain about.

And yet, I – like a lot of moms (certainly most of my friends) – am finding this time so difficult, and I feel like complaining, even though cognitively I know life is good.  The first three weeks post partum for me were met with an anxiety and sadness that hit me each day around 6 PM.  I hate the term “baby blues,” but, it fit.  I knew it was coming as I experienced the same feelings last time, but it still washed over me with a vengence. Honestly, it’s the cruelest part of new motherhood, and I am thankful to be out of it almost completely now.  For me, it manifests itself as tears for no reason (or every reason, depending on how you look at it), my heart beating out of my chest, and an overall feeling that vascilates between “what did we just do?” and “I just want to fast forward two years.”  These are not popular feelings, especially when the world expects you to be overjoyed as you gaze into your infant’s eyes.  But they are real.  Real to me.  My heart goes out to women who have these feelings more intensely and for whom this turns into full-blown post partum depression.  I am happy to report that I am feeling much better and in control, but when you’re in it, it feels like life is never going to change.  And now I remember viscerally why I hated the first three weeks following  Lovey’s arrival.  Thankfully, I’m moving through and moving on, and enjoying my new daughter tremendously.  As I am sure my next few weeks’ posts will focus on siblings and schedules and lack of sleep and that delicious baby smell, this post, my first back, I wanted to give weight to the crazy hormonal mess that so many of us moms experience in the beginning known as “baby blues”  – when everyone else thinks you should be thrilled and glowing and grateful, and you’d rather cry in the fetal position.  Hats off to you other ladies who have been there – you are not alone – and it will – it DOES – get better for most of  us.

Posted by Duff

One of the coolest things about becoming a parent is how it can bring you closer to your own parents.

You may understand, on a cellular level, why they wouldn’t let you follow the railroad tracks to the drugstore when you were 10, date that senior boy as a freshman girl, or stay up past a certain time when there was a morning school bus to catch.

You might also wonder how they made it through whatever stage of parenting you’re in currently. Recently, I apologized to my mother. “What for?” she asked (I had been vague). “For all of it,” I said, “But today, specifically, for being three once.”  She broke into a long-awaited smile of vindication.

If you’ve lost a parent you adored, however, parenting brings new possibilities for grief on a daily basis. Even if you’ve successfully grieved that parent (whatever that means), you now must grieve The Grandparent your child(ren) won’t know.

The Dervish and Atticus are shy one grandfather, and they don’t understand that yet. I’m sure explaining that to them, when they’re older, is going to feel like hugging a porcupine. I’m not sure how I’ll explain it with any authority. I don’t have any answers.

But just last night, I saw my child through my father’s eyes. I can’t imagine anything that would make me feel closer to him.

I regularly watch The Dervish be adamant, triumphant, unintimidated. I do it myself may as well be playing from a cassette ca. 1977.  “She looks like you,” says a waitress, and I miss my father terribly.

An hour later, I’m washing The Dervish’s hair and she directs the process, terrified of soap in her eyes. And I experience my father telling one of his favorite stories of me at this age.

He pours water over my head with a large avocado green pitcher and I shriek “Soapinmyeyes! Soapinmyeyes! Soapinmyeyes!” in nasal preschooler patois. I’m making a fuss for nothing–there is no soap in my eyes, and he laughs.

In this instant, as sure as The Dervish kneels in the tub with rinsed hair and wet eyelashes, he has inhabited my heart and shared a moment with his granddaughter.

Posted by Fitzy

Like most just-about-to-be two year olds, my little Bean never stops moving.  Watching her is exhausting – she’s running down the hall, climbing on the ottoman, jumping in the den, and spinning to Ring Around the Rosie until she…we…all fall down.  She’s my very own Energizer bunny, and she keeps going and going and going until we manage to wrangle her into the crib at night.

Lately, though, she’s been a little afraid of bedtime.  When we put her in her crib, she says, “No bears!” repeatedly.  We tell her that the bears are far, far, away, and she doesn’t have any in her room, but her imagination is going wild.  We’ve ruled out more practical concerns about the crib being to small for her, and the temperature being wrong.  We know she’s comfortable…and we know she’s unhappy, at least for the first half hour of being in her bed.  She finally falls to sleep, only to awake at the ungodly 5:00 a.m. hour…demanding to sleep in Mommy’s bed.

We try very hard to not bring the Bean into our bed.  Very hard, I swear!  But when you’re already worried about your little girl being scared, and you walk into her room with bleary eyes and unfulfilled sleep needs and hear her say, “I want Mommy and have all my things for her bed!” as she holds her satin pillow, a stuffed turtle named Terry, and her ever-present Giraffey….well, I’m just not strong enough to leave her there.  So I gather her up with her menagerie and snuggle into bed with this girl who has transformed me in ways I never could have imagined.  I spend this time awake, thinking about how good she smells and how this is the most still she’ll be all day.  I wonder what kind of woman she’ll grow up to be, what with her love of using my Swiffer, doing my hair, and reading…and could almost cry with pride over how smart, feisty, and wonderful I think she is. 

This girl, the one who moves around like a crazy lady all day and sleeps peacefully in my arms in the wee hours of the morning, will never know how important she is to me.  No matter what I tell her, or do for her, or be for her, it would be impossible to articulate how she is the absolute joy of my life (and her dad’s).  She gave us a piece of our hearts that we never knew we were missing, and it’s here for good – this joy, this peace, the exuberance of her….it’s amazing.  The good news is that these new hearts she gave us will never leave us, no matter how many times we fall to the ground after another rendition of Rosie and her pocket full of posies.  It is what gives us the strength to get through the manaical days of working parents, and to get through yet another song when the Bean yells, “AGAIN!”

Posted by Fitz

The Bean is lucky enough to have a great aunt who has given her books for every birthday and holiday since she was born.  My girl has enough titles to start her own independent toddler’s library, and there is nothing she loves more than sitting with her dad or me to read stories for huge amounts of time.  Because she loves reading so much, and because she has some uncommon books that are written for kids her age and older, I thought I’d share her latest favorites. 

  1. Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey – A prize-winning story about a girl named Sal who goes on a blueberry-picking adventure at the same time as a mother bear and her cub.  Might also be responsible for the Bean’s recent fear of bears, although those pesky Berenstein Bears could also be at fault.
  2. Carry Me! by Rosemary Wells – A collection of three cute poems – Carry Me!, Talk to Me!, and Sing to Me! – from a cute little bunny’s point of view.
  3. The Whole Night Through: A Lullaby, by David Frampton – A neat tour through the wildlife at night, illustrated with elaborate drawings that replicate Frampton’s intricate woodcuttings.  The Bean is now a big fan of both kinkajous and wildebeests.
  4. Chicka Chicka 123, by Bill Martin, Jr., Michael Sampson and Lois Ehlert – Given the Bean’s love of the original Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, we had to get Martin, Sampson, and Ehlert’s take on numbers.  It’s a jazzy little story that will take kids through 1-100’s journey up an apple tree. 
  5. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak – A classic that doesn’t even need to be described, especially with the feature film about to be released.  The Bean’s favorite part?  Tickling the feet and “AHMPITS!” of the wild things during their wild rumpus.

And there you have it…my Bean’s latest reading list.  I hope your bean enjoys these books as much as mine does!

Posted by Duff

I don’t know much.  This is especially true when it comes to raising children. Before I had one of my own, I had never babysat the same child more than twice (apologies to baby Kristen ca. 1990 – you were asleep when I got there and I never even looked in on you because I was terrified of babies).

Now I realize you don’t disturb a baby willing to sleep through the night. Note to self: Stop checking on and waking up your children before going to bed yourself.

Since you shouldn’t trust anything I’ve got to say, the following are some of the most valuable tidbits I’ve picked up from other mothers, seasoned childcare professionals who are worth The Dervish’s weight in gold, and Little Miss Unpredictable herself.  Here’s hoping some of them can help just one person:

Don’t wake a sleeping baby. Unless: it’s daytime and the baby has been sleeping for more than three hours.

To promote nighttime sleeping, feed a baby every 2.5-3 hours during the day. Eventually your baby may eat larger meals every four hours, but s/he’s going to need the calories at some point. May as well be when you were planning to be awake. (Follow this routine and 90% of babies will sleep five hours or more at a stretch, and probably longer, by three months of age.)

Having trouble loading your squirmy child into legholes of baby gear? Hold your child in football hold to keep legs separated, then go vertical, threading feet through the holes.

Let your child guide you on his/her readiness.  Imagine my surprise when daycare told me that The Dervish wanted a sippy cup and table food, ASAP. At five months, she was grabbing food out of my mouth. At four months, Atticus is hungry after 40 oz per day. I had planned to wait six months before introducing solids to both of them, but they became screamy baby birds who grabbed for the spoon as soon as they saw it. So they got their own spoons.

Keep “No” to a minimum. I am not in any way suggesting you be permissive — I’m just saying that “No” is not nearly as effective as other words/phrases. While “No” either went unheard or inspired a stand off in our house, “Not Safe” worked even before The Dervish understood the difference between safety and danger.

A cheerful redirection (Let’s try this over here!) is more effective than an order. For instance, The Dervish rarely wants to stop playing to do something we need to do (usually involving leaving the house). But she is happy to lead a parade to the bathroom where we can brush our teeth as equals.

Invoke Your Child’s Empathy. Kids love to act like grown ups. And you have probably noticed on how frustrated or defeated your child is when s/he tries to do something beyond her skill level. Build confidence by asking your child to help you. You will be amazed at how happy it makes them to help you figure something out or bring you something you need. Your genuine appreciation will bring out your child’s natural tendency to cooperate. 

Pick your battles. The Dervish wore pajamas all day on the weekends while I was pregnant with Atticus because she wanted to, and it hurt no one. She also went to daycare that way a few times.  I felt much better when one of her teachers told me another mother once brought her three-year old daughter, who refused to get dressed, to school wrapped in a blanket.

Don’t set your child up to fail. I learned this gem from Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies. The same principals that work for a dog who has never lived in a home environment apply to a child who is new to everything. Don’t want your child playing in the toilet or unwinding the toilet paper? Easily fixed with a childproof doorknob. We went through a phase where The Dervish was pushing suprisingly heavy wooden kitchen and dining room chairs around the house to access things higher up. Two solutions: remove the chairs until the phase passes, or move belongings to even higher ground.

Enjoy your child, don’t anticipate him/her. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten, and it came from a woman named Cary from a chat board, who will probably never see this and know how much I appreciate it.  I wasted so much of The Dervish’s first 20 months trying to keep her from crying. I wonder if either one of us ever had any fun during that time. Thanks to Cary, I’m taking a much different approach to mothering Atticus.

Feel free to share your own collected parenting wisdom here.

Posted by Fitzy

I believe I do this parenting thing pretty well, but lately I’ve become hideously aware that I fall short in one major area.  While my friends are making elaborate scrapbooks to commemorate their child’s first year, while they are writing down the milestones of vocabulary and gross motor skills, while they are journaling their feelings to someday give their child, I am….not doing any of it.

I have a baby book for the Bean.  It’s gorgeous – my mother in law brought it to the hospital the day the Bean was born, and I treasure it.  I just don’t do much with it.  Sure, its adorable box is filled with things like Beanie’s Christening invitation, a lock of hair from her first trim, and even a memento or two.  But I haven’t written much in it except for a few scrawls back when she learned how to walk and I didn’t want to forget when.  I keep thinking about spending some quality time with the book to get it in order, and have even planned my approach for that lazy Saturday that will give me the hours to engage in such an activity.  But…these lazy Saturdays never seem to come. 

I guess the positive note here is that my second child – whenever he or she may choose to grace us with his or her presence – will never feel shortchanged for not getting the detailed pregnancy journal, or the handmade scrapbook.  I’m hoping that all my children, the Bean and those to come, will be satisfied by a million pictures, some Shutterfly albums, and the memories of them that keep their dad and I going on both good and bad days.  Because when that lazy Saturday finally comes my way, I think I’d rather take the Bean to the playground instead of pasting things in a book.  Someday I’ll probably regret my laziness, but right now I really don’t.

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