Relaxing Doesn't Make Babies

July 4th Party

Jul 7, 2013 — 1:07 am

My kids are amazing people. We had such a good time at the 4th of July party that we go to every year – I think I may have more fun now than I did before we had kids, when we could stay as long as wanted and drink and socialize. Not that I didn’t have fun then, just that my kids are pretty awesome and I love hanging out with them. :)

This was Kate’s first time using her new Puddle Jumper flotation device. She was super excited, it just arrived yesterday and she kept talking about wearing her turtle. As much as she loved it she did not really trust that it was going to hold her up, there was nothing for her to hold on to so she was clinging to my hands and panicking for a bit. She wanted to sit on the stairs, mostly. Although she decided to copy the big kids and jump off the diving board! I really did not think she was going to do it, I fully expected her to get to the end then turn around and get back off. No, she crouched down to grab my hands and jumped almost on top of me! Caught me very off-guard. She was shocked at going under the water, but didn’t freak out the way I expected… she actually went back and did it again a few more times! I really was proud of her for being brave and going under like that, she’s normally too timid for such things.

Ember loved being in the water, as always, and I set her in the baby float for someone to watch her while I helped Kate. She’s okay in the float but she gets mad that she can’t directly reach the water, she’d far rather be held and swooped and swished around. She was totally putting her face in the water! I showed her how to blow bubbles and she’d just lean forward and dunk her face. She spluttered a bit, but laughed. Awesome. We also discovered that if she’s walking around poolside (I put her up there to go see Denis) she will walk right over the edge into the pool. I caught her, but jeez. She thought that was super fun… I just have to teach her to only do it when I’m there to catch her! This kid is definitely not timid at all. She’s going to scare me more than a few times, isn’t she.

There’s always a huge spread of food at this party and I stuffed myself on various things like potato salad, coleslaw, watermelon, burgers… and cookies and brownies. Kate did really well, eating a hot dog, a piece of chicken, pasta salad, and later two more hot dog weiners. Whoa. I guess lately when she keeps saying she’s hungry (every 10 seconds) she’s not just doing it to drive me insane (not entirely, at least). Ember had cut up fruit and a bit of burger.

There was a band playing for a little bit. Kate shot up and said, “Mama! Sounds like drums! Go see drums!” So we had to go see. She didn’t seem to understand that no, she couldn’t get on the platform and help them play the drums. (Did I mention how much she loves music and musical instruments? One of her favorite things to do around the house is to get Ember and me to help her play music with the drum, guitar and xylophone.) Kate can be reasoned with; Ember on the other hand just kept walking (well, more like frankenstein-monster-stumbling down the slope) right back there over and over. She ended up spending some time on my back in the carrier, I was hoping she’d fall asleep but she kept flirting with everyone around us. I would have left her there but it was so humid we were both sticky, yuck. She did end up falling asleep in the stroller after Den pushed her around the field for a while.

I took Kate back into the pool, it was quieter and I didn’t have to worry about Ember. I had such a fantastic time swimming with Kate. She climbed down the steps and stood for a while on the bottom one, getting used to the feeling of the puddle jumper holding her afloat. I had drifted a few feet away when she leaned too far and lost touch with the stair. She gave a yelp but when I asked her if she wanted me to help (tip with a three year old: even if you think they need help, ask – they get pissed if you are incorrect) and she replied, “No! I do it!” And she did!! She is not great at kicking her feet yet, but she did it enough that she very slowly moved back towards the stairs. Then she stood up with a triumphant “I did it!!” She practiced that on and off the stairs and then later decided to swim all the way down the pool to the ladder, with me right there but not touching her. Super super impressed with her today! I am also enjoying not having her clinging to me the entire time she’s in the pool. I get to actually swim? Crazy talk.

Ember was super tired by the end of the evening, she slept in the stroller for a half an hour or so but she needed to go home and go to bed… plus it was past Kate’s bedtime too. And the mosquitos were coming out. (Truth be told I think the mosquitos motivated my leaving more than the kids, ha.) On the way home I saw above the treeline fireworks from the city’s firework display in a local park. I pulled into a deserted parking lot and pulled Kate out of her car seat so she could watch them for a couple minutes. Poor Ember was crying so we didn’t stay too long, but I was really glad I took a minute to show Kate, she was so sweet with her cheek against mine, saying “Wooowwww, pretty!”

Both kids were asleep shortly after getting home and I’m just sitting here marveling at how lucky we are.

13 Months – Letter

Jul 13, 2013 — 12:17 am

Dearest Ember,

I know you and I got off to a rocky start, both unsure of each other and our place in this world. But we figured it out. A year in and you are firmly in “momma’s girl” camp. You’re a cuddler, too, which is not something I ever expected of the baby who screamed to be put down to sleep after leaving the NICU. I’ll never tire of the way you grin at me as you swivel on your feet and walk towards me, leaning forward faster than your feet can keep up until you collapse in my arms, head on my shoulder. I love your snuggles and baby hugs, and now your audible lip-smacking kisses.

You’re becoming quite the person now, with opinions and protests and personality quirks. You’re vocal and explosive – you have your little fits and then it’s over and you move on. You are not a fan of your sister’s overly-friendly attention, which generally involves you being pushed to the floor for hugs and kisses; I’m pretty sure one day very soon you’re going to start pushing back.

You are bold. You decide what you are going to do and you do it, no looking for direction or affirmation. Sometimes that can be troublesome (and sometimes dangerous), but I really admire that trait. I think you are going to do fantastic things in your life by being able to just jump in. I hope you keep that part of your personality. I hope my motherly anxiety and “be careful”s don’t hold you back. Of course I want you to be careful and not get hurt… but don’t be burdened by the anxiety that I carry.

Someone (okay, my therapist) once said that you are going to teach me things. It rung true at the time, and it still does today. You were this little spark of life, our surprise that kept me guessing. You challenge me, and in that you teach me things about myself. You have taught me other ways of looking at things, other perspectives, other rules.

You are my Ember, my flame. I love you.


PS – I would also learn a lot better if you would let me sleep for longer than 2 hours at a time. Just a thought.

Almost 14 Months

Jul 27, 2013 — 2:00 am

Did I say something about how Ember walking made my life easier? Well it does in certain ways, like being able to put her down without having her rolling all over the dirty floor. The downside? She keeps running off on me now. She doesn’t technically run yet, but I would say she’s very very good at speedwalking. She sees an open gate, open door, open stairs, and she is there. Not just once… but every single time I put her down. And then if I don’t put her down she ends up being a struggling, squawking octopus on my lap. She is obsessed with going up and down stairs – and has the scraped knee to prove it. We were at a party last weekend and we were exhausted having to herd her away from the deck stairs, run after her to grab mulch out of her mouth every time she went to the playground, and then spotting her up and down the stairs over and over and over. It is boring, slightly terrifying (see the comment about the skinned knee), and just really tiring. We were really kicking ourselves for not bringing the stroller with us just so we could strap her in so we could eat dinner.

The other thing Ember is developing is tantrums. She has a spunky little temper now that she has realized that she wants things and can get things… but sometimes people don’t let her. She doesn’t understand what is wrong with these horrible people who don’t let her do fun things like dive off couches and grab the computer mouse to run off with, but she is going to illustrate her disapproval with a full range of acting skills. So far she has the back arch, kicking legs, rolling around, flailing arms, and screaming. It’s hilarious – and ear-piercing. Once distracted or otherwise calmed down it’s all immediately forgotten, though, so it’s kind of funny.

She is understanding a lot more and starting to speak some words. I can say, “Ember, can you go get a book?” and she’ll grin at me and (usually) go get a book. The sounds she makes at pretty vague and I’m still not 100% sure I can call them words, but she will say “Kate” (but everything kind of sounds like Kate right now), “Mama” (the usual unhappy “Mamamama!”), she’ll repeat “Daddy” if I ask her to say it (and will look around and find him), and the other day she said “Ba” while waving. She seems a little behind other kids her age in speech, but it doesn’t concern me at all since she’s really solid on her gross and fine motor skills. Also Kate doesn’t give her a huge opportunity to talk. (Lots of opportunities for screaming, though!) She’s pretty quiet during the day but really babbles at us a lot if she’s awake after Kate goes to bed. I’m really looking forward to having alone time with her when Kate starts preschool in September!

She spends a lot of time playing with objects: blocks in and out of buckets, putting balls in holes, turning pages on board books, dumping out cups of sister’s water all over the floor. She likes to carry things around and hand them to me or whomever is nearby. No fancy toys for this kid. It’s funny how the expensive, musical toys are only interesting for a short while until she knows how to work it, then it’s ignored. It’s the bowls and blocks and sticks that are endlessly fascinating!

One new thing that makes me get all mushy is that since her birthday she is becoming increasingly bonded to Denis. She was always very very much a mama’s girl, which I think is part due to personality and part due to the natural division of kids, Den gets Kate and I get the nursing baby. So it was normal and expected but it still made me a little sad when she just wanted mama. Now she seems to be realizing that he’s a pretty fun guy, he seems to also live here and provides good tickles. When Den gets home from work Kate immediately pops up and runs over to him, and just recently Ember has started doing the same thing! It’s really really adorable, she goes speed-walking over there and lets out a happy screech, arms up until he picks her up. Then she looks at me with this big happy grin on her face. So adorable.

She is still nursing, though she doesn’t nurse too often during the day.. but every couple hours at night still. I would like to nurse her until 18 months like I did Kate, but I’ll just do whatever works for her. She still refuses to drink cow’s milk – she spits it out like it’s something entirely weird. Of course I bought Ember her own special sippy cup for her birthday, while Kate got a water bottle; turns out Ember much prefers drinking from the water bottle. I got a second one, intending one color to be Ember’s and one to be Kate’s, but they swapped around so much I gave up trying to enforce anything. Whatever, they are sisters, they share germs anyways. As far as sleep goes… she is still in our bed. I consider a good night to be two wake-ups (of her crying, nursing, falling back to sleep). Bad nights are every hour. I really don’t like bad nights, and I’m not quite sure how I’m still functional after a few days in a row. I am going to try again to get her into her crib, which is right next to our bed. Fingers crossed that it goes well. I really would love to have my own bed space for at least part of the night, and getting more than 3 hours sleep in a stretch wouldn’t suck. What holds me (and her) back is my love of having her close. She’s probably my last baby. I love snuggling up and sniffing her baby-wash hair at night while she nurses. Yeah I’m tired, but once she’s in her crib it will all change so fast. Every time we have horrible nights and I think I’m done and ready then things shift back and I think well, it’s okay, I can wait. Sigh. Conflicting emotions.