Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ghosts and Gardens

I've recently decided our house is haunted by the previous owner.

Yeah. I know. But I'm serious!

The couple who sold us this house left voluntarily, but not happily. It was just too much house for them anymore. It's not a big house, but it's over a hundred years old, and the age shows. The neighborhood is not easy for an older couple. Their son lives in the far suburbs. Etc etc. After they'd moved out, I saw the woman drive past our house. She did not park in front of our next-door neighbor and head in for a visit. She just...kept driving. It was creepy and sad. Anyhow, about a year ago, she died at the neighbor's house after a medical procedure. Around the same time, though I didn't make the connection then, I started feel incredibly, unpleasantly uneasy when I need to go in Grace's room in the middle of the night. I always expect to see someone standing in the corner. I never, ever used to feel like that. I kind of chalked it up to my overactive imagination and ridiculousness and left it at that. It's a reasonable enough explanation.

A few nights ago, Grace was crying in the middle of the night. I opened the door to her room and it was pitch black- her nightlight had been turned off. It's not unheard of for her to play with it, but she never leaves it turned off. Weird, but...okay.

Last night, Katie woke up at 2:20 and decided it was play time (my children really enjoy this particular trick. do I even need to tell you that I do not?). I was desperately tired and trying everything to get her back to sleep. I went to look for a paci, which I knew would not work, but again: desperate. I keep one on the nightstand and one in her crib. I could not find either one. Because I am nothing if not eminently rational (especially in the middle of the night), I called the previous owner a nasty name and told her that if she didn't cut that shit out, I would call a priest to expel her from the house. (This is where half of you think I'm kidding, and half of you absolutely know that I'm not.) (to the latter half: thanks for being friends with me anyway.) This morning, I found the paci on the floor in the hall, up against the baby gate, underneath a sweatshirt I'd flung over it. It is possible that Katie had grabbed it and dropped it on the way from her room to my room. But not very likely. (This is where you all roll your eyes and say, "yes, Kathy, and a ghost is soooo likely." I KNOW.)  And I keep forgetting to mention this last part: I got so frustrated, I wrapped Katie up, put her in her crib, turned on the aquarium, and told her to go to sleep.  I went back to bed and woke up an hour later, totally shocked- she actually fell asleep.  She is entirely incapable of falling asleep on her own from a wide-awake state.  PREVIOUS OWNER TOTES HELPED HER TO SLEEP.

I shared my suspicions with Stephen this morning, and he gave me the look he saves for special occasions, when I do things like crying over Susan Boyle's "Britain's Got Talent" audition, or suggesting we name our child Adele. (I still like that name, for the record.)

So anyway. I know it's unlikely. But I also know what I believe.

Gracie has been REALLY interested in the garden this summer.  Mostly because she likes to take the hose and make mud pits in the corners, and as we've covered, she really, really loves mud.  She also likes to pick flowers, which shows me what a huge tactical error it was, planting the zinnias right at the front.

Today she started calling the bigger blooms "mama fowrs" and the smaller blooms "baby fowrs", which is cute enough by itself, but when she started pushing the blooms together and making them kiss, it veered into head-exploding territory.

We planted seeds together, too.  Beets and mesclun and lots of flowers.  She had tons of fun, picking the right spot, covering the seeds with dirt, and "pat pat pat!"ing the dirt on top of them.  Probably most of them won't do anything, due to a combination of bad timing, being planted too deep, and having the dirt packed too hard on top, but ask me if I care.  She was actually really good at watering them afterwards, even shaking the hose back and forth to keep puddles from forming.

One of these days, I'll actually bring my camera outside so I can stop posting all these janky cell phone pics, but until then, behold: early onion, held by inexplicably grown-up child.

I'd say we're having a pretty good summer so far.  Ghosts and all.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Potty Training vFail.0

The title says it all, doesn't it?

She just wasn't ready. It seemed like she might be, and even though *I* wasn't, I felt like we needed to try. And after a few weeks of constantly reminding her to tell me when she had to go potty, changing underwear and pants, wiping pee off her legs (pee whose presence bothered her not one bit), I finally waved the white flag and dug the dipes out from under Katie's crib.

It's gonna be awhile before we try again, and it's gonna have to come from her. If I had to guess, I'd say it'll happen sometime between three and three and a half (although now that I said that, she'll be in dipes til she's twelve).

On the plus side, as a result of all of this nonsense, we have a really hilarious picture of her sitting on her potty chair, playing on her laptop. I'd post it here, but. You know. Internet sickos and all. You'll have to take my word for it, it's freaking adorable.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

1/3 of a Year

That's how old Katie is today. At this exact time four months ago, we were making phone calls and taking pictures and cuddling our new baby.


Mostly, this makes me stop and ask, wtf??? But then other times, I think, only four months? When I just think, Katie is four months old, it doesn't seem possible. But when I think about her as a part of our family, I can't believe there was ever a time when she wasn't here. In a funny coincidence, we found out a year ago today that Katie was coming, and that definitely does not seem right, because THAT feels like six or seven years ago.

It was a big month for her, I think. She started playing with toys and putting them in her mouth a few weeks ago, which is AWESOME, because it significantly cuts down on the amount of time she spends screaming in the car. Just in the last few days, she's really started grabbing her feet, but they haven't made it into her mouth just yet. She rolled over once from her tummy to her back, but hasnt' repeated that. She gets waaay up on her side and will swivel around on her hips when she's lying on her back, so that she can scoot around and get into totally different positions, but hasn't made it onto her belly yet. She's started talking with her voice, instead of gurgling/cooing in the back of her throat, if that makes sense? Lots of "aaaahhhh!!! ah ah ah aaaah!" which I actually don't think I totally remember with Grace, but you know, I was totally wrecked by fatigue, so maybe I just forgot.

She's really not a big eater. We'll most likely introduce solids in the next month. I think? I am fully aware of the recommendation to wait until six months, but we introduced them for Gracie at about four and a half months and it went really well. On the other hand, Gracie was a much more vigorous eater than Katie all around, so who knows if it'll really take. Gracie was really ready at four and a half months,and if we had to decide today, I'd say Katie's not, but I guess we'll see.

Sleep is straight-up awful. Possibly worse than Grace. YEAH, I SAID IT. Our evenings are much better, she's gotten used to being put down in the crib and sleeping there in the evening. After that, all bets are off- she typically wakes at least a few times a night and is up for the day by 5 or 5:30 at the latest, with rare, beautiful exceptions. Most days, she gets really fussy and antsy at 4:30 and it's all downhill from there. I generally try everything to get her back to sleep, especially when she pulls that business at 4am, but it doesn't often work. Today she was up at 5, wouldn't take a morning nap til 9:30 (it lasted twenty minutes), took a 50 minute afternoon nap in the pack n play, and then napped maybe another hour with me on the couch. It's unpleasant. I'll just leave it at that.

I'm still trying to figure out her little personality. It's so hard to do that without comparing her to Gracie. I don't want to do that, and I also don't want to assign too much to her when she's this little, but I can't help but notice that she's snugglier and quieter, calmer but more easily overwhelmed. Afternoons are not exactly a good time for her, she gets sooo crabby and high-maintenance, and I'm not gonna lie, it's exhausting and often frustrating, but it really feels like...babyness. Not temperament. If that makes any sense.

There's so much I want to remember, and so much I'll be perfectly content to forget. Mostly, I feel like, on some level, she was always part of our family.

Oh, and also: I really, really, really might eat her.

Friday, June 24, 2011

'Tis the Season

for running!

I mean, not my favorite season for it- HARDLY. But the time of year when I'm training, if I'm going to be training that year.

The marathon felt like way too tall of an order this year, especially with Katie being born later in the year than Gracie was, I had that much more of a deficit to start. So I decided to train for the half marathon, which will be my fourth, and try to get a personal best (aka PR in runner's lingo).

Official training starts this weekend. I'm using an intermediate training program, because I want to improve on previous performance but more importantly, because it makes me feel like a big, ImportantPants runner person. Like, "oh, you novices. I remember when I was like you. now if you'll excuse me, I need to go run 25-minute miles..." It starts out with a five-mile run as the long run, which is fine because I'm already doing six-mile runs. It's a little stressful to think about building distance, though, because I'm not running as consistently as I need to be. The fatigue is definitely hitting me a LOT harder this time around. That, and we're not having another summer of all 50 degree days, so I'm a little more limited on what time of day I can run (and when it's 85 degrees with 90% humidity, there's really no time of day when I'm capable of completing long distances, sadly). ALSO, there's the fact that I now have two children who need watching, so I can't just throw one in the stroller and go. We have the double jogger assembled (and by "we", I mean Stephen) (duh), and Katie is almost big enough for me to run with her, but it's rather...daunting. The stroller itself is huge and much more cumbersome than the single, Grace is really a big kid now, and their combined weight is, um, a lot. Add to that the fact that most of my running for the last year has been solo, and I'm not in any shape for running while pushing kids. Stephen has really been great about making sure I get my running time in, but it just doesn't always work out.

What I really need to do is bottle the way I feel AFTER I run, so when I'm exhausted and sprawled on the couch and want to run about as much as I want to chew on broken glass, I can remember that it always feels better to get up off the couch. And also that I will be sorely disappointed if I get a personal worst come September.

And also the feeling I have in my legs right now, all sore and weak, the kind where you actual stumble on smooth linoleum flooring because your legs are so tired? I feel that way because I haven't been running enough. Need to avoid that. Falling is embarassing.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In Which Katie is Precocious

It really is impressive that she learned, within just weeks of my return to work, the joys of waking me before 5am every. single. day.

Mostly, I look at Grace and remind myself that, for a two year old, she is really a great sleeper. But when she was up last night, shrieking, from 1-1:30, that was not so easy to remember. And why did she stop taking those awesome two hour naps as soon as Katie started waking at 4:45?

And most importantly, who told my daughters the benefits of keeping me tired and stupid?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I've been thinking a lot lately (for the last three and a half months, actually) about the differences between my first and second child. And when I say that, I don't mean the differences between Gracie and Katie (though they are extremely different, it's still too soon for those differences to be terribly interesting to anyone other than us). I mean, the differences between having my first and having my second.

People always say adding a second child is more than twice the work, go on and on about how overwhelming it is to have that extra baby around. I only know one person- another nurse practitioner at work that I rarely even talk to, actually- who rolled her eyes and said, "Going from zero to one was much, much harder than going from one to two." When I was pregnant with Katie and would hopefully repeat that comment, people with more than one child would snicker derisively and tell me to just wait and see.

Ok. I waited and saw. And sorry to disappoint all the smug assholes who tried to scare me, going from zero to one was eighty thousand times harder than going from one to two.

I realize part of that may have been our first child's hatred of the world in her early days. The same people made also told me that crawling and walking were when the REAL FUN began! "Ohhh, just wait! NOW it gets really hard!" And then she started moving, and Stephen and I were like, "Really? Y'all think this shit is hard? We'll show you HARD." So, there's that. But my work friend said something else that I think is really, really true- the culture shock of having your first child, for her, and for me, was so much more difficult than adding another needy little being to the crew. Going from total freedom to almost none, all that sleep to almost none- even if you have the world's easiest baby, those changes still have to hit you pretty hard. I think? I don't know. Those were really hard adjustments for me. And when Katie came along, well, I was already hardly getting any sleep and already had very little freedom, because I already had a two year old. I also knew- I mean, really KNEW- that I needed to get my hair cut and read a book and clean my house and spend an afternoon by myself before she was born, because I KNEW I wouldn't be doing those things for awhile, in a way that I couldn't have known before Grace was born.

There are other differences, too, that I think are easier the second time. Recovering from the whole process was a million times easier the second time. I thought at first there were other reasons for that- I was pregnant with Grace two weeks longer than I was pregnant with Katie, and those are two pretty unpleasant weeks. Katie was over a pound smaller than Gracie. I labored all night with Gracie and was utterly exhausted when she was born, but Katie's labor was mostly during daylight hours (well, 4am is still considered daylight after waking up at that hour for a year). But then my friend Laura went and had her second baby who was much larger than her first in the middle of the night, just as overdue as she was with her first, and still recovered faster. So there's probably something to be said for that.

The hormones didn't hit me nearly as hard the second time. The first time, I was weepy and anxious and just really completely out of my tree. The second time, I was still hormonal, but it was weird- I was completely euphoric. And yeah, I'd just had a healthy baby girl, I had plenty of reasons to be happy, but I am telling you, I was like a walking bundle of sunshine and happiness and isn't life AMAZING?!?! Which, okay, Grace was fussy from minute one, and Katie slept for the first two weeks of her life, but even the physical effects of the hormones (specifically, those disgusting soaking night sweats) were barely an issue at all this time. It was kind of amazing.

I guess it makes sense- the two pregnancies were like night and day, so it makes sense that the differences continued after the babies were born, but it never stops amazing me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our first weekend of potty training

Or, the depths of my laziness: Come, stare into the abyss.

We had a rather inauspicious beginning on saturday, when we went into the bathroom and she tripped over the potty chair and cried for "whiiiite" (her name for bacitracin, which she insists she needs for every owie). Doh. My first misstep occurred only seconds later, when I REALLY talked up her big girl pants as I diapered her for a trip to Target (don't you judge me, this wasn't a recreational trip, it was actually extremely necessary and could not be skipped). She completely refused her dipe and insisted on the big girl pants.

You have never, ever seen me blaze through Target so fast. It's probably a STELLAR budgeting move.

The rest of the morning was a total dream, not a single accident. I did notice she was probably not going all the way, because she'd go, and then ten minutes later, be able to go again- it seemed like she was going for the marshmallow reward and not really caring if she actually stayed dry or not. Then she had like, eleventy bajillion accidents and I just...kind of gave up for the evening. I know, right?! Tooootally the wrong thing. I'm TIRED, sue me. I did use pull-ups at nap time and in the evening while friends were here, even though I don't believe in them (why bother taking them out of dipes if you're gonna put them in absorbent pants?), and told her they were special big girl naptime pants. I don't really think she noticed one way or another, because she's used to going back and forth between sposies and cloth (more on that in a sec). We had similar luck at my parents' house today, although she only had one accident (and one on-purpose because she's gonna have some issues with one particular bodily function and look, I don't mean to be obtuse or anything, I just don't wanna get gross here.) She wore a pull-up home in the car and she did pee in it, so that counts as another accident. She wouldn't go before we left and I wanted to get home and also see above re: lazy. I am just not cut out for potty training.

Her trainers have cupcakes and flowers on them, and her pull-ups have princesses, so I told her she had to be very careful to NOT pee on her cupcakes/flowers/princesses, because they did not like that. She had fun repeating that back to me, but I'm not sure she actually registered what I was saying to her.

There's this whole MYTH out there that kids who wear cloth dipes potty train earlier, and I guess I shouldn't call it a myth, because maybe it's a truth that G just deviates from (which would be typical, we ARE talking about Grace here), but yeah. There was once this bit on The Simpsons (I'm pretty sure it was the Simpsons), where they talk about midnight basketball programs, and how they're supposed to keep kids off the street but really just turned them into super strong ultra athletes who could fight that much harder. That is so totally what happened with cloth diapering and Grace- it made her utterly immune to having wet pants up against her butt. *sigh*. FAIL.

So, we'll see what happens. I've kinda lost steam on the whole thing. Which is pretty ridiculous since it's not like potty training is an overnight event. Meh. It's hard to find the motivation when it's not something I was excited about in the first place.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Two and a Half

It's funny how time doesn't exactly whiz by at this stage like it does when they're tiny, and at the same time, I've been cheating and saying Grace is two and a half for probably a month now, and just realized last night as I was falling asleep that I'd missed her half birthday.

Of course she's two and a half. She has these ginormous hands and all these teeth and her hair finally seems to be growing.

There are so many things I know I'll never forget- how she prefers to be outside, especially when it involves digging and mud and messes of every kind, her deep and abiding love of junk food, and how she somehow innately knew how to be a big sister. The first few times someone asked us, with a nudge and a wink, how Grace responded to Katie, I was sort of shocked to say, "...you know? Really, really well." She hugs and kisses and plays with her, and gets VERY upset if anyone else takes her away. Once when I was loading them in the car, I broke my routine and got Katie in first- Grace grabbed the Babyhawk and asked, "Where Tatie go?!??" If I only got to choose one thing for her future (I mean, beyond her health and 200 year long lifespan, obviously), it would be that it stays that way between them. I know it will EVENTUALLY get old, but I'm strangely looking forward to the first time they plot against me. I mean, probably it won't be funny at the TIME, but come on! Sisters conspiring together! It's all fun and games til mom gets mad enough to burst a blood vessel in her eye.

Then there are a lot of other things that I'm afraid I'll forget, that I have to write down. Mostly Grace-isms, like keppich (ketchup) and lello keppich (mustard) and scawbees (strawberries) and shammich (sandwich) and nokies (milk) and baby nokies (breastmilk. my personal favorite.) and toysbox and the way she specifically asks for cold ice (as opposed to warm, I guess?) The way she'll tell us everything something is NOT lately- her shoes are pink. NOT purple. NOT brown. The way she'll exclaim, "mama! Three flags!" when we drive past a cluster of three flags, making me realize she can, in fact, count objects. The funny way she cups her hand when she gestures, instead of pointing, and the way she'll use both arms for something far away, with one arm bent and one arm straight, like she's a prize girl on The Price is Right. Her totally inexplicable obsession with Spider Man. Gah, SO many things that I'm sure I'm even forgetting now.

My dad told me a few weeks ago that she'd finally earned her homo sapien certificate, which I think was due more to the fact that she finally stopped shrieking every time he walks into the room, but he's got a point. She's really a PERSON now, instead of a baby or a toddler. I mean, she always had opinions (um. from the moment of her very first breath), but her inner life is so much clearer now than it used to be.

Next up: potty training. *sigh* I guess. Along with the total suckitude of the fall-back time change, it's one of those things you THINK is awesome before you have kids, but then you learn the real truth when you realize that you will never, ever leave the house on time again, unless you want pee all over your car.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's okay, I'll be back.

The best time to run errands is right after Katie's nap. Her limit for naps that don't occur on my body seems to be an hour, which is rarely enough. Typically, we head out and she sleeps in the carrier while we shop. Sometimes, that's plenty, and she's happy to look around and be nosy.

Today, though, she had other plans. *sigh*

I had a big long list for Target (duh) and piled the girls in the car. I could tell Katie was antsy while we were waiting at Starbucks- the line was long, and her highness does NOT like when I stand still. I hoped she'd fall asleep quickly, but instead, she just ramped it up and started screeeeaming. SCREAMING. And screamed all the way through Target. I got lots of sympathetic smiles, which was disappointing because my nerves were quite jangled and I was really hoping someone would give me a look so I'd have an excuse to go off on them. Alas, it was not to be.

I gave up on the trip about halfway through and headed to the checkout. The cashier was entirely untroubled by her screams, and took her sweeeet time ringing me up. At this point, Katie was in a full-body sweat, and the most vivid shade of fluorescent pink you can imagine. Finally, the cashier was done, and we bolted for the doors, where she proceeded to put her head down on my chest and fall asleep. Soundly. I was tempted to load what I had in the car and go back and finish my shopping trip, but I'd bought a few frozen things, so that wasn't an option. Instead, I gingerly slid her into the car seat and we came home. She's had two similar screaming episodes since then, so I'm getting a little suspicious that she's dealing with a viral invader, but I sure hope I'm wrong.

Grace, for the record, was a perfect angel through all of this. Gotta give credit where it's due.