Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gwen: But Why? But Why? But Why?

Gwen is just a few months into being three years old, and everyone thinks she is so much older, likely because of her height, but also her maturity. She is so independent and articulate. This makes it especially difficult when she does act her age. I have to remind myself, she is only three years old, and a young three none the less. She is just doing amazing. She loves school and her friends there. She comes home with all kinds of great art work, and has been practicing tracing letters and numbers. She is rocking gymnastics, though has a hard time focusing (I honestly get concerned she has ADHD, but I think she is just in an exciting environment and again, is only 3). She still wakes up most nights to join us, but who could blame her; the whole family is in our room, and she is in her little bed all by herself. She has had some interesting behavior lately, and I think it is related to Graham's milestones- people just go crazy when they see him walking, so she is finding interesting ways to get attention too. And most note worthy, she has entered the stage of Why, Why, Why. Going about town she will ask, "But why?" And I answer. And she follows up, "But why?" And I answer, "And she follows up, "But why?" And I say, "Because." And on a few occasions, "Mommy doesn't feel like talking any more right now." We have been listening to a lot of music; Christmas music since the day after Thanksgiving. I don't mind too much, I enjoy having a sing a long in the car rather than an interrogation. All this dialogue is good though, because she is learning so much about her world. She had a dentist appointment this past week and we were able to talk about it ahead of time. I told her she could sit on my lap again if she wanted to, but once we got there she ran back with the dentist to the exam room and hopped up on the seat by herself, without any encouragement or prompting. She sat back in the dentist's chair and allowed the dentist to put the rest of the sealants on her bottom molars without any fuss, while Graham and I waited in the waiting room. I was blown away. It truly was shocking. She was so excited, and so proud of herself. Another one of her new things is insisting she do things by herself, and more often than not, she can do it!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Graham: The Tipping Point

Graham is at a tipping point, literally. Our little guy is becoming a toddler. He walks all around the house these days. It has taken a few months for him to become comfortable with his walking abilities, and he is there. Before he took to his feet, he started climbing (darn gymkids class!). He is proficient at climbing up on the kitchen table, the couch, Gwen's bathroom stool, Gwen's kitchen stool, and escaping from his seat at the table (I have to make sure I strap him in now). Since his Thanksgiving flu like illness, his appetite has returned with a vengeance (maybe all that walking). And for anyone who is keeping track, his bowels seem to have regulated themselves, so yay for no more constipation. At Thanksgiving he was teething and has since busted out his top left canine tooth- he has all his baby teeth except the other three canines. He also has cut back on nursing. I thought this day would never come. He actually asked for regular milk this week (of course he wants to drink big sister's milk, so I have to give him milk in one of her pink flowery cups). This gives me great hope in the sleep department. We are close to having the magical sleep trifecta: mastering the milestone of walking, having all ones teeth, and eating more than nursing. Since the teething started this summer, most nights he wakes every two hours or so to nurse, but we are back to something a little more reasonable (nursing about 3-4 times a night). Which of course is unreasonable! Which is why we are still co-sleeping. Graham is just exploding into his own. He has his own thoughts and ideas, and is expressing them, not always coherently. Diaper changes, getting into the car seat are often battles. Wearing him in the Ergo for longer than 20-30 minutes he gets antsy (especially at big sister's gymnastics where he wants to get down and play with everyone). He is becoming very social waving and saying hi to his friends at playdates (and yes he has friends, little people we see on a regular basis that he is excited to see). He also waves bye bye, and sometimes vocalizes it. He signs more and says mo, mo. He says thank you, and will copy the sign, though he is still working on truly understanding the concept. I am trying to teach him thank you does not mean give it to me, or here you go. We are also working on please, which he signed for the first time this week. He is working on being gentle with his friends. I am trying to teach him that ripping off people's noses is not a sign of endearment. He does the sign for water, but uses it for any drink. He does the sign for airplane, and makes airplane noises. He says apple, but seems confused by the sign. And he says ball. While I understand a lot of his utterances, I realize it is not super obvious to others what he is saying. But I think it is amazing how much I am able to understand of what he tries to communicate. So at 14 months, our baby is becoming a toddler. But I am guessing he is always going to be my baby boy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thankful Everyday

Thanksgiving was quiet at our house this year. Graham came down with a fever the day before, that spiked Thursday morning at 104.7. I think he had the flu. He was so sad and lethargic, and obviously miserable. I sent Spencer and Gwen up north to forge ahead with our original plans. They went to Gramie Camie's for Thanksgiving dinner and Gwen brought the organic cranberry sauce we made together. Yes, I let my three year old stir molten cranberries at the stove, and she did awesome! Had I known I was going to spend Thanksgiving home alone (with sick baby) I would have prepared a bit better. But, come to find out, I had almost all the ingredients for pumpkin pie, and being vegetarian that is the highlight of Thanksgiving dinner for me. Before Spencer left, I took Gwen on a walk to our neighborhood Lucky's to pick up whipped cream and pedialyte. After sending the healthy half of my family away, I set to nursing, cleaning, cooking, and catching up on some light TV. I have to say, it was a pretty great holiday, even though I totally missed seeing friends and family. It was a treat to be in my quiet house, and have time to catch up on some projects (Graham slept a lot). By Friday afternoon when Spencer and Gwen returned, he was almost himself again, and we were all so excited to see each other. I am thankful for my little family and our relatively good health.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Going Coastal: Visiting Ambrosia's Mom and East Coast Family

The last time I visited my Mom was July 2009, which was also the last and first time she met Gwen. That is until we went this November, with both kids, so she could finally meet Graham, who is still, thankfully, quite baby like. I meant to make it during his first year, but it was flu season, and then we weren't sure about our finances, and then it was too hot. I will admit, I was putting it off for a plethora of reasons to numerous to go into or even articulate. Not wanting to go when it was too cold, or during the holidays, we made a mad dash of it the first week of November. Overall it was a lovely visit, though in response to our experience of flying with both children, Spencer said he wouldn't willingly get on a plane with the two of them until they are 18, and can go by themselves. It wasn't really that bad. We had a direct flight SFO to BOS, but really, who wants to, or is able to, sit still for over five hours (and over six hours for the flight west)???? If anyone has course to complain, I think it is me. It was me who had to try and nurse Graham (who is not a small baby anymore) in the middle seat, his carseat on one side, and a very nice gentleman who ordered two bloody mary's, not 4 inches from my boob on the other. It was me on the flight home stuck between both children, neither of which would sleep (Graham eventually had two cat naps). Graham screamed bloody murder if I left to sit across the aisle in Spencer's seat to take a break. I have to say, I was a little surprised that Graham didn't travel better. I am not embarrassed of my children acting like children, but who can take a break when their child is screaming?!?! Anywho, once we got to where we were going, things went as smoothly as once can expect while traveling with two small children. We over packed. One person cannot manage two children, two carseats, one stroller, 4 carry ons, and two suitcases, no matter how big the luggage cart. Spencer picked up the rental car, and I was going to meet him at the curb with all this. Unfortunately, to get to the curb where passenger pick up is, you have to cross the street, twice....I thought about it for a second, but thought better of having Gwen push her little brother across two lanes of airport traffic. I did the unmentionable and left my stroller (stacked with carry on luggage and a carseat) unattended. We, and all of our gear, finally made it to our Impala (which thankfully has a large trunk, though a very small back seat). And after taking the scenic route out of Boston, we eventually made it to the coast of New Hampshire to my Uncle's. He and his wife were kind enough to put us up. It truly felt like we were staying at a bed and breakfast. We were greeted with dinner with aunts and uncles and a distant Ohio relative (my Mom's Dad's side of the family). The following day we visited with my Mom at her house deep in the woods of New Hampshire. We had a lovely visit followed by another family dinner at my other Uncle's house. There we discovered Graham's love of sheep and dogs. I have never seen him as animated- he literally was trying to jump the fence to be with the sheep. The next day we went to Odiorne State Beach with my Mom. This is a place she has talked about for years since returning to her home state of New Hampshire. She has fond memories of her Mother taking her and her brothers there. It was a beautiful day and we will make a tradition of visiting it on future trips. Monday Spencer and the kids dropped me off at Krempels Center, where my Mom goes a few days a week, while they toured Portsmouth. I stayed for the morning program with her and it was awesome. The center provides activities for adults who have suffered brain injuries, and it has really changed my Mother's life. In 2000, after botched back surgery, she ended up with Herpes Encephalitis. The lesions on her brain have caused her to lose motor control of the left side of her body (and yes, she is left handed) so she is in a wheel chair. She has some memory issues, huge blind spots in her vision, OCD tendencies, and a flat affect. After spending way too long in a Nursing Home (she wasn't even 45 years old yet when her life took this turn), she was able to move into a group home setting. And then she found Krempels Center. In her past life as a nurse she always wanted to become a Lactation Consultant, and with the encouragement and support of Krempels Center, she finished the certification course earlier this year. While she hopes to move back to California some day, it would be hard to leave such an amazing program and all her East Coast family, never mind the logistics of such a feat. After making the trek with Spencer and the kids, and surviving, I think I can make it out in a year, or two, with just me and the kids. Bigger challenges have been managed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Many days of Halloween

I read an article in early October about how Halloween is no longer an event, but a series of activities. This was very much so our experience this year to the extent Gwen would ask, “Is this the first day of Halloween?” On the first day of Halloween we put up decorations. Per Gwen’s request, witches, ghosts, cobwebs, pumpkins, and ribbons. I found not scary versions of these things and tied a black ribbon to the mailbox. On the second day, we went to the Goblin Jamboree at the Children’s Discovery Museum. Grandma met us there where she hand delivered the kid’s costumes. Gwen was a ladybug and Graham a lion. This was an awesome event and totally worth the drive and expense. We hardly saw any of the museum (the Tot Spot was sufficient) and there were all kinds of Halloween themed carnival games that were age appropriate complete with little prizes (a candy free event). Gwen and Graham even got to ride a pony. We made another trek north for pumpkin carving at the Crumley Farm in Sonoma. They grew all the pumpkins in their garden and my little cousin Thor has half a dozen cousins on his Mom’s side ages 2-10, so that was fun. The proceeding days of Halloween included playing hooky from preschool to go to the Mommy and Me Trick or Treating at Santana Row with one of Gwen’s best friends (who we also went trick or treating with last year). Gwen was blown away by all the princess costumes, particularly Ariel which often included a fake red wig. At preschool, parents were invited to bring treats to hand out at the kids' costume parade, followed by a potluck. It was all pretty cute. The following day we wore costumes to gymnastics and in the afternoon went to a Halloween party for Gwen's playgroup at an indoor play area (bounce houses and whatnot). After all the princess costumes Gwen decided to protest her non-princess costume, so she wore her skeleton jammies she got for her birthday. On the next day of Halloween we went to Boo at the Zoo at the San Francisco Zoo (Gwen wore all black and leopard ears and tail). There was no trick or treating (I totally thought there were going to be volunteers handing out candy at all the different animal exhibits). There was an event tent with crafts and a stage, and various booths set up by sponsors handing out healthy treats (apple sauce in a pouch, granola bars for kids, fruit leather, etc.). Gwen saw Witch Hazel getting ready for her story time and was petrified by her, yet didn’t want to leave. We stayed for her story time, and at the end, Gwen was standing next to the witch helping her with the parachute the kids were all bouncing fake spiders on. I was so proud of her conquering her fear. And then it was Halloween, and we went to a wedding. Gwen was a little confused, but totally onboard with the festivities. My stepbrother got married at this beautiful castle like building in Marin. It was very gothic and very beautiful. After a lovely reception we went trick or treating in the neighborhood with the children of family and friends we had not seen in years. We really packed it in this year, but I have a feling this is what Halloween will be about in years to come, family, friends, and food, and I am okay with that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Beautiful Boy

We are stuck home today because Graham had a temperature of 103 this morning, and was feverish last night as well. Poor little guy is also congested, coughing and just a mess. I think I should have not gotten him all those vaccines at once, combined with teething, poor little guy didn't have a chance against this infection. For the record, Graham has his four front teeth on the bottom and top now, and what feels like molars trying to break through on all four corners of his mouth. The human body is amazing though. Even while his little system is working overtime trying to be healthy, Graham took his first steps last night! He just stood there for a moment and then took a step forward. Everyone got so excited (both Spencer and I were there) Graham started clapping too and lost his balance. A few minutes later I was spotting him putting my hands around his waist, and then I let go and he kept walking a few steps. Today he took two steps by himself. Very exciting!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Graham's 12 month Well Baby

Graham had his 12 month well baby visit with Gwen. He weighed in at 22lbs 14 oz (46th percentile) and 2ft 7 inches (78th percentile) long. Almost exactly the same stats as Gwen at this age (he is actually a bit heavier). He got all his vaccines plus a flu shot, which was a lot, too much. I am supposed to take him back for a flu shot booster. In the past I thought our pediatrician has been a bit conservative, but I was pleased when she was supportive of Graham's extended nursing and not terribly concerned with his lack of interest in other types of nutrition. With the caveat that it is working for me to nurse him so much at night. Hmm....kinda. Of course I would like him to nurse less at night so everyone can sleep more, but I also have a hard time envisioning what that would look like. Spencer has been able to put Graham to sleep on my weekly Wednesday night off, late and with minimal crying. I don't want to night wean him, he still seems so much like a baby. Dr. Gruver mentioned again that she thinks baby boys need more cuddles and nurturing than girls. That said, we are considering Spencer providing more of the cuddles and nurturing. We have a few different ideas on how to get him to sleep more at night and will share our progress. In the meantime, Mama's milk bar is open 24/7.
We took Graham to Fleet Week! He loved riding on the trains and streetcars and was very excited about the airplanes in the sky. He was super good about his earplugs and didn't fuss with them at all. We think he forgot they were there.
It took over a year, but I finally had a chance to finish painting Graham's belly cast :-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Our Little Girl is 3!

In the weeks before Gwen's third birthday it dawned on me, she is only two years old. Practically all summer we have been saying she is almost three, I had forgotten, she was only two. She is so tall, mature, articulate, capable, and smart (I like to think she takes after me ;-) Well now my little girl is three. She is becoming such an amazing little person. I no longer fear her being ADHD, she now can focus on a task (if she wants). She goes to preschool two mornings a week and seems to be doing well there. She is practicing tracing her letters and numbers, and desperately wants to be able to use scissors. She takes gymnastics once a week and while she has a hard time waiting her turn and listening to directions, she is learning. Her imagination is blossoming. She makes up songs and stories. We have to make sure we censor her media for anything that might be remotely considered scary, since her comprehension is pretty good. She was fascinated with a Peter and the Wolf CD we borrowed from the library and listened to it over and over again for a few weeks before stating she didn't want to listen to it anymore because it was took her a while to process, but once she decided the Wolf was too scary, that was it. Since turning three she has started asking, "But why?" and has began practicing her negotiation skills. "How about just one more." She continues to be adventurous (but not reckless) and outgoing, making friends every where we go. Gwen is an amazing big sister and while Graham is starting to get up in her business, so to speak, she is learning to work it out and to put precious things up high. Her appetite is slowing (she had an amazing growth spurt this summer) and we have to catch ourselves not engaging in power struggles over food. Her pediatrician assures us she is not wasting away. Gwen weighed in at a whopping 40lbs 12.8 oz (98th percentile) and is 3ft 3in (94th percentile). This gives her a BMI of 94%, and apparently 'healthy' weight range is 5%-84%, though she appears absolutely perfect to us. She practically has a six pack underneath her baby pot belly and her legs are mainly muscle. But it is a good reminder to make sure calories consumed are nutritious. Gwen is an amazing girl and we look forward to experiencing her as a preschooler!

When asked Gwen told her teachers her favorite color was orange, so they made her an orange Birthday crown.

Birthday Bash at The Studley Farm

 It has been two weeks since the Farm Themed Birthday Bash we hosted for the kids on Gwen's birthday, and I have just now had a moment to sit and do this blog post. It was a great party which included four generations (Great Gramie Camie), both Grandpas, Grandee Sandee of course, and an Aunt/Great Uncle/Cousin, and about a dozen families we count amongst our friends. We are so thankful for our local family (a stretch since most everyone lives on the other side of the Golden Gate) making it out to celebrate the kids birthdays. Even though our stove broke the night before, we were able to go forward with our menu of vegetarian chili (thank goodness I had already made it) and Annie's Mac N Cheese (Spencer made a total of 8 boxes using his propane burner- like camping, right!?!). There were also 24 corn muffins, and 24 mini corn muffins consumed (I thought for sure I would be left with a bunch of those). And I am glad I went back for the 16 inch cake pan, because there were only a few small pieces left. I was surprised we had corn on the cob left over, 20 pieces! Spencer only saw the one bag of 10, which, like you do with family and friends, someone cut up into small pieces so everyone got some. We have a tiny little house, so we spread out the party. In the front yard we had the bounce house, which was a huge hit! Graham had a chance to bounce in it before the party and loved it! When all the three year olds jumped in with him, he was fine and bounced on his knees waving his arms. The only bad thing about the bounce house in the front, people had a hard time making into the house and into the backyard where the food and drinks were.  In the back we also had a mini pumpkin decorating station in a 'lounge' Spencer set up in the shaded corner of the yard. The mini pumpkins were grown in our garden (a volunteer plant no less) and each child got to take one home in their canvas tote bag, along with whatever goodies from the pinata. The pinata was baby friendly, since this was Graham's party too, and was a cute little barn. Instead of whacking it with a stick, each child pulled a ribbon until the candy (Annie's fruit bunnies, goldfish, raisins, and chocolate kisses) all fell out. Before the pinata, there was cake and ice cream. I made a 16 inch Vegan Zucchini Honey cake with store bought cream cheese icing (because we can't all be perfect all the time!) and decorated it with colored coconut to resemble a farm landscape with three candles for Gwen (a barn, chicken, and cow), and three store bought iced daisies. I got the idea of colored coconut from a memory I had of an Easter Bunny cake, and have since confirmed with my Mom that she did indeed make an Easter Bunny cake decorated with colored coconut. It is a great idea because it is okay if your icing job isn't perfect since you are going to cover the cake with fluffy coconut. My Dad's girlfriend Shona made a little smash cake for Graham with a farm landscape for his little tractor candle (complete with a pretzel fence), and a special 3 tiered princess cake for Gwen. It was so much work, and so worth it. I hope this is the beginning of a tradition of a combined birthday party, because I don't know if I could do this twice!