Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bunk Beds?

Before he started walking, Thomas got into climbing. He really likes to crawl into small spaces. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it doesn't.

This particular day, he pulled nearly everything off the bottom shelf of the linen closet and crawled in.

 Then, of course, once we started paying attention to him, his sister thought it would be fun to join in. Of course Tommy wasn't thrilled to have his sister laying practically on top of him.

So, she cleared off her own shelf and climbed in.
Who needs a bedroom when you've got a linen closet?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Worth the Wait

Well, here we are. I am 39 weeks pregnant, which I didn't think I'd ever be! And we're still waiting for Baby Girl to arrive (if only her parents would pick a name!). Given that both Thomas and Virginia were born at 37 weeks, we're definitely in uncharted waters here. And I'm a little thrown off because I was so prepared for another 37 week baby. I don't like to be caught off guard.

However, I really can't complain about these bonus weeks that we've gotten. The planner in me is having a hard time with the unknown. And I don't love wondering whether each of the 50-100 contractions I have each day will be the one that really gets things started. But I'm back to ignoring them (it's got to be painful at some point if it's the real thing, right?) and getting on with life. And, in the meantime, we're having a marvelous time because I don't have nearly as much to do as I did a few weeks ago when I thought I'd better get everything in order, given the baby's impending arrival.

I've been taking extra turns singing the kids to sleep and spending a little more time than usual just cuddling with them. Most of the time, when one gets on my lap the other wants to come too. And that's always a fun balancing act, given my current girth.
 But, I figure this cuddle time won't become easier to find as I add in a third child to hold. So, I'm enjoying having children equal to the number of arms I have to hold them. (Yes, I look dreadful in all of these pictures; I've chosen to embrace it. I'm really pregnant and I can't look good all the time!)

We got to celebrate my birthday.
 I really had zero plans to do anything, because I figured we'd be in newborn-haze. It was fun to have a quiet day with my family, make a cake (which Virginia was thrilled about!) and not be completely exhausted because of night feedings.
 Scout helped me blow out my candles and open my presents. She's VERY into birthdays and can hardly wait for hers.
 The birthday wasn't quite as much fun as this package may look, but it was a good time. And I'm very relieved that Baby Sister wasn't born on my birthday. It would be cute in some ways, but everyone should have their own special day. Even Mom.

Here's another everyone-needs-mom moment.
 I'm glad they love me, but I'm not sure I need to be the reader/translator (one of Virginia's new favorite books is in Italian, so only I can read it to her--the translation is a little different every time) AND the laptop desk at the same time.
 But can I really complain when everyone wants to be close to me? Not really at all.

I've been doing my best to take the kids places, while I still have an arm for each. As I carried two crying children from the library the other day (not everyone has been getting as much sleep as we might prefer lately), I thought I'd better enjoy that option while I've still go it. We made a quick stop at the grocery store and I had to laugh at my chosen parking place.

If ever this parking space was meant for me, this week it is. And I'm grateful for it.

The best thing about my unexpected weeks of pregnancy, has been enjoying Thomas's new developments. I may have a little middle child guilt already happening, so I've been trying to spend a lot of time with him, giving him attention and working on developments. He's extremely cuddly, so it's definitely a task I enjoy, plus it keeps me ensuring I can still get up and down off the floor. When you're this pregnant, it's really easy to become sedentary, and I feel better when I'm moving around as much as possible.

Right now Thomas is in love with sucking things through straws. He'll drink from regular sippy cups, but if something with a straw is around, he'll pick that every time and drink a lot more. My water bottle has become communal as we try to find a good straw-based sippy cup for him.
Thomas has always liked to work on his fine motor skills. He's very deliberate about practicing things until he has them down. He loves working on getting all the shapes into the ball, then immediately wants them dumped out again so he can keep practicing.
Except, of course, for those teething moments when he just eats the shapes. We've had plenty of those over the past few weeks as well. Now if only the teeth would show up! We're still at four front teeth and one random molar! 

The best thing about our extra two-kid time is that Thomas has learned to walk this week. After a lot of very slow progress, and at least a month of running behind his walker, he finally decided on Monday to take a few steps. He took two or three steps in the morning, and lost interest. Then, during Family Home Evening, he started lunging the three or four steps from Mom to Dad. We were all thrilled and cheered for him, so he kept going. Even Virginia got in on the excitement and refrained from her usual insistence that we praise her for performing the same skill he's learning. She cheered for him too as he spent about 15 minutes toddling and falling between Mom and Dad. 

 Tuesday morning, he started walking from me to his toys, five or six feet away. Then he would stand up and walk toward me from across the rug. Finally, he ventured onto the wood floors and discovered he could walk even with less traction. Things really got going when he figured out that he could walk and carry his puppy at the same time (it was a day of holding puppy and sucking on his binky constantly!). By evening, he was pushing around the big balls and laughing and even carrying balls from one room to another. We still have plenty of spills, but he's doing really well for Day 3 of independent steps. As we suspected, he just needed to try it; he's physically more than ready.

I am so glad that I wasn't in a newborn haze when he reached this milestone. It's been wonderful to focus on him and be excited for him and really enjoy the moment without other distractions. Plus, I'm glad we're going to have just one baby at a time. Thomas is, at last, a toddler.

He has also gotten very into climbing on things. We have little stools in each of our bathrooms for Virginia to wash her hands, and Tommy loves to climb up on them and sit or stand (he does get stuck a lot and need help down). He's even started joining Scout and me in our morning tooth brushing parties.
Who says peer pressure has to be a bad thing? He loves to be doing whatever Scout is doing, so we try to maximize on the positive aspects of his emulation.

I've been a little worried about how Thomas and the new baby will react to each other. But I'm starting to think they may just get along great. She knew to wait until he'd had his burst of development before being born. And he somehow knew to take his first steps and get going before she's born. I hope they keep collaborating (even if it isn't deliberate) in such delightful ways.

So, overall, being 39 weeks pregnant is pretty wonderful. I'll certainly be glad NOT to be pregnant anymore, but I'm feeling grateful to have come this far. Now, if my mom comes and goes next week and Baby Sister still doesn't make an appearance, my tune will definitely change.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Chocolate Cake

My grandmother was a fabulous cook. When I was little, she knew that all the kids in my family loved bread. Whenever we came to visit, she would have loaves of homemade bread for us. And we'd sit around and eat them, and eat them, and eat them. I never thought about how much work she did to be sure there was always bread for us whenever we came. Grandma took particular care to make things that people liked. If you told her you liked some food, she made sure you got it at her house, regularly. One of my cousins famously enjoyed Starbursts, and knew just where Grandma kept a special stash just for him. Similarly, if you didn't like something (or just didn't eat much of it on some occasion), she took note and it was never served to you again at her house. She showed her love in many ways, but one of the most tangible was by food. This made my grandfather (who was blessed with a wonderful metabolism) a very happy man.

Beyond the homemade bread, I'm actually not certain what my special, preferred foods at Grandma's house were. I always had great food there, but there wasn't anything in particular that I expected upon my arrival. I wish I knew what she made for me. My oblivion changed, however when I came home to visit from law school. It was my Spring Break and I actually went straight to her house from the airport because she and my mom were working on a quilt for my upcoming wedding. Uncle Mike was in town, so there was chocolate cake. Apparently that's one of his staples, so she made sure he got cake when he stayed with them (which he did at least one week per month). Grandma offered me a piece and I informed her that I would never turn down chocolate cake, as it is one of my favorite foods. I had some cake, we chatted for a while, and I went home.

Three days later, I stopped in at my grandparents' house again. I was checking out a photographer in the area and wanted to say hi. When I got there, I discovered that Grandma had made another whole chocolate cake, just for me. She gave me a generous piece while I was there and sent me home with at least a third of the cake in a container to enjoy for the rest of my trip. Like I said, when she knew what you liked, she made sure to provide. And I'll admit to being happy to enjoy the cake, since it is a favorite of mine.

The next afternoon, I got a call that Grandma was on her way to the hospital. She had had a heart attack and passed away that day. Little did I know that my brief visit the day before would be my last with her. I took great comfort in jealously protecting and slowly consuming the rest of my cake over the next several days. I was so sad, but knew in a very tangible way how much my grandmother loved me.

And now, whenever I make chocolate cake, I think of my grandma. I made it for Virginia on her second birthday, which was the day after Mother's Day and right in the middle of James's prelims and basically not on a very convenient day for anyone. But I let her stay up late and made her a chocolate cake because it was important to me to express my love for her in that way. I made it for a close friend's birthday, even though it was a few weeks after the birthday, because I wanted her to know how much I care. And I made chocolate cake for my sister's birthday last summer, despite being tired and pregnant and husbandless for a few weeks. Because she loves chocolate cake as much as I do, and I love her.

So, if I ever make you eat chocolate cake with me, know that it's because I care. I'm passing along a legacy from my grandma and I'm trying to tell you that I love you. Or, at the very least, you'll know that I needed to feel loved and now I need someone to save me from consuming all those calories!