First Days

This is the day my girl left for school.

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I wasn’t sure how she was going to do on that first day. I have never dropped her off anywhere, except with her grandparents. Would she cry when I was leaving? I didn’t think I would be able to handle that. Would she cling to my leg and beg me to stay? No, she would literally jog into her classroom, toss her backpack at me and wave goodbye to me from the dress up corner. I don’t think she even looked up.

When I came to pick her up, her teachers would tell me that it was like she had been going to school her whole life. I am relieved and happy for her that she loves school so much. She only goes two days a week for four hours but she tells me that she would like to go every day, and also to stay for nap time. She loves her teachers. She brings them flowers that she picked and often asks intimate questions about what they do after hours. “What do you think Mrs. Bannon is doing RIGHT now?”

Eating lunch is her favorite part of school. Rightfully so. Followed by playing dress up, particularly in the “Barbie costume.” She is one of three girls in her class and there are 6 boys. The two other girls in her class were best friends last year at school, but Reese seems to be fitting in. I’m not sure if she would know if she wasn’t fitting in anyway.

I am enjoying a few hours with just James and am thrilled for Reese to gain some independence and to interact more with kids her age, I also love hearing about what she is doing. Is it creepy that I would die to be able to somehow watch her while she is at school? I would love to see what she’s doing, what she’s saying etc. I am so fascinated by how she might act at school, away from me.

So while this is the end of our 24/7 togetherness, and that is a little sad, it’s just the beginning of first days, and that is so exciting.

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James at 18 months

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18 months young.

Our boy is walking, running, jumping and CLIMBING like a maniac. The other day I found him standing on the kitchen table jumping up and down. Always with this grin.

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The current phase is beating the crap out of his sister and sometimes, out of me. He has discovered hitting and he uses it whenever something is taken away from him, or when he’s tired. So basically he is hitting 80% of the time. The other day at the playground another mother said “he is just so cute!” just as he started trying to climb up another boy. I picked him up and he slapped me in the face. So cute!

Despite this new fun phase, James is a snuggler, and when he’s being nice, he loves his sister to death. Often giving kisses and hugs. I think they are kisses and hugs; they are definitely more aggressive than one would imagine hugs and kisses should be, but they usually don’t end in tears so, yay!

He likes other kids and especially, older girls. Whenever we are out somewhere where there are other kids, he beelines for the girls who look to be about Reese’s age and either hugs them, or holds his arms up to them, asking to be picked up.

He is a sleepaholic. He still takes two, two-hour naps a day. He goes to bed between 6:30 and 7 and he usually wakes around 9. He has slept till 10:30 AM on more than one occasion. Please stay this way forever.

He is still big and beautiful. A big, beautiful beefcake with the most adorable curls. He literally has ringlets in the back of his head and I won’t get his hair cut because I’m afraid they will cut off the curls and his hair will grow back straight.

He likes most foods but favorites are graham crackers (when he sees the brown packaging he starts hyperventilating), corn, bananas, applesauce, Kix, pizza, chicken parm and sweet potatoes.

Jamers is ALL boy. He loves running and jumping and throwing and crashing stuff together. Trucks are his favorite, particularly tractors.

He has a few words, definitely not as many as Reese had at this age but he babbles all day long. He says, “tractor”, “car”, “mama”, “dada”, and “dirty.” All with a Boston accent, “tracktah!”IMG_4122IMG_3196IMG_4138

Bedtime is my favorite part of the day with James. After stories and some milk he puts his head on my shoulder and lets me rock him to sleep. This is something Reese never let me do, she was always trying to wriggle out of my arms. When we’re done rocking, he allows himself to be put down awake and sometimes sits up in the crib to wave goodbye to me. And everytime he does it, I just die.

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Princess Diaries

It is full-fledged princes mania around here these days, much to my chagrin.

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When I was pregnant with Reese we wanted the gender to be kept a surprise. We got all neutral clothes, toys, gear etc. As a baby and a toddler I made the effort to avoid the all pink princess everything. We painted her room a light gray, we got her toy trucks and dolls, and I rarely bought her pink, frilly clothes.

Now, at three years old, she asks to wear a dress every day, to have her nails painted and have “red lips”, and wants to know why she can’t wear her “jewels” to bed. I don’t even know where these things came from. Red lips and jewels? I never imagined that I would end up with such a girly girl, but here we are.

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I think there was a princess birthday party somewhere along the way that got the ball rolling, then we got a few princess gifts, she started noticing the little girls in Elsa costumes at the grocery store, etc. Then she discovered the Disney princesses and there was no turning back.

I still do my best to keep it to a minimum but I am not above buying a nine dollar coloring book featuring all the Disney princesses (Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty/Briar Rose/Aurora, Jasmine, Tiana (?), and I’m sure I missed a few others) because I knew when Reese saw it she would totally lose her shit. And she did.

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What is my problem with pink, flowery, princessy, girly stuff? I have no real vendetta against it, I just worry sometimes about the message it may send, but if my daughter loves it then I am over it. Especially since most of the princess stuff out now is much more girl empowering, and much less beauty oriented than it used to be. But, the emphasis on looks is still there and the underlined theme that beauty is equivalent with goodness is not lost on my three-year old. So yes, when my daughter is brought tears when I ask her to wear pants, and cries “but I won’t be pretty!” I take pause. And I blame Tiana and her band of bejeweled skinnies in gowns. But really, she will see this everywhere in a few years, except worse, she will see it in real life and not in fairy tales. And she may even see some of it from her own mother (eeek) because I too am guilty of reading the first ten pages of the Brazilian Bikini Diet book so I can look just like Giselle.

I am probably just overthinking this whole thing, and when this phase is over and she is asking me to buy her clothes at Justice I will be wondering what I was complaining about.

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A Note About Cloth Diapers

We are on round 2 with our Bum Genius cloth diapers and we are still pretty happy with how they are holding up. Reese wore them for almost 3 years and James has been in them for about a year now and in terms of leaking and fit, they still work as well as they did on day one.

One problem we had been experiencing though, was staining. After about 2 years of using them with Reese I started to feel like they weren’t getting as clean as they used to. There was some staining that wouldn’t come out, and sometimes the diapers still seemed to smell after a wash, resulting in me having to strip them more often, and sometimes having to do multiple wash cycles. I read a lot of different articles on washing cloth diapers, and most articles said the same thing; strip the diapers more, assure you are using cloth diaper safe diaper ointment, and just do more wash cycles if you have to. Ugh.

Then I received this helpful article from a friend.

Before this I had been washing the diapers using Bum Genius detergent and Borax, and would start with a hot rinse, then a wash cycle with an extra rinse. The Bum Genius detergent was expensive and I always had to order it online because it’s not sold in any stores near me.

Since reading this article I have started using Tide Free and Clear and Borax to wash the diapers. I still use the same process; a rinse, followed by a wash with an extra rinse and I swear the diapers are cleaner and never smell anymore. I also have never noticed any irritation on James since switching to regular detergent.

Maybe I am the only person who believed the instructions on my diapers when it said that I had to use special detergent but in case I wasn’t I thought I would share here.  I just wish I knew about this three years ago.

 

 

 

Reese at Three Years

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Three years old as of November 29th.

Sometimes when she wakes up in the middle of the night and I see her silhouette in our doorway, I can’t believe that that little person is our baby.

We celebrated three years with a birthday party at an indoor playspace near our house with pizza, cake, family and a bunch of her little friends. She had a blast.

She is asserting her independence fiercely and readily. She is suddenly very into clothes and most mornings include an argument over what she will wear. My suggestions of jeans and shirts are met with tears and wails of “those aren’t fancy!” I was hoping we had skipped this stage because, I must admit, I loved picking out her clothes. Now I just have to deal with the fact that while I would love for her to look like she stepped out of the pages of a Boden catalog, she would rather look like she’s a regular on Toddlers in Tiaras.

Ironically though, she hates actually wearing the clothes. Once her outfit for the day is selected it stays on for 20 minutes or so, then she strips down to her underwear and refuses to put anything back on. At first I thought I should fight this, but I have decided that this is a battle I will not pick. Now the rule is, you must always have underwear on and if someone is coming to our house, or we are leaving our house, you need to be dressed. Otherwise, do your thing.

She loves eating but still eats only a small variety of foods. I now understand the whole kid/food battle thing that I am constantly hearing about. There was a period of time where I dreaded dinner because we started enforcing the “I made it, you’ll try it” rule. It helped a little, and now she is used to it, so she knows she has to try things but there are always some dramatics involved (gagging, choking etc.) This, along with the fact that we now all eat as a family, has broadened her horizons a bit. She shows interest in what Andrew and I are having and will sometimes ask for a bite. After starting this, we discovered that she likes soft shell crab sushi (obviously the most expensive roll on the menu), but she is still a PB&J girl through and through.

She still does a 2 hour “quiet time” in her room (in lieu of a nap, which she stopped taking long ago) and sometimes I stand outside the door and listen to her playing. She runs around and narrates her actions in the third person and it is hilarious. Sometimes she’ll run by me saying, “she ran into the kitchen to get her snack.” I think she is constantly living in some sort of story that she is writing in her head. I would love to read it.

Reese is the Laurie Berkner Band’s number one fan right now. She listens to the CD everyday during her rest time and when she goes to bed at night. She also asks detailed questions about Laurie daily. “What color is Laurie’s house?”, “Where is Laurie right now?” “Does Laurie know me?” Stalker alert.

Swimming lessons are the only scheduled activity that we do and it suits us. I’m not big on schedules and it is nice to have flexibility in our day, especially when I am toting a nine month old around with me.

We haven’t had her three-year checkup yet so I don’t have her stats but she is now 35 lbs and I can tell that she is starting to stretch out. She continues to talk my ear off all day, every day, and anything I say is still met with a “why?”

She has fully embraced her role as big sister and loves to use it to assert her assumed authority over her brother. She makes sure he doesn’t get any of the toys that are “too little for babies,” which equal all toys.

In September she will begin preschool and I’ll no longer have my girl with me everyday. Let’s not talk about it.

Here she is on vacation this summer, asleep with her brother who was in desperate need of a bigger bed. And one more below that; in all her glory at her third birthday party.

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A Very Half-Assed Halloween

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Reese told me in the beginning of October that she wanted to dress up as Laurie Berkner for Halloween. Realistically, this gave me plenty of time to make her a costume.

However, the week of Halloween I still had nothing. We had two Halloween parties to go to that week and last minute, with the promise of a Laurie costume for trick-or-treating, I was able to convince her to wear her Elmo costume from last year to the two parties.

Come Halloween, I still had no Laurie costume, and planned to totally half ass it and let her hold a microphone and put her in a dress and convince her she looked just like Laurie. I figured she was too young to care that literally no one would know what the hell she was.

At breakfast that morning she announced that she wanted to be a ghost for trick or treating instead.  Jackpot. All I had to get was a white sheet, right? Like an idiot, I scanned Pinterest. No white sheet ghost costumes there! Wtf. Most of them required sewing, and all of them made me feel like a crap person for not putting more thought into this whole thing.

That afternoon I stopped at a Big Lots on our way home from the library and looked for a white sheet. When they didn’t have any white sheets, I threw out the idea that she be a rare turquoise ghost instead for only $6.99. She happily agreed. And I patted myself on the back for pulling one over on a three-year old.

Then I started to feel bad. All she wanted was to be a ghost. Probably the easiest costume ever. The least I could do was make her a recognizable ghost.

At 5 PM the sun was going down and there were talks of white trash bags and suffocation hazards.

Our cream-colored drawstring laundry bag sat folded on our dresser.

I put it over her head and she was sold. I probably only have one or two more years left of being able to get away with stuff like this.

I haphazardly cut arm and eye holes in the bag and then had to keep making the eye holes bigger until everything lined up. By “lined up” I mean that she could see, most of the time, and had about 80% arm usage.

James rocked a hand me down panda bear costume for his first Halloween, which was amazing because 1) it was free, 2) it required nothing else, just a fleece suit that zipped right up with panda bear head included.

All night Reese’s “costume” kept shifting when she would run, momentarily blinding her. She would run across someone’s lawn, the bag would move and she would fall, get up, start running again, and fall again. This went on all night, much to our amusement. It may sound cruel but before you judge I will tell you that despite what the pictures may lead you to believe, she was the happiest ghost you ever saw.

 

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My New Job

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The arrival of James brought many happy changes to our household; aside from the obvious ones, the biggest change has been me saying goodbye to the “workforce” and saying hello to a new boss.

Her name is Reese.

I am officially a stay at home mom. I can’t say I care much for that particularly phrase as a definition of what I do now, but I haven’t found a better one, so for now that’s what I’ll say.

The choice was not a difficult one for us. The cost of daycare was greater than what I was making at my job and even with the offer of a raise and the option to go part-time, it wouldn’t have been worth it.

Having said that, since I had Reese, all I wanted to do was be home with her. The fact that I have that opportunity now makes me feel very happy and very lucky.

I know how hard it is to leave your baby for ten hours a day. Sometimes I would come home and swear she looked older than she had when I left that morning. I also know how hard it can be to stay at home with your baby for ten hours a day. Some days you may wish you were at work. At least when you’re there you can eat and go to the bathroom whenever you want.

Each is hard for different reasons, and I don’t believe that one is easier than the other.

I feel inclined to say this because articles on social media, in magazines and pretty much everywhere, lead me to believe that there is some sort of weird secret competition among moms. Countless articles talk about why stay at home moms are the most underappreciated and have the hardest jobs, or why stay at home moms should shut up and stop complaining because working moms have it much harder. I even hesitate to write about this for fear that I will offend. I know this topic can make people get all in your face and crazy.

Calm down.

We are all doing the same thing. We are all feeding, and changing, and not sleeping, and chasing, and looking for shoes and wiping butts and dealing with meltdowns at the grocery store, and that shit is hard.

Going from working full-time to being home with kids full-time was a big transition, but a happy one for me.

It does feel weird to not have a place to be every day, or a real schedule, but we make an effort to get out of the house each day. There are days when I feel stuck in an unending cycle of feeding, cleaning, and changing and I find myself longing for the days of after work drinks and wearing real pants. But we have friends and family members with kids who live nearby, so we have people to hang out with when we need to get out of our rut, and that is helpful.

Also, I kinda like my new coworkers so that doesn’t hurt either.

 

 

 

Potty Training Part Deux

According to mom message boards, “poop phobia” is  a real thing.

If in fact this is true, then Reese has it.

Since we began offering an M&M every time Reese went in the potty, we got her to go pee in the potty on a regular basis. I swear she can pee on command now, and the potty is now becoming something she sits on when she feels like a snack.

On occasion she will still go in her pull-up, and she still wears a diaper at night.

Number two however, is a different story. This is a gross post, just to warn you, but this is my life now.

Reese has gone number two in the potty maybe three times, and these times always involved sitting on the potty for long  periods of time. Like 45 minutes. It also involved screaming and last-minute frantic pleas for a diaper. There is clearly a fear of going in the potty but I thought if she just did it once, she would see it wasn’t scary and she would be over it. Not so.

Every day during “rest time”, which would be more aptly named “take all the books out of the shelf and throw them on the floor, knock over your hamper and kick it across the room, jump on your bed, bang your cup on the wall repeatedly and throw blocks at the door” time, Reese does her “business.” It is not pretty. When rest time is over and I open her bedroom door, she often greets me with, “there’s poop on my back.”

If we miss rest time one day, then there is no numero dos.  This is the only time she will do it; alone in her room, in her pull-up. I have even tried watching her on the monitor and when I think she is about to go, running upstairs and busting in to try to get her to the potty in time.

As I write this, I am realizing for the first time how creepy that sounds.

When I did this, she didn’t go for three more days. Pretty sure I made her feel that she wasn’t safe anywhere.

And so that is where we are with this.

I look forward to the days when there is no poop on anyone’s back but I know these are far off. In the mean time, if anyone has any ideas for dealing with this please let me know. I will try anything at this point.

 

 

Talking Back

Reese: I want to touch Miles’s bum bum

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Me: Reese if you don’t stop drinking the bath water out of that cup I am going to take the cup away.

<starts drinking bath water straight from the tub>

Reese: Mama gonna take the tub away?

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Me: <One morning, after watching Reese pick up something off the floor and eat it> Reese, what is in your mouth?

Reese: It’s probably a piece of my dinner.

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Reese: Are you ok, Jackie? <said to me in an ultra sympathetic/almost mocking voice, with head cocked to the side>