Thursday, July 30, 2009

Go Charlie Go!

Charlie is flipping like a little 20-pound pancake. Since he figured out how to roll over a couple of weeks ago, I can hardly change his diaper. I left him on his back the other day, and returned to find him happily eating my In Style magazine as he rolled....

He has also discovered his toes, which is terrific when mom forgets to pack toys in the diaper bag, and tasted rice cereal a handful of times, his reactions varying from excited interest to horrified shudders. He's also become very physical, reaching for everything and putting it in his mouth (yesterday, Madeline observed that Charlie was eating Maple). He still cheerfully refuses a bottle, but like suckers, we continue trying, just in case he'll change his mind.

And the biggest news of all? Charles officially slept through the night for three nights in a row (7:30pm to 6:00am)! The two following nights reminded us that it's a process (ha), but it's incredible progress after almost half a year of nightly wakings.

A Trip to Our Nation's Capitol

Last weekend, Charlie and I traveled to Washington D.C. for a long weekend to visit Andi in her new home! Mollie met us there from Denver. What a fabulous trip!

Andi lives in Vienna, VA, a quaint suburb 15 minutes outside of the Capitol. On Friday night, when Andi got home from her new job as a nurse in a Maryland rehabilitation hospital, we ate slices of fresh pizza and listened to the Navy band perform jazz in the park. Mollie's flight landed around midnight, so Andi and I stayed up late talking, eager for her to join us!

On Saturday, we dressed up for Mollie's appointment to try on wedding dresses at an upscale bridal boutique (sandwiched between Tiffany and Hermes - ooh la la). Mollie looked gorgeous and radiant -- absolutely breathtaking. Afterwards, we sipped wine at an outdoor cafe and discussed all sorts of grown-up topics that we couldn't quite imagine discussing five -- or even two? -- years ago, like jobs, children, health care reform (how can you not talk politics on Capitol Hill? We had to look the part). We popped our head in a few shops, split a custard, and met Andi's boyfriend, Kyle, for dinner at a fantastic Turkish restaurant walking distance from Andi's apartment. That night, we popped a celebratory bottle of champagne.

The next morning, we all drove to downtown D.C. to see the National Mall -- the Lincoln Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, the White House, the Washington Monument, the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial and more. I've been to DC as a kid twice -- once with a girl scout troop when we lived in Boston, and once with my choir to sing for president George Bush in the White House -- but it was different visiting as an adult. I kept thinking about all that I have to teach my children about the freedom we enjoy as American citizens. It was an amazing weekend, and Andrea was a lovely hostess.

Meanwhile back in Nashville, Rob and Madeline had the time of their lives going to the zoo, the farmer's market and the swimming pool. They also baked a batch of cookies and whipped up a huge vat of gumbo (six times the recipe!). On Sunday night, as Rob put Madeline to bed, he told her he had to go to work the next day, but that he loved their weekend together....she burst into tears! Rob admitted that he teared up a little too (who wouldn't?). They had a lot of fun, but it was also really special father-daughter time together.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Channeling her Inner Borat

Madeline got into the clean laundry this weekend (she's very interested in "big girl underwear" these days). Rob and I had tears streaming down our cheeks as she stripped off her clothes and diaper, then yanked and pulled at the underwear every which way like it was a giant rubber band. It was funny enough that I swallowed my pride at posting a picture of my drawers and of Madeline completely compromised.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Madeline Goes to a Puppet Show

This morning, we went with friends to watch Cinderella, performed weekly by marionette puppets at the Nashville Public Library. The shows have been a tradition for 60 years at the gorgeous downtown building. Madeline dressed up like Cinderella going to the ball, wearing a tulle and silk dress Ning sent her. I've never seen anything capture Madeline's attention the way the show did -- she was entranced, eyes big and never once straying from the stage throughout the 40 minute performance. I was as enchanted as she was. We watched the puppeteers (dressed all in black) move the handmade puppets from above the child-sized stage, just like in The Sound of Music. A disco ball made the room glitter when the Fairy Godmother did her magic, stars appeared on the ceiling when the clock struck midnight, and a pumpkin glowed orange and burst into a carriage and horses. During scene changes, Madeline would say, "Where's Cinderella?" in a perplexed voice. Elmo seemed to enjoy the show as much as she did. Charlie was quiet as a mouse.

Afterwards, all nine of us (three moms with two kids each) had lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen. It was such a fun outing! We can't wait for the next production.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Confessions of a Newbie Mother-of-Two

I just read Confessions of a Shopaholic and thought I'd share a few of my own:
  • I forget to brush Madeline's teeth. Often.
  • This weekend, I ran several errands with a washcloth visibly sticking out of my bra and v-neck shirt. I can only imagine how lopsided I looked, and how hard it was for the kid making my burrito not to look directly at my chest. When Charlie nursed earlier that morning, I realized too late that I didn't have a nursing pad on the opposite side (and when things get started, I could put out fires). In a moment of panic, Rob tossed me a dried washcloth from the previous night's round of baths, and the rest is history...
  • I skinned my finger trying to put on my pre-pregnancy jeans. They were a little tight.
  • Kiddie music -- the kind where a big group of children are singing Old MacDonald and it's supposed to be cute that some of them are off-key -- drives me crazy. I hate it. So poor Madeline is learning lyrics according to what I remember from 30 years ago since I never make it past the third song on our CDs. "There was a dog who had a....oh. A what? Hmm. There was a dog who had a bone and Bingo was his name-o." (I just googled the lyrics to see how far astray I've led Madeline and it turns out the song really goes, "There was a farmer who had a dog...") Oh well.
  • I happily ignore what every parenting book tells you to do -- to lay babies to bed drowsy but awake. I've even read not one but two detailed books about sleep, cover to cover, multiple times. Madeline went through Sleep Boot Camp when she was a year, but when they're so tiny, I can't bear to listen to them cry.
  • I forget to feed the dog when we bring home a baby. It takes me about three months to even remember to pet her. Maple survives on cat food from the neighbor's garage.
  • With a new baby in the house, dinner has been pretty simple lately. A hunk of meat off the grill and a bag of steamed veggies. Now when Madeline has tea parties, I ask her what we're eating and she often matter-of-factly tells me that we're having meat. We affectionately call her our little carnivore.
  • We've had minivan discussions, but I'm vain and shallow and I don't want one even though it makes the most sense. Check back on this in one a few years...
  • I'm a nap nazi. I never never never never never skip my childrens' naps. It's good for them, but my motivations are selfish too -- an overtired kid two-year old isn't exactly a cup of tea.
  • Wine is my friend. And since my tolerance is way down after pregnancy, I feel warm and fuzzy by my second sip (yep -- sip, not glass). Fabulous.
  • I've scrubbed my vocabulary clean (I used to love the f-bomb), but even innocent things sound bad coming from your toddler. Today Madeline repeatedly barked in her cute baby voice, "That monitor is driving me nuts."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summer Fun!

We returned home last week from a wonderful Fourth-of-July visit with my grandma in Arkansas. It was a long drive and a short stay, but we were very glad we made the trip -- not only did we have a great time swimming, visiting the Marina, and reading on the back porch, but it meant a lot to my grandma, who lost my grandpa last April. Ever since we returned home, Madeline has been busy stuffing all her toys into Ziploc bags, muttering under her breath that she's "packing Elmo to go to grandma's." I learned that my grandma (Madeline's namesake, though she goes by Lynn) was actually named after her cousin, who was a Hollywood movie star in the 1940's! Glamorous, huh?

We've been staying very busy this summer, enjoying short visits to our neighborhood pool. Charlie is taking three naps a day, and because the times vary wildly from day to day, it's easier to plan activities and host playdates at home than to run around town. So Madeline's been climbing trees, running in the sprinkler and having fun with backyard art projects -- painting a bird house, finger painting and making Play-doh. She also loves to help around the house, especially with laundry! She helps sort clothes into colors, loads the washer one sock, shirt and dress at a time, then pours in the soap and -- her favorite part -- pushes the start button. One load of laundry takes us 30 minutes, but she makes chores fun. In fact, the other day she went up to her room, emptied her bottom dresser drawer of all her pajamas, and loaded them into the washing machine (dragging her stool into the laundry room so she could reach). We didn't even notice until we were putting her to bed that night and couldn't find any PJs. (Folding that load the next day was pretty funny too.) She even helps cook. This weekend, while she was stirring the waffle batter, she said, "Put an egg in it, Mommy!" and insisted that we add Goldfish crackers, ice cubes and bananas to the recipe (we passed on the first two).

Charlie's busy too! He wakes up happy, goes to sleep happy, and is happy in-between. He spends most of his waking hours with an open-mouth, gummy grin that lights up his entire face. But he's also serious -- quietly studying and imitating facial expressions. His strength is growing, and he's now able to bear all his weight on his legs, prop himself up on his elbows with ease, and turn his head smoothly towards sounds. We call him our Little Guy, but there's nothing little about him. He's 93rd and 94th percentile for height and weight. Just this morning, my girlfriend said she thinks he'll play football for the Illini! (I said linebacker but she thought quarterback).

Madeline and Charlie are pals. Most of the time, she dotes on "her Charlie," reading him stories, helping me change his diapers and bouncing him in his chair. Now that Charles is interested in toys, Madeline's trying so hard to share, but that's really hard for a two-year-old and some days are better than others. Whatever Charlie is playing with at the moment is usually the only toy that interests her. Naturally, as soon as we give Charlie something different to play with, that's the only toy she wants. Sharing is a sophisticated concept, like trying to teach a toddler algebra, so we try to be as patient with her as we can.

Hope you're all enjoying your July!