Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Greta, 2 years

2 years old.  What a little firecracker.

Looking back to my thoughts one year ago, I barely knew her at all.  I thought she was mellow.  And calm.  And sweet.  I would now use the words busy, devious and silly.  The girl is smart.  I'm not one to use that word loosely, but she is smart.  She is doing puzzles that her sister didn't do until she was almost 3.  She will sit down and work on something until she figures it out.  Currently, she's obsessed with buckling buckles.  Any unbuckled buckle is an invitation; she pauses to buckle every car seat after everyone gets out (sort of annoying), every high chair and even the buckles on the ergo and backpack.

I see her little mechanical brain at work as she obsesses over Legos.  Every night after we tuck the girls into their bunk bed, Greta drags piles of Legos into her bed and builds things.  She inevitably falls asleep on a heap of them, and wakes up with indentations in her extremities.  But if I dare to take the Legos away she loses her mind, so we let it go.  Watching her mechanical mind at work is fascinating, and I will be very surprised if she doesn't end up somewhere in science, engineering, or the like.

I really need to document some of her shenanigans in these past couple months.

A month ago, our babysitter was watching all the kids.  She put Teddy to bed while Greta and MJ were downstairs in the kitchen (which I also do, so not at all out of line).  Greta dragged the step stool over to the touch pad for our alarm system.  She pressed the "Fire" panic button.  Our babysitter immediately called me for the code and I thought we turned it off in time.  Apparently not, since 5 minutes later a fire engine showed up in front of our house.  To make matters worse, my husband does training for the fire department.  When they came in the house, they saw a Saint Paul Fire Fighters calendar on the wall and asked whose house it was....

Last week, after a very long day with the kids, I plopped myself down on the couch.   I was spent.  MJ was upstairs.  Greta and Teddy were in the kitchen.  I could hear them and sort of see them; I thought Greta was feeding Teddy Puffs.  I don't normally allow her to do this, but I was so exhausted I let her get away with it.  After a few minutes, I got up to check on them.  On the counter was a formerly full pack of Orbitz chewing gum, and on the floor was Teddy spitting out little pieces of gum.  Oy.  She apparently gave him about half a pack, but it seems he spit all or most of it out.

One of our biggest struggles with this girl lately has been having her stick her hand in her poopy diapers.  Nearly every time.  It is incredibly gross, and difficult to manage.  How do you stop this behavior?  We tried everything we could think of, and finally resorted to some spanking.  I don't even believe in spanking.  I have never spanked MJ in her life, and yet Greta has been spanked a hand full of times.  When she decided it was super fun to run away from me into the road.  And, now, when she decided it was fun to upset us by sticking her hand in her poop.  It has stopped both behaviors.  We tried positive reinforcement, etc., but this girl is just downright naughty in a way that MJ never was.  She is devious.  She will wait until everyone is distracted, then go and sneak a piece of candy.  Meanwhile, MJ will always ask permission.  In some ways they are such similar children, especially compared to most other kids I know, but sometimes their differences are stark.

She has also gone through a screaming phase.  She will wait until I have a full cart of groceries and then scream at the top of her lungs.  She seems to realize that there's not much I can do.  I can't put her in time out.  I can't just walk out of the store.  I have to just bare it and get out as quickly as possible.  Another behavior I'm at a loss how to deal with.

I should also pause to focus on her good behaviors.  She is sweet to babies she doesn't know, stopping to give them a dropped pacifier or to kiss their toes.  (She's also sweet to her brother, but quickly gets frustrated and does something less than sweet).  She loves dogs, and will watch out the window for them, then let out a squeal when she sees one.  She loves animals in a way her sister never did, always obsessed about bunnies hopping along or kitties passing by.  She is a great eater, and there is very little that she doesn't like (except, I have recently realized, for bananas).  She is gleeful and precocious, and a downright joy to be around.  Although her naughtiness is difficult to parent, it is thoroughly entertaining to see what sort of schemes she comes up with.  She is my best cuddler, and always crawls into bed with me in the morning to cuddle for a while.  Kisses and hugs are abundant, which warms my mama heart.

Her speech is interesting.  She understands just about everything we say.  She loves looking through picture dictionaries and knows many, many words.  Her pronunciation is pretty far off, though, and her attempts to imitate my speech sound nothing like what I have said.  The pediatrician was not concerned, though, feeling that pronunciation comes between two and three, and her understanding of language and attempts to say it are all that matter at this point.  (Also, at her two year appointment, she was up to 60% for height; such a difference from her sisters 7% height).

She adores her sister.  The two of them play together constantly, with relatively little fighting.  They sleep in the same room (and have for the past year) and transitioned to a bunk bed a few months ago (though that was about a three month process that involved lots of nights with G in a pack and play).

We had a little party for this girl on the occasion of her birth.  The first few photos are of that event.  On her actual birthday, I took her to the pediatrician's (shots!) and took her out for ice cream.  I also took her to the train store, and let her run around as much as she wanted.  Happy girl.  She listens a lot better when I get to pay full attention to her.

On top of all this, this now marks 2 years of me being home.  The time has flown.  I only worked for 3 years before staying home full time, and that period of time just dragged.  Every day I questioned my decision.  While staying home is challenging and exhausting, I never wish I was back at work.  I never question whether what I'm doing is worthwhile or the right decision.  The only thing I worry about is whether I'll have a difficult time getting back into the work force some day, but that seems like a minor concern compared to everything else.

This girl.  She is a plotter, a planner.  She is tenacious.  She closes all open doors, buckles all buckles, insists on putting on her own shoes, tries her darnedest to put on her own clothes, and sits for long periods of time on the potty, trying to figure out how to make it work.  But she is also pretty fearless, flinging herself down slides, meeting every stranger and running headlong into every new experience.  When she was born, I worried for her.  Living in the shadow of an older sister with such a big personality would be tough, I thought.  Now, though, I see that she can hold her own. She has wiggled herself into the Greta shaped hole in our family that we didn't even know was there, and we would not be complete without her.

I love you sweet girl.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Teddy, 7.5 months

I have completely missed the 7 month update.  I am now squarely at 7.5 months, so that's where we'll start (the photos, however, were at his 7 month birthday).

This boy.  Just in the past couple weeks he's really starting to feel like one of the gang.  He started the month in Oregon, came back with me to Minnesota, had a camping trip, a week spent with Dad away, his sister's second birthday, and right after his 7 month mark headed back to Oregon for 10 days.

Whew.  No wonder it feels like time is slipping away,  I don't have any of it to spend thinking about it all. When we were in Oregon, the first time, he met his cousin.  His older cousin, by about 5 months, and she was crawling all over the place.  He decided he had to give it a try, and a week before his 7 month birthday he was officially crawling.  Sometime during our second trip to Oregon he started really crawling, getting himself all over the place and making sure he is always where the action is.  I guess that's when he started to feel like one of the gang.  If the girls are playing some crazy wild game in the other room, he high tails it in there so as to be part of it.  And they love it!

His sleep is... pretty awful.  He wakes up many times a night.  No fewer than twice a night.  Sometimes much more.  We are in the midst of sort of sleep training him.  He has recently started waking up often, not actually wanting anything but not really sure how to put himself to sleep.  So we've let him figure it out, because it simply has to happen.  If he seems particularly upset I offer him a bottle.  But he seems so much more stubborn than Greta was (a bad sign, since G is pretty darn stubborn).  He has not figured it out quickly (by not quickly, I mean we are on our 3rd night and, after 3 hours of sleep he has already been up 3 times).  But he is falling asleep more quickly, so maybe there's an end in sight.  I don't particularly mind giving him a bottle, particularly because it's summer and I don't want him to get dehydrated, and he often wakes up for at least one bottle very thirsty.  But he can't rely on us to put him to sleep, that's something he has to learn.

Contributing to our problem is that he also learned to pull himself up while in Oregon.  So we came back and immediately had to drop the crib after seeing him hang over the side of it.  He is certainly interested in learning to walk, and if I had to bet I'd say he'll figure it out within 2.5 months.  But these babies, they like to surprise!  (On a side note, he actually did fall out of his crib two weeks ago... because his eldest sister decided she wanted him to stand while in his crib.  Ugh.  He landed on his head, and was totally not acting like himself.  I called Aaron to tell him I was going to bring Teddy to the ER, so he pulled himself out of a meeting and came home.  Of course, as soon as Dad walked in the door he smiled and started acting normal again.  Very scary.  This was also the day I feel in love with our babysitter all over again; she walked in while this was happening, and looked at Greta with a hand covered in poop.  She picked her up and changed her, completely unfazed.  )

He already feeds himself pretty well.  His pincer grip isn't great, but he hated having me feed him, and I didn't have the time to sit there and try to coax it in, so he started practicing picking up food on his own.  He paws at it, or slides it over to the edge of his try and sucks it off the side.  It's not elegant, but he gets it in there.  And he likes just about everything.  I haven't been as aggressive with veggies as I was with the girls, but I've also jumped into real food more quickly, haven't been particularly careful with the 3 day wait after new foods, and have just basically gone with the flow.  If it's healthy and seems easy for him to eat I give it to him.  So he's already had eggs, cheese, meat, tomatoes, berries (loved Oregon blackberries!), wheat, and many other things, all with no issues.  I feel so lucky that we haven't had to deal with allergies, I'm sure it's made me less cautious.

So that's our little boy.  He lights up every time he sees me, especially when he first sees me in the morning.  He's just full of glee, all the time.  The world is an amazing place, part of the reason I love this age so much.  He is determined to figure out why he's not allowed to get into Vito's dog food, and determined to get his hands on Vito.  And determined to figure out how to crawl up stairs.  He loves swinging with his sister G (who also loves pushing him).  He still loves taking naps on me, in the Ergo.  He never stays asleep in his car seat (never has, first kid for whom that's true!)  He's getting some blonde fuzz on his noggin but is otherwise bald.  He loves blowing raspberries on my tummy in the morning when it's just the two of us, before the girls have woken up.  He's pretty chatty, with a wide variety of sounds.

I love that he's becoming part of the team.  Greta has been much kinder to him these last two weeks (which I can't say for the month prior to that), and the two of them actually play together.  She brings him toys, but she also sits on him, and he loves both of these.  It's hard to teach her not to sit on him when he laughs hysterically about it.  This guy.  I think he's going to be another precocious one.  I think about where G was a year ago, and I could have never predicted where she'd be now.  Similarly, I can't even imagine what his little personality will be like, other than to say he'll probably be happy and precocious, much like his sisters.

Little man, thanks for joining us.  You make our family complete.  I can finally take a deep breath and start to enjoy how wonderful you are.