Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!

Well, just bears actually.  We never made it to the lion or tiger exhibit.  But we did see some gorillas, monkeys, grizzly and polar bears, various farm animals and the giraffes.  Kate was thrilled by all of it.  Now through the end of February are free Saturdays at the Brookfield Zoo.  We pretty much had most exhibits to ourselves which made it quite easy for Kate to see the animals.  I carried her in the Ergo so she could see better and I could interact with her more.  The only thing lacking was a decent place to eat at the zoo--they seemed to only offer fried variations on fried friedness.  So, we bagged the zoo a bit after lunch and headed to a restaurant nearby before heading home.

Here we are at the wild African dogs.
Kate would point at the animals to let me know she had found them, right before she would let out a nice, shrill scream of ecstasy which made the animals generally lay back their ears and look irritated.
The polar bears were right at home in the snow.
The giraffes had been moved inside because of the weather.
It was a very successful day!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fun with meat!

Ok, I hope that title doesn't get a lot of pings for people looking for anything nefarious or otherwise unseemly.

Remember in this post where it was suggested that our fastidious daughter might enjoy picking up a meaty bone and gnawing on it?  Well, the survey is in and the results were less than satisfactory.  I'll let the pictures do the talking:

And that was that.

In case you don't understand the last two photos, she delicately dropped the offensive bone over the edge and then looked to be sure it was still down there, far away, and unable to grease up her fingers further.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kate and Madonna

Every day Kate makes the trek across the room to the speaker and now, instead of just standing there looking at me, she has started to stomp her foot to get my attention that...HELLO!  MUSIC!

So, on this day, I introduced her to Madonna.  Her mama has been to two Madonna concerts and they were AMAZING.  Kate, I am happy to report, thinks so too.  I especially love the way she stands there at the beginning, listening, and then a huge smile crosses her face at the same time her body starts to convulse. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Deep Breaths. Deep...Yogic...Breaths.

As Kate gets older, the questions about how to parent in different circumstances float in and out of my head like dandelion fluff. Len and I have spent a lot of time (some could say almost too much time...) talking about how we were raised, what impact that had on us, which of our parents' techniques we would use, which we wouldn't and why. These topics run the gamut but none is more of a button-pusher than how to discipline. Len and I were raised quite differently in many ways and parental discipline was no exception. But one area that we came to early agreement on was that we would be a no-spanking household.

It was not something we had discussed until we were faced with a no-spanking agreement from our first homestudy agency as we applied to adopt from China. We had to sign a form that stated:

We agree not to use any of the following methods of punishment of a child or infant:

1. Corporal (physical) punishment, including hitting with the hand or any object, yanking arms or pulling hair.
2.Verbally abusing language, threats or derogatory remarks about the child or his/her birth family.
3. Withholding of food, clothing, rest or toilet use.
4. Confinement in a closet, box or any locked room/area.
5. Restriction of movement of a child by tying or binding.

Which, really, was not a hard form for me to sign.  I would never stay in a relationship where someone hit me so why would I teach my child from the start that it is ok when someone you love and trust hits you?  What are you teaching your child if you hit them?  Not to hit someone else?  Not to hit when angry or frustrated?  Not to hit when someone isn't doing what you want them to do? 

But the other reason I have been quick to sign this form is that I know myself.  I know my penchant for immediate anger.  I used to have a boss that I absolutely abhorred.  He was mean, rude, demeaning and generally made life in the office an absolute hell.  I was angry most of the day and it started to extend into my personal life.  I would come home angry and frustrated, exhausted from a day of holding my tongue (which, really,...me?  You know how hard that was for me?).  I had such an overwhelming urge to hit and kick and generally be destructive that it scared me.  That was the year I started kickboxing.  I would imagine his face on the punching bag and I would do some really amazing roundhouse kicks. My arms and legs looked fantastic and I owed it all to him. 

Fast forward to 2010.  I have a baby who doesn't nap for days on end and by the 4th or 5th day, she can be an exhausting, angry, inconsolable, and generally unhappy person to be around.  Everything becomes so much harder.  Feeding is messier.  Playtime is grouchier.  Bedtime is loud and takes twice as long.  And yes, I have had many moments where I can visualize myself doing her harm.  Throwing her out the window looks like a good idea when we are at the end of a napless week and I am covered in the oatmeal crust from that morning's failed attempt at breakfast.  Those are the moments that I put Kate, wailing and crying, into her crib and walk out of the room.

Just to breathe.  Deep Breaths.  Deep...Yogic...Breaths.

Because no one ever talks about those moments.  Nobody tells you about the endless, daily frustrations of raising a child who is, in fact, an independent soul who has other ideas about how to spend her day than you might have.  

But mainly because I don't want to show her that her Mama, in a moment of anger and frustration, hit her to make her sit still long enough to put on her coat so we can go for a walk.

I know that this is only the beginning.  As she grows and continues to assert her independence, there will be many more clashes of wills, many more meltdowns.  And many more opportunities for me to be the adult and model how to behave in a situation where hitting her to make her "mind" would be the easier and more expedient solution.

I came across this article by a fellow blogger that sums up the subject rather nicely.  I think I'll leave it at that.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Feeding herself...sort of

So, no, this isn't the shot of my daughter holed up in a corner defensively gnawing on a femur.  I know you are waiting for that and I am too but I've yet to make it to the market so I can at least get her an organic, free-range femur on which to sharpen her teeth.  Instead, I got Kate some new toddler-sized utensils.  She is so proud of her new fork and spoon that she was willing to actually hold them as food approached her mouth.  Breakfast this morning consisted of milk in her sippy cup, oatmeal mixed with zucchini

Yes, I know.  Why? Because she likes it and I'm going to get those veggies in her for as long as I can.

and, hold on!, banana pieces! This is the first time I could get her to eat them and I owe it all to the new fork. It's all in the mode of transportation.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good thing your mama isn't a vegan...

Kate is a little fastidious with her fingers.  Ok, a lot fastidious.  She will pick up round cereal and happily pop them into her mouth, no problem.  But try to sneak in a cube of chicken, avocado, or some-such similar food item and she is all Why are you trying to poison me and btw, now my fingers need toweling off please.  You would never know that from her birthday pictures...
but generally, this much squish-factor would be cause for lots of admonishing looks and thrown food.

So, in mentioning this predicament to Dr. E yesterday he had a rather, emmmm, interesting solution.

Dr. E:  Does she like meat?

Me: Oh yes, in fact she eats smoked mackeral, chicken, beef kabobs and lamb ragu.

Dr. E: Great! Get a big leg bone of lamb, peel off most of the big chunks of meat, leave on some smaller bits and let her gnaw away.

Me: Pause.  Blink.  Check to see if he starts to smirk.  Nothing.
Are you pulling my leg?  Is this new-parent hazing for having reached one year with no major catastrophes?

Dr. E: Not at all...and it will have the added benefit of cleaning her teeth.

Which, he nicely pointed out, helped me with the other area I had just asked him about: bottle mouth and when to wean from the bottle.

So, I guess we'll be having lamb chops this weekend.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One year checkup

Kate had her one year doctor checkup today.  Of course, today, of all days, is the day she chooses to take a nap at 9:45am....30 minutes before I would need to start getting her dressed and out the door.  She hasn't napped during the day AT ALL for the past five days and not that early in the morning in weeks.  Nice, kid.  I'm keeping notes for later you know.

So here are her latest numbers.  Her numbers from her 10 month checkup are in ( ).  I was so sure she had surpassed the 20 pound mark but alas...

Weight:  19 lbs 10.5 oz.  (18 lb 11 oz)
Length: 28 3/4"  (27 1/4")
Head circumference: 43 1/2cm  (42 1/2 cm)

She woke up groggy but seemed pretty content in the doctor's waiting room, playing on the floor with some other kids.  Or rather, watching them intently and trying to touch their shoes.  Len was already in the doctor's office getting a physical (our ped is actually a family medicine doctor) for our newest China homestudy so he stayed on to help me out with Kate. 

These doctor visits are a little tougher now.  Kate is developing just a bit of stranger anxiety and wasn't real keen on having her ears examined or the stethoscope on her front and back.  The hip rotations brought about giant tears and crying but at least he was able to examine her teeth since her mouth was wide open.  Fortunately, all of the exam was performed on Len's lap and she settled right back down as soon as Dr. E sat a bit further away and talked to her.  She performed right on cue to "How big is Kate?", throwing her arms up and smiling when we said, "SOOOO Big!". 

Doesn't take much on either side of the coin at this age.

No shot today as the one she needed next he didn't have so we'll go back in 1-2 weeks once he has it back in stock.

We came home and ate a big bowl of potato, leek and carrot soup with some Greek yogurt for dessert followed by 4-5 laps with her walker up and down the hallway.  After a few minutes of quiet time with a puzzle and some books she looked exhausted and surprise! went right down for another nap.  Do you know how epic this is??  TWO naps in one day??  That has not happened in at least a month!  Maybe we should go to the doctor every day.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dance video Sunday!

Kate seems to be very in tune (ha!) to music these days.  Pretty much every day she will crawl over to the speakers and then look at me very meaningfully.  So I ask her if she would like to listen to some music and she smiles very big and bounces up and down.  I take that as a yes.

And Lady Gaga of course...

And lest any of you think I am corrupting her all by myself, I have video to the contrary:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Breakfast with Nana

My mom just upgraded her Mac so now she has a camera in her computer.  So today we tried out her new equipment and had breakfast with Nana.  We used skype but the lag time with the video and sometimes the audio was frustrating so she's going to research the AOL version and we'll try that one next time and let you all know how it goes.  In the meantime, any of you friends/family out there with skype, Kate would love to share a meal with you or give you a tour of her toys as she did with Nana today!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

25 degrees and time for a birthday stroll around the neighborhood

True to form (why break with tradition?), Kate did not take a nap today. 

Happy Birthday Mama.

And, per her usual behavior, 3pm and the tired grouchies were upon us so I spent 20 minutes (20 minutes!!) getting us both dressed and into the stroller for a walk. 

The Speechwriter in the family has informed me that the above sentence suggests that I was also in the stroller which we all know is just absurd but to make it technically correct will make the sentence lengthy and unwieldy... unlike this sentence....work with me.  I was sweating by the time I got us both out the door.  I'm sweating now just thinking about it. 

One of the best purchases we've made is this stroller parka--now I don't have to put her in a snowsuit just to go out.
Ten minutes into our walk and this is what I see when I look down:
She napped for about 30 minutes and slid further down until her eyes were covered:
Guess she was warm and cozy!  I highly recommend the JJCole Arctic Bundle Me-- if only for this video.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Love Letter, Month 12

Dear Kate,

You are twelve months old today. Happy birthday my beautiful girl. You're a whole year old. Just think, only 20 more to go before you can buy gin ALL BY YOURSELF. It's important to have goals, remember that.
I've been thinking for a while about what I was going to tell you on your birthday, and I think I need to start by telling you how badly I wanted to have you.  We took a rather circuitous route to arrive in this place.  When your father and I married each other 20+ years ago, we always said we would have a family.  In fact, I wanted a lot of kids (is three considered a lot?).  Then school and work and travel and LIFE intervened and every year we thought, "maybe next year" until that fateful day at your Great-Grandfather Gop's funeral when I was nearly knocked over by FAMILY.  I announced very quietly that evening to your father that I wanted to have a baby and that I thought I was possibly just losing my mind but to give me 6 months and I'm sure I would "get over it".  Five months later I went off the pill and scared your father to death.

Two months later we were pregnant.

Six weeks later we weren't.

This sad back-and-forth lasted for more years than I care to recount and then suddenly, everything seemed to fall into place; you hitched yourself to the side of my retroverted uterus and stayed put for 35 weeks.

Here you are now, a year after I snuggled you in on my chest and you looked up at me. Those first few weeks with you have changed me forever.  I think I surprised myself with how calm and blissfully happy we all were in those sleepless, dark, snowy weeks.
That feeling lasted about three months and then things got squirrely.  Just as we both got the hang of nursing, your naps and sleeping got harder to come by and thus my confidence in what I was doing started to slip downward.  Motherhood seems to be like that--one day you feel like you've got all your shit together and the next day you wonder why you even bothered to get out of bed (except that since you are still nursing you get a little belligerent if I don't show up with breakfast poste-haste).

But here I've managed to last 12 months...and you did too! LOOK AT YOU GO! You are a totally different kid now than when we brought you home. For one, you sleep at night. I didn't think that would ever happen.  For the past five months you've been a terrific night sleeper, but in the last couple of months you've started going haywire during the day with your naps. CUT IT OUT.
By 3pm on the days that you don't nap, this is the face you make at me and I really could do without that.
On top of that, it takes a lot of work on my part (think Wheels on the Bus and Itsy-Bitsy Spider over and over again until mama needs a lobotomy) to make you look like this:
You do scream a lot less often than you used to. I think that comes with being more mature, being a little wiser, being able to reach for things instead of just belting out a horrible noise because you can't get to it.  You not only can reach for things, you can walk to them!  Just when I thought you wouldn't start walking for at least another month, you reached up your hands to me, stood on those wobbly legs and we walked all around the kitchen island.  JUST...LIKE...THAT.  Now you can pull yourself up on your walker toy and careen around the room.  Your steering is still off and you inevitably run into a piece of furniture or the wall.  Not having mastered the art of backing up or turning, you stand there repeatedly bashing your walker into the furniture until I come over and turn you around and off you go again.  I think the next words we need to teach you are Thank you, Mama.
You seem to be having a very intense and passionate affair with our stove.  Multiple times during the day I will find you, arms spread wide in a loving hug, mouth open and generously kissing the oven door.  Although you cannot reach the knobs yet, you are trying and for that we are grateful to Ms. Maggie and Mr. Steve who sent knob covers for your birthday.
I may be biased but you do seem to pick up on things quite quickly.  While were were at Uncle Terry and Aunt Wheez's house for Christmas, your Nana taught you to initiate peek-a-boo over breakfast one morning.  Now you are throwing a cloth over Bernard The Large Stuffed Dog and shrieking when I say Where's Bernard?  There he is! as you rip the cloth off his face. Your Daddy helped you climb the stairs at Christmas after breakfast the first morning we were there and by the fourth attempt you were scaling the first couple of steps like you had been doing it for months.  When I ask How Big is Kate?  you will throw your hands up and grin as I say Soooooo Big!
You say four words now; Mama, Dada, Nana (when I show you her picture or when you saw her at Christmas), and hi.  This last word is said with such a soft, sweet, high voice over and over again that it never fails to remind me of that scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall which is not a good thing to be thinking about when looking at your innocent daughter practicing her FOURTH WORD EVER.

You are a blur of activity and catching you on film is taking a lot more effort, to wit:

Those pictures were all taken in the span of about 3.2 seconds.  You are EVERYWHERE at once nowadays but yesterday you gave me an early birthday present.  It was 4pm, the witching hour before supper, before you daddy comes home and not normally a time that I look forward to with you.  On top of that, you had napped for less than an hour and had been trundling up and down the hallway with your walker for 30 minutes nonstop.  I took you into your room to wind you down and perhaps nurse for a bit.  To my surprise, you nestled right in and got to work.

I have to digress here and tell you why this came as a shock.  Along with your new-found walking freedom has come an inability to stop long enough to nurse properly.  You twitch and fiddle and throw your legs about, popping off every few minutes to take a look around the room.  Generally, not a very pleasurable or relaxing experience for either of us. 

But yesterday was like going back a couple of months.  You settled in, closed your eyes and nursed for 15 minutes and then you fell asleep.  Rather than A) try to jostle you awake, B) switch you to the other side or C) try to creep quietly over to your crib to deposit you there, I sat still.  I didn't think of the emails I needed to answer, the thank you notes I needed to write, this blog that I needed to update. No. I sat there and watched you sleep, watched your tiny fingers twitch, watched the small puddle of milk still left in your mouth dribble out onto my shirt.  I breathed in this last day of your first year and thought about how far you and I have come together.  The spell was broken when you awoke from your 20 minute catnap restless and hungry to finish but the feeling it left behind was so similar to what I felt just after you were born that it took my breath away.

You are still eating like a champ.  In fact, now that you are nursing less you seem to be eating a lot more.  Just last week you polished off an entire chicken leg, a bowl of peas, a bowl of kale and a packet of fruit for dinner.  You have tried and liked a lot more foods recently including baba ganoush, scrambled eggs, lima beans, toast with almond butter, and frosting.  You aren't too sure about milk so I've started to sneak it into your bottles mixed with formula because so help me god you are getting weaned from formula before I have to order another carton of it.  So far you only like water in your sippy cup and you literally dance in your high chair when you see me head to the 'fridge for water.  I love that just that one simple thing makes your dining experience exceptional.
Kate, I feel like I have been given a second chance at life, a life through the magic of your eyes. The world has more color in it because you are looking at it, music is a bit louder because you are hearing it. I never knew how funny a noise could be until you laughed at it, or just how wonderfully handsome your father was until I saw your profile next to his. I thought that there was meaning in my life before you came along, but hell if I even knew the meaning of meaning. For the majority of my life I have tried to figure out why people believe in God/religion, but never has there been a more reverent moment in my life than the day I first looked at your tiny body laying on mine, fresh from growing inside me.  Watching you breathe when you are sleeping, to hear your life in the air...if there is indeed a God, you are the closest I've come to understanding why it might be so.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thank goodness for the long hallway

Kate loves to spend a good deal of time testing out her new powers of walking.  She grabs her walker every day and careens around the house.  This is a rather lengthy video of her making her way down our hallway.  I apologize for the those of you who are prone to motion sickness.  Kate required a great amount of redirecting--she's still working on her steering.

Untitled from Lisa on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Five years ago, this would have been my nightmare

Seven children under the age of three in my house would not have been cause for celebration 5 years ago.  My how times have changed. 

Kate's birthday is not until Wednesday but we threw her a birthday party today.  All of her friends from our Thursday play group plus a couple of others from the neighborhood stopped by to watch Kate smash purple frosting all over herself.  True to form, there was no nap today and surprisingly, no meltdown...at all.  She played happily right up until bedtime which is happening right now with Daddy so Mama can post pictures to the blog.

Kate started out in a beautiful dress that her Yia Yia and Papou sent.
We did a wardrobe change before we had the cake smashing which was a good thing since it got pretty messy.

Here's the "real" cake that was just too yummy to let her smash.  It's a Swedish Princess Torte and is covered in marzipan!
 It is filled with a heavenly moist sponge cake and creme filling.
The kids were all amazingly happy and well-behaved, playing nicely and chasing each other around the room.
A surprising number of fathers showed up!

I finally got to meet Candice's little girl, Antara.  We got our long-awaited picture--the three of us with our little girls that we could only dream about a year ago.
Kate is wearing the anklet Candice brought back from Nepal.  It is worn by Nepali children when they reach one year of age to signify their exit from infancy into toddlerhood.
After everyone had left, Kate boycotted yet another attempt at a nap but was content to play in her corral while we cleaned up.
We had a fabulous time but will probably head to bed soon.  I'm completely exhausted.


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