Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bath time!

I say all the time that Lyra loves the bath, but here is photographic evidence. We don’t always bathe the girls together--Lyra loves to splash, and Adriana isn’t always a big fan of that, so sometimes it seems easier not too. But Lyra is always eager to get in with her big sister, and some nights Adriana asks that they have their bath together. Those nights, Lyra usually comes out first, and I get her ready for bed while Brian washes Adriana’s hair. But tonight, after I did that, Lyra hung out in the bathroom while Adriana continued to play. Brian came out to tell me something, and a few minutes later, we heard Adriana screeching. We ran to see what was going on, and then Brian sent me back out for my camera

“How did she even get in there?” I asked after I snapped a couple of pictures.

“Head first!” Adriana told me. And Lyra just sat in there looking pleased with herself.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Going places

Adriana was playing with a little toy plane from Lyra’s Christmas stocking, and looked up at me.

“Mom, we haven’t gone on a plane in a really long time.” I agreed, and we decided that the last time we’d flown anywhere it had been our trip to New York back in September. “But that was a long time ago. Mom, let’s just GO SOMEWHERE.”

I know that urge. I’ve been expecting it myself, although I think for me it will wait until January, once we get through the girls’ birthdays. Last year, that urge had me planning a trip to Spain soon after Lyra was born. The year before I was shopping for airfare to London as soon as we got past the excitement of the holidays. It’s funny to hear Adriana expressing it, even though I know she loves to travel. She protested coming home when we were getting ready to leave New York (and a couple of weeks ago wondered aloud why we couldn't just go live there), and asks periodically when we will go back to DC or London.

“Maybe we’ll take a plane the next time we go see Grandma and Grandpa,” I told her.

“But let’s go some place NEW, too, okay?” That made me happy--I like that she wants to see new places.

“I think we’re going to Boston in the spring,” I told her, explaining when she asked that it was north of DC and New York, that it was where the ducks from Make Way for Ducklings lived, and how many months were between now and May.

“I think we need to go to the library. We need to get the ducklings book again. And maybe some books that tell us everything we can do and with maps. And then we’ll know everything when we go to Boston. And we can go to Paris after that.”

Sounds like a plan.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not like the other

When Adriana’s first Christmas rolled around, I expected the whole thing to just blow her away. I expected her mind to be boggled when we brought a real live tree into the house. I expected to be shooing her away from pine needles and ornaments and lights constantly. But none of it happened. She didn’t like the way the tree felt, so she didn’t touch it or anything on it, and at the time I attributed her matter-of-factness about the tree’s presence to fact that everything was new and unexpected for her, so having a tree in the house wasn’t actually all that unusual.

Because of that experience with Adriana, it didn’t even occur to me to expect Christmas to surprise Lyra this year. But Lyra is a very different child. It’s her first Christmas and she’s pretty much exactly the same age Adriana was three years ago, but she is not just taking this all in stride. When she saw the tree on top of our car she pointed and shouted, and then kept on pointing. When it was in the house she toddled right over to it and kept patting the branches. As soon as I put the lights on it, she was tugging on the cord and tasting the bulbs. There are a few soft ornaments down at her level that she keeps taking off and bringing to me. For the first few days, even when she was playing with other things, she would occasionally turn and point and exclaim “Oooohhhhh!” Now it’s been over a week, and she’s not quite as amazed, but she still is excited to see it every morning when she gets up.

It has me rethinking Adriana’s initial reaction. When Adriana enters a new situation, she has a tendency to sit back and watch. When I signed us up for Music Together this fall, I knew that Adriana wouldn’t participate the first few classes. It took a month or so before she wasn’t sitting against the wall or clinging to me for most of the class. Lyra, on the other hand, watched the other kids intently, grabbed at instruments, and was climbing into the teacher’s lap the very first time. Maybe Adriana wasn’t just taking the tree in stride; maybe she just needed time to soak it all in. And of course she didn’t mess with the tree. This was a kid who had to be coaxed to crawl on grass, wouldn’t play in sand until she was almost two years old, and freaked out the first time she tried finger paints. Pine needles were too new and strange a texture for her, and since she never put anything in her mouth (not even food, it seemed) my worries about her swallowing needles and gnawing on lights and ornaments were totally unfounded.

I’m glad that now she loves the tree and the decorations, and I’m happy I know her a little better now, so I can know what to expect. Every kid is different, and I have my own example right in front of me. It’s strange to think that babies have their own personalities so soon, but I have evidence of those little personalities right here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My very own Chicken Little

As we headed south on Grant Road toward Adriana’s school this afternoon, I pointed out the low clouds in the Santa Cruz mountains to her. “Aren’t the clouds on the mountains pretty?”

“Those aren’t clouds.”

“Yes, they are,” I told her. “They’re just--what are they?” I have to remind myself sometimes not to correct and instruct, and remember to just listen and explore and see what happens.

“That’s where the sky fell.”

“The sky fell?”

“Yeah, the blue sky fell. The sky is gray today. The blue fell off of it.” I was sort of surprised. It made sense to me that a low cloud was fallen sky in Adriana’s view of things, but this wasn’t quite what I’d expected.

“But that’s not blue right there. That’s white and gray.” I wasn't correcting, just testing.

“That’s because it’s the puff of dust. Because the blue sky fell and then the dust flew up when it hit the ground. Look! A GARBAGE TRUCK! Hey, are we almost to the diggers and the new houses?”

Monday, December 13, 2010

One little phrase

The Responsibility Project

I watched this video last week when there was a link posted to it on Facebook. Most of the time I end up following one of these links, I have to admit I skip through it, jumping over most of the talking, so that I can hear the music. This one didn’t have any whole songs in it, and most of the music was background for the talking, so I listened, and I’m glad I did, if only for one line pretty early on:

"If you're very lucky, you get one little phrase that gets into a consciousness, and somebody else down the line will hear it and it will help them to understand their lives at a certain moment."

I guess that’s the point of all art. We listen to music, read stories and poems, view paintings and films, and sometimes it speaks to us in some way. It helps us to understand something. But I liked the way he said it, and hearing it made me think of the songs and stories that have touched me in that way. There are songs I have listened to over and over for just a single line in them that meant something to me, and others where it’s not any specific lyric that’s important to me, exactly, but the whole feel of the song. There are stories that immediately have gripped me, that I’ve related to, and others that I’ve come back to reread years later, when I remember that there’s something in them that might be important to me. Sometimes it’s an entire novel, sometimes it’s a stanza in a poem. One time I picked up a book I had read once before and flipped through it until I came to a passage on the lower half of the right-hand page, where I had somehow remembered it was. I suppose it had stood out to me the first time through, given that I knew where to find it, but it wasn’t until a year later that I needed that passage, that it connected to my own life. And there are a dozen other things I can think of: a painting in a museum, a picture on a photoblog, a handful of books, poems I’ve copied into journals, songs I’ve listened to over and over, waiting for that one important line, that expresses exactly what I need to hear at that moment.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


We do a lot of pretty ridiculous role playing around here. Adriana loves it and it’s the best way to keep her from arguing when we need her to do something, so we are constantly saying, “Let’s play haircut!” Or shoe store, or dentist, or jacket store. And it’s completely silly, but it helps with the stubbornness, so we do it. But it doesn’t always work.

Me: Time to brush teeth! Let’s play dentist.
Adriana: [Ignores me.]
Me: Adriana! Time for your dentist appointment.
Adriana: [Ignores me.]
Me: Ring-ring! Ring-ring!
Adriana: [Ignores me.]
Me: Ring-ring!
Adriana: Mom. I’m busy. I’m not going to answer. Just text me.
Me: But you don’t know how to read.
Adriana: It’s a pretend text. I’ll just pretend to read it.
Me: [Rolling my eyes right back at her.]
Adriana: Text me.
Me: Okay, I’m sending you a text reminding you of your dentist appointment. Ding! That was the text arriving at your phone.
Adriana: Hmmm...I have a text. Oh, it’s from the dentist....Ring-ring!
Me: Hello, dentist’s office.
Adriana: Hello, this is Adriana. I need to cancel my appointment.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

11 months

Lyra is only eleven months old, but even Adriana is telling me, “She’s not really a baby anymore.” Just after reaching 10 months, Lyra took her first steps and her walk quickly developed from zombie to drunk elf to ZOMGWTFHOWISSHESOBIGALREADY. She still staggers around and falls down a lot, and still continues to crawl much of the time, but she scampers after her sister through the house as best as she can, a big smile on her face. Most of her stranger anxiety seems to be gone, which is convenient because as she toddles around, she doesn’t have to worry about whose leg she grabs to pull herself back up after a tumble.

We’re begin to think we might have a lefty on our hands. My mom was left-handed and Brian’s father is ambidextrous, so it’s definitely a possibility. When Lyra eats finger foods, she mostly uses her left hand, and that seems to be the hand she uses to pick things up, even when it seems to us that her right hand would be more convenient. When she goes staggering around the house clutching a random object (a block! a spoon! a Target receipt! a magnet! a package of dental floss!--all great finds when you’re 11 months old), it’s in her left hand. Wondering which hand she would use to draw or write, I tried handing her a crayon the other day when Adriana and I were drawing, and she took it in her left hand....and then chewed on it.

She eats what seems like a lot to me, although Adriana certainly messed with my perspective on that. She hasn’t mastered a sippy cup yet, but she likes to be offered one, and will also take sips from my water glass (with help, of course).

Lyra babbles a lot now, and so much of the time it sounds like she’s talking because of her different sounds and the inflection, but the only real word so far seems to be “mama.” She repeats sounds when asked (when she’s in the mood)--b, d, f, m, and s. She likes to pretend to talk on the phone. It started when she would grab my phone or a toy one, but she’ll do it with a block or another toy, or even just her hand. She holds whatever it is up to her ear and shouts vowel sounds. Sometimes she does seem to approximate “hello” (ah-whoa), but that might just be my imagination.

The phone trick seems almost like sign language to me, and I know I need to start being better about signing with her. Lyra does a little bit of signing, but nothing consistent yet. She’s had “milk” off and on for a few months, and I swear she signs music. Today I started noticing that when she was looking at and exclaiming over the cat she was patting her cheek, which seemed like a start toward the sign for cat.

For a while I thought we might have a better sleeper on our hands this time around, because Lyra seemed to sleep better on her own in the cosleeper than Adriana ever did, but now Lyra seems to sleep for extended periods of time only when snuggled up with me. As she’s struggled with a few minor colds this fall, she’s spent lots of time sleeping in my arms, which means I end up with a sore back and shoulder some mornings, but I haven’t been too inclined to do much about it, because waking up to find her still in my arms, my cheek on her hair is awfully nice.

She is a lot of work now: she doesn’t nap as much as I might like, and she gets into everything. I’m lamenting the fact that she’s no longer a tiny baby that rides in a stretchy wrap on my chest and sleeps most of the time, because I really do love the newborn days. But she’s fun now, even as she’s knocking down a tower of blocks that Adriana has worked so hard on or pulling bags of cornmeal and sugar out of the kitchen cabinet that didn’t latch properly. And when she was a newborn I couldn’t ask her for a kiss and have her lean in sweetly to give me one the way she does now.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Story time

It was probably over a year ago Adriana started memorizing books and then "reading" them to me. I was charmed when she could recite all of Madeline. Now she does some of the memorization, but what she really loves are books she (thinks she) can actually read--counting books, mostly, although Sandra Boynton's Blue Hat, Green Hat, with clearly labeled pictures does the trick too.

The other night I got both girls into their pajamas and Adriana offered to read Lyra a bedtime story. Lyra loves the attention from her big sister, and Adriana relishes being in the role of teacher (and having Lyra cooperate with her, which doesn't usually happen). My favorite part, though, is when Lyra is putting her hands on the pages and Adriana admonishes her that if she covers up words, she won't be able to hear the story. It's kind of funny to hear myself as I sound to them.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

I had forgotten what it was like to have a sick baby. Not that Lyra is very sick, but this weekend she seems to have come down with a cold. Last night I somehow couldn’t figure that out, and spent all night trying to get her to nurse when she woke up, letting her lie on my chest, wondering why she wouldn’t just eat and sleep instead of fussing and tossing around. But one look at her stuffy, runny nose this morning and I knew what was going on, and I understood that she just needed me. Adriana has already reached the age where she doesn’t need much when she’s sick. She just wants to sleep and be miserable in peace. I mean, if I want to snuggle her, she’ll let me, and so I do a fair amount of that, because it makes me feel better at least. But Lyra needs a lot right now, just with this little cold. She is my Amazing Velcro Baby today, constantly at my side, reaching to be picked up, holding onto my jeans and creeping after me, only napping for any decent length of time when she’s in my arms. It leaves me sleepy and with a sore back, but it’s also kind of sweet. Except for the bit where she seems to prefer my hair to kleenex.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Grilled Mermaid, a story by Adriana

The other day I told Brian that I couldn't think of anything to write, and he joked that I should let Adriana write something. And then as I was going through my Google Docs, looking for something I'd started but never finished, I found this story that she dictated to me, which is so much better than anything I can think to write at this moment.

One day after gymnastics, I went to Minnesota. And there was a lake with no music but there was a boat, so I went in the boat. It had pink and yellow stripes on the sails. And then I went fishing with a fishing pole. And I caught a mermaid with a blue tail and a mermaid with a purple tail. And then I got on my scooter and I scooted all the way to Mark's house. And Mark was there and Mama and Baby Lyra. And everyone was hungry so I made dinner. I made roasted mermaid quesadillas. Do vegetarians eat mermaids? Okay, then Mama eats something else. Mom eats a samosa. And Baby Lyra just has mom-milk. She is not big enough for mermaids yet. And then me and mom and baby sister all went home on mom's bike. And we got vanilla ice cream on the way, and sing the lamppost song and the spider song. And then I was home and I was really tired and grumpy so I got to skip my bath and go to bed.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Someone needs to get his own iPod

Brian: What was that you were saying about there not being too much Josh Ritter in this playlist?
Me: What? It’s not all him.
Brian: You’re right, it’s only every third song or so.
Me: Whatever, dude. You know you like my boyfriend.
Brian: Your boyfriend?
Me: Yes, I’m going to marry him.
Brian: I thought you were going to marry Jon Stewart.
Me: I am. I’m going to marry both of them.
Brian: And you think they’re going to be okay with being brother husbands?
Me: Um, yeah, because that’s the main concern about this plan?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Oh, right: THIS

There are certain things I forgot about life with a baby, things that I was better off forgetting, things that when they roll around with Lyra, I say “Oh, right: this.” Tonight (this whole week, really) I am being forced to remember that when babies are working on new skills their already poor sleep habits get even more bizarre. Lyra’s really excited about cruising, so although she seemed to go to sleep at eight this evening, now it’s after eleven and I am blessed again by her company. The poor girl is so tired, and she comes to me to nurse and almost fall asleep, but she keeps waking up again and wiggling away from me, down to the floor where she can grab hold of a little table to push around, or pull up on the edge of the couch and wobble down toward the other end in hopes of getting to pet the cat (who is so not entertained). And so I think she is happy and I try to go about my business, but if I leave her sight for even a moment, it is the greatest tragedy one can imagine, and she drops to her knees to crawl after me and then collapses to the floor in tears, until I pick her up to try to nurse her back to sleep and start the cycle over again. Oh, right: this. What was I going to write tonight? I can’t remember, so I am jotting down this paragraph while standing at the kitchen counter and Lyra walks back and forth, balancing herself along the cabinets.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


In the Halloween pictures I posted the other day, Adriana was dressed in a princess dress. When we walked into Old Navy to look for costumes the week before Halloween and I saw the fairy princess dresses, I knew that we would be coming home with that one. She carried it around the store lovingly, and put it on as soon as we got home, declaring herself “Rosy the Princess,” because there was a little rose at the waist.

Up until now, I have been pretty determined to avoid the princess thing with Adriana. She has never had one of the “Daddy’s Little Princess” shirts that are everywhere I go. I have never used “princess” as a nickname. I never bought anything that had the Disney princesses all over it. The only books about princesses she’s had are The Paper Bag Princess and a Tony Ross story. But suddenly the Princess Plague has hit our house.

II suppose it actually started out kind of slowly. Friends with little girls a bit older dress up in princess dresses. Other little girls would bring princess stickers to pass out at school on their birthday. I bought some disposable diapers that were pink, and discovered when I opened them that they had Sleeping Beauty on them. At my midwife appointments, the nurses would give Adriana a sticker, and if they were out of Winnie-the-Pooh, a princess was always her next choice. And then it was her own friends who were dressing up as princesses.

Then this fall, we are suddenly All Princess, All The Time. I thought I would be appalled, but it was charming to see how she was figuring it all out. Without princess movies or princess books, she is just gleaning what she can from friends and from me. The first time she started talking about wanting to be a princess, I asked her what she knew about princesses. “They wear fancy dresses and are smarter than dragons,” she told me. In that case, I could totally handle having a princess on my hands.

In spite of that answer, she’s still working out what exactly being a princess is all about. She asks questions along the lines of ‎"Can princesses drive garbage trucks?" and declares, “Princess eat burritos and ice cream everyday.” I answered of course to the first question, and thought that if princesses got to eat like that, I might want to be one, but as it turns out, she thinks that I was a princess back before I was her mom: She found a pair of my high heels while we were moving, and asked if they were mine back when I was a princess. Not long after that she asked, "Mama, when you were a princess, were you a magic fairy princess, or just a regular princess?"

The cuteness of it has eased me into the whole idea of this insane princess thing that seems to overtake most the little girls we know. Because I certainly can’t bring myself to argue with her when she shouts out "I am the strongest monkey princess in all of Eagle Park!" or casually informs me, “I am not a princess now, but when I grow up I will be. A rock star princess.”


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

10 months

Each month when I sit down to write about Lyra, I can’t help but peek back about what I was writing about Adriana at the same age. I so often think that they have different personalities, but most of what I wrote about Adriana at ten months holds true for Lyra as well: she’s cruising, clapping her hands on cue, and sitting longer for stories.

These days Lyra loves to stand up, and pulls herself up constantly on my jeans or the furniture or Adriana’s hair. She lets go and balances quite well, and when she applauds herself she hardly ever loses her balance anymore. Until this past weekend, Lyra showed little interest in walking--she would take a step or two while holding the couch if she thought she might finally get the cat, or step carefully from the bathtub to the toilet to try to splash in it--but other than that she wasn’t cruising. Then while we were in South Pasadena for Halloween, she began moving herself along the furniture, and when we got home she discovered that the felt pads on the legs of our small end tables make the tables glide easily across the floor and she can move about upright quite easily by pulling herself up on them and pushing them around.

Lyra seems fascinated by music, moreso than Adriana was at this age, although perhaps I’m not remembering correctly. I just told someone the other day that Adriana didn’t cruise much, but according to my blog she did. I signed up for a Music Together class with both girls, and Lyra in particular loves it. She adores watching the other kids, of course, but she also is thrilled by the music. She likes to pound on the drums and shake the rhythm instruments. Her stranger anxiety isn’t nearly as strong as it was a couple of months ago, but it is definitely still there. But even on the first day of class, she was willing to go to the teacher when she sang. When we put on the CDs at home, she pulls herself up and bounces in time or claps along. She is soothed by singing or by music being played.

Lyra loves water. She comes crawling to the bathroom when she hears me running the bath. If I'm not bathing the girls together, she loves to stand next to the tub while Adriana's in it, splashing. When it's her turn, she crawls around chasing after toys, and then lies back calmly while I rinse her hair. A couple of weeks ago she lunged for a toy and ended up face down in the water. I pulled her up quickly, and she choked and sputtered for a minute. I waited for a moment, sure that she would cry as soon as she caught her breath, but instead she laughed and hurled herself face first into the water again.

Her sleep is unpredictable. While Adriana's nighttime sleep was erratic at this age, I think her naps were at least fairly consistent. But Lyra is always being forced to nap on my back while we shop, or picked up during the nap when it's time to go get Adriana from school. She does seem to take a late nap a lot of evenings, around six or seven, which means she is often up until ten o'clock. Adriana was a night owl, too, until she gave up her nap last winter, so even though I enjoyed having both girls asleep by eight, this isn't totally foreign to me. And most nights I’m honestly not sure how well Lyra sleeps. I know she usually wakes up around midnight and then I bring her into bed with me. After that I’m usually not sure whether she wakes up or not. She does seem less dependent on nursing to fall sleep initially, though. Brian is able to get her to go to sleep more easily than he ever was with Adriana, and sometimes to get her to sleep even I end up rocking or bouncing her on my back.

My favorite time of day with Lyra is morning, I think. Some days she nurses and then falls back asleep for a twenty minutes or so, and I'm awake beside her when she first starts to wake up in earnest. She stirs and then her eyes slowly open. It takes a few moments before she turns and sees me, and then she smiles and crawls closer to me, to play and snuggle. If Brian's still in bed, too, she crawls to him as well, pulling on his nose to get his attention.

Unlike Adriana at this age, Lyra seems to be a good eater. Of course, because of my experience with Adriana, my expectations are low, so when she eats even a few tablespoons of food, I think she's an awesome eater. She'll eat pretty much anything we eat if I run it through the food mill, and she is getting the hang of finger foods. I think I'll be disappointed when she moves entirely to feeding herself, because the way she stretches her neck forward with her mouth open, a little bird waiting to be fed, so adorable.

These days so much changes so quickly that I am often thinking of the little things I'll miss: the sight of the fat diapered bottom crawling away from me once she begins to walk, the way she grins up on me when she pulls up on my jeans, the way she plays with my hair while she nurses. Everyone loves to tell me “It all goes so fast,” and it’s a cliche, but I always know they are right, but there are instances when I am just completely in awe of the sweetness of all of this and I wish I could slow it down.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween 2010

My in-laws get an insane number of trick-or-treaters. Last year, there were 1,992 according to the official tally, although Brian and his dad kept trying to come up with ways to push that number over 2,000. This year we had three different ways of counting--number of candies handed out, number of water bottles given away, and a tally counter that Brian bought just for this purpose. All counts came out the same, but there was no need for trying to skew the numbers anyhow, as there was a huge jump in our total: 2,324 this year. And I had predicted a lower turnout due to it being a school night.Adriana picked out a sort of fairy princess costume this year. It has a little rose at the hip, so she declared herself Rosie the Princess. Like the butterfly costume that she wore for two years straight, I think this one will see plenty of use even though the holiday has past.

Lyra isn't yet big enough to wear the monkey costume Adriana wore at this age, so she was a little pumpkin, just like 98% of other babies celebrating their first Halloween. She wouldn't wear the hat though.

We took the girls around to a dozen houses. Although we'd rehearsed several times, Adriana never once managed to say "trick or treat" when someone opened a door, but she accepted their candy nevertheless. Brian accepted candy on Lyra's behalf.

With the World Series still going on this year, my in-laws humored me by setting up a radio by the front door. And I carved a Giants pumpkin, which remained intact this morning, despite Brian's dire predictions that it would be promptly smashed by Dodgers fans or something. I think it looked pretty good.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Nine months

I keep saying that Lyra is becoming more “interactive,” but this time I swear it’s true. She’s begun to sign “milk” on occasion, and she waves to people, in addition to the smiling she always does when anyone talks to her. She has begun to play peek-a-boo, pulling a blanket or her dress up over her face (not always very successfully), and waiting to hear “Where’s Lyra?” before popping out.

She is an excellent crawler and this point, going anywhere she wants in the house very quickly. She can pull herself up to standing easily now, and is experimenting with cruising, although she only takes one or two steps at a time that way. All her activity has caused her to slim down a bit, I think. At her check up she weighed in at 18 pounds, 7 ounces, which puts her in the 42nd percentile, down a big from the 80th percentile she was at a few months ago (although she’s stayed up there for her length), but the doctor wasn’t concerned. She’s about a pound and a half lighter than Adriana was at this age, but that’s about the difference in their birthweights too, so it seems normal to me. Lyra is just a smaller baby, which I never really realize until seasons start to change and I find that the clothes Adriana was wearing at this age are still a bit too big--something I didn’t suspect would be an issue with both of them having January birthdays. But at least we live in California, so Lyra’s got some time to grow into all the cool weather clothes I have stored away.

She eats well, and instead of just giving her mashed or pureed fruit, I’ve been putting more of our foods through a little food mill that I bought. Mashed avocado or pureed zucchini were fine, but she would rather reach for a nibble of my peach or open her mouth wide to invite me to give her another spoonful of the garlicky stew I’ve prepared. Of course, she also puts everything she finds into her mouth--leaves and pebbles and big chunks of a couple of rubbery toys that Adriana leaves around--requiring me to be much more vigilant with her than I was with her older sister, so having a kid who likes to eat has been sort of a mixed blessing.

Lyra’s sleep is...not great. She does at least fall asleep more easily than I remember with Adriana. Lyra passes out in the carrier on my back or in the car. She even falls asleep sitting up in her high chair, which I know never happened when Adriana was a baby. But staying asleep seems more of a problem. Some of that is my fault: naps are interrupted frequently because Adriana and I have plans. And sometimes I don’t mind that, because if she doesn’t get in a long morning nap, she’ll sleep for a solid three hours in the afternoon--which is heavenly on the afternoons that Adriana is in preschool. But nighttime sleep is hit or miss these days. She had been going to sleep earlier, and now she seems to enjoy a thirty-minute nap around six or seven in the evening and then stays up until ten. I’d been spoiled by the early bedtimes, and just need to adjust my expectations. I thinks she is a more wiggly sleeper than Adriana was, so I wake more as she rolls about in bed, and I think I cause her to wake up when she was just moving in her sleep, because while I am still half asleep and sensing her movement I automatically try to feed her, which wakes her.

Lyra responds to music in a way that I don’t remember Adriana doing at this age. Now Adriana loves music--she plays her little guitar, and asks me to put on her Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell CD or to play Simon and Garfunkel in the car, and makes up silly songs--but was she like this as a baby? Lyra is obviously soothed when we sing to her. I signed us up for Music Together, and at the first class Lyra loved crawling around after the other kids, and climbed right onto the teacher’s lap and reached for her mouth as she sang.

She is a mama’s girl like her sister, reaching for me all the time, but she adores her older sister. Brian gets up with Adriana in the morning, and once Lyra hears that Adriana is awake, she is not content to snuggle in bed with me, even when I’m pretty sure she’s hungry. So as soon as I hear that Brian has Adriana relatively calm, I set the baby on the floor, and listen to her hands smacking the wood floor, pat-pat-pat, on her way out to find her older sister.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Eight months

In the past month Lyra became actual work to take care of. I guess she had been work before, but not the kind of work that I’d noticed. But she crawls now and her sleep is erratic and she is busy and alert so she nurses for about a minute before getting distracted and losing interest, only to be fussy and hungry ten minutes later. Without someone keeping a close eye on her, she gets into things we wish she wouldn’t--taking toys that Adriana doesn’t want her to have, or tipping over the cat’s water dish, or chewing on my sandal that I left by the door, or pulling open drawers seemingly only so that she can then lean on them and make them slide in, all the better to pinch her fingers or land face first on the floor.

She started crawling a couple of weeks ago. She’d been experimenting with it since six months (and at six and a half months had crawled a couple “steps” at Adriana’s gymnastics one day--I think the mats made it more comfortable and easier), and I was sure she’d be crawling by the time she hit the seven month mark, just as Adriana did, but we had another couple of weeks of rocking with hands and knees being tentatively lifted from the floor, followed by face plants (which got louder but seemingly not any more painful when we moved into our new house with hardwood floors). We had a few days of watching her crawl a little bit here and there, and then there she was across the room, and I would hear her thumping after me if I set her down and walked away for a minute.

The crawling is hilarious to me this time around and I need to take video. Lyra actually seems smaller to me now that she’s crawling. She is definitely a smaller baby than Adriana was (I can tell from the hand-me-downs that still don’t fit), so it may be in part that it’s funny for me to see so little a baby moving. But the size difference isn’t that huge and my memory of Adriana’s size at this age is not really that clear, so I think it’s just seeing how small Lyra is compared to Adriana now. At any rate, I am regularly amused by the little baby crawling around after a toy that has rolled away, or the cat, or her big sister. When there’s something she really wants--like following her sister out the open door--she puts her head down and crawls determinedly as quickly as she can. When she comes to find me she crawls to find me and then sits back on her knees to look up at me and give me a huge four-toothed smile. When I have to set her down when she is upset, she crawls after me, crying “ma ma ma ma.”

For the record, I don’t really think the “ma ma ma” babbling is actually intended as “Mama.” Lyra has two sounds she makes, “ma” and “ba.” “Ba ba ba ba” is her contented chatter as plays with a baby doll or chews on the spout of a sippy cup or sits on my lap at the park while I talk with my friends. She switches to “ma ma ma ma” when she is upset.

Stranger anxiety has emerged in the past month, taking me by surprise. Did I not hand Adriana to people as easily as I do Lyra? Or is Lyra really just that much more upset by strangers? Because I don’t remember handing Adriana to someone to have her immediately burst into tears the way Lyra does. Lyra is still a happy, social baby, smiling at anyone who speaks to her. But I handed her to a man she’d never met before when we were at a baby shower a few weeks ago, and she became instantly fussy. The next week, Brian’s parents were in town, and she cried when her grandpa picked her up. But that right there is the main theme of the stranger anxiety: it’s men. How does she know? Is it their deeper voices? A different smell? I just know that she seems to know, that I can hand her to another woman to hold and she’s fine, doesn’t even need me in her sight (usually).

Although she’s more work at this age than she was a few months ago, she’s more fun. It’s fun to have a baby who likes to eat (she grabs for food out of my hands now in addition to always leaning forward to accept what I’m spooning into her mouth), even though that means thinking a bit about having food for her and cleaning her up afterwards (and, ahem, afterwards). The sister relationship is growing nicely. Adriana is still sometimes obviously jealous of and other times understandably bothered by her sister. But she is very good about bringing toys to the baby and tells me how to take care of her. Adriana is likely to yell “Lyra has a choking hazard,” at me when she sees Lyra with something small, and usually responds to my suggestion that she take it from her (if it were one of Adriana’s toys that Lyra had, you know she would just take it back) by yelling “Mom, Lyra has a choking hazard!” Which...fine, I guess I won’t let the three-year-old care for the infant. But there are times when they are so sweet together. Adriana lies on the floor letting Lyra crawl all over her back, and she asks if I will put Lyra in the swing at the park so that she could push her baby sister. They splash together in the bathtub and giggle at each other in the back seat of the car.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Memory and wonder

Lucy Kaplansky’s The Red Thread and Paul Simon’s The Rhythm of the Saints are joined in my mind to Adriana’s babyhood. The first week or two after her birth I couldn’t listen to music. The experience of her birth combined with first-time motherhood left me so overwhelmed that music seemed like too much--which seemed strange even at the time, since we always had music on before she was born. A week or two later when I was finally ready to open up my senses again, those were the albums I was drawn to, and now when I hear those songs I am suddenly immersed in the memory of cradling my new baby and the new rituals of our life with her.

Last summer, Adriana found a bottle of Burt’s Bees Buttermilk Lotion. She asked me to put it on her after her bath, and as I rubbed it into her skin, I was instantly, unexpectedly transported back to our place in Alexandria, with he pale sunlight of winter was shining through the bare trees into the bedroom where I was dressing her.

I walked into our living room early one morning last week with Lyra in my arms. Instead of the cool, grey mornings we’ve had, it was brightly sunny, and as I set the baby down on the living room floor with a toy so that I could go pour myself a glass of orange juice, I remembered coming out for my juice on a similarly sunny morning when Adriana wasn’t all that much older, and seeing her and Brian sitting together out on the deck, while he had his coffee and she played with the same pink elephant rattle I had just given to Lyra.

The memories are physical, involuntary, and yesterday I began to wonder what I will associate with Lyra’s infancy--what music, what scents, what light--but right now I can only guess and hope. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to hear Patty Larkin or Josh Ritter without recalling my second baby’s first few months. Perhaps I will remember the way my hands smelled after pitting cherries for Adriana and mashing a mango for one of Lyra’s first foods. Instead of the faded winter sunlight, I want to recall the light that filters through the trees while the baby rolls on a picnic blanket in the with her older sister playing nearby, and the way the sunlight squeezes in around the blinds in my bedroom as I wake up from a nap between my two girls.

Maybe I’ll remember the way Lyra’s silky hair felt tickling my neck while she slept with her head tucked under my chin, just as her sister did, or maybe it will be a totally new memory--the way it feels to go down a slide the baby strapped to my chest while Adriana sits in my lap. Instead of the sound of the baby crying as she wakes and drawing me away from what I am doing, I will have the sound of the baby’s cry followed by the reassurance of my older child as she rushes to comfort her, or even better, their giggles as they look at each other while I give them dinner.

I close my eyes and bask in the memories of just a few years ago, and simultaneously try to imprint forever in my mind what our year so far has been.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Morning people

I am normally the first one up in the morning, but not too much later, while I am still having my juice, I hear Lyra wake up. Sometimes she fusses a bit, but mostly she just coos and babbles, and I go into the bedroom and find her lying in her bed (or sometimes in mine, if that’s where she ended up) gazing at her hands or playing with her feet. I say her name softly, and she turns to look at me and smiles. It is the most perfect thing, that first baby smile of the morning when she is happy to be awake and glad to see me, a wide smile that crinkles her nose and shows her two teeth, and I pick her up and it might be the very best moment of the day.

Six month stats

For the record, because at some point I will want to know and willl check here first because it’s easier than digging out the baby book, at Lyra’s six-month checkup yesterday, she measured 27 inches long and weighed in at 17 pounds 2 ounces (85th and 68th percentiles). She is the same length that Adriana was at this age, but more than a pound lighter. She was wearing nothing but her diaper last night when I mentioned this to Brian, and we looked in amazement at her neck folds and chunky thighs, and wondered how big Adriana had been exactly. We concluded that Adriana had chubbier cheeks. That explains the missing 18 ounces on Lyra, right?

Friday, July 16, 2010


“Fleet Feet is a funny name. Mom? Did you hear me, Mom? Fleet Feet is funny. It starts with the same letter and it rhymes. It starts with F like firetruck. Do you remember that firetruck we saw this morning? It didn’t have its lights on, but the guy waved at me when I waved to him. Do you remember that, Mom? And firetruck starts with F. Those white flowers start with F. Except those white flowers are jasmine. Mom? Mom? Those flowers are jasmine. Jasmine starts with J. It goes ‘juh juh jasmine’ so it starts with J. Except sometimes G goes ‘juh juh’ like gentle. But mostly it goes ‘guh guh.’ Like Grandpa. Grandpa Ted starts with a T. The Ted part. And Grandpa Andy has an A. My name starts with A. And so do Abigail and Allegra and apple. Let’s buy apples at the store today. The honey apples like in Minnesota. I like honey. Only Dad squeezes the bear right in my mouth, though. You say no. We could put honey on apples. That would be good, don’t you think, Mom? Maybe we could have apple tea with honey in it. If you can have apple tea. I don’t know if there is a thing called apple tea, but it could have honey. In London do they have apple tea? Abigail and Allegra both have G in their name! Guh guh. I don’t like to draw the G. I make you do the G for me. Someday I will write the G. Sam has an A in her name, but it is not her letter. Right, Mom? Her letter is S. Like snake and snail and shoes. But shoes only sort of starts with S. It doesn’t sound like Sam but it has an S. Starbucks starts with S. Mom? Can we go to Starbucks? I need vanilla milk. Are you listening, Mom? This is the sign for A and this is the sign for S. They are kind of the same. And I start with A and Sam starts with S. M for mom is kind of the same, too. See, Mom? This is M for Mom. Your letter is M. Like milk. M is for Mom and milk and Mary and Mark. Big Mark and Little Mark. And Mountain View and Minneapolis and Martinez and moon and Menlo Park. All those things have M first. You have two Ms. M O M Mom. I can write your whole name and my whole name and D A D Dad. And Lyra except you have to help me with the Y. But I can make it in the bath. Lyra starts with L. London starts with L too. I saw Starbucks by the firetruck. T is for truck and Ted. I wrote Grandpa Ted on his birthday card, but you had to write Grandpa and I wrote Ted. Right, Mom? I could have vanilla milk and you could have a treat. Mom? Mom, the moon isn’t purple. You like purple, but the moon isn’t purple. Except for in that book. Then that boy makes it purple. That boy is too silly. Are you listening, Mom? Is that so silly? I am silly too, so I want vanilla milk.”

Saturday, July 10, 2010

First food

People have been asking me for a month or so whether I’ve started Lyra on solid foods. I’ve told them I was waiting until six months, as I thought pretty much everyone waited that long. I did discover at a moms group that several of the women were trying their babies--who are slightly younger than Lyra--on some foods, but I decided that was because they were first-time moms and it was a novelty for them. I, on the other hand, learned the last time around that feeding babies is messy and you have to think about what to give them and if they like it you have to keep doing it and if they don’t like it (which was the issue with Adriana) then you have to keep wondering what you should try and when, and . . . no. No, thank you. I am very open about being a slacker, and exclusively breastfeeding fits quite well with my slackerness: I keep the baby with me, and when she gets hungry I feed her, and I don’t have to think about it.

And then Lyra turned six months old, and Brian started asking about it. So I bought a box of rice cereal this week and we tried it out on her this evening.

It seems funny to me to call this “solid” food. A little bit of brown rice ground into powder and mixed with breastmilk? That's solid? That’s food? Seriously?

But she seemed to like it.

Six months

When Adriana was a baby I would say every month, “This month is better than last! I want to keep her this age forever!” And I am doing the same thing with Lyra. Six months seems just about perfect to me. She is sitting up and smiling and cooing. But she’s still not going anywhere (at least not too quickly) or making any mischief (at least not intentionally).

It wasn’t until right at six months that Lyra was sitting up well (and she still can’t get there on her own), while Adriana was sitting well at about five months. But Lyra already seems more mobile than Adriana did at this age. Lyra rolls everywhere, and wishes she could crawl--pushes up, but can’t get her knees under her, and just ends up shoving herself backwards. This mobility is enough that we now have to be strict with Adriana about little toys on the floor. For the most part she’s been quite good about keeping pop beads and doll shoes and various little bits of Hello Kitty-themed plastic off the floor. She’s been dismayed, though, to find that Lyra can get her hands on bigger toys. Adriana has always been pretty good with younger children and toys: she knows that if they take something she doesn’t want them to have, she can usually trade with them for something she is willing to share. But that’s apparently a lot to ask when it’s her own younger sister in question. It just seems unfortunate to me that this issue is coming up at exactly as Lyra has reached an age at which she objects to having a toy taken away.

Lyra has continued to be one of the happiest babies I’ve ever met. She seems very social, always smiling when she sees people, and taking an interest in board books with photos of baby faces. She’s been somewhat fussier the past month as her first two teeth came in. I was surprised by Adriana’s first few teeth; she would just wake up in the morning with a new one. Lyra’s teeth, however, hover below the surface of her gums for several days, and she is vocal about her discomfort. Luckily, she has an older sister who likes to bring her cold teething rings, so most of the time she is still very smiley.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Most awesome sous chef ever

Brian was out so I was the one giving Adriana her bath. I got out the conditioner.

Me: This smells sweet. You're going to smell like a jelly bean when we're finished.
Adriana: I like jelly beans. We should have jelly beans for dinner sometime.
Me: That sounds like wishful thinking. Jelly beans aren't for dinner.
Adriana: Yes they are! I had them for dinner in London.
Me: Don't be silly.
Adriana: But I did! With Abigail!
Me: Oh, you mean beans and toast? Those are baked beans, not jelly beans.
Adriana: But...jelly goes on toast.


Adriana was watching me pull vegetables out of the refrigerator.

Adriana: What are we making for dinner tonight?
Me: Ratatouille, and I think some bulgur.
Adriana: Bulgur?
Me: Yes.
Adriana: No.
Me: Yes. You like it. It's been awhile since we had it, but I know you like it. It's like rice.
Adriana: Bulgur?
Me: Bulgur.
Adriana: No. I don't like bulgur. Bulgur is yucky. I don't think bulgur is for eating.
Me: Of course it is. [I get the bag from the refrigerator and hand it to her.] You see? It's a grain, like rice is. We boil water and pour this in and then just let it sit.
Adriana: didn't come out of anyone's nose?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Adriana and I both sometimes have bad reactions to mosquitoes, with the bites swelling up to . . . well, a ping pong ball would probably be an exaggeration, but still. They get big. They make you look deformed. Especially if you end up with two on your face, the way Adriana did this week--one on her right eye and one on her left cheek. I gave her some benadryl on Wednesday night to help bring down the swelling, but by the time I was taking her to summer camp on Thursday morning things still looked pretty bad. But in a way it was a nice test because I could begin to divide other mothers into three categories:

  1. Those who look appalled when you compare your own child's appearance to that of Sloth from Goonies.
  2. Those who find the comparison apt and funny.
  3. Those who don't know what you're talking about.

Guess which are my favorite.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Adriana's birthday greetings for Great Grandpa Ed

Brian's grandfather is turning 96 this week. Adriana made him a card and dictated this letter to me:

Dear Great Grandpa Ed,

96 is a big number. I go to gymnastics on Wednesday. Wednesday is your birthday. I go to summer camp all by myself. Next year I get to go to a school with rabbits and chickens and turtles and a dragon. I like chasing pigeons in Spain. I have a blue scooter and a baby sister. My favorite things are mermaids, butterflies, bicycles, cupcakes, pink and yellow, vanilla, climbing things, and my mom. I don't like juice.

Happy birthday.