Monday, March 28, 2011

Monster party

This morning, while I was getting dressed, Adriana began talking about getting ready for a monster party. She took my phone and went to make some calls. Then she came back and told me that five monsters were coming; the sixth wasn’t going to be able to make it. The party would start after dinner, and the monsters would sleep over at our house, so she found five blankets that would be good for monsters. We would need to go to the store beforehand, she told me, so we would have all the ingredients for monster chow. And we had to be certain to make plenty of monster sauce for on the monster chow, otherwise the monsters would eat us instead. Oh, and monsters drink only a certain kind of tea, which we happened to be all out of, so we would have to pick up some of that while we were out, too.

Most of her fantasy play is mimicking real life or a story in a book, and this tale seemed to come completely out of nowhere. I asked if they had monster parties at school, and she told me that it was from a book at a friend's house, so when those same friends were over this afternoon I asked about it. My friend knew it was a game the kids had played, but she hadn’t read the book to Adriana. And the book does not feature most of the details Adriana had been sharing.

After our friends left, I started to go into her bedroom for something, and she through a fit because if I went in there the monsters would all leave. They apparently don’t like moms coming to their parties. Of course, I questioned why the monsters were there if the party wasn’t until after dinner, and she told me that three of the monsters had come early to get ready. While I was fixing dinner she pretended to hear knocks at the door and let the other monsters in. And after she had her dinner we went outside to enjoy the nice weather, and she sat beside me at the table on the patio, making garlic bread out of play-doh to go with the monster chow and monster sauce.

I described the monster party to Brian when he came home from work. We questioned her for more details about the monsters and she answered a few of them willingly, but when Brian asked where she’d met these monsters, she said, “Dad, they are just pretend monsters.”

She doesn't say "Duh" yet, but you can totally hear it in her voice.

Monday, March 21, 2011

How weaning (eventually) happened

After I took the girls for their check-ups in January, I joked with Brian that when the pediatrican asked me whether I’d considered weaning, I nearly answered “Which one?” Because of course our pediatrician was asking about Lyra and of course I wouldn’t have said anything of the sort. The fact that Adriana was still nursing at four years old wasn’t something I was trying to hide, but it wasn’t something I was going around advertising either. I wasn’t ashamed of it, but it’s not exactly the norm in mainstream parenting, and I’m not the kind of person who wants to stand out. And so I debated whether to write about this, but it’s such a milestone for us, perhaps particularly for us, that it would be a shame not to. And I think that, because it’s outside the norm, it’s worth sharing.

We went through stages when people would ask me about weaning. The first was when Adriana was a newborn, and people would ask how long I planned to nurse; when she was a little over year it came up again, since it’s very common to wean around the baby’s first birthday; and finally, people who knew she was still nursing when I got pregnant again asked if I had plans to wean. There were times all along when I considered it, even right at the beginning when I was tired and depressed and had thrush, and particularly when I was pregnant and it wasn’t always as comfortable as it had been. But it never seemed like the right time to wean completely, and it seemed as though it would happen eventually.

She got older and began to eat a bit of solid food, and she backed off of nursing a bit then. There was a point sometime before Adriana’s second birthday when I started pushing her to nurse less in the afternoons, because I found it frustrating to stop what I was doing so often to nurse her (and once I was including her more in what I was doing, she stopped asking so much--what she had really wanted was more of my focus). Sometime around the time she was two and a half, I began to refuse to nurse her in public. And because we were always going somewhere, pretty soon she was nursing only around sleep--to fall asleep at nighttime and naptime, and then when she woke up. That was our pattern when I got pregnant and it worked. She gave up napping not too long after her third birthday, so then those nursings were gone (although for the first couple of weeks, I would still lie down and let her nurse for a bit at what would have been naptime--she seemed to need something like that to make it through the afternoon). I pushed to get rid of the morning nursing, which worked for a few weeks, but then mornings got rough and we added it back in. A couple of months later, we dropped it without much effort.

It feels like a confession of sorts to say that after the baby was born I wished Adriana would stop. I was glad it was comforting to her, but the contrast between nursing a newborn and nursing a preschooler somehow overwhelming to me. I was ready to be done, but I also knew it was the wrong time to stop her. It was what she knew to do. It was reassuring to her. And with the adjustment to having a new baby at home (and then knowing that we’d be moving over the summer) it seemed like too much to ask.

There was one misguided attempt on my part to cut her off cold turkey. In June, I spent three nights in the hospital with a stomach bug of some sort. Lyra was in the hospital with me so she could nurse, but Adriana was at home with her grandma. She fell asleep for those three nights without nursing (but cuddled up with Grandma), so on my first night home, I laid down in her bed with her at bedtime, just like I always do, but this time I refused to nurse her. It was awful. Within a few minutes we were both in tears. Finally I nursed her, sad to not be done, sad to have tried and failed, relieved that it was so easy to make it all better again.

After we moved last summer I began talking to her about weaning. I told her that she was the only one of her friends that still needed “mom milk” to fall asleep, and talked about other ways to fall asleep. On nights when she did fall asleep without nursing (because we were in the car when she fell asleep, or because I hadn’t been home, or because she was tired and fell asleep during her story) I would point it out to her in the morning. Sometime before our move, I suggested that when she was four she wouldn’t nurse any more. I tried to talk about it as casually as possible, and it seemed to work. She began talking about it herself. And it went on for several months like that, and then in December one night she told me that she wouldn’t have milk to fall asleep. I got into bed with her, read her some stories, and then we cuddled up together. After about 15 minutes of tossing around, she told me--on the edge of tears, trying to be brave--that she needed milk after all. I assured her it was fine, and she nursed to sleep. She talked about it in the morning, and didn’t suggest it again.

I teased her the night of her fourth birthday about not nursing. She laughed, and said “Maybe when I’m eight,” which gave me a good laugh. But I knew I wasn’t going to cut her off because she had turned four that day. Then one night about a week later, nursing became uncomfortable for me, so I stopped her. She cried and yelled and hit and kicked, and then she fell asleep in my arms. The next night I stopped her before she was asleep. She cried a little, but didn’t throw the same fit as the night before. For two more nights I read her long stories until she fell asleep. On the fifth night she asked to nurse, and I told her that she was four and a big girl, and that I would stay with her as long as she wanted, but I wouldn’t nurse her. And that was it. That was the end.

I had been dreading bedtime. I was done with nursing and waiting for the right time for Adriana. Now bedtime can be so nice. (I won’t say it always is, because, look, she’s four; sometimes she’s going to fight it, no matter how tired she is.) Most nights I just lie in bed with her and read her stories. Sometimes she falls asleep during the story, and other times she just lies in my arms and I rest my face on her hair and feel the moment when her body relaxes and she falls asleep.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

14 months

Okay, fine, fourteen and a half months. Because it takes me that long to write a few paragraphs with these little monkeys around.

Lyra is just such a loving little girl. She comes running for a kiss, and sometimes just wraps her arms around my neck in a nice, tight hug. When she hears Brian come in from work, she runs to the door to greet him and raises her arms to ask to be picked up (and actually does the same thing in the morning when she sees that he’s about to leave. And it’s not just with us, but with other people she’s familiar with--her grandparents, her aunts, my friends; she raises her arms to be picked up, leans in for a kiss, crawls onto a lap. Sometimes I’m greedy and I want all those hugs for myself, but I also love that she adores and feels loved by so many other people as well.

At fourteen months, Lyra’s expressive language seems to be growing so fast--both spoken and sign. She says (or makes attempts to say): apple, boo, book, boom, bye, cat, dad, dog, mama, no, sit, woof, meow, moo, baa, quack, and roar. She signs all done, ball, bath, book, cat, cheese, dog, duck, eat, milk, more, music, please, and water. I think “no” is the one that amuses me the most. I thought she was asleep recently, but as I went to set her down, she opened her eyes and told me “no.”

She also does a good job expressing her disapproval of certain things through body language. We’ve entered the world of tantrums, the kind where she arches her back, stiffens her body, and SCREAMS. It’s a little horrifying (as a preview of what’s to come), but also kind of funny, because now we know what a preschool-level tantrum is. Compared to a four-year-old, Lyra isn’t very strong and doesn’t have a very long attention span for her rage. We can hold her while she cries, or set her down, and the anger dies out pretty quickly. We are finding her a little harder to distract and redirect than she used to be. If we take away something that she shouldn’t have had, she remembers and protests, even when we offer something (that we think is) equally awesome.

She’s discovered the joy of being a foot taller than she really is, and likes to push Adriana’s step stool around to gain access to the kitchen counter and light switches. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the sense to not just try to step right off of it, so I’m a little nervous about her climbing on it. She has finally learned to climb down from our bed or the couch safely, which is nice. She’s not necessarily good at it, and often falls as she goes, but at least she’s not crawling off head first.

I feel lucky that Adriana can play independently pretty safely at the park these days. She goes up ladders and down slides, and I don’t have to follow her up or hover right beneath her. She plays games with friends on the play structures and in the sand, or rides her bike without going out of my sight. I don’t know how people do it when their kids are closer together in age and they have to be on top of both of them. Lyra has the ability to climb up all the play structures, but I don’t trust her not to fall right off of them. She runs toward an empty swing with no awareness of the children on the other swings who might bump right into her. She takes off running without looking back, which is completely new to me, as Adriana has always stuck pretty close. She loves playing in the sand (although Adriana wouldn’t touch it for anything at this age), but still hasn’t learned that it doesn’t taste good, and that she shouldn’t throw it.

She is still such a good eater. She eats meals with us, and lots of snacks. I’m constantly surprised by how much food she can consume. She’ll eat pretty much anything we offer her at this point, unless it’s really spicy. She’s got a sweet tooth, which doesn’t surprise me one bit, but she also is a big fan of salty snacks. We were at a friend’s house recently and she was amazed by the introduction of goldfish crackers. As much as she eats, I would sort of expect her to back of nursing a bit, but most days she seems to nurse plenty. Several days a week, though, I’ll realize that she’s going as long as four hours between nursings. At first I was shocked by that and wondered if it was okay for a baby so young to go that long, but then I laughed at myself, remembering that most babies these days are completely weaned by this age. That strikes me as so strange, because she still seems like such a baby, in spite of the climbing and talking and eating. She curls into my arms and is so snuggly and small, and part of me would like to keep her likes this forever. (And then she pitches herself headfirst off the couch or screams because I won’t let her eat the penny she found on the ground, and a pray for her to grow up and get some sense FAST.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Addiction timeline

1995: I drink coffee at various poetry readings. Because I am sixteen and all grown up and awesome. Also my hair is black and I have written some very bad poetry.

1996: I realize that I feel like crap after drinking coffee. Decide that drinking hot chocolate or tea instead is charming.

1999: Begin dating a total coffee addict. Commence 11 years of teasing him about this addiction.

2005: Discover chai. OMG CHAI. Chai makes me productive! And happy! And chatty! Wheeeee!

2006: Get pregnant. Give up chai.

2010: Give birth to second child. Discover that a frappuccino in the early afternoon makes me a nicer mother. And a vanilla latte in the morning doesn’t hurt either. But I only drink fancy coffee that I buy when we’re out.

2011: Begin to understand the beauty of Brian having his own espresso machine. Refuse to let him see how much sugar I put in my cup. Also refuse to learn to use the machine myself, so that I won’t drink too much coffee.

March 16
: Brian leaves for work without making coffee. Gives me brief instructions on how to use espresso maker.

9:02: Stare dubiously at espresso machine. Decide it might be a good day to try giving up coffee

9:30: Adriana asks at breakfast, “Why don’t you have your coffee?” When I tell her that Brian didn’t have time to make it before he left, she asks why I don’t just make it. I explain that I don’t know how, and she says, “I do. I could make it for you.”

10:15: Wonder about this no coffee experiment. Consider trip to Starbucks. Decide I don’t feel like getting the children into shoes. Determine that skipping coffee makes me a Better Person.

10:20: Okay, maybe not a Better Person. But healthier.

10:28: HEALTHY!

10:30: Maybe if I’m being so healthy I should go for a run. Could put baby in the stroller and Adriana on her bike and get some exercise.

10:31: Oooh, could run to Starbucks!

10:32: Oh. Right. HEALTHY.

10:35: Do we have any cookies left?

10:40: Maybe the kids won’t notice if I lie down here for a few minutes.

10:41: Oh. They noticed.

10:50: My head hurts.

11:15: Maybe a Coke? I think we have Coke in the garage. That will make me feel better.

11:16: Okay, but all that HFCS and coloring...That’s not healthier. This is supposed to be making me healthier.

11:17: But what about my mental health?


11:30: “Adriana? Do you really know how to make the coffee?”

11:32: “First you put in three scoops of the beans. Then you turn it upside down after you grind them. Then you put them in that round thing. And then there’s the rattle thing that doesn’t rattle. Push them down with that. Don’t forget to put in the water. No, you unscrew that thing at the top to put in the water. And then you put it back on tight. Dad says really tight. Okay, and then you let me press the button to start it. Then you get the milk out.”

11:40: OMG COFFEE.