Monday, March 3, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Toddler

I suppose someday I'll look back on these days with fondness and a bit of nostalgia. After all, my little girl is amazingly sweet, and watching her learn & take in the world is both fascinating and fullfilling. However it can also be unbelievably frustrating and infuriating.

Here's a look at an ordinary day. This particular day was Sunday, March 2nd. E is 27 months and acts, well, like any other two year old.

7:30am E woke up when I tried to sneak out of bed. This is a daily occurrence but I still try in hopes of a random success. She ran to say "hi" to daddy before following me downstairs to supervise my coffee drinking.

7:35am  E asked for baked oatmeal for breakfast, and sat down to eat it at the dining room table. Handing blueberry baked oatmeal to a toddler is like inviting them on an epic treasure hunt, where they'll dig for gold... err blueberries like their life depends on it. I suppose I could have just offered her a bowl of blueberries, but that wouldn't have kept her entertained for an hour. Yup, an hour. Points for me.

8:35am Daddy dresses E while I finished getting ready to leave for church.

8:45am We're loading into the car headed for church. On time. This is rare and to be celebrated!

8:55am Daddy checks E in and we each grab a hand to swing her up the stairs to her room. She thinks it's an awesome ride and we reach the top of the staircase while it's still 2014. Everybody wins. She has a huge grin as she sees her friends and leaders, and we breathe a sigh of relief that only a parent of a toddler fully understands. We get to go focus on adult things with no worries about the house being destroyed, the dog being shaved, or the sofa being redone with fresh ink and scissors.

10:15am Church is over and we get E. She's snacking, happy, and acts like she owns the lobby. E and I wave bye to daddy and our friends, brave the freezing cold weather and head home.

11:45am I warn E that it's almost time to go get daddy. She can finish her Angry Birds cartoon and then we're leaving.

11:47am The cartoon ends and I ask E to put the tablet away. She refuses. Tantrum ensues as I close the tablet.

11:50am I put E on the potty before we leave. After a minute:
Me: Are you all done?
E: No.
Me: Are you still peeing?
E: No.
Me: Do you need to poo?
E: No.
Me: So you're all done.
E: No.
I go with it and we have a nice little conversion as she sits on the potty.

Me:  You need to be done. We're leaving.
E: No.
She doesn't complain when I grab her off the potty (I realize she did nothing!) wash her hands, and carry her downstairs. I put on her boots and peacoat, and grab my moccasins. E grabs my cute wedges for me to wear instead. I explain we're just going for a quick car trip and I want to be comfy as I slide my feet into my moccasins. Cue meltdown. I concede as we're already late (I did not plan on a fifteen minute potty break) and I have a really hard time getting E in her carseat when she's angry. I throw on my wedges, and head out to the car.

12:30pm We return home, daddy in tow. E is sound asleep as daddy carries her inside. He sits on the sofa and after a brief moment daddy and daughter are both passed out. Lovely Sunday afternoon nap for them and precious alone time with no agenda for me!

3:00pm E is stirring and I make her get up, afraid we've already sabotaged our chance for night time sleep. She hasn't napped in weeks and I'm getting more concerned by the minute. We get her a snack and watch the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother.

3:45pm As a family we write some long overdue thank you notes. E grabs her crayons and adds her own touch to several cards.

4:00pm Daddy and E play, and play, and play! It's so great to have him home. They tickle and giggle and build and destroy.

6:30pm Daddy throws dinner in the oven and E strips. I assume she's ready for some comfortable pajamas, but no. She's decided it's bath time. I remind her she doesn't need a bath now, but she's persistent so I promise a bath after dinner figuring it will save me some time tomorrow. She complies but refuses to get dressed again. Whatever.

7:00pm Dinner is ready and I pull the meat off the drumstick so E can dip it into her own little bowl of honey mustard. She grabs the bone and gnaws all the remaining bits of meat off, just like daddy. As she sits naked, gnawing on bones, I can't help but laugh. This long bitter cold and ridiculously snowy winter has stolen our sanity and there's clearly no hope of getting it back. Once the bone is clean to her satisfaction, E settles for the meat pieces on her plate and finishes dinner.

8:00pm E plays happily in the tub for quite awhile, eating bubbles, splashing daddy, and tirelessly pouring water from one container to another.

9:00pm E is clean, dry, and ready for bed. Daddy takes her upstairs for her bedtime routine and tucks her in.

9:30pm I hear crying. I go upstairs as usually this means she needs a potty break. Unfortunately that's not the case tonight. She's not tired. She comes down and snuggles with me for a bit before I try getting her back to bed. I feel her gums for her two year molars, give her a healthy dose of teething oil and teething drops, and sprinkle some lavender essential oil on her pillow. She's still not tired, so we convince her it's time for everyone to sleep. We get ready for bed and snuggle.

10:30pm She's still wide awake, singing to her baby and chatting up a storm. Daddy's snoring away.

11:30pm She's finally settled but not asleep. I fall asleep.

4:00am In my sleep I readjust and roll over, away from E, which sends her into a tantrum. Exhausted and frustrated, I yell. Daddy rescues me and brings E into the nursery to rock her. She wants mommy and is furious, but eventually settles. Daddy brings her back to bed under the condition that she can't utter a peep. She begrudgingly abides and we go back to sleep.

8:00am I roll my tired self out of bed, trying not to wake E. It doesn't work.

Monday, December 16, 2013


E has ditched her teddy bears as part of her sleep routine. She no longer needs them to fall asleep.

All she's needed for the past two months has been her dog. No, not a cuddly little stuffed dog, but her dog. Barking, crazy, warm, and cuddly Cali has been helping E get to sleep for the past two months. 

We kicked Cali off the bed when I was pregnant. She had slept on the bed with Chou from the time he rescued her before we were married, and I never minded her extra warmth although I could do without the hair. We didn't want her to be jealous of E on the bed (although at the time we had no plans for cosleeping) nor did we want her accidentally rolling on the baby, so off she went long before E made her grand appearance. She's been happily lounging on her dog bed on the floor for the past 2+ years. One day this fall she suddenly decided she was allowed back on the bed. I'm really not sure why she bothered after two years, but I do know the only reason she got away with it was because she immediately started snuggling with E and they were too cute to punish.

E's only been napping a few days a week, but for every nap and every night at bed time, this is how she goes to sleep. It's really sweet.

Sometimes we're not quite ready for a nap, but still need a snuggle

Sometimes we forget we're supposed to be sleeping

And sometimes, when we're really lucky, Daddy joins us!

Monday, December 9, 2013

At long last

Now that it is a blustery December and we've had our first official snowfall here in Pennsylvania, I decided it was about time I shared the rest of the pictures from our vacation last summer. Procrastination runs in my family, and I consider myself to be a pro. As I sit here dreaming of warm weather and relaxing vacations, I decided it's the perfect time to share pictures from Stone Harbor.

One thing I learned when I started dating Chou is that his (and dare I say most men's) idea of a relaxing beach trip is quite different from mine. In my (pre-motherhood) mind, a perfect day at the beach involves a good book, a warm nap in the sun, and maybe a little time spent jumping waves. Chou's ideal beach trip consists of a whole lot of wave jumping, sport playing, sand sculpting, and maybe a very little nap or short reading session while he rehydrates. Chou has been thrilled to welcome our brother-in-law into the family and greatly appreciates someone who enjoys beach sports as much as he does. This past year they raided our rental house for beach activities and found several that occupied them most of the week. Their most notable find was a skim board. My sister and I marveled at their ability to have just as much fun when they completely wiped out as when they landed beautifully. We enjoyed watching from the sidelines and they enjoyed mastering a new skill.


E has loved the beach from her first taste of sand. Luckily for all involved, this year she was no longer interested in trying to consume the entire beach, but instead focused more on playing with her bucket and some water and occasionally dipping her toes in the waves. She'd wake up in the morning, point in the direction of the ocean, and say, "beach!" It was wonderful to see her enjoy the sun and sand as much as we do!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fall Update

Ramblings from the past month, in no particular order:

Bring On Christmas!
This fall has come and gone rather quickly in our home. October was incredibly busy and stressful with the death of my grandmother in the beginning, and spending the rest of the month trying to catch up. I welcomed November wholeheartedly, and decided to get a head start on Christmas. We've slowly started decorating and listening to Christmas music (one month a year is just not enough time to enjoy carols!) and my goal is to do one simple craft with E every week until Christmas. I'm hoping to do a mixture of things for me and for her, but we'll do all of them together. If it goes well, I'll keep it going beyond the holidays.

Cloth Diapers
While my grandmother was in the hospital, we bought [beastly expensive all natural] disposable diapers for the first time since switching to cloth. E's only using them for night and the occasional nap making cloth a pain right now (I don't like to let dirty diapers sit more than a day or two, but I never have enough for a washing machine load at that point) and we just didn't have the time or desire to fuss with cloth. We're now back to cloth, but I'm really hoping to just train E overnight and ditch the diapers altogether.

E Update
E has been busy as ever! She's still mostly silent be has been letting more and more words slip through her lips unchecked. Her favorite seat in the house is on the dining room table with her feet resting on her chair. She'll sit there and chatter to me, the dogs, or just herself for hours. I should probably put an end to sitting on the table, but for now she's getting away with it because she's cute and I've been trying to encourage any and all things verbal. She's really opinionated on fashion, and I've started giving her choices rather than sending her to choose her own outfits/shoes/accessories. She's recently obsessed with a pair of sandals from the summer that just don't quite cut it on these 30 degree mornings. She's started learning her colors and her shapes, thinks all animals should roar like a lion, enjoys relaxing with a book, and has discovered the magic of the library. The TV still demands her undivided attention, so screen time is very limited in this house. She's often reserved in groups of her peers, not unlike her mama, but loves to observe even when she doesn't participate.

One of E's favorite outfits. She views these two infinity scarves as a set and only wears them together. Her bunny vest is only appropriate for a baby born in the year of the rabbit ;)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mommom and Poppop

Growing up, if there was one thing I could count on when visiting my grandparents in New Jersey it was that they would go out of their way to respond to every need, want, and whim for my sisters and me. We felt loved, special, and wanted from the moment we bounded in the door until we walked exhausted back to the van at the end of the visit. Mommom would line her walls and floors with giant rolls of paper, so we could draw and color on literally every surface of her hallway. We'd sleep piled onto an air mattress and giggle long into the night knowing Dad couldn't punish us with Mommom in the house. For breakfast, Poppop made us pancakes larger than our plates and stomachs, and let us load them up with as much butter and syrup as we wanted. We learned to paint and craft around their dining room table, munching on animal crackers and sipping guava juice. There was no place on earth where we felt more loved and wanted.

As we grew older, we began to appreciate our grandparents for more than their unconditional spoiling. I loved hearing their stories from life in Brooklyn with both sides of the extended family, their very vocal opinions on pretty much everything, their dramatic story telling, and their friendly banter back on forth. We were often joined by my great aunt and uncle after dinner, and the four of them would have us laughing until tears ran down our faces and our sides ached. 

They loved knowing what was going on in our lives, and continued to give us undivided love and attention. We'd horrify Mommom with our stories of camping and backpacking, telling her of the bugs and lack of hot water. We'd laugh with Poppop about how cold his house always was, and he joked that he revived the flies with the hairdryer every morning after they had frozen overnight. Even in high school and college, we continued our "argument" with Poppop. Every card we sent him had hidden in it, "Poppop is silly" and every card he sent back had hidden, "Poppop is great". I'm honestly not sure how it started, but I think Mommom may have had something to do with it.

Everyone was welcome at Mommom and Poppop's house. We'd spend holidays in their kitchen preparing a feast fit for royalty. The dining room table would span the length of two rooms, packed tight with our boisterous family and loaded from one end to the other with our feast. Mommom, who worked in food safety, would cook the turkey until it was done, and then just a few hours more, just to make sure. The cousins all fought for the seat of honor at the head of the table next to Poppop. More often than not, we'd be joined by several friends of my grandparents or aunts and uncles who had no close family of their own. We'd feast over laughter until we could eat no more. Then we'd clear plates and bring out the stuffed artichokes before breaking into the fruit, nuts, and dessert. The evening would die down as Poppop sat at the head of the table, endlessly stirring his coffee and straightening his folded napkin.

Five years ago everything changed when Poppop was at work one morning and by that evening he was gone. None of us were prepared for the loss. The large five bedroom house felt big and empty for the first time, and it was so quiet without Poppop walking around, chuckling at his own jokes. Chou and I spent countless weekends packing up the puppies and driving to Jersey to be with Mommom. We laughed, cried, and remembered my amazing Poppop.

Slowly Mommom began to move forward. She got her dream dog, a standard poodle, to spoil and pamper, the very thing she did best. She started painting and crafting again, and loved showing us her latest creation. She was incredibly talented and we loved seeing her masterpieces. We started cooking with her and she taught us so many of our favorite family recipes. Mommom was a master supervisor and would sit at the head of the table as she instructed the rest of us. We made gravy (marinara sauce) with meatballs and braciola, pirogi, pignolis, and pizzelles. Cooking with Mommom was always, "a little bit of this, a little bit of that" and rarely included actual measurements, so we'd make it with her on the weekends, and go home and make the same dish several times in a row until we felt confident we had it mastered. Chou took over breakfast duty in Poppop's absence, and Mommom would always say how nice it was to have real eggs instead of her "phony eggs" she normally ate.

We spent hours and hours going through all her treasures and years of memories as she prepared to sell her home. We found bridesmaids' dresses from the weddings of my parents, aunts, and uncles. We found gifts from her wedding and family heirlooms from my great grandparents as well as favors that Mommom had made for my wedding. We sorted so many pictures of so many amazing memories, terrible fashion blunders, and crazy relatives. We found endless crafts, some completed and others just started. Mommom had a kitchen gadget for everything imaginable, a fair share of infomercial products, and an entire bedroom closet packed with pots and pans (in addition to the ones in the kitchen). We found every closet, cabinet, and dresser packed to the brim with years worth of memories... and junk.

I'll never forget calling Mommom to tell her I was expecting E. I told her she was going to be a great grandma to which she immediately responded, "I've always been a great grandma." That was Mommom. All I could do was laugh and agree. It was true! However, Great Grandma was a little too old fashioned for Mommom, and E knew her as G.G.Mom. E was every bit as spoiled and loved by her as I was as a kid. Every picture I have of Mommom in the past two years is of her and E. Every time E saw Mommom she heard, "How's the most beautiful girl in the whole world?!" followed shortly by "Who loves you more than I do? No one. No one loves you as much as I do!" Every single time.

We lost Mommom this month. There are no words to describe how much we will miss her. Her telling us to make it nice, "because nice matters", pointing with a loose sideways fist because somehow that was more polite, and trying desperately to rein in my awesome aunts as they threw rolls from one end of the table to the other in the middle of a nice holiday meal. I'm so thankful that Mommom was my grandma and for the years we got to spend with her. I'm also upset that E won't remember the woman who loved her the most.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

New York City

I'm a little in love with New York City. I love the hustle and bustle, the ever changing crowds that I could sit and watch for hours on end, the ease of public transportation, endless food options, and the Yankees.

This spring, we snatched Yankees tickets for one of their last home appearances of the year, which landed on a weekday and on my birthday. Up until the week before the game, we had no plans or reservations for the entire trip, knowing that the only important event had been booked for months. We ended up driving to the city and staying in a great little B&B in Brooklyn, walking distance from the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. We enjoyed a stroll through the borough and the gardens, although many of the flowers had bloomed and died as the days grew shorter and the nights grew colder.

We decided to head to the game early to watch batting practice and get to see some of the players up close, since our seats for the game were out on the bleachers, far away from everything but the bullpen. We arrived shortly after 5pm when the gates were supposed to be opening, and were met by a crowd of people waiting. Long story short, they didn't open the gates until 6, due to an issue with that night's giveaway. Needless to say we missed batting practice, and got to our seats in time for E to start an award worthy meltdown. She had been completely content for the 50 minute Subway ride and the hour wait in line, but she was done! We decided to get her some food in hopes of distracting her from her misery, and Chou went off to see what he could find. He returned shortly with an Italian sausage sandwich loaded with peppers and onions. My dear 22 pound, 21 month old daughter ate the whole entire sandwich, bun, peppers, onions, and all, and then continued munching on fries for the rest of the game. I guess that meltdown was merited. Unfortunately, the Yankees lost miserably and we didn't get to see Mariano come in and save the day one last time. However, the Yankees rock and we get a free ticket for a game next year thanks to the bobblehead disaster. I'll take it!

The following morning, we enjoyed a hot breakfast at a cute landmark diner in Brooklyn. Breakfast as a family with no rush, no schedule, and no looming to-do list is nearly unheard of in my house, so our little diner breakfast seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we cherished every moment! We spent the rest of the morning checking out the memorial at Ground Zero, and then headed up to Times Square to have lunch with one of my college roomies.

I'm now ready to up and move to Brooklyn, but Chou, who just started a new job that he loves, is a little less convinced. I'm sure next year we'll stay a little longer, enjoy a free Yankees game, and I'll let NYC romance Chou.