Wednesday, April 21, 2010

If you know how to slow them down, let me know.

The hostas in front and behind our house are starting to really come up right now! I love how in the last week, the blossoms have exploded on the trees, the daffodils are in full bloom, and our back yard is coming to life again. The clematis on our back deck is already higher than the top of the railing! Springtime is so amazing - last year it was rich with the anticipation of our baby girl, and the year before that we were learning what it meant to be parents for the first time, to our sweet boy. We are so fortunate that God has lavished these blessings on us.

I figured you (*meaning mainly the grandparents, aunts and uncles!) wanted to hear more about those 2 little blessings... and since I've done a pretty good job of keeping you up to date on what they look like but not such a great job of what they're up to, here's the rundown:

This spring, Robbie is a chatty, always mimicking, tender hearted, mini version of his daddy. He cannot get enough of his GeoTrax train set (forever, thank you Rach!), sidewalk chalk, Thomas the Train videos / toys / sticker and coloring books / you get the idea, and going to parks. He can eat all of his meals with utensils, rarely spilling unless he is in a hurry or distracted, and still requires sippy cups. Our first 2 attempts with juice boxes did not go well. In the mornings when he eats breakfast, he'll look out the window and say to me 'beau-ful day!' if it's sunny outside. He also lets me know that my pink toenails are pretty. When we play outside he can always be caught doing 2 things - running down the sidewalk until he sees a house he likes, then darting into their yard and down the side of the house(!), and tromping up the mulchy hill surrounding the tree in our front yard, grabbing the tree with both hands, and yelling "Mom and Dad? MOM AND DAD!!" Yes, he is still doing this. I need to stop laughing at it or he's going to be a grown man saying weird things to trees with his nutty old mom nearby laughing her head off. I guess there are worse things...

One of my favorite things right now about Robbie is how engaged he is with Sunday School. Since Ellie will not let me leave her in the nursery (she screams), I keep her in the sanctuary during worship with us on Sunday morning and then we head to the cry room or pace the halls, depending on her needs. On our way we always check on Robbie. I usually find him sitting in the semi-circle of tiny chairs with his hands folded on his lap, attentively listening to the story, singing along with the songs, or holding his friend Riley's hand. Upon picking him up from his class, he always hands me his picture or craft and is so very proud of what he has created. In the car on the way home we talk about what he learned that morning, or what new songs they sang. This is where things get tricky - he's a really good communicator, but things are definitely getting lost in translation! We have to piece together songs by talking with other friends who have kids a little older than Robbie to get all of the lyrics right. For a few weeks he kept making a fist and saying, "pound! pound! pound!" then opening his hand up, splaying out his fingers and moving his hand back and forth over his other forearm, saying "saw! saw! saw!". We've since figured out it has something to do with 'building the house of Jesus all around', but who really knows.

I love catching Robbie in the act when he's being sweet to Ellie. My favorite is when he recently started to bring Ellie a toy to play with before he sits down to play trains. If she is nearby, I always ask him to pick one toy to share with Ellie so that she has something to play with (forcing him to learn to share, but also giving him some control over what that item is). He never fights me on this - always peaceably picks one of his trains (often Thomas!), and sets it gently in front of Ellie. Now he frequently does it without my asking. It pleases me so much, and I find myself pausing many times during each day to pray silently over his heart - Lord let him always love Ellie, be quick to share what he has with others, be kind hearted, and respond to You when You nudge Him!

Our challenges with him right now are temper tantrums. They flare up when he is tired or hungry (like clockwork, around 10am and 4pm). Also interesting is that I notice a change in his temperament if he hasn't had a paci to suck on after a while. Uh oh. We are on the cusp of getting rid of paci's altogether, a process I am dreading.

What is SO much fun right now is watching his sense of humor develop. He gets a kick out of making Rob and I laugh, and during the day when he and I sing together he often substitutes a word in the song for something silly... for example, "Jesus loves YOGURT! / ELLIE! / POOPIES! this I know, for the Bible tells me so...". I kid you not. Sacrilege? Maybe. Again, I have to stop laughing.

Ellie is in that phase where she is growing up exponentially and it makes me want to scream "SLOW DOWN!". In one weekend she recently decided to eat chunky solid food and wave hello. This past week she has experimented with opening, closing and squinting her eyes (I completely remember this phase with Robbie and all the pictures to prove it!), has developed a strong attachment to her snack cup and demands that it always be filled with Gerber Puffs, and continues to cut new teeth. She has her bottom middle pair of teeth, and the upper left middle tooth has been coming down for weeks. The next tooth to the left of that one has started to really come down, and I can already feel the bud for the tooth to the left of that one as well! {Pause with me for just a moment at the image of a baby girl with 3 teeth on the top left side of her mouth and none on her right!! Yes, it looks a little hilarious.} She crawls the length of any room she's in now, and the speed at which she moves is directly related to whether or not Robbie is in the room. If he's there, she's in a hurry to be by his side. If he's not, she sort of meanders around, exploring at her leisure.

I probably embarrassed myself this morning with the refrigerator repair man (who has 1 kid and 1 on the way, so maybe he 'gets it'...), but Ellie was contentedly playing near me as I spoke with him about our refrigerator, and I decided to give her a snack to keep her happy. Who knew that we would be discovering her new favorite food? I reached for Robbie's Gerber corn puff snack stick things... they're like the baby version of Cheetos. This one was flavored vegetable, and I offered one to Ellie... she nearly bit my finger off as she lunged with her face at my outstretched hand! From that moment on, she grunted and 'mmmm'-ed and clenched her fists as she devoured stick after stick! We moved from the kitchen to the living room when the repair man had to use a very loud piece of equipment, and continued our (her) snacking in the other room. Upon completion of his work, the repair man called me back into the kitchen for a quick explanation of what he had discovered. I tried to take the snack stick container with me (leaving Ellie in the living room to play with toys) and received an angry shout from her, so I left her with it for a few moments. I returned to find her frantically jamming 3 or 4 sticks in her mouth at the same time! Often her fist would get stuck in her mouth (releasing food from her grasp is sometimes hard to remember as she eats). Once she had sufficiently filled her mouth with food, she would let out aggressive grunts and satisfied 'mmMMMmmm!'s. I have never seen her like this with food! It was hilarious, if not animalistic. Glad to see she's got her mommy's appetite. :) I couldn't help but laugh out loud, and then explained to the repair man what she was doing because I felt awkward not telling him what was so funny to me in the other room. I know he probably didn't care, but his very sweet comment was 'don't you love that age!?'.

Ellie's recent challenges have been waking up through the night, often at 2 or 3am and sometimes again at 4 or 5am. No doubt this is due to teething (she typically sleeps soundly for 12 hours in a row), and last night I led a preemptive strike against her pearly whites by giving her a dose of Tylenol. Jackpot - she didn't wake up once! I feel badly that she is so bothered by the teething process, as Robbie didn't seem troubled until he started to cut his eye teeth and molars. She also continues to struggle with constipation, aggravated by the fact that she is eating more chunky solid food. It seems worse if I give her cheese or even soy yogurt, so dairy is still a problem for her system (not relenting even to multiple jars of pureed prunes! yikes.). I have heard from various people, including her pediatrician, that sometimes goat's milk is better to use when transitioning from formula to real milk, and that thought completely grosses me out. I am praying that her system figures out how to break down dairy so that we can stop buying Nutramigen and just switch to Robbie's milk (organic cow's milk) at some point in the near future. But it really pains her so we will just do whatever is necessary when the time comes.

Ellie seems to be enjoying the worship part of church more and more! She bounces in my arms and in the last 2 weeks started to 'sing' when we would sing, and let out happy 'ahhHHHhhh!'s when the congregation clapped after baptism! Her social side is emerging and I love it. Between this and the crawling, I really feel like I no longer have a 'baby'. She continues to be perfectly content in the stroller as long as there is something going on around her or we're moving, and I love how predictable she is with naps. I know exactly what to expect out of our days right now with both kids, and for that reason we're able to get out once or twice each day to do something fun / outdoors.

She still doesn't take a paci (which isn't a problem because she needs zero consoling throughout the day! happy girl...), loves her milk bottles and prefers that I do not help her hold them, enjoys a sippy cup or two of water every day and actually rejects juice, falls asleep on her own for naps and bedtime, is thrilled to take her baths with Robbie (the feeling is mutual, as he always happily exclaims 'Two fit!' upon both of them getting in the tub together), hates the part of getting dressed where you have to pull sleeves on and always gets mad at me, will NOT lay still for me to change a single diaper unless I give her a toy and really work to entertain her the whole time, leans over to stare at what Robbie is doing most of the time when we are driving in the van, and wears size 3 diapers / size 9 month and 12 month clothes depending on brand / size 3 shoes.

Also, I cut off her 2 curls this past weekend.

I haven't told anyone yet, and I didn't tell anyone I was going to do it. I just carried them down to show Rob afterwards and nearly cried, but pulled it together because really? They were ridiculous. Cute, but ridiculous. Worse than a baby mullet, I might point out. Why do moms get attached to things like 'original baby hair!"...?

I have found the easiest way to handle these things is don't think about it too much beforehand, don't announce that you're going to do it, don't gather opinions from people you know, and don't dwell on the fact that you only cut your baby girl's first curls off once, tuck them into a little clear baggie and wistfully assign them to a page in the baby book, to be pulled out in the future who knows how many times to touch... darn it, why am I crying!? haha.

She will just have to grow more. And yet I want to slow down all the growing! Apparently I can't have it all.

Oh, and I promise to share a little collection of the pictures I took during today's gorge session with the Gerber sticks. Curls not present.


kelly said...

i loved your updates! you're one great mama, ashley! sounds like you have a happy, healthy, well-rounded, fun brood. so ellie has to have nutramigen? that stinks! literally. we tried that only once when we were in the process of discovering josh's milk allergy. it's pretty nasty E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E stuff!!! yikes~

deblockers said...

I always enjoy reading what the babes are up to. It is fun to read about Ellie and see how similar her and Katelin are. Hope all is well. It sounds like you guys are having a very fun start to the spring.
Love to everyone,