Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fabulous, Darling, Fabulous

Ellie's path to superstardom has started small; she was in a local tv spot about a gift shop and candy store which is owned by people our nanny knows.  They thought that Ellie was adorable, and asked if she would be a kid looking at toys in this program.

So here's the link.  It won't let me embed the video, so you'll have to go to the page and look at it.  She doesn't appear for long, but it's adorable.

She had a great time doing it, and was paid in toys.  The cutest thing about the whole arrangement was that although she has retained exclusive title to the stuffed giraffe she acquired, she brought home another toy that she decided to share with Margaret because, as she explained, "that's what nice sisters do, isn't it Margaret?"  Margaret agreed, but looked as if she might want to further explain that that was what nice younger sisters do.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Must Have Been Something She Et

Margaret was sick this weekend.  Well, she was sick Thursday, and so didn't go to school (and was quite adorably worried that she might have missed something that she needed to make up).  Friday, she seemed better so we sent her.  All was well.  Saturday she did fine, and then we left her with a babysitter and went out to dinner.  Leo went back to hang out with his brother (who was visiting) and I went home.  The babysitter left, and I settled in for some peace and quiet.  Five minutes later, a vomit-covered Margaret came downstairs.  I washed her, remade her bed, started laundry, and disinfected the house.  It was not soothing.  She's been fine since, but we've been wondering what might have caused it.  

Then this morning, I snapped this picture.

I found myself muttering "Spend all of my life raising children to feed ruddy Margarets?  Not me."

Anyway, she seemed fine.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


So I have been bad about posting things here.  Very bad.  Part of this was because the time that I am sitting at my computer without people on top of me occurs when I am at work, and I have only been at work for 5 hours a day (while still doing my entire job), so things have been a little hectic.

Luckily, at this very hour and minute and second, I'm proctoring a standardized test, so I can write a lot of things without interruption.  Even if I would very much like to be interrupted.

Look, here's a picture that proves how busy I was just a few weeks ago.

At the end of every quarter, we write comments for every student so that their parents can understand exactly why they got the grade they got.  First quarter is a problem, because there's no break attached to it, so people have to teach the next week while they're trying to get comments done.  I was particularly slammed, because I was working this part-time thing.  So here I am trying to type my comments with Will.  He wasn't helpful.

Anyway, on Monday I start back full time, and although I won't have as much time to take pictures with my children, I will have a lot more time to write about them, so that's something, anyway.

Before I go and plan my classes for the next month, I'd like to leave you with a family picture.  It's about a month old, but is all of the kids on their great-grandparents' bench at the zoo.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Kindergarten Baby*

So, Margaret started kindergarten.

It doesn't seem like much of a change -- she's actually going to less school per day than she was last year -- but it's emotionally different.  She looks so big when she goes into the big brick building with her oversize backpack.  I think I can see her growing every day.

Ellie misses her something terrible, and her school doesn't start until September 9, so things are a little rough at the moment.  But Margaret is having the best time ever, and Ellie is slowly coming to terms with the fact that she isn't five, and she doesn't get to go to kindergarten.  It's been a tough transition for her, though.  We went to the playground the first day Margaret was in school, and Ellie lay under the bench I was sitting on and moaned about how she didn't know what she could do, and none of my suggestions were interesting to her.  It was very sad.

But Margaret likes kindergarten, so that's good.

*We've been reading Ramona the Pest as a cautionary tale, so the "kindergarten baby" insult is on my mind.

The Agony

Ellie went to the zoo yesterday, and as a special treat, she got her face painted.  She wanted me to take a picture of it, so I was so involved when we began to discuss her need for a bath.  The penny dropped that a bath might remove her face-painting as I took the pictures.  You can see this realization skittering across her face.

The point should be made that I agreed to give her a bath without washing her face, but she rubbed a wet hand across her cheeks and destroyed the butterfly all on her own.  So I'm not a cruel, face-painting-destroying person.  Nor do I take pictures of children who are suffering.  I mean, I do, but only because I was already taking pictures when I apparently shattered her world.

She recovered, eventually.

She's THAT child

So Margaret started playing soccer this week, and because I am a good mother who reads the guidelines about equipment requirements, we went and bought cleats and socks and shinguards.

She wanted pink.




I mean, there's nothing wrong with pink, but it is a bit much to have to buy pink shinguards that no one is going to see because of the mandatory socks (pink, in this case) over them.

But I got them, because she should get to pick what she wants, within reason, and the pink is just barely within the bounds of reason.

Isn't she cute?

Anyway, practice yesterday was canceled because of the rain (there was rain, lots of rain), but on Saturday, she had her first practice, and it was interesting.

She picked flowers off the field and came over to bring them to me.  She hugged me.  She stopped playing to yell that she loved me.  She was, in other words, that kid.  I have failed as a soccer mom.  I will do better with Ellie, I promise.

Dianthus Barbatus

We have not suddenly become a botany blog,* but dianthus barbatus is the official name of the Sweet William plant, and I have a habit (which I need to break) of calling him Sweet William.

Because he is sweet.  Look at this.

See?  Very sweet.  And also William.

*Though here is a very cute picture of William in the garden, which is like being a garden blog, right?

I am a bad mother

It's been four weeks since my last blog post.  I feel bad, but also part of the reason that it has been so long is that I have not had time to sit with my computer and both hands in the last four weeks.

Will continues to grow and sleep well; he's big on eating as well, which is part of the reason my lap has not been unoccupied at any point recently.

He's also spending some time bonding with his father, learning to watch the Cardinals games whenever possible.  Sometimes he even watches with his father.

Another exciting innovation is that he is taking bottles.  Honestly, he likes food no matter how he gets it, so there was no trouble introducing it.  But it does mean that I can get a little more done.  After I've pumped.  Which takes longer than feeding the baby.  This is a highly inefficient system, but it is facilitating my being at work right now blogging about being at home.*

Anyway, things are going well.  I'm back at work(ish), and so this space should have more going up in it, because I'll have some time alone with my computer.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Will continues to do well.  We had his 2 week checkup, and it turns out that he has grown 2 inches since birth (in length, not girth; they didn't measure girth, and it might have grown 2 inches as well).  He's gained a pound as well.  We need not worry about him.

He spends most of his evenings eating constantly.

During the days, he sleeps, eats, or is mauled by his sisters.

Great fun is had by all.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Sleepy Baby

Perhaps I didn't record it on this blog at the time, because I tend to try to present a carefully curated and rosy view of parenthood that doesn't involve admitting that I'm about to have a nervous breakdown, but Margaret's first few weeks of life were very stressful and sleep-deprived, and I was pretty certain that I wasn't going to be able to hack this parenting thing.  She didn't like being put down, and she didn't like being swaddled, but she really didn't like not being swaddled.  I went to bed at 7 and left Leo holding her on the couch until she grudgingly gave up and went to sleep, and then she was up every 2 hours or so to eat.

When Ellie was a week old, I asked the pediatrician if there was something wrong with her, because she slept so much.  When she told me that that was normal, I thought that I should have a retroactive discussion about Margaret's lack of sleep.

Will, it appears, is more to Ellie's way of thinking than Margaret's.  He's a good little sleeper, both at night (I've gotten at least a 4-hour stretch out of him every night since he was a week old, and he's pushing 5 and a half some nights), and during the day.  He seems to have decided to have two alert periods, one in the morning and one in the evening, with a lot of high-quality napping in between.  Of course, during both of his awake periods, he seems to feel the need to graze, so there are a couple of hours at each end of the day when I am pinned to the couch.  We will see how that works out.  I feel that other people may think they need things from me from here on out.

One of the nice things about Will is how good he is at relaxing.  It's like we have a boneless baby sometimes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

In Which Puck is Disappointed in Us

Puck has never really been a fan of the children.  I mean, I think he figured out that damaging them would not go well for him, because he's never been aggressive with them, but he's never sought them out or tried to make friends with them.  He's relatively fond of Ellie, I think, because one of the great joys of Ellie's life is feeding him his food, but he's not on board with our decision to fill the house with small people.

This is the look of a cat who is disappointed in the choices that you have made, and is muttering to himself about the fact that he got neutered.

Or it's a cat who wants me to stop taking googly-eyed pictures of the baby, and instead concentrate on doing something sensible, like getting him his food, because Ellie isn't there to do it for him.  One of those, though.  Definitely one of those.


I realize that there haven't been very many action shots on this blog recently, but part of the reason for that is that the children that are the most active are currently not around to be photographed, and William, though he has many sterling qualities, is somewhat limited in his sphere of activity.

He does, however, relax very well.

His preferred relaxing venue is on one of his parents, but he's willing to settle for bouncers and whatnot in a pinch.  In fact, as I type this, he's lying on a pillow right next to me, probably in violation of many safe sleep practices, but it does seem that if I'm sitting here with a hand on him, he probably won't stop breathing without my noticing and doing something about it.

I hesitate to make any sweeping generalizations about his character, but he is a good eater (he gained 3/4 of a pound between Friday morning and Monday morning), and he can sleep for relatively long periods of time, so I'm hoping that that is really part of who he is, and not just something he's doing for the first week of his life.

He has started being awake for longer periods of time (sometimes even in the daytime, which is a bonus) and has been looking around him.  He responds to voices pretty well, and last night got absolutely enthralled with a corner of the room.  So he's being a baby pretty well.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

So Mature

To begin with, I am not mature, not at all, and so I find it amusing when my children manage to contort their fingers into rude positions.  But that's a discussion for another day.  And probably not here, because I try not to solicit comment on my shortcomings as a parent.  Anyway, on March 1, 2012, at age1 month 1 day, I took this picture of Ellie:

Such precocity!

Imagine my delight, then, this morning, when I took nearly the same picture of Will.

Oddly, I have no record of Margaret ever doing this, which is surprising.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Cutest Sisters on the Block

I'm sure that at some point, the charm of having a little brother will wear off, but last I saw (before they headed off into the wilds of Wisconsin with their grandparents), both Margaret and Ellie thought that Will was pretty cool.*  Margaret is very loving, but also polite.  She asks before she squeezes.  They both love to hold him, so it will be quite the adventure once they get back.  Anyway, I love all the pictures of them together.

Ellie has been more concerned with his health.  Wearing the scrubs to the hospital nearly killed me.  It also nearly killed battalions of nurses, pediatric residents, med students, etc.  I had people coming into my room to ask to see the pictures because they had heard it was so cute.  So I am sure that you all want to see them as well.

So we're hoping the whole sibling thing goes well.  We'll keep you posted.

*The first time they came to visit, Margaret may have done the cutest thing ever; she slipped over to where he was, and sang "Billy Boy" to him very quietly, as a lullaby.  Sometimes she's amazing.

Helping Daddy

Leo has had a rather busy week.  He had a lot to get done at work, and there was that whole baby thing, and Margaret and Ellie are not quite self-sufficient, so he's been busy.

Luckily, he now has Will at home to help him.

He's more useful, perhaps, as a paperweight than an interlocutor, but with time and effort, I'm sure that he will become more involved.

It's Either Mommy or a Plush Monkey

So we came home from the hospital today, which is nice, because the hospital lacks a) comfy chairs and b) adequate heating.  I'm not sure why they keep it so cold, but it was chilly, and since I've only been there in winter when one imagines that one will need socks and long sleeves, I hadn't ever noticed.

I noticed this time.

Anyway, we brought William home, and set his car seat down in the living room.  There's not a lot that you would think that he would be able to convey about the changes that have been rapidly occurring in his life, but he gave a good impression of serious and honest thought.

He did not deign to share his opinions with any of the rest of us, but I am sure that they are valid and sensible.

Of course, when we put him in his bouncy chair, he tried to eat the monkey seat cushion, so it's unclear how much high-level thinking he's really doing.

I'm also a little put out by the fact that he apparently thinks that I'm a lot like a monkey appliqué.  But I suppose that there were many similarities, like the fact that both I and said monkey have been near his cheek.

Anyway, we're all home, and I have not let my pique at being likened to a bouncy seat carry me too far.  We're still feeding him.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Virtual Baby Book 3.0

So I've decided that it would be exceptionally cruel to the smallest of my children if I were to stop blogging at this point, because his sisters would have wonderfully curated accounts of their first 3-5 years, and he would have nothing.  It's the sort of thing that he would be bitterly recounting to his therapist at age 25 or so, so I think that it's a good plan not to give him that opportunity.

Anyway, he was born yesterday, and seems to be doing well.  He spent the day in the NICU, because he tried to choke himself last night, and they wanted to monitor him, but he seems to be doing well, and should be returned to me in the morning.

Ellie monitored him closely as well.

According to her assessment, his heart is doing fine, and going "thump, thump, thump."  So that's good.

They're both very excited to see him and touch him and hold him, which I think is good.  I hope they can rein in their enthusiasm a little bit, but I'm sure cold, harsh reality will set in for them soon enough.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day

So Mother's Day was fun.  I mean, it wasn't what you would call relaxing -- I relaxed on Saturday, with the brilliant innovation of Mother's Day Out, where a friend and I go to dinner and a movie all by ourselves -- but it was fun.

We started with brunch, made by Leo's sister and at their new house which is also our old house, which meant that the children got to visit their play structure, which they enjoyed.  And they enjoyed it so much that I remembered to call the people this morning to get a quote on moving it, because apparently Leo and his Dad have done it once, and feel that that is enough.  It's a fair point.

Then we went home, and the children played together almost civilly for quite a while, so Leo and I got to relax a bit.  And then I went to the grocery store with Ellie.

If you have a choice, do not go to the upscale, suburban grocery store on Mother's Day.  Just don't.  It was a horrible wasteland of horribleness.

Anyway, then I went and made dinner for Leo's mom.  Ellie helped.  Mostly with the dessert -- she decided that instead of strawberry shortcake, she would just have plain shortcake.  But she did lick the beaters after whipping the cream, so that's a win.

I'm not sure what the headband is in aid of, but it was very important to her psyche yesterday, so we just didn't ask questions.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lawn Maintenance

We spent some of the weekend working on the external appearance of our house.  We acquired a lawn mower, bought some potted plants and herbs (at the instigation of the children, which makes me wonder what their grandmother is teaching them at her house), and generally spent time outdoors.

Ellie and Margaret were very helpful.*

Some of Ellie's help suggested that she had ideas far above her station.

But we soon found her something that was more her speed.

She is an expert waterer, and also a very good nagger when she feels that her parents are not watering the plants as much as they ought to.

The girls also helped Leo assemble the lawnmower.  None of them read the instructions.

Ellie got frustrated after a while, but it's hard when no one respects your artistic vision for the lawnmower.

After the lawnmower was assembled, the girls sat on the porch and supervised Leo mowing the lawn.  You have to keep your eyes on Leo when he's mowing.  You never know what he's going to do.

*We're going to be using a specialized definition of "helpful" that has little to do with the actual meaning, and speaks more to their perception of their actions than to the reality.