Saturday, September 29, 2012

Isla: 6 Months

Isla turned 6 months on Friday 9/28. Thursday I took her to her 6 month pediatrician appointment where we got these stats:

Height: 26 in, 56%
Weight: 17 lbs 12 oz, 80%

Respectable, but petite compared to her big brother. She's not the biggest 6 month old in the world, but she is healthy and for that I am so thankful.

She's growing every day in her baby skillz. She can sit unassisted for small, very small, periods of time. She's army crawling, and occasionally she gets up on her hands and knees for a few seconds at a time. I've been trying to discourage all of this forward movement. It's mostly been verbal discouragement: "Isla, there will come a day when you will actually have to do something with yourself. Please, for my sake, enjoy laying about while you can!" (I'm kind of nervous. I don't know what I'm going to do when two of them are running around the house... )

I captured her on Friday having a great time looking in the mirror on a play mat:

Who's that girl?

She's hilarious!

And smart. 

She's been on an exclusive diet of breast milk. Today, in honor of her 6 month birthday, we went crazy and gave her breast milk mixed with cereal. Super indulgent, I know. She could have been less interested but that would've been a challenge. So, we'll put the cereal away for now and try again in a few weeks.

In it went...

..and out it came.

Despite her lack of interest in actually eating, she managed to convey quite the range of emotions: from suspicious to surprised to appalled: 

Seriously, it can't be that bad.

She's sleeping from about 7 pm to 7 am, waking once or twice to eat, most nights one time around 3 or 4 am. She takes two naps. One in the morning around 9. They both go to sleep for an afternoon nap at 1 in the afternoon. She loves interaction. She loves her Dada and her big brother. She also does well "playing" on her own for a while. ("playing": rolling around and putting things into her mouth.) She also loves anything that rattles, squeaks, jingles, etc

We could not be more delighted with this girl! The only thing I'm disappointed about is that she's growing up so quickly!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Potty Training: A Qualified Success Story

I hope that John doesn't one day read this and become incensed that I felt at liberty to discuss his bodily functions so freely with all of our friends and family. Surely he'll enjoy the stories as much as we do, right? (John, if you're reading this, you should know that it is every child's burden to live with embarrassing stories from his childhood until everyone in his parent's generation is incapacitated. I know this from experience.)

We've hung in there with potty training. John goes reliably on the potty and proudly announces "I went tee tee!" whenever he emerges from the bathroom successful.

If I'd known exactly what I was getting into, I might have waited to initiate it. But, since we're in the middle of it, we may as well keep going. It is very manageable right now, but no more manageable than having two kids in diapers, really. I suppose I'd convinced myself that having only one in diapers would afford me all sorts of extra time that I could use for lounging and eating bon bons. Not so.

He rarely tells me when he needs to go (he's far too busy) so I have to keep on top of it, taking him often. Our saving grace has been that he doesn't have to go that much. Some children seem to go a lot more often than others. John only goes maybe 4 times per day, so it's not hard for me to keep up with. But when I lose track occasionally, he does have accidents.

One thing that we haven't had to deal with is going  #2 on the potty. He still wears diapers over night and during naps, and 99.9% of the time this is when he goes #2. There is that 0.1% of the time that adds a little unpredictability to our lives, spices things up!

Last Friday on our way to a church retreat, we stopped to eat at Panera. John suddenly stopped chatting and eating. He lowered his brow and grew still and extremely focused. I thought he might be contemplating one of mankind's perpetual conundrums (which came first, the chicken or the egg?) No. He was just pooping his pants.

You'd be in for an unpleasant surprise if you mistook that doggie bag for a delicious pastry we decided to bring home. I'll let you guess what's inside.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pom Poms: The Final Frontier

I believe that humanity has only just scratched the surface of what is possible with pom poms. I wouldn't be surprised if they are instrumental in getting men to Mars.

The possibilities are endless, you can:

Sort them
Count them
Stuff them
Stick them
Use them for any number of crafts

With that kind of versatility, one can only logically assume that they can also be used for some sort of rocket propulsion, right?

 I've frequently seen this "pom pom stuff it in" activity bag. I happened to have everything I needed on hand so I put one together last week.

In the far left of the first picture you can see the sour cream container with the hole cut in the lid. That's where he stuffs the pom poms. I also gave him a spice container and some colored cups that I happened to have into which he can sort them by color. He isn't yet interested in sorting by color, but he does love to stuff. You can see, he stuffs his pom poms, takes them out and then stuffs them again, with a gravitas to rival that of Tom Hanks in Apollo 13. He takes this so seriously he wouldn't even look up for a picture.

Another upcycling success story!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


When John was an only child, I would often, to my shock and awe, see babies zonked out in the unlikeliest of places- on their parent's shoulder at a loud party, in the swing at the park, on the floor of a raucous nursery.

John is a good sleeper, but after he emerged from his newborn stupor he wouldn't fall asleep out and about.  Never while being held. He rarely even fell asleep in the car unless it was close to his nap time.

Then it hit me. I was witnessing  another symptom of "subsequent syndrome." These children were "subsequents"- second, third, fourth children.

Subsequents don't get all their naps for one reason or another. They're on the go more and they have to deal with noisy siblings in the house when they do get to sleep. It's a trade off.  Firsts are well rested, subsequents less so, but they develop a valuable skill: they can sleep through the main act of a three-ring circus. Frankly, I wish I could do that.

Here's my favorite subsequent who missed her morning nap due to a melee of  marauding toddler boys ransacking our house this morning. Thankfully no one was injured.

Sleeping in the bouncer

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Dispassionate Assessment of Isla's Strengths and Weaknesses

I have to take a moment to gush about  Isla. Poor thing, she doesn't get very much face time here. For one, because her mother is a poor historian. Secondly, because someone frequently interrupts her photo shoots:

I could not be more delighted with her. I did not think that I could have another baby as happy, cute and wonderful as John was, but Isla has been the definition of happy, cute and wonderful.  Perhaps my children are extraordinary. Or perhaps it's just that they're my children.

There was a time when I felt sorry for all my friends who only had girls. (Of course I'm sure they felt sorry for me since I didn't have a girl.) With each new pregnancy I heard of, I felt secretly disappointed for the women who weren't having boys. After all, I had a boy and since he is the best thing since sliced bread, well, how sad for everyone else...

Then Isla was born, and now I see that I couldn't have been more foolish. I can't imagine how we got along without her all these years!

She is tailor-made for snuggling. I defy anyone to resist snuggles when she's around. You can't do it! She's such a soft, happy little dumpling that I am compelled to spend my days nuzzling her neck.

And her smiles! I'm just going to be totally cliche and say that they light up my life. It is impossible to be in a bad mood, have a bad attitude, feel irritated that the house is a disaster, etc when she's smiling! I just can't understand how she's so cute. It boggles the mind. Of course, if she were a hideous troll, I wouldn't know it. (But I know she's not!)

She can also scream bloody murder with the best of them (them being babies- a group renowned for their screaming). Yet all of her screaming is done during the day which is fine by me. I can deal with screaming all day. She sleeps like a champ at night, and that's when it counts. And she by no means screams all day. But sometimes it seems like she's screamed all day. Then, looking at the clock, I realize it's only been five minutes.

Everyone told me that having a second child is a lot easier than having a first child because experience makes for a more confident and relaxed second time around. I find this to be true and not true for me. I am more relaxed, which I didn't think possible as I was very laid back with John. But there were things that I was attentive (okay, obsessive) about with John that I rarely think about now- like how many times he ate during the day. I dutifully counted his feedings for months. Isla? I have no idea how many times she eats. She's gaining weight! She's happy! Great! I must have enough milk.

I was also very concerned with John's schedule. He never missed a nap. These days, I know that I'm not going to get anything done ever again anyways, so I just enjoy holding Isla. That's not to say I'm not trying to get us on a schedule, but a lot of times I get side tracked by giving her so many kisses! (It's impossible to stop.)

So, I would say that I am more relaxed this time around, but that doesn't necessarily translate to things being easier. Some things are harder. Many times life feels like walking through quicksand- it takes forever to get anywhere. The house is a mess much more than not, I haven't been back to the gym as often as I'd like, and I'm still working on pinning down that elusive schedule. But some some things are easier- they entertain each other! Overall though, I think I am enjoying her babyhood more than John's, if only because I know how fast it passes. Also, I appreciate that she's immobile and not yet throwing tantrums.

They love each other and that is one of the highlights of my life. She laughs at John's antics and he laughs at her laughing at his antics. When we, Isla and I, walk into John's room in the morning he says: "Good Morning, Isla!" What am I, chopped liver? She's always the first person he asks about when he wakes up from his nap. His dad is the second person.

Every night when they're both in bed I kind of wish they were still awake. Kind of. I'd never consider actually waking them up, mind you.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

When Bibliophiles Marry Normal People...

... conversations such as this might result:

To set the scene, we were sitting down to watch the first installment of the HBO series John Adams. The movie is prepped, Peter has his popcorn in hand en route to his mouth. Next to him I'm growing increasingly overwhelmed. I began thinking about how much I'd like to reread the book John Adams by David McCullough. I gazed longingly at it on the bookshelf. Then, on a lower shelf I noticed the Complete Works of Mark Twain which I'd also like to read, and which is thick enough to double as a mattress. Then my thoughts shifted to a book that I was reading earlier that afternoon in which the author made the point that an ambitious reader might read only 2,600 books out of an estimated 28 million that will be published during her lifetime. I quickly became overwhelmed! So I blurted out:

Leslie:  "I'm dismayed!"

Peter:  "Why?"

He was understandably exasperated that my announcement came at just the moment we were to commence our relaxing Saturday evening movie.

L: "There are so many books to read and so little time!"

P: "...? Whatever. You read all the time. You can read a lot of books."

L: "I know but there are so many that I'll never get to read!" 

P: "Who cares?"

And can you believe that, far from sharing my dismay, he continued eating popcorn and pushed the play button as if he didn't have a care in the world? This must  be a bibliophile problem (not to be misconstrued as an actual problem.). I suppose not everyone can always have her nose in a book or many important things would never be accomplished. For example, no new books would be written.

Here are the books that I did get to in August:

Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand. You must read this. I can't recommend it enough. It's the true story of  Olympic runner and WWII airman, Louis Zamparini, who crashed in the Pacific, survived 47 days on a life raft and then a few years in a Japanese POW camp. The man is still alive. His story depicts the best and worst of humanity. Without giving away too much, the final scenes of him running through Nagano are a breathtaking picture of triumph and redemption- I definitely cried! I'm still thinking about it and I finished it three weeks ago.

Through the Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot. I love Elisabeth Elliot and would pretty much recommend anything that she's written. This wasn't my favorite of hers but it's well worth reading. It's the story of her first husband and his martyrdom at the hands of an indigenous Ecuadorian tribe- a tribe that Elisabeth Elliot and the sister of another martyred man later went to live with as missionaries. It's a very good story of God's grace in the midst of tragedy.

Chasing the Dragon by Jackie Pullinger. This is the story of a missionary to Hong Kong. She left England when she was 20 and went to work among a horribly impoverished population of drug addicted criminals. She tells a lot of amazing stories of God intervening in their lives. Many of them turned from drugs, murder, theft, and by God's grace, were able to escape the cycles of depravity swirling around them. I have to say, as amazing as a lot of the stories were, it was also very repetitive as a book. It was generally the same story each time.

Grendel by John Gardner. Do you remember Grendel from your high school reading of Beowulf? This has been on my bookshelf for a long time and I'm trying to go through those books and either clear them out or keep them (I only keep the ones I really love that I'll probably reread.) This one I'm going to clear out. Though it wasn't a bad read. I'd actually say it was a fascinating read. It's highly philosophical- some of which I picked up on, a lot of which went over my head. I don't think I'll be reading it again. (I have to be discerning when I'm only going to get to read approximately 1 out of  every 10,000 books available during my lifetime!)

Beowulf. Having read Grendel, I wanted to reread Beowulf as I didn't remember anything about it, but I do remember liking it. It's a good story but I think it's probably best read in an English course under the instruction of someone who is familiar with both poetry and Old English culture. I'm pretty sure some of its "enduring greatness" was lost on me.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


I'm pretty good about keeping the clutter to a minimum in our house, but I do hoard garbage for my children to play with. And, as unseemly as that sounds, it's not really even an exaggeration. I have egg cartons and metal lids, plastic containers and milk jugs  all stored up because I'm convinced that I can use them for a higher purpose. I'm a little bit of a tree- hugger at heart, and I like to think that by saving trash from the landfill and giving it to my kids, I'm saving the baby seals from certain death and I'm  not paying for children's toys. Everyone wins!

Here's my latest upcycled creation, twistie ties and spice containers:

So, basically I told John to put the twistie ties in the holes on the top of the spice containers. And he did. I think this is decent motor skills practice, although at this point John can do it fairly easily. Despite that, it did hold his attention for a respectable amount of time (for a toddler). I had some longer ties and I threw a pipe cleaner in and showed him how to wrap the ties around the containers. He can't do that, so maybe we'll pull it out and work on it occasionally.

Isla is also interested. :o)

A while ago I made these shakers, another trash upcycling adventure. They have not disappointed.  Kids love them. Some are filled with quiet objects (feathers, pom poms), some are filled with loud objects (bells, beads). When John was younger he enjoyed shaking them. Now when he gets them out we talk about opposites, loud and quiet.

One man's trash can actually be that same man's (or woman's, in this case) free children's toys!

And, to conclude, let's all look at how sweet Isla is: