Sunday, March 25, 2007

The best intentions...

Anna filled her training pants at naptime today and decided to deposit the contents into her new potty. I don't need to tell you how that went. After being resettled - or so we thought - she proceeded to move the potty onto her bed. Easy access, I suppose. The potty is now residing in the hallway while we figure out a new strategy.

In other news, the sound of running water seems to calm Tessa immensely. Yes, folks, our water bill will be tripling, but I hope to get some nice baths out of the deal.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Say cheese!

We got to see Tessa's first real smile today! She cracked a grin at Mr. Asco this afternoon while he was mugging for her, and it was delightful. I'd just been talking with our pediatrician at Tessa's appointment on Monday, and we were talking about the "smile and nod" response to the parents who absolutely insist that their two-week-olds are exhibiting social smiles and not little facial experiments, gas, etc. I remember Anna's first social smiles as lighting up a room in a way her superficial smiles never did, and Tessa's smile today was like that. I can't wait to see more!

It was well-timed, too - Anna is over her cold, but Mr. Asco has it in full force (I cleaned out the cold and cough section at Target this afternoon), and I appear to have a touch of it. Hopefully, that'll be all it comes to, but the reward of a smile from Tessa just made our day.

In other news, we had two bed changes for Anna today - augh! Our potty-training toddler takes her naps in her trainers and her overnights in diapers. She's been doing really well with training at school but at home - not so much. A lot of that is on us - we simply haven't enforced her training the way we need to in order to get results, and that's completely down to Tessa's arrival. We expected that anything we did at home would backslide when Tessa was born anyway, and, well, we're dead tired these days.

The problem is that Anna likes to take her clothes and diaper off at naptime and in the morning when she wakes up - especially if she has some quiet awake time before we come get her. This morning - wet sheets. After nap - wet sheets. The laundry has been buzzing today. So on my Target run, I picked up a potty that we decided would live in Anna's room. I'm not entirely sure how this will work, but we're not about to give her the run of the upstairs, especially the bathroom, unsupervised, and she's not about to tell us when she decides to disrobe. So we'll give it a shot and see how it works. For those playing along at home, that's four potties in the house now: the new one in Anna's room, the on-seat potty in the bathroom where she takes her bath, the potty seat in the mid-level bathroom, and another on-seat potty in the downstairs bathroom. All in the name of having an available potty environment on demand...

We also rewarded Anna for going on the potty for the first time tonight. We always jump up and down, clap, and tell her how proud we are of here, but tonight, after going potty successfully, she got two m&ms (which she adores). That reward system is not in play at school, so we're not going to use it every time here. We're hoping those principles of selective reward reinforcement will work on potty training, too...

And there you have more than you ever wanted to know about our older daughter's toilet habits. I'm going to look back on this entry and realize how exhausted I had to have been to have written paragraph upon paragraph about potty training. Still, there are people writing whole books about it. Be glad you're spared that.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

All clear

I had yet another OB appointment on Wednesday, and this time the news was good. The post-op infection I've been contending with has cleared up at last! This last antibiotic apparently did the trick, and my OB was quite pleased with how things are looking. So now I get a week off before going back for the routine 6-week postpartum check-up. Woo!

In other news, it was a glorious day here today, and Tessa and I took advantage by heading out for a long walk in our neighborhood. She slept while I trekked over the walking trails through the athletic fields, past the elementary school, and then back home. I hope that's just the first of many nice-day walks for us!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Idol, baby

We're sitting watching Speed Idol tonight (performances and commentary only, fast-forwarding through everything else). Tessa is dozing on Mr. Asco's lap, and Blake Lewis has just finished his rendition of Time of the Season. Catchy tune, so Mr. Asco starts singing the song to Tessa. Here's how it goes:

Mr. Asco, singing: What's your name? Who's your daddy?
Tessa raises her arm, pointing her index finger at Mr. Asco.

Whether she was actually identifying Mr. Asco as her daddy or just getting her groove on, that is one brilliant child.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Dear Anna: Month 30

Dear Anna,

Two days ago, you turned 2 1/2 years old. Since I last wrote, you experienced Christmas as only a 2-year-old can. You came downstairs to find a veritable pile of presents; Santa was awfully good to you this year! You played with each gift immediately upon opening it, and so the opening of presents took clear until lunchtime. No matter - we had a great time watching you have a great time, and I dare say you'll know what we're talking about when we hype Santa and Christmas a bit later this year...

After the holidays, you took off with some new and, I think, funny activities. We haven't had much snow to speak of this winter, but you know what a snowman is, and you are fascinated by the idea of building one by stacking three things on top of each other. You generalized the concept beyond snow and, since we really didn't have the snow anyway, started making snowmen out of anything else you could manipulate in a similar way. My favorite? The sushi snowman you made out of tamago (egg). "Make a snowman?" has been one of your most common requests or statements when faced with a group of things that might be piled on top of each other. You've also cracked me up by doing that classic thing little kids do because they've discovered how to upend their worlds - spinning. You spin around and around, saying "whooooaaaa" as you go, and then you try to walk. You stagger around for a few steps and then topple over. The whole thing delights you, so you get up and do it again. I'll remind you of the pleasure you got from this simple activity when we eventually have our conversation about alcohol...

Your personality has always been a delight to me - you're so funny and outgoing! These past few months, your verbal development has let us know even more about you, and we've loved watching you figure things out - and tell us about it. You want us along for the ride with you: "Come, Mama, come!" - spoken in the most urgent tone possible, is how you urge me to join you in a trip down the stairs or to your room. Your pronouns are still delightfully mixed up much of the time, so that when you say something you think is funny, you look at us with such pride on your face and proclaim, "You funny!!" And you have that hilarious toddler literal sense. As we prod you to put a full sentence together (asking for a banana please), we ask you to "say the whole thing." Your response to this is, of course, "The whole thing!" Well, of course!

Your discovery of new things, or things that you recognize from other contexts, is also now verbalized. I love the wonder in your voice when you say, "Oh, look at that! A leaf!" It's as if you need me to see it, too, since I couldn't possibly have ever seen something so amazing in my entire life. And, when I'm seeing that thing through your eyes, I really haven't. You're singing, too - it usually only takes you one or two hearings of a song before you can give it a title, ask for it, and sing it, either alone or along with the recording. Your favorites are Laurie Berkner and Rocknoceros, the latter being a local children's band that plays live shows in our area frequently. (You're known to their lead singer as the one who routinely begs for - and obtains - the egg shaker he uses on their popular shaker song.) The other night, I heard you singing along to a song on your iPod through the monitor as you settled down for a nap, and sometimes I hear you singing songs to your baby dolls - the ABC song is a popular choice.

I'm delighted at your food exploration - you'll try just about anything, and you actually like most things you do try, leaving us with lots of good options for your meals and snacks. In a nod to both your parents, you love wheat pita bread and hummus; you ask for them by name, which blows away our friends - such sophisticated taste! But, really, we just bow to your demands to try things that we're eating, unless those things are super-spicy or inappropriate for you, and you tend to like most things you've stolen from Mama and Daddy's plates.

Your favorite toy - really a collection of little toys - is the $10 Fisher Price medical kit I bought you recently (in conjunction with an Elmo Goes to the Doctor DVD). Of the various health care implements included in this set, and, really, of all your toys, the stethoscope has become your prized possession. You wear it to bed most nights, and you listen to our hearts, Elmo's heart, doggie's heart, bear's heart, and even your own heart several times a day. I'm convinced this stethoscope is one of the reasons your new baby sister is acceptable to you. You can listen to her heart, too, so she's at least good for something!

Needless to say, it's been a big last month for you. We prepped you for your baby sister's arrival as best we could. We read a lot of books about being a big sister. We encouraged you to play with your baby dolls and to take care of them - hugging them, kissing them, changing their diapers, reading them stories, putting them to bed. We talked about my belly and the fact that your baby sister was growing in there and would come home to live with us after she was big enough to come out. You responded to all this with as much understanding as we could possibly have expected from a child as young as you are. You kissed my belly, patted it, and told us when we asked that "baby sister" was in there. You memorized one of your big sister books, and you started telling us that certain things - like the crib in the nursery - were "for babies," our first real sign that you didn't see yourself as one anymore.

And then Tessa arrived, and you put all the things we hoped we'd taught you into motion. You kissed your baby sister, and you held her so gently and only tried to roll her off of you once or twice (and while we were right there to relieve you of the burden!). You've had more tantrums, and you get upset over seemingly little things more, since Tessa came home, but overall I can hardly believe how well you've adjusted to her arrival. You haven't once asked us to send her back, and you take great delight in telling us what Tessa is doing or where she is at any given moment. I have felt guilty about bringing Tessa into your life, amazingly (or not?), but only for now. Tessa requires a lot of our attention right now, and I think you're feeling the pinch a bit. I promise you, it will get better, and I think you're going to love having what I hope will turn out to be a lifelong friend and confidante in your sister.

What makes me want to stop the clocks and calendars is seeing your growing independence in the face of a new baby in the house. Not long after we brought Tessa home, you realized your beloved stethoscope was up in your bedroom. I was nursing Tessa and couldn't get it for you. You started for the stairs, and my instinct was to ask Daddy to go with you. I think he saw something in the purposeful way you went toward the stairs - and your room - though, and he asked you if you wanted to go ahead and get your stethoscope yourself. This was apparently exactly what you wanted to do. You went upstairs, holding the banister rails as you went, retrieved your stethoscope, and came back down just as carefully. You completed this task as though it was no big thing, but I felt years pass in those two minutes. You're getting so big, and so smart, and it'll be no time at all before you're going much farther than up a flight of stairs to your room. I can't wait to see all you'll become, but don't blame me, either, for wanting things to slow down a bit in the meantime. You'll always be my baby, and I love you.

Love,
Mama

Dear Tessa: Month 1

Dear Tessa,

You turned one month old this past Friday. Your first month on the outside has been a lot of fun for our family, as tired as we are! You're in that phase of basically eating, sleeping, and pooping the day away, and, even though I've been there before with your big sister, I can't stop staring at your amazing face and tiny fingers and toes. Your facial expressions change second to second, and you're just starting to figure out that those flailing limbs might actually be attached to you.

So much has changed for us that it seems impossible that you don't know it, too, even though you've had the biggest change of all. Just a few weeks ago, I was waddling around, as uncomfortable as could be, wishing away the days until you were here so that I could cuddle the reason for all that discomfort. And you didn't disappoint! Of course, now I'm not getting more than three hours of sleep at a stretch, and I'm sore for different reasons (a return to nursing on top of a post-surgical recovery), but I wouldn't trade you for anything.

Your personality is emerging already. You chirp a lot, it seems, conversationally, and your sights and grunts seem designed to communicate something to us. Your social smiles haven't emerged yet, but I'm starting to sense that you're entertained by our attempts to tickle and delight you with kisses and little games. I can't help but compare you to Anna, but it's not ever a question of better or worse - just different. You are slower to take to the bouncy seat and to non-cuddle time in general. You definitely seem to want to be held more than Anna did at your age (if I can trust my memory of those early days!).

I'm enjoying my days at home with you, even though it means balancing a work schedule (albeit reduced!) as well. I would love to just stare at you all day and soak up everything you're doing for the first time. I love watching you see things for the first time, and process them to the point of having to look away for the sensory overload. You've discovered the contrast lines in our house where the color on the walls meets the white of the ceiling. You've also found the windows that let in the best daylight. You are interested in the bright and playful toys on your playmat, but they overwhelm you quickly, and you get upset with them. We have another couple of months like this before I'll entrust your daytime care four days a week to the same wonderful people who took care of Anna when she was tiny. I hope you like it there as much as Anna has, but rest assured that I'll be watching to be sure!

I don't know what your daddy and I did to be blessed with two such beautiful and healthy little girls, but I'm immensely grateful for this family, and for you, our littlest member. Welcome to the world, tiny Tessa - I love you!

Love,
Mama

Tessa's one-month appointment

We hit the pediatrician's office again this morning for Tessa's one-month appointment. Ms. Thing is growing! Since her two-week appointment, she's gained just over half an inch in height and over a pound in weight - you go, girl! She's now 21 5/8" tall and weighs in at a whopping 8 pounds, 12.7 ounces. Her weight percentile has jumped, and her height and head circumference have stayed steady. She was also a chirpy delight for her entire exam, probably because I promised her a good feeding in the waiting room when we were all done.

I know from my day-to-day time with Tessa that she's doing just fine in the growth and milestones department, but it's just always so nice to have a qualified expert confirm that and tell you this is one good-looking kid.

PSA: Meet John Doe

Mr. Asco and I braved our first date night since Tessa was born on Saturday and went to see Meet John Doe at Ford's Theatre. This show, while I've never seen it before, is near and dear to my heart because the composer and co-author of the book is my friend Andrew. The show was wonderful - incredible music that evokes the period of the film (early 1930s) without sounding dated at all and a wonderful, engaging cast. If you are anywhere within the DC metro area, get thee to Ford's and see this show!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Squeamish?

If so, you might want to keep moving, but I'll try to keep this update easy on those with weak tummies. I went back to my OB for yet another postpartum visit last week; we're watching a little post-op infection on the c-section incision site. It's nothing terribly serious, and I'm able to get around just fine, but it is a bit of a bummer to deal with while trying to get back to something resembling normal here.

Anyhoo. The infection didn't look any worse. It didn't look any better, either, though, so my OB prescribed a new antibiotic and decided to take a culture of the infection in case it turned out to be anything requiring more in-depth treatment. And then he told me that he was going to "clean it up" with a little hydrogen peroxide. This made all the nasty stuff in the infected area literally bubble up to the surface. Ow, let me tell you - ow. My discomfort is apparently a good sign though, as it means that the tissue is viable, and the problem area is very superficial. I left that appointment, though, with a very optimistic OB, who feels that we've turned the corned on this. I seriously hope to report next week that I'm done with the ad hoc postpartum visits and only have my six-week post-delivery checkup to go!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

DST

I know lots of people who are dismayed by Daylight Saving Time in general and even more so by this year's earlier start. I am not one of them. It's dark when we get up no matter what time of year it is, and I find it downright depressing to both begin and end my commuting day in the dark.

These days, at home with a newborn, I find early darkness to be even more of a downer somehow, so I welcomed the earlier start of DST this year with open arms. When I was at home with Anna, the days were getting shorter and shorter, and Anna's witching hour (really, two to three hours) coincided with the early darkness. My response to this was to go walking with Anna at the mall (since it was also getting colder out), eat Auntie Anne's pretzels, drink Diet Coke, and do Christmas shopping. Lots and lots of Christmas shopping. Probably two Christmases worth of Christmas shopping. Needless to say, longer and warmer days are probably much better for our bottom line.

This week was lovely outside - warm and light late - and so Tessa and I took some wonderful jaunts outside. Then the temperature dropped fifty degrees in one day (no joke!), and it sleeted and snowed. But it's still light later, and we're on the right side of the solstice, so we'll be okay. And it's just too early to be doing Christmas shopping, right?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

One step forward...

...two back. Or something like that. As my OB said this morning, "there's always something." My something isn't the end of the world, and it's certainly not life-imperiling, but I do have a little post-op infection requiring some good strong (but nursing-safe) antibiotics. And two extra post-partum check-ups - hopefully not more than that. Good times. As I said to my sister today, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I'm busy caring for a newborn! How am I supposed to take care of myself, too?!

And you know what else? They should just make Thin Mints bigger. In their current bite-sized state, it's all too easy to go through a whole sleeve of them in less time than it'll take Antonella Barba to get voted off American Idol this week.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Two weeks and counting!

I've been remiss in writing here these past couple of weeks, but I'm guessing anyone reading will grant me a little leeway there, what with the giving birth and all.

Tessa is seventeen days old today and is doing just great. We brought her to the pediatrician for her two-week check-up today. Most babies drop a bit of weight in the hospital after their born while they learn how to eat on the outside - the two-week appointment is when pediatricians want to see that birth weight re-attained. I had a suspicion Tessa would not disappoint in this regard. Tessa did not disappoint in this regard and weighed in at a hefty seven pounds, three+ ounces! She's also grown two inches over these seventeen days. Overall, she's doing just great - eating well, processing her food well, growing well, sleeping...as well as one can hope.

Anna went back to school after a week at home with the new baby sister, and I think getting her routine back has been wonderful for her. She missed her buddies and her teachers, and she comes home every day, calling "Hi Mama!" which delights me to no end. She's demonstrating about what you'd expect by way of jealousy, curiosity, and tenderness toward her new baby sister. On the one end, she'll say things like "No baby sister! Give to Daddy!" if I bring Tessa to her for a sisterly snuggle. But on the other end of the spectrum is an episode like we saw this evening. Anna got a sticker at school today and wore it home on her shirt. After listening to Tessa's heart with her stethoscope, Anna bestowed this little treasure on her baby sister, affixing the sticker to Tessa's swaddling blanket. TOO CUTE. We're rolling with whatever she gives us, but overall, I think things are going pretty well so far in the big sister department.