Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Another first

Anna started her new preschool today, and, as a result, I have been mentally not in my office for most of the day. The reasons for the switch are several, but the big ones are, in no particular order:

*outside play space (city centers have a hard time with this, and the new place has THREE outside play areas);
*a preschool class in which all the kids are potty training;
*ten minutes to school instead of fifty - a real plus when potty training kicks into high gear;
*five days a week for less money than four days a week;
*a more clearly-communicated curriculum;
*priority enrollment for the private kindergarten and elementary school extended-day care programs

We (okay, I) bid a tearful farewell to Anna's old classroom on Thursday. Tessa is still at the city center, so I haven't had to make a full break yet. Friday, we visited the new school to drop off Anna's things, and she got to run around the room a bit. Mr. Asco dropped her off at the new place today and called to let me know how it went when he got to his office. The image I was left with after this conversation was Anna sitting in a teacher's lap, crying (even though, of course, she was doing fun things and not crying for a good portion of her drop-off time).

I figured that this couldn't be how her full day was going to go, so I called, feeling ever the hovering mommy, and asked how Anna was doing on her first day. Lovely director said she'd seen Anna dancing around in her new classroom and figured things were going well but that she'd just pop in and check. She came back on the line a couple of minutes later to tell me that Anna was engaged in computer time with some of her new classmates and looked to be doing Just Fine.

Those images are better ones to carry around for the rest of the day.

I'm still guessing that, by the end of the day, Anna will have organized some kind of posse to ride over to the closest grocery store for some ice cream...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dear Tessa: Month 3

Dear Tessa,

Last week, you turned three months old. At this point in her life, your big sister was sleeping through the night. I'm just saying. Of course, you do sleep, but when and where is still pretty up in the air. I'm very grateful for the 4- to 5-hour stretches at night, but they start about three hours before I can actually call it a night and crawl in, so you do the math. During the day, you take little catnaps on Daddy or me, or on the couch:


As cute as your little blueberry self is there, and as completely crashed-out as you might seem, we've learned that moving you from this position to somewhere more conducive to good sleep habits usually results in your waking up, indignant at having been moved. Like many babies your age, you go into a very satisfied milk coma after a feeding, so I often have the pleasure of a forced time-out from various chores around the house in order to let you nap:

These are moments I will be hard-pressed to give up, even if I'm eventually yielding them to a better night's sleep. I realize every day that this is the last time I will be mother to one your age, and before I know it, there's another minute, hour, day, week, month gone. It's all I can do to drink it in in the small opportunities I'm given and hope that I'll be able to remember the smell of your sweet baby head resting on me after a big meal and the sound of your first cooing conversations.

You're not terribly thrilled about tummy time, but you're doing a great job of holding up your head on your own, with just a few wobbles and bobbles that are probably a preview of what you'll look like in that warm lecture hall right after lunchtime in about eighteen years. But after a few minutes of tummy time and trying to climb Mount Boppy, you collapse from the sheer effort of it.

That's your big sister. You guys are pals, even if you don't believe me when you read this in seven or eight years' time. For a few weeks now, when Anna is being her super-silly self and laughing maniacally over some caper of Dora's, you light up and can't take your eyes off of her. More recently, when she sees you smiling, Anna breaks into a sweet, quiet smile and just watches you. When she's in your field of vision, she's your whole world, and I am amazed at how early your relationship with her is emerging.

You still love it when I sing to you; it's a guaranteed way to get a smile out of you, almost regardless of what might be distressing you when I start. You're even starting to sing back, and you light up in smiles during our duets. But now Daddy and I aren't the only ones singing to you. You started day care this month - slowly at first, just two days a week until next month, when you'll go four days a week. I told myself it would be easier than it was when I left Anna there, and, in some ways, it has been. I know the drill - where the bottles of liquid gold pumped milk go, how to fill out the daily sheets, where your spare things are - and so the transitions are much smoother. But I cried when I dropped you off that first day, and I miss you - wow, how I miss you. And, no matter how big you get and how many more of these beautiful moments are behind us, I will always leave a little bit of myself with you, wherever you are.

Love,
Mama

Monday, May 21, 2007

Signs I am OLD, Part Two

Mr. Asco and I went out on a date night this past Saturday. Dinner, movie, and then a stop at Ben & Jerry's before heading home. The Ben & Jerry's line was long, and there were a lot of college kids home reuniting with their friends. Overheard in line:

College girl: This is the most kiddie night ever! Ice cream and going to see Shrek.
College boy: (Something about Shrek I didn't catch)
College girl: I know! Just like when the first one came out in middle school!

And then my head exploded.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My two critics

Anna used to love it when I sang to her. For the past few months, though, whenever I sing along with one of "her" songs in the car or somewhere else, this is the response I get: "No, mama?" With that inflection, as if she's almost apologizing for asking me to stop singing already. Sometimes, I don't even get the "No, mama?" but just a furrowed eyebrow and a shake of her head. The child can be worse than Simon Cowell.

Tessa loves it when I sing to her. She seems happiest when I get right in her face and sing to her (Who's my little Tessa tot, sweet little tiny tot? Who's my little Tessa tot, sweet baby girl? You are my Tessa tot, I sure love you a lot! You're my little Tessa tot, sweet baby girl!). But she also seems to settle a bit in the car if I crank out a tune while she's fussy. Of course, with both girls in the car, I can't please everyone.

Today, we stopped on the way home to fill up the mom-mobile's gas tank. It's too depressing to watch the pump rack up the bucks, so I hopped back into the car to sit with the girls while the tank filled. Since I wasn't driving, I could turn around and see Anna. The song playing was a tongue twister song (Betty Botter by Ralph's World), and I sang it at her full-on. She didn't ask me to stop. She didn't shake her curly little head at me. As the song finished up, a huge grin spread across her face, and then she applauded.

Miracle

I now own a swimsuit that - wait for it - I don't hate.

In fact, I might even like it, but I don't want to get too crazy. The only downside is that, with any luck, it will only be in use for one season. I don't plan to be carrying around this extra baby weight next summer, so I probably just dropped a bunch of cash on a suit that won't get all that much use. That's okay - I can always buy the same one - smaller - next year, right? And it was well worth it not to feel totally squicked out at the idea of hanging out poolside with the family this summer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pleasure reading?

I love to read and try to carve out time in my life to get lost in books. This tends to be a few minutes before I sack out at night or over lunch at work. This is purely pleasure reading - losing myself in a good narrative and with engaging characters - but there's something wrong lately. I seem to have a terrible knack for choosing beautifully written books in which little children die. This is decidedly not relaxing, whether it's foreshadowed or sudden, and I'm wondering: Is it really necessary to make a killer story, at least in part, on the backs of fictional little children? Come on!

My current tormentor is Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks. It's a gorgeously written novel about the Plague. Yes, I know, I may have set myself up with this one. But the last book I read by this author (March) was so darned good that I couldn't resist. In the middle of the awful events you know are going to be part of a story about the Plague, there's this passage:

"I put my face to their necks and breathed the yeasty smell of them. God warns us not to love any earthly thing above Himself, and yet He sets in a mother's heart such a fierce passion for her babes that I do not comprehend how He can test us so." (p. 33)

Whatever you believe or don't believe, the gist of this passage is something that, to me, nails the powerful, all-consuming passion of motherhood. So, despite knowing what will befall these little ones, I'm still reading...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Quote of the Day

Anna, at dinner:

"Mmmmmm...yummy green beans!!"

Followed immediately by her devouring close to half a pound of steamed green beans, pulling many of them through a small pool of hummus (at her request) first.

What a kid.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mama's Day

It hardly seems possible that this is my third Mother's Day as an actual mother (not counting the one in 2004 when I was pregnant with Anna, which I do, but whatever). Here's what I'm thankful for this Mother's Day:

1) Two beautiful, healthy little girls who delight me beyond belief every single day and have showed me a whole new way to look at the world.

2) An amazing husband who is incredibly supportive and the best partner I could ever hope to have in this adventure. (The spoil-me-rotten spa gift certificate he bestowed on me this morning has nothing to do with that descriptive. Really.)

3) A mom of my own who is too far away and still manages to lend her support and sense of humor from a distance as well as during her visits.

4) A mother-in-law who's also too far away and always makes me feel like I'm doing a great job balancing work, myself, and mothering her granddaughters.

5) My mommy friends, who really get it. I mean really get it - I don't know where I'd be without them. This category isn't complete without a shout-out to my daddy friend, Mark, too; I'd be lost without our weekly lunches!

6) My non-mommy friends, who were part of my life before I had the girls and will, I hope, always be part of my life, no matter where their journeys take them.

7) The guys I work for, who have been beyond supportive of my role as a mother, whether through flexible scheduling or just swapping parenting stories.

All this goes to prove - to me, at least - that no mom is an island. I'm sure I could keep this list going beyond these major players, but I hear the pit orchestra starting up. Or is that Anna? Happy Mother's Day!

Minutiae

Okay, so the details of Tessa's daily activities aren't technically trifles, but writing every single thing down for weeks on end can be a bit tedious. Yesterday, I made the executive decision to stop writing down all her feedings and diaper changes and just stick to a sleep log now.

Before anyone thinks this is a second child getting short shrift, wait! I checked the log I kept for Anna and found that I stopped tracking these details around the same age. Of course, Anna was sleeping through the night already at this point - not that I'm trying to suggest anything, TESSA - and I really wasn't feeling the need to keep track of everything. Tessa's weight gain has been great, and we have no concerns at all about her feeding and hydration, so I'd rather focus on sleep now. Wouldn't we all?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Signs I am OLD

I was browsing in H&M today with Tessa while we killed a little time before her 3-month picture session. I see this cute little cap-sleeve shirt and think to myself, "What a cute little cap-sleeve shirt!" My eyes move up to the sign over the cute little cap-sleeve shirts. The sign reads "Today Only! 30% off All Dresses!"

OH.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

American Idol redux

Oh, geez, FINE. I admit it. I'm completely hooked on American Idol this season. Of the top six, I think there's one who's the clear bottom of the pack, and that person wasn't the first to go tonight. Must keep the faith that my remaining four favorites will indeed be the top four. I think I'm so into the show this season because this last group really seem like good folk who care a lot about each other. Mush mush mush, whatever, but I think it makes for a better show.

Hello. Is it so unreasonable that I find Jon Bon Jovi hotter now than I did twenty years ago? And that I think I might just have to buy my first Bon Jovi album in so many years this summer? My inner rocker chick is well pleased; that song was money.

And there it is - that's the one I thought would be leaving tonight for sure. Now it really gets interesting... but Barry Gibb?