Sunday, October 28, 2007

JOY!

Our daughters have some serious Red Sox mojo. We have a baby, and the Red Sox win the World Series that year. Not too shabby for a coupla cute kids. But no - we're not having any more. Sorry, John, Tom, and Larry.

What a beautiful feeling. What a great ride. Thanks, guys, and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dear Tessa: Month 8

Dear Tessa,

A week ago, you turned eight months old. It's been a month of big changes and developments for you. You switched day care centers in advance of my job moving later this year, and now you go to the same center Anna does. For a couple of weeks, you were even in an adjoining room to Anna, but then she transitioned to another room. You adjusted beautifully to your new environment, and I like your new room very much, but I miss my morning nursing visits with you terribly. I also miss your company on my commute - your singing in your carseat, and, of course, your counting as an HOV passenger!


All the same, it's great to see how easily you've adapted to your new surroundings. Your caregivers just love you. Your father reported that, on a recent pick-up, one of the teachers in the room exclaimed as he came in, "Oh, no! Tessa's leaving!" Even with a month-long case of the sniffles and yet more teeth (we're up to eight now), you are a delightful and happy baby.


We're still having issues with nighttime wakings, and I finally turned to your father a few weeks ago and told him I just couldn't do this anymore. I can, of course; it's amazing what you can tolerate when you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. All the same, this steady sleep deprivation is taking its toll. I've actually had this experience: someone asked me a question, and I stood there staring at her, absolutely convinced in my head that I'd answered her.


So it was time to bring in some sleep training. You're eating a lot more these days, and you're chunking up adorably...so we figured you were just conditioned to think you were hungry two to three times a night. I started feeding you for just a couple of minutes when you woke up (instead of ten minutes or longer) and then putting you down still awake. You fell asleep readily. You haven't eliminated the middle-of-the-night feedings, but I think at this age that one good nosh is still appropriate. And I'm still paranoid that your midnight hollers will wake up your sister, so I head in before I probably should. It's a vicious cycle, but we'll get there.


Your appetite is expanding on a daily basis, as is your food repertoire. Baby food is a staple, but now you also eat little veggie puffs and tiny peas. You get fidgety with spoon-feeding, but as soon as we plop some finger foods down, you dive in for the kill. You'll try anything once, and so far there isn't anything you won't keep eating. And eating. You're burning off your increased caloric intake by (drum roll, please) crawling! You started with a serious commando crawl, dragging yourself around the living room as you started to understand that you could get at your sister and, more importantly, your sister's toys. Within a few days, you were rocking back and forth on your hands and knees. Within a few more days, you had launched. You're still a bit unsteady, but you're moving, much to Anna's simultaneous delight and frustration.


You've also figured out how to sit up all by yourself. This alarms you when you do it in the middle of the night because you can't figure out how to lie back down again. We're stuck with that until you realize that what goes up will come down, but we did move the crib mattress down to accommodate your newfound ability to pull up to your knees.


Tessa, you're just amazing. I thought that I would constantly be comparing your development to Anna's, and I was worried that you'd get lost in that comparison. But two things happened: first, I didn't constantly compare you, and, second, you asserted yourself and just wouldn't slide into a neat comparison. These past few weeks, more people have commented that you and Anna look like sisters. And you do. But I see a resemblance, not a carbon copy. I see a beautiful, smiley baby with little dimples whose mouth turns into a wide little triangle as she repeats her favorite new syllable and then closes into a clenched teeth grin when she's done and basking in her pride. Anna was a a beautiful, smiley baby, too, with exclamations and grins of her own. But these are yours, and when you're doing your thing, I don't even think to hold you up by my memories of your sister at this age. How lucky I am to have you in my life.

Love,
Mama

Sunday, October 21, 2007

BLISS

The Red Sox win the pennant!
The Red Sox win the pennant!!
The Red Sox win the pennant!!!

I think I can get to work in a few hours on adrenaline alone...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dove Love

Dove Dark Promises, how I love thee. Thou art so much creamier and tastier than thy nearest supermarket rival, Hershey's Special Dark. Thy creator has seen fit to package you in seasonal splendor, with little notes on the inside of the pretty foil wrappers. Thy inspirational messages for the fall season, however, leave something to be desired. Is it just me?

"Take a walk through frosty grass leaving footprints."
OUCH.

"Watch the harvest moon rise."
Would that be before or after I've made dinner, cleaned up from it, and helped get two tiny people into bed?

"Get lost walking in a corn maze."
Why exactly would I want to do that? Am I assured of having sustenance besides the corn with me in case I really get lost? Will someone come find me and lead me out?

"The wind tells a story, listen."
Great. I'm going to let the wind respond to my preschooler's demands for a fourth and fifth bedtime story tonight, then.

"Dance under the Harvest Moon."
The same one I missed rising, right? My neighbors will have me committed.

"Press your favorite leaves inside a book."
So they can crumble and be aspirated by my eight-month-old, no doubt. But good form - we'll come back to this in a few years' time.

"Sit around a bonfire and watch the stars."
If I build a bonfire in our neighborhood, I will be more than committed. I believe the term is "jailed."

"Count the stars."
Are you fracking kidding me?!

"Take yourself and a book out to lunch."
Now this I can do.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sing!

I'm singing again. In an organized group, I mean - it's not like I really ever stopped singing. I sing all the time - in the car, to the girls, to myself, for no particular reason. Although not so much in the shower. I think I'm just not conscious enough at that hour to muster the coordination needed to bathe and hold a melody. But I digress - I'm singing again!

It's a church chorale. A good one, even! With a new director who really seems to know his stuff and chooses a terrific variety of arrangements. The Family Asco is in the process of getting all membered up at our new church (that's another installment altogether), and I joined the chorale at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. Asco has been amazing and supportive of my new endeavor, especially given what it adds to his own long day once a week, and Anna loves seeing Mama sing in the chorale. She sees the occasional rehearsal before services, as her preschool class meets during the regular service. This is probably the best arrangement, as her response to this vision is a delighted, "Mama! Mama singing!" And then she and her mile-wide grin join me in the alto section, where she proceeds to "sing along" with us, beaming up at me the whole time. Cute as this is, I was mortified the first time she did this, but she quickly became a bit of a chorale pet, and I knew - again - we were in the right place.

Rehearsals are one night a week and half an hour before the service at which we're singing. I wondered at the outset whether I could manage (logistically and in good conscience) a once-weekly evening commitment away from home. After the first rehearsal, I was in tears on the way home. Good tears - I really had no idea how big the hole was that used to be overfilled by my involvement in various performing groups until I started to fill it up again.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

This morning's commute is brought to you by the letter "N"

I'm pleased to report that the "N" in "Autumn" was in place on my drive in this morning. Perhaps I was harsh in my criticism of the business in question. Perhaps there's an "N" bandit on the loose, kidnapping "N"s from area business signs. In any case, there it was this morning, in all its glory. So, indeed: WELCOME AUTUMN.

But. I think I still prefer the suggestions - none of which require an "N" from my friend Dave:

HI FALL
YAY OCT
SCREW YOU SUMMER

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Peer

I have never once been called for jury duty. Today, I received a prospective juror questionnaire in the mail with instructions to fill it out and return it within ten days or face mauling by tigers.

My first thought? Cool! Maybe I'll actually get called and see something interesting! But not so interesting that I end up in one of those post-verdict jury pool interviews on the Today Show!

My second thought? I'm a nursing mom. Jury duty is the seventh circle of hell for nursing moms: long days and short breaks spent pumping in bathroom stalls with no refrigeration for your liquid gold. Oh, crap.

I set about filling in the form and found something that I don't recall seeing the last time I saw one of these (about five years ago when a friend at work received a questionnaire) - nursing moms have been added to the exemption category list.

Well, howdee. :)

Drive

You know you have a bad commute when the line between having a drive time of less than an hour versus more than an hour is drawn at 6:15am.

Mantra: It's all temporary. I can do just about anything for a couple of months.

At least our resident sleep terrorist only woke up twice last night and seems to be getting over her snuffles and the latest teething jag.

Random pre-dawn commuting observations:

1) If you don't have all the letters, don't put up the sign. "Welcome Autum" just pisses me off at 6:30 in the morning.

2) If there are two right turn lanes, and you are not in one of them, do not turn right. Particularly when my car is in the leftmost right turn lane. Further, do not indignantly flip me off when I realize you are on the verge of hitting my car and honk my horn.

3) Radio stories about how the commute in this region is the second worst in the country while I am slogging through said commute are really just preaching to the vehicular choir and are truly not productive uses of your broadcast time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Dear Anna: Month 36

Dear Anna,

A couple of weeks ago, you turned three years old. How in the world are you already a preschooler? There's so much going on in your world these days that I hardly know where to start. So let's begin with the gross, after a peek at your happy, smiling for the camera face.


For four nights running recently, you had either a nosebleed or an escaped poop. That's a lot of laundry but, more so, a lot of worry. Your first ever nosebleed didn't bug you, but it made your pretty little bed look like something out of CSI. After being reassured that the occasional nosebleed is pretty common among tiny people who are starting to, ahem, explore their nasal regions, we relaxed a bit. And then there was the poop. As you started potty training in earnest, you became resistant to keeping your diaper on at bedtimes, wanting instead to change yourself. Needless to say, this helpful maneuver had pretty messy results. Fortunately, as you became more determined to use the potty, you also became slightly less resistant to keeping a diaper on overnight, and we've had little reason to do emergency sheet changes in a while.


You're still one super-affectionate kid. You were out at the playground with Daddy recently and brought me a flower from your walk back (and asked your first "why" question when I said we should put it in water!). You started saying, "I love you, Mama, have a good sleep!" as you headed off to bed and naptime. You've also become a real hugger - us, your grandmothers, your friends at school, and, best of all, your baby sister.


Sometimes, you're just plain weird about the hugging. We were at the mall a few weeks ago, in a kids' clothing store with readily-accessible mannequins in the window. You fell in love with these kid-sized mannequins and started going from one to the next, hugging them in turn and counting them. In Spanish.


You're also developing real live manners, understanding that there's a nice way to ask for things and doing so without (always) being prompted. You routinely engage now in please-thank you - you're welcome exchanges, and you remarkably have learned to ask for something by saying, "May I please have..." Of course, your little age-appropriate freakouts interfere with your becoming a tiny Miss Manners, but I think a tiny Miss Manners would be pretty weird and probably not a little annoying.


I love watching you explore new skills and interests, too. You can now use a mouse and "play" computer games designed for your age group (and attention span). The Dr. Seuss A-B-C game is your current favorite, and you readily navigate the letters, choosing your favorite rhymes and songs easily. A sign of the times - my preschooler is fully versed in pointing and clicking! You sing a lot - nonsense syllables, descriptive recitatives of your daily activities as they're unfolding, your version of the church choir anthems as we rehearse on Sunday mornings, you name it. I love it all, but especially your "doodle-oodle-oodle-ooo" as you putter around the house, doing your thing.


You started a soccer class with Daddy last month, too, and it's so amazing to see you being taught and (literally) running with the basic concepts of the game. You have little Nike wear, sneakers that light up when you walk, and a snazzy blue and silver soccer ball. If there were a preschool world cup, baby, you'd be a starter. You do have your klutzy moments, though, as when you recently found out the hard way that you are now as high as the doorknob.


You are delighting in Tessa even more than the last time I wrote to you! She's sitting up, reaching for things, and laughing, and you are her favorite entertainment. When you ask her questions in a sign-song, rising intonation, she just goes bananas. And the more she laughs, the more you laugh, creating a cycle of increasing hilarity. You leave Tessa's actual care and feeding to Daddy and me for the most part, but one recent venture into this area absolutely killed me. You climbed up onto the rocker in Tessa's room, outfitted in a t-shirt and your purple tutu, and asked to hold Tessa. As we set about getting you properly posed to do so, you modified your request: "Want to feeeed Tessa, Mama." And pulled up your t-shirt on one side in a perfect imitation of a nursing mom.


Bedtime is one of the most challenging and most satisfying parts of the day for me where you're concerned. When you're tired, you can throw incredible tantrums, fighting us off at every turn when we try to get you to brush your teeth or get into your pajamas. But when you do finally realize that bed is a most excellent place to be, it's just bliss. You require stories, but we often read in parallel. You tell me which book I should read, and you explain that you'll be reading a different book. Then, while I read my book out loud to you, you patter along with the book you're reading, drifting away from it whenever the plot of my book becomes more compelling to you. For a while, you were leaving your room after lights out, and we would hear you taking exaggerated tip-toe steps through the hall way and to the gate at the top of the steps. Then you'd just stand there and breathe until we claimed you and returned you to your bed. On really rough nights, I ask if you'd like me to snuggle with you for a few minutes. You nod, and I wedge myself into your toddler bed next to you, nose to nose with you while you just stare into my eyes, sometimes tapping my nose with your index finger or patting my shoulder. Just to be sure of me. And I stay just a few minutes longer than I really should...just to be extra sure of you.

Love,
Mama