Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I can make more than just babies

It all started with some shelves.

I take that back. It started with our sitter. We hired Megan last fall and after falling in love with her she lost her housing and was considering moving back to Oregon. Desperate to not have to break in a new sitter just as the baby was coming into our home, we offered to let her live in our spare room. It's all worked out better than we could have imagined, but that's a story for another time.

The point I was getting to is we had to make some changes to that spare room. One of them was taking out a massive shelf full of books and clearing off a second shelf for her to use. We moved those books to the library/craft room where most of our other books were, and while piles of disorganized books crowding the space certainly made us look well-read, it was not exactly the decorating choice I preferred.

So we got new shelves. I loved them, but they needed book ends. After researching metal book ends and finding nothing I liked, I came across an Etsy shop that sold fabric book ends and I thought - Hey, I can do that! Thus, it started with shelves.

I sewed a dozen book ends out of fabric that was just waiting for a project like this and filled them with rice. Once I got them set up and the books organized, I was totally caught by the crafting bug. So the next weekend I followed up that project by making a table runner.

I've experimented with quilting before and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. But the wavy edges tells me I should actually read a book and learn how you're supposed to quilt instead of just making it up on my own.

After two weekends spent in creative mode, I seemed to be in a rhythm, so I followed that project with one for Lila. I was inspired by this tutorial on making cloth blocks for babies and embarked on that project next. I'm pretty much in love with how they've turned out. There are tags on the sides and they're embroidered with ABC and 123. The second block has a bell and the third has crinkle material inside.

Lila has already shown an interest in them and she's even tried to grab at one.

I'm loving being in the creative mode (which was most likely the inspiration for my new hair color). I'm making things all the time; from journaling, to sewing, to cooking every night. It's a good place for me. I'm not quite ready to go back into crafting as a business, but these are certainly the first steps.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

out of tune, with love

Today is the 64th birthday of Julie Doyle, River and Lila's paternal grandmother, otherwise known as Oma. Thom put together this video as her present. I think he had to sift through 50 hours of footage of River and Finn fighting to get these 4 minutes of cute. Still, that hand holding scene is incredible...

Double click the video to get the full screen version

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

drop that bottle!

On Monday I take River to the indoor playground in Watertown so he can get some wiggles out and I can escape the house for a while. Lila has a runny nose and cough, and being carried in the ergro keeps her upright and her nose cleared, so that's where she stays for most of the trip. When she wakes up a few hours in, I feed her and let her have a little playtime out of the carrier. We find this cute toy hanger-thingy (what the heck is that called?) and I set her down. She loves her playmat at home and this is no different.

After a minute a little girl (pictured) comes over to us carrying a bottle full of milk and, almost before I can stop her, shoves the bottle into Lila's face, saying, "Oh, that's a baby. She needs milk!" Horrified as I am to see some unknown bottle of formula? breastmilk? contaminated goat drippings? hurling toward my little girl's face, I feel very proud of myself for not physically tossing that little harbinger of germs away from my daughter. I explain, that, No, she doesn't need any milk. You should keep if for yourself, in a voice that sounds reasonable enough to me, but probably has more than a little bite to it.

The little girl tells me that the bottle isn't hers, and with a bit more prodding I discover she just found it somewhere and thought the best place for it was my daughter's mouth. My first thought is who is taking care of this child and why are they letting her pilfer some poor baby's bottle? My next thought is where the hell is this person and why are they letting her shove said bottle in my baby's face?! I look around but can't see anyone in the immediate vicinity who looks like they're with little miss milkmaid. I can't even see anyone glancing in her direction to keep an eye on her.

I ask the little girl who she's there with but she can't give a straight answer. She starts to bring toys over to Lila, which is a sweet gesture, but I'm so annoyed by the person not watching this girl I'm having a hard time mustering a smile. The last straw finally comes when a gigantic booger slips out of her nose and she wipes it with her hand then reaches down for another toy to hand Lila. And that's it for me. I can't pretend to be nice to her anymore, I can't take on the duties of nanny when I've got two of my own already (did I mention River is taking this opportunity of mommy's distraction to drop the hanging toys onto Lila's face?). I gently suggest she go find a tissue while my brain is screaming something with a few more four letter words in it.

And off she runs, as sweet as can be, to the woman 30 feet away who has been on her cell phone looking in the other direction the entire time.Cell Phone Lady doesn't smile at the girl, or help her with her nose. She just shoos the girl away to play in another room and goes back to her call.

I'm disgusted with myself for not being nicer when that girl is obviously just looking for someone to play with. But don't get me wrong: I'm infinitely more disgusted with the woman (mommy or sitter) who isn't taking care of that little girl. It's something I see often, but it doesn't get any easier. It still makes me want to punch that neglectful asshole in the face.

Breathe, momma bear. Breathe.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

River and Lila News: 34 months/7 weeks

Dear River and Lila,

I can't believe how lucky I am. All the fears I had about how difficult it would be to have two kids have dissipated. I feel happy. And complete. That's not to say this parenting thing is easy. Lila you are still an infant, and River, you are most definitely a toddler. I juggle a lot and feel pulled in about 50 different directions all day, but I am not frantic. I'm not sad or overwhelmed. I feel like a mom who has her stuff reasonably well together.

Lila, you are a wonder. Where River can be prickly, hard-edged, and so intense, you are soft and yielding and quiet. You are a deep, slow breath. Where River has a ferocious desired to know, to do, to be, you are content to sit back and observe. You take the world in at your own steady pace.

I know we - your mom and dad - can take a small amount of credit for your contentment, but I think we will see in years to come that it is simply your nature to be easy-going, that you have taken on the role of zen master in this house of high-strung neurotics.

In general you are incredibly easy to make happy. If you are fed, dry, and well-rested the world is grand. You will sit contentedly on your playmat or in your bouncy chair watching the action or flirting with your brother. You have smiles for River like no other and you watch him as he moves around the room.

In the first few weeks of your life, the most difficult part of my day was the evening when you would be desperate to nurse for hours and hours. But even that wasn't so hard - I'd sit reading a book, watching TV, or just staring into your beautiful face while you comforted yourself. Slowly you eased off the boob and now you sleep a bit between nursing sessions in the evening and don't exhibit that frantic need anymore.

You still sleep A LOT. You take a long morning nap, play a little at lunch, and nap again all afternoon. I forgot how much infants sleep - I mean aren't you missing out on valuable crying time? Your dad and I have talked about how maybe you aren't as alert and engaged in the world as your brother was, and maybe you don't have the strength he did at your age, but you have the best thing we could have asked for: YOU SLEEP. You sleep for a 4 or 6 hour chunk before your first nighttime feeding, then you go right back down. I don't have to fight you, I don't have to think of 50 ways to calm you. You nurse, get comfy in your swaddle, get a pacifier and the noise machine, and you are out. It is the best present any parent could get.

You are a voracious eater and have gained nearly three pounds and 2 inches since you were born. Like your brother, you have a massive capacity for spit up, and I can count on you drenching me at least once every other day. You have gorgeous red hair and beautiful blue eyes, and you're building pudge like a walrus. I love that you're spending more time alert these days - the eye contact you make, the smiles you give me melt my heart. You're starting to coo just a little bit and I think soon you'll recognize that you have hands. You are everything I could ask for in a little girl. Just perfect.

As for you, River, you are an amazing big brother. You are so gentle with Lila, so patient when we need to give her attention, and so proud to show her off to your friends. I was afraid you would be too rough with her or resent all the time she gets with mom and dad, but you have been such an absolute champ.

I try not to make comparisons between you and your sister, but it's impossible not to - you are simply such different creatures. When we named you, your dad and I imagined a peaceful brook, a winding stream where one might go to philosophize or toss stones. You, River, are not a quiet creek. You are raging rapids, tumultuous white waters broken by cracked and spiky boulders. You are fun and spontaneous, smart and inventive, but you are not easy to navigate. Your toddler days are like the waterfall at the end of that wild river, and your dad and I are paddling as hard as we can to keep from being pulled down into the deep.

Let me give you a picture from a typical day: one afternoon you woke from your nap in a particularly nasty mood. You called out for me, but when I came you didn't want me there. You called out for daddy with the same results. You wanted nap to be done, but you didn't know what you wanted in its place. You wanted to play but you didn't want out of your crib. You turned down everything we offered, and when we gave you some more time to wake up and sort yourself out, you were upset we weren't sticking around. This went on for about 20 minutes. At one point I offered to lift you out of your crib again, and you said, "No I don't want to!" Very calmly and gently I replied, "Don't worry, honey, we're not going to make you do anything you don't want to." To which you responded, "NO! You can't say that!"

That's you in a nutshell, little man.

It's hard being two going on three. You're like a teenager: thinking you know everything there is to know and having to put up with parents who are so dumb and so cruel. I know these day won't last, but they're tough on all of us. You're a fighter, River, and one day those traits that make you so hard to live with as a toddler will make you such an amazing man. You will stand up for yourself and your beliefs. You will be creative and confident. You will have a determination I can only imagine. I am so proud of you, and while raising you isn't an easy task, it is an infinitely rewarding one.

I love you both, my little dears. You are each in your own way just what I always wanted.