Friday, June 26, 2009

Harrison: Four Month Checkup

Can you believe my little dude is four months old already?!? It seems like just yesterday I was staring at my six-pound peanut in the NICU, and now here we are, calling Harrison "the tank" because he's gotten so big! We had his four month checkup today, and here are the latest stats:

Weight: 15 pounds, 2 ounces--56th percentile for his age
Height: 25.5 inches--73rd percentile for his age
Head Circumference: 44.5 centimeters--95th percentile for his age

That last stat is no shock at all--Aaron and I both have huge melons. Heads, I mean, although I have rather large melons of the other sort as well. But that's another story.

So, our little man is growing quite nicely. He's also performing lots of really cool feats! He has started to roll over (from tummy to back--he hasn't rolled the other way yet). He is able to support his head unassisted and he has great control of his head. He is able to sit up with help. He bears all of his weight on his legs when he is standing (supported, of course). He smiles all the time (he's quite possibly one of the smiliest babies I have ever seen), he cackles and giggles, he squeals in delight, he coos and truly interacts with anyone who chats with him--ah, babyhood is truly magical.

He's eating right around 30 ounces of formula everyday and he has stretched his feedings out now from every 2.5 or 3 hours to every 3.5 or 4 hours, which is a welcome change. Our pediatrician wants us to wait until H turns five months before starting him on solids, but I don't know. I started Grace out on rice cereal when she was four months old, and she did a great job. I'll give it a couple of weeks and then we might go ahead and give it a shot.

And--I'm almost afraid to say it because it's too good to be true and I don't want to jinx it--Harrison is sleeping 6 to 8 hours at a stretch at night. He usually has his last bottle of the evening between 8:00pm and 9:00pm, and then he falls asleep and generally doesn't wake up until 4:00am or 4:30am. We'd love to see him stretch that to 5:30am or 6:00am, but hey, I'm happy with this for a while.

(L.W.W.B., you were right--it did happen very quickly. Suddenly, this past Monday night, he slept from 9:00pm until 4:30am for us, and he's been doing it every night since.)

I am truly, truly treasuring every single moment with my little boy, because I know from experience that this wonderful phase will pass far too quickly. I want to kiss those chubby cheeks as much as I can. I want to take in that heavenly baby head smell. I want to nibble on those little toes and ears and that little tummy. I want to hold him in my arms and watch him sleeping.

And the moment you've all been waiting for....the four month picture. Try not to go blind from the cuteness.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Allow Me To Brag For A Moment...

So I know I should be paying closer attention to this town hall meeting thingy that the Prez is holding regarding health care right now, but yeah, I'm tired and my brain is goop and I'm content to just listen to his voice (it's like BUTTAH) and I thought it would be MORE important to brag about my kid for a bit. I'll catch up on all this health care noise later.

Anyhoo, Grace has been enrolled in swimming class continuously for almost two years now at our local YMCA. We started her out in a parent-child class because she was afraid of the water and we wanted to at least expose her to the idea of swimming--my in-laws live on a lake and my family has a cabin on a lake so we spend lots of time as a family in and around water, especially in the summer time. Grace enjoyed the parent-child class, so we went ahead and enrolled her in a kids-only class, and, much to our delight, she did pretty darn well. Over the past several months, she has become brave enough and confident enough in her skills to swim underwater, excel at both the front and back floats, and swim a pretty decent front stroke and back stroke. She's also learning the side stroke and is starting to get the hang of that as well. She dives underwater, too, with no problems at all.

For this summer session, the Y introduced block scheduling for the swimming classes--you sign your kid up for a time that works for you, and then the teachers give the kids a short swimming test and group them into classes based on their skill level. So, tonight was Grace's first class with this new setup, and there were five other kids, about her age, that had signed up for the same timeslot. The teachers dove in and asked the kids to get into the pool "the safe way" (which basically means that the kids sit on the edge of the pool, put their hands on the edge on one side, and slowly twist themselves down into the pool). Grace was the only one who knew what to do. Then, the teachers asked the kids to blow bubbles (at this point I'm thinking, "Seriously?!?") and again, Grace was the only one who was able to do that well. The kids were asked to bob completely under the water, and while the other kids were busy touching their noses and foreheads to the surface of the water, Grace was completely submerged.

By this time, the teachers noticed that one of these things was not like the other, so one of the teachers took Grace aside and asked her if she knew how to float. Grace did both a front and a back float, and the teacher was impressed. Then, she asked Grace to do the front, back, and side strokes, and Grace did each with relative ease. The teacher that was working with Grace motioned to the other teacher and the two chatted quietly, and the only thing I was able to get with my ninja sense of hearing was "She's the only one."

Of course, this whole time I'm sitting on the sidelines watching all of this unfold and whispering totally inappropriate and cocky things about the other kids to Aaron ("Ha! They can't do it!" and "Can he float?!? That's a negative!!!") and glowing about how awesome my kid was. I may have a problem. In fact, I usually go and sit in the hot tub while Grace is in swim class, but tonight I couldn't bear to stay in the hot tub because I wanted to watch Gracie strut her stuff.

The teacher that worked with Grace came over to us and explained that her swimming skills were on a much higher level than the other children's and that she would like to move her to a different time slot for the rest of the session so that she could have a class with another little boy who was also ahead of the other kids in his block. Of course we agreed that this would be the best thing for Grace (huzzah!!) and for the rest of the time, the teacher gave Grace some private instruction in the big pool.

I'm so fricking proud of the kid. She used to be TERRIFIED of the water...she wouldn't even go in at one point. Now she's a little fish. She's totally awesome.

This is coming from her mom, who used to fake having her period for three weeks at a time so she wouldn't have to go in the pool for gym class in high school.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wherein I Realize That I Am The Problem

My father-in-law has been known to say that as a parent, one makes mistakes daily, and the more experience I get under my belt as a mommy, the more I realize that he is absolutely right. My first mistake of the day (well, my first PARENTING mistake of the day) occurred this morning when I dropped Grace off for her first day of day camp at the YMCA.

Before I tell the story, an admission: I admit to feeling anxious about today. Last night as I was packing Grace's backpack and her lunch for today, I had that same vaguely sick, nervous feeling I would get in the pit of my stomach before I had my own first days of Girl Scout camp, band camp, etc. It's hard (for me, anyway) to go to a place where I don't know anyone and be expected to have a good time right away. I need time to warm up, and, I thought, Grace is the same way. She used to be the same way. She needed to go into new environments slowly, hanging back and observing for a while and clinging to my hand before she dove in. And so, I felt nervous for her, knowing that she would be doing something new with a group of people she didn't know, and honestly, I didn't know that the drop off this morning would go well. I thought there would be tears and clinging and coaxing and the inevitable guilt that comes with leaving your frightened child with a group of people she doesn't know well yet.

God. Writing it down makes it seem like my kid is a wuss. She's not. It's me.

So, on the way to the Y this morning, I spent a lot of time telling Grace that she was going to have SO MUCH FUN at day camp and that she was going to make ALL SORTS OF FRIENDS and how I was SO JEALOUS that she was going to have so much fun. At the time, I thought I was trying to convince Grace that this was a wonderful idea, but now, I realize I was trying to convince myself. And Grace just sat in the back seat, listening to me and giving me the occasional, "Uh huh."

When we arrived at camp, we proceeded to the check-in area, and as soon as she was checked in, Grace acted like she was just going to run off into the playground without me. When I told her to wait up, she rolled her eyes a little bit but conceded, and then I escorted her over to the shed where the kids' backpacks and lunches were being kept for the day. After Grace dropped her stuff off, I asked the camp counselor who was manning the shed if I should walk Grace to the playground. His response was, "Or she can just run over there herself." Hmm. Much to my surprise, Grace begged me to run over to the playground herself, but I told her that I would walk there with her to make sure she was all right. Ugh.

So, I walked her over to an area where some little girls were playing with puzzles and asked her if she wanted to sit down and play. She looked at the playground for a moment as she was deciding what she wanted to do, and then another camp counselor came over and introduced herself to Grace. She asked Grace if she was nervous to be alone without Mommy today, and Grace answered, confidently, "No." The counselor asked Grace if she wanted to play on the playground, and Grace of course said that she wanted to. Then I glanced around the playground and realized that I was the only parent there. And Grace and the counselor both looked at me as if to ask, "So what's the problem?"

Argh. I am the problem.

Sorry, kiddo. Go run and play.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What To Do This Summer?

Today is Day One of Grace's summer break, and currently Harrison is fast asleep and Gracie is contentedly watching Sesame Street (Neil Patrick Harris as The Shoe Fairy? Divine.) after just finishing up a game of Dominoes (she beat me...again). So far, Grace doesn't seem to be too terribly bored and I haven't had any trouble managing the two kiddos together, but we are only four hours or so into summer break, and I realize that keeping things interesting for the next three months might be a challenge at times. So, I have gathered my information, brainstormed with my hubby and others, and I have come up with a list of fun (and cheap) stuff to do and places to go this summer:

-Milwaukee County Zoo. Now that we have purchased our zoo pass, admission and parking are free for the rest of the year, we're not wasting all kinds of money if we can't devote an entire day to the zoo (which is tough with two little ones anyway). Also, since Aaron works less than a mile from the zoo, we can meet him there once a week for a picnic lunch!
-Betty Brinn Children's Museum. The museum has free admission on Mondays in the summer, and Grace LOVES going there.
-Milwaukee Public Museum. Also offers free admission on Mondays, and Grace has already expressed an interest in going.
-Milwaukee Art Museum. This museum offers free admission on Wednesdays from 10am to 5pm for Milwaukee County residents. Our art museum really caters well to kids. In fact, Grace had several field trips there with her class this year and can't wait to go back.
-Mitchell Park Domes. The domes offer free admission on Mondays from 9am till noon. We've never been to the domes--this summer, we will have plenty of opportunities to go.
-YMCA Day Camp. I have enrolled Grace in two weeks of day camp at our YMCA this summer. One week is Sparkles and Princess Camp (naturally) and the second week is Storybooks and Fairytales Camp.
-Tippecanoe Neighborhood Library. Our neighborhood library offers free story time on Thursdays at 10:30, and they also have a summertime reading program for kids ages three and up. I will be enrolling Grace in that program when we hit story time tomorrow. She's just getting the hang of reading and I want her to keep it up!!
-Summerfest. Grace was one of several students who were selected to plant flowers on the Summerfest grounds a month or so back, and because of her work, she earned four tickets for free weekday admission! Also, June 29th is Kids' Day at Summerfest, which includes free admission for families.
-Milwaukee County Parks. There are quite a few parks and playgrounds within walking distance of our house, so we could probably visit a new park once a week and not visit the same one twice.
-State Fair. Cream puffs and reuben rolls. Need I say more?
-Brewer Games. We took Grace to her first Brewer game last summer and she has been begging to go to another one ever since. There are plenty of games that have a 1:05pm start time, so we can make it to a game or two without sacrificing bed time.
-Play Dates. Several of us moms in Grace's class have expressed an interest in getting our kids together for play dates, and Grace is totally down with the idea.
-Farmers Markets. We will be attending the South Shore Farmers Market weekly to pick up our CSA share, but there are quite a few others around the city that I would like to visit as well.
-The Fests. Milwaukee is a festival city...Polish Fest, German Fest, Irish Fest, Bastille Days, Festa Italiana, Mexican Fiesta, among others. It'll be easy to hit these up this summer.

There are also attractions in the region that offer free or low-cost admission and have plenty of kid-friendly things to do:

-Apple Holler
-The Elegant Farmer
-Jelly Belly Center

And, naturally, we will have trips to visit grandparents and other relatives and friends. I'm sure there will also be the occasional lazy day around the house.

Whew. Do we have enough summer for all this stuff?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

K4 Grad

Today is Grace's last day of K4. Look at how much she has changed since September!

1st day of school:

Last day of school:

And tomorrow, my real work starts...being a full-time stay-at-home mom of two!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

I Chopped the Mess

I had my highly anticipated (by me, anyway) haircut appointment last night, and I am so proud of myself because I didn't wimp out and just get the mess trimmed--we chopped the mess. And I love the new 'do. It's sassy. Pictures, then:

Before (Grace took this picture one morning right after we woke up, and I think I was coming down with strep throat at this point, and I was holding a screaming baby, so yeah. Not the greatest pic of me, but it serves my purpose here. Turns out there aren't any other recent pictures of me, sadly.):

After (taken this morning, pre-makeup):

Last night as my hairdresser was hacking away, she asked me if my husband knew what I was doing with my hair, and I answered defiantly, "Yeah, he kind of knows, but it's my hair and if he doesn't like it, too bad!!" And then the two of us spent quite a bit of time chatting about all of THOSE women who want to cut their hair but won't because their husbands want them to have long hair and how we are so glad because WE'RE not like that. But then on the way home I felt just a teeny bit sick to my stomach thinking about how Aaron would react when he saw my new 'do and I thought, "Oh hell, I AM one of those women!!!" And when I got home, Aaron's precise reaction was, "Wow." That could mean one of three things:

1. "Wow, your hair is short like a boy's and there's no way we're having sex until your hair grows to at least between your chin and your shoulders."

2. "Wow, I really like it."

3. "Wow. I need time to formulate an opinion on this one, so I'm just going to keep making vague overtures to buy myself some time."

And then he told me that I should dye my hair black. I'm not sure why.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Leafy Green Recipes

Ok, so apparently I have neither the time nor the attention span to keep two blogs going consecutively, so I have not been posting on my other blog, For the Love of Beans. Sorry about that (for the couple of you who have ventured over there), but to make up for it, here are a couple of great recipes that we have come across lately. We joined a CSA earlier this year and each week, we get a share of wonderful, locally-grown, organic produce, but the problem is that some of the stuff we get is a little on the obscure side and I'm not quite sure what to do with it. Enter my good friend Google, and voila! Delicious recipes that utilize this fabulous produce!

Next time you're at your local farmer's market and you want to pick up that bunch of kale (which is super, super nutritious but not overly versatile) but you're not quite sure how to prepare it, you can use the following easy peasy recipe. You're welcome. And this was so tasty that my daughter, who we have to coerce and bribe into eating leafy greens of any kind, loved this so much that she asked us to make it again.

Roasted Kale
4 cups packed kale
1 tbsp EVOO (I actually used roasted garlic grapeseed oil, and it was delish)
Kosher Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash kale and remove the tough stems by folding the kale in half (like a book) and stripping the stems from the leaves. Trim kale and toss it in a bowl with the oil. Place kale on a baking pan and sprinkle it with kosher salt. Roast in oven for 7 minutes. Turn kale over, sprinkle a little more salt over the kale, and roast it for another 7 to 10 minutes, or until kale is brown and becomes brittle. Serve immediately.

Another veggie we've gotten a lot of from our CSA shares is asparagus. We're bored to tears with just steaming it or putting it in our salads, so Aaron suggested we try a recipe we found for asparagus pesto. We jazzed it up with the chicken.

Butterflied Chicken with Asparagus Pesto
1 1/4 cups chopped asparagus
3 garlic cloves
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup EVOO

Run asparagus, garlic, and cheese through a food processor, adding EVOO slowly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butterfly as many boneless, skinless chicken breasts as you'd like, and rub a generous helping of the pesto inside each chicken breast. Close chicken breast and rub an additional helping of pesto on top (we placed a small slice of pepper jack cheese on top of each chicken breast as well, just because we love cheese). Sprinkle each chicken breast with a pinch of kosher salt and bake the chicken breasts on a roasting pan for about 45 minutes, or until chicken breasts are fully cooked. Goes beautifully with a nice red wine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Seven Things That Have Changed Since Having Baby #2

1. My boobs. Before, I had what I would classify as a pleasantly large, relatively perky rack. Now, I need an industrial strength bra to both support and contain the girls. Any perkiness that I previously enjoyed is long gone, and my LORD the girls are HUGE. This is not a good thing since my starting point was "pleasantly large".

2. My body's weight distribution. According to the scale, I weigh six pounds less than I did when I found out I was pregnant with Harrison. However, I don't see it--maybe I lost some weight in my feet or something. The "mama pouch" that replaced my midsection after having Grace has morphed into a gelatinous, stretch mark-laden blob. Not at all attractive. Also, I don't know that I will ever be able to get rid of my double chin and flappy old lady arms.

3. My bladder control. Imagine my surprise when Grace and I were chasing each other around the house recently and I had to stop suddenly lest I piddle all over the floor. Ditto for sneezing, coughing, or laughing too hard.

4. My tolerance for alcohol. One glass of wine is ok, but if I have any more than that, I'm either slurring my speech or snoring on the couch. Sometimes both.

5. My hair. My once lustrous, shiny hair is now lackluster and falling out at an alarming rate. Hence my decision to get the mess will follow soon after my appointment on Thursday.

6. My need for sleep. My new definition of a "full night's sleep" is five consecutive hours--I used to require at least eight hours in order to function. Now, as long as I get my five hours, I'm good to go. And, oddly enough, if I get too MUCH sleep, I'm a wreck...a few weeks ago, my parents took the kids for a night, and I got ten glorious hours of sleep. But, I ended up way more exhausted.

7. My perception of Grace's size. Before Harrison was born, Grace looked so small...she was my little baby girl. Suddenly, she is so big and sturdy! And she's so capable! I never imagined that a five-year-old was able to do so much stuff if her hovering mama would just let her try!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Mixed Bag

This morning as Harrison and I were walking home after dropping Grace off at school, I struck up a conversation with one of the school's crossing guards as I was waiting to cross the street. We were chatting about Harrison, who was snoozing contentedly in his sling, when out of no where the crossing guard asked me, "Are you breastfeeding him?" When I replied that no, he's bottle fed, she looked at me for a moment and said, "Oh, so you must be going back to work then." When I told her that nope, I'm not planning to go back to work until September, she paused for another moment or two and said, "I don't understand you." And I could almost feel her head shaking at me as she walked away.

And a good morning to you, too.

Speaking of work, yesterday there were several layoffs at Aaron's employer, and I got my first real dose of panic about being a single-income family in this economy. I found out about the layoffs when one of Aaron's co-workers posted on Facebook that he had just been laid off and I immediately tried to call Aaron to make sure he wasn't affected. I wasn't able to reach him right away, so there was a period of about twenty minutes in which I was certain that Aar was being issued his pink slip and would be on his way home to deliver the bad news.

Thankfully, Aaron's job was spared, but this is just another reminder for me that everyone is vulnerable these days. My sister, who is a teacher, also got a pink slip recently (actually, the slip was white but she colored it pink--at least she has a sense of humor about all of this). You know it's bad when the teachers, especially the good ones who really care and are doing a fabulous job (like my sister) are being cut. It just sucks and my heart goes out to those families who are now having to deal with a loss of income.

On a happier note, I have discovered the key to getting Harrison to nap: the dishwasher. Harrison is now on a pretty predicable three-nap-a-day schedule, and if I am ever having a hard time getting him to fall asleep, all I have to do is fire up the dishwasher (as long as it's loaded with dirty dishes, naturally) and place Harrison in his bouncy chair next to it, and he's out like a light, guaranteed. Variations on this have worked as well...Harrison also falls asleep to the sounds of a hair dryer or a vacuum cleaner. Perhaps we should invest in a particularly loud fan to run during the night so our little man (finally) starts sleeping through the night??