A day I hope I remember

Filed under: baby's progress — by Lex on May 30th, 2009 @ 8:08 pm

(Cross-posted from Lex, Briefly.)

Today was an emotional day.

Charlie was my first dog. My parents hate animals, and we never had so much as a goldfish growing up. Lauren and I were considering a dog — and, in fact, only looked at condos in LA where they were allowed — shortly before our wedding in 2003. We went one day to look at a maltese (a dog I’m generally not allergic to), after Lauren saw an ad on Craig’s List.

We discussed beforehand, and on the ride to the home in Arcadia, that we weren’t getting a dog that day; we were merely checking out the experience of dog shopping.

That lasted until 10-week-old Charlie came bounding into the room. He ran around with impressive (even by puppy standards) energy, bit our fingers, and was generally adorable. $600 later, he was ours. He peed on my leg — just a little — on the way home. I was impressed to note that I didn’t mind too much.

Charlie was an early wedding present to ourselves, and we loved that dog like crazy. Lauren and I taught him tricks — Bang! (for play dead), Gimme Five!, Who’s The Man (for speak), roll over… We were impressed with Charlie’s learning ability. We snuggled with Charlie at every available opportunity. We bought him an insane amount of toys, especially ones that were meant to stimulate his brain (like toys with other toys inside them, or a ridiculous gumball machine-esque contraption that dispensed food).

Our dealings with Charlie were a remarkably prescient predictor of how Lauren and I would perform as parents. We aim to teach our kids constantly, we’re impressed by how quickly they learn, we snuggle incessantly, we buy them too many toys — especially brain stimulating ones. We often said that Charlie was like a practice kid for us, and we were more right than I realized at the time.

Charlie’s life changed when we moved from LA to New Jersey. He was diagnosed with diabetes, serious allergies, and other issues, and we soon began a regiment of twice-daily insulin injections, monthly allergy shots (administered by us), and a variety of other oral medicines. That cocktail of medicines brightened his mood considerably, and restored some of his vim.

But Charlie still wasn’t the same dog here in Jersey. Of course, we weren’t the same Lex and Lauren, either. That’s obviously because in October 2006, Anya was born. Our lives changed dramatically — and entirely for the better.

Charlie, however, received markedly less attention than he’d ever had.

Over time, partially as a behavior issue, and partially as a side effect of being a dog with some serious health problems, Charlie became more difficult. Peeing on our comforter, or in my office, or in the playroom. Or pooping on the playmat in the playroom. A lot. Note that his doggy door is right inside the playroom.

On top of that, Charlie also got mopier. With two kids, we really couldn’t give Charlie even a fraction of the attention he wanted. His bathroom problems, coupled with some other constant misbehaviors, on top of his daily exacting medical needs (injections precisely 12 hours apart chief among them)… These all added up to a situation where sadly we realized Charlie became more burdensome than anything else.

This, not surprisingly, was a very sad realization for us.

Today, after much reflection and not a little grief, we gave Charlie to a very loving family, where folks are always home (and not working), and the kids are a bit older than ours to boot.

Saying goodbye to Charlie was very difficult today. But seeing the family that took him, their excitement and eagerness, was quite reassuring. Giving Charlie away — admitting defeat — feels like a declaration that we’ve failed Charlie. And in some ways, we undoubtedly have.

Still… As difficult as our decision was, it was the right one for Charlie. Of that, I have no doubt. He’ll thrive on the attention he’ll receive there, and we’ll be happier andsaner here to boot.

In many ways, this to me is a key element of parenting. You need to make difficult decisions that you know are the right ones. (I’m not advocating giving away your kids. Rather, I’m just saying sometimes we need to make difficult or unpopular decisions — no Dora unless you eat your veggies, perhaps? — because even if they induce near-term grumpiness, they’re important and right to make. We’re still pretty bummed about the Charlie situation, but I’m honestly proud of us that we were able to do the right, hard thing.

Today, Anya and Lauren had a cute conversation.

Anya: I love my baby! (Referring to Sierra.)
Lauren: Should Mommy and Daddy have another baby some day?
Anya: Yes!
Lauren: Do you want a brother, or a sister?
Anya: A brother. I already HAVE a sister!

Yesterday, Sierra learned how to clap her hands. Much like she did when she learned to wave hello, Sierra’s been celebrating her newfound skill nonstop. Watching her perfect her clapping would warm even the stoniest heart.

After Anya’s nap, I asked her if she wanted to go outside and read with me on the glider. She said yes. I asked her what we each would read. She told me I would read my “Candle,” which is frankly pretty close. Anya took her “Giant Book,” an oversized book of stories that playoff Disney classics. We sat there, swinging together on a not-too-hot, perfectly sunny day, reading next to one another. I got an email on my Blackberry while I was out there, from the family that had Charlie, reporting that he was playing happily on the beach with them all day.

Anya finished her book, and I was prepared to go back inside, even though I was fairly engrossed in the novel I was reading. Anya told me that, no, she wanted to read her book all over again. We sat there together for 90 minutes.

When we finally went back inside, I didn’t have to worry about Charlie barking at the sound of the door, waking Sierra from her nap. Even better, I knew that he was right at that moment having oodles of fun with his new family. But the best part of that moment was that I had just spent an hour and a half reading alongside my older daughter.

There’s a ton of guilt surrounding this Charlie situation. Again, though, I know that we made the right call with him today. Still, I prefer when the right decisions are the easy ones — like, say, reading outside on the glider on a perfect day.

As I wrote this post, Sierra started crying in her co-sleeper, and Lauren went up to comfort her. Moments later, I heard Anya, went to her room, gave her the water she wanted, came back downstairs, went back to her when she called again, soothed her again, and came down to finish writing.

I don’t have a pat conclusion to share here. I just know that today was a memorable one for me. We made an emotional but ultimately good decision regarding Charlie. Sierra seemingly applauded it. I shared a great moment with Anya. I’m not suggesting that I earned a parenting merit badge today. But I do know that one uniquely rewarding element of parenting is the constant awareness that you’re getting better at it.

Sierra: Solids, Standing, and Clapping

Filed under: baby's progress,Sierra,video — by Lauren on May 29th, 2009 @ 10:23 pm

We decided to give Sierra her first taste of solid foods a little earlier than planned this week.  She has been shrieking like a banshee whenever we eat, but the clincher was when she tried to grab Anya’s salad off of her plate on Tuesday night.  We are also kind of hoping that solid food might help with some of the diaper issues we are having with her (a subject for another post).  She got the classic first meal – rice cereal mixed with breastmilk, yum! – Wednesday morning:

We’ve been trying to offer her some food twice a day.  She doesn’t seem particularly enthused with rice cereal.  She doesn’t really open her mouth for it and often gags on the little she does try to swallow, so we are going to try bananas tomorrow.  If they don’t go over that well, we’ll probably put food on hold for a week or two and try again.  Interestingly, this morning after she refused rice cereal, I held up the waffle I was eating to her to see what she would do, and Sierra (aka the baby who doesn’t put ANYTHING other than her hands in her mouth) tried to swallow the whole thing.  What is it with my children and their dislike of food on a spoon?

~~~~~

Check out my strong little “standing” girl:

If you set her up just right, she can hold herself up for a little bit, but you have to stand right there because she can topple at any moment.  I was too afraid to back far enough away to take a picture, hence the video.

~~~~~

The big news for today:  Sierra learned how to clap her hands!  She is extremely (and loudly) pleased about this new skill.  I couldn’t decide which clip I liked best, so you get them all:

Anya’s first school pictures

Filed under: Anya,photos,school — by Lauren on May 25th, 2009 @ 8:58 am

I’ve been meaning to post these for weeks!  Anya had her school pictures done back in March, I think.  I asked her if she was going to smile for the camera and she insisted that she would not.  When I picked her up that day, she assured me that she hadn’t.  To her credit, at least she’s honest:

I find that picture very amusing.  I declined to purchase the big package but kept the “ClassMate” folder with a 4 x 5 of her photo and the class picture.  She was slightly more enthused about posing for the group shot:

Turkey Swamp Park

Filed under: friends,photos,the day-to-day stuff — by Lauren on May 23rd, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

We took the girls to Turkey Swamp Park this morning, in particular because we wanted to take Anya paddleboating on the lake. I didn’t know if we would be allowed to take Sierra on the boat, but they had life jackets just for infants, so all four of us got to go.

We unexpectedly ran into Anya’s friend CJ and his parents at the park!  They also had fun on the paddleboats, and then the kids spent a bunch of time on the swings.

The Mental Institution

Filed under: Anya,funny — by Lex on @ 7:21 pm

Me: Anya, you are going to send me to the mental institution.
Anya: Can I come too, Daddy?

Waves, Sippy, and Potty

Filed under: baby's progress,Sierra,video — by Lauren on May 20th, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

Sierra has started waving!  At first I thought she was trying to sign “milk” (and it’s possible that she’s doing that as well), but she is definitely waving.  She waves whenever she sees someone new or if she hasn’t seen a person she knows in a little while (like when I came home with Anya from her dance class today).  She also waves at inanimate objects sometimes if they catch her eye, but people are her favorite.  I had her at the supermarket with me yesterday, and anyone who paid her the least bit of attention got a big smile and wave.  Here’s a very short video of her waving at the plumber today:

Also, Sierra got to try out a sippy cup for the first time today. I was actually quite surprised that she willingly opened her mouth and started sucking on it right away – I didn’t expect her to figure it out on the first try. Swallowing, however, was another story. Good thing it was only water in there! I think about 75% of what she got out of the cup ended up on her shirt. She looked so surprised after that first mouthful. It seemed like she liked it, though – she kept reaching for it and whining if I didn’t help her get it back up to her mouth fast enough, and after several tries she got a little better at swallowing the water. Hopefully she’ll do as well with her first solids in a few weeks.

Last, Sierra went on the potty for the first time tonight! I’ve decided to potty train really early this time. Kidding, of course. I was about to put her in the bath when it occurred to me that her diaper had been very cold and she was probably about to pee. Since Anya’s Elmo potty seat was sitting on the toilet right next to me, I plopped Sierra down on it, and a few seconds later she went. Hooray for good timing, or I might have ended up with a really wet shirt!

Awesome

Filed under: friends — by Lauren on May 18th, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

I’ve been flattered way more than I deserve by Erica, who tagged me on her blog:

“I am also going to tag Lauren who simply amazes me with how much she teaches her daughters and how calm and at ease she is at being a mom.”

Thank you so much, Erica.  What an amazing compliment, especially coming from someone I admire so much – talk about a SUPERMOMMA!  She’s a mom of five, including twins Anya’s age, and her commitment to having a successful VBAC with her youngest son is what gave me the courage to fight for mine with Sierra.   Erica is a true modern “earth” mother, and I aspire to be even one-tenth as cool as she is – and I’m amused that she described ME as calm.

So now I have the task of thinking of 7 things that exhibit my own awesomeness; not easy for someone so prone to self-criticism.

1.  I’m a kid at heart, which I hope means my children have as much fun playing with me as I do with them.

2.  I tried really hard to teach Anya to eat healthfully, and though she does enjoy cookies and ice cream, she also LOVES salad.

3.  On the subject of food, I love my kids so much that I’m willing to touch gross things like bananas and cream cheese because they like them (well, right now just Anya likes them, but Sierra, when you are old enough I’ll touch them for you, too).  I still won’t eat them, though.  I’m not that awesome.

4.  I’m pretty creative, whether it’s making hairbows and baby hats or coming up with projects and activities for the kids.  If only I could sew, there’d be no stopping me!

5.  Some of the things Lex and I have chosen for our girls (like extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, limiting their TV and sugar, etc.) aren’t always the norm here, but I don’t mind.  We do what we think is best for our kids, no matter what other people think or do.   I don’t think that I was as comfortable with being different in the past.

6. When I set my mind to something, I get it done, one way or another.  You might call that stubbornness; I call it determination.  Sierra’s VBAC is proof of that.

7.  Having kids has made me much more environmentally conscious, and though there is still a huge list of things I could and should change, I like to think I’m taking baby steps towards being a greener person.

Now the really fun part – tagging other moms!  I think first I’d like to tag Nickie.  She’s only been a mom for 5 1/2 months, but you’d think she’s been doing it all of her life – she’s just that natural.  She handles each challenge with ease and grace, but still takes time to marvel at all the tiny miracles of motherhood.  Next, I’m tagging Amnesty.  You simply cannot have three children who are as adorable and brilliant as hers and not be awesome.  Last, I’m tagging Saina.  She’s the mother of two gorgeous little guys who do loads of fun “boy” things like admire garbage trucks, romp in the mud, and investigate bugs.  Any mom who willingly takes pictures of the caterpillar crawling up her son’s arm instead of running away shrieking has to possess a supermother power I seem to lack.  If I am ever lucky enough  to have a little boy of my own (or if Sierra ends up liking those things, since Anya does not), I hope I find some of her kind of strength hidden in my soul.

Identity Crisis

Filed under: funny,the day-to-day stuff — by Lauren on May 11th, 2009 @ 9:18 pm

Today after lunch, Anya told me she needed to go to the bathroom.  I got her set up and then went to change Sierra’s diaper.  I called out to Anya to see if she was finished, and she responded, “I’m not Anya.”

“Oh?”  I asked.  “Who are you then?”

“I’m Chloe.”

Chloe is a girl in her class at school.

“Well, Chloe,” I continued, “are YOU finished in there yet?”

She was not.  She kept the game up for quite a while, much to my amusement (well, not so much when she told me she wasn’t going to eat her cantaloupe because Chloe doesn’t like melon).  My favorite part was when I asked her what happened to my Anya, and after thinking a moment, she said, “She’s in Chloe!”

The tongue and more

Filed under: baby's progress,photos,Sierra — by Lauren on @ 9:07 pm

A few days ago, Sierra realized she has a tongue, and that sticking it out is quite fun:

She’s still going strong with it.  I measured her today at last, and got 25 3/4 inches, but I don’t trust my own accuracy, so it’s an estimate at best.  Her sitting skills have gotten much better in the last few days.  She sat for about 50 seconds before toppling over on Friday.  Usually it’s closer to 15 to 20 seconds when she’s balancing well.  Also, forgot to mention this in her 5 months update – Sierra has been banging on everything, including me.  There’s nothing like getting a beat down from a 15 lb munchkin.

Sierra is 5 months old!

Filed under: baby's progress,photos,video — by Lauren on May 6th, 2009 @ 10:20 pm

Another month has gone by, and amazingly, Sierra is now already 5 months old.  No well check this month, so I weighed her myself this morning.  She’s approximately 15 lbs, 6 oz, with a diaper on.  I completely forgot to measure her height; hopefully I’ll remember to do that tomorrow.  She’s still wearing 3-6 months clothing and size 3 diapers and fitting into both just fine, except at night when we are putting her in size 4 Huggies Overnights to try to combat the explosion that ensues after she nurses all night but doesn’t poop until the morning.

Obviously from the above, she’s still not sleeping well at night, and recently she started taking shorter naps as well (although I’m trying to put her down for naps in her crib as much as possible, yay for that!).  I just got a book about sleep habits that came highly recommended to me; I sincerely hope something in there is useful.  I’m very tired.  At least she’s now able to sleep unswaddled – has been since our trip to Tucson.  Apparently that’s where little Friedman girls go to give up swaddling!

Sierra’s fifth month was huge for her!  This is such a fun age.  I feel like she learns something  – and sometimes several things – new every day.  It seems I was very camera-happy with the Flip this month:

Grabbing her feet, rolling onto her side, and trying very hard to roll onto her belly:

Grabbing at and playing with toys (but NOT eating them):

(I noticed this evening that she is now aware that she has the power to get certain toys to make music if she pulls or pushes on them.  She even gets mad if she’s trying to make them work and she can’t do it.  Tonight she was yelling at the exersaucer because she couldn’t consistently push the little toy down hard enough, and then when yelling at the toy didn’t work, she started yelling at me until I came over and helped her, at which point she went back to bouncing and smiling again.)

Trying to blow raspberries (when she bothers to take her hands out of her mouth):

Cracking up:

Sitting up – usually only for a few seconds, but every now and then she can go for a while:

We haven’t introduced any foods yet.  I’m not sure that Sierra is physically ready, but I’m starting to think she’s pretty interested.  At dinner she sits with us and STARES at our food, sometimes reaching for it, sometimes shrieking and whining about it.  If you hold something up to her, however, she doesn’t open her mouth up or anything.  Sierra doesn’t seem to want to put much of anything in her mouth other than her fingers (preferably all of them at the same time) or the boob.

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