Friday, December 31, 2010


Not only does Ada apparate, but apparently she might sleepwalk too. While enjoying one of four, yes four, Christmas's, we were staying at my parent's house and getting up frequently with Iain in the night. As I was trying to go back to sleep, I noticed a faint set of footsteps on the stairs at two in the morning. Knowing that it couldn't be either of my parents since it was too light, I assumed it was our little Ada. Sure enough, I went to the kitchen and found her rounding the corner by the garage door. She jumped a foot when I said, "Hi, sweetie." I offered her a small glass of water and shuffled her back up to bed. Then I jokingly chastised my mom for not being a better watch dog since they were sharing a room and Ada must have walked within inches of my mom's face without her knowing. She also luckily avoided tripping on either of my parents' large golden retrievers, and navigated the stairs in the dark all alone while in footie pajamas. I made sure to shut their bedroom door after putting Ada back to bed.

She's also been up in the middle of the night at Grandma Ba's and Grandpa Rich's house, but only to turn off the light in the hallway just outside her door and return to bed. That wasn't so dangerous and I'm impressed that she could reach the light switch.

We'll see if this behavior continues and try to be more cautious about shutting and locking doors and clearing all walking paths throughout the house before bed. We may even have to keep the dogs from sleeping right outside the bedroom door since she would surely trip on them and fall down the stairs in the process and that's not really what we're going for now is it? And maybe we'll have to invest in one of those laser beam bells they use in retail stores that ding every time you walk through the front door. Then we could be alerted to the fact that she was on the move and we could at least shuffle her back to bed. I'm hopeful that once she gets back home to her own bed, she'll go back to being our good little sleeping beauty. And for once I'll say I'm thankful that we have two heavy vestibule doors to prevent her from getting outside on any potential sleepwalking missions.

Moral of the story: It is always good to keep your house picked up, doors locked and dangerous items out of reach. Even more so when you have a sleepwalking child.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ada Apparates

This past week, Ada learned a spell straight out of Harry Potter. She can apparate. That means she can instantaneously teleport from one location to another. Or if you prefer a Star Trek reference, she can seemingly beam herself through our house from one room to the next. She used to have trouble just getting her bedroom door open. Now she can do that trick where she passes over the creaky wooden floorboards and appears in our room, next to the bed in the middle of the night, and we never heard her coming. Kind of creepy. Okay, really creepy.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, she learned the value of being stealthy. Maybe Swipper the Fox from Dora the Explorer taught her that. He steals Dora's stuff if they don't notice him soon enough. Hopefully Ada doesn't start stealing and hiding our stuff. It wouldn't change things much since the past few things I've misplaced, I've hypothesized Ada stashed them somewhere or threw them away. (I really just didn't look in the right places to find them.) She did drive DD nuts by hiding her Halloween barrette under the sink. And I'm still holding out hope that I find the plug to our Thermos amongst Ada's toys someday. Maybe she can do more magic than we think...

Moral of the Story:  Weird things might happen when you have a three-year-old in your house. Try not to get too spooked.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Birthday Weekend

Ada's birthday weekend started out with a play date with a new friend. I can't say it was the best play date since she didn't really get along with this new "friend". He was aggressive and she was possessive. We learned that the combination of those two personalities resulted in biting, hitting, screaming, and more time outs in two hours than anyone should ever have to deal with. It was a great opportunity for us to try to teach her how to share and play well with others. Maybe we'll have a chance to get the two together for a re-match when they are a bit older.

The rest of the weekend, Rick and I cooked and cleaned in preparation for Ada's birthday party on Sunday. When the time came for the party to get started, we didn't have time to pickup the kitchen or properly stash all of Iain's baby stuff into our bedroom. And we didn't get the homemade pizzas we had been slaving over prepped in time for the party. Rick started making them during the party and after he struggled to roll out the dough, we agreed to just call Domino's and be done with it. At least we know when to say when and know the limits of what we can do in a given amount of time. And we are only friends with people who forgive us for having a messy house and a chaotic, unstructured birthday party.

Everyone I asked for tips on birthday party planning suggested we keep it short and simple. We did so by only inviting the five kids from our mom group and limiting it to two hours. We planned it after naps so everyone showed up late, which is why we kept it unstructured. I could have planned a game or more activities, but the one activity we had was plenty. The kids all decorated their own wooden picture frames so we could take a group picture of the kids and they could put it in their new frames. The idea was good. The execution of the photo left a lot to be desired.

I should have rounded up all of the kids at the beginning of the party and enticed them with something awesome (cupcakes perhaps?) if they would sit still and look at the camera. Instead, I waited too long and forgot about taking the photo until one of the kids went into full meltdown mode and we had to corral them all onto the steps in an attempt to get anything decent before he left. This is the result.

Luckily, we have birthday parties for two of these kids in a few weeks, and hopefully will have another chance to try my bribery technique to herd these little animals into the frame for a group photo. I won't hold my breath on it for fear of passing out.

Moral of the story: When it comes to party planning, keep it simple. There is a reason parents order pizza, buy a cake, and serve juice boxes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ahhhh, Here Comes The Spoon!

Iain started eating solid foods on Thanksgiving morning. It didn't go exactly as planned, but it still worked out. The plan was that I would feed him some rice cereal that afternoon at some point. The reality was that I passed Iain off to Grandma DD around six in the morning and she fed him rice cereal thinking he was hungry and not knowing that he hadn't ever had solids before. 

When we got back home from the holiday weekend, Ada finally started to think Iain was okay and wanted to help feed him. She's pretty good when you remind her not to shove the spoon all the way down his throat.
All of a sudden, being a big sister might not be so bad.

And he kind of likes her too. He'll like her more once she gets the food in his mouth instead of all over his face. At least we have something to work toward.
And to make things even more exciting around here, I've decided to try making my own baby food this time around--in all of my free time. So far Iain is a fan of acorn and butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. He's not so fond of lima beans (I don't blame him) and seems to be okay with split peas. By Christmas, we might get to add in some bananas, apples and pears. So far, so good.

Moral of the story: Starting solids can be fun once you get everyone involved. And making baby food is a lot easier, faster, and less expensive than you think.

Milestones & Comparisons

Second kids totally get overlooked when it comes to milestones and their development. I find myself constantly comparing Iain to Ada when she was his age, and ignoring all of his "firsts". Just this past weekend, I wrote up an instruction manual for the grandparents detailing how to take care of the kids, what they eat and their sleep schedules. Rick's parents were a bit shocked when they put Iain on the floor in their living room, went to get something out of the kitchen and returned to the sight of him on his back up against a piece of furniture. Whoops! It just slipped my mind that he can roll over. I've only seen him do it about five times. I can never get him to repeat it. And it's only from his tummy to his back one way. With Ada, that would have been a big deal and I would have called everyone to exclaim my excitement. With Iain, eh. So what? I've been there and done that once already. Next. I should have included it in the manual since he technically could have rolled off a bed or something. But then again, Ada rolled off the bed and the couch a couple of times and was just fine. So what? It's not that big of a deal.

Iain is also really good at sitting up on his own now. That might qualify as a milestone. I've also already trimmed his hair once or twice. And I didn't save a lock of his hair like I did for Ada. He'll probably hate me when he's older for that. (I'm really not all that worried.) And I'll admit that I don't check his mouth every morning to see if he has a tooth yet. I figure one day he'll bite me and I'll notice it. I'm just so much more laid back with him since I've been through all of it with Ada and I've never really been a sappy, sentimental, helicopter mom.

Lately, I've been comparing the two kids a lot more. Primarily since I left Iain with Kelly and Krissie, our neighbors, while I went to pick Ada up from daycare since it has been really cold out. Both times I returned to find Iain screaming his head off.  Nothing they did could please him until he saw me walk back into the room, and then he was fine. Ada had some separation anxiety but only for about two minutes while she still thought I was on the other side of the door and then she was over it. Ada loved strangers. Iain, not so much.

Ada also wasn't bothered by loud noises. Iain hates it when you sneeze, laugh loudly, clap your hands, or pretty much when Ada makes any noise that isn't a whisper. And then we have noticed that he giggles and laughs already. I'm not sure that Ada ever giggled or laughed at his age, or even older. She's always had a bit of a forced laugh that sometimes seems fake. She slept through the night really early on whereas he took his time to get to that point--but he is technically sleeping through the night now so that's another milestone I failed to report.

Part of my laissez-faire attitude might be enhanced by him being a boy and me thinking he won't be soon sentimental when he is older. But I think it has a lot more to do with the novelty wearing off a bit and the fact that I have less time to focus and celebrate his every move. It's probably a good thing that we are done having kids since each subsequent child would receive even less attention and eventually I wouldn't even know how many I had or what their names were. I'm sticking with two and I'll try to be better about tracking his real milestones. Crawling and walking will at least make the cut.

Moral of the story: Try to accept that each of your children will be very different and learn to appreciate those differences. And try to acknowledge each milestone for all of your children, even if only briefly.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No Sleep Weekend All Around

Rick and I thought it would be better to ship the kids to Grandma DD and Grandma Ba's houses for the weekend than spend a fortune on sitters so we could partake in a few holiday parties this season. It seemed like a good plan at the time, and could have been awesome under better circumstances. The reality was a bit more than we bargained for.

Friday, our neighbor Krissie accompanied me out to Huntley where we enjoyed lunch, switched cars and give Grandma DD the kids. The transfer went well and Krissie and I had a blast on the ride home. The highlight was seeing a motorcyclist wearing a furry hat with a coyote or a fox head on top, and the animal's tail and hind legs blowing in the wind behind him. It was quite the sight to see. Our spirits were high until I parked my mom's car on our street and heard my cell phone quietly summoning me from my purse. It was my brother calling to ask what tricks they could try to get Iain to calm down since nothing they did was working. Instead of making my mom suffer, I called Grandma Ba to go to my mom's aid. Ba is a baby whisperer of sorts and was all too happy to help. My mom ended up giving Iain to Grandma Ba for the rest of the night and kept Ada. Both kids had a cold and I was not sure my mom knew what I had volunteered her for. Divide and conquer works on grand kids too.

Ada ended up getting sick that night. Pretty much all of that night. Bobpa was up until one in the morning doing laundry since she threw up everywhere, numerous times. Not what any of us had hoped for. And it was a good thing Iain wasn't around waking my parents up in the night between Ada's coughing fits and throwing up. Yikes. That would have been like what we deal with and we know that isn't fun.

While Ada was throwing up, I was busy spilling wine at Rick's holiday party. The first glass spilled on the table top because I was talking and waving my hands with my glass too close to me. The second glass I spilled sprayed the woman next to me as I ripped apart a piece of bread and, when it gave way, my hand flew into the glass and sent it flying toward my neighbor. Not the best way to make friends. Sad part was that she and her husband witnessed the first glass get spilled too. I wasn't even intoxicated and was already cut off. Her husband felt bad for me and got me wine in a tumbler the next time he got up. What a sweetheart. At least she was a good sport about it. Unfortunately, Rick and I didn't get to bed until two in the morning.

I woke up Saturday morning to learn that Ada was a hot mess at DD's house, I had lost feeling in two toes from the four-inch heels I was partying in for six hours, and our friends coming from Minneapolis to visit us cancelled their trip. Oh, and a big storm was headed right for us. Good morning Amanda!

While Ada was decorating Granny's Christmas tree back in Sycamore, and Iain was theoretically being good (I never got a bad report from Grandma Ba so I'm making a big assumption here), I was napping in my bed to get rid of the wine headache I acquired the previous evening even though I wasn't ever intoxicated. Not fair at all. Really not fair since this was my day to get so much accomplished without having the kids around to distract me. Bummer.

Rick and I got ready for Holiday Party #2 and went to Five Guys for a quick dinner since we were running late. Apparently, it took me a long time to get ready since I only did it four times a year and needed to enlist my neighbors' help to look anywhere near decent. The party was so fun that we didn't get home until two in the morning. (Two times does not a trend make.)

With the storm fast approaching, we woke up a little after eight, grabbed bagel sandwiches from The Bagel restaurant up the street, brushed off the car and began the trek to retrieve our little monsters.  Rick's parents agreed to meet us in Huntley and had quite the time getting there since the roads were being attacked by blowing snow. At one point, they were driving with their blinkers on and aiming between the telephone poles since they couldn't see the road. That's always fun. Luckily we didn't have any trouble on the expressways. We made the transfer and again switched cars. Grandpa Rich got Good Samaritan points for helping to push two cars out of the ditch on his way home and calling the police to report a third. Fortunately, we all made it home safely and in time to watch the Bears game. Unfortunately, the Bears didn't play so well.

We rounded out the weekend with yet another impromptu gathering of neighbors upstairs at Kelly's house for some delicious white chicken chili and a tree decorating party. After a wonderful night spent with friends, we realized that maybe we really did need sleep and made it to bed around eleven.

Moral of the story: Holiday parties can be fun. Try to remember that sleep is important for the whole family. And do your best to make time to recuperate.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Card Options

It's a good thing we don't send out holiday cards because if we did, they might look something like this...

Or this... Rick wouldn't let me keep Iain's sock on the third nail, but I thought it was funny while it lasted.
He did let me keep the red ball ornaments hanging from his fantasy football trophy on the mantel though. Rick's team didn't make the playoffs this year so the trophy will be moving on. At least I got to decorate him for a little while.

Moral of the story: Holiday cards can be a lot of work. Consider sending them in the off season or for a less popular holiday like we do for Valentine's Day when you have less family obligations.

Old School

Grandma Ba's basement is full of hidden treasures. Our most recent discovery included an owl sweater Barb knitted for Ada's Aunt Heather about twenty years ago. The owls have green button eyes on the front of the sweater and are repeated on the back side without eyes. Here is Ada in the sweater impersonating an owl mid-wing flapping.
And here is Iain modeling what I call the "yellow banana suit" which Rick wore about thirty years ago.It is the brightest yellow imaginable--think of a Highlighter or a ripe lemon. It has a cute blue bunny embroidered on the chest of the suit. And did I mention it is fuzzy on the outside? It is still a bit big for Iain but is keeping him warm this winter and goes great with his green knit hat our friend Cassie made for him.
Just like Rick's former gray winter coat Ada wore when she was one, this yellow banana suit has chew marks on the cuff from Rick's sleeve biting days. It adds a nice personal touch.
Moral of the story: Some things are "oldie but goodie" and can be reused by future generations. Durable children's clothing tends to be outgrown quickly and can work well as an heirloom, as long as the recipient isn't a style maven.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Get out of Jail Free

How can I reprimand this face?

So what if he did spit up on my jeans that I only wore for three hours. So what if it takes me an hour to wash them in our all-in-one washing machine and then a day to line dry them. So what if they are my only cute jeans that fit. And so what if my arm smells like spit up. I couldn't blame him for that-- at least not for long. He's too cute.

How could I hold a grudge against this guy for waking me up in the middle of the night because he had gas? And how could I be mad when he cried because his teeth were bothering him? With a smile like that, he had the key to my heart and a permanent "get out of jail free" card.

Moral of the story: Kids are cute so that we forgive them easily. It is a survival skill.

Traveling with Kids

This Thanksgiving, we arranged our entire travel schedule with our kids in mind. It was worth it to take an extra day off work so we could leave a day before the holiday city traffic rush. Not only did we avoid traffic delays, we also got to spend three nights at Grandmas house so Iain could get more settled in each night. We left after eight at night so both kids slept in the car making the ride and the transition into Grandma's beds much more enjoyable for everyone.

This will be our travel strategy going forward. I think it may even help Ada since she tends to get motion sick fairly easily.

Ada, Cousin Anna & Iain

Moral of the story: Travel will likely disrupt your family rhythm. Try to cater to your childrens' needs and place high importance on consistent naps while maintaining your bedtime routine.

Birthday Party Planning

Ada turns three in a few weeks and I've been struggling to find the right balance of birthday party fun, cost, and number of invitees. After asking for suggestions from friends and family, they all encouraged us to keep it short, and simple. I finally gave in to a mom friend's suggestion of just inviting our little playgroup over for a craft, an activity, food, and fun. Five of her little friends and thier moms in my house is managable, with a little wine of course. Financially, feeding them all homemade pita pizzas, healthy juice boxes and some sort of cake I whip up is affordable and aligns well with the whole health food kick I'm on. Part of the party activity can be adding their own toppings to the pizzas, and surely I can come up with some sort of little craft. Instead of having party favors to give out, they can take their craft home--and maybe even give it to someone as a holiday gift. And instead of inundating us with more gifts at a time when Ada is likely to have three birthday parties and four Christmases in one month, I've kindly requested no gifts. Starting at three thirty in the afternoon should give all of the attendees time to take their afternoon naps. And two hours later,  they should be fed and ready to go home for their bedtime routine. We won't have time to get too crazy, and that is exactly the point.

The best part? I don't really have to stress about any of it. We have Saturday to clean and cook. Everyone RSVPed last night over dinner at Mom's Night Out. I don't feel like I am leaving anyone out by doing something small with this group. And I don't feel like any of our friends or family are sitting at home saying, "Darn, I was really looking forward to going to Ada's birthday party this year." If they are, we'll let them take her for a personal party of their choosing--preferrably at a time when Rick and I can have it double as a date night (even better if Iain can attend Ada's party).

Moral of the story: Birthday parties can get out of hand quickly. Keep it simple, and focus on what's important, the cake. 

Translation Please

Ada has been slow to talk for her age. We haven't been concerned with her development necessarily, but we have been keeping a close eye on her progress and watching for signs that she was struggling or falling too far behind. In the past, we assumed that, since Ada was so big for her age, she was putting all of her efforts into growing instead of her speech and language. More recently, I was encouraged by a few friends to have her evaluated by a speech therapist to see just how delayed she was and if she would benefit from some speech therapy. I haven't figured out how the program in the city works quite yet, but we got a referral from her doctor and got the process started. Last week, she met with an Audiologist to have her hearing tested and passed with flying colors. Next week she meets with a Speech Therapist and a Behaviorist to see if she is more than 30% delayed for her age. If she is, she would qualify for an Early Intervention program here in the city but... it's only available until age three and her birthday is the following Sunday. So, that means they evaluate her and then she would qualify to go into preschool at Chicago Public Schools as a three-year old.

Obviously I still have a lot to learn about how all of this is going to work, but it should be enlightening. Whether she has a qualifying delay or not, I was told speaking is one of the easiest things to fix versus issues with cognition. If nothing else, I hope the evaluators can give me some tips and tricks on how to get Ada to communicate better with us. She has been so frustrated lately and has resorted to pulling us over to things she wants and pointing, whining, and crying despite our best efforts to encourage her to "use your words". She has a ton of words, she just isn't stringing them together very often. And it is even more obvious when we are around her friends and they are talking in pargraphs. We'll get there. We just might need a little help figuring out how.

Moral of the story: Invest in the time it takes to teach your child to communicate, and stay on top of their development. If you are concerned in the slightest bit, have them evaluated early. It will save you both a lot of frustration in the long run.