Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nineteen Months (End of Eighteen Months), or Welcome to Almost Two

A switch has been flipped, and I can see the glimmers of a two year old on the horizon.

Calliope's new favorite habit is to scream. Loudly. (In case there was some other way to scream.) For no apparent reason besides the pleasure of hearing her voice. At full volume.

It's possible that this behavior drives me just a teensy bit crazy.

A somewhat more pleasant new habit goes as follows.


"Yes, love?"


Moments pass.


"Yes, love?"


I guess she's enjoying the fact that it's like clockwork -- she call "Mah-ee" and I always answer! And always in the affirmative! So predictable, and so, so awesome.

She's becoming much more opinionated about what we do. As soon as I lie her down to change her diaper, she cries for the potty.

But she taught me a new trick yesterday -- she pulled a folding changing pad out from under the wire shelves and carefully unfolded it before lying down on it. So now if I want to change her, all I have to do is ask her to unfold the changing pad for me. Of course, she always lies down in the wrong direction, with her feet pointing away from me, and her head towards me. Oh well.

It's amazing how engaging her in any task, particularly asking for her help, produces instant cooperation. In the mornings, as I come into her room, I ask her to turn on the light -- she can reach it from her crib, but so far, has only once thought to turn on the lights without me -- and the responsibility of that "task" allows the day to start extra joyfully.

She still sits on the potty, very happily, and still, almost never produces anything on it.

A very exciting development, though, is that she's pretty much weaned!

She last nursed yesterday morning. The last time before that was four days prior. It's been lovely to forge a path together that didn't require us to go cold turkey. Yesterday morning I let her get too hungry, and she asked several times, rather desperately. It felt wonderful to be able to simply say yes. And melt into the glider together for a few minutes.

And if that was the last time, at nineteen months and four days, great. And if it wasn't quite, that's fine too.

I was so very nervous about her being bereft to be deprived of her beloved neh-neh, but it was much easier than I feared.

I switched up the night time routine -- offering a bedtime snack on the couch for a few days, and now, a simple return to the highchair after putting on her pajamas (she often eats very little for dinner, so it's more like we interrupted dinner to get changed than a separate meal and then snack). After her snack, we brush her teeth and then we read a couple of stories. At first, we read on the couch in the living room, since I was nervous about nursing associations with her room. But tonight we read on the floor in her room and she still didn't ask to nurse. I am not quite brave enough to risk reading in the big chair in her room just yet, but after we get back from our upcoming trip to Boston, I think it will be safe for reading again.

In the mornings, I just scoop her up and bring her into the kitchen for a pre-breakfast snack before getting her dressed. If I don't do that, she quickly becomes famished, and the requests for nursing begin. Today, since we had to leave extra early, I just brought a banana into her room, and that worked fine as well. Once she's eaten something, she's cheerful and ready to play (and not so snuggly) and doesn't think to ask.

Perhaps related, and perhaps not, Calliope has grown very attached to Baby Annie, the potty-training-doll-we-don't-use-for-potty-training (the "wetting" makes a giant mess). Yesterday, I sent Calliope into the living room when she was searching for the doll. She stood in the middle of the living room, calling out forlornly, "Annie? Annie?"

I'm not sure if she expects Annie to answer or if she's just communicating to me her rather heroic efforts at finding Annie (and warning me that a toddler meltdown is imminent).

Goodness, these little people have short fuses some times!

Calliope is learning new words all the time, and has a couple more sentences. Her most frequent one is, not very lyrically, "had poop." (Only it sounds like "ha poop.") Because I always comment, "You had a poop in your diaper.)

She also sometimes says "Hi Ba" or "Bye Elle." I suppose these count as sentences?

But the funniest one is actually four whole words long. The sentence is "No, I do it." Great emphasis on the "I."

What's funny about this sentence is that it gets repeated constantly, out of context, without her appearing to have any idea what it means.

It's like she's cramming for her two year old year, and has memorized the material but didn't stop to learn what it actually meant.

Another amusing tidbit: I try not to tell her she looks cute, or pretty, because, I don't know, these seem very girly and not good, somehow. Like they place undue emphasis on her appearance, I guess.

So instead, I say "wow" or "you look nice."

So the other day, getting her dressed for a St. Patrick's day dinner party, I put a dress on her, and said, "Turn around Calliope, so I can see how you look."

And of course, she turned around, rubbed her belly contentedly, and said, very admiringly, "Wow. Niiiiiiiice" in a very-Borat like voice.

She saw a picture of a rooster in a book, and said "cuckoo!" a pretty impressive imitation of cock-a-doodle doo. She says "whoa!" now when she trips. It cracks me up to hear my own sounds coming out of her mouth like this, as I didn't even know I said this until she nearly fell and I, indeed, said "Whoa!"

She thinks all plants are called "gentle" because of how many times she's been admonished to be "gentle!" with the plant when she stands on the windowsill to look out the window -- a favorite activity of hers lately. She asks, over and over, "doh?" so that someone will lift her up and stand there with her while she gazes happily outside. It makes sense that she likes looking out on busy Ocean Parkway, with its many lanes of traffic, but it's a bit more puzzling that she's equally as fond of looking out the interior-facing windows in her bedroom.

Seeing a squirrel on the fire escape was probably our most exciting window experience -- Calliope asked "Squirrel?" many, many times afterwards, until finally her four year old hero, "Bah!" came over to visit.

Peanut butter, somewhat sadly, is now called "buttr" instead of "mah", but banana is still "dada" and orange (the fruit, not the color) is still "ish." And Calliope seems to think that I drink "teeth" in my insulated travel mug (she not only says teeth, but points to her teeth as she says it). Mango sounds rather like "yum yum." Bib is "bee-yobe." Avocado has gone, inexplicably, from "ava" to now being called "hawa." I'm glad this language development thing is not an entirely forward progression.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mini Melt Down

Not hers, mine.

See, I called the dermatologist today to see if I could get an appointment. Soon. The creams he prescribed weren't helping, and in fact, things are getting worse. My face is feeling tight and uncomfortable.

There was an opening today. Phew.

I texted nanny and Amy to confirm coverage for Calliope, since the appointment was for 4:30. Both confirmed availabilty.

After just barely missing my stop, I quickly got back on a train coming back the other direction, and was still on time for my appointment.

And then I sat. And sat. And sat. The waiting room started out crowded, and slowly thinned. People that came in well after me got called in to see the doctor.

I started to get antsy. I read two supremely boring magazines.

Finally, after an hour, I got up and asked how much longer. The answer was five people had gone before me, and there were two more people still ahead of me. The receptionist added airily, in response to my query, "It could easily be another half an hour."

I went back and squirmed in my seat.

I was imagining that Amy would've finished feeding the girls dinner by that point, and was no doubt impatient to take her own child home to bed.

Two more latecomers got called in. With the second, I popped up and went in front of him.

"Please." I pleaded. "I'm a single mom. I work full time. I have a baby at home waiting for me. I've been waiting for an hour and twenty minutes."

And then, to my embarrassment, tears welled up.

Where the hell did that come from?

I literally cannot tell you the last time I cried. I think it was within the first month of Calliope's life, when she woke me up just one too many times.

The receptionist -- much nicer than the first one than the one I spoke to previously -- promised me it would be mere moments, and had me sit in the hallway of the inner sanctum while she peppered me with cheerful questions about my daughter -- seriously, lady, you aren't interested! why are you pretending? -- that I answered in monosyllables as I tried to get myself under control. Totally embarrassing.

A couple of minutes later, I was put in an exam room. At the time I would normally be changing Calliope into her pajamas. The doctor came bustling cheerfully in, examined me, and prescribed some new creams to try.

At the end of the visit, I explained, "Listen, you're very nice, and I love coming to see you. But I waited ninety minutes to see you. And I'm a single mom and I work full time and I just can't afford to wait this long."

Because the truth is, while this feels very whiny, it's absolutely true. I couldn't have a repeat of today. There's just no room in my schedule for it. And he listened very sympathetically, and told me that the next time I need an appointment, to tell them to schedule me on a Friday, when he does only scheduled procedures, so that I won't have to wait so long.

Phew. Otherwise I was going to need to find a new dermatologist, or stop caring about the way my face looks.

It was odd, though, how completely depressed I was at the thought of not getting to spend time with Calliope tonight. It's one of those things that I couldn't understand before I was a parent. It's one night out of, like, a million. Right?

(Oh, then I called for a cab to rush me home and it took twenty five minutes to arrive. I could've gotten home by train in that much time. I was coming out of my skin with frustration.)

I think my hormones are in flux from weaning. I'm glad I've been warned to expect some blues as a result. Still, it's an unfamiliar feeling after all these months -- since the day of the positive pregnancy test -- of sunshine.

When I arrived home, Eleanor came rushing into my arms, shouting "Abby! Abby!" to give me a huge hug. Calliope, meanwhile, was too busy tearing paper to look up at me.

I guess she wasn't missing me, then.

Tonight, though it's only been four days since we took the plunge and started substituting a muffin for the morning nursing... I upped the ante. I got her ready for bed in the living room after giving her a bedtime snack, then read three books instead of our typical two, and sang our good night song on the couch.

As I got to the end of the song, she started whimpering and saying, "No!" And then, piteously, "neh neh."

I calmly (prayerfully) answered, "You had a muffin instead of neh neh." And she was quiet!

She said "neh neh" one more time as I carried her into her room -- blinds already drawn and lights out in hopes of speedy getaway -- and again I said, "No, you had a muffin."

I put her in her crib, she whimpered once or twice, and that was it. Silence.

I walked out and started to get teared up again. Yesterday was maybe, probably, my last nursing. And I didn't even know it.

But then I remembered that it made my skin crawl last night. I don't know why, but suddenly it made me unbearably claustrophobic. So I'm not nostalgic for that. But still, it's the end of an era. If I never have another baby (and I hope to, but of course there's no guarantees in life), last night could have been my last nursing, for life.

That's a pretty major milestone.

Two Friends Take a Winter Walk

Eleanor: "Do you think these snow pants make my legs look short?'
Calliope: "Hmm, let me take a look... No, I don't think so."

"But everyone is going to notice how short we are if you don't start walking a lot faster,

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cute Things My Eighteen Month Old Has Done This Week, and a Weaning Update

What's more fun than a non-functioning water fountain?

Daredevil sitting on the water fountain arm without support...
The cupcake hat from infancy still fits! (the velcro on the ugly
green fleece one is on its last legs so we're trying out other options)

Tenderly cradling Baby Annie during a cab ride. I think she may
have been nursing her but I didn't dare ask about such a loaded

  • Calliope, wordlessly garbling, "I'm going to get you!" to the kitchen timer as she menacingly advanced her hand towards it, then tickling it.
  • Calliope coming over and leaning against me before tilting her face towards mine and pursing her lips for an exceedingly rare (read: never happens!) daytime kiss... as I held a series of newborn babies (three babies during the course of two different days). Then she squatted down and started inching her bottom backwards across my lap, insinuating herself into my lap, doing her best to "accidentally" displace the infant located in that prime real estate.
  • Being so delighted to have her very own cloth napkin in her lap for the first time... except when Mommy dares to remove said napkin from said lap for the purpose of wiping a small and dirty face. Cue indignant protests.

    The napkin was replaced and I used my own napkin to wipe her face instead... and then Calliope thoughtfully used it to wipe my face for good measure. After dinner, Calliope gave her new friend Napkin a big hug before taking it off to play in her kitchen.
  • Well, this doesn't make good anecdote material, but now, whenever I am in the kitchen, Calliope runs to the dining area of our kitchen (a few feet away) and asks "this?" pleadingly until I figure out what she's asking, and drag a chair over so she can stand on it to watch the action. It's hard to remember that for a toddler, our most basic tasks are fascinating. Things like slicing an avocado.

I'm hoping to come straight home from work tonight to make carrot muffins with her. She continues to love cooking with me. I made a batch a week ago (without her) and they were a huge hit. I'm hoping she will like them even better when she helps to make them. They are quite healthy, with a limited amount of honey for sweetener (though I'm going to decrease it even more, maybe to half, just 2 tablespoons) and coconut oil and six, count them six eggs (since C refuses to eat eggs, this is a great way to get a little of their excellent protein into her... and they are pasture raised, soy free, and totally organic, so even better).

The muffin project is especially urgent because today was the second morning in a row that Calliope skipped her morning nursing!

I went into her room this morning to wake her -- just turning off the fan (white noise) and opening the shades does the trick -- and she bounced up and asked, "Nastya? Nastya? Nastya?" (that's the nanny). I guess she was excited to see her... and I can officially declare the clingy phase of morning routine to be over! So I scooped her up and we hurried into the kitchen to say hello to the nanny, then I offered the muffin, which she gladly accepted. I'm happy to have a suitable distraction for nursing so I think I will keep the muffins as a special treat for mornings only.

Nastya and Calliope sat at Calliope's little table while I made my tea, then I joined them and Calliope slid into my lap to cuddle while she ate her muffin. I successfully eluded her greasy hands (note to self: use less coconut oil in the muffins next time!) and she chattered away at us, delighted to have the full attention of both of her favorite adults -- a rare thing in a world where Mommy and Nanny trade off.

Calliope asked twice for "neh neh, and holding my breath each time, I answered breezily, "you're having muffin instead."

Amazingly, she accepted this response.

But oh, my heart felt a pang, leaving this morning and seeing her sweet tousseled self toddling around the living room in her pajamas, bidding me a cheerful "Bah bye!" as she got Baby Annie set up to rock in the glider. I haven't yet entered the phase where I'm glad to return to work on Mondays. I miss her each time a weekend ends.

My current idea for eliminating the nighttime and final nursing is to get her a special new cup, a Big Girl Cup (her buddy Eleanor calls her special Big Girl Cup, given to her when she gave up bottles, "BaCup"), and put warm sweetened or vanilla flavored milk in it. And to make a really big deal about the cup. Right now she refuses to drink cow's milk (or breast milk, for that matter) in a cup, and life would be so much easier if I had an alternative to offer her for nursing. So my (distant) hope is that sweetened, warmed milk might do the trick. If I can get her to make the switch, then I can gradually substitute plain cow's milk for the sweetened stuff.

I'm not at all sure this will work, but I'm going to try.

I think I may also try making the switch when we are at my mom's house in a couple of weeks for my spring break. I'm guessing that breaking up the routine might make things easier?

Please, if you have any suggestions, chime in! Particularly on how to get a breastfed toddler to accept cow's milk. But also how to drop the final nursing without tears. Mommy can't handle tears when it comes to weaning. Funny how sleep training didn't phase me (after the first round or two, once I saw how she responded so well to it) but this, well, I'm too soft.

Here's the recipe for the muffins, and a link to Hannah's blog where the recipe came from. Note: they are gluten free, in case that matters.

Carrot Raisin Muffins
(makes 12)
Adapted from the Well-Fed Homestead blog.

Blend the dry ingredients:
1/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda (omit if doing the GAPS diet)
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 t cinnamon
Generous dashes nutmeg cloves ginger

Add the following:
6 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil (*** I'm going to try using a little less so Calliope's hands aren't quite so oily -- that's a recipe for mess!)
1/4 cup honey (** I'm going to try halving this, as carrots are naturally sweet)
1-2 T vanilla (** 1 tablespoon is ample)

Mix in:
2 cups shredded or grated organic carrots
1/2 cup raisins (** I omit -- I can't stand cooked raisins!)

Spoon into buttered (or oiled) muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees until the tops are done. (*** I have awesome silicone muffin "liners"-- the muffin slides right out and they are incredibly easy to wash. And I don't have to oil them first. Muffin tins are a pain -- very hard to get clean, in my experience. I just set these "liners" on a foil covered cookie sheet and don't bother with the muffin tin at all.) 

For both recipes, allow the muffins to cool completely, then store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for one week (we have kept them longer and they've been fine).


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Glum About HappySad News

Can't be too sad with a girl like this in my life

The nanny informed me first thing Monday morning... she's pregnant. Unexpectedly, but happy about it, I think.

I'm happy for her, of course, but it was a hard bit of news to be hit with when I wasn't fully awake yet, and trying to get out the door.

I felt pretty anxious and stressed at work all day.

Then I made my peace with it. And even was excited for her.

I figured that Amy and I would get a new nanny and carry on. After all, when we'd talked about the possibility of N leaving in the past (we thought she might go back to school full time in the fall), she'd proposed that we get a new nanny and keep the nanny sharing situation going. She said she and her husband have been really happy with it. And I have been too, in case it's not obvious. In fact, I had hosted a meeting of parents of neighborhood ~18 month olds to talk about starting a preschool coop a couple mornings a week next school year. So I had been entertaining a fantasy that the girls could do that next school year (and stay with the nanny the rest of the time), and then have the preschool coop increase to three mornings a week for their three year old year, and then Calliope would (fingers tightly crossed!) secure a full day public pre-K spot in the school where I work and be able to go to work every day with me when she's four. In other words, keep her at home except for a few mornings a week until she's in public school.

Tonight I broke the news to Amy (who was traveling yesterday), who hasn't seen N since last week.

Amy looked startled, then pained. And sighed.

She also told me that she and her husband had put down a fully refundable deposit on a dreamy preschool in Manhattan, near his work. I think they did this a while ago, when N was considering going back to school in the fall.

I appreciate that she's being honest with me. But I'm scared that our idyllic life is going to change.

Yes, I know, I keep being afraid of that. Losing my job, my mom getting sick, and now the nanny.

If Amy decides to keep going with the nanny share, I think we can get another great nanny, hopefully one that still falls within our budgetary constraints. But if they decide to do full time preschool (a center) next year for Eleanor, our life will have to change a lot.

It won't be the end of the world. But I'll be sad. I love the life that Calliope lives right now -- napping in her own crib (without anyone else in the room), not having to rush her (and me, by extension) out of the house every morning. Having time for me to exercise in the morning because I don't need time to get her fed and out the door. Not having an extra stop in my commute every day on my way to and from work. Which means maximizing my time with her. Well, I suppose if I commuted with her, we'd have more time together, but I'm not sure it would be the highest quality and most relaxing time. And then, of course, the nanny we have now. She's amazing. She's been such a huge part of the girls' lives, with them since they were three months old. She will have made an impact on them in ways we will never fully appreciate, and as Amy pointed out, they won't remember her.

It's sad.

The end of an era.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

An Uneasy Peace

It's been more than a week of only nursing twice a day.

But Calliope still pleads for "neh neh?" several other times a day.

Thanks to the sage advice of women on the SMC Forum, I distract -- "want some cheese" -- or acknowledge and commit to the future, "we will have neh neh after dinner."

Surprisingly, this works! So far, anyway.

I don't have the heart to make her cry by denying nursing to her, but so far, she's never pushed me. So she doesn't know that Mommy would totally cave.

I'm planning to wait on reducing further, to once a day, until she's not asking during the day so much.

I'm really relieved that I won't have to paint myself with vinegar or lemon. I think I'd nurse her until she was four before I could stomach that option.

In other news, I think I can fairly say that Calliope's high speed locomotion is now running! Roughly speaking. Slow and awkward, but running, sort of, nonetheless. Her little friend "Gah!" seemed like he was running practically as soon as he was walking, practically, but Calliope is apparently a more cautious type than he.

We go for lots of walks around the neighborhood and she's getting more endurance by the week. I can't wait until we can abandon the stroller. That appears to be a long way away, still. She turns and goes the opposite direction every few steps. Though bringing the doll stroller with us yesterday gave her a purpose -- propelling the thing down the sidewalk -- which is perhaps the reason she covered twice as much ground as usual, about three short blocks.

We went to see a ten day old baby yesterday, and two month old preemie twins today. I let Calliope warm up for a while before I held them. She didn't seem to mind, but she did come right over and pucker up for a big kiss from me, as if to say "just don't forget who's your favorite and very best baby." Normally I only get a kiss at bedtime. And then she started scooting backwards, insuinating her bottom into my lap. Luckily there was room for her and a newborn there. She was otherwise gentle and curious about the babies, if slightly alarmed when they cried -- her thumb would instantly go into her mouth while her other hand twiddled her ear.

Newborns are delicious, aren't they? I had forgotten how tiny and perfect they are. And also how much they seem like God's unfinished business. They really are just barely formed. Part of me can't wait to have another and part of me remembers how tired and awful my body felt, and realizes just how great life is right now. Still, it was awfully sweet to see Calliope gazing down at them, and to imagine her as a big sister.

Some day. I hope.