Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Six. Six!

My sweetest Ellen girl -

I sit here, late on the night before your birthday, and can hardly believe I almost forgot to write this. I think it's a reflection of the current phase of our lives, commonly referred to as BUSY. You are busy, we are busy, Georgia is along for the ride. It's mostly a happy, lucky, fortunate kind of busy, but nevertheless, it's sometimes hard to remember in the moment.

I've been cleaning every nook and cranny of this house, trying to prepare for the onslaught of shiny new things for birthday and Christmas, and I keep coming across old pictures of you with that sweet baby face. Where did that baby face go? I now see a growing girl, one tooth lost to the Tooth Fairy, with 3 more following in short order. Everyone says it, but they say it because it's true: WHERE DID THE TIME GO?

Dad and I sat in the new parent orientation at your school mere weeks ago and listened to your very experienced principle describe how he saw the biggest jump in achievement and growth and maturity in his daughters between the start of Kindergarten and Thanksgiving, and then again during their first year of college. As Dad reminded me, this has been entirely true for you. I knew you would do well in school and I knew you would love it. Sure, there are rough spots from time to time, but I'm proud of you for finding your way and working so hard. You were reluctant to read with me over the summer and I couldn't get you to focus, and now you are reading books and sounding out words and writing stories on your own. I love to watch your accomplishments.

You have made some nice friends and have been able to do a lot of fun things this year. You are a fun-seeker, like your Dad, and I think find yourself bored around here with the daily activities I like to call "being a productive citizen". Your energy level has significantly increased since you started Kindergarten, I think as a byproduct of sitting and focusing all day, and you can't stop jumping over / leaping on / bouncing off of the furniture. It drives me batty. I used my angry voice the other day, which led to you storming off to your room (not uncommon around here) and when I came to calmly talk to you, there was heavy drama: "I just FEEL like something is MISSING in my life!!!" Oh, really, almost 6-year-old? Like what? "I don't know. Like a hamster. Or a roller coaster." Are you trying to tell me you would like to have more fun? "I guess so." Well - you and me both.

I struggle with this: a job worth doing is a job worth doing well the first time. This is important to me and is a lesson I want to teach you and Georgia. And, at the same time, one person can't do everything, no matter how much she tries. I would hate to look back and regret the opportunities we missed. More than anything, I hope you and Georgia continue to help me with this balance and learn from my missteps.  

Speaking of your sister, she is your biggest fan and you are hers. It is adorable to watch. And occasionally maddening as the decibel level reaches higher and higher the closer we get to dinner time. Georgia wants to show you all the new things - "yook at dis, A-yen" - and you long to give her a hug and kiss before bed, even when she turns you away, then comes running when you act like your feelings are hurt. If your Dad and I have done anything right in the last 6 years, it's helping this sister relationship to grow.

I feel so lucky to be your Mom. You are special and interesting and strange and hilarious and maddening and challenging and smarter than I know how to handle at times. I am mildly fearful of the growing pains to come with you, but also thrilled to be a part of it. You are just unique - there is only one Ellen - and people comment on that to us all the time. I guess that's the best birthday wish any of us could have: to be appreciated for exactly who we are.

I love YOU.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Sweet Georgie Girl

Dearest Georgie ...

It's the eve of your 2nd birthday and I've been mulling this post around in my mind for days, yet I find the nature of two children ... in the fall ... preparing for a holiday ... there just aren't enough minutes in the day. In many ways, I feel that this is your life - I very much underestimated the level of "busy" that two children bring. Much of it is a joyful kind of busy, and quite a bit of it is a necessary kind of busy, and some if it is the tear-your-hair-out kind of busy. I feel guilt that your first 2 years have been different in many ways than Ellen's, but in the face of it, you are thriving. You are happy. You are funny. You are increasingly chatty. You are stubborn. You are determined. I feel that you and Ellen are both pretty independent girls, which I need and want you to be.

You and I had a bit of an adjustment period when Ellen started school. You missed her and I missed her and I missed her playing with you. I feel like we were finally given the one-on-one time you deserved and, while it took some time to adapt, I've loved to watch all those little intricate, hilarious parts of your personality. Your speech has exploded and you surprise me every day with things you say. You love your sister fiercely and it doesn't hurt my feelings that I wake you from your nap early every time to pick her up from school, but you couldn't be happier to hop in your stroller and head to get your favorite person. You miss her more than anyone.

At the same time, I feel like you have finally opened yourself up and recognized that you are part of a family and, even better, a family of people that you enjoy! You were kind of a reserved little gal - didn't laugh easily or hug easily and just kind of took it all in. Lately I've noticed that you ask about everyone's whereabouts - even if someone is just around the corner - and especially if it's time for bed, just checking to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be. You are a mama's girl AND a daddy's girl - the best kind. You shriek with delight and pride when one of us picks you up from school ... MY mama, MY dada. And even to Ellen, just reminding her - these are my folks, too.

I used to think that you were more "me" and Ellen was more "dad". In many ways that is still true, but I've heard more and more comments lately that,"Oh! Georgia does have a little bit of Ellen in her!". Your like to assess situations (me) and then tonight fought me to get out of my arms just so you could dance to the background music while we were trick or treating (ellen and dad). You are funny and charming and obviously use your charm to get what you want. You have the sweetest "NOOOOOO" I've ever heard. Mostly I laugh and give in to your whims because, this is 2.

You have a determination that I'm simultaneously proud of and fearful of. Ellen certainly always had a plan, but would mostly verbalize it. You just formulate a plan in your head, proceed with exactly what you want to do, and don't feel any need to involve others. If we attempt to divert you? No good. As your communication skills continue to improve I think we will be able to navigate the world together.

It's amazing to reflect back on life 2 years ago - I remember vividly the Halloween eve of your birth. I remember the scurrying and double checking and waiting and wondering. I remember (most) of our stay in the hospital with you. We watched videos tonight from the time Ellen met you in the hospital and she still had her almost-4-year-old baby face and you were the tiniest, dark-haired peanut. Neither of you look the same and it is a tiny bit heartbreaking, but mostly wonderful. I remember the hours I sat on the couch with my feet up and watched the colors on the leaves change to a flaming yellow, and then you helped Dad and Ellen rake those leaves last week and jump in the piles.

We love you. We are proud of you. Your crinkly nose when you ask a question delights me every time. You've brought more laughter and joy to our family than we could have ever hoped. Happiest Second Birthday to you, sweet girl.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On the eve of Kindergarten ...

Sweet, sweet Ellen -
Here we are. The night before this huge, huge change. So big, in fact, that I really can't wrap my mind around it. I've been "nesting" for weeks: organizing, and purging, and sorting, and sharpening pencils, and planning for lunches, and buying hooks for things that need hanging. She who controls the clutter, controls the world! If only that were true.

Such a milestone: we have successfully cared for a child for 5 3/4 years! Said child is bright and eager and funny and raring to go! We couldn't ask for more. In many ways it feels that our whole world is being turned upside down, yet really, you will only be 8 houses away from us. Probably a 4.2 minute walk, yet might as well be hours. The number of items I've added to my calendar in the last several weeks, before you've even set foot in the school, confirms my suspicions that the planets of this household will revolve around you, the sun, for quite some time.

I'm thrilled for you and this experience. As your principal said this evening, reflecting on his experience raising 5 daughters (bless him), he saw the most marked change in his girls in the first semester of Kindergarten and not again until their first semester of College. My greatest hope is that you make friends, fall in love with learning and feel that you find your place. Really, I think most adults would say that those three things make for a satisfying life.

I'm happy for Georgia to finally have time for the one-on-one attention she deserves, yet I know she will miss you like crazy. Her language and personality have been in over-drive lately and I will miss you, my pal, who I can always count on to laugh at her antics with me.

You seem so grown up to me at times and it's easy to forget that you have the normal fears and worries of any child going through a transition. As much as we can talk and talk and talk about all of this - there are just a lot of feelings, too. You charged through the halls at Village today boasting, "I'm not nervous! Not one tiny bit!", yet you've cried each day on the way home about missing your sweet friends. You crawled in bed tonight and expressed that you WERE nervous and worried. About what? I asked. "Oh, just everything, I guess." Me, too, babe.

Last Sunday morning I suggested you spend time playing with Georgia because it would be your last time home together for awhile. As much as we've talked about this, I think it finally sunk in. You cried and cried and cried - couldn't understand how the day came so soon. "Usually in preschool, if you need a hug, you can just go get one from your sister, but in Kindergarten she won't be there!" (tears tears tears) I suggested she could get a hug from her classmate and friend, Addie, or her teacher. "I know, but it's just not the same!"

No, it really isn't. I promise to give lots of hugs every morning so you can store them up for the day. I will do my best not to be frustrated with the bad/unusual behavior I expect out of you the next few weeks during this transition (I learned from the Emerging Vegetarian Experience of 2013). We are so proud of you and so happy to embark on this adventure with our very favorite 5-year-old.

Love, love, love -

Friday, January 10, 2014

Been awhile ...

Long time, no blog!

Hope all of you survived the holidays. Well, in fact, I hope you did more than survive - ate, drank, laughed, enjoyed, relaxed - but I will settle for survived. Two-fourths of our household (the adult half, thanksverymuch) was stricken by a GI bug and we limped through the end of December and into the New Year. I will say, however, that an unplanned (and not wholly enjoyable) lack of eating for 5 days sure kicks off the 2014 weight loss plan. And, I didn't have a drop of alcohol on New Year's Eve and finally woke up hungry and clear-headed. If that isn't the best way to start fresh, then I don't know what is.

This will be a notation of my random thought patterns, as most things are these days.

A few Christmas notes: we have joined the land of American Girl Doll. It's an OK place to be, but I'm still reserving final judgement. Interestingly, while Ellen was THRILLED to get Saige from Santa, she doesn't play with her much. I don't think she knows HOW, which sounds weird, but I think is true. Dolls really aren't my thing, so I don't quite get it either. Also, Santa just brought Saige and nothing else, so again, she didn't know what to do with her. Thankfully our wiser family members gifted Ellen a doll bed and some gift certificates for accessorizing, but I think some doll playdates are in our future. Santa also brought a DVD set of 'Where On Earth Is Carmen San Diego?' that has been a big hit, along with a really cool Atlas from Grammy. Ellen's stocking had a wireless mouse and mouse pad so she could start learning how to use a mouse on my laptop as we don't have a standard desk top computer at our house. I'm glad someone mentioned it because it is a skill she will need in school and she is having great fun with it. Santa brought Georgia a new table, a little bigger than our old one, with 4 chairs for dining with friends. He was even more clever and got one that was a gray-brown color that wouldn't show every pencil and crayon mark. They were both gifted many more great things - maybe I will get my act together and post about some of them.

On occasion I will wake up during the night and not be able to fall back asleep and then my mom-xiety sneaks in. I don't really have generalized anxiety, but I think all moms (parents) have those things they worry about at the most random times. Recently, it was fire safety and escaping our home. The next morning I marched Ellen around the house and made sure she knew how to open all of the doors and the garage door and how to use the cordless phone to dial 911. I feel (mildly) better.

A few things I've saved to share:
Two posts from Girl's Gone Child on teaching your kids about strangers, something I still struggle to do well. The Mother Co and Staying Safe Without Fear and Talking To Strangers.

A(nother) article on car seat safety from the New York Times: Strapped In But Still At Risk. Georgia finally moved up from her bucket to a convertible, rear-facing, seat and Ellen is still in a 5-point harness, but is probably at the weight limit for kid + seat under the new LATCH guidelines, so I think we need to re-install her seat with the belt. Ugh.

And just something interesting about Music Education: Is Music the Key to Success?

I am finally weaning Georgia now at 14 months. We are leaving town at the end of the month and it just needs to happen. She has only been nursing in the morning and before bed for months now and I haven't pumped in many months, so it is just so easy. She enjoys it - smiles and claps her hands before she nurses! - and I honestly could just keep going. It's sad as she is my last, but all good things come to an end. She didn't really bat an eye when I dropped the before-bed feeding - we just replaced it with extra books and cuddles and teethbrushing. We'll see how the morning goes ... I'm sure it will bother me more than her.

And, on a related note, I feel very fortunate that weight loss has not been an issue after having Georgia. I actually weigh less now than at any point since I had Ellen. I attribute this some to nursing, mostly to my near-constant activity level on my 4 days at home, and the fact that we never eat out and I take my lunch to work to save money. Also, I never ate tons of fast food, but I almost never do now because there isn't time or I have the kids with me. I do need to replace the calorie burn from nursing, though, and am trying to wrap my brain around some form of exercise. I am not athletic and have never formally exercised. I know I need to do it for my health, as well as to firm up some post-baby areas. I'm thinking one of these 7-minute Apps is a good place to start and Ellen might even join me!