Friday, February 21, 2014

Dear Gracie, Part 3

Gracie, you are 4 months old today. I can't believe a third of a year has passed. I feel like you've always been here.

You are such a sweet, happy baby. The colic has passed and underneath it all was this smiling, squealing little girl. You are a quiet baby, for now you let your sister make all the noise. You coo and squeal when she takes a breath. But you always let your needs be known. You have the most annoying whine in all the land.

You seem to just want to get up and run off. I have a feeling you will be the child quietly scaling the furniture. You love to sit up and stand up, and love bouncing in your Jumperoo.

You have bright, sparkly eyes, and strangers stop me to comment on your hair. Your hair is one of my favorite things in life. It just sticks straight up from your head in all directions, except in the back where it's getting quite long and you have a bald spot on the back of your head.

I hit a wall about a month ago where I just could not physically handle rocking you to sleep 10 times a day. You were only napping at 45 minute stretches and you weren't (aren't) sleeping through the night, so I felt like I was spending my whole day bouncing and rocking you. I took you to the doctor who told me it was time to let you cry-it-out. I hadn't planned to do that so young (we didn't with Mia until she was 6 months old), but we both needed it. You are now napping better, although the nighttimes are still the same as they ever were. At this point I don't even know what it's like to sleep through the whole night anymore. But at least you put yourself back to sleep. I know it's a good thing, but it also makes me sad not to have a sleeping baby in my lap. I often rocked Mia to sleep until she was almost 2, but I guess that's the breaks of being the second child, I don't have all day to sit with a sleeping baby anymore.

You are a tall, skinny baby, but finally getting some meat on you. I love a fat baby, so it's delightful to see your chubby legs and rounding belly.

I worked hard to get Mia on a schedule early, but you are resistant to a schedule. Some days you wake at 5am ready for the day, some days you sleep until 8:30. It makes getting out of the house hard. I always wondered if I was too strict with Mia's schedule, but now I realize that it wasn't just me, I think she needed/wanted a schedule and I could sense that, whereas you don't seem to need that structure just yet.

Oh Gracie, you are just such a sweet little girl, nuzzling into my shoulder when I pick you up out of your crib. I just love watching you try to figure the world out around you. I spend lengths of time studying your hands and grabbing at toys. You are inquisitive and happy and such a sweetheart. You fill some space in our family I didn't even realize was missing. 

Dear Mia: Part 14

Here you are, a few weeks from being 3. I have started this entry twice before, and now here we are 6 months after the last entry.

I started this entry once when things were in a very bad place, when I was very pregnant with your sister and you were acting out in ways I had never seen before. You found out how to push your boundaries and you've been pushing ever since. And now you are 35 months old, and our days are a pendulum swinging wildly between a sweet, smart cherub and an attention-starved, rage-driven demon. This stage of parenting calls on so much more mental stamina than ever before. I see the stark contrast between the physical stamina I must practice with your infant sister; the sleep deprivation, the learning to do everything with only one hand while carrying a baby. I can do that all day long without breaking a sweat. But you, you are calling upon every inch of my patience and intellect to keep up with you. I cannot just react. It is no longer just muscle memory with you. Oh, and it is hard, and some days I don't think I'm cut out for it. Some days you spend more time in time-out than out of it. Some days I think I've screwed this all up. You just seem to wander around the house like a wrecking ball doing naughty things.

But still, I look at you, really look at you, a dozen times a day and listen to your little voice that still can't pronounce the letter "R," and I remember that you are just a tiny little girl. That I have to guide you. That you are learning from every move I make, nothing is lost on you, that I have to be the very best example of a human being for you. It's so much to live up to. But then we have really good days where you just blow my mind with how smart, polite, kind, sweet and funny you can be. And I think maybe, just maybe I'm not doing too bad.

You love to sing and dance, making up songs all day. You are obsessed with Katy Perry's Roar and watching you sing and dance along with this song makes my heart want to burst out of my chest. You request I play Roar, Darius Rucker's Wagon Wheel and Pharrell's Happy on repeat (we've finally moved far enough past Christmas that you've stopped requesting "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas").

You have done better with your new little sister than I could have ever imagined. Thankfully any frustration you have about not having my full attention has been directed at me and not at her. You do sometimes act out the second I turn my back to tend to her. When she was first born you were adamant that she was NOT coming home with us, but you are so so sweet with her now. You sing to her when she cries and love to show her toys. As expected you can get a little rough with her, smothering her with kisses or yanking on her arms and legs like she's a doll. 

You NEVER. STOP. TALKING. I'm serious. Never. This alone doesn't drive me bonkers, but the fact that you MUST get a response from someone about everything you say is maddening. And often you're talking over me giving the appropriate response, so you repeat yourself. 

You are human velcro most days. Every 10 minutes you are asking me to cuddle with you on the couch and then you are climbing on top of me wiggling up under my arms, sticking fingers in my face. All day long you are asking your dad and me to play with you, but playing with you means we basically just let you boss us around for as long as we can stand. Having a tea party means we must only drink our tea when you instruct, we must repeat certain phrases you shout at us, and do voices for various stuffed animals. What I'm trying to say is, you like things done a certain way, sometimes we have no idea what that "way" is until you are screaming it at us.

A few months ago I got to take you to a local library to meet the characters from your favorite books - Gerald and Piggie from Mo Willems' Elephant & Piggie books. You were bursting with excitement. You requested to wear your halloween costume so you could look like Gerald. There were only a few other children there, so you stole the show. You sat on a little couch while a librarian brought you books on command so you could read to Gerald and Piggie. You recited the books much to the librarians glee and pointed to an illustration of Piggie exclaiming "That's you, Piggie!" I stood there watching you, camera in hand, with a smile so wide I thought my face might crack in half. The librarian tried to engage me in conversation and I couldn't even speak, I was afraid I might burst into tears. It was like taking a princess-loving girl to Disney World. It was your dream come true. And this is the kind of heart-bursting joy I did not know (and find it hard to explain) before you came along. Of course now you think every character you love from books, movies and TV is real and going to come over for a playdate, but I just love your imagination.

We celebrated Christmas a few months ago. It was an exhausting day as you chose to get up in the night 4 times the night before, but it was so awesome to see your excitement about it. I think next year will be even better as you really understand it more and more.

We sold our house a few weeks ago and will be moving in April. I am so excited to get into a bigger space, but also sad about leaving this home which has always been your home. I get teary thinking about the fact that you may not even remember this place, but you've already picked out your room in the new house and we talk a lot about moving and taking all of our things with us.

I signed you up to start preschool in the fall. I'm so excited for you to start a new adventure. You are having separation anxiety I never expected however. We joined the YMCA a few months ago and the first time I took you to the Child Watch area so I could exercise, I left thinking you wouldn't miss me at all. When I came back the women there told me you had cried the whole time, only stopping when one of them sat and read books with you. The second time I brought you, you were so set on not crying that you sat at a table and colored one piece of paper with one crayon the whole time I was gone. I guess it's progress, but I was so surprised by your reaction. You seem so fearless and independent, and have never been particularly shy or a mommy's girl. It made my heart break and burst at the same time, but I have so much confidence that you will overcome it.

Favorite movie: Madagascar
Favorite TV show: Doc McStuffins, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Favorite color: Purple
Favorite food: Sweets, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bagels and cream cheese
Favorite song: Roar by Katy Perry
Favorite Book: Any Elephant & Piggie book

You love to color, paint, and read. You love horses, and animals in general. You are 95% potty trained, but sometimes use "accidents" as an attention-seeking device. You are still an maddeningly picky eater. You love breakfast food, but for dinner you often eat nothing, even if I make something you usually like. You don't like pizza for goodness sakes! You are still not into princesses or dolls. We took you to see Frozen a few weeks ago and your favorite character was Olaf, the snowman.

I can't believe you are almost 3. It's such a cliche, but it really feels like it was just yesterday that I was pregnant with you, dreaming about what life would be like as a mom. You are just the most amazing, beautiful, sassy, exuberant little girl I've ever met, and I am so so proud to be your mom.