Sunday, November 24, 2013

20 Months

Dear Bean,

You are now 20 months old. You're closer to 2 than you are to 1. You're a toddler, for sure.

You regularly sing to yourself. And it's one of my favorite sounds, second only to your infectious giggle.

You have opinions and you make commands. "Seeeeee" when you want to look at pictures on my phone or have a peek at what I'm cooking. "Doooooo" when you want to do something by yourself, like brush your teeth, wash your hands, put on your shoes, feed yourself, have a sip on my water. "Myyyyyyyy" for anything you think is yours. Even when it's clearly mine, like my belly button. "Too, too, toooooooooo" when you want to do something also, like go for a walk, brush your hair, or eat a cookie.

You'll only kiss daddy on the forehead, because of his beard. If he leans in for a kiss, you point to his forehead for him to bend down further. Hopefully this gesture will make the beard be a November showing only.

You are obsessed with the potty. You make us laugh by pretending it's a "hat" or a "helmet." So I guess it's a good thing you haven't actually used the potty yet. But you mention poop or pee no fewer than a dozen times each day, we think you might be "potty training ready."

You want to eat anything your daddy or I eat. Even if it's the same thing that's on your plate. We have learned quickly to share all of our food with you. Your daddy is better at it than me. I still like to eat my Cheerios by myself.

You recently started to ask to hold "haths" - when riding in the car, when sitting on the potty. It's usually an awkward scenario to be holding hands, but it's such a cute request I couldn't possible decline.

You give the best hugs when we ask you to put your hands around our neck. You recently learned the word "kwees" for squeeze when we hug.

When you aren't getting enough attention, you turn aggressive and start hitting or poking, or you do something you know you're not supposed to, like put the marker in your mouth or eat beans from your sensory bin.

You are learning to take big breaths. We are learning to cue you to do this to ward of a meltdown or redirect (thanks, Dee).

When you're with mama and daddy, you laugh easily and often. You seem to have a great sense of humor, and like to ham it up for us.

You enjoy school. You recently moved upstairs with the bigger kids, maybe because you were a little too "friendly" with the babies. Apparently you weren't using your gentle hands.

Daddy gives you your bath every night and mama puts you down. One of my favorite parts of the day is nursing and cuddling you before bed. You sleep on your own until about 5:30 in the morning, and then you come to bed with me.

You love applesauce and cottage cheese. You feed yourself with utensils easily now, as long as there is enough food in the bowl and it's somewhat viscous. You aren't so good at feeding yourself soup yet. You've been eating a lot of satsumas lately. You still don't like greens, and always favor either dairy or carbs. You now drink small cups of organic whole milk once or twice a day. I don't usually offer it, but you make the request.

You are getting a bit more independent with your play. Your favorite toy, by far and away, is your baby doll. You call her simply "beebee." You like to give her the bottle, pretend to fill it at the sink with more milk or water, shush her, smother her in a blanket, and push her around in the wagon. We keep asking you what her name is, and you usually say "mama" or "daddy," so we joke that your doll's name is "baby mama."

You have several new words each day. You can count to 3 if I say "count" or if we start you off with actual objects to count. You still speak primarily with single words, but you regularly string them together with pauses in between. For example, this morning when you were sitting on the edge of the bed, daddy put his arm around you, you said, "fall ... hurt ... owie ... cry." You do use some word combinations, like the other day when I picked you up from daycare and you were crying because Dani was going to vacuum, you said "go way" and pointed at the vacuum.

You refuse to leave your shoes on, however, I have learned that you are susceptible to bribery. I said the other day, if you leave your shoes on I will get you a treat at the store. She did so, and earned herself an applesauce pouch. How exciting!

You run, you skip, you jump, you spin. You still love to dance with me in my arms, to be spun around fast, and to go upside down. You and daddy have some sort of new "up" game where you stand balancing on his arms. It makes me nervous.

We haven't been to the park as much lately because it gets dark so early, but you love the teeter-totter, the horse, and the swings the most. The other day at the park, there was a boy your same age. After you stared at each other for a prolonged period of time, he said "doggie" and you responded "woof." I wasn't there, but daddy told me the story and it's one I think is too cute not to retell.

You love to pretend to talk on the phone. The other day I noticed you using a toy as a phone, and brushing your hair. Your daycare teachers told me that you like to play at the kitchen and pretend to talk on the phone. I swear you've never seen this, so I have no idea where you learned this.

You sleep with a pillow now, and it makes me feel like you're practically a grown-up.

You love looking at pictures of people on my iPhone, iPad or on the Apple TV. You prefer pictures of people you know and love, but enjoy looking at Instagrammed pics of other people's kids, too. TV still can't hold your attention for more than about 5 minutes, but sometimes it's nice to cuddle in bed together on my days off and watch jut 5 minutes of Sesame Street together. You always want to talk about what's going one, saying "bear" and "mama" or "milk" when you see things you have words for.

You love love love having both your mama and your daddy's attention. You are shy and slow to warm with other's, even people you know well like your grandparents or uncles, but you still like having their full attention. Even though you turn into a mute and refuse to show off your developing skills, the second someone leaves or we hang up on FaceTime, you talk about them incessantly. You aren't quick to run into daycare and play, but as soon as Jessica or Dani request a hug, you run into their arms.

You're either going to be a hypochondriac or a doctor. You talk frequently about "cut," "owie," and "hut" (hurt). If you have so much as a scratch, you talk about it and request kisses incessantly. Daddy thinks it's the cutest thing in the world, the way you furrow your brow and say "hut," but I worry about reinforcing some bizarre means for attention. I'm prone to tell you, "Yup, you have a scratch, but you're fine now."

You are like a sponge. A learning machine. Sometimes I say things just once and you seem to understand and retain it for next time. Like about not being able to help you when you drop something in your carseat, now that you like to bring books or toys with you. The other week, you dropped your book and asked for "hup" (help). I said, "Sorry, Bean, I can't help you right now because I'm driving." Later, she dropped her water bottle, asked for help, then immediately said, "no ... die" (drive).

You are the coolest little Bean and I can't begin to sum you up in a blog post.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


The Bean is weaning.

Or so I thought.

Sunday night she asked for milk in a cup before bed. Surprised she asked, but I provided. When I sat in the big brown chair, wrapped her legs up in the knit blanket her great-aunt made her, and cuddled her, like we do every night before bed, she didn't ask me for any mama milk. She had some cow's milk in a plastic cup with a straw, after all. She went to sleep that night without any problems. I thought to myself, "well, I guess she's done nursing. I think I might be a little sad. But we had a good run of it."

The next morning, Alex brought her to bed with me, like we do every morning. Me still half asleep, she asked for milk, so I provided. We fell back asleep for 20 minutes nursing and cuddling like we always do. I thought, "so maybe she's just weaning at night."

That evening, before bed, I asked if she wanted cow's milk in a cup and she said yes. I didn't offer the boob. After she finished her cup of milk, while I was cuddling her in our assumed position, she tapped me on the chest and said "muh," I ignored her request, and then she nestled into my arms without further discussion.

The next morning, Alex brought her to bed and she nursed and we cuddled, per usual. I thought, "So yeah, she does still want to nurse I guess."

And then someone posted something that day on Facebook. Damn Internet. It was some sort of preview for a movie-in-the-making about breastfeeding. Hailing the benefits both physically and psychologically, for baby and mama, about easy access to formulas in hospitals, about our society's ridiculous expectation for "hooter hiders" (yes, I used one). And then I felt guilty. Am I weaning the Bean? Or is she weaning herself? If it's coming from her, that's cool. But I have no reason to steer her clear of the boob.

I don't spend a lot of time thinking about breastfeeding. Once I stopped working fulltime at the VA last fall, and I was not longer Ole Bess, a slave to the pump, nursing was simply an enjoyable experience that also provided my Baby Girl with her much-needed nutrition. Fast forward several months and she's not so much a baby girl. If I do indeed think about nursing these days, I mostly do so with an air of embarassment, as if I should be ashamed I'm still nursing my 20-month-old. A majority of people I know stopped at one year, with some extending just a few months beyond. I've essentially doubled that. I don't want to be that mom who holds on too long, even if I joke about it. But I'm also not one to necessarily follow society's expectations of me. I have yet to experience the feelings that others describe - "I just want my own body back," "I'm over it," "It's time." And clearly, the Bean still likes it. Our pediatrician told us that there aren't necessarily any health benefits to extended breastfeeding, but that there isn't anything to be worried about either. According to Dr. Sears, the leftist-natural-parenting guru:

"The most fascinating studies show that the longer and more frequently a mom nurses her baby, the smarter her child is likely to become. The brain grows more during the first two years of life than any other time, nearly tripling in size from birth to two years of age. It's clearly a crucial time for brain development, and the intellectual advantage breastfed babies enjoy is attributed to the "smart fats" unique to mom's breast milk (namely, omega-3 fatty acid, also known as DHA).

From head to toe, babies who breastfeed for extended periods of time are healthier overall. They tend to have leaner bodies with less risk of obesity. They also have improved vision, since the eye is similar to the brain in regards to nervous tissue. They have better hearing due to a lower incidence of ear infections. Their dental health is generally good, since the natural sucking action of the breastfed infant helps incoming teeth align properly. Intestinal health is also much better than those of non-breastfed babies, as breast milk is easier to digest, reducing spit-up, reflux, and constipation. A toddler's immune system functions much better since breastmilk contains an immunoglobulin (IGA) which coats the lining of the intestines, which helps prevent germs from penetrating through. Even the skin of these babies is smoother and more supple.

World opinion is on your side. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially recommends mothers breastfeed until three years of age. (Yes, you did read that right!) Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers should breastfeed "at least until one year of age and then as long as baby and mother mutually want to."

It's better for your health. Extended breastfeeding reduces the risk of uterine, ovarian, and breast cancers. Breastfeeding women also have a lower incidence of osteoporosis later in life."

And because the Google scientist in me can't just read the perspectives that support my lifestyle, here's what the opposers have to say, in my own words:
1. It's gross.
2. If they can ask for it, then they're too old.
3. What about teeth?
4. They don't need it anymore.
5. But don't they eat food?
6. What if they might be able to remember it?

As for scientific opinion, there doesn't seem to be any.

So last night, I provided the Bean with two choices. "Do you want milk in a cup, or from mama?"
"Do you want milk in a cup?"
"Do you want milk from mama?"
"Do you want milk from a cup?"
"no. mama."

She was pretty clear about her desires. She asked, so I provided. I'll start re-thinking the weaning thing next time she asks for milk in a cup instead of nursing before bed or upon wakeup. Or when she turns two, which is just as arbitrary as people who make one their milestone. But until then, I guess we'll just keep on keepin on because our twice daily nursing sessions are nothing but nice for the both of us. In hindsight, I think she just asked for milk in a cup that first night because she wanted to use one of her newer words - "up" (for cup).

Uncle B

I cried this morning when he left. At first it was just wet eyes. But then I actually cried, the kind where I wanted to be alone for a few minutes. Alex always gets so worried when I cry, like maybe I'll combust and disappear if I do indeed shed a tear. He doesn't get the "I want to be alone for a sec" thing. He's like, "oh let me hug you and love you and smother you because you're sad." I guess the hugs are nice after all. But I still miss my brother.

It was SO great having Brian visit for a few days, and I'm so grateful he and his new girlfriend, Zahavah, made the long drive from their new place in Tellruide before the season starts. But it sucks to know that I'm not going to see him again for another 5 or 6 months. I wish it was just normal to hang out, eat dinner, joke about Portlandia, and watch the Bean play. I wish I could just call him up and see if he wanted to go to Costco with me. Or stop by on my way home from work. Or spend the holidays together. Or ask him to watch the Bean so Alex and I could catch a movie. I wish that he could join us with Al for random family dinners. Or take turns loaning Dad our "reliable" cars. Or reminisce about various aspects of our childhood or Block Island or Telluride. I wish seeing him wasn't just a twice a year thing. I might have been trying to overcompensate by taking so many photos. I won't deny that. But I love my brother and miss him already. And I know the Bean does too, because she keeps asking for "Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee." Just like she did that first morning when she cute-begged for him to wake up and play. She's convincing like that. I will have to figure out how to post ...

Until next time, Uncle B, the Bean will announce "B" each time we eat bacon. Now that's what a call leaving a good legacy. xoxo

Brother, Sister, Bean.
Hiyah, Powell's.
Yeehaw, B.
High gives.
Googlee-eyes with Uncle B.
Reading time.
Reading time.
"Dining out" with a toddler = Qdoba.
Queen Bean.
Bye, I love you.
Kuh-kuh and tattoos.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jelly Roll Race Quilt

I'm fairly confident I didn't win the race, but I did at least finish the top part of this "jelly roll race quilt," a gift for my cousin and her now-husband, before their wedding. And this weekend I finally completed the whole thing. It only took me three months. Yeah, I def lost the race. It's far from perfect. Like a marriage. Or so I told them in my pessimistic metaphor. But I think my marital advice was sound - don't look for the imperfections, or that's all you'll see. Instead, look for the good, and say thank you a lot. Lift each other up, and always be each other's best friend. And cuddle. Under this blanket made of love. And like I said, don't look at all the errors - the curvy stitching or the puckered fabric or the awkwardly mitered corners.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Funday

Sunday Funday because tomorrow's not really a Monday. Thanks for your service, veterans. And for the extra day to honor those who've fought for our freedom with the ones I love best. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Play Time

She started playing the other day. Like really playing. Mostly with her doll - covering her with a blanket, shushing her, singing to her, changing her diaper, giving her milk. And for more than 38 seconds. Maybe a few minutes even.  Now she pretends to refill the baby bottle at the kitchen sink (though she's far from reaching). Also in the bathtub. She lines her pigs and ducks up, counting them, and then makes them each jump into the water. Today feels like the first day in a long while where I could actually just observe her playing, rather than her needing my joint attention and interaction every other minute. It's like she rediscovered some toys recently, and is learning to use her imagination. I hope she has an active one, so we can foster some of that creativity. She's also been talking a bit to her toys. And she still likes to pretend everything's a phone and said "hi!" I'm just hopeful that a few more minutes of independent each day is around the corner. Either that or I'm gonna have to get knocked up with #2 just to give her someone else to play with. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013


I wouldn't say Francie entirely got the holiday. She wasn't afraid of it, per se, but she wasn't all that amped about it either. She hit up 3 neighbor houses for trick or treating. And since she's never had candy, she didn't much care about holding her felt pail to ask for a fill-up. We could barely get her up the walkway to our next door neighbor's house first. Then again, she's afraid of Lisa, the very warm and nice 20-something, who F sees often. My theory is it's because Lisa babysat her once, and she seems wary of anyone she's been "abandoned" with. She warmed up a little bit when we suggested we go to Claire's house. She loves "Kuh," the now-8-year-old across the street and a few houses down. Both Claire and her brother Caleb have equal affection for Francie, too. Claire was dressed as a Greek goddess and Caleb as his favorite, Buzz Lightyear. F did get some mama-friendly chocolate there, and then we visited Stella next door. F much preferred to sit on the porch and give out candy, usually choosing one of the gross little sour licorice. If a whole crew of kids all came up at once, F would get scared and start crying, but the costumes themselves didn't seem to bother her. I think she's more of a Xmas than Halloween kid, not unlike her mother. She definitely rocked the strawberry costume, though. When she was wearing it during the day, she wanted nothing to do with the hood, but come evening, she sported it gladly, probably because she was reinforced by onlookers telling her how cute she was. And was she ever!

Heading out trick or treating. 

The many faces of a strawberry. 

Visiting daddy at work. 

She painted pumpkins at school and is pointing to the playground. 

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