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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Baby Einstein

Ella used the word chrysalis in a sentence today.

As in:

"Today in school there was a butterfly that flew around and landed on someone. There was a hole in the chrysalis. He flew to Mexico for a party. He had to fly really fast to get there because it was a really great party."

I'm not entirely sure what they told her but she got the use of chrysalis correct and I was impressed nonetheless. The teacher told me today that the school isn't for everyone because some parents really want their kids to learn letters and writing and numbers versus the developmental exploratory play and movement they do with their kids. I LOVE Highland Preschool!

There are people out there!

A week or so ago I went out after the girls were in bed to return some movies. It was, oh, 7 p.m. on a Friday night. I noticed, with no small amount of disdain, that I truly felt unfamiliar. It had been so long since I had been out after dark, that it actually made me feel weird- like the first day with a new short hairstyle.


As my mom says, I've got to get out more. She told me this after I told her that I had walked into Ella's preschool, heard the music playing and commented, "Oh, this is from the Curious George soundtrack."


Our girls just go to bed really early (trust me, I am not complaining) and in the summer even if we did keep them up, it didn't get dark until late, so we just weren't out doing stuff after dark. I think the last time I was out (like in a car driving or having fun somewhere) after the sun went down was one month ago at Matt and Angela's wedding reception.


So there I was, driving through downtown Bangor, pass cozy restaurants, voyeuring people eating in softly lite-up windows, thinking to myself... people are out! There are people out here having a good time!!! Eating supper!! Having a glass of wine!!



It was as if I had crawled out of a cave to realize someone had invented the television.



As a result of my socially deprived person, we have been getting out more. We went on two (count them!) dates last week. Trish gave me the gift of time for my birthday so she babysat for us (which consisted of fed, bathed, sleeping children and leftovers in the fridge as her terms and conditions stated) while we went to eat. The problem was that the girls must have overheard us talking about having time alone and decided to foil us at every move. It took us over and hour to get them (specifically Maya who was keeping Ella up) to bed. We did make it out, though and we had a wonderful dinner.



What did we do after dinner, out with the people who were out? We complained that nothing was open for us when we finally made it out!



Actually we went to Borders and picked out a coloring book for Ella that rivals me in height and then on to Target (seriously) to get her a bean bag for her November birthday. We got her friend Skyler one for her birthday and Ella was pining after it. Then we picked up matching footed pj's for the girls. Yes, I am not joking, we spent the rest of our date shopping for the girls, giddy with excitement about how happy these things would make them.



What is wrong with us? Why do parents do this? How is it that I put them to bed last night running on fumes, desperate for some time when they are not needing every ounce of me and then I can't wait to get my hands on their chubby cheeks and yummy smelling heads this morning?



Then this past Saturday we got a babysitter and went out for our friend Angela's surprise 30th birthday celebration. It was fun, fun, fun. We ate Pakistani food and then went to Paddy Murphy's pub to listen to music. And there were people out there too! We were having such a good time and contemplating staying just a little bit longer.... I called the babysitter to see if that was cool with her and she told me... the girls were awake. And had been since 7:30, half an hour after we left. It was 10 p.m. Needless to say, we headed home, wondering what sort of plotting these two masterminds were up to.



It's all well and good, though. Sandi and I are very much on the same team again, centered at the heart of this family, no longer letting those munchkins drive a wedge between us. It was getting late, way past our bedtime the other night and I mentioned we should get to sleep. She said, "but if we go to sleep then we will wake up and so will they and we won't have any more time together...."



I know this craziness is (relatively) short-lived. I had a flash of thought the other day, kind of like when you look at your current life and see it as the memory it will someday be. These will be the days, I thought, of snuggles and laughter and utter absurdity when we were dog tired every night and fell into each other's arms with love and amazement and contentment.

Right?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

the early bird and her worms

First day that dawns in autumn. Hello wood stove. How I love thee.

I woke with Sandi at 4:55 a.m. She was off to the gym before work and I was off to the living room to my yoga mat. I am in week 3 of another 13 week round of P90X and my dedication is unwavering. My muscles are back, my body feels good, my mind is set right and I like putting my jeans on. Need I say more?

It took a few minutes of ash cleaning, kindling gathering and general greasing of the fire-making skills but soon a snap and crackle filled the dimly lit living room. Still dark outside but no longer 64 degrees inside. I was on my way to a somewhat ridiculously long yoga workout. At an hour and 32 minutes it is hard to get through without some commercial interruption. Thus the early waking. I especially like to get at least through the first 52 minutes of it which is all the standing postures where they build on each other and the difficulty comes from the momentum.

Socks off, yoga mat flat out before me, fire aflame... Maya wakes up. 5:12 a.m. NOT FUNNY.
Wide awake, standing in crib, full grin.

Bring her down, change her, feed her. She makes faces at Sandi who is now late for her workout. Set her down to begin, heavy feeling in my heart because I did NOT wake this early to have company. Plus, it is hard to relax the mind when you're watching a baby, hoping to preserve her life lest she try to threaten it by putting small airway obstructions in her trachea.

A few minutes into the warm-up, the phone rings. It is the hospital calling to see if Sandi wants to be on call. Spend the next 5-10 minutes trying to locate her at Gold's Gym (through a receptionist who misunderstands me and hangs up after saying, "Okay, I'll tell her to get to work right away.") She declines call which is a good move since she is already up and out of the house through quite a bit of effort on her part.

Press play, working into sun salutation. Maya begins to rub her eyes. YES!

Put her up to bed. It is now 6 a.m. All is quiet in the house. How long will I have until the next one wakes? Miraculously, I get through the hard part, ready to move to balance postures, when I hear Ella ("Momma?") from upstairs. Go up and get her.

After getting Ella something to eat and drink, twice, since the first thing I brought was wrong, go back to yoga. Maya wakes up 20 minutes later after a one hour nap.

Proceed into the shoulder stand portion of the workout and then a very interesting thing happens. Let me try to paint the picture. I am in a posture wherein I am lying on the floor, feet over my head, knees by my ears. This leaves a small opening between my legs where my knees are apart and my face is between them, pretzel-like, with me looking up at the ceiling. Maya thinks this looks like a fun structure to climb. She pulls herself up by holding my legs and then plays peek-a-boo with me, looking at me between my knees. Deciding to take it to the next level, she then puts her chubby little hand between my knees and grabs my face- grabs it- my nose, lips, eyeballs. I am defenseless in the somewhat tricky pose and my almost 1-year-old is mangling my face. Hello serenity.

I finish the yoga workout approximately 2 1/2 hours after I begin. But I did it. Then we had breakfast, Ella and I painted some questionable faces on the mini-pumpkins Sandi brought home yesterday, did some quick dancing in the living room and took her to school. I am supposed to be paying bills now but am blogging instead.

Lastly... we were in Target with my mom a couple of days ago. Out of the blue, Ella says, "I want to pretend Gramma's a dog and walk her on a leash." Okay...

10 more days until Sandi's birthday and our get-away (aptly named) at the Lucerne Inn!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some extras

We just couldn't pass up posting these pics...







Sklyer is ALWAYS after a hug from Ella and Ella consistently shuts her down- partly for effect and maybe partly for want of personal space. This trip for Reed's blessing, though, was all about the Skyler love. Finally.



The boy of the hour.




What a gorgeous family. We love you Team Manhart!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What'd she say?

I asked Ella (sorry for the repeat - it's been a school transition thing) if she had had an accident in her pants.

No reply.

I asked again.

Nothing.


"Ella, why aren't you answering me?" I question.


"Because you already know the answer."



Our neighbor, Karen, told me this about her kindergartner, Lauren. Lauren was arranging her barbies into categories. Curious, Karen inquired about the method of categorization for the dolls. Lauren said, simply, "No boobs, small boobs and big boobs."


Where are they getting this?


Ella has also told me, hand up like a traffic cop with other hand on hip, to "STOP TALKING" when I am correcting/reprimanding her. "Too much talking, Momma!" she'll tell me. I struggle between agreeing with her and being infuriated.

When Ella was sick a few weeks ago, she came into our bed one night.

"I need a nightlight," she informed us.

We quickly came back with the fact that our room is dark- take it or leave it.

A few moments pass. "I need a juice box." (I have juice boxes by my bed in case of an episode of low blood sugar in the middle of the night. It is Ella's personal mission to wipe out my supply. She covets these juice boxes- the same ones that are downstairs- in a way that makes me wonder if she really wants to see how far down hypoglycemia can take me.)

"No, sorry," comes the reply. "It's the middle of the night."

An exasperated sigh from Ella. "Listen! I can do without a nightlight but I cannot make it without a juice box!"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Favorites

We had the pleasure of attending Reed's blessing on Saturday. Sandi took literally about 400 pictures and, instead of downloading them and attempting some originality, I'm just going to refer you to Emilie's blog for a feast of photos and an account of the joyous occasion. Please visit http://www.manhartfamily.blogspot.com/. What a lovely time it was.

For those of you who don't know, I love to read. I usually have 2-3 books going on at once and I find myself trying to steal time to read, staying in the bathroom for longer than is truly necessary, secretly cheering when Dr.'s appointments run late so I can catch a few more pages, and even staying up and reading by flashlight so as not to disturb Sandi for as long as my eyelids will remain open.

As a side note, I have always, not so secretly, hoped that I would be chosen by the Weekly newspaper for the weekly question- you know, where they ask you a question and take your picture? When this comes in the mail every Thursday, I quickly skim (and scoff at or nod along with) the opinions of the eight people polled. I have spent actual time wondering question they will ask me when we do meet up.

I have always hoped it would not be "What is your favorite book?"

Not because I don't have one, but because I have so many! I love all the books by Wally Lamb, Jodi Picoult is my favorite author, Barbara Kingsolver is pure magic, and Janet Fitch writes like poetry is more prevalent than red blood cells in her veins. It would be impossible, and downright unfair, for me to choose just one! But their editors would think nothing of nixing my list in favor of a single title were they to ask me this very loaded question.

But rest assured, dear readers. My worry is all for naught. I have found my favorite book.

I trust you understand what a big deal this is. Please know that no favorite can ever be written in stone and that one must have the right for a revised favorite should another exceptional, even more profound book present itself to me.

My favorite book is (gulp!): "eat, pray, love: One woman's search for everything across Italy, Indian and Indonesia" by Elizabeth Gilbert.

If you haven't yet read this book, please go get it. Right now.

It's profound, hilarious, touching, personal and gets down deep inside and shifts things around. Won't say more here. I will let you experience it for yourself. Or maybe you have read it and already know.

(Okay, and to counterbalance: on a not-so-favorite note... Last week in Target a CD caught my eye. It was by Julianne Hough from one of my favorite shows- don't judge please- Dancing with the Stars. Julianne is an incredibly gifted, incredibly young dancer who I just love to watch. Oh, and, at 19 or 20, she has won the show -twice. So I bought the CD, anxious to see what else she could do. The good news is, she can sing. The bad news is, the writing is so bad that it doesn't do much to showcase her talent. If anyone wants a copy, you can have mine.)

Go check Emilie's blog now.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Just to relive for a moment...

These are some of the other pictures we took during our lovely Bar Harbor get-away in August. It makes me happy and makes me ache a little to look at them. We had so much fun, felt so unencumbered and so FREE. Plus, I really, really love Bar Harbor.

Lucky for us we are going there on Saturday. We are going in honor of our godson, Reed Manhart's, baby blessing at Jordon Pond. I think we are really going but I have to tell you, it will be a miracle if we really do.

This blessing has been rescheduled (since this time last year) approximately 42 times. I told Emilie if they had to change it again to not even bother calling to tell us. We would just go anyway. Hopefully my incredibly poetic words of wisdom that I wrote for the last blessing date sometime in August will sound just as profound as they did to me then. Otherwise, I'll be looking at editing (see what you've done to me, Emilie?)

Seriously, though, I can't wait to go. To celebrate this beautiful boy, to share a special moment between our two families, to have brunch at the Jordon Pond House and, maybe if we medicate Maya, to put her in the buggy for a bike ride on the carriage trails. Gonna have to lessen my expectations from the trip pictured below, though...



Perspective.





Consulting the map, not because we were lost but I kind of have a thing about maps.
I ADORE them.

Part way up the enchanted Day Mountain.




Almost back to the car, sitting by Hadlock Pond taking in every second, not wanting it to end.

Ella and Maya: the nitty gritty

There is much to catch you up on about these girls and their daily evolution from more simplistic to more complex human beings.

I will begin with Ella.

First, Ella noted for the first time yesterday, while I was holding her, that I had not yet brushed my teeth.

Thank you very much, Ella.

We were waiting in line for me to get some lab work drawn ("Good thing it's you and not me!" she said) when I smelled something less than savory.

"Do you need to poop?" I asked, discreetly of course.

"Nope. I just tooted," she answers, sans discretion. "Twice. That's why it's so smelly."

Thank you again.

Today at breakfast I was explaining why no more syrup would be dolled out for the syrup with waffle she prefers for her first meal of the day. I've started using the we-are-your-moms-it's-our-job-to-take-care-of-you-and-make-sure-you-don't-get-cavities argument. She told me I was aggravating her and then,

"Enough is enough, Momma!"

Do I really say this?

The other day she yelled to me to get the very adventurous and speedy creature that is Maya out of the living room. "No babies allowed!" she yelled. Where is she getting this stuff?

We made bagels the other day and she wanted to help put the Sesame Street Seeds on them.

And...sorry for more poop talk but this has to be said. I inquired about the possibility of an accident the other day when she was playing. I was fairly certain there a was a clean-up needed in aisle 5. She shook her head no. "Are you telling me the truth?" I pressed.

Not wanting to lie, she fell back on this one: "I am not available to talk to you right now."



What a wondrous and frustrating experience this going out into the world and becoming your own person is!



And then there is sweet little Maya. And by sweet I mean rougher than a redneck bar on a Saturday night and by little I mean as in baby giant. She is in the 90th percentile for height and at 10 months is in 12-18 month clothes. This is a sharp contrast from Ella who was always a few months behind the clothing sizes and still had some 2T items she wore this summer. I guess Maya has gotten those giant Carver genes after all.

Maya is all rough and tumble and likes to be thrown around, carried upside down, and rolled around on the floor (and, no, I don't mean in a shaken-baby-syndrome kind of way.) She has taken to crawling with hands and feet instead of knees. This is my favorite stage of babyhood- they are so independent, mobile, inquistive, frisky, funny, and have some concept of what is going on. She and Ella played with the dog leash for half and hour yesterday morning. Maya is at the stage where she "gets the joke" and thinks Ella and Sandi and I are the funniest people ever. I think I have to agree with her there.

However, Maya still thinks sleep is for sissies. She has a new found sense of separation anxiety which lends to crying and then screaming when we leave the room to put her to sleep. She loves her crib and usually falls asleep so well but recently, as we turn to go, she pulls herself up on the crib rail and gives it all she's got, peering desperately through the slats like she is in baby jail.

What this means for me is that instead of getting up 2-100 times a night to settle her with a quick kiss and a pacifier re-placement, as soon as I depart she begins the howls. Amazingly, this doesn't always wake Ella up but last night it did and she said, "I don't want to sleep in here." Who could blame her?

A few nights ago when the crying just wouldn't abate and it was close to time for her feeding, we picked her up and brought her in our room to try a bottle (which we have since dropped entirely and I think she is sleeping better now without the interruption of the dream feed and I can't help but hope that this might lead to actually sleeping through the night.) She was uninterested and only wanted to play. Perfect.

So we started singing. Some simple campfire songs to start. Then we stepped it up a bit with a more complex three part song. Before we knew it the three of us were swaying in the dark, Sandi and I singing in rounds, sounding unbelievably like the Von Trapp Family Singers from the Sound of Music (except with 7 fewer members.) We were getting ready to launch into a tricky four part harmony (tricky because there was only the two of us) and Maya finally gave up.

I just can't fathom what it would be like to get into bed and know, with some level of certainty, that I was going to sleep all night. I can't even really recall what it feels like.

I can sum it all up with this: I took our Vue to the car dealership for its 2 month overdue state inspection yesterday. Turns out there is some problem with the engine exhaust and it is likely leaking carbon monoxide. It must be fixed before they can issue the sticker (for a mere $600) and they told me to drive it as little as possible. The guy sat me down and gravely told me he didn't want the kids in the car with the fumes. They even want to come pick it up from us Friday when the part is in so we won't be driving it. No problem. We were heading to the hospital to have lunch with Sandi so we swapped cars.

It wasn't until I was driving home, the girls safely buckled in the fume-free van, that I realized it. I hadn't thought anything of leaving the danger car for Sandi to take. And she didn't think a thing of it either. We just knew our beloved girls could not be in danger. I was sort of appalled to think that I hadn't hesitated to let Sandi drive the scary-fume Vue- Sandi whom I love in ways that I could never have imagined and could never succeed at describing. It's just that those girls are our charge and we put them first. It is hard to remember being the center of my own universe, especially when Ella asks if it is her turn to talk two seconds before she stops what she is presently discussing, but it is all good. Love is love and we are surrounded, infused and inspired by it.

And someday... Sandi and I will be at the center of each other's worlds again. Not without our girls, but just with a little more space.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Preschool Bound





Ella had her first day of preschool yesterday. She has been so looking forward to this for the past week since she went for her one-on-one "orientation" and found out that they have an inside playset AND a sand table AND a watering fountain.

But don't be fooled by the smiling child you see before you. It took a fair amount of tear-wiping, hushed words, security blankets and stuffed animals, small symbols of Momma and Mommy loves tucked into zippered pockets and even some cajoling to get her dressed and out the door yesterday morning.

The sweetest and most heart-wrenching argument why she shouldn't go to school?

"I will miss you Mom."

The upshot is that is was a huge success. Ella is kind of like me, afterall, with her proclivity toward the dramatic in regards to emotional displays. Once she got it all out, she got dressed, got her teeth brushed and became the smiling child you see above. In her car seat, mini-muffins I had made for the first day snack tucked under her feet, and making predictions about how much her new friends would love the "yum muffins" as she calls them. (zucchini chocolate chip- they are yummy.)


Initially a bit tenuous. Why are all these other children here, too? I thought I was going to have those lovely teachers to myself.

There were, blessedly, no tears. She really does have the most incredible two women teaching her preschool class and we used one of them to transition out. She brought Ella to the "goodbye" window where we exchanged "I love you" signs and some other complicated forms of expressing love one story away and through a pane of class and off we went.

Sandi went to have coffee with a friend. I put Maya to sleep and worked, UNINTERRUPTED, for an hour and a half in the office with a cup of tea that I drank while it was STILL HOT.



And this is what she looked like when we picked her up.





Not too bad, huh? She even let her new friend's dad push her on the swing. She told her teacher all about Maya and what she would be doing at home. She passed out the snack she had brought. In short, she was out in the world WITHOUT US and fairing, even thriving, on her own.




This is the view from the really rockin' tree house. Good job, Ella. We are so proud of you.


(And so looking forward to Thursday when you go back again!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The coolest Mom

My mom, Patti Carver, is the coolest mom!!! Just look at her latest project.... My sister's house. She's building it by herself, with a bit of help from my cousin, Seth.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Child 1 vs. Child 2



Yup, this is what it looks like. The girls have started to wrestle. They are better matched for each other than you may think- Ella's got the quick moves and the cunning mind but Maya is already on all fours and knows where to place her teeth for maximum impact (as seen in Exhibit A.)



Okay, perhaps there is some hyperbole in the above statements. The truth is, if you add in hair pulling, Maya is the much better contender.



Some thoughts I have been mulling over lately about parenting the first child and now parenting the second:



1. With child #1, there is much concern about what things go into the oral cavity. With child #2, it's more of, well, that could pass through the intestines if it had to. Any and all items that entered Child #1's mouth went through a sterilization and inspection. Child #2 is given anything that will appease - straws, cardboard books that we know she will eat small chunks off of, calculators (not plugged in), washclothes, spoons, and, yes, even the pacifier. (Child #1 got the last word on us refusing to give her a pacifier- she sucked, and still sucks, her thumb.)



2. Child #1 was FORBIDDEN to eat any sugar or artificial substance until age 2. Child #2 LOVES ice cream at 10 months old and child #1 is encouraged to share hers with child #2.



3. We could make wallpaper with the photos taken of #1 and with #2 there are enough for a small photo album (but, I must say, they are far better.)



4. Child #1 was practically surgically sterilized between diapers. Child #2 might only get wiped if there is anything to be removed- it's more of a whisk it off, slap it on kind of situation.

5. Upon a fall or stumble, Child #1 was subjected to nothing less than a comprehensive exam, complete with pupil dilation checks, a neurological exam and range of motion of all major joints. Conversely, it has been heard, since the arrival of Child #2, "Oh, that's not that much blood."

But really, other than having tandem crying fits, both wanting to be carried at the same time, not getting enough sleep and being up to our eyeballs in diapers, toys and mess, it is actually easier having two. Which brings me to my last one...

6. Child #1 was not left alone with people much as a baby and our occasional overnights were wrought with worry. Child #2 we have no problem leaving (within reason) because we can always fall back on it.... she's got her big sister. They share a room. If Child #1 is scared, we just play up the presence of Child #2. As if a 10 month old is going to provide a lot of safety against the closet monster. It works, though. So, no matter how inconsistently they have been parented, they have each other. Two is better than one.

You can see though, speaking the baby in my family, how the youngest one might end with less rules, more parental flexibility and maybe the teensiest bit spoiled?