Friday, October 29, 2010

Number Two

Leanne and I know a lot of folks who are only children. Some of them are good friends. All of them turned out to be wonderful people, despite what society thinks they should be as only children. As a parent, I know how easy it is to spoil your one and only child, but I have learned to reject the notion that somehow, only children turn out to be spoiled adults. All the people we know who are only children are kind, humble, outward-looking individuals who really care about making a difference in their community. None of them give credence to the stereotype surrounding only children.

Knowing these people gave Leanne and I a lot to think about as we debated having another kid. Olive is wonderful. A sibling would be nice, having a gentically similar playmate doesn’t necessarily guarantee she will grow up to be a good person or eliminate the possibility that she could grow up spoiled and/or self-centered.

So why not just have one kid, we thought? Apparently, having a single child is a trend among our generation -- probably because it makes a whole boatload of sense. Certainly, a single child is cheaper, easier, lets you get more sleep, and provides more flexibility in your life than having multiple kids. At the very least, having one kid means you can use both hands to restrain them and both eyes to watch them and make sure they don't touch knives or electrical sockets or fire. It was tough for Leanne and I to think of reasons to have another kid.

Except when we looked at Olive.

When we watched her play and eat and smile and cry. When she started saying MAMA and DADA and TANKOO (that’s thank you). When we looked at pictures of her at 1 week and 1 month and 6 months old and remembered how much fun, without forgetting how much work, it was at each of those ages. When we watched her give her cousins kisses or give the little boy at the playground hugs. We would look at each other and know that we wanted another child.
That all the work and worry and exhaustion was worth it in spades. Parenthood is a drug and we are junkies. We also knew, despite the temptations of additional time and money, and despite the living, breathing, well-adjusted only children that we knew, that we wanted Olive to have a brother or sister.

Both Leanne and I have siblings. Her – an older brother. Me – two older brothers and a younger sister. Neither of us can imagine our childhood, or adulthood, without what they brought to our lives.

Also, we realized it might be nice to have a back-up kid in case Olive ends up on the pole.

The reasons may be silly, they may be trite, but they are our reasons. And they are the reasons why Leanne and I are expecting a new little one this spring.

Yup, Olive is going to have a little brother or sister.

Okay, truthfully, I have no idea what we were thinking. Parents who have more than one kid are probably having a difficult time reading this right now between their fits of laughter (“Oh my God, they are having another kid? They have NOOOOO idea what they are getting in to).

I am at once terrified, excited, nervous, panicked, and overjoyed – go ahead, put all those words into the thesaurus, write down what you find, and I’m probably all those too.

Once we decided that we were going to try for number two, we also decided that we wanted to “get it over with” – i.e. we wanted Olive and her brother or sister to be close in age. Lots of reasons for this: They get to go to high school together. We don’t need to put the diapering stuff away and drag it back out in a year. We want our kids out of the house by the time we are 50.

This little “development” will obviously change the blog. This is now going to be the “Education of a New Dad and the Re-Education of the Expectant Father.” I already have some blog entries that I wrote during the time we were trying to get pregnant (not while we were actually trying to…well, you get it) and over the first couple months of pregnancy that I will be posting over the coming weeks. I’ll also probably be talking about the pregnancy as much as I talk about Olive and the challenges of figuring out how to raise a toddler. This is going to be a fun six months and beyond.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sleep Patterns

Sleep. If there is one thing that tests every new parent at some point, it is sleep. How to get it. How to keep getting it. How to persuade your young one to submit to it.

I have said this before, but if there is one thing I’ve learned about parenting it is that nothing lasts forever. Patterns shift and change. Likes become dislikes. A favorite toy gets discarded like a used tissue (or maybe for a used tissue, which has somehow become a more entertaining plaything). Kids go from breastmilk to formula to milk to pureed veggies to small solid foods to mouthing an entire apple in a matter of months. As soon as you get used to one, it is time to introduce something different. Everything happens fast and everything changes, usually just as one routine becomes, well, routine.

Sleep is a perfect example of changing habits.

Olive started out as a great sleeper. I wrote about this early on in the blog. We didn’t think we had a real baby. We never woke up exhausted and bleary eyed from late night tussles with the Sandman. Life was good.

But soon Olive decided she wanted to know what the world looked like at 4:00 AM. Then she decided that she liked sleeping with, or on, mommy and daddy. Then came the days when she would sleep easily from 7:30 PM – 6:30 AM – we call them the Golden Days. During this time we fell into a nice bed-time pattern. Change into pajamas (sometimes after a bath), brush her teeth, bring her downstairs, put her in to a sleep sack, and give her a bottle. By the time Double Jeopardy started, you were climbing the stairs with a limp and drooling toddler slung over your shoulder. Sing a quick rendition of “Hush Little Baby” and she was out.

But recently we eliminated the bed-time bottle, and everything went haywire.

When do we put her in to the sleep sack?

How do we give her milk at the end of the day (a moot point since she refuses to drink milk at all from a cup)?

How do we transition from dinner to playtime to bedtime without her thinking it is still playtime?

We struggled with this for a while. And we ended up with some ugly bedtime battles, some early mornings, and a tired toddler. But we think we have solved it for now.

New bedtime routine (which will probably only last for the next four weeks before changing again): bring Olive up to her room to change into pajamas (or get a bath), brush teeth. Shut door to her bedroom and lower lights. Read a parent-limited number of books, usually two or three, in a calm and sleepy-like voice. Put Olive into sleep sack and sing a long song with the lights off. Put in bed. We also spend a lot of time saying things like “…then you’ll go to bed” and “…but after this is time for sleep” and “It is time to say goodnight to daddy soon.”

The last few nights this routine has worked remarkably well. Reading the books seems to give her the time to just sit and decompress and get ready for dreamland that she WAS getting while drinking the bedtime bottle. Closing the door to her bedroom prevents her from running all over the house and thinking she is playing.

We’ll see if this works long-term – long term meaning until Thanksgiving – but the early returns are good.

What have been some of your bedtime routines for toddlers? Go ahead and leave a comment here on on the Facebook page.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Who Likes Oranges?

I'm sick and Olive is sick. Which doesn't make for a very pleasant house. Though I did go out and get one of those fancy battery-powered nasal aspirators and now I can't wait for Olive to get up from her nap so I can powersuck some snot. That will make my day.

You know what else makes my day? This picture.

I'm petty sure my mother-in-law took this a few months ago. I mean, come on, you couldn't fit more cuteness in the frame without adding bunnies or kittens.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Hearing Olive talk has always been fun. Seeing her pick up more and more words is a thrill. She is at the point now where she can imitate almost anything you say, as long as she is in the mood. As you can see from the last post, she is becoming a girl that knows what she wants and is starting to be able to SAY what she wants. Where as we used to have to focus on reading her sometimes indecipherable, sometime obvious sign language, not she can firmly say yes and no (or more accurately “eh-eh” and “NNNNO!”). 6 months ago she would run around the house mumbling and you would fumble with various remedies to her distress.

“Do you want this ball? No? How about a drink? Not that either. Okay, how about a piece of cheese? An Apple? Do you want to be picked up? Do you want daddy to punch himself in the face?”

Now she runs up to you, grabs your hand and says “Apple” or “Juice” or “Cheese” or “Ball” or “Up”. It has made catering to her every whim and need SOOO much easier. Of course, you do need to deal with her whining and saying “Up!” over and over again while you push her in her stroller. And you need to figure out ways to get through the rest of the grocery shopping trip after she sees an apple and decides that is the word she wants to say for the rest of the stay. But overall, language is definitely a good thing.

Except for one little pesky word: MINE!

And it really should always be in capital letters like that because she rarely whispers it or says it in passing. It is almost always exclaimed with ferocity that only capital letters can really convey here.


Short. Abrupt. To the point. And she says it a lot. We aren’t sure where she picked it up, but we are assuming daycare. No matter how many toys or how few kids there are in a day care, I think that kids learn really quickly to take possession of certain things. No way I’m letting you play with these blocks or those dolls or these books. These are MINE! Ownership. It is core to our humanity. If the apocalypse happened tomorrow you would bet that we would all be hording water and Spam and gasoline. MINE! Kids in daycare are just little, cuter versions of our imaginary post-apocalyptic selves.


She says it about her crayons, her dolls, her dinner, her shoes, my dinner, my shoes, etc.
But MINE! Became a precursor to an exciting event last night. It was a gateway word, if you will. While in the bath, Olive was claiming ownership over her various toys. MINE! MINE! MINE! When she very clearly said: “My Duck!” I’m going to go ahead and count this has her first two word statement (I’m ignoring “I love you” which really comes out more as “Ahluvoooo” and “Buh-Bye” which is really one word).

So it won’t be long until MINE! Is replaced by “My ball” and “My cheese” and “My apple”. And then you know what happens next, right? Yup, she goes to Harvard.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I now can't leave the house without Olive chanting "Hat! Hat! Hat!" and pointing to her head. I am, of course, very happy that she is talking and learned the very useful word, "hat." I also like that she has started to like hats -- an essential fashion accessory. But this love started towards the end of the summer, when the sun's rays were less intense. I wish she would have liked hats for the first two summers of her life, when she HATED wearing hats, and when the sun's rays shone intensely on what tiny amounts of melanin her skin possessed. I couldn't pay her to wear a hat (of course, that might be because she isn't even two years old and money means nothing to her). I was contemplating getting one stitched on at one point.

Now she hasn't met a hat that she doesn't like.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Olive is Back!

Okay, so it has been a little while since the last post. I recently had a friend ask if Olive had some sort of watermelon-related disaster that caused me to stop posting. Really, it is just that my life has been crazy and the thought of editing videos and downloading pictures and thinking of witty things to say seemed a little daunting. Leanne and Olive and I went six weeks at the end of the summer without being home for a weekend. We had loads of fun, but things like mowing the lawn and dishes and laundry and blogging kind of fell by the wayside. But, Olive is back. The blog is back. I promise.

This is also a bit of a milestone for me as a novice blogger. This is my 100th post. So maybe the pressure of getting the 100th post up just got to me and I froze. Anything is possible, I suppose.

So what is up in the life of Olive? Well, lots. I'll be reviewing the end of summer activities in the coming days, but it is hard for me to figure out what happened when without a calendar and a log of gas station receipts. So let's just try to review this weekend.

Leanne and I took Olive apple picking for the first time. Actually, it was also my first time apple picking. I know, at some point, apple picking became a go-to autumn activity for New Englanders. Well, I never got around to doing it. I don't think my parents were negligent, or biased against farmers, or trying to shield us from the harsh world of tree pruning or something like that. I just think that with four kids, our fall weekends were filled with soccer or dance classes or hockey or some sort of manual labor like raking leaves or painting fence pickets or making Nike shoes. Either way, this would be the first time I had been to an apple orchard.

If you have never been, apple picking is a little like migrant farm worker fantasy camp. You pay $20 for the privilege of walking up a hill and picking apples from the tree. Why we do this, I don't know, especially considering there are bags of apples, from the very same orchard, being sold for the same price, just steps away from where you hand over your money and someone hands you an empty bag. But the kids love it. I guess.

Like other apple orchards there was also a variety of non-apple activities: farm animals, a playground, a fish pond, etc. There was also a pumpkin patch. It isn't, of course, where they actually grow the pumpkins, it is just where they take pumpkins and scatter them in a field to give you the impression that you are actually picking them. Olive decided that to properly pick a pumpkin you must both try to pick it up and, for some reason, sit on it.

Despite leaving $50 poorer after the morning, we did come away with some pumpkins, a bag of apples, and 6 apple cider donuts that I am now officially addicted to. And, yes, Olive did seem to love everything about the day.