Friday, June 24, 2011

House Rules

First of all, thank you so much for the kind and supportive comments. I have seen others post about things like this and get some. . . divisive comments. . . so I am so glad that it stayed positive AND that others shared similar frustrations. It's so good to feel a little less alone in this situation.

We instigated "House Rules" last week. Before each and every interaction with other children and throughout the day, Will was reminded of our "House Rules". The rules are:

1) No hitting.

2) No spitting.

3) No yelling.

4) Have fun.

We then prompt him on what to do if someone does something to him that he doesn't like. He is to say: "Please stop that, I don't like that."

If the person persists, then he is allowed to come get a mommy (or daddy) to help him resolve the situation.

We had less hitting this past week. I saw him utilize the "Please stop that" with a friend. Of course, it's just one week and, I've seen improvement before, only to have it come back full force.

I do want him to figure out how to resolve things on his own and I don't want to encourage tattling (a potential pitfall to the "come get me" idea). BUT I think tattling is easier to deal with (especially from the perspective of the victim) and I am willing to trade hitting for tattling.

I have also been keeping a notebook with me, detailing things that I am noticing about our day together. Will sleeps well at night and still (KNOCK ON WOOD) takes a solid nap, so I don't worry about him being tired per se, but I have noticed that some of the hitting incidents are happening toward the end of playdates when the kids are definitely winding down and the moms are distracted with picking up toys or shuttling things out to the car. So, I have made a committment to end playdates earlier than I have been. This is admittedly a difficult thing for me to do. If things are going well, I really don't want to leave, but I remember reading in a parenting book somewhere that the age of the youngest children in years is how many hours a playdate should last. So, I started cutting our playdates off at two and a half hours. The trick with this one is how to not make leaving earlier than his other friends seem like a punishment, but so far, he seems okay with it.

The problem, of course, with employing several tactics at one time is that I will never know if it was just one thing I tried or the magic combination. In any case, the big test with obviously be this weekend in the church nursery (we were out of town this last Sunday and so he didn't go). I'll keep you posted.

Speaking of keeping you posted. . . plans for Emma's birthday-palooza are in full-swing. We have picked a theme: under the sea! We have a pretend fish tank and Emma loves the "sish". She and her daddy will sit and point to the "sish" for several minutes every night. Last week, M came home with one of these for her crib, which I quietly thought was probably too young of a toy for her. I was wrong. She loves it and gazes up at it in awe each night as she is tucked in to bed. "Sish" was her third word and anytime we walk by a fish tank, she starts getting super excited, pointing and alternating between "wha da" and "sish"!

And I always think a theme just makes it easier to decide on everything. . . from food, to decorations, to games, to cake. In this case, it definitely has. Our menu is decided: submarine sandwiches (pun so intended), shell shaped pasta salad, jell-o jigglers in marine shapes, a Goldfish cracker "bar", and of course, cake.

I am still trying to decide on a cake. My girlfriend, who just started her own cake decorating business, got a contract for her first wedding on the day of Emma's party, so I am going to make the cake myself. I found this amazing creation (seriously, click on it), but I know it's probably a bit too adventurous for me to attempt. I like this cake and am then thinking of making that her smash cake and then making these cupcakes for the guests. The cupcakes look fairly easy to me, the cake looks a bit harder, but if I mess it up, eh. It's her smash cake, after all. It's just gonna get smashed.

Even M has gotten into the spirit and wants to do a fishing game of sorts where the kids get to "fish" for their goody bags. And then, there is a playground, and I will bring a bubble machine and chalk, even if it all went to waste last time, it is easy to stick in the back of the car and have just in case.

I feel like the plan is coming together and I don't even think it will be that stressful. I hope, anyway. The sandwiches are ordered and we will pick them up on the way to the park. I plan on making the pasta salad on Thursday (I think pasta salad tastes better if made the day or two before anyway) and then putting it into covered 9x13 dishes and then putting those into shallow pans that I will fill with ice the day of the party. I am going to make the jigglers on Thursday, too. I think cake just tastes so much better fresh, so I will probably save that until Friday, but I don't think they will be that difficult.

I am not going to decorate much - just colored plastic covers for the tables and balloons. So, I think getting there about an hour before the party is to start will suffice. I just have to throw out the decorations and food. I will have M arrive with the birthday girl right at 11. We'll eat, do the cake smashing, open presents, and bam! Done!

So, there we are. How are you?

Monday, June 20, 2011

"THAT" Kid

From time to time, I have posted on here about Will being a biter. . . or a hitter. . . and now we add spitter to the list.


Yesterday, when I went to retrieve him from the church nursery, the person in charge (who also happens to be one of the directors for the preschool) told me that he had several "spitting and hitting incidents" during his time there yesterday. It is always a madhouse at pick-up, so I wasn't able to clarify, but it really doesn't matter what the "story" was, because I 100% trust that she was telling the truth, and hitting. . . now spitting. . . is WRONG.

When does this sort of aggression change from normal developmental phase ("Oh, it's normal! He'll outgrow it!" people love to tell me) to not-so-normal ("Ma'am, your son has been expelled for fighting at school." or "Ma'am, this is X County Jail. We have your son."? I mean, I don't think I am the best person to judge whether this is normal. A) He's my kid, my perception is decidedly skewed. B) I tend to go all "worst-case-scenario" on things and not take them in stride. I realize A) and B) might seem to cancel each other out, but they really don't. Instead, I alternate between trying to ride out the storm and assume it will pass and then freaking the freak OUT that my kid is becoming "THAT" Kid.

You know the one? The one that you don't want your kid to play with. I'm afraid that he is going to become "THAT" Kid very quickly. He starts preschool this fall (for real this time) and I am a little scared about this becoming a bigger issue. And honestly, I have no idea what to do about it. I have tried a lot of different approaches to this problem. It seems to "cure" it for awhile, but then it comes back. It does seem cyclical, though I can't tie it to anything in particular, I just notice it comes in waves. I have asked everyone (family and friends IRL, our pediatrician, you fabulous people inside my computer) for advice and most people seem to think he is "just fine" and that it will sort itself out. The things people have suggested (time outs, paying no attention to the hitter and all of it to the hittee, taking away toys, leaving play dates immediately, taking away privileges, a sticker chart for "positive (no hit) play dates", are just some examples) don't seem to have any long-lasting impact.

Since he was ten months old and started biting, then started hitting at 15 months (me first and then gradually his playmates), and now more of that plus spitting (which is another form of physical aggression), this has been a recurrent issue. I do believe he is a sweet boy, but this is worrying me.

What I find frustrating is that this is a child who has not been treated with aggression or observed it here at home. Is that my problem? Should I resort to spanking? I have never been able to understand the thinking behind "Don't hit or I will spank you". Yes, I know, children are not logical, therefore we cannot apply our logical thinking to their thought process and come up with anything close to what their little minds have brewing. But the times that I have used physical discipline, I haven't found it any more effective, and it's not a style of parenting that I* feel comfortable with, so it's very difficult to be consistent with it.


If anyone has any good advice for me or can sit in camaraderie with me (ex: "My child was a hitter but now is not a sociopath, I promise!"), I would really appreciate it. Do you think this is an issue worth making an appointment with our pediatrician for? He turns three in August and we will have his well child exam then. I will definitely bring it up at that point, but I am wondering if I shouldn't go in before then? But again, I have asked her about this before, and she hasn't given me any sort of solid advice. I know she leaves it up to parents to figure out discipline (and I think that's appropriate). I do know she isn't really on board with spanking and does employ timeouts, but I am just not finding that effective in this area. While I adore our pediatrician, I am not sure this is really her jurisdiction, you know? But then again, if it really is becoming an issue, she is the one who I would want to refer us out for other assistance.

* I am not sitting in judgment of anyone who spanks their children. Many of my friends to employ spanking and It just doesn't feel right for me, personally. And I believe the most effective discipline is consistent discipline. And I just can't be consistent in that way. But then again, my child is the one with the hitting problem, so Dr. Sears, I clearly am not! :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Party Time (a deux)

I seem to have a habit of writing serious posts and then alternating them with things of a more "day-to-day" nature. I shall continue this tradition by talking about Emma's first birthday party.

Wait. . . [insert screeching tires noise here]. . . did I just say. . . yes, I did.

That's right. My little baby will be turning one year old in just a month. She is turned eleven months old yesterday.

It's insanity. I mean, it went by so fast with Will, and it's going by even faster with her. I don't even know where the time went.

So, you might remember, I went all out for Will's first birthday. I feel as if he had a wonderful first birthday party. I wouldn't change a thing. But I also really stressed out over it and was much smarter last year, I hosted a much smaller party. Because of the smaller size, was able to have it someplace where someone else did all of the work. Consequently, I was far less stressed, and he had an amazing time.

One thing I am always conscious of with Emma, however, is that Baby #2 gets a lot less special attention. It's not that I love my sweet baby girl less, but the bottom line is, each of them get less of everything when there are two. So, I feel a need to do her first birthday up right. I don't want her to look back at pictures of Will's first birthday and wonder where her first birthday-palooza was.

Now, lest you think I am always looking into my baby book and finding it lacking, rest assured, I don't. But I am oldest. I always feel as if I got plenty. My sister, the middle child, is always talking about how she got less. And, to be very honest, before I had a second child, I kind of always discounted her feelings on this. Now that I have two, I kind of get it.

So. . . we are doing a birthday-palooza for Emma, too. Like Will's party, it will be at a local park. I rented the picnic shelter by the playground. We did pizza for Will's first and it was pretty easy. But I was thinking (because I am clearly insane) of doing a taco bar for Emma's birthday. I am thinking it wouldn't be too difficult. I could do pans of refried beans and rice (made the day or two before) and warm them in the oven, then a pan of taco meat, and I could do shredded chicken in a crockpot. Super easy. Taco shells and tortillas, corn chips, salsa, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, and olives. I think I could do all of that for around $100 (I am a bargain shopper). I also went to a party tonight where they had a "quesadilla bar", which I thought was awesome. They had all of the quesadillas premade and then they put them on a griddle to warm them. Then they were sliced and put on plates. You can serve a lot of people this way. BUT do I really want to be grilling quesadillas at my kid's party? Probably not. So, maybe a no on the quesadillas. But I still think it's a great idea, so feel free to steal it.

It was $85 (with tip) for pizza. I think I should just stick with that. It's a lot of work to do the taco thing. But I guess I just want something different.

I also thought about pulled pork sandwiches. I have a great crockpot recipe for that, so I could make it all the day before and then I have several friends who would lend me their crockpots to keep it warm the day of. Some potato salad, some chips, and buns, and we'd be set. Yeah, that seems like a good idea when I type it here. LOL! Sometimes, my blogging takes me directions I didn't even intend as I write. It just sounds easy. And tasty. And I think cost-effective? Pork roast is inexpensive this time of year. I'll bet I could do it for the same price as pizza (maybe less) and it would be something yummy and different.

Then for beverages, I'm all about the 2-liters, bottled water, and juice boxes for the kids. I have been shopping sales for that already.

And then I definitely want to do some sort of candy bar as the "goodie bag". I always love this idea when I see it. I saw a really cute idea on-line for a healthier version, with goldfish crackers, raisins, yogurt-covered-pretzels, etc. So, I am still deciding whether to go healthy or naughty (or a mix).

My girlfriend makes cakes, so I'm set there, no matter what I choose. But I love this one. I also like this idea (with the cake on top being her smash cake and the cupcakes for the guests).

And. . . well, there is a playground, so no games.

And. . . I think that's it. I need a theme, but I am thinking about something cute like polka dots and just lots of fun colors. Balloons, some table covers in mixed primaries, and that's it.

Do you have any other good ideas for me? Or thoughts on the food?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Defines Us

I recently have been delving into the "anti-vaccine" world. I stepped in there because of concerns I had about Emma's reactions to the pneumococcal vaccine. She had a very high fever in all instances (104) post-vaccination, when she is not a fever-runner (unlike her brother) under normal circumastances (when she is sick, she might run 100 - 101 or so) She also was extremely irritable, restless, and unable to sleep. Very unlike her normal self. This happened all three times she received the vaccine. So it had me concerned, and I started googling. And I was horrified by what I found.

This post is not about being pro or anti vaccine. What it is about is the disturbing elements that I see coming out in parents on either side of the divide. I walked away from both pro and anti vaccination sites, gaining nothing but a bad taste in my mouth, lots of rhetoric, and very little fact, data, or substantiated information on either side. Even after spending hours, researching, asking questions, and being on both types of sites, I was no closer to having any answers. If anything, I was even more confused.

Do you know what else I noticed? It was how the moms tore each other apart, up and down, and sideways. And it was all because they disagreed on an approach to parenting. Yes, I agree, this is an important topic, but everyone had the same intention: to do the right thing for their children. Yet that often got lost as each side argued their own talking points. When I asked for data or for someone to cite the source of a fact they mentioned, I was ridiculed, scorned, called names. . . an the sources were never cited and my questions were never answered. And this was not just on pro or anti vaccines sites. This was on both. And I made 100% to be nothing but polite and respectful in my queries, all to no avail.

It was an incredibly sad experience. After spending days looking into this topic, I found a common thread between the two camps: FEAR. The pro-vaccination folks fear that they are doing something wrong by vaccinating their kids, that they will unintentionally harm them by trying to do what's best. They are scared that there will be a study that proves their side wrong. The anti-vaccination folks fear that they are doing something wrong by not vaccinating their kids, that they will unintentionally harm them by trying to do what's best. They are scared that there will be a study that proves their side wrong. The funny thing is that the parents on both side this issue have so much in common, share the same fears, are looking for the same confirmation and in failing to find it, lash out at each other.

That is what is so sad. Both sides with the same goal, finding themselves fearing the opposite side because it represents what they are afraid of. What if the parents on BOTH sides banded together and demanded better research, more data, and overall more indepth looks at this issue. How powerful would that be? Two sides, together instead of divided? It would be impossible to ignore. Yet two sides of the same coin battle each other and the ultimate question goes unanswered.

I see this recur with everything parenting-related. Whether it's breastfeeding, television with kids under two, blah, blah, blah. . . FEAR is an incredible divider with moms. FEAR is what defines so many choices and how we react to the choices of others. Can't we all just see that we are scared of failing? Of not living up to the expectations we set for ourselves? And can't we be just a bit kinder to each other on this journey? And can't we band together to really get the answers we are looking for?

I know, I have ruminated on varieties of this topic before. I am just so frustrated by what I see.

And I don't know how to change it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Circle of Life Sucks Sometimes

Today, I was burbling Emma's tummy, kissing and loving on her. Ever since we had walked into my MIL's house, she wanted nothing to do with anyone but me. I loved every second of it, and before I thought about what I was saying, I called her a"momma's girl."

I looked up and saw the look of pain in my sister-in-law's eyes. I knew RIGHT THEN the full truth of the matter: I have become one of them. I am one of the belly-rubbing, diaper-bag-toting, kid-snot-wiping FERTILES. With not one, BUT TWO, children.

Except I am not.

Because at that very moment, watching the pain in her eyes, I hated myself as much as she did.. . for hurting her, for causing her the same pain others used to cause me.

Later, I talked to her, let her know that not a day goes by that I don't think of her and those two baby girls. She cried and so did I. She is still bleeding, still producing milk, still grieving. I told her I was sorry for earlier and that I know that watching that would have killed me four years ago. She nodded and admitted, "It is hard."

At least we can talk about it.

But it still is awful.

And I hate it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Packing Up

I hate it when my kids go away.

Wait. . . let me rephrase that. I love the fact that my MIL is so amazing that she not only offers, she BEGS to take Will for a weekend here and there, and that she is now taking Emma, too. She had both of them over our anniversary weekend and they (and, possibly more importantly, SHE) did awesome. We were at a hotel about 15 minutes from her house, which was comforting to all of us, in case she needed back-up, but she never did. This weekend is my birthday (3!2! How did that happen?) and M's, too, and she is taking the kiddos so we can have a day together to celebrate and relax.

Anyway, I appreciate so. very. much. the fact that she takes them. And I know that they have a great time at her house. In fact, I wish there was a place that I could go where a kindly Gramma and Nana doted on every single thing I did, made all of my very favorite foods, took me all of my very favorite places, and generally just spoiled the heck out of me.

Don't get me wrong. I really do look forward to sleeping in, taking a bath until my fingers prune, and getting miscellaneous projects done around the house that are difficult to do while the kids are here (Example: organizing their closets - HOW does anyone else DO that? When they are awake, they want to "help," which is ANYthing but "helpful" and if they are napping, then I can hardly be in there, organizing their closets!) I really am excited that I will get to out to a meal in a nice restaurant, eat that meal, while it is HOT, with both hands, and not have to stop and ask someone to "Please, eat your carrots" or "Please, do not throw your carrots". M and I are going to go see a movie! Yes, we are crazy people with all of these plans to organize closets, go to dinner, and see a movie. But to be honest, kids haven't changed us much. We've always been this lame.

But I digress.

Apart from all of the wonderful things that we will get to do over the next 48 hours, what I ultimately dislike, is that I have to be without my kids. I know that I am a better mom when I get a break. This week has been tough, what with the Great Chocolate Cow Slaughtering of 2011, but also just the fact that he has been rather obstinate and done a lot of misbehaving this week. And Emma has been teething, in what apparently is her bid to make the Guiness Book of World Records for Longest Time It Has EVER Taken For A Ten Month Old To Push Through a Molar. So it hasn't been an easy week. A break does sound rather nice.

But every time I pack them to go anywhere where I won't be for more than a few hours, I get a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. As I fold little Lightening McQueen and WALL-E underwear and put in extra pull-ups, I get paranoid that I am not putting in enough. When he gets stressed, he tends to have accidents. So for a two night stay, he has fourteen pairs of underwear. You know, just in case. I put in every type of jacket/coat that he owns because. . . what if we get a freak snowstorm in June - should I put in his winter hat? I put in three pairs of shoes and his rainboots. Oh, wait, I forgot his rain jacket!

For Emma, my paranoia manifests itself in DANGEROUS quantities of food being made. Remember, they will be gone for just two days. Emma eats a LOT of regular table food now and she is to the point where she wants to feed herself and gets impatien with purees. And my MIL is also a "feeder" and will have PLENTY of food options for her. But that seems not to really wriggle into my consciousness, because I have made three HUGE canisters of food. I mean, this girl couldn't eat this amount of food in a WEEK here at home if she tried. It's kind of ridiculous. Scratch that, it's plain ridiculous.

It takes me HOURS to pack them. It shouldn't. My MIL has made her house into a kid-wonderland. They need no toys, books, bath stuff, bedding, etc. She has it ALL. Even a potty chair for Will. And YET, I will have two large suitcases, two Castco resuable bags filled with random stuff, and I will still obsess over whether I packed enough. And I do this EVERY time. My MIL makes gentle jokes (she isn't being mean, it's just honestly rather crazy) about it and just lets it go and gives me a hug.

Each time they are about to go away, I PROMISE that I will minimize and not pack half of our house for them. And each time, I overpack despite my best intentions. Because as I pack, I keep thinking, "But what if they need something while they are gone?"

It takes no psychologist to see what is going on here, though if you are a psyschologist (or any other type of professional who might be able to help me with this issue), please weigh in. I think the problem is, I can't pack myself into their bags, and I worry that what they really might need is ME. And it really, truly, honestly doesn't bother me that they do JUST FINE without me. I love that. I just worry about if they DON'T do okay. And I somehow think if I pack Will's Buzzlightyear bandaids, the owie won't hurt as much.

Anyway, I am going back to packing now. Do you think Emma needs three sunhats or four?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

One of Those Days

So I wrote a touching post about life with two, and now it's time for the flip side. There are "Most Days" and then there are "One of THOSE Days".

Today was one such day.

Will was pretty much opposed to doing anything, be it put on his clothes, go in the potty, eat his breakfast without flinging it everywhere, and. . . well, it just goes on and on. Everything was a battle.

Fortunately, I didn't have to push it today. It was cloudy and rainy, we had no plans, needed nothing urgently from the store, and had no appointments to make. So, after our fifth timeout within an hour of him getting out of bed, I decided today was going to be a stay home and do nothing kind of day. I still had to tussle with him to get anything accomplished, but at least I wasn't in public, or trying to wrangle Emma at the same time. It worked pretty well for the most part.

This afternoon, after his nap, we went downstairs and he asked for chocolate milk. In our house, chocolate milk is a sippy cup of milk with a "dot" of chocolate syrup poured in and then shaken (not stirred). For him, the best part of the chocolate milk experience is getting to help pour in the small dot and then do the shake, shake, shaking. I had just started to get the milk out of the fridge and the syrup from the pantry, when I heard Emma upstairs. I told Will to hold on a second while I went upstairs to get Emma to join us for snack time. I out the chocolate back on the fourth shelf of the pantry (strategically placed above a certain toddler's reach).

Of course, Emma had a dirty diaper that took me a few minutes to change, but I was headed back downstairs in less than five minutes. As I started down, my son started upstairs, his hands held up above his head in "I surrender" fashion and uncertainly calling, "Mommy. . ."

What I saw coming towards me from the bottom of the stairs made my heart stop beating. It looked as if Will was covered in dark blood. I gasped and started taking the steps two at a time. As I got closer, I realized that the dark coating wasn't red, but brown. My next thought? That he had smeared poo poo all over himself.

"Will! Is that poo poo?" I cried.

"No, Mommy," he responded earnestly. "It's chocolate. I made a mess."

I was actually relieved for a moment (as blood or poo was a far worse alternative in my mind). But as I rounded the corner and saw the scene before me, I reversed my relief.

It basically looked as if someone had slaughtered a chocolate cow. It was easy to follow his path of destruction. A chair had been pulled over to the pantry to retrieve the chocolate syrup.

From there, he took the syrup to the counter and tried to pour some in a cup. FAIL. The chocolate dripped down the counter and onto the floor. Next, he apparently decided that the coffee table would make it easier to pour since it was at his level, so there was a huge puddle of chocolate on the table. . . and next to it, another puddle the size of a salad plate on my beautiful (albeit secondhand) Potterybarn rug.

This is apparently when he panicked and realized he'd better clean up his act. He had then gone to the bathroom (but made sure to track through the chocolate puddle on his way thankyouverymuch) and gotten my good (cream colored) guest towels and brought them back to the scene of the crime where he daubed the towels through the puddles and swathed more chocolate around the carpet. That didn't work, so he figured a big wad of toilet paper might just do the trick. The wad sat, a mass clump of chocolate ooey gooey-ness. When that didn't work, he came to get me. That's when I found him, chocolate covered Will, coming up the stairs, leaving chocolate covered footprints every step of the way.

Oh, and the dog pranced through it, too. I counted 31 different spots greater than a baseball on my (very light tan colored) carpet. I didn't count the stains smaller than that. It was too depressing.

I was proud of myself. I stayed very calm. I took his soiled clothes off and wiped him down with some wipes. I told him that I was very disappointed in him and that he had made a naughty choice. I told him to go to his room until I was done cleaning up his mess. Shoulders sagging and starting to cry, he took himself up to his room and dutifully stayed there while I scrubbed furniture and carpets.

I went up to him after I was done cleaning and helped get him into new clothes. I told him that his punishment will be no chocolate milk for a week. And whenever he has asked for chocolate milk, I have reminded him that because of what he did, there is no more syrup and therefore, he cannot have chocolate milk.

What is most amazing about this whole story is how quickly he was able to make such a huge mess. Had I heard a story like this before I had children, I would have blamed the parent (why weren't they watching more carefully, why did they leave the pantry unlocked, etc.). Now that I am a mom, I know how very quickly these little ones work and also that there are just certain things you don't expect. He has never done anything even close to this before and I am still shocked by it.

Soap and water, six different types of carpet cleaners, vinegar, OxyClean, and a steam cleaner have failed to remove the stains thus far. A friend has recommended vodka. Apparently, your carpets might not be any cleaner, but you won't care.

I guess it's just one of those days.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Most Days

Potty training is going better. We reverted to basics, with Will getting a treat from his Daddy every day he stayed dry (instead of a treat for using the potty each time). We had no accidents until today, when his Gramma was visiting, and he got distracted and excited. But overall, it has been a vast improvement.

We also had a major transition last week. We took the front rail off of Will's crib, transitioning him to the toddler bed (i.e., open access to the upstairs of our house - eek!). He got to go with his Daddy to pick out new bedding ("Buzz! Lightyear! And! Woody!") and he was so thrilled. After M took the rail off and we made the bed with his new sheets, he kept jumping around, clapping his hands, saying, "Thank you for my new big boy bed, Mommy and Daddy!"

It has been five nights and, so far, his nighttime sleep has been unchanged. Naps have been a bit more of a challenge, but he is still taking them for the most part. It just takes him a lot longer to settle down. So I have to start naptime about an hour before I really want himto take a nap or his naps get too late. Trial and error. This morning was the first time he got himself out of bed in the morning and he gave me a mini-heart attack when he just appeared in the kitchen this morning while I was feeding Emma. But it was kind of neat to have him just join me for the day.

Emma is changing so much lately. Each day, she is a little less infant and a little more toddler. She says the following words: fish (sounds like sish - but she points to Will's pretend fish tank and says it), kitty (sounds like kittah - but again, pointing to the kitty), daddy (pointing to her daddy), uh-oh (used appropriately after she drops something, usually her binky), and thank you (sounds like tan tew, but is also used appropriately after she is handed her binky back or an especially yummy food treat). Notice mama is missing from the list. Will did the same thing to me, teasing me with saying words like "thank you," but not saying mama. Kids!

She also crawls like a champ, pulls herself up, and cruises around furniture. She "dances," claps, plays peek-a-boo, blows a kiss, waves, and pantomines to "If You're Happy and You Know It" (hooray is her favorite part). She has the. best. baby. laugh ever. Ever. I really need to get it on film. It is a deep belly laugh that makes everyone in hearing distance laugh right along with her.

I won't tell you how much she sleeps because you would stop reading my blog in protest. Just know this: I didn't do anything to train her to sleep this way. Don't get me wrong. I do believe you can guide your baby's sleep habits, but I also firmly believe that they are born to sleep (and eat and actually do a lot of stuff) a certain way. I did sleep train Will, but I didn't really have to do anything to sleep train Emma. And I live every day feeling a mixture of gratitude (that she sleeps so well) and fear (that she will stop being a good sleeper and since I didn't "make" her one, I won't know how to help her sleep well again). Because I like my sleep. I find that a good night's rest helps me deal so much better with the challenges of parenting two young children every day.

Because let me tell you: these two keep me busy. It's a good busy. It's the type of busy where I fall into bed every night exhausted. But it's still very busy and being well-rested makes me able to have the energy I need to keep up with them.

Last June, I was wondering how on earth I would be a mom to two children. This June, I don't worry about how I will do it any more. If you are worried about how you will parent two children, here is my Top Secret Trick To Parening Two: I just do it. I don't do it perfectly, but I do it. And I really do believe that my children are happy. Sure, there are days when M walks through the door and I am throwing a baby and/or toddler at him and running upstairs to just catch my breath, days when I worry that I am not being a great mom. But most days? Most days are pretty darn amazing and I am very grateful that this is my life.