6 years/6 months

Dear sisters,

This month, my kids are 6 months old and 6 years old. Eve turned 6 months old on May 7th, and Miriam turned six years old on May 17th. It has felt like a pretty big month for both of them. I’ve been watching my girls grow so fast and wanting to share some of the new things they are doing with you all.

Eve is more alert and interactive every day. She is the happiest little baby. Everywhere I go, I get comments about her. She has big bright eyes, and she looks at everyone, and breaks into a huge grin when someone notices her and smiles at her. I get a lot of comments that she should be a Gerber baby. I had a “Ithaca moment” with her a week or so ago. We were at the Ithaca Bakery for lunch. Eve was in the stroller and was grabbing her feet, like this:

happy baby
Happy baby

 

An older woman stopped and stared, and smiled. She said to me, “she’s doing happy baby!” And I said, “Is that a yoga pose?” (side note: I may be the only person left in Ithaca who does not do yoga) and she said, “Yes! She’s doing it perfectly!” It was pretty great. The following week, this was the cover of the New Yorker. Way to be a trendsetter, Eve.

Eve is now 15 lbs, and quickly growing out of her 6 month clothing. Miriam was 17 lbs at a year. Eve will likely get to 17 lbs by 9 months, or even sooner. She is a good eater, and getting really into eating solid food. I’m doing baby-led weaning with her and it’s been great–so relaxing! It’s fun to watch her figure out how to get food into her mouth. She has gagged a few times but hasn’t choked on anything. Mostly she gets frustrated because she drops food all the time.

one of her first solid foods: bib
one of her first solid foods: bib

Her development is happening so fast! She is starting to sit up for brief periods of time. She grabs at everything within her reach, and puts it in her mouth. She always smiles at her sister’s crazy antics. She is such a delightful baby.

Speaking of her sister, I now have a six year old in the house, and one that is almost done with kindergarten! She is also growing so fast and changing in front of my eyes. She has entered a really silly phase. She loves to laugh and make other people laugh. Six year old humor mostly involves butts, I’m learning. A few days ago we went to the Sciencenter together and I thought I’d take a picture of the two of us together. Despite my instructions for her to smile nicely for the photo, this is what I got:

mirror room at sciencenter
In the mirror closet

I think she had a good birthday. I brought cupcakes into school and enjoyed seeing her interact with other kids and teachers there. She has gained a lot of confidence over the past year. She loves her teacher and has learned so much. She was reading before starting kindergarten, and is now reading at a third grade level. Her teacher joked with me that Miriam is ready to start fourth grade next year! Last night she stayed up too late reading. She reads during meals, she reads when she’s supposed to be getting ready for school, she reads in the car. It seems that we may have a bookworm on our hands, surprise surprise!

Wearing her birthday crown
Wearing her birthday crown

She has her moments of being my baby still, though. She loves to be carried down the stairs when she is sleepy in the mornings. At her big birthday party she got overwhelmed when everyone sang Happy Birthday, and she ran and hid behind a pole, and cried when I wanted her to blow out the candles. That was hard for me. I wanted to see her standing so happy and proud while everyone sang to her, and instead she had an anxiety attack. She has intense emotions and I am often surprised by what sets her off. Still, I think she had a good time playing with her friends and celebrating springtime. I don’t do pinterest-worthy birthday parties, but I did manage to have a flower theme for the party and I went a little nuts with the cupcakes. They were so fun! I used marshmallows to make petals, like this:

mini marshmallows make prettier ones, but they take a lot more time!
mini marshmallows make prettier ones, but they take a lot more time!

As my girls grow and change, I am enjoying watching their relationship develop. I love seeing them interact. Eve always has a huge smile for Miriam, even if Miriam is doing something a little too rough with Eve. Eve has started pulling Miriam’s hair which is an interesting new development. Miriam hates to wear her hair up so it’s always conveniently dangling in Eve’s face. Recently Miriam has been expressing frustration when Eve cries. Today Eve was sitting up for a bit on our bed, then tipped over. I asked Miriam to help prop Eve back up again. She tried but it didn’t work, and Eve’s cries got louder. Miriam ran out of the room and yelled, “I never wanted a baby sister anyway!” It was amusing. I have to remind Miriam that Eve can’t talk to tell us why she’s upset and sometimes the only thing that makes Eve stop crying is to be held, particularly held by mama. Miriam gets frustrated easily and has a very short fuse. We’re working on that.

So much of my time and energy is spent caring for these little ones, and thinking a lot about how to be the best mama I can be to them. It’s hard to remember my life without them.  I wish we were closer so we could all mother together. Janna, thank you for coming to Miriam’s birthday party! It was great to have you and I particularly enjoyed seeing you walking with Eve, trying to get her to nap. Seeing my sisters love on my kids is so nice. These letters will have to tide us over until our next gathering.

Much love,

Rachel

 

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I’d never make it in post-apocalyptic Australia

Hi, sisters,

Last weekend, with the end of the semester being so close that I could almost taste the freedom waiting on the other side of six hours of testing, a couple friends and I took ourselves out for the new Mad Max movie. Have you seen it? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. I had no idea what I was getting myself in for, spent a fair amount of time muttering, “good lord, this is stressful,” definitely threw my arms around one of my friends at least once, and I enjoyed it. On the way home, my art historian and librarian friend and I talked about how our skills would be of absolutely no use in the motor-head, dystopian desert world shown in Mad Max: Fury Road. I mean, they only need one guitarist and my basic guitar skills lean far more heavily towards acoustic folk than towards battle-inspiring metal.Screen shot 2015-05-25 at 3.32.26 PM She said she’d probably end up as what the movie called a “breeder.” I figured that with my well-endowed mammary glands I’d end up living hooked up to pumps with the woman who produced the “mother’s milk” that grown men and women drink. These are obviously not jobs we want for ourselves. They would be grand wastes of our master’s degrees.

I saw my mechanical limits more realistically this past weekend. Continue reading “I’d never make it in post-apocalyptic Australia”

The first 6 weeks: Things to remember

Dear sisters,

How have 6 weeks gone by since I gave birth to Calvin?! He seems so much bigger and expressive than he was 6 weeks ago. He seems to have grown into his face now :-). Over the past few nights I’ve been making mental lists of things I don’t want to forget from this time as I nurse Calvin during his two nighttime feedings. Though I’ve tried to take pictures and a few boring-to-anyone-not-related-to-me videos (that you’ll see interspersed through this post) it seems I never capture the cutest, sweetest moments on camera. Those I need to mentally save. So here are some memory prompts for when all of my children are grown and wonder what it was like for us when we were young parents.

This sweet but slightly boring video is so special now that he’s grown so much! He looks so different at 6 weeks than he did at 4 days.

I don’t want to forget…. Continue reading “The first 6 weeks: Things to remember”

Kentucky Calling!

Well, sisters, it’s crazy to think that in 7 short weeks Marcus and I will be living in Kentucky! For those reading this that haven’t yet heard: Marcus accepted a great job in Berea, Kentucky (40 minutes southeast of Lexington, if you’re like me and had no idea where that is). He’ll be working in the Center for Transformative Learning at Berea College, a small Christian liberal arts school that charges NO tuition and only accepts promising students that come from disadvantaged economic backgrounds. It has a strong, readily apparent commitment to service and sustainability, so it seems like Marcus and I will fit in well in the town! I’ve got some job applications and an interview in the area under my belt, so we’re excited to see what the town has in store of us.

In our most recent trip, we looked at some houses and apartments and decided on a bright, open apartment. It’s bigger and beautifull-er than our place right now, and less expensive! It doesn’t have the woodwork and high ceilings of our current 1860’s-mansion-turned-apartment, but the open layout and large kitchen are simply lovely. We’ve got a cute little balcony too. I can’t wait for you all to come visit (HINT HINT HINT)! It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, so we’ll even have a guest suite for you 😉 unlike you visiting us in Buffalo and Janna, Jewel, and I sleeping in our bed, with Marcus and Kevin on the couch and fouton… (that was still very fun though.)

IMG_1125 IMG_1122 IMG_1123IMG_1117

Continue reading “Kentucky Calling!”

The adaptation and evolution of new parents

Dear sisters,

I’m sitting with a cup of tea on a sunny Wisconsin spring day listening to my napping baby groan and grunt his way through a nap. Calvin can be an aggressive napper, fighting his way through his REM cycles with gurgles and stretches. In the first few days of this behavior I would reach for him every time and try to settle him back into deep sleep. I usually just ended up waking him. I had to learn to let him be, and let him figure his way back to sleep. That process of accepting my baby’s behavior has me thinking about the whole idea of acceptance/adapting to new things/resigning oneself to one’s fate. People have told Kevin and I that we’re making new parenthood look easy. I don’t know if we find it easy by any means, but I think one of the best things we’ve been doing as new parents is accepting what comes. When we feel overwhelmed, which we often do, we talk to each other about it and we find ways to accept or support each other through what we feel is a problem. If we can see it as the way life is with a baby, or an opportunity to be better parents, we might be able to accept it as a normal part of our lives. That process is easy some days and other days, when Calvin has been awake for 2 hours in the middle of the night just wanting to eat more and more, I have to repeat in my head, “This too shall pass. He’s the cutest thing ever and can’t control when he sleeps, just keep nursing…just keep nursing.”

SDC12395 (2) Continue reading “The adaptation and evolution of new parents”