Dear Vivienne,

I’m definitely starting to get emotional. We’re closing in on your first birthday, and I’ve found myself clutching you a little closer, hugging you a little harder. You’re getting so big, and I kind of can’t understand how that happened so quickly.

The other day, I was hanging out with you for a few extra minutes, lying on the floor of your bedroom while you sat there playing. It was after bath—you were in your jammies, and I had just brushed your hair. You reached for the brush and grabbed it, running it over the side of your own head. You were trying to brush your own hair. You knew exactly what it was for. This is just one example of the things you do now that make me think, “Wow. She’s actually becoming a PERSON.” You’re getting familiar with the world around you and how it works. I’ve been through this incredible development once before (with Nora), but it isn’t any less amazing with you.

You’ve had your two bottom teeth for months now, but any others have been slow to follow. But guess what? We’re welcoming two top teeth now, finally. And they are apparently bothering you because you have been biting me while nursing. A LOT. It hurts like hell and I’ve made you cry a few times now with my startling gasps of “Ouch!! No!” I’m fighting through it, as I hope it will pass.

Overall, you seem less interested in nursing now. You eat quickly, and you don’t dilly-dally. The minute you’re done, you sit up, roll over, or wiggle away to move onto the next thing. With the exception of the morning feeding (when you’re starving), I could skip or forget about a nursing session and you probably wouldn’t even notice. You’re much more into real food these days. You’ll gobble purees, but now you are LOVING fresh fruit as well. You eat strawberries, blueberries, banana, watermelon, plums, nectarines. You’ll shovel it all in faster than we can cut it up for you, and then you yell for more. We’re working hard on teaching you the sign language for “more,” but you choose to be vocal about it instead. We’ll say “More?” and give you the sign. “AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!” you’ll say loudly in return, waving your arms wildly or hitting your hands on your tray. OKAY THEN. It’s not sign language, but you’re definitely communicating.

You’ve tried vegetables, too. Sweet potatoes, peas, carrots. We’ve tried little bits of meat. You seemed to like egg. At this point, we’re giving you samples of pretty much anything that’s soft enough for you to eat. By next month, I’m sure we’ll have expanded your horizons even more. We have to try yogurt and more cheese! By this time, your sister was eating dairy regularly but we delayed it with you because you had such problems with it when your reflux was bad. Speaking of your reflux… you barely ever spit up anymore. It just seemed to fade away. Crazy to think about how we used to be cleaning spit up off of everything all the time and now we just… don’t have to. Just another sign of you growing up.

You love baths and the baby pool. You have learned how to SPLASH, and you do it well! You don’t care that it gets water all up in your face, eyes, mouth. You’ll take a quick break to blink or cough and then you’re back at it again, getting everything around you all wet.

You crawl on your hands and knees exclusively now—no more belly crawl. You’re pulling up on things, but again, just on your knees, or kneeling on one knee while the other foot is on the floor. If we stand you up and put you up against something you can hold on to, you will stand there for a bit if you’re in the mood. If you want to be picked up, you crawl over to me or Daddy and grab our legs and pull up. It’s terribly cute, and pretty nice to still feel needed by you sometimes.

Nora is good at watching over you. She’ll tell us if you’re getting into something you shouldn’t. She’ll grab things away from you if they’re too little for you to play with (even if “it’s too little for her” is just an excuse for her to take something away from you because she wants it!). But she’s pretty good about sharing with you, too. You think she’s SO FUNNY sometimes, and reward her efforts with the greatest belly laughs. I pulled your hair up into your first “ponytail” the other day, and as I was doing it, Nora said to me, “That’s going to be so cute!” She and I laughed really hard once it was up and we saw how different you looked. Then she couldn’t stop talking about how cute it looked on you. You and Nora are lucky to have each other, and I can’t wait to see how your relationship continues to blossom as you grow.

This month marked your first real illness—with antibiotics to boot. You got a double ear infection. You were pretty miserable for a few days with a high fever. You gave us a lot of problems getting the Amoxicillin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen into you at first, but you eventually got used to it and accepted it more readily. I tried to hold off on giving you meds until you really needed them. But you were just burning up so hot and acted so miserable that we had to turn to the medicine. All better now, though!

The next few weeks are going to be busy. We’ll be going on a couple of vacations, we’ll be enjoying summer, and… well, we’ll be planning a party. I’m certainly going to cherish these last days of your infancy.

You’re growing up. But I hope you don’t mind if you’re always my baby.

I love you so, so much.
Mommy

 

Is it possible for babies to be bullies? Because, uh… Vivienne sometimes acts like one when she’s around other babies. Or puppies.

In general, Vivienne is a very “vocal,” strong-willed baby. She’s always been the type to let us know when she wants or needs something. And as she’s grown, we’ve noticed that she doesn’t really take any crap from anybody—Nora included. She’ll wrestle herself into any situation. She pushes our hands away if we try to wipe her face, fix her hair, check out her teeth. If Nora takes a toy away from her, she’ll “fight” to get it back. She’s tough. She’s feisty. But none of these characteristics are bad. I think they’re quite normal, actually.

But there is something that Vivienne does that I’ve never seen another baby do. She attacks other babies.

I use “attack” loosely, because, well—she’s only 11 months old. I don’t think she’s legitimately attacking anyone. But it’s sort of the best way to describe what it is that she does. Our most frequent victim? My niece, Sadie, who is just 2.5 months younger than Viv. Even when they were smaller (back during the winter, for instance), I can remember Vivienne lunging at Sadie if they were close together. Vivienne grabs her head or the sides of her face and tries to mouth her—it looks like open-mouthed kisses, or even biting. It used to be cute, but now that Vivi actually DOES have teeth, I’m afraid that she might actually hurt her. And now, it’s accompanied by high-pitched screeching. Vivienne almost appears angry—or at least agitated—when she does all of this, and it’s one of those moments where I really wish I could read her mind! What is she thinking? What is she doing? we all wonder.

She does this to small animals, too. Tessa is sometimes the victim, although a lot of times, Vivienne is actually quite gentle with her. So much so that Tessa actually purposely lies down in front of Viv sometimes, simply because she likes the attention. But other times, Vivienne will grab at her skin/fur, and then “mouth” her, too. And again, sometimes she’s pretty vocal about it!

Vivienne and Sadie have been capable of hanging out together, peacefully. But there are definitely small stretches of time when Viv just can’t seem to leave Sadie alone. On Saturday, my mom was babysitting Sadie and brought her over for a bit. We had them on the floor, facing each other, and Vivienne started screeching and leaning over to grab Sadie, putting her mouth on the top of her head. We kept pulling her back and then she’d go for her again.

We wondered if she was jealous.
Territorial.
Curious. (Who is this/what is this thing in front of me, that is just my size??)
Playful.
Angry.
Or just a baby bully.

But seriously, she’s been doing this off and on since she was probably six months old. To me, that’s far too young for a baby to actually understand what she is doing—so it’s hard for me to believe that Vivienne would be purposely attacking her. I mean… right??

Has anyone ever seen a baby exhibit this sort of behavior before? I assume they grow out of it? I did some Googling and found some information/thoughts about this behavior simply being an extension of them learning about their surroundings. That we should reinforce “gentle” touch, and remove her from the situation if she doesn’t easily back down. Any other tips from fellow parents, child development folks, teachers, etc.?

Our trip to the Poconos is coming up, and Vivienne will have plenty of quality time to get used to Sadie. I hope she eventually learns that although Sadie appreciates the “love,” she may not always like to have her personal space invaded like that. I want them to grow up together, playing sweetly, sharing toys and laughs, and trading secrets.

In the meantime, I’ll be hoping my sweet Vivienne isn’t going to become that girl on the playground who knocks kids down and steals their lunch money.

 

Nora is nearing 4. Vivienne is nearing 1. We’ve served them both gosh knows how many meals by now, and we’ve had a handful of high chairs and booster seats in order to do so.

We started Nora in a pretty traditional high chair. A standalone chair with its own legs, takes up a lot of space. But we had a good spot for it in the condo, and then when we first moved to our new house, we didn’t have any furniture in the eat-in kitchen area—uh, for like a YEAR—so Nora’s high chair lived in that space. And when we ate dinner as a family, we would move her high chair into the dining room, where we also had the room for it. So “space-saving” wasn’t really a priority. But once we did get a kitchen table, we started eating the majority of our meals there, and we had to make a change. By then, Nora was about two years old, so we transitioned to using a cheap, plastic booster that attached to the kitchen chair and allowed her to eat off of the table. It worked fine, right up until this past winter, when we decided she was getting a bit big for it, and didn’t really need to be strapped in anymore. We upgraded to a “big kid” booster.

In the meantime, Vivienne was starting solids, so we lugged out the big high chair again. But because space is tight in the eat-in area of our kitchen, it wasn’t ideal. And we had JUST gotten rid of the plastic chair for a bit, so we weren’t thrilled about going back to that so soon.

Luckily, Summer Infant has developed a booster that is both functional AND more visually appealing. It’s the Bentwood Booster Seat in a dark stain.

We’ve been using this for a few weeks now, and we like it a lot. It looks nice, tucks in under the table when we push in the chair, and Vivienne seems to be comfortable in it, too. Here are my observations, organized by pros and cons.

Pros:
- Its appearance. I like the dark wood stain, the lime green pad, and overall just the “neutral” design of this. It’s much more pleasing to the eye than the plastic primary colored booster seats we’ve seen and had before.

- Low profile, truly space saving. We leave it attached to one of our kitchen chairs pretty much at all times, and it tucks underneath the table easily when the chair is pushed in.

- Tray is lightweight and easy to clean.

- Seat back reclines a bit so if you have a younger baby, he or she will be supported adequately and not slumping over in a chair that is too upright.

- Easy to attach, detach, and adjust sizing for any chair.

Cons:
- Although the fabric seat pad is cute and makes the seat more comfortable, it’s a little bit impractical for a baby seat since… well, it gets dirty. If Vivienne drops pieces of food down beside her, it lands on the seat pad. Realistically, we can’t wash the thing every day, so it just remains dirty sometimes—which takes away from its appearance. I wish it was made out of a material that is wipeable for easy clean-up.

- One thing that’s different than our former (cheap, plastic) booster seat is that this one is not height-adjustable. So Vivienne is a little short when she’s sitting in it at the table. That’s not a problem for now, since she’s using the tray anyway, but once we want her to eat at the table with us—we’ll have to see if she’s tall enough to do so in this seat.

- The tray can be a little difficult to slide on if you don’t get it in the grooves right off the bat. This is kind of nitpicky, since it’s not really cumbersome, but I’ve had it happen a few times where it has taken a few tries to get the tray on correctly.

Overall, we really like this booster and look forward to seeing how it works for Vivienne over time. It’s definitely a win for now!

Disclaimer: Summer Infant contacted me and offered me a complimentary Bentwood Booster in exchange for my review. The opinions expressed above are entirely my own.

 

We had a VERY busy weekend. The biggest event? Nora’s first dance recital.

Last week was a week FULL of dance for Nora—with dance pictures, two extra rehearsals, and then, of course, the recital. It was busy and honestly a bit intense for a 3 year old (in my opinion, not Nora’s!) but the payoff was worth it.

On Monday, I tried my hand for the first time at being a dance mom. I had to get Nora all dolled up in the hair and (little bit of) makeup for her pictures. She was SO EXCITED about this process. After I finished her hair, she ran off saying, “I want to go look in the mirror.” I found her in front of the full-length mirror in our room, turned around, trying to get a glimpse of the bun at the back of her head. She was smiling from ear to ear, “Mommy, I getting older,” she told me. I pulled her back to do her makeup. Again, as soon as I was done, she ran to the mirror. “Mommy, I getting so old!” again. Not too fast, baby. Not too fast.

Before we left for the studio, I took a few of my own photos of her outside:

At the studio, she did great with her pictures. I peeked in on them when they were taking their class picture and OH MY GOSH. So much cute. Three year olds are adorable; I swear it is the best age!

A few days later, I had the official photo file emailed to me by the photographer:

Smile is a little fake, but it is still darling. Worth the whopping $22 they charged us for the digital download. (By the way—dance is expensive, yo. And I’m convinced they totally take advantage of parents’ emotions, because seriously. Who can resist?)

Recital day came on Saturday. I took Nora to a quick on-stage rehearsal (rehearsal #4 within the past week!) at the school. It was then that I got my first glimpse of their number. The teachers and the dancers had done a great job of keeping it all under wraps. They had encouraged the kids not to show their parents the dance so that they would be surprised on recital day. Sure enough, every time we asked Nora about it, she told us, “You have to wait. It’s a surprise!” The only thing we knew was that they were dancing to the song, “Rainbow Connection.”

At the rehearsal, the moms got to walk the girls to the stage and then we saw them go out as we stood in the wings. The music played and they performed and we all cried. WE WERE SUCH SAPS. Dance recitals make moms cry, apparently.

After they ran through it once, we went back home. We had a whopping 15 family members buy tickets to see Nora’s dancing debut. So before the show, we had everyone over to our house for a picnic. Soon, it was time to get Nora ready, so I took her upstairs and did the hair and makeup routine again. I did a better job the second time around (yay!), and then she was super excited to go downstairs and show everyone.

And then we were off to the show.

I took Nora backstage to meet up with her class. We took some photos and then as we stood waiting, we looked over and saw this:

The girls in her class were all embraced in a group hug. All by themselves. It was like a little pow-wow/pep rally before they hit the stage. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, UNIVERSE?! Crying again.

I scooted out of the room and into my seat in the auditorium. The show was “Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz” and our girls were rainbows. The lights were turned down, and then the curtain opened… and there stood my little girl. The stage lights came up, the music started, and the girls put on a show.

{If you can’t see the video above, click here. Nora is third from the right, by the way.}

Of course, I cried again. And then my heart burst because I was just SO PROUD OF HER. Nora is naturally shy, and always has been. There was always part of me that wondered if she would 1) refuse to go out on stage, 2) have an emotional breakdown, or 3) get out there and freeze. She did none of those things. She rose to the occasion and danced—with gusto! It seems perhaps we really have done a good thing by getting Nora into dance classes. She loves it (most of the time), and I think it has been great for helping her overcome some of that shyness. I mean, hell, getting up on stage like that makes MY stomach churn, so for her to do it? At three years old?? Again, just so, so proud.

The only negative about the recital was that they were first—then we had to sit through everyone else’s numbers. :) The littles did come back again for the finale/curtain call, during which Nora got visibly terrified by the older girl playing the Wicked Witch. As soon as she came out and the voice over the music cackled and said “I’ll get you my pretty,” Nora jumped out of her skin and scurried back to take cover in the arms of her teachers. Poor kid.

After the show, we took some family pics outside with our little ballerina.

She was very excited about the long-stemmed rose that her grandma brought for her.

As I was tucking her in that night, I asked her if she wanted to dance again in the fall.

“You’ll learn a new song and new dance, and then eventually have another recital with a NEW costume,” I told her. “Do you want to do that?”

“YES,” she answered. “But only the recital.”

Sweet, funny girl. I guess the recital part was more fun than all of the Saturday classes to get to that point. And apparently she really DID love being up on that stage!

My tiny dancer is getting so big.

 

I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve written a real blog post. And this doesn’t exactly qualify as a “real” one, but we’ve been busy and I feel like I need to somehow catch up. The result is this collection of random thoughts and things that have been going on.

- Vivienne recently had her first ear infection—a double one. Both girls had been coughing for several days, so when I picked them up early from daycare a couple of Fridays ago and noticed that Vivienne felt hot, I took her temperature to discover a fever of 102+ degrees. I called the pediatrician since I was worried the cough had turned into something like bronchitis, and didn’t want to go into the weekend without having them checked out. I took both girls in. The result was a double infection for Vivienne and a wheeze for Nora. We walked out with prescriptions for Amoxicillin (for Viv) and an inhaler (for Nora). Fun times in JUNE! What the heck? We actually held out on the antibiotics for Vivienne until the next day, to see if she really needed them. But the poor girl was MISERABLE with her fever and it was barely manageable even with alternating Motrin and Tylenol, so we went with it. Even then, it took three days for the fever to go away completely! Poor kid. But she finished her antibiotics yesterday, Nora’s been using the inhaler, and their coughs seem to finally be subsiding. We had a pretty great winter as far as illness was concerned, so I hope we’re not going to pay our dues with random summer illnesses!

- I re-stained the deck last weekend. It sucked so bad, you guys, and I only did the floor. Stripping, cleaning, staining… ugh. At least it looks BETTER. Since we have never stained it (just the previous owners), we had to guess on the color using the swatches, and it’s not an exact match. The floor looks pretty dark right now, but I think it’ll fade over time to look a little more even with the sides. The color difference is most obvious in the direct sunlight (as seen in the bottom picture above), but is actually less so under other conditions. Is it bad that I really don’t care? I classify the result as “good enough.” The deck is really old and weathered, and the wood is in crappy shape to begin with. Staining it is a project I really didn’t want to do in the first place, and the process just solidified our desire to rip the whole thing out and get a patio instead. Hopefully we can swing that next spring, although gaaahhhh. SO EXPENSIVE. I still need to stain the top rails some night this week, since we’re having a family get-together here on Saturday.

- We officially bought a swing set. We ended up ordering one from Costco—a set that was actually brought to my attention by a reader after I posted about it last time! We weren’t even Costco members, but the cost savings was enough that it made it worthwhile to become one. The set was delivered via freight this morning, and it sounds like my brother(s) is going to try to get it assembled for us this weekend. Exciting! I think Nora is going to lose her mind. Fingers crossed that assembly is not too stressful and goes relatively quickly so my brother won’t disown me at the end. :)

- I took Nora to her second dentist appointment a few weeks ago. She was such a rockstar about it. On the way there, she told me that last time (in December), she was scared, but this time she wasn’t, so she wanted to go first (before me; I was also scheduled for a cleaning). She was perfect and let the hygienist give her teeth a really good cleaning, complete with some light scraping, and flossing. I was proud of her.

- I’m trying Couch to 5K AGAIN. Every time I’ve tried the program in the past, I’ve had raging problems with knee pain that have caused me to need to stop. I think (hope?) that I’ve finally figured out how to combat that, so now it’s just a matter of working it into my schedule. It’s only three days a week—and about 30 minutes at a time—so it really shouldn’t be as difficult as it is, but somehow, it is still a challenge. I’ve already had to go back and retrace my steps a little bit within the program, repeating runs if I go too long between them. But I did Week 3, Day 1 this morning and felt good, so I’m optimistic about my progression through the program. Maybe I will actually finish it?! Oh, and also? doTERRA’s Deep Blue has been AMAZING on my knees, you guys. I have been mixing a few drops of Deep Blue essential oil—good for sore muscles and joints, or pain in general—in the palm of my hand with some Fractionated Coconut Oil (as a carrier oil), then rubbing it over my knees in the day or two after my runs. This, coupled with icing my knees for 20 minutes after every run, seems to be doing the trick. doTERRA also has a Deep Blue Rub that I want to try, but this is working great for now. (More on my journey with essential oils here and here.) Hoping for success in building up to running a 5K!

- Father’s Day. It was the day I stained the deck (and Michael busted his ass in other areas of the yard), so not quite a relaxing day for anybody. But we did a few “special” things. We surprised him with a grilling platter that the girls and I made at a local pottery painting place a few weeks ago—”Grilled to Perfection on Daddy’s Grill” with the girls’ handprints made into hamburgers, and their footprints made into hot dogs. I’m not an artist, but it came out pretty cute. We made Trader Joe’s cinnamon rolls for breakfast (Heaven!), had a little barbecue for dinner, and then went out for ice cream since it was such a beautiful day outside.

- The spambots continue to attack my poor little blog. I received 76 spam comments over the weekend, you guys. SEVENTY-SIX! So annoying. What do people even get out of these comments? What is the point? It’s so dumb and I hate it.

- We had new family pictures taken a few weeks ago. Not just our little family, but with Michael’s side of the family—including his parents, sisters, our nephews. We’ve seen a few sneak peeks but we are waiting to get them all back. It was great and I’m so happy we’ll have photos of the extended family for years to come. I think we’ll plan to do this every few years (2-3 years?) because it’s nice to have pictures that everyone is included in. I want to do the same thing with my side of the family, too, perhaps starting this fall.

I think that’s it for now. I leave you with a few random pics from the last few weeks:

Now, back to the daily grind… enjoy the week!