Monday, September 17, 2012

State of the Union

In between travel and play a lot of other excitement has happened that I've been terrible about blogging all the little details in life like I used to (you know, in lieu of a baby book) so here's one big catch up post on all the other nitty gritty details of life in the household as we head into fall season.  This one's a long one so grab a cup of coffee (or vodka, I won't judge) before you start :-) Oh yeah, and if you want to make it a drinking game - one shot for every run-on sentence I'm guessing will leave you pleasantly buzzed.


Catherine is approaching toddlerhood at full force.  She's pretty proud of herself for standing and loves to stand around and just grin like "hey, look at me, I got this!"  She's becoming quite the signer and is currently rocking the signs for: please, more, all done, hungry/thirsty and milk/nurse.  As far as "words" we've gotten some Mamas and Dadas that I'll go ahead and count as well as dog and "woooooo" when we read the train books.  Speaking of books, she's developed a new interest in them, which is good because I was not as diligent about reading to her early on as we were with Matthew.  In the interest of full-disclosure it was more like I was militant about James reading to Matthew because he was a much tougher baby and I needed that break where Catherine's been pretty easy going and I'm in charge of bedtime and not as militant with myself.  Shame on me.  

With regards to Catherine's easy-goingness, we've hit one snafu with some pretty serious separation anxiety that's cropped up over the past month or two.  For about 9 months we'd set her on the floor of daycare and she'd happily play or crawl away.  Now there's a bit of leg clinging - but if we hand her directly to one of her caregivers she's mostly good to go.  Most of this is I'm guessing just a developmental stage with a side of teething thrown in.    Speaking of teeth, Catherine now has 8 teeth up front and 2-3 molars in the back.  It's thrown her sleep off (which I shouldn't complain about as she was such a good sleeper for so long) but for the most part she's still sleeping through the night.  She's playing around with dropping her morning nap which is a blessing and a curse as it makes it easier to get out of the house in the morning but she definitely turns back into a pumpkin around noon.  

Regardless, Catherine is definitely our little ham and a big flirt!  She's generous with her smiles and laughter with a devilish little grin when she knows she's about to push the limits.  She is also fearless viewing the world as a challenge and approaches life's obstacles with the confidence of a 3 year old who's been there and done that.  She loves climbing, even if its just into and out of her booster seat on the ground or into and out of the camp chairs.   She's a pretty good eater and will try everything, but she rarely devours everything the way her brother did.  She also really enjoys sneaking food to the dogs.


Oh Matthew, what can I say?  Three is such a wonderful and tough age.  He's phasing out of his people-pleasing phase, developing real opinions and expressing them often and loudly.  When we're in the car he's taken to announcing "I don't like this end" or "I don't like this part" of drives.  I'm not certain what prompts this dislike but its certainly not unique to portions of town we drive through.  However, for as much as he expresses his distaste for things he also is developing likes and loves.  For a while he just loved James and I and his sister but recently he loves the park and our campsite and a variety of other things.  However, there is still nothing sweeter than when he cuddles up and announces "I love my mommy" or his half-asleep "love you" before bed.  And speaking of loving his sister, watching that relationship develop is like watching a love story that can turn into a train wreck at any moment.  For every time he is super protective and "mothering" to his sister there is another time (general only 5 seconds before or after) where he is specifically antagonizing her.  August was a terrible month for this so fingers crossed September brings some relief.  I know it's frightening when I hear my mother's tone/exact words come out of my mouth.  However, with my kids but its a thousand times worse when we're driving along and I hear *my* words/tone come out of Matthew's mouth.  When we're headed home somewhere and Catherine's fussing, he's in the back saying "It's okay Caff-rine, we're almost home, don't cry Catherine, don't cry."  This is the sweet portion.  Then when Catherine doesn't listen to him it escalates to "NO CRY CAFF-RINE NO CRY" accompanied with his own screaming and crying.  He's also picked up on the tone I use to make something sound exciting when its' not.  If he's trying to give Catherine a new toy because he wants to play with what she has, he definitely does a great faux-mommy-enthusiasm tone.  Awesome.  

When Matthew's not announcing his non-favorites, he's asking for his favorites.  From his dino pajamas (which must match and must not be daytime clothes) to his crocs vs. "people shoes" (Avengers) he certainly has an opinion.  We're working on manners like crazy these days, especially not interrupting.  Some of his favorite phrases are " 'cuse me mommy, 'cuse me mommy I have a question for you . . ." which is most often followed by some crazy question he's thought up to stall bedtime or for reassurance of what we've just said.  He's also going through an annoying phase where he asks both James and I every question or has to specifically tell us both something.  I don't think he's trying to play us off each other (yet) more just confirming we both have heard everything and that we know things like "this is Catherine's doll" or "I had two poops this morning".   Now if he's addressed one of us and the other answers he likes to say "no daddy, I was talking to mommy" even if he was planning of saying the exact same thing to the other parent not 2 seconds later.

His brain is constantly working and while he's picking up on abstract concepts he's often still a b&w thinker.  The other day we were at the grocery store and he was asking for toys. (as an aside really grocery stores? really?  Toys every 3 feet?  Shoot me.)  Anyway, I had explained to him that the only time we got to pick out a toy was when I said "Matthew, when we go in the store today you can pick out a toy" BEFORE we went inside.  Anyway, as we walk through the store Matthew keeps repeating this scenario and I get a little cocky because he was being so calm and rational about it.  When we get outside the store he tells me "Okay mommy.  Now you say 'Matthew, Matthew it's time to pick out a toy' and we go back in the store okay?"  At that point when I said no a total meltdown occurred.  I'm not certain why I was surprised since the boy refers to everything we've done in the past as "yesterday" and his thinking for the future only extends to about an hour.

When it comes to physical activities he's definitely coming into his own and can conquer just about any playground equipment and is starting to enjoy some minor risky behavior for fun, like sliding down the slide on his belly or balancing on something on one foot.  He also loves to chase and be chased and will now initiate games on his own "you chase me mommy then I chase you."  He's also developing budding friendships, complete with holding hands and hugs when we leave.  He thinks our neighbor girls are the bees knees and is constantly asking for them to come over or go play and he has a little best bud at school he gets excited to go see.  When we start his preschool co-op next month there will be 3 boys and one girl which is a huge change from seemingly every playgroup/daycare group he's been in where he was the only boy or one of few! 


When I'm not driving him crazy with some off the wall request, James is doing well and very busy at work.  After our AK vacation, to say he's in the hole regarding vacation days is an understatement.  (When James' company got bought out they bought out everyone's vacation so he's only been accruing since March.)  However, he has a great team leader who has been working with him to balance work and play this summer so after we got back from Alaska James took off for a few days exploring Northern CA with some high school friends.  The downside is that he's spent the last two weeks working nights and extra days to make up for it.  All the travel and work and life has definitely cut into his golf plans this summer but maybe he'll squeeze a few rounds in before the snow hits the courses.


Well, I guess my biggest news is that I am currently phasing out of my job.  I've struggled with this decision since last spring and after lots of discussion, James and I have agreed that my evening/weekend obligations weren't working well for anyone and weren't necessarily part of the life I wanted to build for our family.  While our symphony is busy growing and expanding and has been very flexible/supportive with me, there are just certain dates that I can't commit, nor will I ever want to commit, so it was better I step down.   I'll be participating in a preschool co-op for Matthew which I'm very excited about, as it gives me an opportunity to teach, as well as a few free mornings each month for some one-on-one time with Catherine.  I know that I will definitely miss the intellectual stimulation, peaceful office and adult interaction that work often provided but I trust in my support system and friends to help me through the crazy days.  I'm also working on focusing on some hobbies that will not only provide intellectual stimulation outside of the office but improve the household.  I struggled with this decision for a long time because I felt I was letting someone (the twenty-one year old me maybe?) down since I had what should have been "the best of both worlds".  However, I look around at my friends and families and see so many great and different combinations of parenting and working and have learned there's no "right" way for anyone but we definitely needed to try something new to find the best way for our family.  


Right now Iris is yowling at me for no discernable reason which is pretty much her constant state.  We're pretty certain her vocalizing is one of the reasons the kids don't sleep in much.  The only time its helpful is when she's outside and wants in.  We originally allowed the cats to be part-time outdoor cats because a) the dogs can let them out and were doing so and b) they would sneak out when Matthew went out.  Now Iris has taken to pawing at the sliding doors when she wants out.  Interestingly since they've been hanging out outside they tend to hiss at each other more.  I think they've found better friends down the block.  

Sky and June are about the same as always.  If they were to be dogshamed, it would be for eating sticks of butter or loaves of bread when we leave them out on the counter.  We're still working on fixing our gate as they've taken a few jaunts around the neighborhood, but they're getting easier and easier to find since they always go the same place.  Matthew's been working with the dogs on their manners as he says (screams) " 'cuse me Sky 'cuse me, get out the way" when Sky has taken to laying down in his path.  Sky's not really a huge fan of the kids unless they are throwing the ball.  June meanwhile really likes Catherine because a) she drops food for her and b) she generally has food on her face that she'll let June lick off.

So there is our life in a nutshell right now.  

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