26 June 2009

Things I Have Pulled Out of Annika's Mouth While She Screams Like a Starving Child Chewing on Her Last Bread Crust

1. Small pebble
2. Piece of bark (at the playground)
3. Piece of blue yarn (from the debris of one of Katrina's many art projects)
4. Small square of Scotch tape (ditto)
5. Desiccated cherry pit with stem still attached (cherry tree + brick patio = cherries tracked in on bottoms of shoes)
6. Little tangle of hair
7. Dirt
8. Dried-up scrap of green bean that she evidently scraped from the tile floor with her fingernails
9. Scrap of paper napkin from under kitchen table
10. Pieces of board book that she chewed on until wet and then apparently peeled off and put in mouth (I thought board books were meant to be relatively immune to chewing? Isn't that the point?)
11. Lint and fuzz of every description
12. Paper of every description
13. A pink fabric star with white bead in the middle that fell off one of Katrina's hair thingies
14. Fake plastic coin from Katrina's play cash register (I'm sensing a theme here. Soon they will be banning older siblings as choking hazards.)
15. An inch-long broken-off stick of some sort. I still don't know what it was from or how it came to be on my kitchen floor.
16. Her glasses

Things I Have Given Up On

1. Food that she threw or dropped from her high chair in a fit of disdain--whyever would you think I wanted more of this, this, SLOP?--looks pretty tasty lying there on the floor under the table. Eh, at least it's food. I'm thinking of putting a bowl on the floor for her when she gets fussy sitting at the table.

Thing That I DIDN'T Pull Out of Her Mouth in Time--I Know, Because I Saw It, er, LATER

1. Purple sequin (from aforementioned art projects). Still glittering amidst the, well, you get the picture.

Random Cuteness to Get Your Mind Off the Sequin

Who needs TV when you have a frontloading washing machine with see-through door?

The real question is, Mama, can I eat that?

How about that?

Yay keys! I wonder what THEY taste like?

19 June 2009

7 Quick Takes

We're moving in...oh, about two or three weeks. Yikes! We found a house closer to Katrina's school and to the base. It's a duplex with four bedrooms on the same floor; a smallish kitchen (true of nearly all German houses, though); a nice-sized family/dining room area; big windows that look out onto a grassy backyard with climb-able trees and some woods beyond; and a finished loft-like attic. We're looking forward to living in a place with a more reasonable layout than the one we've got. I will be sad to leave the little town we're in now, which has a playground around the corner and a wonderful woodsy park with a lake just up the hill. We're only 10 minutes away, though, so we can always drive to Baerenloch.

Annika finally started crawling a few days ago. It's been a very frustrating month or so for her. She could get up on her hands and knees and rock, but she couldn't figure out how to go anywhere. Or she would push herself backward with her hands while trying to go forward. Much frustrated screaming ensued. She's still tentative and slow, dragging her knees slightly, but she can go forward, as well as go from sitting position to crawling position and back again. About four hours after she crawled for the first time, she tried to pull herself up on the coffee table.

I was so proud of Katrina on Annika's birthday. Katrina was VERY excited (to the point of us telling her to CALM DOWN, for the love of Pete) for her sister. There was no evidence of jealousy, only being happy for her. Of course, Katrina DID get to open all of Annika's presents for her, so that might have helped.

Also, Katrina had it in her head that Annika would magically be able to say "mama" and "papa" when she turned one. So her greeting to Annika Wednesday morning was "Annika! It's your first birthday today! You can say Mama and Papa now! Can you say Mama? Mama?" And Annika obediently said, "mama," and Katrina applauded.

Of course, Annika's been saying "mama" for weeks. She doesn't appear to attach any particular meaning to it, though. But hey, she's not saying "papa" yet. Katrina said "papa" first, so I guess it's my turn in the sun.

When you have a sensitive, intense child, it is hard to know if the other kids are truly picking on her, or if it is just her interpretation of events. The other day, Katrina complained that another girl called her a "crybaby." Why did she call you that? we asked. "Because I was crying," she said in an injured tone. Why were you crying? "Because [two of the boys] were singing really LOUD and it hurt my ears so I was crying a little bit and then she called me a crybaby."

And then we tried to figure out how to put it to her gently that, maybe she should have walked away from the loudness and NOT cried.

I'm a little worried about her little heart being regularly broken because she has no "armor". No concept of self-defense socially. I don't know how to teach her that, though.

I'm a bit addicted to Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. I figured out why...it's fast-moving, and totally absorbing. An ideal way to forget about the laundry that needs folded, the stack of I-don't-know-what on the coffee table, the insanity that is moving, the planning of Katrina's birthday party, the insanity that is traveling with a 7-yr-old and a 1-yr-old on a transatlantic flight in a month...

I put it off as long as I could.

We picked them up yesterday. She's smiling here, but she is not pleased with the glasses. If I can get them on her and then distract her right away, she'll keep them on for a while. Until she tries to rub her eyes. Then she starts crying and pulling them off. They hit the kitchen floor this morning while she was eating breakfast. Good thing they're plastic.

Time to go wake the bespectacled one and take her for her well-baby check-up. Let's see...cake on Wednesday, glasses on Thursday, shots on Friday. Turning 1 is so fun! I wouldn't blame her if she were mighty suspicious the next time we give her cake.

Cake? What diabolical plan are you hatching NOW, mother?

For more quick takes, go to Conversion Diary.

17 June 2009

First Birthday

I've been writing two posts...in my head. So, looking back at the past year will have to wait. But here's what happened today!

This is at 6:50 am. Annika woke up at 5:30, Katrina at 6:15. Katrina has been looking at Annika's birthday packages for a week. She begged to open "just one" this morning, so I let her.

After dinner, we opened the others. Or, rather, Katrina did.


She wasn't too sure about the squishy icing at first. But all it took was one taste.

Oops. Dropped some. Must squish it in my lap.

Yay, cake!!

Ew! She's all messy!

Wait a minute! Where'd the cake go? I want more cake!


13 June 2009

Growing Girl

This is how Gerber packages its food for toddlers. One jar = one serving.

Annika's dinner the other night consisted of about a half-cup of peas and this:

Yes, the entire can (sans syrup). Just for comparison:

Plus random bits off of my plate when the rest of us ate dinner. Maybe she's hitting a growth spurt. And I'm sure that that many peaches must put hair on your...

Uh, never mind.

Don't you make fun of my hair!

And don't mess with my peaches. I mean it.

05 June 2009

7 Quick Takes

Today is "Funky Hair Day" at Katrina's school. I am SO not good with hair, but I gave it my best shot and Katrina was happy, which is all that matters. It helps that we ran out to the 1 Euro store yesterday afternoon and found spray-on temporary hair color and hair glitter. There was a note on the hair color that it could stain blonde and fine hair. We did a test last night and it washed out, but I'll be crossing my fingers that she won't have red streaks for months to come.

I've finally instituted a regular afternoon nap for Annika. She had been napping at about 10 am and then not tired again until abut 2:30 or 3...which is when we have to go pick up Katrina from school. So the poor baby was cat-napping in the car or not napping at all in the afternoons. I picked up Weissbluth again and realized the problem was that the morning nap was too late. So, moved it back to between 9 and 9:30, and putting her back down at 2. I probably should try to move that back to 1:30 or so, but haven't gotten there yet.

She has stopped falling asleep on me, though, so it is books, bottle and singing, and then crib, with screaming. Unlike Katrina, Annika generally cries for about 5 minutes and then is OUT. Katrina had the capacity to cry for 30-45 minutes. It was awful, but we were out of options by the time we did it. (Around 12 months, as a matter of fact.)

Except for yesterday afternoon, when Annika cried for about 20 minutes before snoozing. Then I had to wake her to pick up Katrina and found Annika had pooped before falling asleep. Mean mommy.

Annika is also eating mostly table food now. I'm trying to keep her gluten free for a few more months yet (did the same with Katrina), which is actually difficult. Typical toddler food is bread and crackers and pasta. GF bread is really too dense for a baby. But GF spaghetti is downright yummy...and just as messy as regular spaghetti.

I'm recommitting to writing every day. Not necessarily here, although I do want to start posting more frequently. Since Annika's naps are more predictable now, and (ssshh! do not want to jinx it) she seems to be sleeping through the night with some regularity, I am less brain-fogged, as well. I do have a piece of fiction that I've been tinkering at on and off for a number of years, and I just want to see if there's anything there. Even if it's bad, I want to COMPLETE it. Completing things is a big deal, because I am a great idea person, and a great starter, but not so great with the follow through. 15 minutes a day writing, every weekday, during the morning nap. You heard it here. I managed three days this week. Ahem. But three is better than none!

We're looking for a bigger house to rent. Baby has moved from tucked into a corner of our room to tucked into a corner of hubby's office. Along with the guest bed. But we are particular as to where we want to move, either staying in the same town or moving into the same town as Katrina's school (where rentals go like hotcakes). It's a risk, as hubby's contract is kind of up in the air. But we've finally learned that hubby's contract is ALWAYS up in the air. We regret not moving when we had the chance last spring. But it seemed overwhelming at the time, to pregnant, anxiety-ridden me. So we're trying again. My wants are simple...for all the bedrooms to be on the same floor so I don't have to run down the steps in the middle of the night, and enough rooms so that baby doesn't have to bunk in with the computers.

Thanks to an AFN radio spot, I learned that the German Spargel is exactly the same plant as the American green asparagus. It is white because the Germans bury it to keep it from making chlorophyll. Supposedly it has a sweeter, lighter taste that way.

Still am not eating ghostly fingers. I don't care how sweet it is.

Oh, yes, forgot the funniest story of the week. After several weeks of taking showers, Katrina decided one evening to take a bath along with Annika. Things were going swimmingly, according to hubby, who is Appointed Baby Bath Master. Until (for the first time in her short life) Annika pooped in the bathtub. Katrina never moved so fast in her life. OUT of the bath and into the shower, along with a solemn vow, "I am NEVER taking a bath again!"

So far, she hasn't.

For more quick takes (probably with fewer poop-related stories), check out Conversion Diary.

01 June 2009

Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Today is Katrina's first day back at school after her week-and-a-half term break. She has about 6 more weeks of school. Now is when we pay the price for the three-term system. More vacation during the year, which I think helps with the spring school-fatigue factor. But less summer vacation, as school runs until July 21 and starts up again the first week of September.

For me, the passing of time becomes more evident in the spring. The end of the school year, the girls' birthdays drawing near, my birthday in the not-too-distant past. Last year at this time, I was still pregnant, and expecting at least a few weeks alone at home with Katrina before the baby came. I never got those weeks, as Annika decided that the first day of summer vacation was a good time to make her move.

It's been a tough year for Katrina. She does not do change well, a characteristic she probably got from me. She is most happy when everything goes exactly as she expects...which, of course, almost never happens. A baby sister was not expected nor wanted, but now that she's here, Katrina loves her and worries over her and makes her giggle like no other person can.

Oh, but the anger is right there, too. And the anxiety. Our oldest girl feels so deeply...both the highs and the lows. And she speaks about it so rarely, whether because she doesn't have the words yet, or she doesn't want to, I'm not sure. Her swim teacher (who also majored in child psychology) said last fall that Katrina takes everything on her own shoulders. My girl needs to (?) or can't help but notice everything and everyone around her. It is a burden to her, at times, I think. She worries too much. Everything should be just right...even herself. When it is not, frustration ensues. She does not want to make mistakes.

I wish I could say I can't imagine how that feels, but I do. I recognize the frustration, the perfectionism. It makes me sad to realize that that internal pressure that I've struggled with for so many years (and have only partially overcome, in no small part due to becoming a mother) is also manifesting in my daughter. I wonder whether it is a genetic predisposition, or caused by mothering missteps or 6 years spent as an only child, or, or, or...

I worry. Some days I think we're too hard on her. Other days I'm sure we don't demand enough. Some days she has a perpetual scowl on her face. Other days, she is excited and expansive. Until she asks what's for dinner and I give the "wrong" answer. "Oh, WHY don't we ever have pizza?" she wails. Even if we just had it less than a week ago. And I wonder just how my happy little 6-year-old can turn into a sulky teenager in under a minute.

But then there are the days when I fall in love with her all over again. When I make her turn off the TV and computer and tell her to find something to do that doesn't involve a screen. And I come back from putting the baby down for a nap and find this:

That is her list of things to do. 1. Book, 2. Play with stuffed animals, 3. Art. She has already read a book, she said, and was playing with her WebKinz. Pretty soon she hauled out some art supplies and found directions for 3-D pictures.

Of course, I had to talk her down after the glue didn't stick as quickly and easily as she thought it should. But I was proud of her for being so self-directed.

Another day, she knocked on the neighbor's door and asked if the kids could take a walk with us. And as she and her little friends hurtled down the path in front of me, I could almost see the tension slipping away from her. And I remember last week, when she hunted tadpoles in the lake. And last year, when we tramped through the woods. And I remind myself that my little girl needs to be outside, even if she herself would rather watch TV. Even if *I* would rather read while she watched TV. And I vow to get over my tiredness and my comfort and my agenda and put her need to absorb the sunshine and get wet and dirty and breathe the spring air above my own wishes to get work done in the house or just to relax for a few minutes I've been going all day for Pete's sake!

And I wonder which one of us is growing up the most.