Moments like these, I don't feel guilty or torn. I watch the big one giggle and share and jabber to the little one, and the little one sit there and smile as big as her smile can go. I can see clearly that neither of my babies is missing out on anything, because they have this. Yeah, I know not all moments of siblinghood will be this lovely ... but I'll love the lovely moments as they come.
(Yeah, they're topless. It's hot and they're messy and I've had it up to HERE with laundry anyway.)
And moments like this, I wonder how I ever lived without a baby girl to wrap in a fuzzy pink bunny towel.
And moments like this, I wonder what must go through a toddler boy's head. "I'd like to watch my show now. And I think I'd enjoy my show watching more thoroughly with a (creepyass) monkey on my head. Indeed, I think I'll do just that! Watch a show with a monkey on my head!"
And moments like this one, where my baby girl looks at me like I'm just about the neatest person in the whole wide world ... I melt. I'm the luckiest. Even if she is teething (YES, REALLY) and napless and waking me up more times a night than should be legal. Still ... oh, so lucky.
The day to day minutiae of raising two babies has left few precious minutes for blogging this past week. Rocking, feeding, cleaning, butt wiping, rocking, feeding, toddler chasing while baby wearing, weeping tears of grateful joy at 9pm when the house is quiet and I'm left alone with a handful of m&ms and some real housewives of wherever ... the usual.
EXCEPT Friday night, which was not usual, because I had a night out. I walked out of my house as the sun went down with house keys, lip gloss, and a cell phone. That was IT! I went around the block to the home of Sara, where she and Lisa had put together the sweetest 'welcome baby' party of all time. (Rescheduled from February, but hey, better late than never!) Good drinks, good treats, good friends, good music, and a very good reminder of how a few hours away from the little people does a mommy good. Even if the topics were decidedly mommyish (birthing, schooling, effects of birth month on lifetime success, the like). But still, nobody had to break mid-sentence to change a stinky diaper, so it was a successful party in my book.
And Saturday, this was the sight out my front door mid-afternoon:
Bwahaha. My in laws, here to deliver a chair and ottoman they were kind enough to have recovered for our house. And being the incredibly thoughtful people that they are, knowing my babies and I were napping (babies = napping, me = sleeping off Friday night's cosmos), they refrained from ringing the doorbell and set up camp on our front porch instead. There are other pictures from the quick visit from Mimi and Papaw, but I'm pretty sure my MIL would not appreciate me sharing, because they were ... uh ... humorously chaotic. Think a mysteriously shirtless Anderson and 2/4 subjects captured mid-blink.
Then yesterday, there was this:
Egads. That's my TEENY TINY NEARLY-NEWBORN daughter sitting in a high chair. Covered in slimy drool, but let's move on from that (and say a collective prayer that it's not the beginning of teething, which struck her big brother right about the age she happens to be just now and SO HELP ME GOD this child does NOT need another reason to NOT SLEEP). Um, where was I? So she's SITTING in that thing like she's a big girl and not a recent womb escapee. She's not eating just yet, but she was needing a better vantage point to keep an eye on mama and brother as we moved about the kitchen at mealtimes, and this fit the bill. In other 'world of Vivi' news, she's rolling. As in, she decided to start rolling over yesterday, and before an hour was up, she was rolling all the way across the bedroom. She's a go-getter, my girl. What she's NOT is a good sleeper these days. Every 3 hours last night, she was up and screaming. Her naps also bite, and she does her best to never take one when her brother is taking one, which ensures that I'm on duty every single minute of the day. I try to look on the bright side and appreciate that it gives me some one-on-one time with each child, and I do enjoy that immensely, but I'd also enjoy taking a potty break without an audience and/or paying bills without someone barfing on or ripping apart said bills.
And the Mister, he's just busy being two-in-September. Climbing, jumping, learning new words ("butt! butt! butt!"), testing boundaries. Being, as usual, really stinking cute. See?
Today was a pretty big deal. Our members-only, super exclusive pool was opened for the summer season. Not to sound all snobby about it, but it's a pretty perfect place. Private, selective, plenty of shade and snacks, filled with happy beautiful people frolicking in preppy plaid shorts and sunshadebathing in posh sunglasses.
Miss V clearly preferred lounging on her towel to the actual swimming thing. (Though the boogery cold she's fighting was probably the actual cause of her somber mood, poor poopsie.)
Even the neighbor's dog wanted in. Too bad, amigo, members only.
We're home. Remember that torturous outbound flight? The return made that seem like a snooze on the couch. Snotty noses, phlegmy coughs, a belligerent Benadrylled toddler. A sudden bout of motion sickness for me. At least one of us crying at all times. By the time I hauled the three of us off the plane, across the airport, inside the impossible-to-locate elevator, and into J's waiting arms ... I was all-out sobbing. And swearing never to fly solo with these children again until they're, like, college-aged. And even then, I'll probably pop a Valium first.
But we're home. And there's comfort in the familiarity of home, calmness in routine, renewed enjoyment of things that seemed ho-hum a few weeks back. Oh, and there's humidity and heat aplenty. Awesome. Oh, Texas summer, may you be brief and not make me sweat through three shirts a day.
A photo in honor of the Bug, on his 20-month birthday. (Now that we've reached the big 2-0, I think it's time to ditch the confusing month-by-month age report when asked how old my boy is. More concise to say "he'll be two in September", right? If I can get through that bit without choking on my sobs, that is. TWO?!?) The two-in-September kid, saying "goodbye, Pacific Ocean, you've been grand...."
PS: Here's a random PSA for all you baby mamas- did you know you can buy a replacement mattress for your Graco PNP (pack-and-play/playpen/whatever you prefer it called)? You can. And it's only $21 plus shipping, quite a lot easier to stomach than the $120ish you'd have to shell out to buy a whole new PNP in case, oh, I dunno, your cat gets into the bedroom when you're out of town and PEES in your baby's PNP for NO GOOD REASON AT ALL and is TOTALLY DEAD TO YOU. Ahem. The replacement parts are available through Graco's website (gracobaby.com). I don't work for Graco, just trying to save a PNP from the dump, which was where Vivi's was heading until I found the replacement mattress. Just FYI, YWIA.
(California edition of the standard issue monthly mug shot.)
She's goo'ing and gah'ing, she's smiling and widening those big blue eyes at every new sight and sound, and she makes me breathlessly giddy with anticipation for the future. The gauzy pink tutu she'll wear, the songs she'll make up and perform to a living room full of pets and stuffed bears (and maybe her brother, if he'll obey her commands), the sparkly pink girlness of it all. Though I never yearned for a daughter, three months in, I can't imagine life without this little girl of mine.
I spend so much time holding her, breathing her sweet baby scent, staring at her in awe. In awe that 90 days could really have passed us by since her first cries rang out. But also in awe that this is my life, my second baby. This life so full of babies that there's just not much room for anything but babies (including leg shaving, movie watching, wholesome meal eating, etc.) For it wasn't so long ago that I doubted there were babies in the cards at all. It was this week of May, 2007, that I found out our first baby wasn't going to be born in November as we'd been told by my doctor a month earlier. Our Turkey Baby, evaporating in the sad blink of the OB's eye as she put her hand on me and told me the heartbeat was gone. I stared at the ceiling as medical jargon filled one ear and went right out the other, knowing all that I needed to know: our first baby no longer existed in any way that mattered to anyone but us. On this day in 2007, I was in bed, recovering from surgery that finalized the loss. I laid there staring at the sun spots that moved across the wall as the hours dragged on, wanting to disappear with the spots into the darkness, refusing food or drink or anything that allowed for the possibility of life moving on without that baby. And it wouldn't get better anytime soon. Months would pass, I'd become pregnant again, tentatively this time, painfully long weeks of secrecy and all-consuming fear ... and I'd go through this cruel loss once more. Back to bed.
So there's awe now, every single day. Awe as I look back on those hundreds of blurry days that carried me from the lowest of low to the highest of high. In awe of these days of mothering. They are long days and messy days and days that often contain a fair share of frustration and stress and 'OMG, CHILD, WHY ARE YOU CRYING/THROWING MY CELL PHONE INTO THE TOILET/STRANGLING THE CAT AGAIN?!?' moments. But deep down, bubbling up through all the insanity that is 2u2 (or really, mothering of any number at any age), there's just awe at my fortune to be given these gifts. This week especially, as the sorrows of the past creep without warning into my private thoughts, as I let myself grieve a bit for the "what ifs" and consider what might have been as I lie in my bed late at night .... the awe, still, is bigger. I stood there on the sidewalk yesterday, V pressed to my chest letting out sweet sleepy baby sighs and A with his marveling grin, rocking back and forth on that plastic yellow horse .... and there was a feeling of contentment. Righteousness. I can't explain what the misery of miscarriage was for, why the desolate days had to come before the sunshine could reign. But I can tell you with all certainty that these babies are worth all of it. My life, with my J and my A and my V and my angel babies forever in my heart ... this life is just as it should be. And it's pretty awesome. Insanity and all.
Happy 3 months, baby Vivi. Thank you for making me a mommy once more, thank you for letting me watch you grow and sing you silly songs and thank you for smiling at your brother so brightly each and every time he looks at your face, making him giggle and beam up at me with pride. Thank you for showing your daddy that little girls are their own special kind of love, that he is softer than he knew. I can't imagine our family before you came along, so perfectly you complete us.
Today, we took a break from our busy playground-playing, beach-going agenda to do the tourist thing. Balboa Island was the destination for our touristy day.
Oh, what a picture perfect salt-scented island(ish peninsula) it is. There were harbors full of boats, yachts even. There were ice cream stands and touristy shops to buy sweatshirts to tell the world in big bold lettering that you'd visited Balboa Island (if you're into that sort of thing) and the types of boutiques where people buy $90 baby shoes without consideration. Sidewalk cafes to suit any craving. Big dogs and little dogs and friendly, well fed neighborhood birds. Quaint seaside houses snuggled side by side, looking like the stuff of a Pottery Barn summer catalog. A chugging ferry taking cars and people and bikes from Balboa to Newport and back again.
But nothing about Balboa Island had Anderson quite so smitten as the horse. (He is from Texas, yall. Yee Haw!)
The love between boy and beast was tentative at first.
But grandma fed the horsey two quarters, and he started with a lurch.
My boy decided this might be good.
Oh, yes. Very fun! Giddy-up!
He rode again and again and again.
Until sadly, we ran out of quarters.
Goodbyes are never easy.
And what about the little Miss, you ask? Did she enjoy the Balboa trip on her very last day of being a two month old?
Why yes, yes she did. That's contentment if ever I've seen it.
Could there be a better day to spend Mother's Day than like this? With my amazing mother, and with the sweet littles who made me a mother, too? Going to the beach by morning to play and introduce V to the ocean, and to LA by afternoon to see my sister's most adorable new big-girl flat? Of course, it would have been even better with J along, but he pulled through with a few (overnighted via Fed-Ex) cards that were totally appropriate and not depressing at all. So all in all ... a pretty perfect day of motherly celebration.
Bug and his Grandma
Vivian, meet beach!
Vivian, kind of "meh" about this beach thing.
Vivian, very sure this beach thing ISN'T FUN AT ALL!
And last night, there was celebration as well. We consumed a collective twenty bazillion calories at Buca di Beppo and drank some very tasty wine, and did all this as Anderson behaved jovially. See?
This never happened. It's a figment of your imagination. He also most definitely did not throw a cup on the floor and almost kill a waiter in doing so OR eat half of a crayon. Nope. Not my boy!
And then there was this very sweet moment driving home where Miss V cooed sweetly to her mama. (I think she was saying "mommy, I'll never pull that crap in a restaurant! I'm too pretty to behave in such an unsavory manner!")
When they weren't examining exhibits pensively (W) and running around like a fruit-loop (A).
We rode an airplane ride round and round and round.
The boys clapped and laughed, the moms tried not to barf.
My Bug ate Cheetos for lunch.
Because anything goes on super special mother-son days.
The mini road trip was the start of so many fun traditions. Fun filled one-on-one days, mama with a single child's hand to hold, a day where there's no attention to split. No mama guilt (that thing I carry so heavily these days) that while I beam at one, the other is in the shadows- there are no shadows on these one-on-one days. The "left behind" child enjoying some special attention from the grandparents, some solo spoiling, time for grandma and grandpa to get to know their first granddaughter without big brother stealing the show. Cozy happy evenings at the house of friends, where wine is consumed as we wear pajamas on the couch and thoughts are shared and more often than not, we are taking the words from one another's mouths. (And wishing the distance between our house and theirs was a few miles, not a few thousand.) Where we realize this is the first time in our four years of friendship that we've shared a drink, so busy we've been having four children in four years, one of us pregnant each time we met.
So clearly, the trip is going well. My baby sister has arrived from LA, and a (one day early) Mother's Day celebration is planned for later today. A beach trip in the morning, Vivi's first, cameras at the ready when her long baby toes reach down to touch the ocean for the very first time in her life. We await the return of little brother from Europe next week, more trips to the park (where there are no mommies, only nannies, because California moms don't do parks), and maybe another pull through the Weiner Schnitzel drive-thru if I'm really lucky. And we're just not thinking about the fact that to get home, I'm going to need to board another plane with two little children for three painful hours of screaming and puking and me longing for vodka. Nope, not thinking about that.
To all my mommy friends, happy mother's day to you. Here's hoping your husband pulls through with a sweet card at least, a shiny bauble at best, and that if it is a card you receive tomorrow morning - it's nothing like the misguided card I received last year. (Love you, J! You tried, Sparky, and that's what counts. But you're never living that one down.)
Well, stick another patch on my 2u2 vest ... the "flying solo with two babies" patch. And people, I EARNED THIS unenviable patch like Phyllis Neffler earned that wilderness patch. The three hour flight from there to here? Every bit as awful as I'd imagined it might be. Maybe kind of worse, since I hadn't imagined BachelorPartyGuy sitting beside me smelling like last night's whiskey and passing foul gas every 10 minutes that had me thinking one of my kids had pooped their pants.
See this guy? Happy as a clam in the Austin airport, California dreamin' with his daddy's sunshades in place?
He tricked me into thinking this was going to go smashingly well, that I'd be a source of inspiration to my fellow 2u2 mamas with upcoming travel plans, reporting back to my blog with good news. I fancied myself a pro at traveling with a child after the many trips A and I made in his first 17 months, and figured it couldn't be that much harder with two. Tell you it was a breeze and the children behaved beautifully and I actually had a moment to sip my Sprite before someone kicked my tray table and dumped it all over the freaking place .... but no dice. It sucked. When one wasn't screaming, the other one was. The little one pooped (loudly) just as the plane took off. The big one ripped my UsWeekly to pieces when I was in the bathroom changing the little one. The little one spit up right down my shirt into my bra. The big one screamed ear piercing screams when I refused to let him out of his seat an hour in, then moved onto kicks and slamming his hand against the window OVER AND OVER AGAIN when screaming didn't get him set free. Neither child slept one single wink from takeoff to touch down. It was only a small pile of animal crackers and a record-breaking FIVE showings of Baby Einstein that got us through. Oh, and the cup full of ice I requested from the flight attendant after punching the "HELP" button in a panic - a last-ditch effort to make Anderson stop screaming. A cup of ice which, of course, he promptly dumped onto his shorts and all over his seat. A cup of ice I still let him eat, as he plucked it piece by melting piece off of his germ covered airplane seat. I squelched my germophobic anxiety and let him be because it made him quiet as I stood in front of my seat bouncing his squealing, squirming baby sister who would only cease the squealing if I stood. And bounced.
Fortunately, I really really love my parents (and sister and brother who will be here soon and the friends we'll see later this week) and I also really really love California and I also really really love having a hand with my kids, a much-needed change of scenery. We've spent this Monday recuperating and relaxing and strolling to the neighborhood cafe for my favorite BLTA sandwich, and after naps, taking the littles to the pool. So the misery was worthwhile, even if I was blinking back tears last night when we emerged from that plane all disheveled and sweaty and wet-butted from the melted ice, two bug-eyed babes up way past their bedtimes and one mom wondering WHAT THE HELL I WAS THINKING EVER GETTING ON THAT PLANE. Oh, and with 100+ pairs of eyeballs glaring the stinkiest of stink-eyes at us. Like nobody had ever seen a pair of cranky post-bedtime kids on a plane. As we stood planeside waiting for the stroller to come out so we could run through the airport and into my mom's waiting arms, those passengers who weren't giving me the stink-eye paused to tell me how "brave" I was. And by "brave", I'm pretty sure they meant "insane".
The one high note of the travel? Discovering I hadn't wasted $79 of my J's hard-earned dollars buying this CARES Harness. Seriously? Best. Purchase. Ever. No need to haul a bulky car seat through the airport, since this contraption basically turns your child's airplane seat into a car seat. I highly recommend it to anyone brave insane enough to travel with a kid or two.