31 for 21: Day 12


“You angy Mommie? Angy at me Mommie?”

Her voice is small and impartial. Yet it rings out full of wonder like she asked me why the sky is blue. No preconceived notions or baggage with her observation- just that- an observation. We had been running late and I had raised my voice at the chaos around me while we tried to get where we were going in a somewhat timely fashion. My raised voice had been met by a wall of silence. An overreaction on my part? Probably. People are late. I should get over it. It’s hard to think and process in a calm and orderly fashion when the daily three-ring circus has its tent up over you.

And then, Sugarplum’s small voice innocently stepped in and I cringed. It broke through that angry red veil covering what I saw. That sheet of anger that once it is rolled out, bleeds into your interpretation of what’s going on around you. You stop just seeing the situation as something to just be in and you start judging and complaining.

“No Sugarplum. I’m not angry at you. Sorry I raised my voice. I was just frustrated that we hadn’t already left.”

“You angy Daddy?”

And then I get it. She’s asking me why I’m acting the way I am- why my voice was loud and my face contorted and why the steam came out of my ears- or maybe I the only one who saw that part. And she’s internalizing my answer. Out of our three children who I have felt love, anger, frustration, sadness and every emotion under the sun from and with she’s the first one to ask me how I feel and why in her little girl way. She’s learning how this world works around her and what we should do in a given situation. At such a young age she is already so reflective. She’s always been that way though. Since she could hoist herself up on her own two small feet, you could find her with her hands entwined behind her back watching from the fringe of the ruckus and actually deciding whether or not to jump in. She has a similar emotional intelligence to the Quail. I don’t want her to learn to be angry when things don’t go her way. I don’t want her to feel that the right thing to do when you are frustrated is to yell. I don’t want her to think that I can’t own my own feelings and blame them on her or her sisters. Or her Daddy. And suddenly the important thing in that moment is no longer the rush to get where we are going. The important thing in that moment is to say sorry because I got something wrong. Not wrong for feeling angry- but wrong in my choice of what to do with it.

People are kind. When you tell stories like this, people are quick to tell about how they hate to be late, and how it’s hard to be calm when you are tired from a long day. And how they don’t know how you do it. And while I appreciate those validators. I still need to control my reactions better. I don’t hit. I explain the whys, and whens and hows and whats. Sometimes calmly. Sometimes angrily. Sometimes after the third time-out and sometimes after getting sucked into a circular debate around it during the time-out.

“I said put that down now!” With anger in my voice, I reach over and pull the beeping timer that has been set off out of Sugarplum’s small hands. I was doing some exercise for 1.5 minutes of my morning before the sun came up. And as I planked breathing deeply with my eyes closed I heard the time I had set beeping too soon. When I opened them in frustration the first word out of my mouth is, “No. Put it back. No. Stop.” I didn’t reach over and take it right away. I felt angry that my personal minute was being wrenched out of my grasp. The minute my frustration morphed into anger it registered across Sugarplum’s small face as every small muscle contorted in disappointment and a crocodile tear splashed on to the carpet. She was just curious. Not naughty. Not obstinate. Not even mischievous. Just curious. And that isn’t something to be angry over. I closed my eyes, set down the timer and sat up. The minute my legs crossed, she pooled herself into them, her small piggy-tail poking me in the nose as I cradled her closer to me. I waited for her breathing to soften and told her that I was angry that time that she didn’t hand back the timer when I had asked her to. That mommy was using it and needed to finish before I could play with her. She sniffled and pressed her wet face into my neck and I said a silent prayer of gratitude that she can still fling herself into me after an upset. Because that doesn’t always happen so easily anymore as they grow up and away from me. The Quail, she stands her ground. Zuzu when she’s angry though, now moves physically away rather than towards me. It’s this developmental progression that I’m sad to witness. It’s one that I worry how I’m influencing. It’s a model for the girls that I’m not happy with and want to change.

I’ve talked about anger before on here. Others talk about anger and it makes me feel so very much better. To know that we aren’t in it alone. That wanting to be different is half the battle. It would be dishonest to pretend it doesn’t have a presence in our lives. The key is making sure it isn’t an overwhelming presence. And I don’t think that it is for us. Beyond the obvious cares we need to take with our health and wellness, I think the key is in talking about it and moving on. To not ruminate over it. To not be ashamed for being, and well; feeling human. To take that humanity and validate it in ourselves as well as others. To not let it consume my interpretation of how good of a mother I am or am even capable of being. To not let the mere fact of it arrest my own development in this journey. Because it is a journey. None of us are born mothers. I think talking about when we feel angry can lead to…happiness. Not happiness ever after- but an internal calm and ability to not make each molehill a mountain that we can’t bare to climb down from.

Anger happens.

Happiness happens.

Each day happens.

And hopefully the next day does too. There are no perfect mothers, just perfect moments within motherhood. And if we can climb down off our mountain those days will be there waiting for us- and if we can’t get to dinner on time yet again, hopefully we’ll at least find our way off the mountain in time to begin again.

Sugarplum is Two!

Happy Second Birthday Sugarplum!

Last June is really when the baby to tiny person transformation began for you. Literally over the course of one extended weekend, when your Daddy was away at work and your Grandma & Grandpa were here to visit, you became a little kid: climbing, hollering, running, rascaling and quietly contemplating your world around in between. It was startlingly noticeable. Prior to that we had the sweetest, gentlest first year with you- your calm was what people- strangers, friends and family alike were most likely to remark on. You eased us into your strong, confident, proud, thoughtful and enigmatic little personality. You moved from sweet little baby mews to slightly French sounding lyrical babbles to tiny sentences where I can make out about ¾ of your words, but 100% of your intent. Your intent. You might be the youngest intentional person I know. You are calm when included and respected. Often standing with your hands resting behind your back as you observe before barreling in. And yes, when you are ready- you do barrel in. Your confident little twist of the hips and pump of your chubby fists as you join your sisters in their mischief still makes me chuckle. When told no though, even in the softest and gentlest of tones, your face crumples, your lip bird-perches and your wails are nearly inconsolable. Inconsolable indeed. Your routines are important and known to you. Each night after you blow your sister’s kisses and reach up or over to me you let me know- “Nawneh. Side.” You scour the room for your favorite dozen lovies and blankets before settling in. The funny thing is, that dozen shifts almost every night- but be rest assured you know which ones you want to cuddle. When Daddy lies down with us you reach your sweet hand over to pat-pat him. Audibly sighing as you nurse on.

You started sleeping through the night just after this past Christmas. You were ready. You were sad. But you didn’t cry, we talked about it before going to bed. You woke, you said, “Mommy help”  (note you’ve claimed me as your Mommy- while your sisters insist I am Momma) and I would wake and hold you close to me until your soft body settled back in to slumber. Now nearly four months later it’s a rare night that you wake- and you know to let us know you need to be held for a minute and then back to sleep you go.

In the morning when you get your diaper changed you start calling out your clothes- shirt, fweater, socks, pants, shoes! You know what you want to wear. Sweet baby girl- your quirks and preferences are all your own- and we’re so very blessed that you in all your you-ness are all ours. Love you sweet girl.


Some favorites that have surfaced over the last year:

Favorite TV Show: Elmo

Favorite Games: whatever her sisters are playing be it a board game, card game, painting, drawing or reading- she expects them to make a place for her.

Favorite Toys: cars, swings, books, blankies (babies you call them) and snuggly lovies

Favorite Breakfast: dry cheerios, raisins (ray-ray you say) and a cup of kefir

Favorite Lunch or Dinner: meatballs (eye-balls you call them) or cheese pizza on Friday night in movie and living room picnic style.

Favorite Fruit: bananas

Favorite Dessert: not much of a sweet tooth here- she will eat cake and ice cream for a celebration, but more than a few times I’ve found a half cookie left on her tray at the end of a meal

Favorite Drink: nawneh, kefir and a bottle of milk with Daddy


five minute friday: see

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.



“Nooooooooooo!!!!” She sits herself up and looks me square in the eye while shoving away my offering. I close my eyes silently wondering how to respond. It’s been a week now that she has slept clear through the night. No more waking to nurse. This is good. This is necessary. She was ready and so was I. And besides, we still have our regular evening intervals of comfort. She’s still my baby. At 20 months.

Make that 21.

“Do you want to just go to bed?” I scoot up to the head of the bed and pick up her rabbit lovey with its worn, soft blue fleece middle and floppy brown ears. Again she screams at me and tries to lay herself back down. “Naa-neh. Momma. Help.” 

Nursing a toddler. A very strong-willed toddler. She toddles daily now between independence and reliance. We all do. We all watch her as she moves through these next steps. Trying to see where she leads. Trying to follow her lead.

I lay back down and roll over to reach for her and again she shoves me away. Something is just not exactly right. She’s particular now. Her little mind ever expanding at a literally mind-blowing speed.  Her perfect rosebud of a mouth working hard to keep up.

Her cries of “Naa-neh” morph into “Narney”. Barney. The beloved purple dinosaur that her and the Quail agree is the bee’s knees. I pull him out of her pack-n-play along with the two Aden & Anais gauzies and the purple fleece that she routinely sleeps with.  Pulling them to her face she reaches over to her Dad who has come in during this scene and pats his arm, settles back and latches on.

For now.

For not much longer I see.


The Daily Sugarplum

Oh we love our daily dose of Sugarplum. She is days shy of 17 months old now. 17 months sounds so short and yet feels like she has always been. Our mad monstrous crush on her has yet to fade. The quiet, solemn, shy-smile of a heart has maintained its position in how she interacts but it is now only one piece of who she is with us.

She still sleeps in our room. I can’t quite bring myself to move her into the waiting crib in the girls’ room. Partially for selfish reasons- the need to keep our last baby close and partially for her own sake- of letting her continue to linger in dreamland come the rise of the morning sun when her energizer bunny of a sisterhood wakes and crashes into the day taking no prisoners.

She alternates when she goes to bed at night. I know you aren’t supposed to do that. And generally I’m all for having a consistent schedule so she knows what to expect. But, I’d like her to be included in story time and she often can’t quite keep her tired self content long enough to make it through Curious George’s latest antics.  We gather on the girls’ bed after each has picked a nighttime story and she wanders on and off enjoying the free reign of the floor while her sisters are captivated in the story. We try to have her sit with us reminding us all of our “story-time manners” but she has other ideas and will usually pounce on her sisters until we set her back on the rug to play. The nighttime cat crazies have curbed though. Her energy is waning by 8 and she’s ready to blow her moi-smacking  kisses to her sisters and be carried off to nurse and “Good Night Moon” the items in our room.

She knows what to expect and looks from the mirror to the family picture to the TV to the books to the lamp to her bunny lovey and settles easily into the pack-n-play after a nursing. What I really would love would be for her sleep all night. Lucky for her I’m too tired these days to enforce it. She will typically wake one time at night. She doesn’t cry. She starts by chanting Momma. Usually as I lean over to pick her up she’ll grab a lovey and reach for me. On the nights that I’m too tired to respond quickly though, she moves from the Momma chant to a steady cough to an all-out cry of despair.  If she’s sick or teething she may wake again but I feel safe calling her pattern of wakings single. Zuzu was still in our bed at this age and it was around now that she developed a habit of waking every two hours to nurse. If that pattern starts with Sugarplum, I’m guessing my motivation to get her out of the room and fully night-weaned will get much stronger pretty quickly.

Come morning when she is ready to get up though if you aren’t still in the room you’ll find her lovies and blankets oomphed onto the floor. Once she is ready to go she is generally pretty cheerful about it. It’s not uncommon to see her at some point in the day go back to retrieve a lovey or blankie from the floor and carry it around Linus style. As a former, blankie-lovie addict, I’m charmed to say the least.

During the day she still gets a cuddle-bottle with her Dad. It’s a special time for them. It hasn’t hindered her willingness to drink from a sippy cup and I can relate to not wanting to quite give up babyhood yet. We did at least finally move her over to a big-kid carseat. Granted long after she should have, but still she rides happily rear-facing now.  On the weekends though, just about anytime she toddles into a room and spies me at a computer, she goes over to where her boppy nursing pillow and an extra blankie are stored and manages to haul them out of their basket and drag them over to me, whether she’s recently eaten or not. The first time she did it I laughed in delight. Now, well I admit I wouldn’t mind some computer time on my own.

She moved into the one year old room at school and seems to enjoy her buddies, her teacher and the routines. She’s a pretty easy-going learner. She loves going to school. In fact just about the time anyone else gets ready to go anywhere in the house she runs to her shoe box and pulls out a matching pair, takes them to the nearest person with coordinated fine-motor skills, says “Shoe” and plops down to wait patiently for them to be put on her.

She’s been to the doctor quite a bit in this last month. Unfortunately when she gets sick she goes all in. A virus got her, shortly after a cold had gotten her and she was still miserable even after her fever had broke and her rash had faded. She’s had difficulty with her hemoglobin levels and since her 12 month check we’ve had to supplement her food with extra iron in the form of poly-vi-sol. This little girl is not a happy eater. She’s not a huge fan of sweets and generally stays to the meat flavored food variety, but still doesn’t eat her table food with much gusto. The supplement is helping though and at her last visit the hemoglobin level was back up around 11.2. In spite of all of this she’s managed to maintain good weight and height gains and at just under 17 months weighs in at 23.4 lbs and 31.25 inches so we aren’t too worried. Her VSD is almost gone. We had a brief moment of whooping joy thinking it was entirely gone when it couldn’t be spied on her recent echocardiogram, but unfortunately the good Dr. Lucas could still hear it. He said since we can’t see it though it has definitely made progress towards closing and might only be a hair’s width in size. Her functionally bicuspid aortic valve is behaving as well. Her growth since our last visit has been steady and the valve has kept pace. Apparently with type of congenital defect you often end up with some stenosis in the valve during the most rapid growth times, fortunately that hasn’t been the case for her. As she grows and her personality and preferences develop we’ll have to see and adjust how frequently she gets checked. If she is an active, athletic child we’ll stick to annual visits for activity clearance. If she goes the more quiet, scholarly route we may be released to every other year visits until she comes closer to her teenage growth spurt. For now, though she is doing well and is symptom free in terms of cardiac concerns. For that we are grateful.

Her other love that has developed over the summer is for that furry red guy known as Elmo. She’ll happily watch Barney with the Quail, but as soon as she spies the credits, she is up and chanting “More Mo” to anyone who can reach the remote.

And last but not least, is her chatter. She is willing to attempt to repeat on request just about any word you say to her. Diaper, Momma, Abby, Emma, Dada, bottle, diaper, more, all-done, nose, mouth, Elmo, shoe, shirt, bye are the clearest. She probably has a word for Maddie, but I’m not clear what it is. She often calls herself Momma and takes a little coaxing to convince her she actually is separate from me J Our girls are still her biggest fans and Zuzu takes pride in carefully carrying her from one place to the next. Which of course means that Zuzu’s mini-me wants in on the carrying action as well much to Sugarplum’s dismay. The Quail has to settle with just dressing her in a pint-sized apron and including her in her cooking class.

The other funny thing I’ve noticed is the difference in how the girls respond to discipline at their young ages. Sugarplum definitely share’s her sister’s rascally nature. If she gets ahold of an item that clearly belongs or is coveted by another family member she flashes a grin and a giggle over her shoulder as she toddles off with it. And that grin and giggle are there when she is lifted off of a table top and out of whatever cabinet she has taken it upon herself to empty. But her response to being told no is definitely more dramatic than her sisters. At a young age Zuzu did not respond to the word No with much emotion. No was a fact of life, but not one that upset her. The Quail, well she responds to knows with her most charming grin in hopes that you’ll change your mind in her case. Sugarplum though, has only to hear the whisper of no and the pressing of your fingers to the thumb in the signing of no for her spirit to crumble and the crocodile tears to wail out of her. She certainly is less accustomed to being told no. Most of the no’s in the house are directed at keeping her sister’s in line and on task, and she’s quick to lean in and shake a finger at them right alongside the parent in charge. So that response might fade over time, but for now, we try to keep our directives less soul-wrenching for her sake.

This sweet, spirited little sprite of a girl makes my heart soar as she blows her kisses, giggles her grins and nurses us both into a comfortable daze each day. We are so blessed.

back to school week

…is officially behind us and it’s been a busy one for the Sistred. They each have big changes coming this fall and being the happy little nerds that we are- we’re excited!

Zuzu has finished up her first summer of daycamp. She attended the same facility that she always has but for her age group the summer includes additional outings and activities during the week. Last spring, shortly after we told Zuzu that she was officially signed up for her “camp”. She started fretting over where she had stored her sleeping bag. When I asked why she responded with a, “For camp of course!” We tried to explain that she was not now going to be sleeping over there and in fact she was really just going to be doing more activities with the same teachers and kids without quelching her excitement. Always a balance with her. She had fun though- her first time rollar skating, blackberry picking, she saw a couple movies in theaters (a rare treat in our house due to their ages even though I’m generally happy to see whatever as long as I have a kiddy-cup-combo for myself!), a few rounds of bowling and twice a week water days.  She even got invited to the birthday party of a fellow camper who was turning 12. Once we squeezed in a second week of swim lessons,  let’s just say the girl’s summer was made.

So on to first grade. She admitted she was a bit nervous and checked a couple of times to be sure that we were not going to follow her kindergarten teacher’s explicit end of the year instructions to purchase walkie-talkies so that she could be kept in the loop and at the ready for whatever that teacher needed since rumor had it that her new students were much younger and wouldn’t know half as much as Zuzu’s class. There are some days that Zuzu’s literalness gets the best of her. She was most definitely willing to lend a helping directive or two to the new class. The fact that the teacher that puts the kind in kindergarten sent her a “wish you were here” postcard over the summer probably just cemented the seriousness of those instructions to her.

The other major concern for our rising first grader was  the subject of binders. She had *heard* that certain first grade teachers provided binders and that first graders were to keep track of these. She wondered often and at great length about whether or not she would need to purchase a binder, would it be provided or was the binder a teacher specific issue. When we attended Meet the Teacher a couple of weeks ago, she was absolutely thrilled to see a binder all shiny and filled on the class tables- one for each and every student. The binders contain the homework for the year. It’s an interesting system, pretty different from last year. So for Miss J’s class the year’s focus is to get a good foundation in reading and writing, so Zuzu is to read for 15 minutes each day. Then in said binder is a section for “reader reaction”, spelling games and math games. They are to complete one activity of their choosing from each category each week. There are also some baggy books that come home once a week to practice reading. Being the happy little nerds that we are, Zuzu in all her binder-exuberance dove right in and completed two homework assigments even before the first day of class. I have to say I had to squelch my spoil-sport-I’m-tired-I’m-overwhelmed-I-probably-should-have-weaned-the-baby-before-now-so-I-don’t-have-another-human-being-attached-to-me-on-school-nights- I-have-too-much-to-do-just-now-reaction.

And I did.

I know a lot of people have differing opinions on the value of homework, but right now I have a kid who is excited about it- so I’m going with that.

It’s this funny balance of practical magic that blends its way into Zuzu’s personality that amost always surprises me in the moment and then after the fact I find myself nodding along and thinking, “That’s about right.” The binder joy was not unlike the way she organizes her “facts, rules and routines” along the lines of “writing, not a wishlist/letter to Santa in, but rather placing a rather detailed, terribly specific order; that TJ the Elf must have a very good reason for not having landed in a new spot the next day from where she last saw him the night before; that the Tooth Fairy has made a big mess with glitter like they use at school all over her bed-it’s not fairy dust Mom and that the rascally leprechaun that left green footprints on our kitchen table leading up to the “That’s not gold, it’s chocolate coinsin foil wrappers Mom” in March had gotten into the paint left out on the front porch after her and her sister’s were done painting the day before, rather than being willing to believe he is just green and was barefoot when he left a pile of loot straight out of that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. She was more excited over the homework binder than the magic spell packet the teacher had made for each child that indicated once they squeezed the playdough and repeated the rhyme if it turned another color, they were certain to have good luck for the year. Mind you, she believed enough to locate a packet that was in her signature color of pink and to work the dough thoroughly enough until she was certain it showed enough of the good luck magic and then excited enough about it to pack it in her backpack to show Miss J her good fortune, but she did all of this while still chattering on about the best spot at home to keep her binder in so that the littles wouldn’t get into the ever-important First Grade Work. I love that kid. We all do.

At daycare they have a homework time and last year I forwarded the class newsletter on to school and homework was completed there. This year I’m not entirely sure what I want to do. I want the binder kept at home so I think we’ll send books to school and have her just focus on reading while she is there and the actual activities we’ll save for home.

The Quail is set for public and private 4k now as well. She started private last week and public starts today. Private feels easy-peasy- we love Miss J and she and the afternoon teacher Miss A are fairly familar with the Quail already. There is also another little friend in her afternoon class who will be attending k4 in the afternoon so it is good she’ll have a buddy when the big school bus comes to pick them up there for afternoon school.

This year’s Meet the Teacher night was cathartic for me. I think a bit for the Quail too since we caught her literally twirling through the halls. Last year I was completely overwhelmed by all that had to be done going to one of them. Aside from meeting the teacher, it was a new building, paying the cafeteria for lunches, a car rider line to get tags, a bus line to find out that our bus wasn’t what they meant, a school packet line, a PTA line, a Girl Scout sign-up line, volunteer training and all during the witching hours with 3 hungry, tired and over-stimulated kids.

Times two.

 Because the Quail was attending the school that had the self-contained classroom, in a town 10 miles away. 

Needless to say we didn’t get everything done and on the way home when Zuzu innocently questioned why we weren’t able to spend as much time at the Quail’s school as her own and why couldn’t the Quail just go to her school to make it easier, I found myself turning up the radio and adjusting the rearview mirror so they wouldn’t have to directly witness how very much I agreed with them.

This year, I intended to be prepared.

One school.

Two kids.

No standing in unnecessary lines.

And possibly Girl Scouts, if a local troop can get together.

We planned to pull in at 2:45, 15 minutes early, childless to get all the lines  and training done efficiently, then run out to pick up the kiddos and bring them back for the fun- actual meeting of the teachers portion of “Meet the teachers”. We pulled up, maybe 5 minutes later than intended- to what can only rival a Who concert.

Lines.Out.The.Door. Wow.

And we forgot to bring the school supplies to drop off. Other than that, it was old hat. Not overwhelming. And frankly good to get to spy so many of our friends and neighbors- exactly the reason why you want your children to go to their homeschool.

So we finished up. It was nice to see the girl’s rooms, both were excited over the little house/kitchen centers that would be part of their day and of course we went down the hall to say a quick hello to our kind kindergarten teachers while we were there than ran off for a celebratory burrito! When she started to joke with Zuzu over helping to teach these new kiddos what all goes on I cut her off with a funny little story of repeated requests to purchase walkie-talkies.

In the weeks leading up to school we managed to fit in a couple of parent-single child lunches with the girls and a trip to our favorite “Big Sale” as Zuzu calls it for back-to-school clothes. And once again I felt oh-so-in-the-know. Growing up, picking out sweaters and jeans and tennies for back to school and then stopping off for a shared cup of cheese fries is one of my happiest memories with my Mom. Last year when I started early trying to create this tradition we were faced with left over, neon, stringy, clearanced summer duds at our usual shopping haunts. This year we skipped the lure of no taxes and held out till the next large-scale consignment sale with the promise of a Panera Breakfast treat and a run through the Halloween Costume rack to see what the options might be AFTER finding our favorite winter jackets, fall vests and a suitable amount of legging/tunic top/dress and tiger wear to carry us into the spring.

Last year the night before classes started we read, The Night Before Kindergarten, The Night Before Preschool & The Kissing Hand, luckily even with our distinct lack of household organization we were able to locate them this year too. Zuzu was a little sad to realize we hadn’t purchased The Night Before First Grade, and I have to admit I was too. I have a feeling I did and lost it over the summer, clutter purging  time will tell.

And the littlest Sistred, well she started her preschool lessons. She moved into the Toddler room and is making herself at home with circle time, playground time, lunch-at-big-kid-tables time and now-I-nap-on-a-mat-like-a-big-kid time. She’s happy to go and happy to be picked up, if not a tad grouchier tired from her busy days. When she and the Quail received their welcome to the next class postcards from their upcoming teachers they were equally tickled.

The Quail also had a home visit from our public school k4 teacher and assistant. I had big plans for this visit- we had blackberries from a recent berry-picking expedition and I thought we might make a cobbler to welcome them and make the house smell homey the night before. Neat in theory, impractical for middle of the week. As it was we managed to take the trash out, put the dishes away and hide the week’s wash from public view. All in all, a good visit.  And we’re excited to start the new year.

I had a dress with apples for Zuzu’s first day, but being the Fashionista that she is, it got the thumbs down and a combination of twinkle-toes, stripes and more stripes won out. The Quail chose Zuzu’s graduation dress to wear to school for her first day today. She smiled her brave smile and carried her Dora Backpack to the car leading the way for her little sister. I’ve purposely not called to see how it went. Her getting off to school on the bus, today that is.

I’m cool.

It’s cool.

But Lovey just called as I was typing this and asked if I had heard anything and said he was thinking he might call the daycare and check in to see how her getting on the bus went anyway.

And that’s cool.

Oh, and it went smooth.

five minute friday: last

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.


Dear Sugarplum, she is the last. The tiniest and most intentional of our dear ones. We didn’t know if or when she would come. We thought maybe our Quail would fill that role of baby in our heart and homes. I made peace with this. I ruminated while putting on socks and shoes and changing diapers over the pros and cons of adding on and into our already bursting to full days. And then the pressure let up. No more pumping, no more nursing, no more daily illness and breathing treatments. She walked. She started to talk. The sisters they played together the best of friends- their giggles and tumbles heard throughout their days. Where once they held hands while nursing, they now moved on to holding hands through playground fences and our days filled a regular but routine pattern. And it felt manageable. Ordinary even.

Then one day at an appointment where we opened our calendars to write in a date and time for open heart surgery; instead, the good word that there would be no surgery in our Quail’s future came as a gift from above. No opening of her heart.  That small fact alone opened our own, the trickle and twinkle of a thought that well, just maybe we could welcome one more into our lives. And so we did, that month we made the decision to have another. And 10 months later she came. Her birth, her pregnancy the easiest and yet most traumatic of them all. The room it filled with misunderstanding as I pushed and contracted. Somewhere in the trail of paperwork a note was sent that we were welcoming a second child that would also have Down syndrome like our Quail. Suddenly my world shifted through pain and pushes and dropping blood pressures. I knew this wasn’t the case but in the middle of all of this it was hard to know what was true and what might come. I labored on with insistence to these nurses that filled the small space of this birth. I knew who my children were despite what they read on a chart. My dear doctor, she came in and as we pressed on into the last bit of delivery she stopped me and made us wait. The cord it was tight. Coiled around this dear girl of ours. She pushed back against my pushes and rearranged this young life so that she could take her own deep breaths. That moment when I expected her wail to spread out between us came and passed. Silence instead. Just as piercing that empty sound was. We waited with baited breath for her own first one- and then, after the questions hung between us she wailed and I cried. She was going to be fine.

At last.

Our last.

Our Ordinary After.



At 15 months:

She has sprung to life. What was a content, calm, sweet-as-pie little baby has morphed into a walking, talking, climbing, running, mischievious, in-the-thick-of-it member of The Sistred pack.

Just under a month ago, L0vey had to go on a work trip. He was gone mere days- and when he returned- Sugarplum- was no longer a baby. She literally in the span of a few days started running and climbing and trying to talk.

Now I’ve found her- with open bottles of soap- dish, laundry, hand. Standing on top of tables, chairs, the dishwasher door, the top of any staircase within running distance, the couch, her sister’s bed. Just about anywhere she can scramble in the blink of an eye. 

She talks and talks. She screeches like a pterodactyl out of nowhere. I’ve heard her say, momma, dada, diaper, bottle, neh-neh, all done, more, shoe, energy, hungry and attempts to repeat back just about anything that is said to her.

She strolls around with her hands linked behind her back in a rather scholarly, thoughtful posture when she isn’t picking up speed about to get into something.

She will randomly stop and dance and sing- little aaah,aaah, aaah along with the radio.

She will randomly stop eating when in her highchair to dance and sing.

If you ask her if she went poo-poo in her diaper. She’ll stop, think about it and walk over to where the diapers are stored.

If you ask her if she is hungry and she is, she’ll walk over to her high-chair.

If you forget to offer to nurse her and she’s hungry she’ll drap her boppy and a blanket over to you.

If you suggest she keep eating just about any food after two bites, chances are 50-50 she’ll say and sign all-done and drop the food over the side of her tray if it were silly enough to still be laying there.

Generally speaking she is a savory girl. She prefers meat to just about anything else. Except maybe ice-cream cones. And pancakes. And frosted cake. But that’s just good sense.

If you mention going outside anywhere that she can possibly hear you, she’ll go get her shoes and sit down in front of you patiently waiting for you to put them on.

If you mention it is teeth brushing time to her sisters, she’ll be the one to follow you into the bathroom with her mouth hinged open chanting, “aaahhhh…..aaaahhhh….aaaahhhhh” waiting for you to offer to brush hers.

She is continuously getting into things and pulling them out of what they were in. She’s also pretty happy to help clean up and put things back where they were. You know, so she can pull them out again.

When you pick her up from school in Ms. Patty and Ms. Megan’s room, she comes running over with a grin on her face and starts to babble about her day. I hear she’s generally pretty excited to see her teachers at drop off each morning as well.

She has 10 pearly teeth and judging by the way she’s nursing, I’m guessing a few more on the way. This time I can always tell when she’s teething by how I feel afterwards. Ouch.

She still loves to nurse and take one bottle a day from Lovey. It’s a sweet time for them, she lays back and drinks her bottle that has a mix of regular and breast milk. She nurses in the evenings when we come home from our days apart and then again before bedtime and typically once in the night. Last night- she slept from 8:30 throughout the night. I’m fairly certain this is the first time, if there were others- I’m just too tired to remember. It was funny, she obviously wanted to nurse while we were reading bedtime stories so I decided to multi-task- and what do you know- three little Sistred were resting their heads simultaneously. I was happy to miss her after I turned out the lights.

 She met a series of relatives this summer and they seemed as keen on her as she was on them. She’s a pretty social and friendly little girl. A shy, slightly embarrassed smile is what she usually offers up, but a smile none the less.

Her giggle and the Quail’s giggle- still the same.

She walks holding your hand, pushing a baby stroller, with a purse around her neck, cuddling her bunny-bear, bringing you a book to read her.

She doesn’t have time to be cuddled- not while she’s awake or asleep. If you are standing/walking/working- she would just as soon you hold her. The moment you sit down, she wants down or better yet, for you to stand back up. When she is done nursing or with her bottle and is ready to nod off- she must be put down in her bed with a blankie to snuggle.

She knows her night-night routine and learned it fairly quickly. If you forget who to wish a good-night to next- just follow her lead.

Celebrating Sugarplum!

This and a series of upcoming posts are seriously overdue. Sugarplum turned 1 this past April and we celebrated her and this past year with friends at our favorite local park. Since her birthday coincides with Easter and Springtime we played in the park with bubbles, chalk, our outdoor toys and had an egg hunt. The eggs collected were filled with sweets and trinkets and deposited into little bags the children decorated. We also had shiny crowns to be adorned with jewels and stickers for each child and of course a big cake and pizza for all. For the children’s birthdays we generally celebrate with a wide age range of children. We enjoy having everybody share in the festivities and prefer to do a book exchange in lieu of presents. Not that we aren’t grateful for the gifts we receive, but since we enjoy having so many gather, we would rather focus on the people than a pile of gifts. We’ve been frequenting this park since Zuzu was a toddler and sadly this part was destroyed by a flash flood this month. I’m sure the city will rebuild, but we will be sad to have what we think of us our park, well just not be the same.We’re glad we could at least get one celebration in at this special place.

Sugarplum: Hush little baby…

DSC_9654The wail pierces the night like clockwork and both of our adult bodies tense as hers goes all out awake. “Momma hasn’t responded. Momma is laying quiet and I see her there.” the tiny mind seems to find a way to shriek when her careful , but quiet Momma utterances haven’t worked through my dreams. I lean over and pat her back. This is the 10th night in a row that the child has begun what is now become a nightly ritual of waking every 3 hours to “check in” with us. Just the night before Lovey had asked, “Shouldn’t she be sleeping through the night by now?” Yes and no.

At 15 months, we’re still nursing. It’s briefer and interrupted by other little hands, and noses and stories sensing a sitting adult and needing to come climb up and near. The grace with which Sugarplum takes in her family’s constant presence slays me over and over. Come bedtime, she quickly reaches her left, little  dimpled, starfish of a hand over to pat Lovey; a shy smile creeping up around her busy lips. During the day as one set of sandy, sticky lips connects to her baby-soft tendrils after another she wiggles to make eye contact then sighs and settles back in. Always working her hands through a blanket- gauze, fleece, cotton- whatever- just needing to knead. If one of those sister’s should dare remove it her temper will flare and soften as they hand it back.

She’s busy now too though, no more leisurely sessions nursing at the computer, with a book, in front of the TV or a hot meal like during the early months. Once her hands or eyes or ears lock into any of those she’s off and up, only returning with a protest if I try to set her down. When she decides she’s done, she’s done. She rolls and climbs and scoots away. She wants to lay down or play, not to be held , not to be cuddled, not to have Momma’s nose sniffing her baby neck and stinky ears.

And that’s ok. I don’t feel bittersweet at the growth this time around. I’m in awe, amazed as in one moment she sits, the next she stands, the next she walks, she runs, she climbs, she falls and stands, she turns back to huddle into our legs and then grabs our fingers to lead us off to the others.

I’m tired though. I can do one time a night. Each molar pearl that shoves through interrupts all of our sleep though and once the pattern starts she follows it to a t. By the 10th night in a row, I decided to use our night-night routine to try to sway her back to bed without a quick nurse. Night-night mirror, Night-night picture, Night-night books, Night-night lamp, Night-night Bunny-bear and Night-night Sugarplum. See you in the morning. To be fair, I’m sure it was quite hard to hear my whispers over her wails. And somehow shouting the soothing words didn’t seem like it would have quite the same effect. So I would wait for the pause to yawn and wipe her eyes clean of Mr. Sandman’s work and start the lyrical round that works like a charm each evening now. 56 minutes later she gave in and snored in response. Now days and nights later her little clock is reset to a solitary cuddle and nurse a night.

I’m thinking I’m ready to Good-night moon that single waking too though. Once that is set it will be time to move her in with the Sistred. That, I’m sure will bring a bittersweet swell. Or at least I hope it does. More than likely we’ll just turn our attention from Sugarplum’s nightly needs back to Zuzu’s; who has been eyeing the spot between us with a rejuvenated gleam for weeks now. Or maybe we’ll be allowed to sleep up till the time of The Quail’s early morning wanderings and eat/drink/Momma chants….since the thought of 5 of us actually sleeping a straight 7-8 hour stretch is fairly unfathomable…

sweet, sweet Sugarplum…

At 10 months (just shy of 11):

She can roll front to back and back again.

She can sit up, stand up, pull up and ask to be picked up.

Somewhere in the midst of the last month we stopped tucking her into the brown sling so frequently. She came alive and is much too busy for our preferred coddling.

She has babbled Mama and Dada, although it really is more babble than pointed and in that Shakespearian Typing Monkey sort of way managed to eek out Hungry one time.

She signs All Done, Claps, asks to be picked up with her hands up and has a funny little wave in which her tiny hand pummels her forehead.

The funniest thing on earth is to be sitting up and suddenly fall backwards. And she is a master at it.

She is continuously into things- drawers, cabinets, toy boxes….

She crawls from room to room and comes when you call her.

She still likes to nurse. But if someone is in the room she is quick to stop and grin at them. If her sisters are nearby when she is nursing she reaches out a hand to them. If they or a blankie or lovey aren’t around she holds her own hand.

She has 5 pearly white teeth.

She sleeps with her little hands over her head and on her back. Not unlike what her ultrasound pictures showed.

Just last week we started putting her down in her snuggle nest in her pack and play after her nighttime nursing. She might let out a little protest, but then nods off. Prior to this she had been waking 3-4 times a night to nurse while sleeping in her snugglenest between us and I wrote it off too teething…then her teeth came through and the cycle continued. Now in the pack and play she wakes one time in about 11-13 hours of nighttime sleep. If she fusses as we are putting her down, but she really is tired you are likely to find her in a funny position when you go back to check. Sometimes sitting up sleeping and sometimes on her belly. If she is just ready to go down, when you go to put her little pink fuzzy blanket on her she pulls it up to her face and snuggles in to it.

She gets the 8 o’clock cat crazies. Just as we put her sisters down to sleep she is usually getting wound up. If we put her down before she won’t stay. Once she’s down from there though we’re usually good.

She has a shy grin and giggle when tickled.

She is mesmerized by Baby Einstein’s Baby Van Gogh. And that’s about it.

She has the busiest little hands of all The Sistred. She is the one we have to babyproof for. She is continuously undoing what is done- the dishwasher, a kitchen or bedroom cabinet drawer, the toilet paper roll. Any sort of manipulative toy is a winner.

She does love her bunny lovey. And she greets him with a big ole bite on the nose as a matter of course.

She’s still not much of an eater. She takes stage 2 baby foods now and vigorously signs all done when she is- which can be anywhere from 3-4 bites in, to finishing off the packet. She’ll also munch on Cheerios, puffs and crackers. I once fed her a single pea. Poor thing wretched the entire evening until she got it up. We’ve been handing her a sippy cup that has a top like a bottle. She’s not so keen on it either. Maybe she’ll drink an ounce from it if she is super hungry. I’ve stopped waking her to nurse in the morning. Usually she went right back to sleep afterwards and wasn’t really waking on her own at all anymore, then would not be very interested in a bottle in the coming hours. She still only takes 2-3 ounces from Lovey in the morning and might drink one 4 oz bottle at school. And then it varies what else she takes in- maybe a food packet, maybe cereal, maybe another bottle. She’s pretty inconsistent. Inspite of which her growth remains in the 75% for height and weight.