Friday, November 22, 2013
Fair warning: All I'm going to do is talk about how awesome Charlotte is these days. I'm going to skip over describing in detail how dictatorial she is, because really, I'm probably the only one who thinks she might be able to show Idi Amin or Lenin or Pol Pot a thing or two about leading the people in tyrannical ways. After all, some people probably like being told when they can go cook, clean, feed the dogs, take a shower, and go to work, though most the time Charlotte likes to tell us when we CAN'T do those things. And I'm not even going to bother talking about the mood swings a toddler can go through, because I'm sure it isn't noteworthy that she can cry hysterically, giggle uncontrollably, and then scream excessively all within a 2 minute period. That's just toddler expressiveness, right? I'll just skip over talking about the meal time drama that we have every night, when Charlotte sits and eats for approximately 30 seconds, grabs a handful of whatever food she fancies, rushes off to play for 2 minutes, returns to the table to sit and grab a little more food, before then heading off to open the back door to let the dogs in so she can feed them, while I silently add up the amount of time it took for me to menu plan, grocery shop, cook, and plate the food that is now being casually stuffed in the dogs' faces as Tom tries to argue with a brick wall, AKA Charlotte, about leaving the dogs outside and keeping the back door closed because we aren't trying to heat the great outdoors. That would be far too cliche for my readers to endure. I'm also certain no one needs to know about the depths of my frustration that the child who easily potty trained herself to go pee-pee in the proper receptacle refuses to even entertain the idea of going poopy in said receptacle, though she finds it perfectly appropriate to squat, yell "I do a big poopy," then run around (apparently while finishing the aforementioned "big poopy"), only to end the charade by then plopping down on her full britches and demanding that we change her THIS SECOND out of her now soiled underwear.
Conversation with Charlotte re: pooping in the potty
Scene: Charlotte and her
Mommy: Hey look, Charlotte. NuNu is going pee-pee. Where does NuNu pee-pee?
Charlotte: NuNu pee-pee in the grass.
M: Where does Charlotte go pee-pee?
C: Charlotte go pee-pee in the potty.
M: Where does NuNu go poopy?
C: NuNu AND Ziva go poopy in the grass.
M: Where should Charlotte go poopy?
C: Charlotte goes poopy in her panties, then mama clean it up.
M: Well, yes, that is where you sometimes poopy. But where do you think you *should* poopy?
C: My panties. So mommy can clean it up.
Yup, that about sums it up. She is pooping in her underwear specifically to make work for me. Because I do have lots of free time on my hands, and what better way to spend my down time than cleaning up after a stubbornly, half potty-trained toddler?
So yeah, I'll skip over all that stuff and focus on the awesomeness that is life with a toddler. Like the moments when Charlotte sits still to have a real conversation. The other night, she turned and looked at me, intently, and just as I was feeling a little nervous from the continual stare down, she said, "mommy, your eyes are blue" and then she reached out and poked my eyes to emphasize exactly what she was talking about (I suspect she questions my comprehension skills, since she emphasizes things a lot with me). We then went on to have a conversation about eye color. And it is so fun to see her pick up one of her toy cell phones as she yells, "mama, I talk to you on the phone!" and then proceeds to have a conversation with me. The other night, she was playing with Tom while I was doing some work e-mails. She plopped down next to me, watched me type for a minute or two, then solemnly asked, "mama, you doing your work?" I replied in the affirmative and she was silent another moment or two then said, "no more work, we watch babies dance on your com-puker." Gotta love YouTube videos of dancing babies- always a hit with Charlotte! Lately, Charlotte and Tom go out to our mailbox to pick up, and apparently sort through, our mail each night. Sometimes, Charlotte gets lucky and there's a package or present for her. This week, we received several packages, some for Christmas and some for Tom's mom and stepdad who were visiting, so Charlotte the Mail-Carrier has been really busy, and somewhat disappointed that many of the packages were not for her. Last night, a big box was delivered and Tom had to carry it in- Charlotte saw the huge box, her eyes lit up, and she yelled, "my presents, my presents! Look mama, my presents!" How she knew this package really was full of her presents is beyond me, but it took some serious Olympic-level re-direction to get her to quit wanting to open the box from the North Pole. I especially love her industriousness right now- she seems to like having "helper" chores and takes pride in her work. She loves pouring a scoopful of dog kibble into Ziva's bowl and carrying it from the garage to the kitchen. She will proudly carry her empty plate to the kitchen sink. She's happy to drop her dirty clothes in the laundry basket and she absolutely loves filling and emptying the dryer.
It's an amazing gift to get to see the world through a toddler's eyes. We get to watch her learn, process, and embrace so many things each and every day now. I can't get over how smart these little creatures are- Charlotte and her little toddler buddies use language I would think they couldn't grasp yet. Charlotte uses words like "still" and "already" and "soon," expressing linguistic concepts I wouldn't think a young child would understand, but she uses the words/ideas correctly and emphatically. She strings together paragraphs rather than just words now, and although sometimes the pronunciation is a little off, Tom and I are able to discern what she is saying and engage in real conversations with her. I love listening to her because it clues me in to what she considers noteworthy. "There's a squirrel in the road;" "My shoes are dirty, I take them off;" "I take my plate to the kitchen and daddy can wash it;" "It's dark outside so I can see the moon-" all these little observances, that might seem mundane to some, show me what that she is paying attention to her surroundings and making sense of the world around her. It is fun to see what matters in her world and to think of all her discoveries yet to come.
And speaking of discoveries, Charlotte has so much in front of her for the next month or so. She and I are flying to Florida with her Papa Rick and Grandma Donna to spend a week with her cousins Paige and Preston and her Aunt Stacey and Uncle Darren. It will be her first time to see the ocean, and I can't wait to watch her take in that scene. I think that trip will be so much fun for her, and then we get back and will be in full-fledged holiday mode. I anticipate more engagement and excitement about the decorations and activities this year- she's already started mentioning Santa Claus and we've talked about a Christmas tree, so I have high hopes that she will be enthusiastic about the holidays. It's her last Christmas as an only child- she better make the most of it!
As we approach Thanksgiving, it is easy to see what we have to be thankful for- a fun, funny, passionate, high-spirited child who keeps us entertained every day. It *almost* makes her backseat driving and arguments over which towel she wants to use less frustrating. Almost.
Tons of pictures to share!
We got invited to a Pumpkin and Pie party hosted by Charlotte's friend Clara. Charlotte and her buddies got to paint pumpkins and make a general mess of Clara's patio.
Later that day, Tom and I took Charlotte to a pumpkin patch. Although we had a good time, it was sad not having her cousin Paige and Paige's family with us this year.
Halloween fun- Charlotte was lucky enough to get a puppy-dog costume from her buddy Edie in Chicago. We had a great time on the town square with Charlotte's friends, then had dinner with some of her buddies, followed by handing out candy from our house. Charlotte seemed to think that whenever our doorbell rang, it meant she got one piece of candy for each piece we handed out.
Charlotte had a difficult time trusting me when I told her she could eat the candy she had just received in her bucket.
So instead of eating the candy, she held it in her hands and made it nice and mushy.
With Halloween behind us, Charlotte got busy with the task at hand- reading through her toy catalogs that she kept finding in the mail. There was a 2 week period when she went through those catalogs every night. I think she finally felt confident that we took note of her favorite items in the catalogs, because now she only reads through her "toy book" a few times a week.
When she is not poring over her catalogs, Charlotte is busy with her shoe collection. Currently, her two favorites represent opposite ends of the style spectrum. She is obsessed with Tom's boots and with a pair of sparkly black Mary Janes with a slight heel that her cousin Anna bestowed upon her.
In addition to putting on her own shoes, Charlotte takes pride in putting on her socks. Sometimes, the results are, shall we say, a little dorky? But I pity the fool who dares suggest that she push her socks down or tuck them into her pant leg.
We had a lovely visit this week from Charlotte's Memere and Grandpa Gus. Their parting gift was an early Christmas surprise- a new bike! She was delighted, and though Tom and I were grateful for the gift, we can't help but wonder why they bought the model with a bell on it.
Finally, for those of you who enjoy ultrasound pictures, here's a shot of Charlotte's "baby brudder." Pretty cute lil fella, don't you think?
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Charlotte's Web: From "One and Done" to "Two and THROUGH": So... big news from the Arrington/Sirois household. It's a bit difficult to see in this picture, but Charlotte's shirt says, &...
So... big news from the Arrington/Sirois household. It's a bit difficult to see in this picture, but Charlotte's shirt says, "Big Sister." Yup, Charlotte is giving up her only-child status. We are, most unexpectedly, expecting another baby. And "it" is a "he." Charlotte's getting a baby brother! His due date is roughly March 11 (close to Charlotte's birthday), but I will be scheduled for a repeat c-section at 38 weeks, around February 25. Because of the type of uterine incision the doctor performed during my emergency c-section, I am at a high risk for a rupture, so I will not be able to go longer than 38 weeks.
We found out this summer about our little surprise bundle, and it was news that took some getting used to. We were pretty much decided that we were not going to have another biological baby and instead were discussing permanent birth control options and the possibility of adopting in the future. That all changed though with this news. Tom was instantly excited- he missed out on so much of my first pregnancy and Charlotte's first year because of his work travel; this felt like a second chance for him. I, on the other hand, was in shock and instantly felt a lot of fear, anxiety, and guilt. My first pregnancy was so difficult and ended so traumatically that it was hard to get excited about the prospects of going through it again. It has helped me that my family and friends have been so excited, and it is neat to see Charlotte start processing the information. She likes to talk to my stomach and she has started saying "baby brudder" in reference to him.
I am about to be 19 weeks pregnant. If I make it to my scheduled c-section date, that means I am halfway through the pregnancy. I am hopeful I will make it to 38 weeks- I can hardly imagine being that pregnant and experiencing a scheduled arrival at an appropriate gestational time. But I am very scared that I will once again not be able to carry the baby as long as needed. Getting pregnant means facing my memories of what was the scariest, most stressful time of my life. It means remembering how lucky we were with Charlotte's incredible journey and with my recovery. It means battling the guilt and trauma I've tried to move past. It means considering the possibility of another fragile baby and NICU stay. It means wondering how I will survive another potentially difficult infancy if this baby is as unhappy and un-soothable as Charlotte. It means being really fearful and really anxious.
Tom chooses to focus on the positive possibilities of this experience. When we found out we were expecting another baby, he told me this was my second chance, my "redemption pregnancy." The first round was so challenging that he thought maybe this was for me to get a cosmic apology via a healthier and longer pregnancy. We had difficulty conceiving Charlotte, and I required surgery and infertility treatment to achieve pregnancy. Not an issue this time. And, so far, this has been an easier pregnancy. Although I have hyperemesis again (extreme, persistent morning sickness), I am not nearly as sick as I was with Charlotte. With Charlotte, I had lots of scary episodes of bleeding, but with this baby I have not had any. By this point in my first pregnancy, I had 3-4 hospital visits under my belt, but aside from some rehydration and anti-nausea medicine via IV, I have avoided any abnormal doctor's appointments or trips to the hospital. This is reassuring to me and helped ease some of my fears about the pregnancy, but as we get further along, I get increasingly nervous about the same complications coming up that resulted in Charlotte's early arrival.
Tom's enthusiasm, the prospect of blessing Charlotte with a sibling, and the excitement of our friends and family help ease the anxiety I feel. I've never been much of a "baby person." I much prefer the interactive exchanges that are possible with toddlers. As we've hit this particularly sweet spot in Charlotte's life, I can understand why people choose to have more than one child. The fun of having a toddler around makes up for the sleepless nights and crying and fussing that newborns often bring with them. So even though it means going through another pregnancy, possibly experiencing another premature arrival, and weathering another infancy, I do feel excited to meet this little guy and see what he brings to our family. I try to focus on the positives rather than succumb to my fears, and I am trying to trust that no matter what happens, it was all meant to be.
And, in case anyone was wondering, I WILL be getting my tubes tied during the c-section procedure! We might not have been "one and done, " but we are DEFINITELY "two and through!"
This week-end we took Charlotte to a pond to feed the ducks and geese. It was only after we fed the fowl that we saw the sign asking people not to feed them. Ooops. Charlotte rocked her Big Sister shirt and as a special treat, she got a lollipop to celebrate being a future big sister. She didn't really do much beyond hold the sucker after a few licks of it, but she still ended up a sticky mess.
Charlotte and Clara at the park after a savvy ice-cream truck driver saw Tom and realized he had "sucker" written across him.
Question: "Charlotte, where is your baby brother living right now?"
Answer: "My baby brudder in my belly." Upon supplying her answer, Charlotte illustrates her response by lifting her shirt. Evidently, her brother sometimes stays in her uterus, though she also talks to him in my belly a lot too, and has, on more than one occasion in public, lifted my shirt to expose his habitat.
Charlotte is really into coloring and drawing these days. Here she is, hard at work this evening creating another masterpiece.
Apparently she was feeling spunky and photogenic tonight because she wanted lots of pictures taken. Here is one of her hammier moment.
This girl is going to make an amazing big sister!
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Charlotte's Web: Giving Summer a Run for Its Money....: I often write about how summer seems to be "Charlotte's Season." She loves the summer- she seems to thrive in hot air and b...
I often write about how summer seems to be "Charlotte's Season." She loves the summer- she seems to thrive in hot air and bright sun. But now that fall is finally falling, I'm sensing Charlotte is going to make the most of this next season. Since her daddy and I do not particularly love the hot air that comes along with an Arkansas summer, we are enjoying the gentle breezes and cooling temperatures and all the fun that weather offers. We've been able to get outside more frequently, taking the dogs on walks and Charlotte to the park, and of course, enjoying time on the patio.
The intensified activities are not without their pitfalls though, and we are discovering that the fun and funniness of a toddler is tempered by the incredible mood swings and tyrannical nature that comes with the territory. On one of our dog walks around the neighborhood, Charlotte decided she wanted to go to the neighborhood school's playground. We (you know, Charlotte's adult parents who pay the bills and keep things moving in our household and are technically considered her guardians) determined it was too late and we would get stuck at the playground in the dark. No amount of logic, redirection, or even bribery would sway the little dictator though, and the walk ended with Tom carrying a screaming, indignant hooligan back to the house. How we avoided getting visits from cops or DHS is beyond me- I imagined every neighbor on the street to be calling the authorities to save the poor wretch from her cruel parents.
We are also having wardrobe crises on almost a daily basis. On some occasions, she manages to find a pair of shoes that are too small or a fleece sweatshirt that has no business being worn on an 85 degree day. Worse still are the mornings when I don't have Tom as back-up and I find myself contemplating if sending Charlotte to school sans pants would be such a terrible thing. She doesn't like wearing her britches, and does her best to avoid them EVERY.SINGLE. MORNING. This does not mean that she prefers a dress though- "no dress. No no dress" is a popular refrain in our house. The dogs avoid her room like the plague when we go in there to get her dressed in the morning- I wish I could follow their lead and cower in my room. During one particularly brutal morning battle for appropriate clothing, I told Charlotte it was not my policy to negotiate with terrorists. She looked at me, blinked a few times, then replied, "I no ne-show-chiate with terrors too." If memory serves me correctly, that day she ended up wearing her favorite ratty t-shirt and beloved hand-me-down pajama bottoms to school. Charming.
Much to our surprise, the color of plates and cups and forks and spoons can also be highly offensive to a toddler tyrant. Charlotte yells to us (as if we aren't 5 feet away) what color her plate and utensils must be for her meals. This is particularly problematic when she opts for a yellow or purple plate, because sometimes she confuses the two colors, but we can never predict when she will be correctly identifying the color or misidentifying it. Should we hold up a purple plate when she requested purple but had it confused with yellow, we can essentially expect World War III to break out. Tom once thought he was clever by pulling out a purple plate when she asked for yellow- but unfortunately for our hapless victim, Charlotte had her colors correct that day. She first berated Tom for not knowing his colors then proceeded to throw a tantrum, even as he hustled to correct his dastardly mistake. Double whammy for him that day, poor guy.
These shenanigans and the volatile behavior means of course that we must always prepare for the worst, but it also means we get several good laughs and memories out of each and every day. I love this age- FINALLY! An age that I can appreciate! I see her learning new things every day, I see her exploring her world in more intense and rewarding ways every day, and I see more of her quirky, feisty personality coming through every day. She is so curious, so persistent, so opinionated, so bright, and so damn funny we can hardly believe our luck that she is ours. Every day brings a challenge (or two or three or four), but every day brings so much fun and joy as we get to see the world through the eyes of our intrepid, if tyrannical, toddler. So with this new season, I say let the good times roll!
One of the downfalls of always being on the go is, well, sometimes you fall down. Charlotte ran, tripped, and fell straight into a chair at school. Ended up with a decent black eye, scraped nose, and bruised shoulder. All in a day's work.
We went to hang out at the new farm Charlotte's aunt and uncle recently bought, and her cousin Miles was nice enough to loan her his dump truck. Endless fun.
Speaking of endless fun, we met up with Charlotte's buddy Carys at a local park and ended up in a creek. Carys' mom took some amazing pictures of the adventure.
There are few things as satisfying in Charlotte's world as throwing rocks in water. Notice the skeptical look on Carys' face? That's because Carys knows that too much fun and reckless abandon can end badly...
Case in point. Smart girl, that Carys.
Never one to be defeated, Charlotte resumed her attack on the water with more rocks.
Tired, wet, but pleased with themselves, the girls retreated to the bridge to continue their rock throwing endeavors. Yes, Carys is quite the diva, even in such a natural setting. Such style, such grace, and always such fun!
Today we went on campus to walk the dogs. All members of the Arrington/Sirois clan enjoyed the outing.
NuNu being a good sport by letting Charlotte hold her leash.
After awhile, Charlotte got bored with NuNu and opted for her "bike."
We are working diligently on teaching Charlotte to follow our "stop" and "go" instructions. And by "we," I mean Tom and I. Charlotte has no use for the word "stop," which she finds at times offensive and other times laughable. She has mastered the art of "go."
"Okay Charlotte, stop."
"No seriously, stop. Wait for us."
"You know what? Never mind, we will just meet you at the car."
The girls of the Arrington/Sirois family.
Happy fall, one and all!