Monday, May 29, 2006

Happy Birthday, Papaya!

The Papaya turned 3 years old today (actually, yesterday - I didn't get this entry finished on the day I started writing it)! It's incredible - it seems like just a little while ago that he was a smaller baby than Banana is now. I also realized that for the last 3 years and 9 months, I have been constantly either pregnant or lactating. That's as long as I was an undergraduate! That's a long time! I've almost forgotten what it's like not to be sustaining another human being with my body.

This birthday marks the first one the Papaya hasn't been sick for. He had a virus his first birthday that made him listless and fragile. His second birthday, he had vomiting and diarrhea and we had to cancel his much-anticipated party. But today he is healthy and enjoying some birthday fun. We're not doing a lot , as we're planning a joint "Thomas the Train" birthday party with our neighbors and their son at the end of June (since today is Memorial Day, most of our neighbors have flown the coop - people just don't tend to stick around here on holidays). But we have tried to make the day special - with waffles and berries for breakfast, a decorated dining room, the opening of a "big present" (a Thomas the Train set), macaroni and cheese for lunch, and spaghetti and a cake tonight. I made and decorated a Thomas cake all by myself, and am pretty pleased with the finished product (see picture!). I can't wait for the Papaya to wake up from his nap and see it. If you told me 3 years ago that I'd be making cakes for my children with popular media characters on them, I would have refuted you. But here I am, decorating cakes with Thomas and even buying Thomas merchandise for the June neighborhood party. It's just too much fun to delight the Papaya.

The Papaya has officially passed (at least in my eyes) from toddlerhood to little-boyhood. He even looks like a little boy now - he's grown a couple inches in the last few months and seems tall, thin, and (sometimes) mature. He loves animals, as well as any form of transportation (he has a special affinity for airplanes, trains, helicopters, tugboats, and tow trucks). He has a wonderful imagination - it runs the gamut from pretending that he's an airplane taxiing down the runway, to feeding carrot cookies to the rabbit in our house. A little while ago, he prepared a special meal and invited his king and queen (play figures), jet plane, tow truck, and play vacuum cleaner. He lined them all up around the meal he prepared and served them. He has an inability to sit still and listen for more than 5 seconds straight (quite frustrating when I try to teach him along with the other preschoolers in Sunday School) and shows no interest in drawing or coloring - he'd much rather be running, jumping, or playing with trains. I still can't figure out whether he's going to end up being right or left handed. He has a great memory for everything he hears and is constantly repeating snippets from songs, his videos, or overheard conversations (we've really got to be careful what we talk about!) He's pretty strong willed and frustrating to parent at times, but of course we love him dearly and can't wait to continue watching him become.

The Banana, in an sneaky attempt to steal some of her brother's special attention, cut her first tooth on his birthday. I'm biding my time until she until she attempts to try it out during a nursing session. Ouch!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

And the virus of the month is...

...just the common cold, this time, a souvenir of our San Francisco trip. We all have it at the same time. We're plowing through the tissue boxes at breakneck speed, the Banana uttering The Scream every time I try to wipe her nose. The Papaya, of course, is the one who initiated and introduced us all to the newest McDaniel Family Virus. That boy is a virus magnet. But this one doesn't involve vomit, and so I don't mind - too much. I can't wait to see what June has in store for us (just kidding, I don't mind a break)!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"Oompt stomp-a-comet"

Having achieved a reasonable facility in English (although his pronouns still need a little work), the Papaya has begun to create a new language. When he's silly, he'll simply take whatever we say to him and repeat it, substituting a rhyming, nonsense word for one of ours. He appears to think that this is hilarious.

However, he also has stock phrases all his own that he repeats often throughout the day. "Oompt stomp-a-comet" is one of these. I have yet to figure out exactly what it means or in what context it should be used. When I repeat it back to the Papaya, he usually laughs and says, "That's not how it goes! Oompt stomp-a-comet!" The Banana, on the other hand, seems to have perfect understanding and constant appreciation for Papaya-ese.

Monday, May 22, 2006

No Place Like Home

We just returned from a week long trip to San Francisco. It was fun, but it is so good to be home!

The Banana is not the world's best traveler. She does pretty well in the car, which is good, since we drive 4 hours round trip to go grocery shopping and 8 to 9 hours round trip to reach a major airport. But get her out of her home environment and sleeping/playing routines, and she can really be a challenge, especially at night. The last night of our trip, she made exactly 7 night awakenings between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. At home, of course, we would just let her cry, but in a hotel room we have to consider the sleep of our neighbors, just one thin wall away, not to mention the Papaya. The Banana could sense that she had me at her beck and call, and took full advantage of the unlimited night feedings opportunity. And since she's no longer in the co-sleeper, I had to get out bed every single time, walk across the room, and feed her in a chair until she fell back to sleep again. Any attempt by Daddy to comfort her would be met with full-out screams. I was exhausted, and she was exhausted. My mother-in-law joined us for the week, and her constant speculation as to the cause of the Banana's night awakenings (most often attributed to something we were doing wrong) and her well-intentioned advice added stress and wounded pride to my tiredness. Usually I hate to listen to my children cry. When the Papaya was a baby and we turned to crying methods to get him to sleep, I could hardly stand it. But as my exhaustion grew this past week, my aversion to night-crying diminished. I could not wait to let the Banana cry it out again!

Surprisingly, we didn't have to let her cry it out. We got home last night, and save for a small amount of whimpering, the Banana slept slept until 6:30 a.m., awakening only for only one feeding. There's something magic about home for her. (Although to be a happy member of our mobile family, I'm afraid she's going to have to learn a bit more flexibility!)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Imitation - the sincerest form of flattery?

This morning during breakfast, the Papaya looked across the table at me and said seriously, "Look into my eyes, Mommy". I obliged and he looked directly at me and said, with authority, "Don't poopoo in your diaper, Mommy."

He was so pleased with his wit that he's repeated it to his Daddy and myself about 10 times so far.

A Star Night!

Last night, the Banana slept (or at least was quiet) from about 7:45 p.m. to 4:51 a.m.! A record!! I slept 7 hours straight!!! The longest since I got pregnant with her about 16 months ago!!!!

Now that she's finally getting onto a good schedule, it's time to travel and mess it up again. We leave for a conference in San Francisco day after tomorrow. Eight nights in a motel room, here we come!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


No, the Banana's not being weaned from the breast (although with the advent of Solids, to which she has taken fairly voraciously, I guess that process is started). We're in the midst of three huge family projects right now, all of which involve weaning of some sort or the other. All of them also involve varying degrees of frustration, and even of sadness for what is being left behind and may never come again.

The first big weaning project involves getting the Papaya out of diapers. No sadness involved there - I won't be a bit sorry to see them left behind, nor nostalgic for the good-old-days when I got to change an especially ripe diaper while the Papaya said with relish, "Peanut butter and jam sandwich sauce". Since most of my recent entries have concerned this subject, I won't dwell on it now, except to say that a full week of diarrhea (and it still goes on) does not contribute to progress in this department.

The second big weaning project involves getting the Papaya out of his crib and into a "big boy bed" - the twin bed in his bedroom. I am a little sad about him leaving his safe haven of containment and being able to jump up at any hour of the night (or nap-time). We are having some success in getting him to sleep in there during his nap-time, but our night-time trial failed miserably (he actually asked to go back into his crib in the middle of the night). We're hoping to have made the full transition by this summer, so that we don't have to lug around an extra port-a-crib on our many travels.

The third big weaning project involves getting the Banana out of and away from our bed, and eventually moving her across the house and into the Papaya's crib. Up to last week, she slept in a co-sleeper attached to and level with our bed. When she woke up I would lift her into bed, nurse her until she went to sleep again, lift her back into the co-sleeper, and return to snuggling with my husband. This was happening three or four (sometimes five) times a night, and I was getting very tired. At first I tried just feeding her twice a night and ignoring her cries at the other times, but she was a pretty indomitable screamer and didn't seem to improve any from night to night. Then, I tried lowering the level of the co-sleeper so that she was still next to our bed but near the ground, but that didn't work any better. Hearing me breathe but not being paid attention to seemed to drive the Banana mad, and the 2-3 hours of screaming a night was really wearing on us. Finally, we did what we should probably have done right away, and moved the co-sleeper across the room. She immediately improved and now only cries about an hour and a half each night, starting at around 12:30 a.m. I give her just one feeding a night, now, anytime she wakes after 2:00 a.m., but don't take her into bed with me to feed her. We have high hopes that soon she will discover it's useless to cry, and will settle down into the heavenly pattern of just one quiet feeding a night.

Why, you may be wondering, don't we just move her out of our room & let her cry it out where she won't be bothered by our noises and we won't be as bothered by her cries? The main reason is that she might wake the Papaya, and we don't want her sleeping near him until she learns to sleep through the night. She's going to be sharing a room with us during most of our travels this summer, and we want her to learn to sleep well while in the room with us. But another reason is that I'm not quite ready to let her go yet. We're not sure if we're going to have another baby, and giving up the intimacy and sweetness of having Banana close enough to touch at any time, calm with my hand, and easily check on throughout the night is a very hard thing. I love nursing, and I have especially loved lying in bed with the Banana and nursing her to sleep (the Papaya would never nurse lying down). And I may very well be leaving that sweetness behind forever. I'm sure there will be other sweetnesses in life, but I'm still mourning the loss, even as I am relishing the improved sleep and quality of life it brings.

On a lighter note, the Banana (who refuses pacifiers and other forms of artificial comfort) has finally chosen a "lovey" to help her sleep - my dirty cotton breast pads! She's just crazy about that sour milk smell. If I lay her in bed, almost asleep, and she starts crying, I can usually calm her by laying a breast pad on her mouth. She will stuff it in with her fist, then immediately quiet down, start sucking, close her eyes, and go to sleep. Occasionally I will check on her and find her fast asleep with a breast pad rolled up and sticking out of her mouth. I try to remember to switch and launder them every few days so they don't get too gross! It's wonderfully convenient when we travel - I have a couple"loveys" handy in my bra at all times!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Health is wonderful

I'm not sure which is worse - being all alone in the house with a sick toddler & baby, or being all alone in the house with children to look after when I am violently ill. Having experienced both in the last few days, I wouldn't recommend either option.

The Sunday night I was all alone actually wasn't bad at all - the Papaya slept all night long, and woke up happily (with a little help from the anti-emetic I stuck in his bottom before he went to sleep.) But then his bug downed me on Tuesday - diarrhea all day, vomiting in the evening, horrid tummy cramps, and extreme weakness. I could hardly stand up, and taking care of both the kids for 9 hours, as well as continuing to breastfeed the Banana (I'm not sure where my body found the means to make breastmilk, but it managed), took a Hurculean effort. But I did it. And the experience confirmed in my mind that I really don't want to be pregnant again anytime soon, not with two small children to take care of!

When I told the Papaya that I was sick he ran to his bedroom, found the metal bowl that I had placed next to his crib, brought it to me, and said hopefully, "Throw up in the bowl, Mommy!" He seemed a little disappointed that I didn't immediately oblige. Then he jumped on me when I lay down on the floor. He gets high points for helpfulness, but his empathy needs improvement (but what do you expect from a two year old?).

Yesterday I felt weak but better, and the Papaya's second phase of sickness, diarrhea, appeared (happily, it wasn't that bad, and he didn't seem too affected by it). Today we all feel better and I'm reappreciating just how wonderful health is. And hunger. I'm hopeful enough to put away the metal bowls positioned strategically around the house. And maybe I'll even hit the ice cream tonight, and start to make up for lost calories!