Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I'm always looking for things to do with Lily on our days home together. I'm just not a Mom who can make a day at home into a jam-packed day of activities and entertainment - I lack the creatvity required. So when a friend of mine told me about a new art class that her friend was launching for 2-3 year olds I was all "sign us up!".

We took Annie and Erin's "KidArt" class the first time it was offered in the winter and liked it so much that we signed up again for the spring series. Since the kids are only 2 it's more of an art experience than a real class. It's held in a really cute room in a church right outside of Davis Square. Annie and Erin provide all the supplies and creativity. The kids pretty much then just explore and create whatever they want for an hour. There are always three stations set up: an easel with paints and fun materials to paint on, a play-dough table and a special project table that changes each week. At the end of class Annie reads some stories and does a little good-bye song with everyone.

Lily was always shy when we first got to class, but warmed up quickly and really enjoyed it. She gets to every station, but definitely enjoys the play dough quite a bit. Her absolute favorite was the combination of play dough and smooth rocks. It was difficult to convince her it wasn't good sharing to hoarde collect all the rocks for herself.

For the spring class we were able to sign up with my friend Diana and her two girls, Lily and Sylvie. When I signed up I thought I'd get through at least the first 4 sessions before Baby Koi arrived - and then Gordon would be home to take Lily to the last two. But of course Quinn had other plans and Lily and I only made it to two classes before we became a family of four. Gordon took her to the first class after Quinn arrived alone, but I was able to venture out with them the following week. Since we had two adults at that class Gordon was able to take his camera and play photographer.

First, the easel station:

Lily hard at work

Taking a break to pose with Eve

Then, some play dough:

Learning "cookie" cutting from Eve and Miss Annie


Slyvie getting her hand dirty

If it's not messy it's not fun!

The last two classes were some of my first outings alone with the two kids. And.. well that's fodder for another post because, yeah, that's hard. Sadly the classes are all done now, but we had such a great time. Thank you so much Miss Annie and Miss Erin!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tribute to My Mei Tai

So that Quinn, he likes being held. And it turns out - Lily - she still has needs too. I've been trying to teach her to cook her own lunch, but she's just not quite there yet. Come on kid - get with the program!

In the meantime, there is my mei tai. No, no not "mai tai" - mei tai. It's an asian-style baby carrier and without it I would be a woman adrift in a sea of hopelessness. How else can one continue to hold her baby while still getting a toddler on and off the potty/fetching goldfish/making sandwiches/playing at the park/etc? (Don't get me wrong though - some days I would really prefer the mai tai).

Since I don't have the energy to write the "open love letter" to my mei tai that it deserves. Here is some haiku - and some action shots.

tiny baby cries
always cease when wrapped up tight
close to mama's heart

fabric so pretty
black is not a cool color
we get quite sweaty

you hate the stroller
So I carry you around
everywhere I go


[Note: There are many many "brands" of mei tai. Mine is a Freehand Mei Tai and we bought it here.]

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

All Smiles

Today Wednesday I got a big old smile from Mr. Quinn. I'm not sure that it's his first - I swear I've seen others from him over the past two weeks - but there was no mistaking this one. The others had been kind of small, a little tentative. All in response to me talking and smiling at him, but I just wasn't sure. But today Wednesday.... I was holding him and talking to him and he was watching me. I stopped talking for a second (yeah, it does happen) and suddenly his face broke out in a big gummy smile. The kind that gets the whole face involved and reaches your eyes. Maybe he was smiling because I had finally stopped my incessant babbling.... Of course I don't have a picture of it.. but I'm sure we'll have ample opportunities to catch his smile on camera soon.

[And since I'm finishing this post days after I started I'm happy to report that Q has continued to dazzle me with smiles. He even turned one on for the entire breast-feeding support group on Thursday while being held by the lactation consultant. Then he charmed the nurse with another one during my OB appointment on Friday. Now I need to get him give a big one to Dad! Maybe for Father's Day....]

In other news, Gordon's Dad, Yeh-Yeh, came to visit last weekend. He was really anxious to meet little Q, so he took the bus up here on his own to sneak in an early visit. I'm telling you this man is nothing short of a magic, baby-holding machine. He beats any swing, bouncy chair contraption on the market. I'm always amazed by his unlimited patience and by how much enjoyment he derives out of just sitting there holding these babies. He did the same thing for Lily when she was an infant. I do love my kids, but I dunno, I get bored easily. And at this stage - not sure if its just age or temperament yet, Quinn really really likes being held. He does not like the bouncy chair and he's not big into napping anywhere but in my arms. Thank goodness for the mei tai that Gordon bought me a couple of years back. It's pretty much the only way I manage to get anything done around here other than nursing and holding Quinn. I've been wanting to write this post where I chronicle a typical day for me and Quinn, but can't seem to put him down long enough to start it!

So anyway, it was fabulous having Yeh-Yeh here. I got to spend some real time with Lily for a change - it was such a help. He left Tuesday morning and I missed him immediately. Magic, I tell you!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Milk, It Does....

The one thing about Lily's infancy that mad me sad was my inability to nurse her. I didn't write about it here at the time, but during my pregnancy with Lily I was on a drug called Imuran to manage my myasthenia gravis. The drug did a great job keeping me stable, but it's a drug with side effects and its safety during pregnancy is uncertain. Lily did just fine, of course, but once she was born it didn't make much sense to continue exposing her to the drug by nursing. So, on the advice of the OB and my pediatrician, we fed her with formula.

When I got home from the hospital and my milk came in I was pretty crushed. I wanted to nurse so badly and the aching in my breasts just amplified the ache that I felt in my heart. Oh and the post-partum hormones didn't help either. Those few days - before my milk went away - were the toughest of my post-partum period. It was the time during which I felt, most acutely, the "baby blues". I was very self-conscious when feeding her a bottle in public. Sounds odd - I know - but living in a progressively liberal area I was surrounded by nursing Moms and always wondered what they must think of me. I would obsessively explain to anyone who would listen my reasons for not nursing - like I had something to defend. The funny thing was that no one said or did anything to make me feel this way - my guilt and defensiveness was all internally generated.

There were also some strong benefits to feeding Lily formula. Gordon was able to help with the feeding from the beginning and the two of us were not all that sleep-deprived. She ate on a schedule and there were no concerns about weight gain. Gordon loved his time spent feeding Lily in the evenings and was able to forge a strong bond with her from day one.

I was happy to learn, between pregnancies, that a new MG-focused study indicated that low-dose Prednisone could be as effective as Imuran. Although Predinisone has lots of side-effects too, it is safe for both pregnancy and nursing. My nuerologist and I agreed to switch medications in preparation for my next pregnancy. As I've mentioned here before the Prednisone had some side effects during pregnancy which were not so great - most notably leading to gestational diabetes. However, the big perk is that now all that is behind me and I have been able to nurse Quinn.

So here we are, nearly 5 weeks into life with Quinn and he's been exclusively breastfed. And let me tell you - it's hard - but so far worth it. I love the way he searches me out when he's hungry, how his little head moves side to side with his mouth wide open. I love hearing his contended swallows and watching his eyes close as he fills himself up. I love that every ounce he's gained can be attributed to me. I love that I get to extend our symbiotic relationship beyond the day of his birth. Symbiotic - because I need him emotionally as much as he needs me physically. I love the faces he makes when he's done eating and how he settles into sleep immediately on my chest. I love feeling like a superhero as I nurse my baby while simultaneously pushing my toddler on the swing at the park.

I don't love the sore nipples that occasionally get raked by razor-sharp baby nails attached to flailing fingers. I don't love being the only source of food at 2AM and then again at 4AM and 6AM. I don't love not being able to get away long enough for a hair cut or trying to figure out how to nurse in a restaurant while eating a messy hamburger with one hand. I don't love wondering how I'm going to find time to eat my own lunch or get enough sleep. I don't love telling Lily over and over that I can't do something for or with her because Quinn needs to eat (AGAIN!?).

So yeah, it's been hard, but so far very worth it - gestational diabetes and all. I feel so lucky that I've been able to experience nursing and give Quinn this gift in spite of my health issues. When deciding to nurse this time around I was worried about how I would explain it to Lily. I was sure she would ask if I nursed her. People assured me that was not something to worry about - that she would be too young to go down that road. Well, Lily's gone down that road. She's very interested in talking about what she did as a baby. She will say things like "When I was a baby like Quinton I sat in that car seat" or "I used that bouncy chair" or "I wore this shirt". The other day she said "When I was a baby like Quinton I ate from Mommy". So far I've been vague with my answers here. Saying things like "yes, Moommy fed you special milk too", etc. But she does push on it and my heart breaks a little each time.

I ache to think that I couldn't do the same for Lily. Talking about how badly I wanted to nurse her still brings tears to my eyes. However, I know that Lily has received other gifts that I can never give Quinn - most notably my undivided attention for the first 2 years and 4 months of her life. I cannot provide exactly equally for both of my children, so I'm not going to try. I believe that trying to do that lessens what I do give them. They are not the same people and they do not need/want equally. I will give both of them as much of what they need as I possibly can. I will give them whatever I have to give.

The other day I was nursing Quinn in Lily's room, sitting on her floor in the dark. She was refusing to nap and so I was sitting in there with her keeping her company. She sat down next to me with her doll, Baby. "Baby's hungry" she told me. "Oh, well you should feed her" I said. She held baby up to her chest, as I was holding Quinn and looked at me questioningly. "Yes" I said, "just like that". "Baby's eating" she said. And we sat there together, mother and daughter in the dark, feeding our babies. And I felt happy that although I couldn't give her milk in her infancy, I could give her this experience* now. That she could watch me nursing her brother and learn about another way that Mommies feed their babies. That I can still share this little miracle with her. I hope she reads this post some day and that she understands.

*Sharing this time with Lily just made me even more confused about this insanity.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Word-Smithing (updaetd)

I wish I could just sit down and write something here everyday instead of letting things build up and eat at my brain until I get all bummed about not recording it somewhere and finally give in. Lily's been saying such fun things lately I really want to capture them here. So someday, I can come back and remember - Like when she's a teenager and I want to strangle myself.

To that end, here's a little collection of my favorites lately - or the ones I can remember...


Yesterday I got Lily up from her nap and Quinn was sleeping (rare occurrence!). I climbed into bed with her and her first words were "Mommy, where's Quinton?" I told her he was asleep. She jumped up and said "Will you play with me now?" My heart broke a little as I followed her into the playroom. We spent a good 20 minutes playing with stickers. At the end of it, my heart was filled with love - and appreciation at getting this time alone with her - so I scooped her up and said "I want to tell you a secret". She leaned in close and I said "I love you". She giggled.

Later that night at dinner:
Lily: "Daddy I want to tell you secret"
Gordon leans in to listen
Lily: "The mango is not ready yet"

This morning at breakfast
Lily: "Mommy, I want to tell you a secret"
I lean in to listen
Lily: "Firecrackers!"

We're still working on the meaning of "secret"!

Gordon is in the kitchen getting dinner ready (I am the luckiest person alive). He is standing in front of the drawer where the silverware lives. Lily, decides she wants to get her spoon and her fork. She walks over to Gordon and demands:
"Go Away Daddy!"
We tell her - "Lily, that's not how you ask someone to move"
"Go Away Daddy!"
again, we repeat that she is not asking nicely
"Go Away Daddy PLEASE!"

Apparently we haven't done such a good job teaching "excuse me"

(this is an old one, but it's great)

A while back - I think when I was in Houston in March - Gordon and Lily went to dinner at a Tibetan restaurant in Davis Square. Lily was enthralled by all the containers of interesting-looking condiments on the table. She kept reaching for them and Gordon kept distracting her and warning her that they were spicy. She's not a fan of spicy things just yet.

Eventually she got some hot stuff on her finger and into her mouth. She immediately got pretty upset, complaining "Spicy Spicy Spicy".

Gordon got her to drink water and she looked relieved saying "ahhh spicy's gone!".

But then a minute later she looked alarmed and exclaimed "oh no! Spicy's BACK! Spicy's BACK!" I think this cycle was repeated a couple of times.

On a related note, if Gordon hasn't shaved in a couple of days Lily will tell him that his face is "Spicy"

(in which she experiments with flattery and manipulation)

Now that it's spring (nearly summer!) we've been spending a lot of time outside and on our back deck. Lily has become very adept at opening doors and occasionally tries to head outside on her own. We, of course, are working VERY hard to discourage this solo exploration (ummm scary much?). The other day our neighbors were over for dinner with their two kids. The kids were having a BALL rough-housing and making general mayhem. By the time we said goodbye everyone was pretty riled up. As they were leaving Lily saw the open front door and took off out into the hallway and down the stairs. I quickly followed and we had this conversation by the front door of our building:

Me: Lily, you can NOT leave the house and come down here without asking us first
Lily: Please can I go downstairs?
Me: yes, that's how you ask, but you have to do it BEFORE you leave
Lily: Please can I go downstairs?
Me: (changing tactics) Why did you want to come down here?
Lily: (thinks for a minute) ummm... because I LIKE you!


Chuck's comment reminded me of another Lily-ism I forgot the first time around...

A favorite phrase of hers lately is "alot of times". She often uses it to modify how much she likes something. Examples include:
"I like blueberries alot of times"
"I like strawberries alot of times"
"I like circle alot of times"
"I like nines alot of times"
"Liza Jane is my favorite song alot of times"

On my first Monday home alone with Lily and Quinn we went to art class. I decided to drive the short distance to Davis Square for my sanity. However we were planning to meet friends (Chuck, Eileen & Susannah) for lunch afterward. So I needed a stroller and Mei Tai to transport the kids from art class to lunch. Well I grabbed the Mei Tai, but in the insanity of trying to get three of us out the door left it sitting on the entryway bench. I didn't notice until I got to art class and went to pop Quinn into it. I frantically searched the car and my bag - all the while exclaiming "shoot shoot shoot!". Finally I gave up and went to get Lily out of her seat.

She looks at me, smiling and laughing a bit and says:
"You said shoot Mommy. You said shoot alot of times!"


armoire hide-and-seek: a current favorite

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Quinn - in photos

Somehow it's been almost a month since Quinn was born. How is that even possible? He'll be 4 weeks old this Friday. Gordon went back to work last week, so I've been on my own for a little bit now. It's going okay. The days with just Q and I are totally doable. I've forgotten a bit how much attention newborns need/demand. But otherwise, we're hanging in. My days with both Lily AND Quinn - when I am outnumbered - well that's a topic for another post.

I have lots of stuff to talk about, but at the rate I'm going, will never get there. So before time runs away from me any quicker here's a little photo essay on Quinn's first few weeks at home.

Gordon and I both marvel at how small Q is. His birth weight is only 6 ounces less than Lily's - but we're having a hard time remembering her ever being this little. So when he first got home we had a few rounds of who's bigger. It's hard to tell who's the winner here with Q's blanket advantage:

Like most newborns, he's spent a lot of time asleep. Lily got a TON of photo opportunities with her Dad - during late night feeding sessions. Since Quinn is nursing, Gordon hasn't had as many chances with him. But he's still doing a good job getting some great shots. Here's one in the awesome new blanket that my Mom made for Quinn:

He's even been awake occasionally. Gordon is still an expert-swaddler, as evidenced in this pic:

ooo look - another awake shot! He's doing his "tai chi arms" routine in this one:

Speaking of arms - I'm convinced Quinn's got really long ones. He does this really adorable thing when he sleeps on your chest. He reaches up with his arm and sort of hugs you. It's so cuddly and snuggly. He also likes to spread his fingers out wide whenever he can. Here's a typical "Q sleeping on someone" pose:

And further evidence of just how cuddly/snuggly he is. He's got this awesome soft hair that's so nice to nuzzle into. I'm glad that Gordon occasionally shoves the camera in my hand and forces me to take pictures. I love this one of Daddy and his new boy.