July 2007


Ah, the words still conjure up an image of tiny Joelle with brown mess all over her face.  I was surprised today when Elise’s pediatrician recommended that I start her off on table foods.  Yes, things like biter biscuits (for the record, Chris has banned biter biscuits from Elise’s menu because they really are ridiculously messy and provide no nutritional value.)  I didn’t realize that the puree bit was so short lived and am a little sad.  For the first time, I get to have a kid who eats what I make her.  I love to cook and it’s been a bit frustrating for me over the past 5 years to have a little person whose culinary appetite is so limited.  Elise already eats a much more varied and balanced diet.

The possibility of Elise turning into another picky eater hadn’t even crossed my mind, until I read The Sneaky Chef.  In it, the author tells how she had a first born who would eat anything – literally.  She could take her to a Japanese restaurant and she would eat seaweed wraps and anything else she would give her.  She laughed at all her friends with the “picky eaters.”  Thinking that they, and I, had done something miserably wrong in the parenting department.  Then, her second came along.  Not only did she incur the hubris penalty with the second, but now the first decided that if the second were picky, it was her duty to also turn into a picky eater.  When I read this, I had a silent scream and panicked eyes.  Joelle could turn little Elise into a picky eater???  NO!  So, I’m treating this book as my new mantra.  I have dedicated myself to a fifth, sixth (I’m losing count) round against Joelle and the food issue.  My visit with the pediatrician took a strange turn when I commented that I was sad to lose the puree stage for Elise because I was actually getting Joelle to eat more veggies by sneaking puree into her food.  He said, “she still won’t eat?”  “She’s getting a little old for that.”  He suggested sending her for occupational therapy.  Perhaps, she has a sensory processing disorder?  http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/picky-eaters.html

I’m not exactly sure what Chris and I will do with this new piece of information, but in the meantime, I’m esctatic that baby #2 is eating whatever I give her and that I’ve successfully had Joelle eat the chicken nuggets (carrot/sweet potato puree, wheat germ and almonds are in the mix), breakfast cookies (with wheat germ and total cereal) and cupcakes (spinach and blueberries are in the batter!) from The Sneaky Chef.  Little Elise is moving on…  She successfully grabbed one teddy puff (finger food from Whole Foods) and got it in her mouth.  She was so adorable chewing on that little puff.   

Petie bought Joelle a great set of books today that help kids who are learning how to read. It’s a great set of 10 small books that Joelle loves so far. True to form, Joelle isn’t one to put down an activity that she enjoys. When at my parents’ house, Honey (my mom), would give her an activity book with stickers and they would go through the activities one by one until they were all done. Then Joelle would ask if Honey had another activity book for them to conquer. It took some negotiating to get her to agree to hold off until next time.

So it is with anything – you can tell if she likes the activity whether it be a game, reading, riding her bike, etc. If you don’t have a good reason to stop, it’s not happening. These books have proved no different. When given the opportunity to keep one in her bed to read she jumped at the opportunity and picked one that she hadn’t looked at (she and Petie went through 3 of the 10 before bed) yet and said she would “stay up all night reading it” so she would get a sticker. (You get a sticker when you read one of the books on your own). We countered saying if she stayed up all night she wouldn’t be getting a sticker anyway….

Forty-five minutes after bedtime I walk by her room from our study and she is sitting in the hallway reading the book. I tell her to get back into bed and she gives me a sad “o….k…..good night” with a discouraged look on her face. No one likes a frowning four-year-old. “Good night, I love you,” I say. She looks up, seeing a chink in the armor of the sleep patrol. “I only got THIS far (about one-third of the way) in the book,” she says. “It says THE FISH SITS and then what?” She was stuck on a new word. She’s still at the point of memorizing common words and being able to figure out some similar ones. I continued the sentence in the book, “…WITH…”. Her face lost its tension–happy to be past this obstacle and processing a new word which she knew she would see again.

Besides enjoying watching this process of Joelle learning to read it reminded me of when I was seven or eight years old. I, too, chose reading over sleep on many occasions. My brother Danny did it, too. There is photographic evidence of me asleep with a book on the rug next to the sinks in our bathroom and Danny asleep sitting in his laundry basket in his closet. When I saw Joelle sitting in the hallway reading, it brought back a memory from twenty-five or so years ago. The memory wasn’t new, but the vividness of it was magnified tremendously. I remember going out into the hallway after everyone was asleep, laying on my stomach in the shaggy carpet and reading by the hall light; a small light bulb that was about ankle level. An uncommon but useful place for a hall night light. Even better as a child’s reading lamp.

Last night, at Pappasito’s (yes, we’re off the cabbage soup diet! yay!), Joelle asked for some pennies to throw into the fountain. I gave her four. On the first penny, she said, “I wish for my parents to have 10 anniversaries.” On the second penny, she said, “I wish for a star to come down and play with me tonight.” She threw in the third and fourth at the same time and said, “I wish for these pennies to go into the fountain.” I loved hearing her wishes and didn’t dare warn her that you aren’t supposed to say wishes out loud. Who made up that ridiculous rule anyway? After she was done, she gave me a sad look and said, “I wish I had the pennies back.” I guess my daughter, like her mommie, won’t be a gambler.

Petie and I are reading “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”. Elise isn’t a bad sleeper necessarily, I’m guessing she’s about average. But we long for the long, uninterrupted sleep at night that we eventually got from Joelle so we’re looking for any tips we can.

I won’t review the book – as most of these books go it has a bunch of “success stories” which are kind of fluff to make the book long enough to be, well, a book. It has a few nuggets of really interesting information as well. One thing the author does is to use boxes every now and again with headings like “Practical Point”, “Major Point”, “Helpful Hint”, etc. The first night I opened the book to Chapter Six: Month Four to Twelve to get a feel for what is “average”. There is a section in this chapter about “Bedtime”, starting with a paragraph about establishing a routine before bedtime. OK, sounds reasonable…pretty common knowledge if you’ve read books like this.

Then he hits us with a “Practical Point”. I expect suggestions on what to do for a bedtime routine. Instead he states “One parent who keeps a baby up past the child’s natural time to sleep may be using this play time with the child to avoid unpleasant private time with the other parent.”

I don’t really know what to say about that.

Ironically, my mom found a copy of a diet plan while she was looking for her recipe of my favorite cake.  The diet is faded, worn, and clearly from an era before laser printers.  Chris read it and dubbed it the “chain letter diet.”  It reads just like a chain letter you’d get in your inbox, “if you send this diet to 5 people, you’ll lose 5 pounds.”  If I wasn’t so frustrated about not losing a single pound since joining the MAC in late May and exercising almost every day of the week for an hour,  I might have had better sense and not tried it out.  Alas, I was desperate and did.

It’s a seven day diet and I’m on day 3.  It’s kicking my butt.  Every day, you’re supposed to consume large quantities of a cabbage soup (which consists of onion, green pepper, celery, tomatoes, cabbage and lipton french onion soup mix).  Then, each day varies with what you can eat. 

1 Day – fruit, 2 Day – veggies (one potato allowed), 3 Day – fruit and veggies (no potatoes), 4 Day – skim milk and up to 8 bananas, 5 Day – 10-12 ounces of beef and up to 8 tomatoes, 6 Day – all the beef and veggies you can eat, 7 Day – brown rice and veggies

It seems so easy on paper, but it’s really, really hard.  My parents have just completed day 7, luckily, or I think I would quit.  If they can do it, I can.  I’ll just be ticked if it’s all water loss and no real weight loss.  In looking for recipes tonight on the internet, it appears that there is a flock quite devoted to this diet.  Just giving up my skinny cows at night should net out at least a pound lost, right?? 

Chris is right though, after this – we’re just going on the strict 1000 calorie plan to get off the rest of the “baby”weight.  (Mine, not his – he’s just always very supportive.) 

I can already tell that summer is going to pass very quickly.  Although Joelle is already getting antsy for school to start and we’re only 7 weeks in (who thought it was a good idea to give kids 14 weeks off for summer?), it’s still going to pass very quickly.  I recently read how motherhood is an interesting dilemma.  On the one hand, we yearn for our little ones to take the next step to earn that next notch in their belt.  On the other hand, when they do achieve whatever goal it is, you end up mourning the baby you’ve lost.  I felt this way today when I realized that, for the first time, Joelle would really rather be playing with a friend then me.  Trust me, I’ve wanted this day to come for awhile.  I’ve even had conversations with her teacher and the director at her school because I questioned why she didn’t seem to play with other kids yet.  The director, who I trust completely, told me to wait until the end of this year.  If she wasn’t playing with kids by the summer, “then we should worry.”  I did wait and magically, she is.  Inexplicably, I’m a little sad. 

Joelle is also starting to read.  It still takes me by surprise.  We’ll be walking in a store or driving on the road and she’ll just start spouting off words, “bunny.  spring.  fern.”  These are all real examples of things she’s recently read to me.  The authors of “Dick and Jane” are brilliant.  I hated the stories when we first bought the book, but I now see the beauty of the design to help kids learn to read.  This summer, she’s also picking up on all the games children play.  Timeless classics, updated by Little Gym (I assume this is where she’s learning them).  Daddy and I find ourselves avoiding cracks “…because we might step on crabs.”  We owe a new love of Hannah Montana to Little Gym as well.  Joelle was singing, “nobody’s perfect, we’re gonna work it.”  It’s the top song on Radio Disney and Joelle adores Hannah.  Hey, we figure it’s gotta be better then her watching Shakira, her other favorite artist.  (Shakira CDs are in 4 of my 6 slots in the CD changer.) 

Elise is moving along, too.  She can grab things.  It’s her new trick and she loves it.  She’s already clutched onto one of Joelle’s hair bows and quickly yanked it out of her hair.  Joelle was in tears over that and another fistful of hair that Elise grabbed.  Elise is anxious to play with toys, if Jojo doesn’t steal them first.  We opened up a new toy from Anshula and Thomas for Elise and Joelle was quick to hijack it.  Elise just watched with wide eyes as Joelle zoomed off with the bus and all the blocks.  She’s super close to sitting up on her own, but the date hasn’t been officially documented in the baby book. 

I’m glad we have our evening walks after dinner, (Joelle is on her bike now during these walks) because it’s the only time of the day that I feel like time slows down a bit.