Tim and I aren’t sports people. We don’t follow sports; we don’t have favorite teams; we have no interest in fantasy sports leagues. We enjoy watching the Olympics, and Tim will often half-watch the Super Bowl so he can participate in discussions about it at work the next day, but that’s the extent of our sports interest. Because of our complete indifference toward sports, we always assumed we’d end up with kids who wanted to be on every sports team possible. That’s how these things work, right?
Earlier this summer, we had the neighbors over for a barbeque. Their elementary-aged son, Ethan, is an avid soccer player, and it just so happened that Alexander had recently brought home a free soccer ball from a neighborhood event. Ethan started showing Alexander a few soccer moves (techniques? skills? I don’t know the terminology), and the two of them played happily together all evening. (Don’t even get me started on how great it was that this older boy entertained our two-and-a-half year old for several hours. We have good neighbors.)
Ever since then, Alexander will periodically ask whether Ethan’s coming over to play soccer again. I’ve mentioned to Ethan’s mom that if Ethan would be interested in letting Alexander come over and kick the ball around, it would make Alexander’s day, but Ethan is often busy playing with friends his own age (completely understandable). Still, the fact that Alexander still brings it up says a lot about how much fun he had playing soccer with Ethan a couple months ago.
Last weekend, on a whim, Alexander and I took his soccer ball to the park, planning to kick it around in the field a bit. We ended up spending a solid 45 minutes running back and forth across a big, grassy field, taking turns kicking the soccer ball. Alexander would kick it, yell, “your turn!” and then, nine times out of ten, he’d sneak in and kick the ball out from under my feet before I could take my turn. If I told him to kick the ball a certain direction, he did. He ran with the ball, kicking it with every step (I think that’s called “dribbling”?), and only rarely missed attempted kicks. I know nothing about soccer, and I’m certainly more than a little biased, but the kid seems like a natural.
Oh, and — minor detail — the entire time we were kicking that ball around the field, Alexander was laughing and giggling and grinning ear-to-ear, positively bursting with joy.
I’m a major sucker for seeing my boy so happy, so as soon as we got home, I started looking up toddler soccer programs. I found one that allows kids to try their first class for free, so we took Alexander to his first soccer class (practice? lesson?) yesterday morning. He was a little nervous at first. When we drove up to the facility, he asked, “Are you guys going to stay with me?” It’s a parent-participation class, so we assured him that one of us would be right there with him the whole time. At the beginning of class, Alexander’s uncertainty about being in an unfamiliar situation was palpable. While everyone stood in a circle and did stretches, Alexander stood motionless, shaking his head when Tim encouraged him to follow along with the coaches. I watched from the sidelines and hoped he’d warm up to the situation and start having a good time.
Next, the coaches lead some running drills, which Alexander participated in, though he was still a little hesitant. Then, the soccer balls came out, and all of Alexander’s uncertainty went straight out the window. He kicked his ball across the field, grinning and giggling the whole time. He spent the remainder of the hour enthusiastically participating in all the games — kicking various balls, racing to sort a pile of multicolored bean bags into buckets of matching colors, and chasing the coach while he dragged a bag full of soccer balls around the field. Just like our day at the park last week, Alexander could not stop laughing and smiling. When class was over, he protested loudly, “But I’m not ready to go!” He only agreed to leave the field when we promised he could come back and play again next week.
And that’s how Tim and I, two non-sports-loving people, came to sign our son up for a full season of soccer lessons. Seeing Alexander having the time of his life out on that soccer field melted our hearts. (It also didn’t hurt that after soccer he ate a great lunch — “All that playing at the exercise place made me very hungry!” — and took an excellent nap.) We all had a good time at soccer, and I kind of can’t wait to take him back next week.
At five months old, Emily continues to be the happiest baby there ever was. Sure, she gets fussy from time to time (incidentally, I had to take several breaks to comfort her while writing this post because she’s really cranky tonight), but when she’s happy, she’s really happy. And it doesn’t take much to make her crack that big ol’ grin, either. She’s positively delighted by: the dogs, her big brother, her toys, her feet, her parents, her grandparents, people she’s only just met…the list goes on and on.
As she gets more expressive, her little personality is starting to shine through, and — surprise, surprise — it’s lots of fun. When I see her make goofy faces at me, it makes me all the more excited to see what she’s going to be like as a toddler. I can’t wait to hear all the things she has to tell us. I mean, look at this face. You just know she’s got some hilarious stories to tell.
There’s another part of me, though, that wants to tell her to just slow down — stop growing up so fast! I remember being so impatient for Alexander to grow up and reach all the big milestones. With Emily, I’m really not a hurry for her to grow up and stop being my tiny baby. She has her own ideas about that, of course. She’s rolling all over the place and can get across a room in a matter of minutes. She’s babbling and laughing and blowing raspberries and flirting with the baby in the mirror. And then, on her five-month birthday, this:
She sits up now! Totally unsupported! Alexander didn’t sit unsupported until he was six-and-a-half months old, so she’s way ahead of the game by those standards. I know every baby is different, but it’s so interesting to me to see the similarities and differences between my own two kids’ development. I expected Emily to do things a little earlier than Alexander since she has him to mimic/keep up with. But I did not expect her to hit milestones a full six weeks before he did. Crazy little overachiever. (She still doesn’t sleep through the night, though. That’s one milestone she can hurry up and reach any day now.)
Speaking of Alexander, he adores her, and she him. I know they won’t always get along perfectly, but at the moment they’re best buddies, and hopefully they’ll stay that way for quite awhile. Seeing her face light up when he comes into view, and seeing him help her figure out new toys…my heart is so full.
Emily’s other big milestone this month was starting solid foods. (Alexander, of course, was right there to help her out.) She took to it like a champ, and it only took a few bites of rice cereal before she was opening her mouth wide, baby-bird style, waiting for another spoonful. She ate rice cereal for a couple weeks before moving up to vegetable purees, and so far, so good. She’s not a huge fan of green beans, but everything else we’ve offered, she’s gobbled up enthusiastically.
Did I mention that she also scoots all over the place in her walker? Seriously, kid, with the growing up too fast! Oh, but she’s so proud of herself when she manages to scoot across the kitchen to me in that contraption. She’s not great at steering, though, and we frequently have to re-direct her when she’s stuck up against the kitchen island or has a wheel wedged under the couch. An Emily in motion would very much like to stay in motion, and she’s not shy at all about expressing her displeasure when she gets stuck somewhere.
Her other favorite place to hang out is in her jumparoo. We introduced her to it shortly after she turned four moths old, and she was immediately impressed. And then! She learned how to swivel herself around in the seat! And discovered more toys at every turn! The first time she turned herself around and discovered another set of toys, the expression of sheer delight that came across her face was priceless. And then she turned a little further and was delighted all over again when she found even more new toys. Babies really know how to appreciate life’s simple pleasures.
I think I’ve written before about how Alexander is the world’s biggest Daddy’s boy. He loves me, sure, but he very much prefers Tim. If he needs something and I try to help him, nine times our of ten he’ll respond with cries of “No, not you! I wanted Daddy!” It’s fun.
Emily, though. I know it’s a little early to say for sure, but I can already tell she loves me best. There are the usual indicators, like the fact that I can usually comfort her quicker than Tim if she’s upset, and the way she can be sleeping peacefully in my arms then start fussing the instant I try to hand her off to Tim. But the real proof is this: Every single time she’s been dressed in an “I love Daddy” or “Daddy’s little princess” onesie, she’s had a major diaper blowout, forcing us to change her outfit. Every time. (Okay, there was maybe one day she managed to wear a “Daddy’s girl” onesie all day without soiling it, but that was obviously a fluke.) Doesn’t get much clearer than that, folks. This girl loves her Mama.
Daddy’s still pretty good too, though.
So there you have it: Emily at 5 months. She’s 14.3 pounds of happy energy who can barely sit still long enough for me to get a non-blurry picture. And she’s positively delightful.
Emily had a busy month! Let’s get right to the photo highlights, shall we?
She had her first 4th of July. She spent the morning lounging poolside, waiting for someone to bring her an umbrella drink.
She found her feet! She likes playing with lots of different toys, but her feet are a big favorite since they’re always nearby.
She got baptized! We had her baptism on July 20th so that my best friend, Amy, who Emily’s godmother, could be here for the ceremony. It was a nice ceremony, and it was wonderful getting to spend the morning with Amy and her family.
Amy’s kids are very close in age to Alexander and Emily — her daughter is 5 days older than Alexander, and her son is 7 weeks younger than Emily. They live in Boston, so we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, but it’s always a great time when we do get together.
Emily and Walker holding hands — already best buddies!
She rolled over! She’d been rolling back-to-front for a few weeks, but then she’d get mad because she was stuck on her belly. Then one day she finally figured out how to roll front-to-back, and everything was great again. She’s rolling a full month earlier than Alexander did, and she couldn’t be more pleased with herself. I expect her to be crawling any week now. (I’m only half joking about that.)
Alexander’s the sweetest big brother in the world. He takes such good care of Emily, and always makes sure she has a toy to play with, whether she wants it or not. He loves to smother her in hugs and kisses, and he still likes to hold her and exclaim, “I think she likes me!” just like he’s been doing since the day we brought her home from the hospital. She’s incredibly lucky to have him for a big brother.
Here’s an 8-second video of Emily and her signature full-body smile. That’s her default smile; it’s like she gets so overcome with joy that she can’t help but react with her whole body. And it happens almost every time she smiles. She’s basically the world’s happiest baby.
At the end of this month, Tim went back to work, so Emily started going to daycare full time. It’s going very well, as expected. Linda, our daycare provider, loves Emily to pieces (who wouldn’t?), and Alexander really likes having Emily at daycare with him.
Speaking of daycare/working parents, I’ve been at my new job for two months now, and it’s going really well. I love the work, I have a great group of coworkers, and, most of all, I love coming home and being greeted by two kids with ear-to-ear grins. I’m also relived that pumping at work is going much better for me this time than it did the last time around. With Alexander, I could never pump enough to keep up with his appetite, and I just really hated the whole experience. With Emily, for a number of reasons, everything is 100 times better. I’m keeping up with her appetite just fine, and I really don’t mind pumping at work. I look forward to my short breaks throughout the day to unwind for a few minutes, catch up with Twitter and Facebook, and give my brain a break from all things work-related. My initial goal was to make it to 6 months nursing and pumping; that was my goal with Alexander, and I did it, but it was a struggle. Everything’s going so much better this time, though, that I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. Of course, things change, and I know there’s no guarantees that I’ll be able to keep up with it. But for now, I plan to keep nursing/pumping for as long as I can. I’d love to make it a full year, but who knows if it’ll work out that way. Regardless, I feel happy with my success thus far, and I count every day that it keeps going well as a win.
At her 4-month checkup, Emily weighed in at 13.5 pounds and 24.5 inches long. She’s growing like a champ!
Alexander talks up a storm all day, every day, and he’s getting better at pronouncing words properly all the time. He no longer says “Huppa-cotter” for helicopter or “Boo-mint truck” for cement truck. And long gone are the days of insisting a monkey is called a “bacon.” Despite the dwindling adorable mispronunciations, the kid still makes us laugh every day with the things that come out of his mouth. Here are a few of my recent favorites.
After eating pizza, all the while exclaiming how much he likes it, and even asking for seconds and thirds: “Why did you make pizza? I wanted a hot dog.”
Whenever he sees me wearing a skirt: “Oh, Mommy! You look like a princess!”
When something doesn’t go exactly as planned: “That’s okay. Sometimes that happens.”
When I tell him he’s a silly bean: “No, I’m not a bean. I’m just Alexander.”
When he’s pretending to be a frog and I tell him he’s doing some good hopping: “I think you mean, ‘Good hopping, Mister Frog.'”
When we left his cousin Maeta’s house one day: “We need to get a crane and pick up Maeta’s house and put it next to my house.”
About Emily: “Aw, what a cute little baby!”
I had to help Alexander go potty at a neighbor’s house and asked the neighbor to hold Emily while I took A. to the bathroom. When we came back out, he walked straight up to the neighbor (who he’d just met) and said, “Now can we please have our baby back?”
One day we were getting out of the car, and I said “Hi, pretty girl” to Emily as I unbuckled her. Alexander asked me, “Are you getting the pretty girl?”
When we drive past the hospital. Seriously, every single time: “Oh, there’s the building! That’s where you guys got Baby Sister out of your tummy. And now you can carry me!” (The most important part of this story is the fact that I can carry Alexander now that Baby Sister is finally out of my tummy.)
Referring to his tears after he’s been crying: “There’s crying in my eyes.”
When he spotted some dandelions on the way to the park: “Oh! Look at these lovely flowers!”
Several times while we were swimming on the Fourth of July: “What a beautiful day at the pool!”
He is constantly narrating his own life, and he gleefully tells everyone what he’s doing, usually punctuating each word with an excited jump. One night we were out to dinner and I had to take him to the bathroom. There was a man outside the bathroom, waiting for his daughter, and Alexander proudly informed him, “We’re going potty!”
At bedtime, he asked me to tell him a story about Santa, Aladdin, Clifford, and a monkey. So I started with, “Once upon a time, Aladdin and Clifford went to the North Pole…” He interrupted “Yeah! And then we took off our clothes and went swimming! We went swimming in the North Pool!”
A few weeks ago, we went to a kids’ festival sponsored by Rocky Mountain PBS, and Alexander got to meet Super Why.
It was basically the best day of his life, as evidenced by his ear-to-ear grin.
Later that night, totally out of the blue, Alexander exclaimed critically, “Hey! That Super Why didn’t have a Why Writer!” (We assured him that Super Why’s friend Alpha Pig was probably holding his Why Writer for him so he’d have both hands free to give Alexander hugs.)
Alexander is totally obsessed with Aladdin lately, and he requests viewings of “The Genie Show” on a near-daily basis. Every night at bedtime, we get to tell “The Aladdin Story,” highlighting his favorite parts of the movie (mostly centered around the Cave of Wonders; that boy loves the Cave of Wonders) and usually starring Alexander in the role of Aladdin’s Best Friend. (Sometimes Mommy, Daddy, and/or Emily get to be in the story, too.) Frequently, after I tell the Aladdin story, Alexander says “Now it’s my turn!” And then something like this happens:
Transcript: Once upon a time, there was a boy named Aladdin, and his friend, Daddy! And they did the “One-Step” dance and got some bread. And then they went to the Cave of Wonders. And the Cave of Wonders said, “Who disturbs my slumber?” And they said, “It is I, Aladdin.” And– and– “It is I, Daddy.” And they went into the Cave of Wonders, and they found a magic carpet, and a magic lamp, and then that– Abu, that silly monkey, touched the Forbidden Treasure. So they went down the slide. And then, the magic carpet saved them from the hot stuff on the ground. And then a genie came outside. And the Genie said, “You get wishes!” And Daddy said, “I wish to be a rabbit!” And the Genie said, “Poof! You’re a rabbit.” And the Genie turned Aladdin into a train! And the Genie said, “Poof! You’re a train.” And then they stomped off to the palace. And then, the– Oh. I guess I didn’t say the soaked part. I guess they did not get soaked.* They stomped off to the palace, and then they stomped back to the palace, and they lived happily after. The end!
As you can see, not all of the adorable mispronunciations are a thing of the past. He is such a cute little stinker.
*The “soaked part” refers to the part of the movie where Jafar has Aladdin (a/k/a Prince Ali Ababwa) thrown into the sea. Usually when Alexander is telling the story, he emphasizes, “And then Pwince Ali Bwa Bwa got soaked!” He’s very concerned about the fact that our story’s hero gets all wet and needs dry clothes.
Somehow, Emily is three months old already. I can’t believe it. Weren’t we just bringing her home from the hospital yesterday?
This past month has been one of adjustment for all of us. Tim started his summer break, Alexander dropped down to part-time daycare for the summer, and I went back to work, leaving Tim at home to wrangle the kids during the week. It’s been great overall; being away from my family has been difficult for me, but I take comfort in knowing they’re all having a great time together. And, I gotta say, the best thing in the world is when, the moment I come home from work, Emily flashes me one of her great big grins. She’s been doing that since my first day of work, and it makes my heart burst every single day. It feels good knowing she’s so happy to see me.
Emily took her first trip to the zoo this month to celebrate her cousin Johnny’s first birthday. I was at work that day, but Tim reports that Emily slept through the majority of her first zoo experience. (Alexander had a blast, though.)
Tim has proven himself to be Super Dad over the past month. With Alexander only going to daycare a couple days per week and Emily home all the time, he’s on his own with both kids the majority of the time. When I was home with just Emily, I was lucky to get myself showered and fed; if I did a load or two of laundry I considered it a productive day. Tim, on the other hand, frequently gets both kids out of the house to do fun things (zoo, pool, park, pancake breakfast, etc.) and also manages to have the house straightened up by the time I get home at least once a week. These kids are lucky to have him home with them.
Emily started sleeping through the night this month, too, which has been amazing. I’ve figured out that she can sleep for about 7-8 hours at a stretch at night. Sometimes she falls asleep early in the evening, and it’s impossible to wake her up and get her to eat when we go to bed later, which means she’s awake and hungry between 2 and 3am. But if she happens to wake up and eat when we go to bed around 9:30, she usually won’t wake up to eat again until 5am. Since my alarm goes off at 5:15, this works out pretty perfectly for me. I get to start my day with baby snuggles before dragging myself out of bed to get ready for work. And then she goes back to sleep for a few more hours, allowing Tim to stay in bed until Alexander gets up at 7. It’s a pretty good system.
Every night, without fail, she wiggles and squirms until she’s wedged herself sideways in the co-sleeper next to our bed. I can’t imagine it’s comfortable, but she seems to prefer it. Whatever; if she’s sleeping, I’m happy.
She doesn’t just wiggle at night; she loves to move all day long, too. She can easily roll herself from her back up on to her side, and she uses this trick to spin herself in circles. She’ll roll up to her side, wiggle, and plop down on her back, having rotated a few degrees to the left. She does it over and over again, turning in a full circle in the space of about 10 minutes. She also wiggles her way off her playmat pretty frequently. This girl has places to go, and she’s not about to let a little thing like an inability to crawl stand in her way.
Emily wasn’t going to have a three-month well-check, but she ended up going to the doctor on her three-month birthday to get a rash checked out (she’s fine), so we got some bonus three-month measurements. (Tim wrangled both kids to the pediatrician and then to the grocery store to pick up Emily’s prescription. Super Dad, seriously.) At her two-month checkup, she was just a hair over 11 pounds. At three-months, she weighed in at 12.3 pounds and 23 inches long. She’s gained nearly a pound and a half in the past month! Apparently she has no complaints about eating from a bottle while I’m at work.