Tim and I celebrated our tenth anniversary on Friday. In many ways our wedding day feels like only yesterday, but when I really think about everything we’ve done in the past decade — bought two houses (and sold one), figured out our career paths (which included grad school and a Master’s degree for Tim), had two children, explored a lot of great new places — then, yeah, ten years seems about right.
Before we got married, the priest who married us had us meet with him for a few sessions of pre-marital counseling. As part of the first session, he put us in separate rooms and had us take a compatibility-type test. It covered a wide range of topics, ranging from whether we’d discussed how many kids we wanted and parenting strategies, to how we handled arguments and apologies, to what we might do if we discovered our spouse had a drug problem. The questions were structured to gauge how much we’d discussed these issues, not to see if we could get the “right” answer. It was designed, I think, to see whether we were on the same page about things that would ultimately be important factors in our relationship.
When we were finished and back together in one room, the priest came in with our scores. He asked us, with only the smallest hint of suspicion, “Did you guys compare answers while you were taking this?” Now, remember, this was 10 years ago, before smart phones and texting were commonplace; if we’d wanted to cheat off each other’s tests while we were in separate rooms, it would have involved some covert T-9 texting that would have been a major pain in the ass. We assured him we had done no such thing. “It’s just that I’ve never seen a couple get such a high percentage of the same answers before,” the priest explained. My inner competitor did a big fist-bump of victory: we’d aced the test!
In all seriousness, all it meant was that we’d already discussed the Big Issues before coming to counseling. The test just helped confirm for the priest what Tim and I already knew: we were ready to take on the commitment of marriage.
We completed the rest of our counseling sessions and continued to have valuable discussions. By the end of it, the idea that we’d cheated on the test had become a shared joke, and all three of us–Tim, me, and the priest–were confident that this would be a strong marriage. At our wedding, the priest’s wife signed our guest book, “Congratulations to the Most Compatible Couple!”
Ten years later, as we sat on our deck enjoying a glass of wine, the cool summer evening air, and the simple joy of a conversation uninterrupted by kiddos who had since gone to bed, Tim asked me how I feel I’m different now than I was ten years ago. A few answers came to mind. I’m more laid back now than I used to be. Tim’s calm attitude has rubbed off on me, which has been helpful in navigating the world of parenting in which very little remains within my control. He and I both agreed that today, compared to ten years ago, we feel a lot more settled. We’re not biding our time in a just-for-now house, but instead own the home we plan to stay in until our kids force us into a nursing home; we’re not waiting to have kids, or more kids, but rather feel that our family is complete; and we’re happy, oh, so happy.
At our wedding, Tim’s best man said in his toast that he hoped our wedding day was not the happiest day of our lives, but rather that our years together would be filled with happier and happier days to come. And that’s exactly what’s happened. Our wedding day was the happiest day of my life–at the time. As happy as I was that day, I’m even happier now, ten years later.
That compatibility test was right: Tim and I are a great team. We’ve come a long way together in the last decade, and we’ve come out even better than we started. I look forward to finding even more happiness together in the coming decades.
Scene: Tim and Alexander are changing Alexander’s sheets, and Alexander asks about the waterproof mattress cover. Tim explains that it keeps the mattress clean in case Alexander’s pullup leaks in the night.
Alexander agrees that we wouldn’t want the mattress to get dirty, “Because then we would have to clean my mattress. And it wouldn’t even fit in my [laundry] hamper!”
Scene: I’m trying to convince Alexander to come out to breakfast with me and a couple friends, one of whom has a sweet new baby boy. Not above bribery, I offer him a big muffin, a smoothie, a hot chocolate, anything in exchange for him coming with me, all of which he turns down. Finally, I say, “What if I told you that if you come with me, you’ll get to meet a new baby?”
He puzzles over this for a minute and says, “But…I like the baby we already have.”
(Once I convinced him we wouldn’t be trading Emily in for the new baby, he agreed to go with me.)
Scene: At the dinner table, Alexander is silently gesturing and nodding as if he’s having a pretend conversation with someone.
I ask him, “Who are you talking to, Buddy?”
“I’m talking to me.”
“Oh,” I reply, “you’re talking to yourself? And what are you talking about?”
He pauses, uncertain, then: “Um, Mommy? Can you tell me what I’m talking about?”
Scene: In the car on the way to daycare.
“Mommy, I wish our house was a different color.”
I tell him that maybe we’ll paint it someday, but not for a really long time, so of course he asks, “Can we paint our house on the next stay-home days?” (“Stay-home days” is what he calls weekends.)
I explain that painting the house takes a really long time, and when we do it, it’ll take so long that we won’t have any time to play, so we’ll have to wait and paint the house on a stay-home day when we don’t want to play.
After a minute, he asks, “What do you want to do on the next stay-home days, Mommy?”
“I want to play!” I tell him without hesitation.
“Okay…” he says. Then, ever the problem-solver: “Oh! I have an idea! You and Daddy and Emily can play, and I’ll paint the house!”
Background: Miss Linda, our daycare provider, loves our kids to pieces, and she often pretends to munch on Emily’s chubby thighs, for obvious reasons (baby thighs are delicious).
Scene: I’m putting Alexander to bed on a Sunday night, and he asks if tomorrow is a stay-home day or a Miss Linda day. I tell him it’s going to be a Miss Linda day, and he immediately gets very serious.
“I’m not really comfortable going to Miss Linda’s.”
I know Linda takes excellent care of our kids, so I’m not really concerned when he says this, but I still ask some follow-up questions, just to be sure. Eventually, he admits that he has fun playing at Miss Linda’s, but he has one very serious concern:
“But, Mommy…Miss Linda just thinks that Emily is something to eat.”
It’s been a big month for Emily!
She got to play in the snow!
And go sledding for the first time, which she totally loved.
And then later in the month, she got to play in the sun at the park, because winter in Colorado is nothing if not inconsistent.
This girl is pretty fearless, and continues to have zero sense of self-preservation. She climbs everything in sight and wants to be in the center of the action at all times.
Wherever Brother is, that’s where she wants to be. Luckily, Alexander tends to be very good at accommodating her desire to be near him most of the time.
These kids love each other so much.
Emily also grew a tooth! And then another one! Despite the above photo evidence to the contrary, 95% of the time she still steadfastly refuses to put anything in her mouth that’s not (a) her hand, (b) milk, or (c) a puree. We’ve still go a ways to go before she’s feeding herself finger foods.
But perhaps the most exciting thing that happened this month (most exciting for me, anyway) was that we accidentally gave Emily some pudding. With milk in it. And…she didn’t react. Not even a hint of a rash.
So, after consulting with her pediatrician, we started experimenting with more dairy products, first with her eating them, then moving on to me eating a little bit of dairy when she still didn’t react. Long story short, I’m eating pizza right this very minute. Cheesy, delicious pizza! I can hear a chorus of angels singing with every bite.
She also does the adorable baby booty dance when she hears music, which is one of the best milestones in all of babyhood, in my humble opinion.
Emily Judith, a.k.a Ems, a.k.a StinkerDoodle: Ten months old, full of mischief, and absolutely the best little girl ever.
Alexander’s been having bad dreams lately, and he hasn’t quite figured out that what happens in his dreams isn’t actually happening. This is understandably tough for a sensitive little guy like Alexander.
His dreams cover a broad spectrum of scary stuff, from monsters, to dinosaurs, to not being able to find Mommy and Daddy when he needs us. In one dream, he was driving my car, pulled into the garage, and something bad happened (maybe he crashed into the garage? The details weren’t clear). He was calling for us to come help him, but we didn’t come. “So next time, when I have that dream,” he told me earnestly the next morning, “and I call for you and Daddy in the garage, make sure you guys come, okay?” Oh. Oh, Buddy. We would if we could.
Bad dreams have been a hot conversation topic at bedtime lately, and the other night, Alexander asked if Tim ever has bad dreams. Tim told him that he doesn’t have bad dreams very often, and when he does, it’s usually about something silly, like going to work without pants on.
As their conversation progressed, Tim started suggesting ways Alexander’s friends (the stuffed animals who sleep with him) could help him out if he had a bad dream: “Clifford is as big as a house, so no dinosaurs will mess with him. If a dinosaur is trying to get you, Clifford will come save you.” Or: “If a monster is chasing you, Dog-Bear can come protect you. Monsters will stay far away from Dog-Bear.”
“Yeah!” Alexander chimed in. “And if you have a bad dream, I’ll bring you pants!”
You know, I don’t think Tim’s had a bad dream since that night. He’s been able to rest easy knowing Alexander’s got him covered.
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.