Monday, December 30, 2013

To Phoebe on her 3rd Birthday (a post in progress)

[This post will be written in chunks over the next few days as we find time - we'll add photos too!]

Dear Phoebe,

Today was your third birthday.  On one hand we can't believe it has been three years already.  On the other hand, neither one of us can really remember what our lives were like before we had you.  We are sure we probably had lots more free time, disposable income and hours of sleep, but we wouldn't trade the last three years for anything (except maybe we'd be willing to negotiate a swap for your first three months, but there have been lots of posts about that already).

This is the first year you have really understood birthdays (and parties and presents) and you have been looking forward to your birthday for quite a while now. You spent all morning walking around the apartment singing "happy birthday to Phoebe".  You actually spend a lot of your time singing: songs we've taught you, songs you learn at school, and songs you make up yourself.  The joyful energy in your singing always makes us smile and music is a big part of our lives - one of us sings you bedtime songs every night (usually it is three songs, but tonight you demanded an extra "because it's my birthday!"). Your current favorites are: Blowin' in the Wind, The Train Song (Morningtown), The Rainbow Song (Rainbow Connection), and Good Night Sleep Tight. You love learning new songs and sometimes request a song you've never heard before - your tired parents don't always think that through and we definitely had to explain a few things after Mom accidentally chose The Gambler as a lullaby one night.

We spend a lot of our time explaining things.  You are very inquisitive and curious. We have to remind ourselves that these are traits we want to encourage because sometimes we don't always feel like answering your constant questions.  We promise to try harder to encourage and honor your curiosity - even when that means it takes us 30 minutes to read a single bedtime story.

Three year old Phoebe is fiercely independent.  You want to do everything yourself and I don't think it ever crosses your mind that there might be something you can't do. You are adventurous and fearless in a way that regularly frightens all the adults around you but is also pretty admirable.  Your shins are constantly full of bruises and scrapes but you always get right back up and jump back into whatever you were doing. We hope this confidence and persistence follows you into adulthood and can't wait to see where it takes you (besides the ER).

Your world was turned upside down this year with the arrival of your baby sister.  You try very hard to be a good big sister and always want to help change, dress and comfort the baby.  You call Eleanor "my little one" or "my Ellie" and always want to know where she is and how she is doing. There are definitely jealous moments when you want a parent's attention but overall you have been very good about welcoming your sister into our family. You love to wear matching clothes and get very excited when Eleanor smiles at you or grabs your finger. We are so excited to see the two of you grow up together.

This year you've also made some good friends. Your best friends are two little boys (twins) from your class at school. The three of you cause a lot of trouble and are really more like three siblings than friends. It is fun (and a little scary) to watch you interact and scheme.

You've also started to really voice your preferences. You are very particular about what you will wear (a post on this soon), and are starting to get a bit more particular than we'd like about what you will eat. You're also starting to learn the art of negotiation although you still need a little practice - sometimes you negotiate down to six or seven minutes of extra playtime when offered 10.  When negotiation fails, you try to convince us that what you want to do was our idea all along. I think we are going to be in serious trouble when you get a little older.

We were trying to think about what to write in this post but it is just so hard to capture three year old Phoebe in words. You are enthusiastic, helpful, independent, and just down-right amazing. Parenting you is THE MOST challenging but most rewarding thing either one of us has ever done. We feel so lucky that you are ours. We hear that three is a pretty challenging year, and we're already starting to see (big) hints of that. While your behavior sometimes drives us batty, we always love the person you are. We have learned so much parenting you and are looking forward to trying to keep up with you in the coming year. We love you more than we could ever say. Happy birthday Doodle Bug!!

Hugs and Kisses,
Mom and Dad

Friday, December 20, 2013

Family Photos

All of my friends post these lovely artsy photos of their families.  You know, the ones of the family running through a sunlit field or posing atop a mountain at sunset.  The ones where the whole family is in coordinating outfits and everyone looks happy and relaxed - like they could be in a commercial for orange juice or cookies or something really wholesome.  Those same friends post super cute newborn photos of their babies stuffed into buckets wearing adorable hand-crochet hats and what-not.

In a pregnancy-hormone fueled fit of insanity I decided to book a photo shoot for us to get some family shots and some of the new baby (preferably with said baby in a bucket).  I have a really nice friend at work whose equally nice wife is a great photographer.  They gave us a very good deal on pictures and all we had to do was show up and smile. I sat back and anticipated my glamorous family snapshots (oh, and the arrival of my baby).

It turns out I have no idea how anyone with an infant gets anything resembling a decent family photo.  Ever.  Our pictures were taken when Eleanor was 11 days old.  She was just ridiculously unhappy about the entire experience.  Phoebe was ... an almost 3 year old.  Jeremy and I were exhausted.

I realized the night before that I had completely neglected to purchase adorable matching outfits so I dug through our closets to find anything that even looked remotely like it went together.  This meant that we all ended up wearing sweaters even though the photographer had warned me that for newborn shoots she makes it super-hot in her house so the baby doesn't get cold.  Eleanor was still on her newborn eat-every-hour schedule so Jeremy and I got almost no sleep.  The plus side of that is we were so tired, we didn't really care that there was no time to shower. Not only did we neglect our own appearance, neither one of us realized Phoebe's hair hadn't been brushed pretty much since the arrival of her sister.

When we got to the photographer's house, Eleanor immediately melted down.  While she screamed and I tried to nurse her, Phoebe helped herself to a tour of the house and busied herself digging through the photographer's living room.  This meant that by the time we finally got Eleanor somewhat settled down, Phoebe was far too engrossed in Mr. Potato Head to even consider posing for pictures. We finally dragged her over to the backdrop but she pretty much refused to follow any instructions involving where to sit, when to smile, or to please act like a human being for EVEN ONE STINKING SECOND.

We were there forever.  Seriously, a very long time.  I stopped trying to soothe Eleanor and just stuck a pacifier in her mouth figuring the pacifier would be the least of the problems with the resulting pictures. At the end I was not confident that there would be a single shot worth salvaging.  Certainly no cute naked-baby-sleeping shots or even anything that could be used in a Craigslist ad offering a free toddler to anyone willing to take her off our hands. In the end, the photographer did what she could with Photoshop and we ended up with some cute shots.  They aren't family-frolicking-in-the-sunset pictures, but they more accurately capture the reality of our lives. In fact, I think they make us look better than we did in reality (80 degree, sweater wearing, unshowered reality).

Brief moment of baby sleep - captured!  Not naked, but she is in a basket. 

Phoebe is smiling (probably by accident)  Eleanor seems worried (she probably should be)

This one is actually cute!  Baby isn't crying!  Success!

Attempted family shot.  Guess who's not cooperating.  You can lead Phoebe to the photography studio but you can't make her smile when she gets there.

Phoebe rearranges the set.  With her baby sister in it.

No idea what is going on here, but it doesn't look good for Eleanor.

I actually really like this one.  Pacifier and all.

I think this one looks cute.  Jeremy says it makes Eleanor look like Tarzan.  We have agreed to disagree.


Hello, Blog!

Long time, no post.  Actually, we just barely squeaked in a second post this year.  If I'd waited a few more days we would have only had one post in 2013.  Yikes! We'll just go with the story that we were having too much fun to stop and write about all the fun we were having :)

Now that we have two little munchkins (oh, yeah, that happened in 2013) we will try to update with pictures when we can.  Rather than clean up my online photo storage I just decided to pay the fee for more storage space.  That is remarkably similar to the strategy I use around the house for dealing with clutter - I just buy more bins for stuff.

In all seriousness, we have a lot of big changes coming up in 2014.  We'll post here to keep everyone updated.  In the meantime, we finally got around to ordering birth announcements and holiday cards, so if I don't have your real-life address, please message me.

No promises, but I might even try for a THIRD 2013 blog post in the coming weeks ...

Monday, January 28, 2013


Tonight Phoebe was working on her rendition of Five Little Monkeys. Video #1 is submitted without comment. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ba Ba Black Sheep

Phoebe has really gotten into singing (and dancing) lately. We almost always have to have music on in the background and she is able to sing along with most of her favorite tunes. She's also started singing along with bedtime songs which I think kind of defeats the purpose - she's clearly not drifting off to sleep while belting out "Blowing in the Wind". Phoebe never really quite knows all the words (or the tune) to the songs she is singing, but what she lacks in musical ability she makes up for in enthusiasm. All day today she's been working on her rendition of Ba Ba Black Sheep. This performance was done while climbing all over her tower.

Musical talent doesn't exactly run in either of our families, and Phoebe's current singing ability is just about on par with mine. One thing that makes me a little sad is to think that (given her hereditary disposition towards not being able to carry a tune in a bucket) some day someone might discourage Phoebe from singing or make fun of her about not being able to carry a tune. I know I am a crappy singer, but I hope the love with which I sing lullabies and the joy with which I join campfire sing-a-longs makes up for that at least a little bit. The little doodle-bug clearly LOVES music - regardless of whether she ever develops any talent. I hope she goes right on singing. Even if it means I'll hear Ba Ba Black Sheep for hours on end.  I might even join in.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


It is no secret that Phoebe is obsessed with Sesame Street. Particularly with Ernie and Bert (and recently also Snuffleupagus). While I am sure PBS does really need us all to call in during the pledge drive, they must also do a pretty brisk business in Sesame Street merchandising. Prior to becoming a parent I never really noticed, but you can buy pretty much any consumer product with Elmo's face printed on it (case in point, we now own an Elmo toilet seat ... add THAT to the list of things I never thought I'd say). 

It didn't take long before (thanks to Grandma) Phoebe was the proud owner of a bean-bag Ernie and Bert, followed closely by (thanks to my Aunt Bonnie) Playskool plastic Ernie and Bert. Then, when we were in Michigan for my cousin's wedding my mom took Phoebe to the toy store (you know, just in case there was a toy that Phoebe didn't have and Grandma needed to rectify that situation) and they had a huge display full of big stuffed Sesame Street characters. Phoebe gasped and ran over yelling "they have BIG ERNIEBERT LOOKLOOKLOOKLOOK". Needless to say, Phoebe picked out an Ernie and a Bert (even Grandma couldn't be convinced that she needed TWO Ernies despite the little munchkin's best efforts) to take home. As we were checking out, Phoebe ran back over to the display, grabbed a Big Bird and nonchalantly threw it up on the counter saying "Me get this one Big Bird too". Of course, Grandma agreed that Big Bird was essential and Phoebe left the store with three new friends. 

Within about a week and a half of us being back home, Grandma had decided that clearly Abby Cadabby and Zoe needed to join the crew and they showed up on our doorstep. At Christmas, Uncle John gave Phoebe Grover and Snuffleupagus to round out her collection. Somehow I think we also ended up with Elmo. At first, Phoebe referred to Ernie, Bert and Big Bird as ErnieBert. As in, "Daddy get ErnieBert", "ErnieBert come downstairs Phoebe", "ErnieBert eat dinner", etc etc etc. Once Abby and Zoe joined the crew it got too time consuming to list each character's name, so Phoebe just started referring to the collective as Everybody. "Daddy you bring Everybody downstairs", "Mommy put Everybody Phoebe's bed", etc etc etc. Phoebe sleeps with Everybody every night (nobody can be missing or bedtime is delayed while a search party is mounted) and in the morning, Everybody needs to come downstairs with us for breakfast. Phoebe loves to read her Sesame Street books picking up each stuffed character to show them themselves on the page. It is pretty adorable. Probably the most adorable thing that Phoebe has done with Everybody is to share them with Grandpa:

photo by lockwoodkate

Phoebe still talks about this. Every once in a while she'll say "I put everybody Grandpa last night" (she uses "last night" as a stand in for any time period "in the past"). Grandpa was a pretty good sport about the whole thing, especially considering he wasn't feeling very well at the time. Phoebe on the other hand got increasingly frustrated that the grandparents couldn't seem to keep the characters' names straight.

We just hope Phoebe realizes what a lucky little girl she is. Not only does she have a bunch of crazy relatives searching the midwest for Ernie and Bert paraphernalia (and motorcycle shirts, but that's a story for another post) but she is surrounded by family that genuinely want to encourage her crazy interests. I even know a couple of old people that are doing their best to learn the difference between Zoe, Rosita and Abby Cadabby. 

Goodnight Gorilla!

This video shows Phoebe reading Goodnight Gorilla to Jeremy.

P.S. That delightful background music is the Sesame Street Ernie & Bert sing-a-long. Phoebe demands that it be played on repeat pretty much all day every day. It is not as bad as the Big Bird Sings CD that we are forced to listen to in the car. We might insist that there be no CD player in our next car just to save ourselves from Big Bird :)