Thursday, December 31, 2009


Nick's been practicing the 'da' syllable off and on for a few weeks. In the last few days, he's said, "A-da," a lot. Today we really had him practicing and he repeated after us, "Da. Da. A-da." He leaned against Erik's shins and said, "Da, da, da, da, da." It was sweet.

Then it came! "Da-da." We were excited but it could have been a fluke, so we kept encouraging him. "A-da." Not close enough, not anymore. "Da-da." There it was again! And again, right after it, clear as a bell, "Dada."

Erik was beaming.

Meanwhile, I glanced at Xander who was, as usual, the last to leave the dinner table, and he was filching strawberries out of the serving bowl. Like mother, like son.

New Traditions for a New Year

Erik and I tried to think of some New Year's Eve traditions for our family that would work equally well whether we stayed in or went out. This year we made no plans whatsoever and are staying in with the kids and possibly some TV.

Here's what we came up with this year. We'll test it out and see what we want to do next year.

1. Eat black-eyed peas (bacon-seasoned) with collard greens and cornbread. It just has to be done down here.
2. Drink Tom and Jerrys--eggnog for Xander. We never got around to making Tom and Jerrys during Christmas since it was so busy, so maybe we'll make it a New Year's tradition.
3. Buy a lottery ticket.
4. Decide on a new midnight-hour that can be celebrated by Xander, too. Around 7:30, we'll turn out the lights, light the candles, and share our thoughts about:
5. What we would do with the lottery money if we won with our ticket. (Erik and I think it is very fun to talk about this subject, but suspect it would be a headache and a nightmare if we ever actually won.) A couple wishes or hopes we have for ourselves in the coming year, and a wish or hope we have for each other member of the family for the coming year.
6. We'll fill out pages in our brand-new Time Capsule notebook. I plan to bring this book out every New Year's. There's a page for every member of the family to record things like height, weight, special skills, characteristics, funny stories, physical characteristics, and hobbies. We can help each other fill out everyone's page.
7. Countdown to 8:00, turn on the lights, and celebrate the new year!
8. Bedtime for Xander and Nick. Maybe some TV for Kristy and Erik, since it's our TV Night.

I also have an idea for a New Year's Day tradition, but doubt that Erik will be on board. Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon! Or Lord of the Rings marathon! Even if I get Erik on board, those particular DVDs will have to be saved for when Xander's a bit older. So just keep it in mind, family...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Nick's really using his teething rings and the giraffe teether he got for Christmas from Uncle Jeremy and Aunt Leslie. Poor thing must be truly on the cusp this time. He's been desperate to get things in his mouth but reluctant to nurse. He also likes the Fisher Price Schoolhouse that he and Xander are supposed to be sharing. He can take items out of the lunchbox/schoolhouse and put them in his mouth because they are big enough to be safe.

Xander has been loving his Magical Creatures tube of toys and the book that came with them, and his cars. He got interested in the cars again because I decided he could have all of them out at once as long as his other toys were picked up. It's like a whole new set of toys! Today he is also dragging around the tissue paper/paper plate turtle he made with his daddy at Storytime. It's tied to a string so he takes it around with him and helps it up and down steps. This is a pet we can approve of. Xander is also kind of obsessed with the big tugboat bath toy Grandma Bonnie got him. It includes stacking cups with holes on the bottom so he can give himself a "shower." I love it because he happily let me wash his hair so he could play with the boat and all its accessories afterward.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We Did Feed Him Today, We Really Did

Have you ever seen Cookie Monster eat a plate of cookies? Then you have an idea of what Nick did this evening. I started pouring Puffs out of the container onto his tray. He caught the first handful out of midair and slammed them into his mouth. As Puffs scattered on the tray, he grabbed them up in his fists and shoveled them in as if he was in fast forward. I was so shocked I could only yell, "Oh my god, look at what Nick is doing! Look at what Nick is doing!" The word that came to mind later was demon.

This came half an hour after we caught him peeling off strips of a warning sticker from the side of his carseat. He already had a piece the size of a folded moist towelette on the roof of his mouth.

At the dinner table, I said to Erik, "I'm afraid of Nick," thinking he would laugh at me for exaggerating again. Instead, he solemnly agreed.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Morning Playtime 2

Nick: (cough)
Foster: (laughs)
Nick: Hah!
Foster: Hah.
Nick: Blah Dah dah!
Foster: (laughs)
Nick: (claws at Foster's face)
(Uncle Jeremy moves him back.)
Nick: Bahhhh.
Foster: (laughs) (burps)

Morning Playtime

Bailey: (screams many times)
Xander: Don't worry! I'm a knight, will KILL the shark!
Bailey: (screams)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas at the Meng Homestead

We are at Jeremy and Leslie's for Christmas. I can't imagine it any other way. The kids got lots of presents and a little too much sugar and had the usual heated moments, but they have such precious moments, too. Xander comes away from every visit with Bailey with a new expression that she uses. This time it seems to be, "I love you, too," nice and clear. What a great one to pick up!

Xander, Nick, and I are kind of sick and Erik and Leslie have bad allergies. Nick has been screaming instead of sleeping at night. These are the things that happen, though.

Grandpa Larry and Grandma Alla's gifts were popular again. Xander has carried his noise-making, stomping Triceratops around the house almost continuously. He's gotten three or four pairs of pants dirty in the space of two days, so it's a good thing grandmas and aunts gave him new pants. (One way he figured out to get dirty was shoveling dirt on top of the dog's head--she didn't mind at all.) Bailey had a very girly Christmas with a Tinkerbell doll, Barbie, life-size doll, and many Tinkerbell/ fairy/ magical/ princess dress-up clothes. Xander got a sword, helmet, shield, and handmade cape from Aunt Leslie (and Uncle Jeremy) and he didn't take off the helmet for about a day and a half. Today he took his chance to get into the girly stuff, too. Bailey is so into Tinkerbell, she's got to be onto something, right? So he wore a fairy tutu for a while. Then he changed into a tiara and said he was Princess Xander. He's also very interested in Bailey's little Tinkerbell doll, but I have a feeling if he had all this stuff at home he wouldn't be so interested.

Xander and Bailey really got into the Santa stuff. They inspected the half-eaten cookies and the empty milk glass and thank you note from Santa, and the ashy boot marks Santa made on the butcher paper in front of the fireplace. Bailey was a little disappointed she didn't get to give Santa hugs and kisses. Xander had mentioned he would give Santa a really great gift for Christmas, but I think he forgot all about it.

Nick and Foster love each other. They look into each other's faces and laugh and try to grab the other one's eyeballs (okay, that's just Nick) and act like the world is a very charming place.

We adults talked about Christmas traditions. We've already made a few among our two growing families but we also talked about things we don't do that either we've done in the past or might like to do in the future. Leslie suggested we make a list of all the traditions we'd like to do and we can pick and choose each year, trying different ones for variety or choosing according to the things appropriate for the kids' ages. I'll work on my part of that sometime soon. I'd like to do the Santa Lucia celebration again one day. Not to mention the card-opening ceremony on Christmas Eve with champagne and Christmas cookies. And then there's the tea ring... I actually did that one last year.

Nick is sleeping. So are all the other kids, and Bonnie and Koa, but Nick's the only one that's big news. I'd better get some rest while I can.

I'll sign off with a conversation between the older kids. You know, they must secretly get a kick out of this, or they would stop.

Xander: Merry Christmas!
Bailey: Happy Christmas!
Xander: No! I said Merry Christmas!
Bailey: Happy Christmas to all!
Xander: No!! I said Merry Christmas!
Bailey: Merry Christmas!
Xander: That's right.
Bailey: Happy Christmas!
Xander: No!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

See Ya, We're Out of Here

Nick had a great time today crawling around. He got a nice blue pile of thread in his mouth that Mommy miraculously saw and rescued. His outfits, combined with the drool faucet that is his mouth, are mopping up all the dirt on our floors. Xander even chose to crawl with Nick for a while, which made Nick squeal with delight.

Then Nick stood up on his own clutching Mommy's pants. He did it leaning on the coffee table to show it wasn't a fluke. Xander and Mommy were excited for him, and Daddy was impressed when he got home from work and heard about it.

Handmade ornaments from Grandma Lucy arrived in the mail today. Xander did a great job of hanging them...all in one corner of the tree, low to the ground.

Ooh, now I spy out the window that Daddy took Xander outside to ride his Big Wheel. About time he learned how to pedal it. Daddy is now home for a week and a half vacation. Xander will hate it when he goes back to work.

Tomorrow is the early morning drive to Charleston. We expect it to go smoothly, keeping in mind that we might, even after two children, be a little naive.

Friday, December 18, 2009

How Beautiful

Xander just came running into the room saying, "Look Mommy, I found the robot one!" He was carrying his cheap little paperback Transformers book. Then he said, "It's really beautiful," touching the book cover.

Another hint about his aesthetic sense: He also thought his Spiderman Band-Aid was beautiful--as long as it's the red Spiderman, of course.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Oh Goodness Gracious, Says Mommy

Oh goodness gracious--another thing I noticed today is that Nick can get to our coffee table in the time it takes a vampire to go from one spot to another in the movies. Suddenly--flash!--he's there underneath the coffee table sucking on the crossbar that is painted with lead paint, I'm sure.

Is there anything cuter than a baby looking up at you through a glass table top with his mouth around a painted crossbar? Yes, I'm sure there is.

I have a weakness for trying to capture these funny things in photo or in words first, and getting the baby later. Nick and Xander both have pictures in which their little feet are flying up in the air and the rest of them is missing in action.

On that note, I will go get the baby.

Doing the Frankenstein

Nick now loves looking at pictures of animals and hearing people make the animal sounds for him. He always wants to get to my book if I read around him. When he lies on his tummy playing, he kicks his feet down so you can always hear a somewhat rhythmic tapping. These are just little things I can never remember to put in the bland baby book but they are part of the whole experience that I don't want to forget.

I helped him stand up just now by holding his hands. He loves standing up tall and doesn't sway or bend or fall usually. He stood looking at his feet for a few moments. He's lost the ability to pick up his feet and walk, I guess, because what he did instead was to buck his whole body. I didn't get it at first, just thought, What crazy thing is he doing? Then I realized it's the same movement that has helped him crawl. Get his arms and legs down on a hard surface and he can kind of do the Worm to get around. He tried the buck a few times but it didn't get him anywhere. So he resorted to leaning his whole body forward. He would have gone somewhere then if I hadn't been holding his hands! It was interesting to see him try a movement that he had already discovered would move him forward when he's on hands and knees.

Getting Somewhere

Xander went with me to my silent meeting yesterday. We've been practicing at home where he stays on a blanket or chair in the living room and plays with the toys and books in his Quiet Bag. We started with a game to see how long he could be silent. Now we don't even need the game. He can be almost silent for up to an hour, but I don't have him do that at home anymore. I just wanted to know he could before I took him back to the meeting. At the meeting, he spent most of the time in a corner on a beanbag playing silently. Part of the time, he stayed in my lap curled up like a baby and I thought he might even go to sleep...but no. I was proud of him for making it the whole hour with just one episode of singing the ABCs very sweetly in the corner. He even came up to me silently and mouthed the words, I have to go to the bathroom, in the middle, so we went outside and up stairs to a bathroom, took care of business, and went back into the silent meeting. Afterward, when it was chatting time, he put his toys in the middle of the circle and talked to everyone about his animals and what they were doing. When I said it was time to clean up and go, he said, "I have to play with my toys, and they have to watch me!" We've known this since he was an infant, but he is no shy guy. Then we went to Sonny's BBQ, just Mommy and Xander, since he and I don't get as many one-on-one outings anymore.

Xander used to come with me to the silent meeting when we lived in Maryland. There was another girl of the same age who came, too, and they played together, less than silently. They were about a year and a half old at the time. One day they ran around and around the meeting room. I will always remember the little girl running down the aisle, her brown curls flapping in the wind, proclaiming, "I running! I running! I running!" That is the spirit of childhood to me.

Nick seems to have a lot of the same traits Xander does, only more so. Xander is very social and skipped the separation anxiety phase. Nick seems to be doing the same thing so far. He will smile for and go to anyone right now. When we go on an outing, he doesn't usually sleep. He wants to see everyone and everything and reach out his hands to try to touch it all.

Xander was physically active from babyhood, always bouncing up and down on someone's lap. Nick does that plus crawls. He has been able to get out of his infant chairs (slithering down to the floor) for months. Today I set him down on his activity mat to do some chores. Xander was sitting playing on the couch. When I came back, Nick had gotten halfway over to Xander but was blocked by the bottom portion of the coffee table. I don't think Xander is quite as enthusiastic to "play" together as Nick is. Maybe when Nick stops drooling all over everything Xander will feel better about it. He's kind of grossed out by all the fluids now--just like his daddy.

Speaking of his daddy, Erik printed out nice pictures for each step of the going-to-the-bathroom routine and posted the chart in front of the toilet for Xander. Xander has been potty trained to go in the potty or toilet for over 6 months now, but it's the details we have to work on. That, and actually taking the time to go. With this chart, Xander is 90% better than before. He likes to look at it and follow it, from pulling down pants and underwear (not too low, not too high, as either one can cause problems ;) to wiping to washing hands with soap. Not least important is the concept of waiting to get into the bathroom before shedding all the clothing. Today at preschool he did not have an accident and he did not pull down his pants in front of everyone. Victory!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Being Helpful

Xander and I studied being helpful this week for "H" week. A half hour ago I told him he could stay in his room and play with his train tracks and trains. I had to go get the trains from another room. Xander said, "Mommy, you brought me the rest of my trains for me to play. That was so helpful!"

Thank you for noticing, Xander.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Moving, Moving, Moving

I forgot already: What do you do with a crawler??

Luckily, Nick still likes his rainforest play mat and will lie there for a while and play without moving too far away. But almost total freedom of movement is coming soon!

Xander has been (almost) a little angel today. It's what happens when I get strict with him. Too many choices makes Xander a cranky boy.

One activity we can all do together that is a delight at this time is read My Big Animal Book. I already mentioned this, but Xander likes to do the animal noises for each picture and Nick cranks his head around to look and see if those are really the sounds he hears coming out of Mommy's or Xander's mouths. He loves it. (Just like the books say he will at this age.)

Nick still turned up his nose a little at oatmeal and prunes this morning but he ate peas like a pro for lunch. Hurray! It was his first time with them. Poor baby has a bad diaper rash from diarrhea which came from the antibiotic which was given because of his ear infection which was a result of the cold he caught. I don't like that chain of events! Xander had a big ol' turkey sandwich with lettuce for lunch. He doesn't realize it yet, but for snack he will be having the green beans he didn't eat with lunch.

He and I started back up with learning activities yesterday. We skipped them for a while due to Thanksgiving festivities and illness. We're on "H" week still. He gets so excited when we sing "If You're Happy and You Know It." It's a delight to watch his face while we sing and do the motions. Today I did some little kid exercises with him that I found on a blog and he had great fun with that. We'll have to do that again. Mommy got really tired and hungry afterward, but Xander didn't! We did things like roll-backs, hopping, jumping jacks, stork stands, and crabwalking. I've been borrowing kid exercise videos from the library so Xander could get out more energy since he seems to sit around and play when he goes outside. He would just sit on the couch and watch them. Even when I did the exercises, he just watched and said he couldn't do them. I didn't realize until weeks later that he remembers the exercises. Today he said, "I'm doing triceps," and worked his arms up and back. He remembers some of the muscle group names, too. He did the downward-facing dog from YogaKids yesterday. So all that couch time was not wasted time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More on Nick

I have to add that Nick seems to have suddenly woken up to a whole new level of awareness. He is laughing at everything. Or giving me the disgusted face (for formula). He is really, really present with us at this age.

Sibling Playtime

I have to write what our first official sibling playtime looks like. They're both supposed to stay on the large blanket I set out. There are toys of Nick's out that Xander likes--My Big Animal Book and stacking bowls--and toys of Xander's that are okay for Nick--the Fisher-Price animal barn. Nick has become quite mobile and I have to keep putting him back on the blanket. Xander tries to keep the stacking bowls away from Nick but I insist he share in some way. Xander gives Nick two of the bowls so he can play in peace with the others.  Nick moves forward. Xander goes to the very edge of the blanket and reads the animal book with his back against Nick. This is not exactly sibling play-together paradise. Nick grabs the back of Xander's pajama shirt while Xander tells him, "Nick, let go!" Nick laughs. This is hilarious. Xander moves to the other edge of the blanket.

Now we're getting it. Xander notices that Nick is all over his barn and waits at the edge, trying to figure out a way to get in there and play with it himself. I ask him to find a way they can both play with it, and I will help by moving Nick back a little bit. Xander tells Nick he can have these four animals while Xander plays with the other ones.

"Don't eat that cow, Nick," says Xander.

Nick inadvertently pushes a toy animal in Xander's direction.

"Thank you, Nick!" says Xander. "Can I play with those?"

He takes the rest of the animals back. After my feedback, he gives Nick some bowls to play with. Nick laughs. Xander turns his back again to play with the animals by himself.

This is kind of fun but I can see it's going to take some work on Mommy's part for quite a while. However, this is Mission Accomplished because Xander has shared happily with Nick and Nick has had a marvelous time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nick's Half-Birthday

It's Nick's 6-month birthday today! We (Xander, Erik, and I) had chocolates tonight after dinner and sang "Happy Half-Birthday" to Nick. He had his well visit at the doctor's today, too, and got three shots and one drinkable vaccine. Unfortunately either that or his pushing teeth are bothering him. He wouldn't even do his before-bed nurse tonight. I gave him Tylenol and then in desperation, one hour later, gave him Motrin. From what I've read, this is okay to do in dire circumstances but important not to do regularly. I hate to feel like I'm overmedicating a child, so I regret doing it. However, he has been comfortable since.

I tried giving him shredded pieces of bread tonight while the rest of us ate dinner. It was a big hit. I told Erik it doesn't seem like the right road to go down because it puts control in Nick's hands...but that's exactly why he liked it so much. Sigh.

We also put him down on the bare floor in his birthday suit to watch his crawling progress. He can get up high on his knees and go really far in one scooch, but I haven't seen him quite get up off those elbows yet. So I don't think I would call it crawling yet, except I wanted to say he started crawling on his 6-month birthday. :) He can definitely travel places. From What to Expect the First Year, I guess I would call it crawling. They define creeping as getting around on the belly and crawling as getting around on hands and knees. So what is it when he gets around on knees and elbows?

He has thinned out to percentiles like the ones Xander used to get: 25th percentile weight, 75th percentile height. (Now Xander's at 10th percentile weight and somewhere over average height! He's shot up like a weed in the last few weeks.) I wouldn't be surprised if he had teeth tomorrow. But I guess I've thought that for a long while now. The doctor even saw the bumps. Nick also started saying the syllable "ma" more often. It's just like I remembered with Xander: They like to yell out "Ma!" whenever something's really wrong, as the start to their cry. Daddy gets all the smiles. Nick stares at Erik like he's looking at Bono or the pope or something.

One of Nick's absolute favorite things to do is to stand up from lying down. Every time I finish changing his diaper, I take hold of his hands and say, "Time to get up!" and pull him up to sitting. From there he always pushes up to standing with a huge grin on his face. He laughs and everything. Every time.

Yikes. By the end of this month, What to Expect the First Year says baby may even be able to walk holding on to furniture. Although it would be exciting, I hope not! I'm not sure I'm ready to have two kids that know how to walk. On the other hand, it would be really interesting if he did that over Christmas at Leslie and Jeremy's because that's where Xander first did it, during his first Christmas. Of course he was almost 9 months old then.

And now turning to the other boy...Xander says he's going to show Santa Claus his dinosaur toys. He doesn't get that he can actually ask for toys. I'd like to keep it that way for a while. ;)

He likes to argue with Erik and me a lot. "Yes, but..." Or, "Mommy, don't say no to Xander!" I've found that if I keep him to a pretty strict schedule during the day, he is so much more obedient. Then if he asks for something that I don't want to allow, I can just say, "It's not time for that. It's time for _____." It's a lot of work to keep him moving from activity to activity, but it pays off big. We do chore time, room time when he plays with (usually) building toys in his room, table time when he does things like puzzles at a table, outside play time, free play time, TV time, learning activities time, and even Quiet Bag time when we practice silence and playing with his bag of quiet activities that are meant for things like doctors' offices and meetings. Now I just need to get the basics down!! We have to work really hard on bathroom stuff, meal times, and sleep times. Double sigh.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stay Little

Nick has metamorphosed into a baby kid. He's lost all traces of infanthood. He is strong, alert, and friendly, eats solid food, sits up to nurse and tries to take control of the situation, pulls hair, grabs things on purpose, flirts, gets up on hands and knees to rock, creeps, pushes his tongue into the place where he will soon have teeth, blows raspberries, talks to us, recognizes his family, sometimes looks at Xander when I ask where Xander is, gets out of all his chairs whether buckled in or not, snickers, plays by himself for long periods of time, soothes himself back to sleep, and, of course, clamps down when nursing just because he can. Despite everyone saying he looks just like his daddy and brother, I still think he's really cute. Just joking, Erik and Xander.

I know Xander has grown up almost as much in this time period. When he went back to preschool this morning, the director confirmed it. She said he had shot up like a weed. He speaks more like an adult these days and, to his grandmothers' delight (and relief?), he can be understood over the phone. There are plenty of things to work on. He had an accident at preschool, after trying to pull down his pants in the middle of the room to get ready to go to the bathroom. Oops. I guess we have to work harder at teaching him to keep his clothes on until he gets to the bathroom. Silly Xander. It's like the niceties of these things are beneath him. If he's so potty trained, why are Erik and I scrubbing the bathroom every day? Xander has many big-deal strengths and I am so proud of him, but solo hygiene is not one of them. Now that I'm done complaining about that, how do I keep them this young forever? ;)

I feel joy thinking about all the milestones they will reach in their lives. I can't wait to see how they handle life as they grow older. But it's pretty sweet having two very little ones at home.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Baby Hands

Nick is grabby. That's his baby mode of expression. Xander stood and bounced up and down in our laps from a newborn--that was his mode of expression. Nick likes to do that, too, but his little hand is always reaching, his fingers curling up, around, closing, up, around, closing, until he gets hold of something. Even when I hold his wrist back away from me so he can't grab my hair, his hands twists and his fingers curl, up, around, closing, up, around, closing.

I mentioned this to Erik and he smiled and said, "His toes do it, too."

Yes, indeed. Not only did I have to tell Nick, "Hands down while I'm feeding you!" I also had to start, "Feet down! No feet in mouth while I'm feeding you!"

It will be very interesting to see how Nick's personality unfolds as he learns to sit, crawl, walk, and talk. This Christmas we are getting Xander and Nick a toy that they will have to share. I think they are at the point where they can begin to have playtime with each other. I'll have to be there, of course, but they both like toys, each other's toys, in fact, and they can definitely play with and next to each other. Exciting!

Nick is putting us to some trouble these days. He caught my cold and turned it into an ear infection and he hasn't slept to speak of in two nights. So neither have I. Erik has taken long middle-of-the-night shifts, too. It's awful when you decide you'll do anything to comfort your baby and then none of it works! He has Amoxicillin now so we hope he will be back to normal very soon.

Xander is going back to La Petite on Monday morning for his once-a-week visits. It will be great for him and I'm not worried about his health but, sheesh, hardly anything is worse than a sick baby, especially one who will start catching things from his older brother.

With that said, how lucky and blessed we are that Nick has an ear infection and not something chronic like cancer or... I can't type the list of things I'm thinking of. I'm too superstitious, or something.