July 31st, 2009

We are home and trying to get back on track here, although Stevel leaves for SIGGRAPH in New Orleans this weekend, and my mom is visiting … normalcy, I miss you. Please come back sometime.

The report:


We first went to Atlanta (Marietta, specifically, to my dad and Pauline’s house), to spend the week with my sister and her two girls, who were in town from Penna. My mom and Mike were also in the area, staying with Mike’s sister Jill. So while my dad and Pauline worked all week, we did the zoo one day, Fernbank Science Museum another, and Centennial Park and downtown another, as well as plenty of shopping. My nieces and sister actually tacked on an aquarium day, but Vibble and I sat that one out. It was intense fun, although maybe not the best agenda for me and Violet with our fevery illnesses. Quality time together and Atlanta adventures. It did us all good to see each other and enjoy the kids, each so unique in her current stage/age.


My mom and Mike departed, returning to Penna. The husbands arrived. We all drove down to Tybee Island to enjoy five of the most gorgeous beach days I could have asked for. Tidal pools, warm water, small-town, laid-back Tybee. I thought about just staying. Forever. But mostly I tried not to think too much at all. Nope, no thinking. Perfect.

Sarah-Nicole, my cousin, got married on the beach on Tuesday. It was lovelier than whatever you are imagining a beach ceremony might be like. One thing about a beach wedding is that every photo you take looks amazing. The shots I took on my PHONE are gorgeous. The extended family was there in almost full turnout, so there was Nana time, aunt and uncle time, cousin time, and all that. Great food, great party. And a new family member, the very gracious, super-super-nice Tim. Welcome, Tim. Brace yourself.

The highlight of this trip was absolutely seeing Vibble and her cousins together. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this was probably the most fun two weeks of Violet’s year-and-a-half-long life. She ADORES Erica and Dani. She follows them around squealing, goes looking for them immediately upon waking up in the morning, smiles a face-breaking smile at all times in their presence pretty much. In general, Dani is her playmate, and Erica, her comforter.

To sum up what my nieces are like right now isn’t too hard. Dani = ENERGY. Wild, unbridled, unfiltered. She is a blond bolt of lightning in the room. Says what she thinks, demands what she wants (and she wants it ALL), and knows what she likes. She is my shopping buddy, as she loves clothes and trying on different styles. And she is the best playmate anyone could ask for. To play with her at the beach is to be six again, and not in a nostalgic way, but in a pure and total way.

Erica, meanwhile, is curious and smart. Somewhat bookish, although not in any way that excludes being a physical kid. The best summary I can give of her is this: She likes to find things. She likes to find hermit crabs in the ocean, coins in the parking lot, neat things in the closets of a beach-house rental. She is always sort of scanning. She has an amazing command of words and describes things in original, vivid ways. And she is a STORY TELLER in the tradition of the Edgars. Gifted in so many, many ways.

Never have two siblings been so different from each other. They play together well much of the time, but they FIGHT. I’m not always sure what they’re competing over, other than who is better at giving Aunt Krissy a migraine. But when Vibble enters the picture, the dynamic changes. The only thing they fight over is who gets to sit by her, and even that argument fizzles out quickly as they both turn their attention from themselves to her. They were selfless with her, generous and understanding of her mini-person limitations, not just physical but emotional (e.g. she doesn’t really know how to share yet). They both wanted to make her laugh and smile, to entertain her, to comfort her when she cried. She brings out the best in them—they are excellent cousins to her. Just another of the many reasons I’m so proud of both of them.

Vibble did some more talkin’, although still not much of a vocabulary. “No,” “car.” There were reports of phrases and even sentences, but neither Stevel nor I witnessed these, so I can neither confirm nor deny them. She grew BIGGER, that’s for sure. She likes a Southern buffet! Like her MOM! … and to the disappointment of her dad, I think, heh. She got more exploratory, a bit more independent. Much steadier on her feet.

Now that we’re back, we’ve been going for a bike ride every day. THIS CANNOT HAPPEN FAST ENOUGH FOR HER each time, and she lets me know this by screaming and banging her helmet against my bike until I load her in the little seat. She is more and more demanding also. Thirsty? SCREAMS and claws at the refrigerator. Hungry? SCREAMS and shakes her high-chair. In CVS with your mother and she won’t let you remove all of the eyeliner pencils from the makeup display and bang on the print-your-own-photos computers? SCREAM for 45 minutes. Yeah, I’m not sure I am allowed to go back to CVS. Learn to talk, please, little Screamy One.

She was great on the plane, though, both ways, and by great I mean great-for-a-one-year-old, as in, no one glared at us, not once. I count that a success. So far, she’s a decent traveler. I give her a B+/A-. My own score continues to creep down. I used to be an A+ traveler. Now I get such awful motion-sickness I was still feeling it two days AFTER we returned. As for Steve, he might need to repeat a grade in terms of travel. But he seemed to do a much better job of enjoying himself for moments here and there on this trip than I’ve seen in the past. One day he and I rented a scooter, and he drove us around some.

And now I think there was just a little earthquake, and I am going to take that as nature telling me to get off the computer and take Dramamine in case the Big One is right behind it, because I will not be able to hold onto the door-frame and my child if I am throwing up. Also, I need a Diet Pepsi now.


Cousin Fun and Family Fun

A Gorgeous Wedding on the Beach

Back at No. 6

Hell Week

July 8th, 2009

Vibble and I leave Friday for Atlanta for a week, and from there we are on to Tybee Island for a week. Packing, planning, all while trying to accomplish a hair-brained house-wide reorganization of our junk. Spent all day Monday in the attic, and all day yesterday on the couch recovering from having overdone it. Vibble is not getting much Mom time this week. Thankfully, Patricia and David are making sure she has playmates.

Gift-Language and Military Time

July 1st, 2009

Although she can’t really talk yet, Violet manages more and more to find ways to communicate. Recently, she has taken to bringing us objects that symbolize some desire on her part. A bag of unopened Fig Newtons from the cupboard = “Feed me snacks.” A blanket (or, if she can’t find a blanket, a towel or dirty T-shirt or other clothing item) = “Snuggle with me, I’m sleepy.”

This morning I got a new one. She’d just had a bath and was in our room watching cartoons, naked on account of a raw bottom needing some air. I was in her room making the bed when she showed up with a tissue, insisted I take it, and stood there waiting for me to act as expected. Hm. Puzzled, I began to walk toward where she had come from—our room—and she eagerly accompanied me, indicating that yes, this was the action she wanted from me. And there, in front of the TV on the floor, was a perfectly spherical, nearly tennis-ball-sized poop.

What amazes me here is not that the poop got hatched in front of the TV, that it was so huge, or that it “somehow” ended up formed in a ball. I’m impressed by the thought process that followed this poop event: (A) I need to let Mom know this is here, and (B) because this needs to be cleaned up. (With a tissue.) It’s sort of responsible.

In other Vibble news, this kid is officially a whole different kid from the one we knew a few weeks ago. No. 6 is now engaged full-on with Toddlerdom. We have some adjustments to make. First, there was a hurried addendum to baby-proofing, on account of her sudden abilities to (A) climb up on high things, like the chair on our balcony, and attempt to do teetery, dangerous things, and (B) reach drawers we thought were well out of reach and empty them of their contents, like, say, matches.

The next adjustment was to the insane amount of energy she suddenly has. I am caffeine-reliant in a big way here. It’s just not humanly possible to keep up with it unless I have some artificial stimulant on my side.

Finally, there is the issue of her messed-up sleep patterns. She’s a WRECK. And so are we—She hasn’t let us have a full night’s sleep in quite some time. Long (looonnngg) story short, we have realized, thanks to some great advice from friends, the Internet, and observations, that she needs something of a routine now. She’s not getting nearly as much sleep as is recommended, and one result is that she is so overtired and overwrought she has trouble settling down for sleep. Another result is that she doesn’t have the coping ability to handle herself when it comes to the increased energy, emotionality, and determination. A more consistent evening schedule and a specific bedtime will help with her getting enough sleep, as well as allow us to (MAYBE) start testing the waters with training her to put herself to sleep if we put her to bed still awake—but no rush on that one. I know, I know, self-soothing is an important skill a child needs to manage anxiety in the daytime (maybe without attaching herself to my legs all day?) as well as to be able to fall asleep (and fall back asleep if she wakes up in the middle of the night). But my attempts at this here and there—the whole “letting her cry it out” thing—have resulted in her becoming so upset, and for so long, and so LOUDLY, I can’t really picture us doing this right now. Since we haven’t done it from the start, she may need to mature a teeny bit more before we do it in our family, so it can be a collaborative project between us and her.

We have been discussing what happens when. Bedtime is at 2100 hours, and a short list of items that we plan to keep the same for a while lead from dinnertime to that bedtime. This is going to be tough for us. We’ll need to eat at home more to lessen overstimulating her and moving around the eating time. We’ll have to stick to our guns when she objects. We’ll have to wait until after she falls asleep to eat chocolate ice cream.

Wish us luck. Wish us SLEEP. And wish her a more well-adjusted toddlerhood.