Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekend with the Wheeler Girls!

Starting a family and moving to Atlanta has made it challenging to have regular visits with my two dear college friends, Sandy and Sarah- especially since they started their families at roughly the same time and are both living in the Northeast.

Before kids, we tried to plan a once a year girls weekend, and this time the plan was for each of them to bring their oldest children to Atlanta. Sophie and Jack have both met Madison (Sandy's daughter) and Eli (Sarah's son) but we've never been all together at the same time. Unfortunately, Eli became sick just before the scheduled visit so he and Sarah were unable to make the trip. Jack was especially saddened as this meant he would be outnumbered.

Sandy and Madison arrived from Boston mid-day Friday, and after a longer than usual car ride home from the airport due to a much needed detour for fuel and Starbucks, we arrived home. Madison had picked out special treats for the kids at the airport - gummy lobsters (a dream for dietitians and dentists alike!). I found it ironic that Madison made this choice, since she was in the midst of a virtuous stage of avoiding sweets and juice after being told by her dentist that these things were not good for her teeth.

It's amazing how quickly being in the presence of an old friend (and her beautiful daughter!) can bring such comfort. Sandy has seen me through a lot of ups and downs in life, and we are always able to pick up right where we left off.

Sandy is Jack's Godmother so it was extra special for Jack to be able to bond with her. She even fixed his train tracks over and over again which won his heart from the very start of her visit!

The girls enjoyed a slumber party in Sophie's room and despite waking up earlier than usual, they did well. We enjoyed a pancake breakfast and leisurely morning on Saturday, after which it was time for us girls to head out for lunch and the Georgia Aquarium. I was thankful when we got to the aquarium that we left Jack behind with Eric to nap. It was a rainy Saturday and the middle of MLK weekend, so the aquarium was packed. Nonetheless, the girls enjoyed every moment.

Sandy and I had planned to head out for dinner after the kids were asleep, but we opted to stay cozy and dry and ordered take-out. This is officially a sign that I am getting old! But even more, it speaks to the fact that good friends don't need a restaurant or a change of scenery in order to enjoy each other's company and to reconnect. Simply chatting at the kitchen table proved to be more than enough for both of us.

The visit was short but sweet, and I only wish we could do this more often!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


According to Wikipedia, "Yin yang are complementary opposites within a greater whole. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, although yin or yang elements may manifest more strongly in different objects or at different times. Yin yang constantly interacts, never existing in absolute stasis."

I can't think of a better way to describe what Sophie seems to be experiencing lately. On the one hand, she is embracing many new opportunities and experiences that come alongside a child who is about to turn 5. Despite her occasional passivity towards school and learning, she really does get excited about doing her homework each afternoon, and about her steady improvement at reading in writing.

The other day, she read "Chester the Horse" to Jack before his nap. Although I cut her off about half way through due to the length of the book, I was internally doing cartwheels over the fact that she was actually reading. This was not a book that she had recently looked at with us, so it confirmed for me that she really has come leaps and bounds this year since starting pre-K. While she's been able to sound out words and sentences for a long time, this was completely different. Watching Jack respond to his big sister reading made it all the better.

On the flip side, Sophie has been especially emotional about her increasing age and the fact that her baby years are long gone. Watching Jack's crib (which was originally hers) be taken out of his room proved to be hard for her. She loves to flip through photo albums from her early years, and she even has a picture of herself at about 8 weeks on her dresser which has caused her to shed tears more than once as she reflects during her quiet time.

At first Eric and I had a hard time taking this seriously, but it has clearly become a consistent discussion with her and we are at times confused as to how we should deal with this. We are careful to acknowledge all of the wonderful things about her age as she grows older - all of the things she can do that babies can't. Like chew bubblegum, and have a conversation with friends and family, sit in a booster seat, read a book to her little brother and even take a shower independently. But we would be lying if we said there isn't a piece of us that wishes it would slow down just a tiny bit!

Perhaps this is just a phase and she will overcome this fixation on babyhood, but until then, I can assure you that this phase is indeed real with the below picture. As we cleaned out the drawer ofblankets and crib sheets underneath Jack's crib, we came across a knit newborn hat. We have no idea which child this belonged to, but Sophie immediately scooped it up, supposedly for her doll "Huggums" to wear. After returning home from an evening out (a Kindergarten Open House of all places), this is what we walked in on after Sophie was sound asleep...

I suppose that each of us can relate to this Yin/Yang aspect of growing up and/or growing older. As a parent, I certainly feel the bittersweet emotions each day as I feel relief for where we are now with the increasing independence, interaction and ability to reason that I see in my children - which truly brings more ease to the day than in times past. But I do feel a longing for those precious early days, which were impossible to always appreciate in the moment.

Living "in the moment" is always a challenge, which is apparently true even for almost 5 year olds.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Beginnings

The first week of 2010 proved to be a noteworthy one for our family, as Jack made his way into a big boy bed! The chain of events that resulted in this milestone began with our mission to get his room painted, hoping that the transition to a more boyish room (his has been the same since Sophie was in it as a baby), would prompt him to want to switch to a bed. Sophie moved out of the very same crib Jack has been using just after turning 2, mainly because we needed to put Jack in it when he outgrew the Moses basket. Jack has always been fond of his crib, and whenever we commented on a big boy bed, he seemed completely uninterested (just like with potty training!)

We planned to use Eric's childhood furniture, so there was no real rush, and our original plan was to just keep the crib in the room until we knew Jack was ready. The painters were available much earlier than expected, so we threw ourselves into this project rather abruptly. After the first coat of paint was finished, we realized that Jack wouldn't be able to sleep in his room since the 20 degree "Hotlanta" weather would prevent us from airing it out with open windows. So he spent the night in Sophie's bed with bedrails that actually resemble his cribrails, and his sister by his side on the floor to give him a little extra comfort.

Eric and I were afraid that our night would end up like a game of whack-a-mole, not knowing if Jack would protest the bed, or Sophie would talk his ear off instead of falling asleep, etc etc. We fully expected to take turns running up and down the stairs throughout the evening to deal with whatever issues might arise. We were pleasantly surprised when both of them fell asleep immediately with no conversation and slept until 8 the next morning! Hearing them wake up in the same room was something I'll never forget. Sophie climbed in bed with Jack and covered them both with her down comforter for a 10 minute snuggle session. When he asked for water, she got it. When he wanted his slippers, she got those too. She was clearly proud to take on the role of big sister and we were all proud that Jack made it through the night with no trouble.

The next night was a repeat of the first, so we decided there was no going back. When Jack saw his new room and the new bed, he was beyond excited to sleep in the bed. Once again, Sophie joined him on an air mattress next to his bed for his first night in his new room. Three nights in a row of brother-sister sleepovers!

Eric and I were a tad bit emotional when we realized that the crib had been assembled and used by one of the 2 kids for almost 5 years. For us, this milestone represents so many of the other changes that we've seen in our family in the past year. Many were gradual but it's as if they've culminated in a more dramatic way all of a sudden. Almost in the snap of our fingers, things just suddenly seem a bit easier, increasingly enjoyable, and we are less bogged down by some of the little things that make parenting of young children challenging. This isn't to say that we haven't enjoyed the moments up to this point. There just seems to be a little more freedom to enjoy those moments with less pressure and less stress. And having 2 kids that can fully entertain each other for more than 10 minutes at a time isn't so bad either!