Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Flower Girl for Hire

After her second gig as a flower girl, Elle's agent has opened up her calendar for future bookings. She's cute.  She's charming. She's personable. She gives follows directions. She takes her role pathologically extremely seriously. She's great advertising for the event, proclaiming to every human (and several nonhuman) she encounters that "Aunt Stephanie* is getting married today!"
*Insert name of your client here

Elle's second flower girl debut (recall stellar performance at our niece Mandy's wedding) was at my twin sister Stephanie's wedding; a spectacular event at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota with an absolutely stunning bride and dashingly handsome groom. Elle rode down with Grampa and Mimi in the camper (it's a motor coach, Mommy) early in the week, and Jay and I flew in on Friday for the festivities. After much agonizing internal debate, I decided it would be best to leave Elise home with Aunt Sandy for the weekend. Once I recovered from the heartbreak and monumental mommy guilt from abandoning my 3 month old, I knew it was the right decision. Crowded airports/planes, disrupted schedules, late nights, compromised sleeping arrangements, and stretches of time when it would be socially unacceptable to whip out the milk supply for a baby who Must. Eat. Now. would not have been ideal for any of us. In the end, it worked out perfectly. Even if I did spend my two $300+ Ritz nights sleeping in a Disney Princess sleeping bag on the floor because my 3-year-old wanted to sleep in the bed. That reminds me... her contract includes a Luxury Accommodations rider. Her agent can discuss that with you...

Elle to Jackson the ring bearer: Are you the ring bearer? 
Jackson: Yes.
Elle: I'm the flower girl. That means we dance together at the wedding.

Jackson: I don't know who I'm dancing with yet.
Elle, emphatically: Me. The flower girl. 

Ever since the wedding, we have incessantly been reenacting the Big Day. The major players are sometimes family members, sometimes barbies/ponies/stuffed animals. For unclear reasons, the role of Groom/Brice is ubiquitously played by Pinkie Pie, who does happen to be E's favorite of the ponies. I hope he finds PP to be adequate representation. One morning she bolted out of bed exclaiming, "It's a BIG day! I'm going to marry Adam (a boy in her class)! Today is the practice and tomorrow is the wedding!" More recently she tells us she needs to train Elise to be the flower girl because she is going to be the bridesmaid. I should inform her agent of the promotion...

Monday, April 16, 2012


Oh sweet baby Elise, how do I dare attempt to summarize your first few months of life? From the moment you were born, we've been in love with your sweet spirit, (relatively) easygoing demeanor, and developing personality. No offense to your sister, but I was due a mellow baby, and at first you seemed to be just that. You'd happily hang out with us in those first weeks, proving to me that perhaps a baby is capable of just being for more than 23 seconds, which seemed to be the maximum time the eldest Golding girl could remain content. 

You woke up many many times during the night, but-- also unlike your sis-- would typically go right back to sleep after I fed you. Although, for some reason your version of sleep included these ridiculously loud (and rather disconcerting) grunting/straining type sounds that pretty much lasted all night long. Hence your nickname "Chewbacca", or "Chewy" for short. I spent many hours trying frantically to figure out why you were doing that, and you'd be surprised how many results one might get from a google search for "really loud grunting in sleep newborn". And yes, even doctors google that sort of thing. Particularly sleep-deprived, hormonally-altered Doctor Mommies already prone to overreaction. Eventually I convinced myself that the bizarre noises didn't correlate with any signs of discomfort (in fact you usually appeared to be in some form of sleep most of the time), and over the next few weeks your slumber became less cacophonous. 

Turned out, labeling you as "mellow" was a bit premature. Around 3 weeks you ramped things up in the high-maintenance department, and if I hadn't already survived the newborn-hood of Her Royal High Maintenance Highness, I might have considered you for the title. You constantly required holding, soothing, nursing, rocking. I literally could not put you down all day long, and even with maximal effort you often still cried. For days on end I was an all-you-can-eat-buffet, as nursing seemed to be the only thing that would consistently appease you (perhaps it was just difficult for you to cry with something in your mouth). You seemed particularly upset after eating (paradoxically, since you always wanted to eat), and your reflux was starting to get worse so I consulted one of my Peds GI colleagues for suggestions on reflux meds. He agreed to start Prevacid and also suggested I consider eliminating dairy to see if perhaps you had a milk protein sensitivity. Back to google I went, and after thorough consultation I agreed that your symptoms might fit. 

This is the part of the story where I emphasize how much I love you and will remind you when you are a rebellious teenager of how miserable it was to be completely dairy free-- No milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, hidden dairy (who knew McDonald's fries have dairy?!), no eating out etc-- and how I longed for a piece of REAL pizza. Apparently I am the first person ever to order Mellow Mushroom's Mighty Meaty pizza with vegan cheese. And for the record, crime rates would be drastically lower if the consequences involved eating that stuff in lieu of lesser torture like prison.

Or being dressed up as a leprechaun...
At first you seemed to be doing better with the dairy free fare, so I stuck with it for about 6 weeks, with only minor complaining/whining/pining-for-gelato. But then you started turning back into Cranky McCrankerson, and the postprandial distress came right back. I timidly tested a little dairy (oh, sweet pizza!), and kept my fingers crossed that you wouldn't react. And you didn't! I increased your prevacid dose a little, refilled the prescription (apparently the solubilized form has a very short shelf-life) and you gradually settled down. 

Since that 10-12 week mark, you've continued to descend the Maintenance ladder from High to I'd say just above average. You still prefer for me to hold you, but can hold it together in your car seat/bouncy chair/play mat for short periods of independent play. For the record, your sister still hasn't mastered the independent play concept and continues to prefer my undivided attention. More recently you've started smiling and laughing like crazy whenever anyone talks to you, and cooing your little heart out as if you have so much to say but just can't figure out how to get it out quite yet. I suspect you already sense how difficult its going to be to get in a word edgewise in this family. 

You started school at 10 weeks, and although I knew exactly what to expect from the first time around, it broke my heart. You've done amazingly well there, and have captured their hearts as I knew you would. You don't exactly nap well (or at all) at school, but neither did your sister, and you're not exactly a Nap Champ at home either, so I just take it in stride when the Nap column on your daily report is disturbingly barren. Sometimes they try to make me feel better and write in 12:10 to 12:20 just to make it look less empty.

Now, at 3.5 months, you're sleeping about 8 hours at night, typically from 8ish until 4 or 5am. I can't complain about that, but if you'd like to stretch that out just a bit in the mornings, I won't argue. You love baths and books and most of all people talking to you and smiling at you. You weigh about 13.5 lbs, and are getting balder every day. At your 2 month check up you were 11 lbs 12 oz and 23 1/4 inches long: precisely the same, down to the ounce and quarter of an inch, as your sister. 

And above all, you are so very loved.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Random and Sundry Elle-isms. Honestly, I can't keep up these days-- she is absolutely hilarious, brilliant, opinionated, verbose, and indelibly extroverted. 

Me: Please pick out something to wear so we can run errands.
E: This!
Me: Your Halloween costume from days of yore? The one clearly labeled 12-18 months? I'm certain it won't fit. 
E: Let's try.

Who doesn't wear wings, antennae, and unintentional capri pants to Costco?

Elle: My tummy hurts. I need special food.
Me: What kind of special food?
Elle, matter of factly: Crabcakes and gelato.

Me: Who's going to say prayers tonight?
E, brandishing a stuffed horse from under her covers: The horsie!
Me: Ummm, ok. Go ahead Horsie.
E, holding up the horse and proceeding in an eerily accurate horse voice which made me suspicious she must be sneaking out of bed to watch "Mr. Ed" on Nick at Night: Bowwww your heads. Neiiiighhhh Jesus, Thank you for this wonnnnderful day. Thank you for Horsie Mommy, Horsie Daddy, Real Mommy, Real Daddy, and Elle. Aaaaaamen.
As long as  I live, I sure hope I remember how hard I laughed when I heard, "Neeeiiighhh Jesus"...

For "O" week, Elle asked to learn a fancy word to add to the Word Wall at school, so we taught her omniscient. She excitedly told everyone she met that omniscient means "you know everything". At first it took a little convincing to get her to agree that only God was omniscient, not Elle. A few weeks later I randomly asked her what 3 plus 2 was and she held up 3 fingers on one hand and 2 on the other, counted them all and announced "5!". We hadn't taught her how to do that and were amazed. Jay said, "Elle, how do you know that?", to which she answered resolutely, "Da-ad, I'm starting to become omniscient". Touche.

Other daycare mom: Elle, what is your baby sister's name?
E: Elise Cabbage Golding.
Me: You mean Elise Cabot Golding.
E: No, it's Cabbage.

Upon Grampa leaving our house:
Me: Bye, Grampa!
Elle, obviously upset: No, that's not your Grampa! He's your Daddy!
Me: Oh, sorry, you're right... Bye Daddy!"
Elle, satisfied: That's better. Bye Mommy's Daddy!

Me: Elle, can you please clean up your playroom? It is a mess!
Elle, melodramatically drooping shoulders and head: "This is the worst thing ever because I don't like doing this!"

Working on her show-and-tell for "Q" week at school:
"I'm working extreeemely hard on this quadrilateral."

Anytime you suggest something that isn't too her liking:
E: That's not my plan. (Followed, of course, by elaboration of her plan which typically includes anything other than going to bed or taking a nap)

After witnessing my near-breakdown when Elise wouldn't take a bottle the day before she started daycare:
Elle: I have a plan! (See above) You can just cut off your boobs and send them to school with her!
Me: Speechless, but must have had a disconcerted look
Elle: Don't worry, you can tape them back on!

Seeing the Michelin man near Sears:
E: This is SOO exciting! Mommy, I love him! This is just like DisneyWorld!

E: Mommy, do you know what grabbledegore means?
Me: I don't, Elle. What does it mean?
E: It means a type of acorn that nocturnal squirrels hide in trees. No, no... burrows.
Me: Ummm.... ok.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I wasn't sure how Elle was going to react to the newest family addition, or more accurately the newest Usurper of Her Attention. I expected her either to be obsessed with the Real Live Baby Doll and it's incumbent feedings, diaper changes, and other tasks that a big sister could perform... or to be completely distraught that the world may not continue to revolve absolutely unilaterally around her. Turns out, she wasn't either. She has mostly met the A.E. (After Elise) era with a surprising indifference. She generally just goes about her melodramatic business with little regard to the tiny creature that has infiltrated the household. When asked if she wants to help change a diaper, she typically responds politely, "No thank you". When Elise was having a particularly fussy day month, she said, "Mommy, can you shush that baby down? I can't hear myself play".

Now there certainly have been moments of typical older sibling jealousy (amplified in typical exuberant Elle fashion) when Mommy's attention seems monopolized by feeding, changing, and the abovementioned shushing. But she has a surprisingly mature understanding of the etiology of these emotions, once explaining to me amidst a seemingly irrational fit-pitching session that "you don't give me any 'tention because Elise gets all your 'tention. Babies take all the 'tention away from big sisters". Well, at least I'm not left perusing child psychology textbooks to discern the underlying meaning of her emotional instability. Blunt and articulate... could be a dangerous combination for my eldest.

One night at dinner, Elise gave a furrowed brow look and I asked, "Elise what is that look for?"

Elle responded (perhaps wishfully thinking): "Maybe she wonders if she came home with the wrong family?"

But lately it seems that the sisterly bonding has started to take effect. Elle will rush to Elise's side when she starts to fuss and violently shake rock her car seat while consoling her, "It's ok, I'm right here". When she ran outside for a moment as we were loading up in the car, she leaned down to Elise, poked her eyeball gently stroked her face and said, "No worries Elise. I'll be right back!". She sings to her, reads to her, and helps her open gifts, although the latter requires close screening of the item/s to see what needs to be claimed as the Big Sister's. She is delighted when Elise smiles at her, and "checks" on her in the baby room at school. When she saw Elise wearing one of the school's bibs, she promptly informed the teacher that her baby Does. Not. Wear. That. and requested that it be removed without delay. Upon finding only one of the teachers in the infant room when we arrived to pick up little E, big E said, "Where is the other baby teacher? My baby needs two teachers!" A tad bossy, that one. But it warms my heart to see her watching out for her little sister, and I'm so excited to see the relationship that develops between them as they grow up together. Maybe Elise will stop wondering if she came home with the wrong family...