Friday, October 13, 2017

Reeisms, Vol. 3

Oh, Ree.  Equal parts sugar and spice, some days I can't get enough of her and other days I wonder if I'll survive her.

A few months ago during the Gospel reading in church, I suddenly dissolved into silent laughter, shaking quietly in my pew.  It was a reading from the book of Matthew, where a Canaanite woman comes to Jesus and says, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon."  And all I could think was, wow, this scripture is really resonating with me this morning.  I know how that woman felt, because I have a three-year-old.

And another time, reflecting on the temptation of Jesus in the desert, I found myself thinking that Satan should have just sent a three-year-old to torment him, because it seems like that could make almost anyone snap.

And let's just say I may have once started to Google "Is my three year old a s..." and felt a sense of relief when it autocompleted "sociopath" for me.  I guess I'm not the first parent to wonder.

* * *

She loves music, dancing, snuggling, and nursery rhymes.  She plays imaginatively with Nell for hours at a time.  When neighbors drive by and she's playing in the yard, Ree waves and hollers a friendly but unexplainable, "OH HI MISTER POTATO!" And then dissolves into giggles.  Every time.

She recently fell into our bathroom trash can in a jackknifed position after standing on the toilet seat to wash her hands, quite the sight to see - it was both humorous and pathetic at the same time.

Her speech is more and more grown-up, but she still has some pretty cute phrases that she pronounces incorrectly, and I'll continue to love it as long as it lasts, I think.  She doesn't say "opeeoh" for "oatmeal" anymore.  She recently stopped asking to sit in my "yap" or asking for a "yittle bite" of something - her L's are sounding clearly most of the time, and every time she asks to sit in my lap I respond, "...but don't you want to sit in my yap?"  And she laughs as though that's the silliest thing anyone could ever say.

One of my favorite words to hear Marie say  -- and she says it often -- is "beautiful."  There's something charming about how she says it: "It's beauuuutiful!"  She'll declare it confidently about her own artwork: "Wow! I did it! It's beautiful!" or about the work of others.  Driving down the road I'll hear her quietly murmur, "That's a beautiful house there."  Or more loudly sometimes, when she sees something she likes, "Yook Mommy!  It's beautiful!"  Several months ago we went to the Peabody Essex Museum and she ran around loudly exclaiming "It's BEAUTIFUL!" about everything she saw.  One dress in the wearable art exhibit caught her eye in particular, and she yelled, "It's BEAUTIFUL!" and then, upon looking more closely, continued, "NO, it's BAD! It's BAD!"  The other art museum patrons were thoroughly amused.

A few of her other particularly fabulous words / phrases include:
Funscreen (sunscreen)
Chickmunk (chipmunk)
Fickly (quickly) ("I'm coming as fickly as I can!")
Packpack (backpack)
Popasul (popsicle)
Bonnet (bike helmet)
Daddy's factor (tractor - his newly acquired, free from the side of the road, John Deere mower)
Petal ticks (pretzel sticks)
New hamster (New Hampshire)
"It's a yittle bit ficky." (It's a little bit tricky)

{Pictures from a recent day when we visited the Topsfield Fair.  And yes, I dressed all the girls alike so I could easily keep track of them!}

* * *

Coming into my bedroom early while I'm still in bed:
"Mommy hiiiiiii. Can I tay (stay) with you ever (forever)?"

* * *

Running upstairs on another early (think pre-6 am) morning: "Hiiii!  So how are you guys doin'??"

* * *

After Molly was born, Ree noticed that beneath the top mattress in the cosleeper beside our bed was a little compartment for storing extra sheets, or diapers, or what have you.  "Mommy! When I have my baby, my own baby, my baby can sleep on the bottom and your baby can sleep on the top! And that's the end!"

* * *

Sitting in the glider one evening, rocking together: "I want to stay here forever.  I love being with you."

* * *

Nathan: "You're cozy, Marie.  I like to snuggle with you."
Ree: "No, mamas and daddies don't snuggle with little kids!  You're not snuggling with me, because I'm a little tiny girl!  But I'm snuggling with you.  Kids snuggle with mommies and daddies."

* * *

Ree: "I don't love Daddy.  Daddy is bad."
Me: "Daddy is the one who comes to you in the night and snuggles you when you are scared."
Ree: "Well, I do love him in the night but not in the day."

Looking at someone's birthday balloon: "I want a cupcake with finkles and iyfeam (ice cream) yike in the picture on that balloon!!!" (said very grumpily and demandingly)

* * *

Out of the blue: "I don't like to eat yucky spiders."

* * *

Singing: "I love to eat poops, poops, poops, poops!"

* * *

"Can I have one sip, Mommy?  Can I have two sipses?"

* * *

At breakfast:
Ree: "I want two grapefruits!"
Nell: "Mawie, it seems like two grapefruits but it's only one cut in half."
Ree: "No don't say that to me!  That is a bad word!"

* * *

Ree: "I don't yike peppers.  Well, I do yike peppers, I do like bell peppers, I'm just... nervous about them."

* * *

"I want a chocolate chip!  With a tuft on its head!"

* * *

Suddenly holding a Hershey's kiss suspiciously one afternoon: "It just... wiggled out of the wrapper all by itself."

* * *

"Mama, I found a waisin on the wug.  Can I eat it?"

Hearing Molly making a smacking sound: Oh, she's nursing by herself!"

* * *

Me: "How do you take care of your babies, Ree?"
Ree: "I just hold them in my arms until they go right to sleep and then I put them down and they stay asleep."
Nell: "Wow, my babies don't do that.  You must be the best mama.  High five."
And they high-fived.

* * *

Me: "Remember when Molly was a new born baby?"
Ree: "A new boy baby?  I don't wemember that!"

* * *

Ree: "I'm having a baby!  I'm having a baby now!"
Me: "Is it a girl or a boy?"
Ree: "A girl.  With a dress on.  In my belly."

* * *

Ree: "This is my baby girl."
Nell: "That baby doll is a boy, Mawie."  {it is indeed an anatomically correct baby boy, I can confirm}
Ree: "No, it's a girl!  It's a girl baby with a piece of poop stuck on her bum!"

* * *

Ree: "I had a baby."
Me: "What did you name your new baby?"
Ree: "Peeghost."
Nell: "That's a nice name."

Upon finding a piece of clothing she sought: "I had-ed it in my vawer!" (drawer)

* * *

"Dammit!  Mommy say that when she driving in the snow."  (who is the "Mommy" of whom she speaks?! ahem...)

* * *

Laughing: "I just did a big toot!  Just for fun."

* * *

"I just have some hiccups in my mouth and they are hurtin' me."

* * *

Me: "Do you know how old I am?"
Ree: "Two weeks."

* * *

Frequently: "I'm having a little fubble!" (trouble)

* * *

"When I grow up to be a grown up I want to be a bunny hopping along the path."

* * *

Sick one day, and so sad:
"Mama can you please help me bubble over (our family term for throw up) because I don't want to do it all by myself because I'm little and sick."

* * *

Inexplicably, on another day when she wasn't feeling too well: "Actually my tummy is not hurting.  My nose was just having a conversation."

* * *

With a fever: "My whole body hurts a YOT!"

* * *

Ree (pointing): "I have a bone in my bum."
Me: "It's your hip."
Ree: "Oh yeah!  It's my hip!  And I have another hip!"

* * *

Because the English language is confusing: "I looked at it, and I seed it, and I taked it out, and I goed up to my room with it!"

Listening to Mary Poppins at breakfast one morning: "Mama isn't this music so so so so so so so so beautiful?  Listening to it is such a treat."

* * *

To the tune of 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas': "I wish I could be Mary Poppins, I wish I could be Mary Poppins, I wish I could be Mary Poppins....!"

* * *

After I told her the main singer in the Sound of Music (who Nell immediately identified as having the same voice as Mary Poppins, by the way) was a character named Maria, Ree declared matter-of-factly and inexplicably, "Oh yeah.  One of my moms is named Maria."
{ nope }

Ree: "Mama, can I use your colored pens?"
Me: "No..."
Ree, angrily, pretending to read on my package of pens and following along with her finger, "BUT IT SAYS 'YUP IT IS FOR KIDS'!!!"

* * *

Driving in the car one day, she became frustrated and started yelling from her car seat.
Me: "What's wrong?"
Ree (playing an imaginary violin in the air): "I want to do an up bow not a down bow!"

* * *

Nathan: "I'm going to be home tomorrow, so I can play with you."
Ree: "Daddies don't play.  They read on their phones."

Meticulously folding a small piece of toilet paper:
"I fold it into a fare.  Not a wangtangle but a fare."

* * *

Talking about the small holes in our hallway wall that Nathan drilled a couple of years ago to do some electrical work reconnaissance:
Ree: "If I go down those yittle tiny holes I will be so so gone.  I will be yost."
Nell: "Yeah you won't be my sister then I would only have one!"
Ree: "Yeah I would be so so gone forever."

* * *

Weighing herself one morning:
Me: "You weigh 28 pounds!"
Ree: "Just like Daddy!"

"I have jelly beans!  I'm going to save them all for myself and not give any to anyone but save them for an occasion."

* * *

"I found this weally special wock!  I'm going to keep it for an occasion."

* * *

"These are my special socks I keep in my drawer for occasions."

Some vaguely theological musings:

Frustrated and concerned after a brief conversation about death: "When I grow up I'm gonna 'top (stop) dying!  Actually when I grow up I am gonna die but with Mama and Daddy and Nell!"

* * *

On Easter:
"But where is Jesus?"
"He's with God now."
"But where is God?"
"He's everywhere, but we say he's in heaven especially, like when we pray Our Father."
"But where is heaven?"
(I'm outta my league with this kiddo's questions!)

* * *

Doing a puzzle that is a map of the United States: "But where does Grandma live?  But where does Aunt Emily live?  But where does Uncle Andrew live? ..... but where does GOD live?"

* * *

During a thunder storm: "I scared!  I want to snuggle with somebody who is big like tall to the sky maybe like God."

* * *

After a required potty break at church one week:
Me: "Okay, before we go back into church, remember that we need to be very very quiet."
Ree: "Yeah!  Because everybody is sleeping!"

Some interactions with her big sister...

Playing together:
Ree: "I'm gonna be Peter Pan and you be a dead rat."
Nell (cheerfully): "Okay!"

* * *

Antagonizing her poor big sister:
Ree: "Mommy, we are the only nice ones, and Nell is bad."
Nell: "I'm not bad!"
Ree: "Yes you definitee bad!"

* * *

One morning when Ree was a little under the weather:
Nell: "I'm sorry you're sick, Mawie!"
Ree: "You're gonna be sick too soon, so you won't be smiling anymore!"

* * *

After biting her tongue:
Ree: "I have like, a rip in my tongue."
Nell (thoughtfully): "I saw someone with a rip in their tongue once."
Ree (angrily, running up and getting in Nell's face): "IT WAS ME!!!!!!!!"

(that one really killed me for some reason.  I laughed until I had tears in my eyes!)

And there you have it: a few (okay, more than a few) of Ree's finest moments over the recent months.  We sure do love having this girl in our family.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Molly at Six Months

She's trying desperately hard to be on the move, rolling all over the place but also using her toes to push herself around, and trying to get her knees up under herself.  She gazes up at me at mealtimes and tries to mimic the motions of my chewing with her own little mouth.  And with those sweet thigh rolls and the plumpness of her belly, every time I pick Molly up it's a reminder that she's not a newborn anymore.  Everyone says the time goes more quickly with second- or third-born and so forth, and it's all true as far as I can tell.

Perhaps the fact that I didn't get these "six month" pictures taken until a solid two weeks past that actual date gives some indication of how busy things are around here, and how quickly the time flies.

She's gregarious, this little girl, and happily bestows big smiles on anyone and everyone -- as long as she approves of her current situation, which often means being held by either Mama or Daddy, although substitutes are sometimes acceptable.


She's a solid sitter these days, although I'm closer than ever before to actually following some RIE parenting principles with her in her babyhood when it comes to motor development, so I find that I rarely sit her up, but prefer to put her on her back or tummy and let her go from there.  The more I've thought about it, the more it is odd to place a baby sitting up before she can get herself in and out of the sitting position.  It just leaves her being rather stuck there!  That being said, occasionally she really does like to be sitting up, so at times we just go with it.

Soaking through multiple full-body-style bibs a day (thank you, Aden and Anais burpy bibs! And thank you Cara for giving us some!), we've declared her our drooliest baby yet, which incidentally, my computer's autocorrect wants to change to drollest baby.   No, dear old laptop.  While she does bring us great joy and frequent mirth, droll isn't the word I'm going for, after all.  Just drool, and more drool, all the time.

I know we're biased, but we think this kiddo is one of the cutest babies ever to grace planet Earth.  Her eyes!  And her smiles!   Her Daddy is every bit as biased as I am, and declares her "above average" and "unbearably cute."

Dear Molly,

You are a handful to put to sleep, girly.  You're the queen of the 40-minute-or-less nap for most of your naps, and it's been making your Mama a liiiiiiittle bit crazy lately.  You've recently stopped falling asleep nursing, or rocking or singing or back-patting or anything else, for that matter; more often than not, the only thing that works is putting you in our LilleBaby carrier and bouncing you a bit until you finally give in and close your weary, red-rimmed eyes.  Last night you made a rare exception, and fell asleep in my arms in the rocking chair as I whispered to you.  "Sweet girl, it's okay to go to sleep," I murmured.  "You can do more exploring tomorrow.  You'll have a wonderfully long life to do all the things you want to do.  Close those little blue eyes.  Tomorrow you can work on your crawling, and play with your sisters, and see all the people you love, all over again."  And as I whispered, you eventually stopped fussing noisily and arching your back to look around.  Your eyes drifted shut.  And after a few final fusses as you attempted to fight the sleep, you gave in and your little body grew heavy with sleep in my arms.  I love that feeling, that moment of my babe drifting off to sleep in my arms.  I know that someday, despite all these struggles we've had to get each of our babies to sleep in their turn, I will miss those moments in the rocking chair as a little one succumbed to slumber and grew limp against my shoulder, breath slowing against my neck, fist relaxing its hold on my finger. 

We're finding our rhythm with my work and my care for my three girls, and sometimes that is challenging.  Sometimes you make it known that no babysitter, no matter how qualified, is a suitable substitute for your mother.  And so, sometimes, you roll on the floor at my feet while I teach violin lessons, or snuggle against me in the carrier.  I like those moments, when you're quiet and happy to be with me.  You watch my violin students attentively and seem to like hearing the music.  It reminds me of years not so very long ago when each of your big sisters used to do the same, and I'm trying to find the mental space to be grateful, amidst the challenges and chaos, for the kind of work I get to do.  I'm grateful for the fact that for every moment when a tantruming three-year-old's cries ring through the house -- bringing a hot flush of embarrassment to my face while I'm working -- there are a hundred beautiful moments.  A baby rocking in the swing by my side during lessons.  A child sitting quietly in my lap for a moment and just listening.  A toddler coloring quietly on papers strewn on the floor, content to play quietly if she could just be near me.  And you, Miss Margaret Elizabeth, falling asleep against my chest in the carrier to the sound of a small violin playing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  

Of course, we'll close with the requisite sister picture.  We struggled a little to get a good one, and one might say we failed.  Lest you thought it was all smiles around here all the time.  {But you didn't, did you?}

"Siiiiisters.... siiiisters... there were never such devoted sisters!"

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

One Morning in Gloucester

I can't help feeling as if a lot of the summer passed us by; knee-deep in baby mode and just trying to make a reasonable number of naps happen at reasonable times, I wasn't exactly taking the kids out on exciting excursions every day.

Something about fall arriving, and with it my work schedule picking up significantly, has actually helped us find a bit of a rhythm to our days again.  I was pretty anxious about how I'd manage everything ahead of time, as I was working to schedule all my teaching and freelancing work for the year; but I guess if there's an upside to having a sort of anxiety attack and completely freaking out and melting down about how in the world you're going to survive life and keep juggling all the things you're juggling, it's this: the reality is rarely as bad as your absolute worst fears and imaginations.  Even with needing to make completely last-minute arrangements for childcare during all my working hours, we've been managing to piece things together and getting through each day.

And while there really aren't enough hours in each day, I do find that knowing I'll be working in the afternoons Monday through Thursday helps me prioritize my morning hours better.  And needing to keep to my work schedule helps me schedule in other things in advance a little better too; instead of waiting to see what I feel able to accomplish in a given day {probably nothing, let's be honest}, if I plan things ahead I find that I can actually do them sometimes!

While I may sometimes wish I could be working less, I'm also getting to enjoy a lot of good things in life.

This morning I took the girls to a beach in Gloucester to enjoy the 80 degree September day.

The day was utterly gorgeous.  Warm but not scorchingly hot, breezy, and with a beautiful fog settled over everything that cleared as the morning went on.  My iPhone photos can't really do it justice, but that didn't stop me from trying to capture it anyway.

I couldn't stop exclaiming to Nell and Ree about that gorgeous gray fog.

Meanwhile, the girls were eager to dig and play in the sand, search for shells and other treasures, and wade into the water to race each wave up onto the shore.   Molly obligingly sat in the Ergo, snuggled against me, my companion in taking in the beauty of the day.

We found marvelous tide pools to wade through and explore.

Nell was quick to observe that the seaweed-covered rocks reminded her of a page from the book One Morning in Maine, when Sal slips on seaweed on a rock while saying hello to a loon and a seal.

Not long after that observation, she found a gull feather, just like Sal does in the book.  I asked her if she was going to make a wish on it, like in the story, and she replied that she already had.  When I asked her what she wished for, she passed the test: "I can't tell you, or the wish won't come true!"

I had a sneaking suspicion it might have been a wish like Sal's wish from McCloskey's book.  So, after stopping to observe the amazing milkweed pods exploding on either side of the boardwalk, we headed for the car.

...And drove a couple of minutes up the road for chocolate ice cream cones.  Just like Sal in One Morning in Maine wished for on her seagull feather.

At the ice cream stand, we parked next to an elderly couple who ordered their own ice cream cones just before we did.  Impeccably dressed in slacks and a blouse, the woman held her soft serve cone with hands that shook, drops of ice cream spilling on her papery skin.  We chatted for a little bit while the girls enjoyed their ice cream cones.  "These are the best years of your life," she told me, watching the kids lick the sprinkles off their cones.  The couple stayed after finishing their own ice creams, watching the girls and periodically offering paper towels or a word of advice for a child to catch an impending drip.  She told me about her two sons, her five grandchildren, her two great-grandchildren.  When I asked if we were keeping them from anything, she replied, "Oh no... what do we have to go home to?!  Nothing!"

Driving home, my eyes filled with tears for a moment thinking about it all: the beautiful morning, the memories I get to make with my kids, and an aging woman who had grown up in Maine and moved to Gloucester, raised her own kids and then retired to a beach front home that was beautiful but empty.  I wondered how many ice cream cones she had enjoyed over the course of her life, how often she and her husband took a little jaunt down to the ice cream stand on a summer's day to enjoy a cone of soft serve in their car together.   And I wondered what our family's life will look like twenty, thirty, forty years from now.  Perhaps I'll have the clean house I work so hard for these days but can rarely attain.  And perhaps I'll see mothers with young children, sandy from head to toe, sticky from an ice cream treat, and remember with fondness the best days of my life.  The days when I had sand tracked through my house and sticky handprints on the car door handles, when tired children fell apart from too much fun and cried more than seemed necessary over the prospect of a shower, when I lifted little girls into the stream of clean water and they stopped wailing and instead squealed with laughter as chocolate came off their faces and we watched sand and dirt swirl down the drain.

I asked Nell if by chance a chocolate ice cream cone had been what she wished for, and she replied that yes, it was exactly what she wished for, but that she had actually wished for two things.  She also wished for a real baby pig of her very own.

At least I could make one of those wishes come true.

Friday, September 1, 2017

My Review of the Neato Botvac

As I'm sitting down to write this evening, Cinderella is cleaning my floors.

No, really.  Allow me to explain.

A while ago my husband received some extra and unexpected money, for which we were very grateful.  It came with a note saying it was hoped it could be used "for rest and relaxation."

And not long thereafter, Nathan and the girls were out running a few errands one morning, and came home with a surprise for me: the ultimate, most long-lasting form of rest and relaxation one can procure.

A Neato Botvac.

What is a Botvac, you may well ask?

It's like a Roomba, only {sorry, Roomba users} better.

* * *

The Botvac has an app you can install on your phone, which allows you to name your robot and then to operate it from your phone, which is very convenient and also fun.  It also means your phone will receive alerts if the Botvac gets stuck somewhere or needs the dirt bin to be emptied, and an alert when it finishes cleaning.  You can also access a map of the most recent cleaning, which usually shows quite accurately the areas the Botvac has cleaned.

A map of a recent cleaning.  Since our home has two rooms that are down steps, she doesn't do those rooms unless I move her in there and run a specific cleaning in either of those spaces.  So you can see on the map how her lasers plotted some general sense that those spaces existed, but she kept herself from going off the ledges into either of those rooms.

Our girls, as you may have guessed, immediately clamored to name our Botvac Cinderella, and so, we did.  {I initially wanted to name it Carson, to tell the truth, but the girls won out on this one!}

Her notifications are always charming and polite, such as, "Thank you for emptying my dirt bin."  You're welcome, Cinderella.  It's the least I can do.

* * *

The Botvac uses lasers to scan the rooms and create a map of your house (or whatever floor of your house it's cleaning) as it goes.  It will then plan the most efficient path to use to clean.  I find that it tends to find and clean perimeters of rooms first, and then go back and do the middles in very systematic rows back and forth.  It easily slides under our living room couch and big chair, so for the first time in, um, ever, those places are routinely clean, which is pretty amazing.

It can be used on both carpeted floors and wood floors, so Cinderella happily roams between the living room rug, the wood dining room floor, the vinyl kitchen floor, and the carpeted family room without missing anything.  And you know what I'm not missing?  The old days of wrestling with changing attachments for our old vacuum between the wood floor wand and the carpet attachment!

We do find that she gets a little perplexed trying to go under the dining room table amidst so many chair legs to navigate, so we usually flip the chairs, restaurant-at-closing-style, onto their seats on the table before running Cinderella.  I guess flipping all the chairs every evening is a teeny bit inconvenient, but when you consider that a small magical device is going to clean beneath the table, I guess I can deal with it.

A before and after of the floor under my three-year-old's chair at the dinner table.  This is pretty much the situation after every single meal, every single day.  A woman with more time on her hands might sweep and mop or wipe it up on her hands and knees.  Nowadays I pick up the largest things, let the rest dry out, and run the Cinderella.  Voila!
It has a small round side brush that it uses to sweep along the very edges of floors to bring things into its suction reach.  And as you'd expect, the Botvac can sense ledges such as small drop-offs between rooms or a staircase, and will not go over a ledge.  It also senses furniture and other large objects and circumvents them.  If the Botvac's battery runs low in the middle of a cleaning, it will return to its charging base until fully charged, and then "remember" where it was to resume cleaning once it is charged.  It also has a nice feature to run a "spot clean" in a given location, which I've found handy for our entryway rug.

* * *

My immediate response to Nathan's gift was overwhelming happiness.

A few moments later, guilt set in.  I actually felt like if we just worked harder to keep the floors cleaner we wouldn't need this exorbitant, luxury lifestyle item, and that Nathan getting it for our home meant a personal failing on my part.  I also felt guilty about the cost of it, because I have a tendency to be frugal to a fault in some regards.

While I was bemoaning my guilt about his purchase, Nathan set up the Botvac and started it running. The girls cheered as "Cinderella" vacuumed our downstairs for us.  And I stopped feeling guilty and started feeling exceedingly happy again.

* * *

I've noticed several unexpected benefits of having a Botvac aside from the quite obvious fact that, you know, she cleans my floors for me.

First of all, it's quite motivating to the kids to know that a robot vacuum, for whom they have a mixture of love, admiration, and fear, is about to be unleashed on the house.  They are not altogether aware of her size limitations in terms of what she can actually vacuum up, and in their minds, she's going to eat all their belongings.  So, they are very motivated to clean up their things.  If I'm running Cinderella in the evening, before bedtime I'll just give them a warning about it and they're very good about picking up all their stuff so it doesn't get "eaten."  If I've skipped an evening and decide to do it the following morning, we'll work together on getting everything ready, so they can pick up their toys while I flip the chairs and move the kitchen garbage can, etc.

Secondly, it's motivating to me to know that I'm always pretty close to having the floors clean, and if I can just pick up things, close a couple of closet doors, and flip chairs, I'll then be one push of a button away from having Cinderella clean all my downstairs floors for me.  Suddenly those tasks seem very manageable, and very worth it.  Instead of getting the kids to bed and wanting to immediately crash in exhaustion (well, I still want to do that sometimes!), I'll find myself thinking, It's not too bad; if I load the dishes into the dishwasher, a machine will wash them for me.  If I gather laundry and throw a load into the washing machine, it'll be clean by morning.  Likewise, if I pick up the stuff on my floors, a robot will vacuum them for me! If Ma Ingalls could do all that stuff by hand, I can manage to do the preparations for my magical machines to do their work!

Thirdly, I've realized how much happier I am when my floors are really clean on a daily basis.  I love not feeling little bits of grit or crumbs under my bare feet when I'm walking around in the house.  And I've noticed I can let go a little bit of my frustrations with how dirty the kids get playing outside when I know that despite my best efforts, they'll be tracking a lot of that dirt back into the house.  It's really nice to shrug and say to myself, I'll be running Cinderella this evening!

* * *

And speaking of dirt in my house, you would not believe the amount of dirt this Botvac cleans on a daily basis.  At first we kept saying to each other, "Wow, this is both incredible and disgusting!  But she must be lifting dirt that's been settled into the carpet.  She won't keep getting this much every day."  But the weeks went by, and she kept filling that dirt bin every. single. day.  We are flabbergasted.  Horrified.  Gratified.  All at the same time!  It's amazing.  I'm so happy knowing all that stuff isn't on my floors.

Yes, this is after one cleaning.  I'm as horrified as you are, believe me.
I really believe these brilliant little things should become standard in most homes.  Anyone who has even a little disposable income even occasionally should get one.  {We are not, I might add, usually the kind of people who can drop a large chunk of change on something like this, but in retrospect, even aside from receiving some unexpected money, I would do this again in a heartbeat!}  If you think about it, almost everyone has a dishwasher.  And the Botvac is to your floors as a dishwasher is to your dishes, or a washer and dryer is to your laundry, for that matter.

I'm a mama to three small children, and I work anywhere from 15 to 40 hours in a given week.  Part of my work actually involves other people's young children traipsing in and out of my house throughout the afternoon.  In other words, in my life right now, the level of messiness is high and the amount of spare time is low.  So, having Cinderella "join our family" has been saving my sanity in a big way lately.

Is the Botvac perfect?  Well, no.  She does seem to get "stuck" from time to time in a place where she's not actually touching anything, so she's clearly just become confused.  {That's OK, Cinderella... I get confused sometimes too.  Where was I going with this kitchen towel? Is it clean or dirty? What am I doing?}  And once or twice I've seen her keep trying to go up against a closed door, back and forth, over and over - not banging into the door or anything, just sort of perseverating about a certain general direction.  And I must admit that our baby swing really confuses her; the base of it is just high enough for her to get stuck in but not high enough to keep her from trying to go over and into it.  So, that's another thing we're picking up and moving before running the vacuum most of the time.  But aside from a few quirks like these, I would have to say she's pretty near perfect, she does a fabulous job cleaning, and I love her.

* * *

The bottom line is this:

If you want to experience true and lasting joy, you need one of these.

If you'd rather keep cleaning your floors with the waters of your own miserable tears, I guess you don't need one.

Cinderella charging at her little station after cleaning my floors last night.
*Disclosure: I am not a fancy professional blogger, and this review was neither requested nor paid for by anyone.  However, if the creators of the Neato Botvac see it and would like to send me another Botvac for free, I will receive it with tears of gratitude and utilize it to clean my second floor on a daily basis, and I will thus most likely achieve Nirvana.*

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Molly at five months

Five months old, with the longest wisps of dark hair on top and in the back, and the bluest eyes you ever did see.  She weighed in at about 15 pounds at five months old, and while she's still fitting into her 3-6 month clothes, it's clear that those outfits' days are numbered.  

She's my first baby ever to suck her thumb, which is, as you might have anticipated, the cutest thing ever.  She doesn't do it continually or regularly manage to find it when she wants to soothe herself, but she does it often enough that I think we might have a genuine thumb-sucker on our hands.  

Princess of the 40 Minute Daytime Nap, and instigator of 2:00 or 3:00 am middle of the night parties lasting an hour and a half or more, this sweet babe is leaving her mother less than well-rested.  {My own tendency for insomnia to rear its ugly head once I'm awakened hasn't been helping matters any!}

But she has so many smiles for us all day long, and flaps her arms with glee, particularly enjoying the feel of scratching her fingernails against her own diapers and any other interesting surfaces they may encounter.  And she has the best laugh.  And she's even begun reaching out to grab my face from time to time.  

So, sleepless wonder that she can be at times, we'll keep her.

She's learned to easily grab whatever is within her reach, and grab things she does, usually for the purposes of putting them straight into her mouth.  So we've brought out the baby toys for a third go around, and Molly explores them with glee.

This sweet wooden rattle was made for a baby Nell about five years ago by Grandma and Grandpa.
Her drooling abilities could test the limits of any bib known to man.  I wipe, and wipe, and wipe that chin and neck, and moments later you'd never know the child had anyone to care for her hygiene, poor thing, and she sometimes gets a rash in her neck folds despite my best efforts.  {Isn't it glorious how one can talk about a baby's neck folds?  I have a feeling if I developed a rash in my neck I wouldn't talk about it quite so openly.}

She vocalizes loudly in squawks, squeaks, coos, and forced little croakings that seem to amuse her the most of all.

She's stopped protesting diaper changes, and instead views them as a highlight of her day, a particularly fine time to grab her toes and shove them into her mouth.  {This classically babyish trait has made a few conversations with a certain three year old necessary about how no, you may not put your toes in Molly's mouth, yes, I know she puts her toes in, but that's quite different, because her toes are cleaner, yes, even though you just had a bath, it's still different, because it just is, and GET YOUR TOES OUT OF THE BABY'S MOUTH RIGHT AWAY PLEASE!}

In a sweet vintage bonnet given to her by a friend. 

Dear Molly,

You are sweet as sugar, did you know that?  

Your sisters adore you, and I'm grateful for that numerous times a day when you can turn their frowns upside down with one smile, or even a bestowed glance in either of their directions.  

Your Daddy proudly calls you "the best baby yet" {never mind that he felt equally proud and biased about each one of our girls as babies!}, and is pleased as punch that sometimes when I'm trying to settle you down, all he has to do is hold you in his lap for you to calm right down.  He can put you to sleep bouncing you gentle in the Ergo in the evenings as he watches a Red Sox game, and I'll hear him say to you as he buckles you into that carrier, "Ok Molly, it's the top of the fourth and the Sox are leading..." and you happily grin up at him as if he holds the moon and the stars.

My dear daughter, a forty minute nap three or four times a day is not enough time for me to get anything done, really, and furthermore, since it's not enough rest for you, you awaken too cranky for me to do anything in between these short naps, either.  I love you a hundred million billion, as I've always said to each of my girls, but Molly Moe, let's see if six months can be a turning point for longer naps, shall we?  I'd like that a lot.

In any case, you sleep pretty well at night {even when I don't do so well at going back to sleep!}, sometimes only waking once or twice, which, while not as glorious as the days when you were three months old and slept through the night, are still pretty glorious, I say. 

You just took a -- you guessed it -- forty minute nap as I was typing this blog post, and now you're up again, so I shall end this here and go snuggle you, you sweet little girlie.  We love you.


doting kisses from Ree
silly faces all around