Monday, August 24, 2009


So many words, Phoebe! In the last week she's learned the following: pager, yellow, off, snack, stuck, Opa, Nana (complete with the baNANA sign for my grandmother), Ergo, Elmo. Every day it is a few more. We met Phoebe three months ago today, and she continues to amaze me. I look at the pictures now of our time in China, and now she seems so much more sure of herself. Her hair has grown, now in the "Ringo Star" look-- a bit too short to pull back effectively, so it hangs in front of her face and over her ears unless she'll let me keep the barrett in. Last weekend my parents and my grandmother came to visit. I was so proud of Phoebe when she let her grandparents hold her! My father toured her all over a huge sailing ship docked in Salem Harbor, and Phoebe looked as content as could be in his arms, even when they drifted out of my sight. And Mom danced to French Playground music with Phoebe in her arms, to the delight of both of them. With each week, Phoebe seems more and more at home.

Sleep, still not going so well. If Phoebe fails my 10 minute test as we lie in bed together, I put her in the Ergo and go for a walk. It never fails me, though sometimes takes 15 minutes until she drifts off. I know, I know, not a very good bedtime routine. But after much discussion and thought, I've decided to take the advice of those who say "Do what works." I'm a lot happier if my evening adult time starts at 8:30 compared to 9:30. And I'm counting on Phoebe being in a different space developmentally by the time the weather changes. And tonight was amazing-- Phoebe fell asleep with me on the big bed after about 10 minutes, and I was downstairs at 7:55 pm. That's a new record. I won't pretend it is a new trend, but it is a glimpse of hope. I'll take it.

It has been such a wonderful summer of visitors! We've been hunkering down to teach Phoebe about routine and consistency and the permanence of her new home, so people have come to us. We've had my parents quite a few times, my brother's great kids, my sister with her whole lively family, our neighbors from Providence whom we just adore, one of my more-than-half-my-life friends who has known me since junior high school (Keri), my dear Aunt Pat, my spunky 83 year old grandmother whose energy amazes me. . .Have I missed anybody? People have been great, just easing into our crazy life and making visits to relaxed and pleasant. Phoebe has grown more and more at ease with our visitors as the summer has gone on. (Though I have to say, there was a lot more whining than usual, from both of my little ones, with the latest visit-- why, I'm not sure, but some days I want earplugs, and I'm sure my guests do, too.) Next up are visits from Mark's mom and his cousin-- we are looking forward to those fall visits so Phoebe can meet her West Coast family, too.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Museum and Farmer's Market

I had the day off today, and what great afternoon with the kids! We went to the art museum that is just blocks from our house. We've been there many, many times, and usually make a beeline for the kids' room. But today Miranda took the lead and headed off to explore the museum. We saw a dress built of seashells, a papoose that looked much less comfortable than our Ergo, a toy train from 1850, figureheads that dressed the old New England trading ships, and huge stone Chinese lions. Miranda was great-- she walked around with her hands folded behind her back, just like her Opa taught us to do when we were kids. She said things like, "Wow, Miranda like that," and "Miranda no like that" as she was inspired, and forged on to room after room. Phoebe took it in in a much quieter way from my arms, but insisted on climbing each staircase (there were many in the Miranda tour!) by herself. We had a great time!

Then we headed to the farmer's market. After snacking on fresh organic ginger cookies, the kids found a long, gradual staircase, with about seven steps spread over 25 yards, on the border of the market and out of the way of most foot traffic. Miranda raced up the stairs and Phoebe lumbered after her with my fingers in her hands, shrieking in delight as she chased her sister. When Phoebe got to the top, the girls collapsed in a big giggling hug. They did this routine-- up and down the stairs, with hugs at either end-- about 20 times. Phoebe did her downward-facing dog maneuver several times, too, peering at the crowd upside down through her legs. Then the music started in the tent right next to us, and we were up on the steps a few feet behind the singers. My girls stood up and started jamming, bring much too much attention from the crowd and tears to my eyes as I laughed at their antics. We moved to a less conspicuous spot. About then, a woman came up to me and said, "I just have to tell you. Your girls have brought so much joy here today. They are just delightful."

I feel like the luckiest mom in the world.

Yes, I am back to work fulltime, but after working a 24 hour call yesterday, and having the luck of sleeping the night, I had my one day a week off today. Last night, on call, I managed to get home around 7:45 pm, just as Mark was reading stories to the girls. I got a warm welcome, and Phoebe settled right down in my lap to cuddle. I would say the transition has gone remarkably well.

And this week I sat down with my boss and told her that I need to get home by 5:30 pm. The latest. I can't do getting home at 6:30 and then doing another hour of documenting on the computer after the kids go to bed. We sat down with the schedule and crunched the numbers. I'll start a little earlier, have a little shorter lunch, eliminate the extra slots I added in when I was trying to hit the productivity bonus, and stop making double-booking part of my regular schedule. So now, last patient is scheduled at 3:30, and I'm going to work one or two afternoon/evening office days a week, which gives me all morning with the girls. That makes things a lot, LOT better. I've learned something this week: Ask for what you want. Be your own advocate. You might just get what you ask for.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ah, the new norm

Life is feeling, well, settled now. Less in transition. Two month into life with Phoebe, I have a hard time imagining our family without her. I can't believe it has been just two months. I think of the child we were handed in China, who couldn't even get up off her belly onto her knees, let alone crawl or stand alone. And tonight she was running through a cardboard box obstacle course in the driveway with Miranda and our two-year old neighbor. She rides a scooter, crawls up the stairs almost as fast as her sister, and climbs the plastic rock ladder at the playground by herself. Just in the last few days I've watched her face change-- that sudden transition from baby to toddler. Unlike Miranda, who needed months of hand-holding and close parental contact after she learned to walk, Phoebe is remarkably independent. When I took a phonecall at the playground the other day, Miranda and Phoebe pretty much entertained themselves, exploring under the umbrella of the crab apple trees and playing with a ball for a full 15 minutes. My big girls! She's talking now, too, with about 15 words if you count sounds of barnyard animals, and just in the last few days she's started repeating words when we ask her to say them. And I'm not sure this is real, but twice I swear she put two words together, saying "Bye-bye, Papa"-- but really, now, that's a bit unbelievable so I'll hold off on counting it until I hear it a few more times.

The transition back to work has gone beautifully, with much thanks to a super-star nanny that both girls love. My favorite moment of the day is the return, when I walk in and my two girls come running into my arms with big smiles and squeals. Good-byes vary, with some mornings triggering big tears and clinging that resolves a minute after I leave. Other mornings the girls stand with their nanny on the balcony and both say "Bye-bye" while I wave from the car. Phoebe has found the perfect balance between being close to us and being independent. She says "Hi!" to old men sitting alone on the park bench as she passes, but protests when strangers (or friends!) try to touch her. She explores the world and the people in it, but comes back to us for reassurance. She's content with her nanny during the day, but the second I'm home is clear that she would rather be in my arms than hers. Our Early Intervention report card this week said, "Phoebe is securely attached to her mother." Nothing could make me happier!

The pictures are from the beach just a mile from our house. I can't believe how lucky I am! I'm getting better at making quick beach trips, with one bag of essentials and the girls. It does require some practice to get smooth at juggling it all. The first day I did it, when I had girls covered from head to toe in sand, I had to approach some moms of school-age kids and ask, "Um, excuse me, can I just ask you all who are experienced-- how do I get them in the car with all of this sand?"