Thursday, December 30, 2010

Well, I Knew This Was Coming...

...but I was still surprised to see this when I got Sylvia up from her nap this afternoon:

What a big girl!  She's been pulling herself up onto low furniture and a few toys for a couple weeks, but usually when I get her in the mornings, she's lying on her back, just kicking and playing.  Every once in a while she'll be on her stomach or her hands and knees, but today she was standing right up, screaming her head off.  I was so surprised that I left the room and grabbed my camera. 

She's not a happy camper, perhaps because she did not want to take a nap or perhaps because, if you look closely you'll notice, that her PANTS are falling down, and no self-respecting girl can go to sleep with her pants off.  Poor baby.

Monday, December 27, 2010


It came and went and here we sit on the other side of the greatest holiday ever!  We came up to Mom's on Thursday and upon arrival she said, "Thanks for the baby, now go do whatever you want to do while I watch her!"  Ahhh, Grandma.  We went to meet a few friends at a resaurant and then out to a movie.  It was delightful!

On Friday we baked pies and made food for Grandma Neltner's house, where the whole family meets every Christmas Eve.  Grandma Neltner's house was delightfully raucous.  Lots of people, lots of food, lots of presents, and lots of love!  We kept Sylvia up way too late, but it was worth it.

We headed back to Mom's for the night and opened more presents on Christmas Day!  Sylvia had no idea what was going on, but she started to get the hang of it.  She loved tearing all the wrapping paper. 

This gift is still sitting in the box, in a pile of presents, ready to get loaded into the car.  We're not even going to open the box until we get back home!  She, obviously, doesn't know any better, so we're taking advantage of the fact that this is all new to her!

Here's a good pic of Sylvia being all, "What, am I supposed to do something else besides read these books?  You people are CRAZY!"  Behind her are the duckies that Mom found at an antique mall.  They're handmade and they roll along the floor on a little pull string.  Later in the day Sylvia really got excited about them.

Here's Sylvia after she opened her squeaky blocks.  They're chewable soooooo.....she loves them.

Santa also brought gifts for the grown ups!  He even left the wrapping paper off of Jordan's gift so he could point out how funny the packaging was.

After all the presents were opened at Mom's house, it was time to head to Dad's house!  Santa went there, too!
 Sylvia needed a little pick-me-up when we got there, but as soon as she had her bottle she was ready to rock!

 Sally made Poinsettias: champagne and cranberry juice!  Yummy!

 Nana enjoyed a poinsettia while she watched Sylvia play with her toys.

Sally showed Sylvia how to play with her new toy - a corn popper!  Is there anyone out there who did NOT have one of these as a kid?  It hasn't changed in decades!  I'm so glad she has one!

 Santa brought the boys Nerf guns.  Fun was had.  'Nuf said.

We hung out at Dad's for the afternoon and then headed back to Mom's for dinner and games with Jay's side of the family.

 Sylvia got a great toy from Mamie Fasciotto.  Lots of lights and buttons and songs, and it comes with a cell phone!  She's eight months old now, so she's really ready for a cell phone.

 Uncle Jordan was lots of fun.

 Cousin Charlie loved his slide from Santa.  He was much better at opening presents than Sylvia.  He could really show her how it's done.

 This present was for "Daddy and Sylvia," there was another one for "Daddy and Charlie."  They had to open them at the same time.  They were singing snow men dressed in UK gear (for us) and Cincinnati Reds gear (for them).  Look at Sylvia's face!  Does she look exhausted or what?

 The obligatory bow on the head shot.

 Laura and Pete opened Sylvia's gift for sweet baby Crawford.  We love sharing Christmas evening with the Crawfords!

And this picture will be framed at my house!  After we tried to get some family photos, loooong after bedtime, both kids were plum tuckered out.  So Uncle Jordan grabs them both and says, "I want a picture with both kids!  Give 'em here!"  And this is what we got.

It was a wonderful Christmas.  We had a great time with our family and friends, and Sylvia loved being around all these people!  Now, Sylvain and I are packing for our two day road trip through Kentucky for our anniversary (four years on Wednesday!) and Mom is gearing up for two and a half days taking care of our sweet Nugget.  Luckily, she's been sleeping really well while we've been here, so I have no qualms about leaving her.  In fact, I'm rather looking forward to it!

I hope everyone out there in cyberspace had a lovely holiday as well!  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good Morning!

Here's a little taste of our mornings around here now that we don't have to rush to day care.  Hooray for winter break!

Friday, December 17, 2010

For the Baby Mamas

During these last couple of snow days I've been cleaning and rearranging all kinds of things in the house.  One space that desperately needed attention was my nightstand, which was overflowing with all the books I've read in the last year.  As I was shoving some of them in a closet, I thought to myself that it would have been nice to know which ones were good and which ones were not before I bought them all.  Then I thought about all of my pregnant or new mama friends and decided that a blog post of my favorites might be a little bit helpful.  Or not.  It's always hard to pick the right books for yourself, much less anyone else, but here's my two-cents on a few of the better ones, take it or leave it!

 Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg

If you're considering natural childbirth, I highly recommend the Bradley Book.  We used most of the Bradley Method, although there were a few things we did not do, like practice our exercises naked or eat four thousand pounds of protein every day.  :)  You have to pick and choose what you like, but this book did a really good job of preparing us for what would probably happen on the big day!  In fact, during the last week of my pregnancy we got it out again and re-read a couple of chapters that were very helpful at identifying what kind of pregnancy and birth we were having.  (I was an "any day now" pregnancy: waiting for two weeks at 4 cm; getting really frustrated toward the end, then finally showing up to the hospital fully dilated.  Oops!)  I'm really glad we had this book.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin

Whether you're going natural or not, Ina May's guide is a must-read!  It gets really weird at times, but I loved reading all of the birth stories in the first section of the book.  I would read a story and then decide what I would do if _________.  Many times I thought, "No WAY and I doing THAT!" and many times I thought, "Oh, I'm totally going to remember to do that."  Plus, there's a really funny picture in here that will totally gross you out and make you laugh at the same time.  While the first part of the book is all stories, the second half is all business.  It's the science behind childbirth and it addresses all of the misconceptions and fears that are out there.  If anything, it will make you very confident in yourself, which is a huge benefit on baby day!

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, by The La Leche League

Here's one that a friend told me about.  She said her daughter-in-law was having a lot of problems breastfeeding and they bought this book to help, which it did.  So I thought I'd read it before the birth and I'm very glad that I did!  There are parts that I didn't totally agree with, so you have to pick and choose what's best for you and your family.  It was very helpful at explaining how to breastfeed, what to do in the beginning, and how the breastfeeding relationship and routine changes as your baby grows.  I kept it by my bedside and used it as a reference quite a few times while Sylvia was nursing.

Good Night, Sleep Tight, by Kim West

I love this book and I hate it.  The Sleep Lady has many great tips and advice about how to put a baby to bed, and in the first couple months we followed her "plan" pretty diligently.  But recently I realized that we're breaking quite a few of her rules these days.  The big one is that we broke down and let Sylvia "cry it out," and as guilty as I felt about it at the time, I'm so glad we chose that method because now she sleeps like a champ!  I also rock her to sleep every once in a while, which is a huge no-no according to this book, but I can't help myself.  There's nothing better than rocking a sweet baby to sleep!  The most helpful part of this book is the chapter that explains how much sleep you can expect your child to get at certain ages.  Once again, though, now that Sylvia doesn't nap at day care, I don't use The Sleep Lady as much as I used to.  Her solution for a non-napping day care baby?  Switch day cares.  Ummmm, no thank you.

So there you have it.  The four books I would pass on to any friend who wants them!  Notice I did NOT include the What to Expect When You're Expecting, because I really, really don't like it.  I have it, and I've used it as a reference, and I'd happily lend it to anyone who wants it, but I think these four books are much more helpful.  No matter what you read, though, heed this advice that was given to me by a great friend:

In the end, the best person to tell you what's best for you baby is YOU.  That baby doesn't know there are a hundred different ways to do things.  You're the only parents that little girl has!  She only knows what you do, and she loves you for it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have more cleaning to do.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A New Party Trick...Just in Time for Christmas!

She's going to be soooo popular at all of our holiday gatherings now that she can do this little number!  Amazing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Happy Day!!!

Despite the cold weather, we've managed to have a warm and wonderful weekend around here...if you don't count our little trip to the doctor's office today to see what was wrong with sweet Sylvia.  Long story short - her pesky cough has turned into something of a concern, the doctor took one look at her and prescribed allergy meds, then he spent the rest of our appointment torturing her by trying to clean out her tiny ears with a water-gun-drill which she did NOT appreciate, only to discover that there is nothing to be concerned about in there - which I already knew, but whatever.

ANYWAY, at the dinner table tonight she was a little fussy, and I was sitting next to a stack of papers to grade that I haven't touched yet, and Sylvain was complaining about how tedious this last week before winter break would be.  I jokingly said, "Maybe we'll have a snow day!"  I mean, it IS snowing, and it's supposed to snow all night, but I know better than to get my hopes up.

Well, guess what, people?  WE HAVE A SNOW DAY TOMORROW!!!!

A SNOOOOOOWWWWWWW DAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!!  (You knew that was my Oprah voice, right?)

In seven years of teaching, the first snow day has never been so early...or so sweet!  We get to stay home and snuggle with the nugget ALL DAY tomorrow!  Yippee!!!  We usually don't know until the morning, but for some reason the superintendent already called it!  When we found out, Sylvain and I both did a silent little happy dance (and he NEVER dances).  He just handed me a beer and I'm on my way to the basement to watch a movie.  I don't know which one, and I don't care, because tonight is a magical SNOW DAY night!  Hip hip hooray!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh, There You Are, Christmas!

Christmas is my absolute, number one, four hundred percent, most favorite time of year, hands down, no matter what, always and forever.

That being said, I tend to overdo it at Christmas time.  I stress out about finding the perfect gifts for everyone on my list.  I lose sleep over the Christmas tree and decorations.  Nothing is ever big enough, pretty enough, simple enough or perfect for "Christmas."  Toss in the whole "baby's first Christmas" this year, and you can imagine the amount of holiday hoopla I've designated for myself.  Leave it to a couple of fourth graders to remind me what this whole season is about.

I've mentioned before that I have some very challenging students.  (I'll change names here, out of respect for my class.)  My kids come from the urban "hollers:" all of the little nooks and crannies of poverty and neediness.  None of them can afford their own lunch at school.  A few of them don't know where they're going to spend the night each night.  And all of them have some pretty deep and lasting emotional issues.  But every once in a while, I see a glimmer of hope in these kids, and that glimmer of hope has nothing to do with me, or with school, or with any adult.  That glimmer of hope has everything to do with the innocence and kindness that are inherent and easy for a child - for nothing more than the fact that they are children.

Connor is a sweet girl who has some incredible social and behavioral issues.  She has no idea how to express herself or control herself in a classroom setting.  By this time of the year, she is getting on everyone's last ever-loving nerve!  I can't find any students who want to work with her in a group.  I can't find any adults who have good advice about what to do with her.  She is, in every sense of the word, a conundrum.

Alexis is a smart, sweet and delightful student.  When adults aren't looking, she tends to get a little bossy and likes to start all kinds of "girl trouble," but for the most part, she doesn't present many problems.  She does, however, get very easily frustrated with Connor, and that's why I've had to separate them for the last couple of weeks.  Alexis has no tolerance for people who don't know what they're doing.  She has no tolerance for students who don't know how to get good work done.  Overall, she's a delightful student, but she can lose her temper at times.

This morning, in the hustle of our daily morning routine, I barely noticed when Connor came up to me and asked, "Mrs. Fasciotto, can I open my Christmas present from Alexis?"  My first reaction: a what present?  I noticed a small package sloppily wrapped in candy cane wrapping paper.  On the top was an index card that said, "To: Connor, From: Alexis."  My next reaction: Sure, fine, whatever, just leave me alone.

I finished checking the agendas of the students at my table and looked up to find my entire class huddled around Connor's desk.  No one was fighting to see.  No one was shoving anyone else.  No one was even talking to another student.  Everyone was waiting with bated breath to see what Alexis had given to Connor.  Was this a joke?  Was it going to be something silly or stupid?  What on earth was going on?  Why did she bring a gift to school on December 10th?  Who does she think she is?  I stood back and watched.

Connor tore away the wrapping paper to find a small, pink Disney princess purse.  I winced because I knew that the other kids thought this was a "baby" toy.  No one said a word.  Connor opened the purse to find a few plastic rings, a pencil, two silly bands and a one dollar bill.  You would have thought this child had just dug up a hidden treasure.  Her face lit up like I'd never seen it light up before.  The little girl smiled.  She never smiles.  She doesn't like to talk to people, or touch people, but she looked at Alexis and gave her a giant bear hug.  Two girls, who I thought hated each other...oil and water...were hugging in my classroom.  I couldn't believe my eyes.

The other students patted Connor on the back and said, "Wow, what a great present!" Even though it was probably from Goodwill and they would probably have laughed if they had received it themselves.

They patted Alexis on the back and said, "Wow, that was really nice of you!  Connor loves it!"  And then they went about their day.

I stood in the corner of my classroom and held back tears while I realized the importance of this tiny gift.  It was thoughtful - no one else would have wanted it.  It was meaningful - a gift for someone who is NOT your best friend, a gift for the person who has no friends in the classroom.  I know that the rest of the students had no idea how important it was; I don't even think Alexis knew how important it was, but I knew it and my heart exploded.

At recess I asked Alexis what made her think to give Connor such a sweet gift.  Here's what she said, word for word...

"Well, I know that a lot of people make fun of her.  And I know it must be hard for her to go through that every day.  So I thought I'd give her something to make her feel better."

What can a teacher say????  I gave Alexis a giant hug and said, "That was really sweet.  I'm really proud of you for recognizing what Connor needs."  Then I let her go and told her to go play with the rest of the class.

I know it sounds sappy, but we're outside at noon, and we always hear the nearby church bells ringing in the middle of our recess.  I closed my eyes and listened to the church bells playing some Christmas tune.  As I watched Alexis run away to play with the rest of my class, I thought to myself, "There it is.  Christmas in a nutshell."  It's not fancy or expensive.  It's not wrapped in ribbons or covered in glitter.  It's just a child.  Being sweet and kind and innocent.  And giving where no one else would think to give.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Eight Months

Dear Sweetest Nugget,

I never thought I'd be so interested in Cheerios.  I spend at least 15 minutes a day watching you eat them,  Everything about the way you eat them amazes me.  The first time I put one in front of you, it took you about two whole minutes just to get it into your hand.  Once you had it balled up in your fist, you started slobbering on your fingers as if you could suck that cheerio right through your hand.  A few days later, you figured out how to open your fingers just a little bit, and how to wiggle your thumb through your fist just enough, until you finally got that cheerio between two fingers and could shove it into your mouth.  On the first few attempts the cheerio was nothing more than mashed up grossness in your hand, but the more proficient you became, the fresher that cheerio would be when it arrived at your mouth, and ooooooh heavens, how you loved it! 

Now, at the end of your eighth month, cheerios are easy as pie.  You can grab them between your thumb and forefinger like a champ, and if I'd let you, you'd pop as many of them into your mouth as you could fit.  I think cheerios are the perfect consistency for a teething baby - just hard enough to soothe your aching gums, but soft enough to dissolve after a few seconds and go down nice and easy.  The culinary delights of an eight month old.  Amazing.

Cheerios are just one of a million things you do every day that make me stop and marvel at the wonder of nature.  You're a BABY for goodness' sake!  Where did you learn to do all of these amazing things?  Tonight you just about had an entire conversation with Daddy.   Although your words were all "ba," "da," "ma," "pa," or "bllllmmmmmmfffffff," followed by giggles, your intonations and facial expressions made it very clear that you had a lot to say.  Also, you're crawling now!  How on earth did you figure THAT out?  You can tuck one arm under your chest and pull your whole body forward until you get to where you want to go.  Amazing.

Your favorite things right now include bath time and pajama time (as always, you think we're having a party every night, but NOPE, it's just the way we go to bed around here).  You love your pink piggy and your talking French book.  You love any board book we put in front of you.  You love your friends at day care; your face lights up whenever one of them greets you in the morning.  You love bottles (you're done nursing, which was surprisingly fine with me) and when we snuggle you love giving Mommy and Daddy "kisses," or opening your mouth really wide and slobbering all over our cheeks, then giggling about it because you think it's soooo funny! 

You also love the Christmas tree.  The twinkling lights and sparkly ornaments are sometimes too much for your little heart to take, so most mornings when you see it for the first time, you shriek and squeal like it's Christmas morning.  I can't wait for your REAL first Christmas morning.  You're going to love this holiday.

You amaze me, sweet Sylvia.  I never thought I'd be so in love with tiny fingers eating tiny food.  I never thought I'd think about cheerios all day.  I never thought I'd be so in love with slobbery kisses and messy kitchen floors.  You're my favorite.  I love you!

Forever and ever,

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Holidays are Here!

I have a few important things I want to remember, so I'm going to spit them out here.  I put off writing about them because I always think my writing should be perfect, and documented in photographs like all the other amazing Mommy blogs I read, but today I decided I don't have time for perfection, and if I keep waiting for pictures it'll never happen.  So here you go, take it or leave it.

Our Thanksgiving was amazing, despite the terrible, rainy weather and the fact that Mom and Jay went to New York.  It was nice to know that we could spend the entire evening at my Dad's house and not feel like we were missing out on something with Mom, because that's the way holidays always work, no matter how nice everyone is about it.  There's always another side of the family that we're NOT seeing at any given moment, and because I'm me, they are always the people I'm thinking about.  So this year, Mom and Jay's trip was a green light for me to sit with the other side of my family and delight in their presence.

Sally's entire family came over to Dad's house for dinner, football games, and BINGO!!  Before dinner, we all stood in the living room and shared what we were thankful for, and all of my aunts and uncles were thankful for Grandma and Grandpa.  They always say that, I guess, but this year it really choked me up.  I don't know if it's because Grandma and Grandpa aren't getting any younger, or because we now have a fourth generation, but there were over thirty people in that room, all of whom were healthy, happy, successful, both professionally and personally, and most of all....together!  Out of 5 kids, Grandma and Grandpa got FIVE beautiful families!  What are the chances?!  I find that amazing.  And I looked at every person there and decided that they all amaze the hell out of me.  What a great group of people to sink into.

Also, since I tend to have super high expectations for myself during the holidays, I was despondent when I showed up to Dad's house with a sick baby.  Sylvia had already thrown up twice that morning and I desperately appealed to Sally to help me figure out what was wrong with her.  She's a Gran now, so she automatically has to know what's wrong with babies, right?  Fortunately, she managed to say all the right things - like how sometimes when babies are teething they swallow a lot of saliva and that can upset their stomach.  Aha!  That makes sense!  Sylvia wasn't ACTING sick, and she didn't have a fever, so Sally's common sense and good logic made me feel much better.  But then, Sylvia threw up all over Sally's freshly cleaned carpets.  Not just baby spit up, either, she puked up PRUNES AND BLUEBERRIES.  Oh my god, I was mortified.  But then, Sally said it was okay.  She didn't shriek or squirm or say, "I just got those carpets cleaned," under her breath - well, maybe she did, but I didn't hear her.  I went to clean the carpet and she made me clean the BABY first!  Psh!  What a good Gran.  That's when I decided I hope that I'm just like her when I grow up.  Babies come first.  Carpets come last.  No matter what.  I think I learned a lot about being a good parent this Thanksgiving.

We made it home safe and sound with a whole weekend ahead of us, so Saturday afternoon I put up our tree.  Mom gave us a fake one and I'm SO glad, because I'm totally done with real ones.  They're stupid.  I was sorting out the branches when Sylvia started getting fussy.  Not "feed me" or "change me" fussy, either, because I'd already done all of those.  This was "MOM YOU'RE NOT PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION TO ME!" fussy.  I was bummed because I really wanted to get the tree done, so I decided to strap her into my Moby wrap and let her "help."  Buddy, you would have thought I magically whisked her off to a baby's winter wonderland!  She kicked her feet and ran her hands through the fake pine needles (still not soft, but not as prickly as real ones) and she laughed and laughed.  We sang Christmas songs and danced while we worked.  Here's the best part, though.  Once the tree was up, I reached up to put the last branches on, and she leaned her head forward so her face was totally buried in the branches.  She shook her head back and forth and she let out the biggest gut laughter I've ever heard from her.  It was totally precious.

Okay, sorry to rant, but I wanted to get those down.  You are free to continue your regularly scheduled life, if you haven't already!