Friday, January 27, 2012

40 Weeks and 3 Days

Waiting for this baby to arrive has been the ultimate exercise in patience, and I am going out of my mind. I know I should be grateful for having a full-term baby, and that I really have nothing to complain about. But FORTY WEEKS is a damn long time. I am older, crabbier, and far more uncomfortable this time. I am realizing now how spoiled I was with Penny. Everything was a marvel during my pregnancy with her. She also came 4-5 days before my due date, which I now realize was a mercy.

So naturally, I expected to go early again, forgetting what everyone says, that every pregnancy is different. Mr. Baby's due date has come and gone, although not without some excitement. I have already (mistakenly) thought I was in early labor 3 times. I called into work a week ago because I was having contractions. I started my leave of absence, thinking it could be any minute now...any minute now...maybe now?

Each time I go to the doctor, I find out I have progressed very little, so I leave appointments feeling more disappointed. Every ache, every twinge, every cramp has me bolting upright, wondering if this is it. I am making myself crazy. Everyone wants to know, is he here yet? Is he here yet? I have been stuck on "Gold Mother" by James for DAYS.

But I know I won't be pregnant forever. No one is pregnant forever! This may very well be the last time I'll be pregnant again, ever, so maybe I should relish it while I can?

Nah. I know I'm in a bad mood, but I can't bring myself to romanticize the fatigue and the heartburn and the constant peeing and the Braxton Hicks contractions. But, I've been trying to think about the time — the time we've had as a 3 person family, before everything changes.

This pregnancy has been marked by a couple of surprises, one of which is that my doctor, my beloved physician, obstetrician, and Penny's pediatrician has been out of town for the past three weeks. Suddenly I was confronted with the possibility that she might not be delivering this baby, and I had to find another doctor in the interim. But, she'll be back this weekend, so maybe things will work out after all. It wasn't that long ago that we were driving to the hospital to have Penny, and soon we will be going again. I have a vision of how I want things to go, and as time passes, the more I worry that it isn't going to go the way I want...

Meanwhile, this might be the last chance I get to write something for a little while, so I wanted to take the time to say, for Penny's sake, how awesome she is. She can do 42 piece puzzles by herself. She likes to act out scenes from her favorite stories (like when Clara's Godfather fixes her broken Nutcracker, or when Lisa buys Corduroy at the department store), and she takes books with her to bed. Her sense of humor is constantly developing and surprising. Having a baby will help me appreciate the myriad things Penny can do by herself, like getting her own yogurt out of the fridge and a spoon out of the drawer. Like climbing up onto her stool for dinner and telling us about her day at preschool. I fully expect some "regression" in behavior once baby brother arrives. How can there not be some jealousy and resentment?

Our world is about to be all topsy-turvy, so I may kick myself in a couple of days for being so impatient. For now, I'm trying to stay upbeat. Mr. Baby will come. He will. We are ready for him and we can hardly wait.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Nutcracker

When I was growing up, one of our Christmastime traditions was to get out the Tchaikovsky record and dance around the house to The Nutcracker Suite. The needle on our record player would skip any time we jumped on the floor, so you can imagine the scratches this record accumulated after repeated exposure to our synchronized "Russian Dance" jumps. PBS used to broadcast the Baryshnikov version on Christmas Eve, and my sisters and I watched it (while dancing) every year. Then one year, my dad took me to see a production of The Nutcracker while we were living in Wisconsin. I don’t know if it was a professional company — it may have been a performance at a community college, for all I know. But we had to drive a long distance in our VW van to get there. I remember sitting close enough to the stage to see the dancers’ shoes and I remember how vivid the costumes were for the Waltz of the Flowers. I thought it was one of the most amazing things I'd ever seen. Needless to say, I have a strong connection to The Nutcracker.

Years later, I learned that my dad had pawned most of his coin collection in order to take me. I was shocked about this revelation and it still induces many emotional responses: We were really that poor? He was willing to pawn something he spent years collecting? For me?

So this year, to jump-start that crazy build up to Christmas, I showed it to Penny. I checked out my old favorite from the library — the Baryshnikov version, which is the One True Version, and brought it home. And she was enthralled. That was the ultimate litmus test; I decided that if she could sit through it at home, then maybe she was ready to see the real thing. The story has everything — action, adventure, whimsy. A mysterious godfather, wind-up life-sized toys! A mouse king! The Nutcracker turns into a prince! And Clara saves him!

Ballet West does an annual production of The Nutcracker and I wanted desperately to go. But the website said that the recommended age was 6 years old and I was worried that taking Penny might be a bad idea. What if she freaked out? What if she wouldn't stay in her seat? What if she shouted through the whole thing: “MAMA! IS THAT CLARA? MAMA! IS THAT THE MOUSE KING?” What if we got kicked out?

But we took a gamble and went for it anyway. I splurged on tickets and bought one for Grandma too. In the days leading up to the show, I reviewed the rules of the theater with Penny: You have to stay in your seat. You can’t talk, you can only whisper. I felt like I was being harsh, but I wanted the rules to be well established. And it worked. Penny was marvelous even though she didn't feel that well the night of the performance.

Capitol Theatre is gorgeous. The seats are covered in dark red velvet. There's an an enormous chandelier and the ceiling is decorated in gold leaf detail. And Ballet West's production was truly amazing. The costumes were brilliant, the music was phenomenal. I was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of it all and had an unexpected emotional experience. My eyes watered multiple times, especially during the Waltz of the Snowflakes. As I sat holding Penny's hand under the gilded ceiling, I thought about my dad, and of the things we did together as a family to expand our minds. He taught us that stuff is just stuff; that doing things together is what's important.

Naturally, this Christmas was rather Nutcracker-themed. We bought Penny her own copy of Baryshnikov's Nutcracker, so I can stop racking up late fees at the library. I found an excellent collection of paper dolls that you can punch out and put on stage to reenact the story. And one of our friends gave Penny a cupcake set with Nutcracker liners and cupcake toppers. We had so much fun this Christmas. I can't wait for next year, so we can go again and establish another tradition.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Three and One Half

Dear Penny,

Well, hello there, my little 3.5 year old friend. We've certainly seen some ups and downs these past three months. I want to focus on the ups, but I have to tell you a couple of things. I think you are worried about the future. I want you to know that I worry about the future too. But there are some things you can't control, and as you get older, you realize that you can't control them, and they get easier to deal with. But for now, you aren't too sure about this older sister business coming to a household near you. You have a short fuse and an angry streak lately. We've had time outs within time outs! I'm not sure where your rage comes from, although it subsides just as quickly as it comes on. Recently, you threw a colossally mortifying fit and in the icy silence that followed, you said, calmly, "I don't want to be a big sister. I want the baby to be the big sister. I want to be the baby."

Oh, honey. Maybe we've been talking up the Big Sister thing too much. Maybe you're worried about what life will be like once there's a new baby in the house. Hell, I'm worried about what life will be like in another two months. But I need you to be my big girl. I know you can do it.

When I came to pick you up from Grandma and Grandpa's after my ultrasound appointment, you were still asleep. When you woke up, you came downstairs all groggy and crabby. I said, "Penny, you're going to have a little brother!" And you burst into tears. You wailed, "Nooooo! I want a sister!" And then I started to cry. I cried because I was hormonal and tired and the ultrasound was stressful for me this time around. And I cried because I felt like I had let you down. I have always imagined that I would have a couple of little girls who were the very best of friends. I never seriously believed I would have a boy because there are only girls on my side of the family. I have no idea what having a brother is like. For all I know, boys really do have cooties, and they're smelly and messy and gross. (Someday, your brother is going to read this and say, "Thanks a lot, you guys.")

But then do you know what happened? I showed you the ultrasound pictures of your baby brother, and you were awestruck. You couldn't put them down. You started giggling. And then I cried out of relief. Now, you tell everyone you're going to have a baby brother. Every day you tell me you're going to play with him and read to him and show him Baby Signing Time and help give him bottles. You are so excited. You've also been saying you have a baby in your belly and you tell me when he's kicking.

Do you know what else? You are going to teach your brother so many things. You know which foot is your right foot and which is your left. You listen so well to your teacher at school and to your teacher at dance, I could burst with pride. You have an amazing imagination — you have at least five different imaginary friends and you create your own adventures with them. One of them is "The Little Black Ghost," who might be like a soot sprite from My Neighbor Totoro? Anyway, he follows you around and goes "Thump!" and gets on your nerves sometimes.

My favorite thing to do in the morning is to hold you on my lap while you're still sleepy and cuddle you and smell your hair. Sometimes I'm nearly late for work because I can't break away. I love you more than anything. There will still be room for you on my lap when your brother comes. There will be room in my heart for both of you. You will always by my girl, my daughter, my firstborn. You will always be my baby.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween 2011: The Owl

I'm not sure what chemicals we were on when we decided to make Penny's Halloween costume this year. Haven't I complained enough about how busy and out of control my life is? In truth, I'm not sure I would have tackled this project if Britt hadn't been so certain we could pull it off. But he said he could make it, and I said, "You can?" Why do I keep forgetting that I married such a multi-faceted man?

Back in the day, my mom made our costumes every year, and we still talk about those costumes with utter reverence. The same goes for the birthday cakes she made. The woman was amazing, but I've never really felt pressure to be like her in that way. I admire people who make their own brilliant and creative costumes, but up until now, that hasn't really been my style. I want to make things, but the lack of time and energy always interferes.

At the beginning of September, Penny declared she wanted to be a witch for Halloween, and I thought, "Yes!" because that's an easy costume to find — there are a plethora of witch costumes out there. But a couple of weeks later, she told me she wanted to be an owl. I'm not sure where that idea came from, but I kept asking her if she wanted to be a witch or an owl, and she was resolute in her owl decision. So I started looking online for costumes and ideas (and friends and family sent me links too), which yielded this and this and this. There were no aesthetically pleasing, ready made in-store owl costumes to be found. The Alphamom version was by far the most appealing to me, hence the decision to tackle it ourselves.

I wanted a mask with real feathers, and I felt that the costume needed some wings. So, I went to Michael's in search of feathers, a mask, and glue, and I went to JoAnn's for some fabric. I went with inexpensive fabric with patterns that I liked, although the old t-shirt idea from Alphamom is a good idea too. Then I found a black turtleneck and leggings in Penny's size (actually, I bought a size up, in case she wants to be an owl for a while).

I'll glue, you sew.

I used the template for the fabric feathers from the Alphamom link, enlarged it a wee bit, and printed it out. I spent a weekend cutting out fabric and gluing feathers onto the mask. One of the cats got the first version of the mask while we were out one day, because I stupidly didn't think to hide it. So, another weekend was spent fixing the cat-mangled mask. Meanwhile, Britt borrowed his mom's 1970s Singer sewing machine, and after swearing a bit, got it fired up and ready to go. He sewed the fabric feathers in rows and came up with the wings for the sleeves. He is THE MAN. I can't believe he remembers what he learned in Home Economics all those years ago. I certainly don't! What I remember is that I hate sewing!

Don't mess with a Teamster who can sew.

The last thing I had to do was make eyes out of crepe paper and tie the mask with elasticized string so it would fit on Penny's head. She wasn't too keen on wearing the mask at first, but caught the vision at her school's Trunk or Treat event.

My greatest fear while we labored on it was that no one would be able to tell what she was. In some ways, the costume looks like a raggedy Carmen Miranda ensemble. The mask has feathers and eyes, but otherwise isn't overly owl-like. But then a friend wisely pointed out that none of that was going to matter to Penny, because SHE would know that she's an owl. Thanks, Anabel. You're so right.

Apparently, people decorate their trunks for Trunk or Treat. Oops. We didn't have any creative energy left.

Of COURSE she's an owl! Penny adores her costume, and we've already gotten some mileage out of it. She wore it to dance class Tuesday, then to Trunk or Treat on Friday, and tomorrow her preschool is having a Halloween party, not to mention the Trick or Treating we'll be doing in our neighborhood. And it's a fitting outfit for her dress-up collection, which will accrue items as we take on projects like this from year to year.

I'm proud of our handiwork. We totally channeled my mom. And it was another reminder that Britt and I make a good team, that we can be crafty and creative together, and that we can divide and conquer. And the best part is, when people ask Penny if her mom made her costume, she says, "My mom AND dad made it." Huzzah!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Still Here

Hi, we're still here. We've had a lot going on. Here's a recap of the last month or so:

1. Penny is getting a BROTHER sometime around January 25th.
2. I survived neuroanatomy. Next up is 8 weeks of vestibular pathologies. Goodie.
3. Penny started preschool this month - more on that below.
4. Penny's grandparents have been in Italy for the last 3 weeks and will be gone for another 2 weeks. So there has been some upheaval in Penny's life and in her routine, combined with the general anxiety that comes with starting school and being three.

Penny's school is everything I had hoped. There is art hanging on almost every wall of the room. There is lots of time to play, inside and outside. They get to go on oodles of field trips, which are mostly nature walks and the like. Her teacher is awesome, and Penny's adjusted pretty well to classroom life — class rules, circle time, snack time, etc. But we had a rocky start. The first two weeks, Penny would wake up and announce that she didn't want to go to school, and Britt and I had to bust out the pep talks to get her mentally prepared to go. And there were a couple of mornings where she wet her bed (!!), which had not been an issue before.

I haven't been able to have much involvement in Penny's life at school. My work schedule is the same days as Penny's class schedule, plus grandma and grandpa have gone abroad. So our dear friends, to whom we will forever be indebted, have been helping with carpooling (their daughter and Penny are in the same class) and then Penny plays at their house after school, until I can come and pick her up. The poor kid has had to adjust to everything at once and I've had to stop myself (a couple of times) from regretting my new job.

But things are getting better. The first week, I was getting reports of outbursts about having to share toys, and any other number of slings and arrows related to interacting with other children. You may recall that Penny's "outbursts" take the form of Screaming Banshee Fits, which sound like she's been mortally wounded. So the first thing Penny learned at school was to "use her words." After her first day, she came home and told me, "Mama, tomorrow I will know my words."

Her teacher told me that she's fine and has been doing a lot better. I finally had the chance to volunteer in her class today (which is a requirement of the school, and a good thing), and it was fun to see how the class works. Penny was a little more clingy since I was there, but I was amazed to see her let loose on the playground. She climbs on all of the equipment and goes down the big slides, laughing all the way. She can do the fire pole (!!) and loves the tire swing. I was standing there thinking, "Who is this kid?" when a couple of the other moms came up to me and told me how sweet Penny is. And I said, "Really?"

Is it bad that I was surprised to hear that she can be sweet? I know she is. She's actually very thoughtful and articulate. But here's the thing: the screaming issue has improved at school, but it has not improved at home. I feel like I bear the brunt of her ire. She's fine until I pick her up, and then suddenly, she's whining and helpless and the littlest things send her into a giant screaming spiral. And our friends have to endure it too, although they assure me that she's fine until I show up. So what is this about?

I'm telling myself it relates to the upheaval. She's going to be a big sister. She misses her grandparents. A lot of her time has been spent away from home and away from me. I think it will get better. It has to.

Meanwhile, Penny's class is going on a field trip to the mountains tomorrow, to look for leaves changing colors. I wish I could go. But she'll have a good time and it will be another day of adventure, another day of using her words and making new friends. Another reason to be excited about school.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

39 Months Old

Dear Penny,

You're 39 months old? Get out! I think you are also a smarty-pants. That's a good thing. Last summer, we told you that the annoying truck that drives around the neighborhood blasting music at unsafe levels was a "music truck," and whenever you'd hear it, you'd say, "There goes the music truck!" Well, yesterday, you saw it drive by while you were standing at the door and you could see the pictures of ice cream on the side. You exclaimed, "Hey! The 'music truck' is an ice cream truck!" There goes that illusion. I'm sorry we deceived you, but I can't support something that plays music (sometimes Christmas music, in the summer!) that loud through the neighborhood. Also, we have ice cream in the freezer.

You've picked up some of the expressions we say, much to my chagrin. The other day you informed me that you didn't want to wait to have a snack at home because "Our snacks at home are crappy!" When dad was teasing you the other night, you said, "You're killing me!" which is something he says. You say, "All. Right. FINE." And "Don't freak out." You have the attitude of a teenager, but at least you use these expressions in the appropriate context. I can't wait to hear what you pick up at school.

The bedtime ritual has gotten insanely long and drawn out. July was tough because in Utah, there are two holidays that involve excessive amounts of fireworks. The 4th, which the rest of the country celebrates, and the 24th, which signifies when the pioneers first came to the Salt Lake Valley. Anyway, this year, our state legislators (in their infinite wisdom) decided to pass a law allowing fireworks to be available for the whole month of July. So for many nights, the sounds of fireworks in the neighborhood kept you awake until 11:00 at night. So these days the ritual goes something like this: put on pajamas, brush your teeth, read a story, get a drink of water "from the fridgerator," get hugs from mommy, get hugs from daddy, turn out the lights, get another drink of water, ask to go potty, go potty, get back in bed, tell stories with daddy, and then another drink of water, or whatever other stalling tactic you can think of. I get a little exasperated because this all takes a while. But the stories you and Daddy make up are outrageously funny. Yours always start out like this: "Once about a time..." And Dad's stories make you giggle. I think this part of the bedtime ritual can stay.

You use the potty! I can't tell you how delighted we are. I'm sorry I complained about it so much, but I didn't think it would ever happen. You are a little gymnast! You are very skilled at balancing on the different balance beams. You try so hard in class and it makes me very proud. We are still working on not yelling and not having meltdowns about the little things. I'm not going to give up, because I think it might just be part of being three.

You are going to be a big sister! Yep. This has been a major development these past months. You came with me to the doctor and we heard the heartbeat of your little brother or sister. Sometimes you say you want a brother, and sometimes you say you'd like a sister. We won't know either way for a couple of weeks. But I want to tell you what a wonderfully, incredibly important thing it is to be a big sister. It's something your mom and dad decided we want you to experience. Our lives are going to change, again. And this time, you get to help us.

You and Daddy have been spending a lot of time together because I've been so busy and so tired. I went back school in June, so I've had homework and other obligations that interfere with some of our quality time together. I'm sorry about that too. You've handled it pretty well so far, and your dad has been helping a lot. I can't wait to be done, even though I just started. You have been a surprisingly good sport about all of this.

Even though you will be starting school next month, you will always be my baby. Even though you can put on some of your clothes by yourself and use the potty, you will always be my baby. Even though you're going to be a big sister, you will always be my baby. You will always be my baby.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Our Little Gymnast

Since Penny doesn't have dance during the summer, I thought it might be fun to try gymnastics as a summer activity. I promise I'm not going all Tiger Mom on her. One of Penny's friends has been taking gymnastics for a while and she loves it, so I thought, why not find a way to stay active during the summer that doesn't involve fighting for space in the gross public pool?

We quickly discovered that the kids in the 3-5 year old class are expected to participate on their own with no parents present. The parents are banished to the foyer and watch the class through the glass windows. This was going to take some getting used to, because Penny takes a while to warm up to new people and new situations, and I would rather have her participate and have fun than refuse to do anything and waste everyone's time (and our money). Another discovery we made is that the teacher is not particularly warm and fuzzy, which is just her personality, although it doesn't make much sense to me, if your profession is teaching small children complicated skills. So let's just say that the first couple of classes were nothing short of disastrous. Penny refused to do anything unless I was in the room with her, helping her. She freaked out the first time the teacher touched her to assist with a maneuver, and had a complete meltdown when the teacher told her not to go in a certain direction and that she had to stay on the mats.

This is so much fun for everyone! After these classes, I really debated whether or not to keep going. Part of me thought, Hey, this is supposed to be a fun, positive experience, not a negative, stressful one. The teacher is kind of strict — It's not like this is Romania — I don't expect Penny to be a gold medalist or anything. I just want her to gain confidence and coordination. So I decided that quitting would send Penny the wrong message — when things are hard, just quit! When you have personality clashes with teachers, just walk away! No.

So, before the fourth class, we had a little chat. I said, it's the teacher's class, and you have to follow her rules. When she tells you what to do, you're not in trouble, you just have to do what she says. Followed by, "One of the rules is that the parents are supposed to watch from outside the class." To which Penny said, "Ok, Mama." And then she rehearsed this dialogue to herself as we drove to class. When we got there, she wouldn't go in the room without me, so I said, "I will go in with you, but you need to do everything yourself." And she did. And then, for the second part of class, I watched from the outside and she sweetly waved to me from the inside.

And do you know what? She CAN DO IT. She tried all the moves and let the teacher help her do somersaults. She rocks the balance beam! I watched her little face light up each time she did a dismount. And then I felt so ambivalent. I want her to do everything independently. But at the same time, it feels like the beginning of my obsolescence. I know that's really melodramatic. Of course she's always going to need me, but not for everything anymore. And that makes me proud and sad and happy all at the same time. I'm going to lose it when she starts school.

P.S. We are definitely doing gymnastics again next summer. And the teacher is really growing on me. I totally get why parents are supposed to stay out of the way; the kids do better without us.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Penny and the Seal

There's a harbor seal at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. She swims back and forth, all day long. I don't know if she's content living in captivity. But she looks like she's smiling.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vacation, Had to Get Away

I can't believe the month of July almost escaped without a post. I have some pretty good excuses, though. One of them is that we went on vacation for two weeks at the end of June. When we got home, we had the post-vacation insanity of catching up on everything that went to hell while we were gone, like work and school (did I mention I'm back in school?). Oh, and I got horrendously sick during the last leg of the trip and needed a couple of days to recover. But the important thing is, we had an honest-to-god vacation, just the three of us.

Part One of our trip started out with Britt's family at a place called Six Lakes in Eastern Utah. We had never been there before, so we weren't sure what to expect. The high desert of Utah has a certain beauty - the cacti were pink and yellow and in full bloom. The sky was clear and blue. Lizards and rabbits were everywhere. Everything smelled like sage and juniper. We had bunk houses right on our own lake, so Penny got to have her first rowboat experience. Going out on the lake was a nice way to cool off, because it was hot out there. Six Lakes also has the distinction of being where Penny overcame her fear of pooping in the potty. I didn't think she would go for using strange toilets in strange locations, but she didn't have a single accident. Subsequently I showered her with candy.

Our bunkhouse.

Part Two of our trip was an adventure to the Oregon Coast. We went from the dry desert to the damp coast and saw a refreshing drop in temperature. It was wonderful. We rented a little beach house at Seal Rock and spent four days poking around tidepools, exploring different beaches, and checking out the aquarium. I hadn't been to Oregon in about 30 years. Britt visited the coast many times while he was growing up, so it was fun for both of us to relive some childhood memories and remind ourselves that there is still an ocean out there.

The view from the beach house.

Other notable successes during the trip:
1. Penny took off her shoes on the beach. It took a couple of days for her to warm up to the idea, but she finally got brave enough to try. And then she didn't want to put them back on.

Really getting into it.

2. Penny touched starfish. Last time we were in California, she was unwilling to touch the starfish in the exhibit at the Birch Aquarium. But this time, Britt found a little red one that was too cute to resist. After that, she touched as many as she could find.

3. We had a 15 hour drive to Oregon (twice - there and back), and Penny didn't have any accidents. And she was a pretty good sport, considering we were all sick of the car by the time vacation was over. Next time though, we're going to fly. That drive was ridiculous.

(There are more pictures on Flickr).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Things I have learned about my three year old (so far).

(She is almost as tall as our irises.)

1. The two year-old style "fits" have decreased, but the yelling in my face has increased. Now we have a "no yelling in my face" rule, which I never imagined I would have to create.

2. She is still extremely cautious, and embraces self-preservation. After we converted Penny's crib to a toddler bed, it took her a week to figure out that she could get out of it on her own. In the morning, if she wakes up before we do (e.g. weekends), she will call for me, and I will call back (from bed), "Come here." And then I can hear the tiniest creak of the floorboards, followed by the sound of her little feet on the floor, pum, pum, pum, pum, PUM! And then she's at my side of the bed, smiling in my sleepy, disheveled face.

3. She has a bladder of steel. We are deep in the throes of potty training, for real this time. Pull-ups have been banished and are only for sleeping. Underwear is in full effect. Accidents have been minimal, except that she hides in her closet to poop. In her underwear. Sigh. Anyway, the first couple of days she only peed a couple of times, so either she can hold it for a long time, or her bladder is incredibly strong, or using the potty is just that horrible.

4. Someday she will read this and be totally mortified by item #3. But I really couldn't be prouder. She even used the potty at Grandma's house today, which is a giant step. We are finally getting somewhere.

5. She adores her family. When I tell her that her Aunt M and Uncle P are coming over for dinner, she claps her hands and shouts, "They're part of my family!"

6. She is on our schedule; therefore we have created a monster. Britt and I stay up pretty late, (although it seems to be getting harder with age), and now so does Penny. We TRY to start the bedtime ritual by 8:30, but she's the queen of stalling. Even if we get her in bed by 9:00, she talks and sings to herself and carries on for an hour afterwards. Then I have to wake her up on the mornings I go to work, and it's not pleasant.

When Penny was two, I heard over and over that three is worse than two. I think we're doing ok. Some things have certainly improved, and others have sort of evolved, or devolved, for better or for worse. I could do without the yelling, but I appreciate the energetic attempt at communication. The bedtime routine could be faster, but at least she doesn't get out of her bed! So I'll just count my blessings, then.