A four-month-old and a five-year-old

During your first week of life, you amazed me with your strength and will to live.

By one year old, you amazed me with your smile and joie de vivre.

By two years old, you amazed me with your precocious pattern and symbol recognition.

By three years old, you amazed me with your diplomacy and imagination.

By four years old, you amazed me with your tenacity and spatial thinking.

Now, at just five years old, you amaze me with your sensitivity and compassion.

I love you, Peter, so very much! I’m so thankful that I was able to bring you home.

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My little boy turned 5 last week. I had my typical moody spell the day before and the day of his birthday. Now that Peter is older, I really wanted him to have a delightful birthday, feel special, and know how very much I love him. I was therefore disappointed when we arrived in downtown Newport, RI Sunday, July 12th, and found that my plans to take him on a birthday train ride were foiled. The Newport scenic railway line had recently changed ownership, and the Sunday train schedule I found online for the Old Colony and Newport had been replaced by a Saturday Newport and Narragansett Bay Railroad schedule.  We still had a fun day of eating ice cream, touring the Vanderbilt family’s Marble House, eating Thai for lunch, and playing along the surf at Brenton Point State Park, but part of me felt bad because we weren’t spending the day as Peter would have chosen. And because I had similarly failed to take Peter on the Winnipesaukee Railroad in May. Peter didn’t complain at all, but I had really wanted to delight him the way I had when we visited the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME.

That trip, in contrast, was pretty successful. Son proposed that we stay in Ogunquit for our anniversary weekend. Ogunquit lodging was quite full, but I found a competitively priced motel in Wells, just north of Ogunquit. On Saturday, we visited the Trolley Museum, enjoying their extensive (if somewhat rusty) collection of mass transit vehicles, a ride in a “breezer” to a makeshift trolley park, and most importantly, their set of toys in the Kids’ Corner of the indoor exhibit. We then drove to Wells Reserve and walked through the reserve to the beach. Peter had fun wading in a tidal pool; Alina found the strong wind exhausting and fell asleep in her K’Tan. We had a nice dinner at a Thai restaurant near the motel, and Peter fell asleep early, tired from the day’s adventures (and a cold).

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The next day, we had an over-priced but very tasty breakfast at a nearby bakery; I had a strawberry scone, part of Peter’s fruit cup, fresh squeezed orange juice, and a hot chocolate. We spent some time along the shore after breakfast, played in the motel’s pool before checking out, put quarters in some antique music-playing devices at the antique cars museum, and then browsed a couple antique malls in Wells, the unofficial antique capital of Maine. My biggest disappointment with that trip was the restaurant I picked for lunch; I knew it was a fast seafood place, but I didn’t appreciate how greasy the food was until we placed our order. Oh, well. At least my breakfast was lovely. And the walk along Marginal Way in Ogunquit was lovely despite the crowd. Overall, it was a beautiful anniversary.

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Peter’s birthday was beautiful in the end, too.  I had bought him a set of three monster trucks at ToysRUs on Saturday after the Johnson Matthey summer picnic at Kimball Farm.  He had fun playing with them, but he spent most of his birthday evening assembling a Lego Arctic Ice Crawler, Kathie’s gift to him. Son was skeptical that he would be able to assemble the vehicle, but he actually did a really good job following the instructions that came with the set. I just gave him some guidance when he had trouble picking out the correct piece to use or the correct alignment for it. Son cooked dinner, and I baked the requested homemade berry birthday shortcake. I sort of messed up the whipped cream by over-beating it, but Peter didn’t complain. Son even liked it because it wasn’t very sweet.

The next day, Alina turned 4 months old and had her 4-month pediatrician appointment. She weighed in at an impressive 13 lbs, 4 oz (30 percentile) and measured 24.75 in long (60 percentile) with a 41.25 cm head circumference (70 percentile). Alina has become very sociable over the past two months and flirted with the doctor quite a bit. But then came the Evil Prevnar vaccine. Poor Alina cried and cried as though she were distraught to have been betrayed by the seemingly friendly pediatrician who had inflicted her with such pointless pain. (Pointless from an infant’s perspective, at least.)

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My mom arrived from Minnesota Thursday afternoon. It was the first time she had seen Alina since her first week of life; what a difference those first four months make!  Most notably, she is now purposeful and sociable.  She thinks she can talk and will coo to herself, flirt with others, and even squeal repeatedly as if it were a primitive form of song.  She hates potholes and other bumps in the road but enjoys grabbing toys (including her feet) and bringing them to her mouth.  Her favorite activity, though, is watching other kids play.  She used to really like her Kick ‘n Play bouncy seat, but of late, she seems to think that she is too mature to rest in such a reclined position; she protests and attempts to do a sit up in the seat (with some degree of success). She does enjoy doing tummy time by herself for a few minutes… she can fully extend her arms during tummy time or raise her chest while using her arms to grab toys.  Eventually, though, she realizes that vigorous leg kicking won’t actually move her to another area of the room and gets tired of lifting her chest and reaching for toys within arm’s length.  She does pivot and manage to scoot herself forward sometimes.  I haven’t seen her roll from back to belly on her own, but she doesn’t require much help to complete a roll when I see her attempting to roll onto her belly.  She does roll belly to back more than Peter did.  She seems to think she can walk and likes to stand, sit supported, and stand up from a sitting position with a bit of help. She has some success with tripod sitting but eventually ends up flopped forward onto her belly.  I let her face outward in the K’Tan when we go on walks so that she can see more. She obviously enjoys her now-well-developed sense of sight and taking in the world around her. She will watch videos and TV shows for a couple minutes if Son or I am watching them while holding her.  She seems interested in books but invariably tries to eat them while I read to her. She drools like crazy and sucks her hand and fingers, apparently working on some teeth. She no longer is interested in her pacifier, so I let her snuggle and chew on a sift lovie with a rabbit’s head in one corner.

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I’m not sure about the Wonder Weeks theory. At least not the “stormy period” part of the theory. Alina (like Peter) is now generally a happy baby; she just demands the appropriate mix of food, sleep, and entertainment. Intestinal gas now only occasionally causes spells of angst. The cognitive aspects of the theory still make sense, though. I can see her meeting cognitive milestones in the manner described.  Maybe a little on the early side; the Wonder Weeks book describes weeks 14-17 as being the fourth “stormy period” with new skills not really emerging until 17-19 weeks.  I am the proud and unobjective mother, but I think Alina’s fourth leap skills started becoming apparent about 14 weeks after her due date.

I took my mother, Peter, and Alina to Kimball Farm (again) for the PAREXEL summer outing last weekend. There were more crafts and age-appropriate games for Peter to do that weekend. We even received a card loaded with $20 to use at their midway, and Peter had a blast spending a few dollars on a snowmobile video game before getting slightly overwhelmed by the lights and noise of the midway. Perhaps we’ll go back sometime before the end of the year to spend more of the midway card and enjoy more of the awesome Kimball Farm ice cream.

Peter seems to be having a lot of fun in Minnesota. My mom took him to the science museum, the new city splash pad, a playground, the library, and the county fair this week. I don’t mind at all during the work week, but I do miss Peter on the weekend. Especially when we go grocery shopping, and I don’t need to buy his favorite foods… or when I see kids’ activities that Alina is too young for but Peter would love… or when I see his flowers blooming. They started blooming a week late again this year, but they are now blooming in full force.

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