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November/December Wednesday :: 05 November 2003
Daycare called just before 4:00 p.m. to inform me that Maeve had a fever. When I arrived, she obviously wasn't feeling well and fussed and cried most of the way home. I stopped in the driveway to grab the mail as usual. As I climbed back into the car I heard Lilly trying to comfort her little sister. "It's OK Maeve. We're almost home; it's right there. It's OK, big sister is here."

Thursday :: 06 November 2003
The daycare policy is that any child sent home with a fever cannot return until the fever is gone for 24 hours. (The rule makers are blissfully unaware that once a child has a fever, she's no longer any kind of health threat.) So I stayed home from work and Maeve and I went to the mall so I could have some work done on my car at Sears. I haven't spent four hours at a mall in years (and I don't plan on doing it again anytime soon). We had lunch, did a little shopping, and hung out. Maeve was happy and well behaved, with no sign of fever or sickness whatsoever. She likes to look around at passers by. More than once I noticed her craning her neck to watch someone walk by. When she caught someone's eye, she invariably got a big smile which she returned with glee.

Friday :: 07 November 2003
We set out on a weekend road trip around 1:30 p.m. The combination of Lilly's constant questions and demands, Maeve's piercing screams for food, and the horrendous Chicago traffic left us frazzled by the time we got to our friends Reid and Jean's house. We had some pizza and tried to get the girls to sleep. Neither were very comfortable being away from home. Lilly was up and down and we had to try bedding her down in a few different venues before she finally fell asleep. Maeve would not sleep until after midnight and even then she did so fitfully. Morning came very early.

Saturday :: 08 November 2003
After breakfast, we headed towards Indianapolis. The girls traveled better today, mainly because they were exhausted and slept most of the way. We were met at our hotel by my friend Matt. He showed up with gifts for the girls and spent a long time playing with them, reading to them, and taking pictures of them with his phone. We went across the street for dinner and it was obvious that Lilly was quite taken with Matt and she mugged for and laughed at him throughout dinner. Lilly loved the pizza and kept looking at me sideways and saying "yummmmm." She ate so ravenously that we all remarked on it. I pointed out that she had eaten an entire large piece. "You ate it all," I said with a touch of disbelief. She looked at me condescendingly, held up a corner of crust, and corrected me: "not yet."

Sunday :: 09 November 2003
First on the agenda today was the Indianapolis Children's Museum. It's a great museum, but Lilly was scared. As we pulled into the parking lot, she told us over and over that she didn't want to go. Once we got inside, she told us how she was scared of every exhibit we approached. She was scared of fish, scared of dinosaurs, scared of settlers' cabins. Finally after lunch she started to loosen up. Eventually she played at the water tank, in the play houses, and built things with some interesting interlocking timbers. The little girl who didn't want to go to the museum finally had be dragged out of it. Maeve took it all in an got to play with some balls in an infant play area.

Next stop: Batavia in Chicago's western suburbs to visit Hans and Amanda. Lilly and nine-year-old Celia disappeared immediately and played Barbies for hours. Five-year-old Ben was fascinated with Maeve but didn't quite understand that she wasn't a doll. We felt bad that we couldn't really let him hold her like he so desparately wanted to. We had a wonderful visit and finally got ourselves back on the road by 7:30 p.m. Of course, the girls slept in car and it was a relatively painless process to get them into the house and into bed.

Monday :: 10 November 2003
Maeve's got her first tooth today. This probablly explains her crankiness over the weekend (though it was nothing compared to Lilly's teething behavior). Lilly's behavior has been better lately. She seems genuinely more agreeable and accomodating. She's been especially helpful with the baby, often running little erands for bottles, burpy cloths, nuks, and toys. She's pulled some new language tricks out of her bag. She'll agree to something by saying "uhh-huh," and raising the pitch on the last syllable like a question but then clipping it off abruptly. It makes her sound very hip and very grown up. When she gets bumped or runs into something enough to feel it (but not really enough to hurt), she says "ow?" in a very silly and obviously tongue-in-cheek manner. She's still scared at night so Lisa got a Veggie Tales video at the libary addressing the subject. I thought maybe it was getting through to her, but it didn't really seem to have any effect at all. Maybe it just needs some time to sink in.

Thursday :: 13 November 2003
Lisa had a conference with Lilly's daycare teacher. Her "report card" was excellent. Ms. Deni says that Lilly is a very smart, happy, well-adjusted child. She especially praised her language skills saying that she speaks extremely clearly and often has to translate for the other children. Apparently, she's also a bit of a loner. She usually prefers to play by herself or with Ms. Deni and has to be coaxed into group activities. Couldn't have anything to do with her Poppa's personality could it? Speaking of which, she also LOVES music.

Friday :: 14 November 2003
Maeve sat naked in Momma's lap waiting in the exam room for her six-month checkup. When Dr. Plumb walked in, she began laughing. "Well, this is obviously a healthy baby," referring to the dear child's Michelin-Man thighs. Indeed she was the picture of health and measured up at 17 lbs, 11 oz and 26.75", keeping her in the 75-90th percentile for both height and weight. Dr. Plumb gave us the go ahead to start feeding her cereal. Actually, Maeve's been on rice cereal for the last two weeks. She took to it fairly quickly, though she does have a habit of pushing a bit of every bite out with her tongue. We moved on to oat cereal today and she seemed to enjoy the taste even more. She opens wide, swallows well, and eats as neatly as can be expected.

Saturday :: 15 November 2003
Riding in the car with Lilly often turns into an entertaining stream-of-consciousness extravaganza. In a sing-song voice she narrates the scene outside the car, makes up or retells stories, and slips in and out of various characters. Today while rapping about the rain, clouds, and Max at daycare, she suddenly announced loudly: "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN... MY BABY SISTER IS SLEEPING!"

Sunday :: 16 November 2003
Maybe due to the fact that she was (reportedly) so good at Mass (other than shushing constantly at Maeve's cooing), Lilly was wiggly beyond belief at brunch. She did manage sit still to eat her entire pancake. I think the syrup may have contributed to even more rambunctiousness later on, though. We stopped by the Roberts' house on the way home and Lilly ended up staying there and playing with Maggie for quite a few hours allowing us to prepare for our appointment with an infant-development researcher. She video-taped both Lisa and I playing and feeding Maeve and did a number of developmental tests. She was very impressed with how vocal Maeve was and concluded that she was ahead of the curve cognitively. Her motor skills were more towards the low end of normal: Maeve is still not able to roll over with any degree of confidence or repeatability. This of course is now worrying her mother, despite the fact that I keep pointing out the operative word is normal and NOT low-end.

Saturday :: 22 November 2003
It appears as though Lilly's sticker chart has been producing the desired results. She's been better behaved lately and, in fact, as filled up all the "Listening Skills" slots. As a a reward she got to go to a movie with Poppa. She was so excited that she told our waiter at lunch that she was going to Brother Bear after lunch. It was a typical Disney animation thing, but not a bad story and Lilly seemed to really enjoy it. She didn't ask too many questions and only got in and out of my lap a few times. Instead of popcorn, we clandestinely got a box of Raisnets, which we both enjoyed immensely. As she clambered into Momma's car outside the theater, she excitedly reported, "Momma, it was a COOL movie!" She started to tell her about it and then abruptly stopped and implored me to tell Momma everything. She wasn't satisfied until I covered every detail I could think of.

Sunday :: 23 November 2003
Momma went to a baby shower today so I was home alone with the girls for a few hours. I propped up Maeve on the floor against the couch and surrounded her with pillows to guard against the inevitable off-balance flop. She cooed and giggled and played with her toys (especially her stuffed gorilla) for the better part of an hour. Lilly played with her on and off. Sometimes she played well and was incredibly sweet. Sometimes though she would take all the toys away from her, flinging them across the room. When I asked her why, she would claim that it was because she wanted Maeve to play with her. I had my doubts. When she started whacking her baby sister on the head with some plastic beads though I had to step in. As expected, Lilly grunted and whined, made a face, and stomped off. When she came back 20 minutes later, she was all smiles and wanted to play with her Legos by herself. Maeve just smiled, basking in the glow of her ultra-cool big sister.

Tuesday :: 25 November 2003
Lately Lilly has been sleeping better and is not nearly so frightened at night. We put a nightlight on her bedside table last week and it seems to be helping. At first, she claimed that she couldn't see and that it wasn't enough light. Tonight she told me "I like the bear light. It's working out good." We started reading Wind in the Willows this week and she seems enthralled by the Rat and Mole and the huge colorful illustrations.

Thursday :: 27 November 2003
Lilly bounced herself into our bed this morning reminding us loudly that today was Thanksgiving. She was excited to see Uncle Chris and repeatedly asked us when our guest were going to arrive. Will and Sarah arrived first and she was a little shy. When Uncle Chris finally arrived though, she was beside herself, giggling, grinning, and hugging him. Almost immediately, she dragged him off to her room to play. This kept her out of our hair for a while during dinner preparations. Both Lilly and Maeve were good girls and our dinner was pleasant and relatively uncomplicated. Maeve had to be put to bed early as she was literally falling asleep in Lisa's arms. Lilly requested that Chris put her to bed and she proceeded to put him through the paces, asking questions about every single page of The Lorax.

Friday :: 28 November 2003
When I told Lilly that we were going to get our Christmas tree today, she clapped her hands and did a little dance. It was almost unbearable for her to have to endure our brief stop at Target. Finally on our way to the tree farm, Lilly decided that the prospect of seeing the reindeer there was just too frightening. We couldn't figure out what was going on, because she was so intrigued with them last year. She was practically trembling when we got out of the car and clung on to me with a death grip. Finally I took Maeve to see the reindeer and Lilly went with Momma to pay (dearly) for our tree. Once we got home, Lilly wanted it decorated immediately. She impatiently sat through lunch and unpacking all the boxes of Christmas decorations. We sidetracked her for a while by getting out her Playskool nativity set (or as she refers to it, "baby Jesus"). Finally, I lit a fire, put on some Christmas carols, and we set up the tree. Lilly wanted to help, but I think we may have impressed the fragile nature of the glass ornaments a bit too strongly. She soon decided it was better to play with baby Jesus and keep an eye on the decorating progress from a distance. Later as we read some Christmas books next to the tree, she gazed at it and remarked, "That's a beautiful tree you made Poppa."

Saturday :: 29 November 2003
We went over to my friend Adam's house to check out his new TV (as part of pre-purchase research). Lilly was a good girl and didn't get her shoes on the furniture too much. She was a bit scared by the Lord of the Rings DVD Adam was blasting though. Maeve needed a feed and a change while we were there but was, of course, an angel. We had lunch at Big Bowl. Lilly ordered for herself and ate with manners that belied her age. Next stop was American TV to see some other TVs. Lilly found a number of sets showing Nemo so we had a job dragging her away. Interestingly, she wasn't the least bit scared of the sharks that drove her from the theater when we first saw the movie. When we got home, Lilly raced to the front room to turn on the Christmas tree. Maeve started fussing this afternoon. Her bright-red cheeks, fever, and crankiness pointed in the direction of more teething.

Sunday :: 30 November 2003
Today was an absolutely gorgeous 50-degree day. We discussed various outings, but Lilly forcefully, and eventually tearfully, said that she didn't want to go anywhere, not even to a park! All we could get out of her was that she was afraid that if she left, her house might not be there when she got back. We finally just decided to get up and go and to nip any growing paranoia in the bud. She screamed and cried but we wrestled her into her coat anyway. Finally on the way out the door, she cheerfully announced "Let's go to the park." Of course, she loved it. We went to a new park in Sun Prairie and she raced around the place checking out every piece of equipment. Maeve continued to fuss and we had to keep her stroller moving to keep her happy. At Culver's on the way home, Lilly decided that she liked the look of my sundae better than hers and insisted on trading her dish of ice cream for mine. As she was finishing up, she announced that she was "eating not messy." And indeed she was.

Monday :: 01 December 2003
As I got ready for work this morning, Lilly looked seriously at me: "I love you when you stay home but I don't love you when you go to work because my heart goes with you." So does mine, sweetheart. So does mine. When I got home in the afternoon, Lilly had a "card" for me. She often glues various things together for me and calls them cards; today it was an envelope with some animal flash cards inside. I notice "Poppa" printed on the envelope. I asked Lilly if Momma had written it. She answered as if I should know better: "Momma wrote it because I don't know how to write." Later when Lisa asked her if she wanted dinner, she answered, "Yeah, sure." Maeve continues her quite-out-of-character fussing.

Tuesday :: 02 December 2003
We have determined the cause of Maeve's fussing: Roseola. Teething may have had something to do with it, but several kids in her daycare room have come down with it and all the symptoms fit. She is over the fever and crankiness now and we're just left with red spots. The important thing is that she's happy now. She's obviously healthy otherwise; she's the fattest in her class (which only means she's the healthiest, according to Ms. Pat). Lilly has been quite fascinated with the moon lately. Tonight she spied it on our drive home. After excitedly pointing it out to me, she fell into a deep, contemplative silence. Finally she spoke with an air of suspicion, "Poppa, why is the moon following us?"

Friday :: 05 December 2003
As I was tucking Lilly into bed tonight, see looked at me, sighed, and in a very world-weary voice said, "Poppa, it's hard being a kid." When asked for clarification, she replied, "Sometimes I'm naughty."

Saturday :: 06 December 2003
We packed the girls off to Betty's house this morning so we could continue our quest for a TV. Lilly was excited to spend time with Betty, but Maeve took one look at her and burst into tears. After a few minutes, her "stranger-danger" waned somewhat and we were able to sneak out. When we returned a couple of hours later, the living room was strewn with Barbies and baby dolls and Maeve was asleep. Betty reported that both girls were good and that Maeve actually began to snuggle up to her a bit.

After lunch, we headed over to the Wades so that Poppa and Kevin could help a friend move and Momma and the girls could have a visit with Nancy and Hazel. When I got back later, Hazel was playing a video game and Lilly was holding a disabled game controller, looking a bit bored. She was, I think, just content to bask in the glow of the cool older girl. Uncle Chris met us at home to help unload our new, incredibly heavy TV set. Lilly didn't want to accept that she had to go to bed and miss the installation, but Momma got her down with promises that I would be up later.

Sunday :: 07 December 2003
We've become concerned over how mean Lilly can be to Lisa on weekends. She'll ignore her and say deliberately hurtful things, preferring to interact constantly with me. She doesn't act like this on Mondays and Fridays when I'm at work. I had a long talk with Lilly about it and I think I got through to her. Lisa and I have also decided that we are going to make a conscious effort to mix up who interacts with who: I'm going to care more for Maeve and Lisa is going to try do more fun things with Lilly in an effort to head off this unspoken sibling rivalry.

Monday :: 08 December 2003
Momma was not feeling at all well today, but she managed to get the girls to their appointment for flu shots (against the coming pandemic). Both girls were good and Lilly was very brave (though she insisted on telling me all afternoon and evening how much her shot hurt). For the rest of the day, Lisa lay on the couch. Miraculously, Lilly behaved and played quietly, often coming over to Momma and rubbing her forehead.

With Momma largely out of commission, I gave baby Maeve a bath tonight. My little Sumo wrestler loves the water and splashes with her duckie and cup with great exuberance. She doesn't seem to mind water on her head or face at all, though she does make quite a funny scrunched-up face. She is one fat kid, no doubt about it. Her ankles and wrists are barely perceptible, marked only by creases, and her thighs are of Michelin-man proportions. Since we all know that a fat baby is a healthy baby, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever about the young'n's constitution.

Her development is not really paralleling Lilly's at all. Her big sister rolled over at 14 weeks, while Maeve still doesn't at six-and-half months. (There is a hypothesis in certain camps that Maeve's chunkiness is to blame for the current deficiency in her motor skills.) Lilly was crawling at this age, but Maeve is content just to thrash around on her back. The little one is, however, babbling constantly. Lilly didn't reach this important linguistic plateau until she was nine months. Maeve also seems much more advanced with her fine motor skills: she is able to manipulate smallish objects and toys with great dexterity. I guess it's the bane of the second child to always be compared to the older sibling.

Thursday :: 11 December 2003
Lilly complained of not feeling well last night. She woke several times in the night and when I went to her, she was burning up. Maeve was restless and woke up with a fever as well. Lisa stayed home with the girls and called later to report that Lilly had a fever of 102.5°. When I came home, Maeve was napping and Lilly was laying in Momma's lap. Lisa confided that Lilly was so docile that the day was actually quite pleasant. It was hard not to feel sorry for the poor little buggers though.

Friday :: 12 December 2003
Lilly awoke in better health and a better mood. Her sister wasn't faring so well though; she was fussy and uncomfortable all day. Lilly continues her obsession with her toes. Two or three times a day, she insists on twisting herself into a position to inspect her toes. She wrenches them apart and eliminates every trace of sock lint or dead skin. She informed me the other day, "I have to do my toe jam." When I told her that I was quite sure that Momma wouldn't approve of such a crass term, she cocked her head and said, "OK. I have to do my TOES." At this point I'm treating this like any other phase and not worrying about any kind of obssessive-compulsive disorder.

Saturday :: 13 December 2003
Maeve was a bit better this morning but sometimes a bit out of sorts. As Lilly played with her on our bed, she turned to me and said, "It's fun having a baby sister." We had quite a time convincing Lilly that she couldn't put her party dress on first thing this morning: "Yes, we are going to a Christmas party, but it's not until this afternoon."

Lisa's office party was at a seedy bowling alley on the east side. Of course Lilly wanted to try her hand at bowling. She jumped up and down excitedly as the ball rolled s-l-o-w-l-y down the alley and waited impatiently for Poppa to take his turn(s). After about three frames, she decided that this was much too slow of an experience and took off. Soon she began bugging us about when Santa was going to show up. She squealed when he finally entered and shouldered her way to the front of the growing crowd. When her name was called, she hopped right up in his lap and flashed the coyest smile she could muster for the Polaroid documentation. Her gift was a Blue's Clues Handy Dandy Notebook ("handy handy") and she wasted no time in writing down all clues she encountered.

Next stop was a holiday open house thrown by our friends Alex and Kris. Lilly hit it off with a little girl named Donovan and the two of them scampered around and carried on the way only three-year-old girls can.

Sunday :: 14 December 2003
This afternoon, we made a fire and hung out in the front room. Lilly brought her Legos downstairs and we built all manner of houses, cars, and fences. Maeve, who is still on the mend, played with her blocks and stuffed gorilla. Momma and Poppa read when we weren't being summoned to play, build, or retrieve. Lisa went to a massage appointment around 4:30, so I fed the girls and put them to bed. Maeve has graduated from the wallpaper-like rice cereal to proper baby food and has been enjoying her pureed carrots immensely.

Friday :: 19 December 2003
When I woke Lilly up at 5:00 a.m., she correctly observed that it was still dark outside. She was suddenly wide awake when I reminded that we were driving to her cousins' house in Ohio today. We got on the road by 6:45 and before we hit Rockford, I heard the phrase that I've been long expecting but had not heard until now: "Are we there yet?" A white out forced us to pull over at an Indiana Toll Road rest area. We were stuck there for an hour and a half when the highway was closed due to icy roads and accidents. We were in and out of bad weather and low visibility all the way to Cleveland but the girls were on their best behavior and we made it to Aunt Beth's house by 8:00 p.m.

Lilly's cousins Adam and Sarah were overjoyed to see her and they soon disappeared leaving us 'dults alone with baby Maeve. We finally had to try to get the kids bedded down and eventually arrived at a sleep-over situation with sleeping bags in Sarah's room. As expected, they didn't do much sleeping for a few hours. Maeve was fussy during the night, possibly due to new teeth. I had to get up with her when Lilly insisted on getting into a double bed with us. Eventually, Lisa slept with the girls and I tried to grab some sleep on a couch in order to be ready to drive tomorrow.

Saturday :: 20 December 2003
The kids opened their gifts this morning. Lilly was quite taken with her hospital Lego set that came in its own backpack. We finally pried Maeve out of Aunt Beth's arms and Lilly away from playing with her cousins and hit the road to Grandpa Hall's house in western PA. Lilly was quite interested in seeing every room of Grandpa's new(ish) condo. She was also fascinated with a music box/snow globe in the living room. She did very well observing Grandpa's fastidious rules about what not to touch and where to sit. Eventually she roped him into playing with her new medical Legos. After lunch, Maeve got a few horsey girl bounces from Grandpa before we departed on the final leg of our journey.

There were a few meltdowns. Once when we had to discipline Lilly, she cried for a while and then whimpered "Nanny, Nanny" for 50 miles. We arrived in Canandaigua by 7:00 p.m. just as cousin Aidan was getting ready for bed. Five-month-old Aidan and seven-month-old Maeve babbled at each other in their diapers and all the adults sat around oo-ing and ah-ing. With better balance, longer reach, and the ability to sit upright unassisted, Maeve made a grab for every toy Aidan was trying to play with. As someone observed, "Get used to it boy. Girls'll be doing that to you for the rest of your life."

Sunday :: 21 December 2003
As usual, Lilly was in heaven at Nanny's house. She built snowmen with Sandra, decorated cookies with Nanny, and acted silly with Grandpa. Grandpa made a tent for Lilly's bed: a cot in the corner of their bedroom. Lilly liked the enclosed space and looked like a bedouin as I blew her a kiss goodnight from the doorway. Maeve slept in our room and, in general, slept well during our whole stay.

Wednesday :: 24 December 2003
Lisa and I went to the Mirbeau spa alone for the night. When we returned today (quite relaxed, thank you), Maeve was napping and Lilly was out on a shopping expedition with Uncle Eugene and Aunt Tracy. Nanny reported that the girls did not miss us at all and Lilly confirmed this when she returned. As evening approached, Lilly's excitement over Christmas grew. I helped her put out snacks: cookies and milk for Santa, cheese for Santa Mouse, and sugar for the reindeer. I was surprised, though, by how well she went to sleep, considering what the morning would bring.

Thursday :: 25 December 2003
I lost count of how many times Lilly asked if it was time to open presents. We waited for Uncle Eugene and Aunt Tracy to get up, but Lilly couldn't wait for Uncle Joe. She opened his bedroom door and tapped his shoulder until he woke up. When we finally all convened in the front room to open gifts, Lilly was beside herself. As she sized up each package, she announced to all assembled, "I'm curious." Depending on the gift and her mood at that instant, she would either immerse herself in the contents and have to be prodded to move on, or would toss it aside immediately and tell us "I want another present." Babies Aidan and Maeve looked out over the flurry of wrapping paper without a flicker of understanding, which is not to say that they weren't on the receiving end of a great number of packages themselves. Among Lilly's favorites: furry puppets from Uncle Joe, a Hulu-girl shirt from Uncle Eugene and Aunt Tracy, and a Hot Wheels track and grocery-store checkout from Santa.

Friday :: 26 December 2003
Lilly wrote her name today. Just like that; out of the blue. At first she wrote it backwards, right to left, but over the next few days, she switched and is now writing it left to right. We've also been quite impressed with her coloring. Her ability to stay within the lines is nothing short of remarkable, especially given her tender age. Not to be outdone, Maeve has started clapping. We'd been playing paddy-cake and soon she was putting her hands together on her own. She beams when she does it with some sort of combination of self-satisfaction and complete surprise.

As the realization began to sink that our visit was going to end, Lilly began to tell everyone that she doesn't want to leave. "I want to stay with Nanny all of the days." Making it harder is the fact that Lilly is absolutely smitten with her Uncles Joe and Eugene. She ropes them into all manner of unlikely and unseemly games. Her adoration is returned with great abandon.

Sunday :: 28 December 2003
We set out at noon, bound for Cleveland. We almost had to pull over when Lilly blew our minds with her geographic knowledge. Lisa was looking at the road atlas and Lilly asked to see it. To our utter amazement, she pointed out Ohio, New York, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and California. True, Aunt Sandra had showed her a map a few days before, but that fact that she remembered and was able to pick things out on a completely different map was nothing short of bewildering.

We spent the night with Aunt Beth and family again and Lilly was welcomed with open arms by Sarah and Adam. In fact, at times, they fought over who got to play her. At one point, Adam came downstairs crying claiming that Lilly and Sarah had barricaded themselves in a bedroom and would not let him in. Uncle Chris was visiting as well and all three kids ganged up on him, often burying him under a pile of wiggles and giggles. Lilly slept the whole night with the other kids in Adam's bedroom and Maeve slept more or less peacefully.

Monday :: 29 December 2003
We made it home by 6:00 p.m. and we were pleasantly surprised to find that despite naps en route, both girls went down with a fuss. Home at last.

Past diary entries: September-October 2003
July-August 2003
May-June 2003

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