Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It ain't the GRE, but it's a big test all right!

Yesterday was Markus's first day back to work, which meant it was my first day alone with both girls. Baby Stephanie has been such an easy addition to the house, particularly while Markus was home. Ellie is such a daddy's girl that she doesn't want anything to do with me while he's around anyway, so I was able to cocoon my world around our newborn girl for nearly two weeks. By Saturday night, I was starting to worry what it would be like when he went back to work. Why? Ellie has been acting out in new and interesting ways.

Given that she is now two and a half years old, it's hard to say if it's her age or the baby or both (probably both), but she's moved into a phase of what I call "happy defiance" that leaves me ragged. Yes, she has tantrums. Whopper, nasty drama queen tantrums over silly things like not eating cupcakes for dinner, but those can be tuned out to a degree. The happy defiance is all new, and boy, is it effective at making Mama crazy. Ellie has always been obsessed with order. We never had to baby-proof the house. She has always taken good care of her toys and even better care of her books. But lately... It started with coloring on the table and chairs and floor. Within days, she'd evolved into throwing toys on the floor, dismantling the organization of the diaper stand at every opportunity (diapers everywhere!), jumping off of furniture... Yes, we know this is all typical 2 year old behavior, but it's VERY atypical Ellie behavior. The strangest part is she's gleeful about it. She had done similar things in the past while frustrated as part of a tantrum, but now she just seems to make me crazy for fun. She couldn't be happier about making a huge mess, and she just as gleefully refuses to participate in cleaning it up again (or doing just about anything I specifically request). One of her favorite responses is, "No, not today" (AKA: score Ellie 12,345,652; Mama 0). I've never heard the word "No!" so often in my life. So you see, I was feeling a bit of trepidation about this week.

I'm happy to report: so far, so good. Yesterday passed uneventfully, and we all survived unscathed. We did our usual trip to the zoo's Oceanarium, despite nasty gale-force winds and cold driving rain (not fun, but we had to get out of the house). This morning, Ellie went off to school without a care in the world. Maybe she's just happy to have her normal routine back. Maybe it's the calm before the storm. Who knows? We're just taking it one day at a time. Thankfully, baby Stephanie is happy to go along for the ride. She has been very easy so far, and we're very thankful! She only wakes up a couple of times per night to feed, and she doesn't cry much at all. During the night, I wake up to lip-smacking sounds rather than wails, which is pretty nice! Ellie was an easy baby too, so we weren't counting on being so lucky twice.

As expected, I feel behind on just about everything, but I will try to keep the posts coming. Please keep the comments flowing!


Anonymous said...

Are Dutch Mr. Clean Magic Erasers available or should I send a few in the welcome baby package? They remove the stray markings of budding little artists perfectly! I know because Amelia once painted a mural on our living room wall!


azure said...

I'm going to agree with your assessment that it's a combination of both age and the new baby as now Mar-Bear is exhibiting the exact same behavior, most of which is reserved for her mother. She did TRY to flip on Granny and Auntie this past weekend, but apparently she has no idea who she's dealing with. (I mean me and my mother, c'mon seriously.)

So... I can offer no other advice but to hang in there, and hope that the terrible two's don't roll over into the terrible three's.

But now more importantly, can I declare myself the winner of the Baby Stephanie contest? Although I must say that my "win" was a combination of both luck and attrition. The competition was tough as I really thought Meghan or Carly had the best days. But hey the best prize of all is that you had an awesome birthing experience and a healthy baby. :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds bigger than the GRE to me!

Eric and I were talking about kids after our wedding but then we saw a program the other night called 'Jon and Kate plus eight'. It's "reality tv" about a family with a set of twins and a set of sextuplets - CRAZY! After seeing that we squished our noses and said, hmmm... maybe not. Your story only confirms Eric and I should be patient with the process after exchanging vows ;-)

I think you need is to take a vacation weekend in the U.S. and let us babysit so you can have some sanity time! Just remember your mantra about Ellie's strength as a woman :-)

By the way, I agree with Becky on the magic erasures and Azure on the best prize of all!

Hugs and Kisses from DC! Meghan

Karly said...

I would think most certainly that Ellie's 2 year old behavior is a combo of the age/new baby thing. Hang in there, it will pass eventually. I know how tough it can be...we've most definitely been through it with Sam, except he waited until he was almost three, so we're still dealing with it somewhat (only we don't have a new baby in the mix too). My favorite is when Sam gleefully dumps out all of his blocks (the big leggo kind) in the floor, plays with a couple for 2 seconds, and then attempts to move on to making the next huge mess. When I tell him that he has to clean up his blocks and put them all back in the bag, he very artfully starts crying and saying, "But there are too many. I can't do it all by myself!" And in such a sad, little voice...he's good. Oh, the joys of the terrible threes...

I'm so glad you weathered your first day without Markus successfully, and hope that this week continues to go well. One day at a time is a good way to handle things. Before you know it, it will all be old hat. And how wonderful that Stephanie is turning out to be an easy baby too!

And thank you Becky for the magic eraser tip. We have a few walls that have become canvases in our home as well, but I've always been worried about trying one because I thought it would mess up the paint. Yesterday, I decided why not try and it worked!! Jennifer, I highly recommend trying one if you have them and if you need to.

Give both of those sweet girls hugs from us!