Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Play me that monkey music...

I'm trying to find good music for Charlotte. I want to expose her to grown-up music, but I also want her to have some good silly & fun kid's music. Right now I basically have two kid's CDs - They Might be Giants "No!" and The Limelighters "Through Children's Eyes." We got them for a shower present because I had registered for them on our Amazon Wishlist. I wanted the Limelighters' album because I loved it when I was a kid, and my mom loved it when she was a kid. I also know all the words to all the songs, so I can just put it on and sing along whenever I need a brainless option. I wanted "No!" because I love TMBG and I had been hearing good things about their kid's albums for some time now. I wanted that one in particular because it has "The Edison Museum" on it, and I remember when that Kai was a little younger it was one of his favorites.

There are a few other things that I really want, and plan on acquiring slowly. Raffi really is a classic, and while some people find him annoying, I really love his songs. Kids like his songs, it's pretty undisputable. I also love Sarah Pirtle. We listened to a lot of her albums at the Hampshire College Children's Center when I worked in the toddler room.

One of my best finds lately has been the podcast Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. I found it on iTunes when I was pretty disappointed by the children's podcasts. I was totally surprised at first to realize that they are local, but then, when I thought about it, not really at all. That's just the kind of place the valley is. Now I have a whole bunch of artists I want to check out.

My next music goal - make a mix CD entirely full of monkey songs.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Learning curve...

Charlotte's big goal these days is to master this thumb-sucking business. She has gotten to the point where she can get her thumb in her mouth when she aims...

...but then she gets overexcited and spits it out and can only get her whole fist the next time.

My current project for Charlotte is to catalog her little library. Right now she doesn't have a ton of books - we have boxes of kid's books somewhere, but it's not immediately accessible. Charlotte has several books in her own right, and I'm recording them onto GoodReads.com so that my mom can see them, and so that other friends and family can see what Charlotte likes. Her current favorite book is Caps For Sale, which has the best subtitle that I was never aware of: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business. Charlotte loves this book. She gets excited and starts to wave her hands before you even start reading the words - as soon as she sees the interior illustrations she starts cooing and waving. No other book gets this much of a reaction!

My first theory was that she loved it so much because Auntie Nicole acted it out when she read it the first time, but Charlotte wasn't even looking at Nicole, just staring at the pages. Nicole commented that it had never been a favorite book of hers; she thought the colors were really dull. It's true that there is something about the "brown" - it's so olive-y drab that I find it hard to look at next to all the blue. But I guess that contrast is very appealing to Charlotte, because she finds the book hypnotic.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Holiday Tour, Winter 2007

I'll add photos to this entry later.

This Christmas was great. Not so much in the spiritual sense, I didn't get the big "Wow" moment that I sometimes do, but I did have a lot of really great moments where I felt connected to my family and friends. Charlotte was wonderful everywhere we went, and with everyone we saw, and there was a LOT of traveling.

December 8th & 9th we went to see my paternal grandparents in Plymouth, MA. They hadn't met Charlotte yet because my grandfather has been in and out of the hospital since August. They found a large mass, and at first they thought it was cancer, and then they found out it was benign, but he still had to have major abdominal surgery to get it out. Then they were concerned about his kidneys, but he started having clotting problems, and put him on blood thinners. They had to constantly re-evaluate that, and they accidentally thinned his blood too much due to weird test readings from his liver. And then the pancreatitis started. Next up - gall bladder removal.
Anyway, my poor Grampa is grumpy and not able to travel that far, so we went to see him so Charlotte could meet another set of Great-Grandparents, and so that they could meet their first great-grandchild. My uncle Scott was visiting with his wife Stacey, and they were happy to see us, too. Stacey even held Charlotte. Uncle Scott is just 11 years older than I am, and he's the fun young uncle. He and stacey got married the winter before we did, and they live in Connecticutt, pretty close by. They are fun to hang out with and just cool people. They aren't planning on having kids themselves, so they were pleased when we had a new baby for Gramma to play with.

The other great bonus to the visit was that Sunday was the family Christmas party. It's the Lundin family party - Lundin being my Gramma's maiden name. So it's that whole side of the family, most of whom I don't really remember. 2nd cousins, etc. I do remember most of my grandmother's siblings. Uncle Carl, Uncle Joe, Aunt Helen & Uncle Harold...and all my aunts and uncles were there, so they all got to meet Charlotte. Two of my aunts wouldn't put her down! Also, my little cousins got to meet her. "The little girls" are my uncle's kids. The oldest is 12, I think, and the youngest is 5. There is a gap between the oldest of the little girls and the youngest of the rest of the cousins by about 5 years, and it seems like a weird generation gap. Anyway, the little girls loved that there was a baby to play with, and were heartily disappointed that a) she's too little to really play, b) she slept the whole time and c) she doesn't have her ears pierced.

The fun part for me was that a big part of the family party has always been Santa for the little kids. A great-uncle was Santa when I was growing up, and this year it was my uncle Scott who was Santa! He was nagged into it, and he was reluctant, but it was very exciting for me. It was great to have Charlotte's first Santa picture with my own family.

It was a huge disappointment that my dad wasn't there, for my grandmother, I'm sure. But we've all learned not to expect these things to mean as much to him as they do to us. After all, he did say that he might miss my grandparents' 50th anniversary party because of a NASCAR race on TV.

Anyway, the next weekend we were supposed to go see Dad and Linda in NY, but there were major storms on Thursday and Saturday, and we all decided it wouldn't be safe, so we stayed home.

The following weekend was the weekend before Christmas. We hung out with Jen on Saturday and exchanged presents, and then on Sunday we went to Fitchburg to spend Christmas with my in-laws. We had a lovely Christmas Eve visiting with Matt's Aunt, and then on Christmas Day we went to the assisted living place to see Matt's paternal grandparents. Grammy V. held Charlotte, and kept telling everyone how good she was, and that her name was Charlotte Emily. I think she was pretty fuzzy on whose baby she actually was, but she enjoyed holding a girl baby very much (she had 4 boys). It was pretty special to take a picture of them together, and kind of mind-blowing to see a 92 year age difference.

I was very concerned about taking Charlotte there, as she hasn't finished with all her vaccinations and so many people go in and out of those places, but she didn't get sick, so it worked out okay. Also, I was a little concerned about Grammy holding Charlotte - she's very weak and pretty much bedridden, but she did fine. I was very upset when Matt's dad just kind of took Charlotte and handed her to Grammy - I had told Matt ahead of time that I was uncomfortable with going and I didn't want them to hold her. They are 92 years old and have hygiene issues. I wish that wasn't a concern, but it really is. I was very frustrated afterwards that my preferences were completely overridden and that no one even asked our permission. Matt was holding Charlotte when my FIL took her and gave her to his mom, and I wish that Matt had said something too, since I had told him my thoughts on it. Matt kept saying, "It's not like a nursing home, they aren't sick," but that's not a very honest way of looking at it. Lots of people in that facility ARE sick, do get colds and things like that. Not to mention all the visitors at holiday time. And the fact that the grandparents themselves aren't very clean - it's not dignified, and it's upsetting, but it's God's honest truth. And if we're going to make my sister wash her hands before she holds the baby, the least we could do would be to wipe Grammy's hands with a baby wipe or have her use some hand sanitizer - both of which were in the diaper bag there in the room. But no one asked me. They would not have done that with Matt's sister.

The weekend before New Years, the 29th & 30th we were supposed to see Mom & Bob, but they had to cancel. Bob had a pacemaker put in this December, and he had the incision prodded on the 27th, and he was too uncomfortable to travel that weekend. On Saturday, though, Charlotte got to meet her Aunt, uncle and cousin on Matt's side. Matt's sister and her family had gone up to visit the in-laws right after Christmas, and were heading back to NJ that Saturday. They stopped to visit so that they could finally meet Charlotte and see our new apartment. It was a fabulous visit, and it was good to see at least part of the Christmas present went over well. I can't remember what Kai thought of his other presents, but I had found a keychain Stanley measuring tape and grabbed it for Kai when I was shopping. I remember when I was 7 that I liked keychains and useful things, and having a measuring tape on a keychain seemed very useful and grown-up to me. He really liked it.

We walked into town and looked around, and it was so much fun to go to Faces and A 2 Z with Kai.

New Year's Eve was another first with Charlotte. Nicole came during the day to visit with her while I worked, and then Matt and I ordered Chinese food for dinner. We visited with our upstairs neighbors for a while, and then went out to see the ball go up in the center of Northampton. (Northampton being Northampton, insted of the ball dropping at midnight, it goes up a flagpole.) Charlotte was perfect - just chilling out in the front pack. It wasn't that cold out, so I didn't feel *too* bad about letting her come out. It was a little loud, but as Matt pointed out, no louder than the TV at my dad's house or the party we went to for my dad and stepmom's 50th birthday. We ran into Anthony and Kiera, and some random strangers in the crowd complimented Charlotte on how good she was and how cute she is.

This past weekend we went to my mom's to have our Christmas visit. Bob's doing very well, but between hospitalizations, their cat died a sudden and unpleasant death. It's been a stressful holiday season for Mom, and she hadn't seen Charlotte in a month and a half. And she was sooo disappointed that we were supposed to go to my dad's this past weekend - and then Dad cancelled, so we got to go see Mom. It was Charlotte's first visit to the North Country, so I did take lots of pictures. We had a great visit opening presents, hanging out, and eating. Bob's daugher Lara and her kids came up on Sunday, and everyone was surprisingly well behaved.

Phew! That's it for the holiday travelogue. We still haven't had an official Christmas visit with Dad, and I'm not sure how we're going to manage that.

This coming weekend, Matt and I are going to Ikea for a day to finally get a kitchen table. We want to start modelling better habits for Charlotte, including not eating in front of the TV and reading more often. Also, in probably 2 months or 12 weeks, Charlotte is going to need a high chair (yikes!) so we definitely need to get this table thing under control. Auntie Nicole will be babysitting, so we'll see how that goes for her.