All your growing up seems to be slowing down. You have now checked off all the major milestones - rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, talking. All the changes you go through now seem much more gradual. But then I stop and think about it, and realize you haven't slowed down at all.
At 15 months you are 20.5 lbs, 29" tall. Still a peanut, but a perfectly height-weight proportionate peanut. And who doesn't love a well-proportioned peanut? Your head circumference is still 80+%, while your height and weight are still ~15%. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that when we play and you throw your head back in laughter it gives me a bloody nose.
That bloody nose makes me feel a little less guilty about all the bruises on your forehead. Those bruises are hard earned. You love to climb on chairs, dressers, boxes, step stools, bath tub ledges, dogs, other babies, and Mom, just to name a few. It is hard to keep tabs on you.
Your vocabulary is pretty typical, I think. "Mama", all the time, for everything. And you manage to say it in a very demanding, Italian accent. You know "Dada" but use it less, though the other morning when you called for "Dada" instead of "Mama" I earned myself an extra hour of sleep. You're working on "nose", though every time you say "No" you jab your little finger up my nose. And "eye" earns a similar gesture. Your favorite food, bananas, causes a constant request for "Nana". A recent, random addition, is "Bubble", which you can actually say correctly. Other words.... ball, night-night, hi, bye-bye. You say "moo" and "baa" for cows and sheep, though I don't think you really grasp the meaning; but it's a fun party trick. And, of course, "NO". Also said in an Italian accent. Always said to mock us when we are trying to get you to stop doing something. We are guilty of frequently laughing in response, definitely teaching you bad habits.
Up until, oh, about 12 months of age, I felt like I was pretty free to do and say what I want. You didn't seem to be paying much attention. But now you most definitely are. If you see me putting on deodorant, you make the same motion. You find a q-tip (we're not clean people) and automatically stick it in your ear. You wander into the bathroom, find dad's shaving cream (capped, thankfully) and pretend to use it as shampoo. You blow on your food to cool it down, just because you've seen me do it. You grab my cell phone (any chance you get) and pretend to talk into it. Only, goodness, I hope I don't sound like that on my cell phone.
I'm not sure I'm ready to be a good role model. I used to avoid doing "bad" things around you, like watching TV, playing on my laptop, or fiddling with my cell phone. I made a point not to always "entertain" you, and you're great at entertaining yourself, but I wanted to model good behaviour. That was easier, though, because you weren't paying attention or were asleep for most of your first year. I now find my efforts to model good behaviour exhausting. I'm a techno geek. I have a blog, after all. And my efforts to shield you from technology are hard when I, myself, am so wired. My efforts to only feed you nutritious food are difficult when I, myself, love me some junk food.
Ultimately, I know I'll have to strike a balance. I think often about what I want for you. My greatest concern, I think, other than the standard I-want-you-to-be-happy-healthy-and-kind, is that you don't end with a feeling of entitlement. As someone who teaches college students, the issue of the increased sense of entitlement in today's students is a frequent topic of conversation among my friends and I. Is it the technology? I wonder. Not a lot else has changed, I don't think. I worry a lot about this. I worry that arguments between DH and I will damage you, somehow, though I like to think that the frequent hugging you see between us will trump the arguing. It seems to, because you get giddy every time you see us show affection towards each other. It makes me think we're doing something right. You know what else makes me think we're doing something right? You. You're precocious, curious, independent, smart, happy, funny, and everything I wanted my daughter to be. Turns out it's difficult to parent such a precocious child, but I think it's worth it. I love you, munchkin, and you're better than anything I could have hoped for.
Continuing in the vein of omg-it's-so-fun-to-dress-up-little-girls-in-matching-outfits. We added a holiday twist, and our neighbor donned a Santa suit. The girls were a little unnerved by this, and this is one of the few photos I snapped before MJ was over it...
ZOMG-this-toy-has-flashing-lights!!! Strange man behind me? Don't know anything about it.
Of course we tried again, but just because we tell her something's okay doesn't mean she believes it. At least she has learned the stay-away-from-weird-looking-strangers lesson early on. And now she has more pictures to add to her teenage-grudge-file.
Plotting her revenge, I suspect. That's probably what the hourly wakes up that night were all about: flashbacks to her santa trauma and her way of getting back at us.
God, I love my neighbors. I love their babies. I love how much they have made this first year of parenthood sane (parents), fun (parents & babies) and adorable (just the babies). I think I had the best snowed in Saturday ever. There will be more pictures, don't you worry.
Tonight I found myself trying to hand MJ's sippy cup to Vito. I stared at him for a couple seconds before realizing why he wasn't taking it. Lack of opposable thumbs, mostly, because he'll happily lick milk off of MJ's face.
That has nothing to do with this post. But it is evidence of how scattered my brain is.
I just wrote a post about how stressed MJ makes me. And how I love her like flies love.... fruit. But sometimes I find it hard to focus on that love.
Then I caught up on google reader, and in so doing read about the Sartins. If it's not a blog you already follow, you might cry. Her little boy, only 12 months old, has been battling cancer. And if she can maintain her positive outlook, I certainly don't have any damn excuse. I'll probably post some version of my stressed out post when I once again lose perspective, which I'm bound to do. I'm convinced my 14.5 month old is the most rambunctious child alive, and while it may not be true, it would take a lot for you to convince me otherwise. But for the moment, I'll remember that every day she walks the earth I love her more than the day before. And every day it seems impossible that I'll love her more than I do today, and every new morning proves that's not true.
MJ has learned about the playground. There will be a lot less of that now, since our morning was met with boatloads of snow. But she doesn't get that yet, and when the word "park" is spoken will run to the door, banging furiously, as though she's swearing at me in baby sign language. I tell you, you haven't even heard cursing until you've seen baby sign language cursing. That sh!znat is scary.
But I digress. She loves crawling through the tunnel, but, unfortunately, some poorly paid playground architect decided to put no rails on the far side of the playground tunnel. So that poor (30-year-old) moms would have to climb through them to keep their evil knievel offspring from jumping to their death. We look happy about it, but our knees are sadly bruised. Playground architects should really be paid better.
30. Sounds. Old. My mom put it in perspective by pointing out that having a 30-year-old makes you feel older than being a 30-year-old. I distinctly remember when I was 8 and my drama teacher turned 30. She was traumatized, and therefore I have always thought of it as a traumatic milestone. I dreaded it. I'm kind of a birthday primadonna. I still want the whole classroom to sing me happy birthday, and it turns out no one really does that when you turn 30.
But, in spite of the fact that adults don't get as gleeful about birthdays as little kids, I still had a great 30th. I am so blessed. I frequently become fixated on unimportant crap, but when I stop to ponder it all, I remember how blessed I am. I have a beautiful daughter. A supportive husband that always makes me laugh. A job I look forward to 90% of the time. We are healthy. We can pay our bills and have enough left to not feel stressed about money. We get to travel. And buy good beer and fancy cheese. I have friends that will drop everything to come celebrate with me. Our family supports us in every way. And I get to write all of my sentences as "we" sentences. And I get to, don't have to.
I'm not sure what I thought 30 would look like, I never really got that far in my imaginings. I thought I'd be classy by now, but being as I marked the event with a pub-crawl, that is clearly not true. I hoped I'd have met my soulmate by now, and I have. I hadn't really imagined the kid part, or family part, or happy part. But I have that, too. And did I mention I get to buy fancy cheese?
It's shocking how behind my pictures get when I misplace the camera for a few days (or weeks?) Even more shocking? It turns out there is no greater joy on earth than dressing up babies in costumes. Better, even, than dressing up dogs in costumes.
Clearly I don't know what I want. All week I fantasized about being a stay at home mom, sparked, in part, by a conversation with my advisor about my lack of PhD progress. This is not new, I knew this, but I like to forget it. DH called me out when he saw my internet history, in which I had googled "how do you decide to become a stay at home mom."
But then, a weekend of hubs working and solo parenting makes me long to go back to work. I love this little girl, but she is just so exhausting. Within her first hour of being awake she had:
- Torn all the clean clothes from the laundry basket and scattered them around the house.
- Dumped a jar of oats on the floor.
- Dumped a bag of dry beans on the floor.
- Had a (oh-so-heart-wrenching) temper tantrum when I insisted her oatmeal cool down before she could eat it.
- Climbed on top of the end table.
- Fallen off the couch.
This in addition to the run-of-the-mill tear-her-books-off-the-shelf, throw-half-her-food-on-the-floor and take-everything-out-of-the-cupboards daily routine.
By noon I was ready for her to go to sleep for the night.
How do stay at home mom's do it? I know they say to set one goal a day, and that's what I do. But if I don't get her out of the house we both go nuts. Though getting her out of the house is just as exhausting since she won't sit in grocery carts or high chairs. I supposed I need to become a more patient person. And stop trying to accomplish anything, because the moment I sat down and played with her my stress (mostly) went away.
It is a lamentable fact that adults wearing patterned pants almost always look foolish. There are exceptions, clearly, but it is almost certain that you don't fall into that category. However, babies wearing patterned pants is another thing entirely. We are letting MJ get her fill of fancy pants while it is still socially acceptable. Maybe this way she won't feel compelled to wear this:
For those of you who aren't up on your rock identification skillz, this is pumice. MJ played with this pumice for about 30 minutes, which is longer than she played with my cell phone (a tough act to follow).
So, although her interpration of the principle of faunal succession may be a bit off, as evidenced above, her geological understanding is still deeper than many of my students.
I was in kind of a bad place a few weeks back. There was one morning where I said to DH "I feel like I'm going crazy and nobody cares." I did not mean this in a haha sort of way. Not to demean those who are actually going crazy; I've had a front row seat for that performance before, and I knew I was in a different place. But at the same time, I was going crazy inside. DH was working all the time. MJ was adjusting her napping routine (no thanks to daycare, who has mandated one nap a day) and was cranky every time I saw her. I felt like everything was falling on my shoulders. I didn't just feel this way, I knew that it was true.
But then my mom came to visit. We had an initial rough patch. Then I came down with some sort of 6 day stomach flu, complete with the worst pain I've had since labor, and it was such a relief to have her here. To be the one being mothered rather than doing the mothering. We worked through our differences and really had a wonderful visit. She stayed for 3 weeks, a long time to have any house guest, but I was still sad to see her go.
We have started to get back into our old routine. The first day after my mom's departure we both came thudding back to reality, remembering what it's like to come home and never be able to relax. But some things have changed. DH is picking up fewer shifts, meaning I am not doing as much solo parenting. We have started to pay someone to come clean for us, and they are absolutely superb. It's expensive, but the amount of sanity and peace it brings me has so far been worth every penny. And I signed up for an art class, the first thing I've done just-for-me since MJ was born. Yes, I've had beers with friends and had some me-time afternoons. But this feels different, and I'm psyched about it. I'll post pics when I have something to show.
I've talked to a few women whose blogs petered out after their little one's first birthday. I will try my darnedest not to let that happen here. But feel free to call me out if you haven't heard from me in a while....
Our first verifiable temper tantrum. We've had two others, while at home, with no witnesses. But yesterday, while searching for a toybox at Ikea, I dared take MJ's baby kong away. While I thank the Cheerio gods for inventing such a portable snack, and the baby kong gods for inventing a way to let her snack whilst at Ikea, she was still managing to get Cheerios in every particle board crack possible. So I took it away, and she started flailing on the ground. This elicited snickers from passersby at first, and it was funny to see such a determined little human. But it just escalated. Oy.
I am not ready for this. I know that temper tantrums come hand in hand with toddlerhood, but I thought that was the 2-year-old variety of toddlerhood. This time grandma was present to verify that the flailing, inconsolable child I call mine was indeed having a temper tantrum. I spent some time googling last night. The danger-age is 1-4, so we're officially in tantrum territory.
So yep, the Moms is in town. I'm lucky she puts up with me, even though she kind of drives me nuts. I can tell I kind of drive her nuts, too. This is my own future. Right now, when MJ drives me nuts, I can blame it on the age, the maturity level, etc. But in the end, even when we're both full grown adults, we will still drive each other nuts. Kind of nuts, if we're lucky, and full-blown-never-speak-except-for-holidays if we're not so lucky. Like my daughter, I am something of a drama queen, imagining the worst just because my child has a temper tantrum. Are we in for a prolonged toddlerhood, or are we just getting it out of the way early?
Combined with her Queen's wave, MJ is definitely practicing for a red carpet event. I think she's going to skip the princess phase altogether. She's currently trying to establish the one-shoe-look as the trend of the season.
I advertise this as a working mom blog. Because I work. And I'm a mom. But really, I rarely talk about W*RK. Largely because I don't want to Dooce myself. And I'm not very good at being honest whilst being funny whilst not saying things I shouldn't. Perhaps you remmeber this post? Yep, got in trouble from the hubs for that one. I tend to reveal more than I should.
Anyway, I recently flirted with the idea of stopping the PhD and teaching community college. I met a great lady and blogger who happened to be looking for someone to teach as well, it all seemed so perfect. But it turns out teaching is hard. I knew that, to be fair. But I realized it's just not for me. Every day I got to come back to the lab and not teach was glorious.
What really happened is that an awesome job opportunity came about right as I was starting back to work after maternity leave. And going back to work was REALLY hard. The first couple months in particular. But going to a job I didn't like was even harder, even if I knew it was a stellar opportunity. It reminded me why I chose the path I did. Why I started back to graduate school. Why I chose to study geology and climate. Why I love the freedom that graduate school and academia allows, even if the pay isn't all that great.
It gets easier. The first few months back, all I did was miss MJ. But at some point, I realized I had my self back. I didn't even realize I had missed her, I had been so focused on my child. So to anyone in the midst of going back, the best thing I can tell you is that it gets easier. If you like your job, in particular. I realize I am lucky in this, to have a job I love and not need to find a better paying job.
But I have this great thing right now. I have work/life balance. It seems almost impossible to find, and I'm told it's even harder with a second child, but I have it. And I don't think I could have found it without work, because, much as I love my child and love spending time with her, my life would not have been balanced. It would have been happy, but it would have been unbalanced. So maybe, more than seeking what makes you happy, it's important to seek balance. And balance will give you happiness.
MJ had a bit of difficulty with the concept of opening presents. Sitting on them was about as far as she got. Her birthday was a blast, particularly by the time we go to the opening presents phase. Everyone had eaten, everyone was satiated, I could finally relax and enjoy some MJ time.
On a side note, this is the face that DH and I have started to make when we're provoking each other, doing something we know we're not supposed to do. Someday she'll be embarrassed by this, but we'll continue to explain that she started it.
I'm fairly certain I got hit on at Starbucks today.
On Sunday, whilst preparing for MJ's party (the details of which I still owe you), I put my hand directly on a yellowjacket. I haven't done great at not cursing in front of MJ, but that was a whole new territory of "not great". Before my ring finger swelled up, I decided I should take my wedding ring off.
So I'm going ringless for a few days. Mr. Guy at Starbucks appeared old enough to have done the ring-finger-check. It's nice to know I still got it. Though Mr. Guy doesn't know that there used to be a lot more of "it", and his lack of suave suggests he was just going after the weakest gazelle on the savanna, it's still nice. Before getting married I told DH that one of my goals in life was to be a MILF. I never specified whose definition of MILF that would be.
On an only-slightly-related note, I've lately been pondering the subject of friendship between men and women. I remember (or, possibly, misremember) a conversation between my stepmom and I when I was a teenager and swore that some boy was "just a friend". She told me that it's impossible for men and women to be just friends. At the time I thought she was totally wrong, but after many (like, 5) dates-that-I-didn't-realize-were-dates-until-some-guy-tried-to-kiss-me in college, I started to wonder if she's right. Not in the they-can-never-be-friends sense, but in the they-can-never-be-CLOSE-friends sense. The kind of friend you have deep conversations with, tell secrets to, etc.
Furthermore, the desire to have guys as "just friends" is seemingly far stronger from women than men. Nearly every woman I know claims that "most of her friends are guys", which is mathematically impossible. Granted, most the women I know are somehow related to Geology, so for this group it may be true. But it extends beyond that. In contrast, I have never met a straight man who claims that "most of his friends are women". Men seem to understand the "impossibility".
So what do you think? Is it impossible? Do you even care to have close friends of the opposite sex?
On the eve of the anniversary of your birth, you are asleep. Even after two 2-hour naps, you were ready to fall asleep by 6. We stretched it to 7. This means it could be a rough night, so I better write this before I get too grumpy with you.
Little girl, I love you whole hog. I'm sorry that I sometimes get grumpy with you. I try to remind myself ::over:: and ::over:: and ::over:: again how short each little moment is. We are currently with dad at a conference. The most family friendly conference I've ever seen, which is pretty great. Today you got to splash in the waterpark and play at the arcade and run through a huge field. But I see all these moms-of-tweens jealously eyeing you, missing their own babies baby-days. This year has flown by, and I know it will only continue to go faster.
Last year at this time I didn't quite know when you'd arrive, but I knew it'd be soon. Each day seemed like an eternity. Now each day is an instant.
What are you doing at 1 year?
You walk like a wild woman. Everyone quizzically looks at you and says "Wow, she's awfully young to be walking" and I say "No, she's almost a year, she's just a peanut". And you are a peanut. You've been consistently at the 15th percentile, and I wouldn't be surprised if you've even dropped a little. I think that the massive quantities of food we feed you go into fueling your constant motion, and that you never sit still enough for body fat to accumulate.
You started in the older infant room this past week. They said you walked right in like you'd been there for a year, and apparently are no longer enamoured with Baby-Boy-S now that there are older boys to flirt with. They say you're very good and very smart. Of course I love to hear these things, and as every mom is convinced of their own, I'm sure you're the cutest-and-the-smartest-and-the-best ad nauseam. I am far more traumatized by you already moving to the next grade than you are.
You are actually more cuddly than you used to be. Now that you've found some measure of independence and can get where you want to go, you have decided it's okay to come back and snuggle with Mom. This is one of my favorite developments. You will sometimes nap with your head on my shoulder, as you did today, and it is the most heart warming moment of my week.
You are not much for being read to, though I endeavour to change this. You are far too interested in turning the pages yourself or walking off with the book to sit still enough for me to read to you.
You torment Vito, though not too badly. You love to dance. You have recently discovered the TV. You like to feed Vito his dog food. You like to wear my purse around your neck like a St. Bernard brandy barrel. You love all fruit, particularly melon and blueberries. You hate hummus. You love to flirt with strangers, and will make little, insistent sounds until they pay attention to you. You say "mama" and "dada" and "hi", and you sign "milk", "food" and "more". You are a pretty good though highly erratic sleeper. You love to climb up everything, including your dresser.
You may be the mosttraumatic but are certainly thebest thing that has ever happened to your dad and I. Happy birthday munchkin.
I love taking photos. I'm not a photographer, I just like to capture a moment to help my poor memory hold on to it. But the downside is that I rarely end up in the photos. It's a small price to pay to have my own vision the one of record. But sometimes, DH picks up the camera. And sometimes the results are beautiful. And I don't even recognize myself. Or my daughter, sitting calmly, staring off into the distance. And yet it captures a brief instant in time that I desperately try to hold on to, because they're rare moments. This was a gift that I don't even think you knew you were giving me.
I love upstate New York. I love my daughter. I can't believe she's almost 1.
We went to the fair yesterday, and I constantly thought about last year at this time. On the dawn of giving birth. Not even being able to conceptualize what my life would be like afterward. How painful walking even a block was. The impatience. The fear. Life is good right now. It's nice to have my body back. And my mind, even if my life is permanently altered. Life 1 year later is glorious. I never thought of myself as a motherly person, but, if you're lucky, your own child will make you motherly. And that's all you really need.
We are back from an exhausting, whirlwind trip to hubs' homeland of upstate New York. It was gloriously beautiful. Rolling hills. Greenness all around. It made me homesick for a place I'm not even from, though I did live there for 4 years.
And MJ got to practice turning 1. DH's aunts confirmed that, although she is a little bundle of quantum energy, hubs was even more extreme. I didn't think it was possible. But she was all cuteness, all the time. We woke up at 3:15 this morning to come back to the Minn, and are all at work today. So after 5 hours of traveling with a squirming, restless little girl, I am ready admit. She's a toddler.
God love my husband, but it turns out I'm better at dressing a little girl than he is. This is not a slight in the least, I'd be uncomfortable if this statement weren't true. But I giggle a little inside (or outside) when I pick MJ up from daycare and she is wearing a dress that he put on backwards.
As a consequence, she frequently looks like a boy when Dad dresses her. This is not his fault, this is a consequence of the fact that if a baby isn't wearing pink then said baby must be a boy. I think this is true until teen years, at which time girls wear things much too short for them so it's clear they're a girl. This presents a much larger problem, which I thankfully won't have to worry about for at least a few years.
On this particular day, MJ looked like this:
Which is utterly adorable. But Tim at the ice cream shop understandably thought that she was a he. And I didn't correct him, because when you correct someone's mistaken gender assignment of a baby they get all flustered and embarrassed. So I've gotten in the habit of just smiling and nodding, because I don't personally care if they think MJ is a boy. She doesn't seem to care either as she licks sand out of the crack in the sidewalk.
But what I thought was going to be a 10 second conversation turned into a 10 minute conversation as the line snaked through the ice cream shop on the 98 degree day. And Tim was a very nice old man, rather fun to talk to. He didn't notice at first as hubs used female pronouns to refer to our daughter, he continued to think "boy". And then he asked what his name was, and we were too far in, so I just said "MJ" (never before realizing how convenient it is that she has both a she- and a he-name.) So hubs started using male pronouns realizing there was no way out. But then Tim introduced MJ to a cute little baby girl, saying that when they're older they can date. And then I think hubs realized the absurdity of the whole situation (not that he hadn't before, I'm sure), no longer cared about humoring my plan and reverted to female pronouns. And started using her given, very she-name.
At this point, Tim looked confused. And his pity for our daughter was clear, thinking that she was the product of two overly liberal parents who don't even know (or care) about the gender of their child. Or maybe we're just raising Pop. The role of gender in a child so young is intriguing to me. It seems like there shouldn't be, but our daycare staff claim that often a strong attachment forms between a baby boy and a baby girl that will carry on through toddlerhood, but that they've never seen one form between babies of the same gender. Which leads me to wonder, if you had a daycare completely filled with the children of gay and lesbian couples, would the same statement be true? At this young age, how much is instinct and how much is conditioning? Though probably the most shocking thing to me about raising this child has been how little say we get in her personality. I was always more of a "blank slate" proponent, but after raising MJ I can no longer follow this train of thought.
I currently dress you in a lot of pink, little girl, trying to get my fill before you are able to assert your opinion. But know that you are free to choose whatever orientation you want when the time comes, even if it means confusing old men like Tim.
*And another instance when matching outfits are adorable.
She moves fast now. She is not the stationary little target she was a few months ago. I get one shot, maybe two, and they are usually blurry. Meaning I've got to learn what I'm doing, rather than just taking 50 pictures in the hopes that one will turn out okay.
This is my little toddler. On a recent trip to Babies-R-Us I realized they have nothing for us anymore. In one year's time, we have bought an entire store worth of merchandise. I used to feel overwhelmed by that place, terrified by the targeted commercialism of parenthood. Not only am I no longer scared of it, I own it all. Not everything, obviously, but probably one or more of every category. Sheesh. We have a small storage room in the basement which is now FULL of baby stuff. Because someday we'll have another. And it could be a girl. So I need ALL off this. But I digress. Because see those cute little pink shoes above? Baby shoes are just about the cutest item in the world. Parenthood commercialism, I lurv it.
Thankfully, this month you learned a little bit of the fear, thanks to a few minor injuries in your early early attempts at walking. This slowed you down a bit, caused you to think about what you were doing instead of just charging full speed ahead. Despite my earlier pronouncement, only now are you really becoming a walker. And you're so proud of yourself, all grins and laughs at your new found skill.
In the last couple weeks language has begun to dawn on you. You've been saying mama for quite a while, but now you seem to understand that it applies to me. Granted, you say it for just about everything else in the world, but it seems to be reserved for things you like so I'm okay with it. You are also learning "Dada", "No", and "Duck" (though that last one might just be a variant of "Dada").
And you have a boyfriend. Baby boy S. Whom you kiss, and hold hands with, and share your toys with. I find this disturbing. But crazy cute. You love your beach ball. You love when we crawl on the ground with you. And you love life.
The other day I was standing in line at Ikea, and you were a hot mess. Your Dad took you to the car while I paid. A teenage girl standing in line behind me asked her Dad "Do you remember when I was that small?" and he smiled and said yes. Then she asked if she was a difficult baby and he laughed a knowing laugh, but didn't answer. It's hard to picture you as that teenage girl, but I know it will happen. And you will ask me that same question, and I will miss all your hot-mess-baby-moments.
is when they're accidental. Prepare to be bowled over by cuteness.
Remember the fiasco/joyous time that was the cabin I told you about? It involved two other babies. The only thing cuter than my child is my child surrounded by OTHER babies (I'm a little partial over here.) When we all realized that we had independently bought the same outfit for our children, in 3 different colors (thank you Carter's for spamming the world with your clothing) the natural conclusion is a lineup. We really should have given them numbers.
And then, on top of it, our neighbor the photographer shone his talents on our daughters. Naturally, my favorites are the ones with MJ front and center, but they're all pretty darn cute.
We already have a rent-a-cop keeping the boys from entering our block without an escort.
See my child in the back there? This is one of MJ's favorite poses. Tears don't convey enough of the dramz, the backwards head flail really seals the deal for her. This is because we just took away her cell phone and told her her boyfriend can't spend the night.
But, thankfully, the offense was quickly forgotten. Happiness, smiles.
This is the face she makes when she's about to kiss Baby Boy S. It works for now but once she has braces she may go for a more subtle approach.
This is an update to my last cloth diaper post. A few things that have changed, or not changed, since then. Nothing dramatic, mind you. Still very happy with our cloth dipaers and our laundry methods. Just a few notes. I'm not claiming I wasn't told these exact same things. But when you discover it for yourself it seems like you were the first one to discover it. So here's some cloth diapering realizations I've been pondering lately...
1. They really do reach an age where they can take the diaper off. And it turns out it's easier to take a velcro diaper off than a snap one. If we keep some sort of onesie on her it's fine. And I suspect that once she figures out how to take the onesie off then a snap on diaper will be no match for her either. For this reason, and the fact that the velcro on our one-size diapers is fraying a bit, I've started rethink my velcro-love-snap-hate stance. I still prefer velcro, hate putting a snap-on diaper on her (she's far too squirmy for the extra 3-seconds it takes.) Would I change my original stance? Probably not. But if I had a less active child I might.
2. We've rediscovered prefolds thrown in a cover. They are great. We have again started using our orange-edge newborn prefolds from Greenmountaindiapers.com months after I retired them. They actually work better just tri-folded than they used to, because the covers that fit MJ are now large enough that the preolds easily fit in the cover. Furthermore, since MJ is mostly on solids, she doesn't pee boatloads like she used to and these easily contain all the fluid. If she wasn't in daycare we could easily survive on these prefolds and thirsties covers. Cheap and just as easy as our fancy-pants bumgenius. Maybe a few others for night time. But that's all it would take.
3. The nasty poop that happens as they transition to solids is only temporary. It gets better, I promise. There were a couple months of sheer grossness from her half-liquid half-solid poops. I dreaded spraying her diapers. Now it has gotten better. As a side note, if you hate spraying diapers as much as I do, these diaper liners are a great compromise. Oh yeah, and we've had to start washing on hot. Turns out her poops have gotten smellier.
4. Who knew that diaper laundry would become my husband's favorite chore? He sees it as saving money every time he does them, and gets immense joy out of it. Pass this along to any husband doubters. Secrely, it's one of my favorite chores too, but I'll let him have this one.
5. That's it for now. We've been cloth diapering for 10+ months now and figure we have made our money back. Every time we put a diaper on her now it's like putting money in the bank. And I say this as someone who has a huge stash (I think we could go 6 days without washing if we wanted to, not that I recommend it. Just sayin.) And we have expensive diapers, too. And we're not hauling boatloads of trash to the curb. And MJ isn't sitting in chemicals all day, every day. To anyone thinking of taking the plunge, do it. Give into peer pressure.
It was one of those weekends, preceded by one of those weeks, which was also preceded by one of those weekends. It was a relentless string of difficult moments, and we have all come through it unscathed.
Last weekend DH worked, leaving me to solo childcare. He recently finished his residency, meaning he recently entered the realm of people with more normal, less hellish work hours. Meaning I have recently discovered how much easier it is to have a child when you have the help of a spouse. I'm certain being a single mother is more difficult than this past year has been for us, but much of the time I've come close. The combination of having a spouse who works all the time and having no family nearby makes for exhausting weeks.
Since June, DH has had a more normal schedule. And I have been soaking in the luxury of a 2-parent household. Last weekend was a brief return to having him gone all the time, and a reminder of how much easier our life has become.
On Monday, after DH had been up for 15 hours, MJ had a fever, forcing us to keep her home. Since last week was my last week of teaching, and I had gotten nothing done all weekend, he had to stay with her. This was followed by the week of sick. MJ was in and out of daycare, after we thought she was better and it turns out she was not. Tuesday evening took me to the ER, for fear of appendicitis that turned out to be an unfortunate combination of unrelated symptoms. I didn't get admitted, but I did get Dilaudid. Can't say I understand the appeal.
Thursday brought a 104 degree fever to MJ and a concerned visit to the pediatrician. She had an ear infection. We started her on antibiotics. We joined our neighbors at their cabin, somewhat regretting the decision when MJ spent two-thirds of the weekend screaming and I continued to recover from the stomach pains that landed me in the ER in the first place.
But on Saturday night, the calm returned. Or the beginning of the calm. Not really calm, exactly, since that hasn't existed in 10+ months. But joy. I finally felt better. Yesterday, MJ returned. We remembered what it's like to have a happy kid. We really did have a glorious weekend, if you discount the screaming. We feel so lucky to have met such fun people, who live so close, whose children are so close in age to MJ. Who will not be leaving in the near future to follow a string of post-docs, as so many of our friends are going to soon start doing. But the return of our joyous, happy, rambunctious child was really the best part. And the fact that DH and I got through this hellish week with few arguments and even some fond memories.
There is no greater feeling in the day than showing up at daycare and being met by the hugest smile MJ could possibly fit on her little face. Even if she's in the middle of a woe-is-me fest, she will stop so that she can express pure joy at seeing me. No matter how my day has been, that moment is all that matters.
A few weeks ago I walked into daycare and noticed that MJ was sitting in her high chair separate from the rest of the babies. She was not particularly bothered by it and was far more interested in her Cheerios. (She is alwas far more interested in her Cheerios than anything else going on around her. THANK GOD FOR CHEERIOS.) But are you as curious as I was? Why? WHY WAS SHE SEQUESTERED IN THE CORNER?
It turns out that she had been so preoccupied by smiling at baby boy S, that she could not be bothered to eat. So they had to move her to where she could no longer see S so she would focus on eating. Did I mention that she likes her Cheerios? A lot? That Vito could waltz by wearing firecrackers while singing Lady GaGa and MJ would not bother to look up from her Cheerios? And what distracts her from her Cheerios? A boy. A boy.
S is the only other baby in the room who is also mobile, so they love to play together. But last week, one of the daycare staff informed me that she had to intervene when she caught them going in for an open mouth kiss. Moms of babies, you know the kind of ::nom:: I'm talking about. Less of a kiss and more of an open- mouthed-attempt-to-eat-your-face-all-the-way-off. Still.
And I saw it with my very own eyes this week. MJ was standing, playing with a plastic fish, and S kept pulling on her ruffles and causing her to fall. Eventually, MJ turned around and went in for the full-on face plant. The scary part, though, is that she looked like she knew what she was doing. It looked intentional. My little girl is already smooching on the boys.
Here she is, practicing kissing the mirror and pretending it's S.
10 months and 4 days. Only ~3 steps, but she repeated it 3 times. I've been told after those first initial steps they become a "walker" very quickly. And I'm also told that everything forever after changes. I must confess, I'm skeptical. She can already pull herself up on everything and has been for months now. She already gets into everything she can possibly reach. As far as I can tell, the only thing that will change is that she'll move faster (a negative, mind you) and that I don't have to carry her all the time in public. Because a baby crawling around on the floor of a restaurant is inappropriate, but a baby running around is simply annoying.
I've been negligent, apologies. I guess you could say I've had writer's block. Or, alternately, you could just say I've been happy. I tend to use this blog for two things: to commemorate MJ's life, and as a place to vent. I haven't felt much need to vent of late, and MJ keeps me too busy to spend much time reflecting. As in, really, really busy. It is vindicating when even her daycare talks about what an extremely high energy child she is. She's great at entertaining herself, if I let her entertain herself the way she wants. But once she sets her sights on something, all hell breaks loose. Like, say, her love of baths. Meaning if she gets a peak at the bathtub she puts all her energy into climbing into it, eating the soap and grabbing for my razor. And screams bloody murder if I interfere with her. I've been told that parenting at this age is mostly about distraction, but she is not easily distracted. Headstrong, as my mother in law put it. Very, very headstrong.
It helps that she's such a loud child. I can be in another room and hear exactly where she is and what she's doing. And my saving grace (on rare occasions) is the happy squeal she lets out when she sees something that is not supposed to be available to her is. Like, if the door to the downstairs is open, or the lid is off the dog bowl. The gleeful squeal is unmistakable, and I then know to run to wherever she is.
I have this post that has been sitting in rough draft purgatory for weeks. Months, probably, because my sense of time has completely collapsed. You know what it was about? My 2 cents about how to make your kid a fantastic eater.
Seriously. MJ has been fantastic at the food stuffing of the face. As in, can't get enough of the broccoli. And I was proud. I liked to think it was my commitment to making all her food from scratch. And because I'm a fantastic cook.
But it turns out none of these statements are true. She is no longer my showcase stuffing-of-the-face child. As in, I will eat blueberries, blueberries, and more blueberries, until even my poo smells like blueberries. It makes diaper changes kind of pleasant, but then you realize you're enjoying the smell of her poo and remember that that's gross.
And furthermore, she now picks up the food off her tray that is not deigned worthy of her lips, looks at me, lifts up her tiny baby arm and dramatically drops it on the ground. She then says with a french accent "How dare you feel mama-smugness! I will show you!"
On a side note, today I was teaching my students about methane clathrates. And one student volunteered a cheerful tidbit about some kids who were saving poo in a jar and trying to get high from the methane. I swear to you, MJ, that if you are ever that desperate to get high I will go buy you some whiskey. I'm certain I will regret saying that someday, so I'll go ahead and take it back now.
I have now done more parenting outside the womb than within it. More of MJ's development has occurred since I first met her than before I met her. I frequently think of last year at this time. Last year at this time I was busy getting the nursery ready. I was huge, and pregnancy was very real. I thought I had connected with the child within, but I was wrong. I didn't imagine... the personality that was in there. I could picture the smiles, and the hugs, and the cries. But not this little ball of person and non-stop cuteness. I guess that's it: I could conceptualize that I was growing a baby, but not that I was growing a person. And she becomes more of a person every day. If I smile at something she does she loves it, and so she keeps doing it, just so I'll smile more. She is into everything, a roaming ball of curiosity. Sitting still is IMPOSSIBLE. She laughs uncontrollably when I tell her "no", which means I laugh; the idea of "no" is definitely not getting across. At least, not the part that I want to get across.
Within the past week one good friend told us she was pregnant, and a new friend gave birth. The circle of life doesn't get old: it's fascinating, exciting and terrifying. I have such fear, sympathy, envy and joy for what they're going through. The fear and sympathy aren't for anything they're doing, just memories of my own feelings at those points in time. And within one short year it seems MJ and I have become resident experts on all things baby. I've also started to realize that some people classify one year and up as toddler.... I am not ready for that. Despite the fact that MJ is thinking about walking, and is already "toddling" her way through the day, she's still a baby, right? Do babies only last a year? How did I let it go by?
I feel like I'm recovering from a terrifying rollercoaster (which I know I am still very much on) and now have the "again! again!" feeling of a 7 year old.
MJ is wonderful. Our sleep issues are (mostly) getting ironed out. The tradeoff is that she must be in her bed at bedtime. There is no flexibility, and some nights I feel like a prisoner in my own life. But she sleeps well, wakes up happy and is an utter joy to be around. So I guess that's a pretty fair trade. From the moment she wakes at 5:30 it is go time. As someone who is most definitely not a morning person, it's been hard for me to adjust to that. But now that the house is largely childproofed (or, more specifically, MJ proofed, because there's still a lot that a baby could get into) I can sit back a little bit, particularly because she's pretty good at entertaining herself. Which is fascinating to watch. The kid LOVES to dance. Tonight I had GLEE on and she held onto the speaker and shook her booty. She has more moves than I do, which doesn't really give her due credit.
We've started the back carry with the Beco Butterfly and it's amazing. While I'm still a die hard Moby fan, she's getting heavy and the front carry was doing a number on my back. This is SO much more comfortable, and she seems plenty happy. The downside? I can't actually see her (which mainly just makes me sad) and she loves to pull my hair. So I'm rocking the high half-pony tail.
Anyway, that's many of the mundance details of our life as we enter into her 10th month. I NEVER imagined I would love being a mom so much. I credit my love of being a mom to having such an amazing kid, but regardless. The outside baby is much better than the inside one. Nine months from this point she'll be a year and a half. Most definitely a toddler. Probably more frustrating. More fascinating. And more of a person.
We talked a lot about when we wanted to start a family. We came to absolutely no conclusions, but at least we talked about it. I take that back, we did come to a conclusion: that the time would never feel right until my ovaries were shriveled little prunes. So we should just take the plunge, because most good things in our life we hadn't felt ready for.
So we "stopped trying". Which makes me laugh, in retrospect. No one wants to admit that they're "trying" to get pregnant, because that's like admitting "We're trying to grow a watermelon in my uterua, then expel it through an orange-sized hole, and then raise it for 18 years in the prison that will become our life (who are we kidding, it's really 30 years these days.) Partly because I think stretch marks are very "in" right now, and partially because our life has just been going too swell lately. So instead we say "We weren't trying, but we weren't trying to prevent it." Because to admit that we're crazy enough to WANT to turn our life upside down is ... crazy. But I digress.
So we eventually "stopped trying to prevent". And that was our very half-assed way of making a decision.
But what I never thought about is what sort of family makeup I wanted. How close in age do I want our kids to be (because an only child was not an option)? Actually, I did think about it, and knew that I wanted them close in age.
But you knew what never occurrd to me? That to have children close in age means having two small children at the same time. It means that, when you are still recovering from the trauma that was growing-a-person-in-your-uterus you have to start thinking about doing it all again. Except this time you've actually been there. You know how much day care costs. You know for a fact that you can't fit two car seats in EITHER of your cars without permanently implanting your knee caps into your molars. So when your baby hits 3 months old and you realize if you want your children to be a year apart you better get pregnant TODAY and schedule an early c-section, you start to rethink things.
In case you couldn't tell, I'm not totally speaking hypothetically here. We've started to have these talks. And I want my kids to be close in age. I don't want to have to fight the biological clock. But the idea of getting pregnant again right now is not appealing. Some days the idea of having another little one, and additional chaos, makes me feel all fluttery and maternal, but some days it makes me feel stabby. Right now those days are pretty evenly split. It seems like the stabby days should be a smaller proportion before we commit. Furthermore, I'm really enjoying my PhD program right now, I really see reasons I want to stay and finish, and I fear that having a second may make that impossible. I can justify continuing to work and pay for childcare for one child, but for two? The math requires more credit-default-swaps, or some such creative accounting. But I could be in this program for a long time yet, so maybe that's not enough justification.
Ultimately, it doesn't "feel" right. But when you're staring at 30 and still want to have a few more kids, do you ignore the "doesn't feel right" part and just suck it up? Didn't we always say that if we wait for it to feel right we'll never find the right time?
I've been prepping all sorts of lovely posts lately. But I had my proudest mama moment the other night and it simply trumps everything.
MJ shared with me. We were sitting on our patio soaking in the hot-hot-heat, while MJ sat on my lap eating Cheerios out of a bowl in my hand. I was curious if she would give me any. So I opened my mouth and went "Ahhh" ala-dentist style. She looked confused at first. Why does Mom want my Cheerios? But after a moment of scrunched-up-face-pondering she crammed her grimy little baby hand in my mouth. It wasn't easy to eat Cheerios this way, and I understand why half end up on the floor. But? But? MORE importantly, she shared.
So then we spent the rest of the bowl sharing. She would put some in my mouth, I would put some in her mouth. It was such a HUMAN moment. Vito would NEVER have shared his food with me if I asked. Rolling over: cool. Sitting up: alright. Crawling: entertaining. But sharing? It's the first on a long road to the real person we're raising. Perhaps she's been capable of this for a while and I just didn't realize it, but it made me all glowy inside.
I shared this story with Grandma (and everyone I know, really); she raised doubts that this can really be considered sharing. It's not sharing if it's Mom, apparently. But I don't care, I'm going to insist on thinking my child is capable of empathy.
The other day, when I picked up MJ from daycare, I quickly saw that if I took the long way home she would fall asleep in the car. So I decided the long way home would be a stop by Sears to buy a garden hose. Ferrying pitchers of water from the faucet to the garden 50 feet away seemed inefficient before MJ; it has recently become a matter of vegetable life or death.
My route out of the store happened to take me through the Women's section. Now, I'm not a fashionista, but I don't think I've ever bought clothes at Sears. Flat screen TV: Yes. Air conditioner: Yes. Garden hose: Yes. But with MJ asleep this was my shot to actually buy clothes.
Some might argue that I didn't need to buy clothes. That some would be my husband. But I'm going to start teaching my first real college class in a few weeks, and it dawned on me recently that I had no idea what to wear. I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but geologists are a pretty grungy lot. Lots of fleece and Carhartts. This means that I don't have to worry much about how I look at work, other than wearing long pants to protect my legs from all the acid I inevitably spill. In fact, I would get far more stares for dressing nicely than for wearing holey jeans to work.
But I feel differently about teaching. Maybe once I'm confident in my teaching abilities I won't feel the need to overcompensate with appearance. But for the time being I feel the need to look professional.
I was a master of the Sears Women's department. I would have made James Bond proud: get in, get out, don't be seen. In 10 minutes flat I found 3 tops and two skirt WHICH ARE INTERCHANGEABLE. Mastery. My entire shopping personality has changed. Time was I could try on clothes all day and maybe find one thing. My sale radar was too strong to buy anything that wasn't at a rock-bottom price. But when you have no idea how long baby girl will sleep indecision is not an option.
Here are my finds. What I need from you? Your thoughts. Are these professional? Do they make me look dowdy (blue top, perhaps?) or trashy (black and grey top, perhaps?) or something else altogether. The tags are still on, this is your shot to save me from myself. And what shoes does one wear? On a side note, I definitely need to work on the biceps.
And for good measure, here's a dress that I bought from Ann Taylor Loft that I have yet to cut the tags off of. The problem I discovered tonight is that the bra sticks out. Probably not classroom appropriate.
And you may rest assured, the vegetables have been saved. Thanks to Sears.