The Year of Stairs

We are definitely over the baby threshold, into toddlerhood.

This was made abundantly clear to me one day when Matilda threw a heckin’ fit when she couldn’t be the one to close the door after we came inside. Things are slowing down, really slowing down, as we give her ample time to complete tasks on her own. Closing doors. Climbing stairs. Putting bows in her hair. Putting her shoes on. Can she actually complete these tasks? No. She lacks the depth of coordination necessary to put on her shoes alone. Does she give a hoot? Also no. She does not.

The first year was a year of firsts. First diaper change, first doctor visit, first vaccinations (don’t @ me, Polio is a real thing and it’s super simple to avoid), first time sleeping through the night, first time rolling over, first crawl & stand, first tooth, first fever, so many firsts! All the firsts! Everything happened so fast, it was one first after the next. This year, the second year, it’s the year of millionths. The millionth diaper change, the millionth attempt at eating peas, the millionth time I’ve said, “electrical outlets are not toys” and it’s just not as exciting or romantic as firsts.

I can see how this is the time when I could start to gloss over things as a mother, kind of zone out of the minutia of the daily occurrences and get lost in repeating myself for the millionth time. But I haven’t, I’ve decided I want to stay mindful of all of these little lessons Matilda is teaching me by simply being her burgeoning toddler self.

One such lesson has been staying curious. I am already a rather curious person. I like to know and understand things. Matilda, as a baby/toddler is incredibly curious and wants to know all about the world around her. As an adult, my world is pretty small, as I tend to concern myself with only things that concern me. My home, my baby, my husband, my friendships, my errands, etc. Matilda however, is curious about absolutely everything. Her world is huge and she wants to know all about it. Watching her determinedly inspect a piece of bark at the playground for five minutes, or pull herself up on various household object, or beg a stranger at the coffee shop for their muffin (she stares at you and then at the muffin, and says, “mmmmmm” until you’re so uncomfortable you relocate), has expanded my world substantially. Suddenly there are so many things around me that I totally lost sight of. Do you know how many dandelions there are everywhere you go? Tons! Have you ever sat underneath your kitchen table and looked at your dining chair seats at eye level? Fascinating! I bet you just walk up stairs in your home or office with no regard to how the carpet fibers stand up even though you step on them. Let me tell you, carpet is absolutely magical. We spend the vast majority of our day on our stairs, and that’s just fine.

Another lesson, my favorite so far, is to take your time. The other day we went to get ice cream with a friend. My friend was holding Matilda on her lap as we sat outside in the sunshine enjoying our cones. I was giving Matilda tiny little bites of my ice cream, just enough to have a taste. Every time she finished a bite, she handed me the spoon back, I took a bit of ice cream from my cone and fed it to her, as she leaned in to take the bite, she closed her eyes and let the ice cream wash over her. Once she was done, she’d open her eyes and hand me the spoon and we’d repeat. Here I was talking and eating and mindlessly carrying on, not even in the moment, worrying about this or that or should I be even giving a 1 year old ice cream? Meanwhile, Matilda was enjoying every second while it lasted.

So, yes, it takes me roughly 3-8,000 times longer to get anything done because of Matilda’s curiosity and disregard for time, but it’s fine. We move a lot more slowly and we allow time for inspections, questions, experiments, thought, and conversations. We talk a lot about how the trees dance in the wind, and how they swish around, and that inspires us to dance as well, not wanting to be left out of the fun the trees must be having. We eat slowly because each piece of food must be carefully scrutinized with our eyes, our hands, and our tongues. We take baths until our fingers wrinkle, because holy cats what a cool thing our skin does!

I know I’m not being as productive with my to-do list, but honestly I don’t care. There’s time enough for a tidy house and organized garage later, when she’s a teenager and she’s in a rush and she hates us. For now, I’m trying to soak in every moment we have to sit in the sun, and eat ice cream with our eyes closed.

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Scaffolding

There are so many parenting styles, it’s almost unbelievable. One can be a helicopter parent, attachment parent, marsupial parent, authoritative parent, permissive parent, passive parent, unconditional parent, holistic parent, slow parent, etc. (yes all of these things exist, I know, I too was overwhelmed).

I don’t know what kind of parent I am, and I suspect that at different times I am all those parenting types and then some. The main thing I focus on is building a scaffolding around my budding little skyscraper. I want Matilda to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants to, within reason. If she wants to explore science, I’m all in. If she wants to do sports, I am less enthused by that, but sure, I will be there. If she wants to dance, good luck to her we have very little coordination in this family. But whatever she wants to do, I want to be there to support her.

A scaffolding is necessary when building up a structure. It provides support, leverage, balance, and a nice place to rest and eat your lunch. It’s something that is built in conjunction with the building, so you’re both learning and growing together. I want Matilda to see that we’re on the same team, that I am next to her every step of the way. That she can reach out for me if she needs me, but that she also can stand on her own. Plus, a scaffolding can be built by many, so we can enlist the help of friends and family when we too need the support.

I do have to be conscious of this every day. I tend to lose the forest for the trees, as we all can do, when I get lost in the minutia of every day life. I can definitely hover, or be overly concerned with this or that, but the overall balance I strive for is to sway like a scaffolding in the wind.

The First Year

I thought to myself, you know what would be fun? Blogging! Like a journal that you can share with everyone! So fun! Just do it in your free time. hahahahahahahahhaahhahah! Bahahahahahah! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Sorry, I just love that sweet, naive, optimistic, child-free woman with a dream in her mind and a song in her heart. Maybe the second year I’ll do a monthly update and talk about #toddlerproblems, but here we are, 11 months into the first year and I just finally got around to posting about my baby registry. Cool. Cool cool cool.

The first year flew by. Everyone said it would, and I heard tons of super annoying comments and unsolicited advice about “how fast time goes” and “they grow in the blink of an eye!” and “enjoy every second because it’s over before your know it” and all that jazz. But you know what? It’s so true. Damn it. I hate when unsolicited advice is right.

Here’s how I remember the first year going: newborn, recovery, blurry, no sleep, kind of hungover feeling but no drinking, ok cool she’s sleeping a little, shit she’s rolling over, ok cool she’s sleeping a little more, shit she’s crawling, ok cool she’s sleeping a little more, shit she’s teething and pulling herself up, ok cool she sleeps pretty well, fuck is she trying to walk?!

It’s hard and I’m tired all the time (but really, who isn’t?) and I’m usually confused about at least one thing per day (which really I think is very minimal), and I can say with all honesty that this has been the best year of my life. Watching my daughter grow and develop is like nothing I ever could have dreamed up. Through her growth, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the person I want to be.

The most important thing I’ve learned over the last year is that self care needs to be a priority and I can not sacrifice my needs because I’m a mom. I want Matilda to grow up knowing that she is an individual who deserves to have her needs met even if she does have lots of responsibilities. To me, self care means everything from working out, to getting my nails done, to going to regular therapy sessions with an MFT (marriage family therapist) to get the tools I need to handle all the stressors and complications life tosses my way.

So much happens in that first year, and yes, it does fly by, so it’s crucial to not lose oneself in the process.

#ttccommunity

Learning about your infertility is pretty heavy. For me, the news came with a wide range of varied emotions. I was angry, sad, hurt, scared, confused, worried, anxious, stressed, frustrated, and generally upset. I would be sad one minute and angry the next, as I processed all this new information.

One of the first things I did after learning we needed to go through IVF was look for support. Our friends are amazing and so was a lot of our family, but there’s a different level of support and understanding that comes from connecting with someone who is going through it currently, or has navigated through it in the past.

On a whim, I looked through #ivfsuccess on Instagram for inspiration, and discovered an entire community of people who were going through exactly the same thing. Some of them were even local, and one of them was using the same clinic I was! I fell down the rabbit hole of hashtags and found out about the #ttccommunity (trying to conceive community), and immediately understood that this was not a rare problem and that I was in good company.

I set up a separate instagram account and began connecting with women and men who were going through the same thing. Finally, there were people who understood the injections, people I could ask for tips and suggestions when I was struggling with some specific part of the process. I saw people going through the same thing and joined them in celebrating their successes, and mourned their losses with them. People who understood completely how I felt because they felt it too.

I found humor, support, compassion, and made a few friends that I am still close with even I moved out of the IVF process. This community helped normalize what I was going through and support me in a deeper way than I had felt prior.

If you are going through any infertility struggles, I highly recommend reaching out and finding your community. You can do it anonymously and set up an account that has no personal information or pictures, there are tons of people doing that for their own reasons and still benefitting from the community support. The thing I liked best about this community was the ability to jump in whenever I needed the support, and out again when I felt overwhelmed, with no judgement. Admittedly, I haven’t posted in a bit, but still check in from time to time.

If you need a friend, or a place to start, you can find me @in_our_own_time and get to know the community.

January & February 2018 Book Roundup

This year I set my Goodreads reading challenge to 24 books. I figured 2 books a month was a good pace. What I didn’t account for is my new-found love for audiobooks and my abundance of quiet time to listen to them. In February Matilda decided second naps were for chumps and she ain’t no chump, and the only way to keep my then 10 month old baby from skipping a second nap was to drive her around. Awful for my carbon footprint, excellent for my reading challenge. You win some, you lose some. Since I don’t work outside of the house, I considered this nap time drive my commute. As a parent, you tell yourself whatever it takes to make yourself feel like you’re making good choices…but I digress. Here’s what I’ve read and listened to this year so far.

The English Wife by Lauren Willig. I read this book in just a few days because I could not stop. It’s a period story and has so many twists and turns I had to make a character chart to keep it all organized while I read. This story is rich with drama, love, intrigue, period costume references, cabaret, wealth, socialites, and escapism. I absolutely loved disappearing into this story!

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff. Meh. It is what it is. If you follow any of the current political news, scroll through twitter, or watch tv, you know what’s in this book. It was interesting in that it reads like a soap opera or reality tv show would. It so topical right now that I really wanted to see what the buzz was about.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows. Oh. My. Goodness. this book is soooo good! A dear friend of mine sent me a copy and suggested I bump it to the top of my to-be-read (tbr) list, and I always listen to her because she is never wrong about these things. It was such a great story, I absolutely fell in love with the characters. Plus I have been really into stories set in WWII, and this was a fresh perspective on the occupation. I also recently heard that this book is being adapted to a movie and I can. no. wait!

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Where to start with this book. Another friend sent me a copy and insisted I read it immediately, and again I took the advice. It’s incredible, well written, compelling and moving, but lort did it give me anxiety. I struggled to move forward in the story because I wasn’t sure what was going to come at the characters next and the uncertainty made me so anxious for them! I believe this was the intention of the author, and I must say, she succeeded. This is also a movie I’ve yet to watch, because, anxiety.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Rosamund Pike (Narrator).  Around the time Matilda started refusing a second nap, I started listening to this book because it was over nine hours of narration, which I suddenly had time for, and I hadn’t read it in a really long time. You know the story, so all I will say is that the narration is beautiful and I loved listening to the soothing tones of Rosamund Pike while driving all over the county with my sleeping child. At the end of the book I was so sick of these characters and their nonsense that I realized there was a reason I had not revisited this book in such a long time.

Looking for Alaska by John Green. I love to read young adult novels, mixing them in to lighten the mood or refresh my brain after heavier reading. This is my first John Green novel (I know, I know, but The Fault in our Stars just seemed too depressing for me) and I was pleasantly surprised! My cousin recommended this book, so of course I picked it up immediately. It’s set in a private high school and really delves into the difficulties young people face when trying to find themselves and fit in, which I found topical given everything happening in schools at this time. I have already bookmarked several other John Green novels to follow this one up!

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, Sean Crisden (Narrator), Eisa Davis (Narrator). This novel lives up to the hype, and beyond! I listened to the audiobook on Hoopla and absolutely fell in love with the characters. I struggled to put this down, and found myself keeping my earbud in while doing my grocery shopping and ordering coffee, and generally being a rude person because I didn’t want to step away from the story. Tayari Jones examines what it means to be a black man in the south, the trials of family, the precarious nature of the American justice system, the moral relativism of marriage, redemption, forgiveness, and closure. It is a page-turner, or an ear-bud-leaver-in-er, but not matter how you read this, you must read it!

You can find me on Goodreads if you have any suggestions for me! Books you loved? Characters you fell for? I want to hear it all.

Baby Registry – Outings & Travel

First things first, you’ll need a car seat, and an extra base if you plan on using more than one car regularly. We purchased an extra base and only used it twice. It would have been easy enough to move the base to another car, so I wish we had waited to buy the second. You live and you learn, amirite?

Stroller – We went with the UppaBaby Vista travel system for our stroller and the UppaBaby Mesa car seat. The car seat clips into the stroller, making transferring a breeze. The stroller comes with a bassinet and a toddler seat, so you’re set for the long haul. Everything folds up easily, and is light weight, it’s awesome. I used the stroller straight away bc it’s so easy. It also easily converts into a double stroller so you only ever need to buy the one. To me, the UppaBaby system was extra pricey but totally totally worth it. I use our stroller every. single. day. We are out and about walking everywhere we can. I really think it’s due in part to the ease of use and never having felt intimidated by assembling/using it. Also, not having to wake a newborn when going from carseat to stroller into a grocery store/on errands is worth every penny.

Diaper bag – I chose the Jujube BFF bag because it has a backpack option as well as the shoulder bag option. I use the backpack option 99% of the time. It’s great to have the balance of it on your back when carrying a million other things (death before two trips when bringing in groceries).

Diaper changing stuff for the car – we both got the SkipHop Pronto Changing Station bags for the cars, they have a changing pad, space for diaper and wipes, and it folds up nicely. It’s great because so many places don’t have changing tables and we change Matilda in the car often.

Ergo & infant insert – I have tried so many baby wearing things and this is the only thing she likes and liked immediately. Its wonderful to have hands free and great for dad to bond too. We actually have 2 of these, one in the neutral linen cloth and one in the performance fabric. We use both depending on the temperature and used them at least once per day for the first 6 months. Now I use them weekly, since Matilda prefers to be in the stroller when we’re out, or crawling around when we’re home.

I hope this helps you find what you  need for all your future adventures!

Baby Registry – Books & Toys

Floor gym – just make sure you look at the measurements! The one we asked for initially we had to return bc it was like 1/3 the size of our living room!

Bouncer chair – We chose an inexpensive one bc it’s a rarely used item for us, but when you do use it its awesome. Matilda bounced in hers while I ate, showered, took five minutes to breathe….Baby Bjorn also makes one that has great reviews if you have wiggle room for a splurge.

Activity table/chair – go nuts with this, they can use it for a long time. We got the Baby Einstein underwater themed one and she LOVES it. It bounces, swings, has a million toys and is small and portable. I move it from the kitchen to living room depending on what I need to do that day. It’s also easy to clean!

Books – To say I love to read is an understatement, and I am fully aware that I am passing this love on to my daughter/using her as an excuse to buy more books. I don’t care. One can never have too many books. Board books are great, we also got a few soft books for the newborn stage so baby can touch and play with them and not get hurt. You can read anywhere so bath books are great for later too. All books are great, get as many as you can. (Matilda has her own bookstagram where she shares her thoughts on various books, if you’d like some suggestions)

Stroller & clip-on toys for the car seat – Matilda loves her carseat now that she’s got some toys to play with, but we didn’t put them on until about 8 weeks.

Oball and oball rattle – so great for the newborn and infant stages, they can actually grip these and seem to love it. Matilda still loves them at 11 months, they’re easy to hold and share, and Oball bounces which is hysterical when you’re a baby.

Soft toys like silicone blocks, those learning toys that are stuffed animals but they have stuff on them like tags, mirrors, crinkly sounding ears, you know? I’m a wordsmith, I know.

Wooden instruments and a floor drum – Hear me out. This seems crazy I know, but this noise is good noise, and better to me than the plastic toy with batteries noise. Also everything in life is done to a rhythm, and children learn to a rhythm as well. Your heartbeat, your breathing, your blinking, your walking, it’s all rhythmic! Linking play and rhythm facilitates learning, plus it’s fun.

This was my favorite part of the registry and I think about 1/3 of my total items were books. Enjoy picking out all the fun things you and your baby will play with in the future!