Archive for the ‘ Toddlers ’ Category

The Rhythm

We welcomed our sweet baby girl into our world almost four months ago already. I can hardly believe how fast the time is flying by.

I find myself living between worlds constantly in search of my rhythm, my family’s rhythm. As soon as I think I have found it, we are off embarking on a new chapter.

*   *   *   *   *
Pregnant. Summer off. Home with toddler. Moving. New baby. Toddler back to daycare. Working from home. At-work working mama.

Dressing. Feeding. Cleaning. Drop off. Pick up. Playing. Loving. Off to bed. Exhausted.

Running around all day being mindful that my “work” hours are actually my most restful. Finding myself missing out on the sweetness that are my children as I’m rushing and stressing trying to get by. Maybe even on time.

*   *   *   *   *
Between the tears of getting our shoes on right out of bed, I almost missed my boy singing jingle bells as we walked out the door.

Slowing down. Trying to do it all. Finding new ways to enjoy the moments.

Smelling the evergreens

*   *   *   *   *
I find myself unsettled. Balancing my work and my family, not to mention myself, precariously between each other. Never quite able to feel satisfied in any area.

I am so grateful to have a job that I adore for so many reasons. I am challenged. I am rewarded. I am granted the flexibility every working parent should have. I am able to do work that is meaningful to me. I am grateful. And yet.

I so long to spend the days being a mama to my kiddos, with my kiddos.

*   *   *   *   *
Crafting and snuggling.
Singing and exploring.
Learning and doing.

Enjoying the rhythm that I found so natural.
Enjoying every moment of each of my children growing up.
So fast.

*   *   *   *   *
It’s different for me after my first child. Returning after my first maternity leave left me longing to snuggle and stare at my baby. The second return to maternity leave is different. I am longing to be with both baby and toddler. My heart hurts that I am missing out. And yet.

I wish I would be satisfied and satiated, as well as able, to be a stay at home mama. I don’t think I would be, but I don’t know. I wish I could know if it would be enough for me. Then it may not be so hard to go to work.

*   *   *   *   *
Today is day four back in the office. I can’t say that it’s any easier than the first. Perhaps even harder as I can identify the rough spots in my rhythm. In our rhythm. Thinking of the moments I’m missing, even when I’m there.

I try to find comfort in remembering the rhythm will always be constantly changing.  As hard as it is with so much on our full, lush plate, all I can do is welcome and try to enjoy the flow.

– NVC

Thunderbolt

I had a baby.

I’ve been aching to sit down and write about it. I want to detail my birth experience before I forget the details. I want to write about the thunderbolt of pure love that struck me upon seeing my new baby girl.

I want to write about nursing, how I am trying again, and succeeding (though it’s perhaps ‘success’ by my standards alone, as I will always struggle with low supply and supplement with formula). I want to write about our five days in the NICU, our heart-wrenching time there and the immeasurable kindness we were shown.

I want to write about the joy and gratitude in my heart when we were released to go home.

I want to write about my smart and hilarious toddler, who just hasn’t been herself since we all came home to live our new life. I want to plead for advice in easing this transition for everyone involved.

I want to memorialize my beloved friend and dog who passed away a week after our new baby girl was born.

I want to rejoice through words how, after seeing the chaos that is our life these days, my dad told me, “despite all of this, you are the happiest I’ve seen you in months.”

I want to sit down and write. I want to make an apple pie. I want to have some beers and go to bed tipsy and sleep until I wake up. I want the lawn mowed.

But I had a baby. So for now, I’ll carve out time for my toddler. I’ll kiss her and hug her and tell her that it’s going to be okay, that it’ll work out, that we love her as much – and more – than ever.

I’ll nurse my baby because I finally, finally can.

I’ll sneak in a shower. I’ll study tiny fingers and toes and beautiful new-baby lips. I’ll nuzzle a soft downy peach fuzz head. I’ll kiss tiny, soft, paper thin ears and a button nose.

I’ll try to take a mental snapshots of these early days as a family of four, for despite the chaos and confusion, I know I’ll remember these as some of the best days of my life.

I had a baby. Her name is Georgia.

– ALW

Milestones

Our household has reached a number of milestones lately, as we round the corner to Miss Red’s birthday.

1. No more diapers.

We are diaper-free at our house. We are not accident-free, but she now only occasionally wears Pull-Ups at night. This might not seem like a big deal, but after being done with formula, diapers were like the last thing you always *had* to have, and something that is a huge expense. While I’m on this, can I complain at how gendered Pull-Ups are? The options are pink or blue. Pink has princesses on it. We are a princess-free zone for as long as possible. The blue option has a car on it. Cars won. The first time Miss Red put them on, she said, “Oh, look, a car!”

Please don’t tell me that girls naturally like princesses and boys like cars. You are right. And wrong. So much of what kids play with is what we, as parents, give them, because of what is available. Miss Red plays with cars, trains, jumps off furniture and has a baby doll. The same as the other kids in her former daycare. So is it too much to ask that Pull-Ups be made in yellow or green? Why does a receptacle for bodily fluids have to be gendered?

CH and Miss Red at the Madison Children's Museum

2. No more booster seat.

Miss Red eschewed her booster seat at the kitchen table. “I want a grown up seat,” she declared. So down it went.

3. Retro TV

Crazy east side parent that I am, we don’t allow Miss Red to watch network TV. We don’t have cable. We do let her watch DVDs. Thanks to one of her best buddies, Little A, she is enthralled with Scooby Doo. I loved Scooby Doo when I was a child, and I nearly remember each episode she watches. It’s nice to have a show on that doesn’t make me want to stab my eyes out, like, oh, Dora the Explorer.

4. Love

CH and I recently celebrated our dating anniversary. Yes, we acknowledge that date. Eleven years of being together. One-third of my life. Somewhat significant since we met while co-workers at Borders Bookstore, and the next day they announced their liquidation. Upon the news, I said to CH, “does this mean we will liquidate our relationship?” “Yes,” was his response. Instead, we went to dinner at Nostrano to jointly celebrate that milestone and his birthday.

What about you? Any milestones lately?

– MD

Active Adventures

I am not a naturally active person. Even as a child I was an “indoor kid,” preferring to read inside, no matter how pleasant the weather. I have to consciously make an effort to move and exercise, no matter how much I enjoy the way it feels or the results. For those reasons I’ve regularly attended yoga class for three years and started up the Couch to 5K program again after quitting in the fall when it became too cold outside.

CH is also naturally an indoor kid, preferring to listen to music, make art and read. He had an active yoga practice in the past, but has been a runner for more than a decade. He is also graced with some fantastic genetics. Not many people can eat bagels and cereal before bed and look as good (in my opinion) as he does.

Before we had Miss Red, or before we had any kids, I would joke, “Ug, what if our kid wants to play SOCCER.” It would mean standing outside, in the heat, cheering for other kids with runny noses. Obnoxious, right?

Miss Red had been a cautious child physically, until recently. We’re weren’t worried. She was a late walker, is slower to try new items on a playground and generally takes her time with new pursuits. That’s fine. One of my favorite stories about CH as a child is when he climbed a tree. According to my mother-in-law, he first looked at the tree, then climbed a few feet and came down. Then climbed a little more and came down. Then a little more. And a little more, until he had reached the top. It’s very much how he is now, approaching and tackling new challenges by slowly attacking them.

Swinging for maximum slide speed

Last fall we enrolled Miss Red in a toddler soccer class. I know, I know, but it was at the nearby Goodman Community Center, and we wanted to get her involved in sports in case she was indeed an indoor kid and needed a sample of something else. We shouldn’t have been surprised, but she really, really liked it. Granted, her attention span, and the attention span of others in the class was typical of their age, with kids resting in goals and wandering around, but she had lots of fun. Since then, she’s embraced more activity. This spring she hopped on her trike and peddled away, confidently. She started climbing on everything at the park – reaching the highest rung of the climbing structure, or balancing on different areas of the playground.

I know that much of this is due to her age, but seeing her fearlessness unfold has been so fun. I remember being a fearful child, somewhat risk adverse and embarrassed by my size. Seeing this smiling, swinging and balancing redhead is just the activity I needed all along.

Miss Red and CH

– MD

Acting As If

One of the stages I really like in toddlerdom is the acting out of life scenarios. I don’t even remember when this started. Maybe before Miss Red was one and she would mimic talking on the phone? I don’t know, those memories have slipped away.

But since she turned two those situations have been more elaborate, starting with independent play and having her “guys,” or Fischer Price toys, march about.

Dr. Red is in.

She started to remember trips to the doctor’s office and would reenact those scenes with her toy doctor kit, always giving us shots and listening to our hearts. One of our treasured heirlooms is her paternal great-grandfather’s stethoscope. We let her play with it, and she loves listening to our “beat hearts.”

"You need a shot, dada."

There was much to-do about her haircut on Sunday, and she spent the remainder of the day talking about her hair cut, the “hair cutting store,” and reenacting getting her haircut. She slung a purse over her shoulder and dragged a small chair around, insisting that she was cutting hair. She scraped at CH’s head with a toy spatula, finishing when her mind decided she was done, announcing that “she had to go to work.”

The afternoon also consisted of us playing “rest time.” She brought out her blankets, laid them on the floor, and had us rest while she quietly walked around, telling us she was the teacher. CH actually nodded off a few times until she announced that rest was all done.

I think what I love the most about these moments is that it’s seeing her life lived on the outside. As adults we learn to keep our thoughts inside and probably relive our day’s scenarios in our minds one million times. But watching Miss Red replaying the big moments in her life – again and again and again – is like dreaming while awake.

– MD

Baby’s First Haircut

Miss Red isn’t a baby, but even with her approaching three, we still hadn’t cut her hair. It was one of those things that I couldn’t emotionally handle, even as CH combed through tangles each morning as we chased her around with a wide-toothed comb. But it had reached a critical mass, and we were able to pile it on top of her head, very Lucille Ball-esque.

Miss Red, channeling Lucille Ball

So last week I made an appointment for her to get her first haircut with Alice at Cha Cha. Now, before you get all “wha – you took her to that hipster place for her first cut?!” Yes, yes I did. Alice is amazing and loves cutting curly hair and I predicted I would be a sobbing mess and knew that Alice would be able to handle that. And it’s half of a normal haircut.

I borrowed a fancy camera and planned to document each snip, for posterity’s sake. I planned on catching her lovely hair and saving it for, I don’t know, the next Rapture.

Per Alice’s recommendation, we also brought along the iPod for distraction. I packed lollipops. We talked about it over the weekend and driving there she was so excited, “We going to the hair-cutting store, mama!” and “Is the lady nice?”

Once we got to Cha Cha she was shy. Alice put on the special booster seat, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with it. So Miss Red sat in my lap, with the cape wrapped around me. I fired up the iPod and Alice snipped away. The cut took all of 15 minutes and CH missed it since he was on his way home from Quaker meeting.

It wasn’t until the very end I remembered the camera. I also forgot to cry. I grabbed a small chunk of hair that was stuck to the cape and put it in an envelope. I snapped a quick picture, with dry eyes.

Miss Red, post haircut

– MD

A Few of My Favorite Things

And here we are, the end, for now, of my recounts of Japan. I wanted to end with some of my favorite moments of our time there.

1. Time, Sweet, Time

As I’ve written, my job has been more than intense lately, and the weight of whether or not I’ll have this job – my favorite so far – weighs heavily on me, well, almost constantly. But being away from everything and unplugging from the constant chatter of the online world, which I love, was so needed. My favorite moment was a ton of moments, where I forgot the day, had nothing to do but spend time with my lovely little family. No cooking, no cleaning, no email, nothing. But time.

MD and Miss Red

2. Take a Picture, It’ll Last Longer

So Miss Red has red hair. Not so common in America, but in Japan it was like seeing a dinosaur. Everywhere we went, and I do mean everywhere, people would smile, comment, and say “kawaii,” cute in Japanese. Older women would reach out and touch her hair, and even thought we didn’t speak the language, we could understand that there was a love of her hair. So much so that Miss Red started to get a little skeeved by it. Understandably so.

Cheese!

But one day while exploring a woman approached us and made the mime of taking a picture. We thought she meant of Miss Red, but she then handed her camera to her companion, stopped down and posed with Miss Red. I tried to capture it myself. Miss Red, CH and I were in shock, and afterward Miss Red clung to our legs. Understandably so. But those memories of the sing-song “kawaii” still rings in my ears. I mean, the girl does have some amazing hair.

3. Swimming

Miss Red took swimming lessons this winter and let me say that it was one of the more stressful things I’ve done as a parent. For a 30-minute class, it was about two hours or wrangling, with getting us both ready, driving there, getting both of us into the water, showering afterwards and driving home. And she hated it. Like cried for 2/3 of each class and I was the one who mostly went with her. We’ll wait until she’s older for additional lessons, but we were excited to head to the hotel pool in Japan.  We didn’t go every day, but as a family we went and CH and I each took her individually and it was so fun. That might seem obvious, but as someone who had to wrestle a slick-as-a-seal toddler in the water, it was so nice to see her, albeit timidly, enjoy herself, and our family, too.

Water baby

4. Castle

One day we took the monorail to Shurijo Castle Park, a complete replica of an castle that was bombed in World War II. It was a long and winding walk to the entrance and Miss Red insisted on walking every. single. step. And she did it. Up and down and all around. I loved seeing her confidently explore and absorb everything as if it were just another day.

Walking the path to Shurijo Castle

5. Smile

One morning at breakfast Miss Red made friends with another toddler. They didn’t share the same language, but played for a few minutes, racing back and forth to the large picture-windows over-looking the water. In those five minutes she picked up a cultural cue that many Japanese women use, which is to cover their mouths when smiling or laughing. Japanese women even used to blacken their teeth, a practice stopped a long time ago.

Smile!

We had an amazing opportunity to go to Japan and I’ll be eternally grateful for the experiences and time together. It gave us reprieve from life, and we hope, sparked a travel bug for Miss Red. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and look forward to our family’s next adventures. I wonder where we’ll head next?

Happy Travelers

– MD