So Different

Baby_2Baby One was one tough customer. Don’t believe me? You know how the nurses offer to take your wee newborn baby into the nursery for the first night or so so that you can get some rest? Well, the nurses brought him back to me after an hour and told me he was waking up the other babies. That set the tone for about one year of sleep issues. (Oddly enough, after a week-long cry-it-out session at 11 months, he has slept through the night ever since. Weird.)

This little guy, however, is an absolute angel. In the hospital, they only brought him back to me when it was time to eat at night. Why? Because he SLEEPS AT NIGHT. What a concept. He also sleeps in his bassinet / crib. (We have moved him into our room in a small crib.) At nearly six months old, he goes to bed at about 8:00, sleeps until 3:30 or so, has a snack, then sleeps again until about 7:30. Bliss! I even let him sleep with me after his early-morning snack…because everyone loves a baby snuggle, especially baby.

I suspected that Baby One’s sleep habits were not of my own doing – that he slept / didn’t sleep according to his own feisty nature. And I was right. Even from infancy, we have so little control over who they are as people and what they’re like.

They are who they are. And they are so different already.

Life Lately: Our Big Boy / Girl Pants

When I took Blaine to his one-year appointment at the pediatrician’s office in March, our doctor was overjoyed to hear that we were expecting another baby. (She knows how hard we tried for Blaine.) At some point in the conversation, though, she urged me not to force Blaine to be a “big boy” too soon. Even though he’ll be a big brother, he’s still a baby, too.

Say what?

Mama can only handle one baby at a time. Literally. For six weeks after my scheduled C-section in October (joy), I won’t be able to pick up my little quarter-pounder. I need him to grow up a little…just a little. Since that appointment, he’s learned to walk on his own, which has been a tremendous help. But I still need him to learn to be a little more independent. Time at home in California has taught me that I maaaayyyyy just coddle him a little too much. I let him pull me to my feet to help him with something that I know he can do by himself. I hold / carry him at the drop of a hat. (Obviously, when things get rough or he needs a hug, I will be there. But when he gets mad at me for saying “no” and then wants me to hold him…not so much.) And I’m quick to give him his pacifier when he’s upset or grumpy. (It’s in almost every photo of our trip.)

Old Trusty.

Old Trusty.

So lately, we (and I do mean “we” – I’m training myself to not give in as often) have been weaning off of two things: a.) being held when he could walk or explore, and b.) using his pacifier instead of observing, relaxing, and engaging in a situation. So far, I give us both a B+. Except for naps and when he first wakes up, he hasn’t really missed the paci. (Side note: he’s also babbling a lot more with his free mouth, which is good!)  And he’s learning to accept my hand as an alternative to my entire upper-torso. Much more convenient.

A paci, a cracker, and Mr. Monkeybritches. One of these things has to go...

A pacifier, a cracker, and Mr. Monkeybritches (a sock monkey whose leg can be barely seen). One of these comfort items has to go…

 

I don’t want him to grow up too early, but I do want us all to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted by the time Baby Brother arrives in the fall. That gives us 8 more weeks of practice for the day when I’m so exhausted from sleep deprivation and 3 a.m. feedings that I can’t pick up anyone but myself, let alone locate a missing pacifier. (It’s under the couch.)

Linking up with ‘Wild and Precious’ today – check out some other fun stuff going on in their lives!

Through His Eyes

There are so many posts swimming around in my head right now – rants and raves and everything in between – because our trip to California was an eventful one. Traveling with a toddler is a whole new animal for me. I’ve taken Blaine home to CA four other times, but this is the first time he’s been a walking, talking, engaging human being. Hands down, the most wonderful part of our trip was introducing Blaine to some of the things that I loved about growing up on the Central Coast. It is so amazing to see things through his eyes – everything is new and awe-inspiring…and sometimes scary. He is a brave little man when it comes to animals, new places, and new sensory experiences.

Watching street performers at the San Luis Obispo Farmer's Market

Watching street performers at the San Luis Obispo Farmer’s Market

Oh, the bounty that is the California eleven-month growing season.

Oh, the bounty that is the California eleven-month growing season.

My little guy, though quick to try something new, is oftentimes nervous around crowds and lots of noise. So, I was worried that the San Luis Obispo Farmer’s Market might be too much for him. But he proved me wrong and loved the street performers – even daring to get too close for my comfort, considering they were juggling machetes and riding 10-foot tall unicycles. Seriously. I loved the fresh fruits and veggies and pined for a farmers market that boasted more than just three veggie booths and a dozen craft-fair-ish booths. (Sigh. One can wish.)

At the California Mid-State Fair - the best fair ever - in Paso Robles.

At the California Mid-State Fair – the best fair ever – in Paso Robles.

Sheep and piggies and horses, oh my!

Sheep and piggies and horses, oh my!

Yes, we bought a Jamba juice and a corn dog. A little bit fair food and a little bit California food.

Yes, we bought a Jamba juice and a corn dog. A little bit fair food and a little bit California food.

My brother and I took him to the California Mid-State Fair, where I showed / sold animals for nearly 10 years, and we had a really nice time. He got to see horses, sheep, cows, more sheep, a spider monkey, carnies, and more jars of homemade jelly than even I cared to look at. All the things I loved about the fair…I got to share with him. And though we couldn’t stay nearly as long as single-not-a-mom me would previously had stayed, it was okay. That’s just what you do.

 

Chasing geese (probably the same ones that bit me when I was three) at the park in Atascadero.

Chasing geese (probably the same ones that bit me when I was three) at the park in Atascadero.

Though he was a bit clingy for most of the trip, he did manage to separate himself from my bosom long enough to chase some geese (the boy loves his animals) at the very same park that I played at when I was a little tyke-ette. Just like back then, Grampa (my dad) wasn’t far behind to make sure no Blaines were harmed in the making of this photo.

Nostalgia takes on new meaning when you see your little boy as your parents must have seen you so many years ago. I can’t wait to see what places, experiences, and activities Blaine will someday share with his children. But I’m getting ahead of myself…he needs to learn how to talk first.

 

 

Staycation: Summit County, CO

I am fortunate to have parents who dabble in the real estate market – buying, selling, and renting properties all over the West. One particular condo is near Silverthorne, CO, which is a paltry (unless Blaine is crying, then it’s an eternity) 2.5 hour drive from our house.

When I asked my dear sweet husband if we could please get out of town for a day or so to avoid one or more of us going stir crazy, he consented to drive up to Summit County to stay for two (what? unheard of!) nights. So we did a little budget vacationing like rich people. Staycation!

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We stayed in my parents’ condo overlooking Lake Dillon. The wildflowers were unbelievable! Our dogs were so happy to be outside when it wasn’t 98 degrees – such is life in the higher altitudes.

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We rode the (free!) gondola up to Breckenridge’s Peak 8 fun park. (“Fun” is reserved for the non-pregnant and over-five crowd, so we made our own amusement.)

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Blaine played in the little creeks and got suitably muddy. As usual. I did impress my husband, though, by whipping out a new pair of shorts and a diaper, stripping Blaine down, and having him dressed and refreshed in under 40 seconds. (Yes, I timed it in my head. I’m competitive like that.)

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We also took him to the worlds most amazing playground in Silverthorne. It is big and colorful and he just wanted to play in the wood shavings. Go figure.

I’m not going to lie, though, vacationing with a little one is a whole different ball game. The sleeping / napping scenario can get ugly. “What do you want to do now?” my husband would ask innocently. “Um, drive back to the condo so the Captain can get a good nap in…not in the stroller,” I would reply tersely as if any idiot would know that a 20-minute nap in the stroller on the streets of Breckenridge would be detrimental to any possible good mood later in the day. (Poor husband.)  So back up the hill (a good 20 minute drive) we would go. And then there was the night he was scared by something at 2:00 in the morning and we had to regress six months and sleep in the same twin bed for the rest of the (sleepless) night. Ah, such is life on the road. It was a beautiful trip, but it was honestly nice to get back to our routine after two days. I am such a wimp.

I’ll Work, You Play

One of the reasons I think I am a good mommy is: I am tired at the end of the day. I am constantly riding a bike, walking across the yard, shoveling sand in the sandbox, or crouching by Blaine’s side at the river. (Who needs a gym, right?) He loves being outside, and I try to encourage this behavior by playing with him and helping him think of things to do out there. This morning, he wanted to play in the empty pool (wasn’t quite hot enough for swimmin’ yet), so I brought out some balls and made him a ball pit. He LOVED it. There was much rolling and giggling and jumping. The only problem was, he’s working on his fast ball, so there was also much throwing. All of the balls eventually made their way to the lawn. Twice.

But that’s cool. That’s what being a good mommy is about (I think): working hard to let your kids play. Toddlers are hard work. They require constant attention. (There will be no sitting on the lawn at the park idly watching him climb the slide for you, missy.)  And they are BUSY. All of the things that B seems to like to do require a significant amount of bending, lifting, grabbing, walking, pulling, or scooping on my part. It’s easy to get tired. His playing is my hard work. I dutifully picked up all those balls, but relished the look on his face when he got to throw them all out again.

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For more information on why toddler moms are so tired (and how / when it will end), read this article – The Life Cycle of a Park Parent – on Funny is Family. It’s funny.

A Little Something

Do you ever sit down at the end of a hard day and think to yourself, “I deserve a little something for all that hard work I did today. I mean, I essentially did a P90X workout (over the course of a day) by picking up my 25-pound son 766 times, carrying 8 bags of groceries in on two trips, doing 112 squats (with said toddler) to pick up a cup /snack / book / Mr. Monkeybritches; I did the grocery shopping all by myself and only got tinkled on as a thank-you; made dinner and a potluck dessert; kept the kidlett from eating / stepping in / throwing doggie doo; and managed to feed everyone healthy food despite my cravings for all things fried and sugary.”

Well, I’m sure the actual tasks vary, but the idea is there: we do a LOT as mommies, and the reward is essentially intrinsic.

My job pays in smiles and giggles, which is an amazing bounty, to be sure. But sometimes, just sometimes, I want this instead:

Bern_Helmet

 

I saw it over at The Kubly Girl, and I am green with envy. Stylish and functional? Yes, please! My husband is so forgiving about my need for “things” every once in a while, and I try to be self-governing for the most part. I’m actually a little bit embarrassed to ask him if I can buy this for myself. (He never buys anything material that doesn’t go in his stomach or under the hood of his truck. He’s just minimalist like that.) Aaaand, I may or may not have just bought a super-cute Sherpani purse that was on mega-sale at a little shop in Breckenridge for only $20. Soooo…that may have been my allowance. Sigh. Maybe I’ll sleep on it…

It’s What We Do

I love parks. Playdates are fun. But the only place that offers true respite from the 90-degree heat (aside from standing in front of my swamp cooler), is the river. We are fortunate to live about 7 blocks from the Arkansas river, which is running low and cool and just about perfect these days. (When it is high and muddy, I can’t stop thinking about how quickly Blaine could disappear under the surface if he ever wormed out of my hand and managed to long-jump three feet from the shore. Such are the fears of mothers.)

Happy dude.

Happy dude.

We go just about every day, and Blaine loves to play in the water, throw rocks (a habit that is translating into some difficult social situations), and dig in the sand. It was my husband’s day off today, so I managed to snap a few photos without endangering Blaine’s life by letting go of his nimble little hand. When it comes to taking blogging pictures, I put the priority level at just below ‘safety of child for which blog is named’.

Neverending source of fun.

Neverending source of fun.

I feel that the river is also a perfect substitute for all of those “sensory” bin activities that I see on Pinterest and can’t be bothered to put together. (Lazy mommy.) At the river, we play in the water, pick leaves, play with grass, run our fingers through sand, and stack pebbles. That’s a lot of sensory business going on, and I call it good.  It’s also good for me to get out and walk the nearly 2 miles to and from the park. Mommy needs some sensory stimulation, too. Not that Curious George isn’t engaging…

The mighty Arkansas River.

The mighty Arkansas River.