Monday, October 24, 2011


Rhetorical question of the day:

How is it possible to love someone so much, yet want nothing more than a few hours away from them?

(I know it's possible; I've felt that with some of my relationships in the past. "I love you! I want to smooch you! Then leave me alone!" This is one of the many, many reasons I'm single.)

I have a friend coming over Saturday to hang with Elle, and I've got two hours to myself. I'm not going to do anything particularly thrilling, but it will be nice to have some much-needed time away.

I need to get on finding a weekend sitter. No luck so far. It will be easier when Elle is slightly older-- I'll be fine with a high school kid-- but when she's this small and (relatively) non-verbal, I want a sitter with a bit more maturity.

With the exception of actually walking (she's sooo close), Elle is now a full-fledged actual toddler, moods and all. This is apparently the time where they're figuring out that they're a separate person from mom, and realizing they can exert their own will over things/situations. Elle being Elle, she figured that out a while ago-- long before she'll figure out how to walk. My girl has a very strong personality, and very definite ideas of her own.

I've had to stop making eating any kind of a battle, for instance. If dinner is a saltine and three bites of cheese, that's dinner-- and she doesn't seem to be waking up in the middle of the night hungry, so clearly she's getting what she needs.

Sunday night dinner was about eight blueberries, five or six yogurt puffs and around 14-16 ounces of milk. (No, I'm not exaggerating. Literally, close to three sippy cups full, and they're six ounces each.) I think she had some American cheese, as well. Apparently she's craving calcium? She didn't want water, she didn't want food. She wanted milk.

So, anyway. I send a wide variety of nutritious foods with her to day care, she eats well there, and I can't kill myself over it beyond that. She will rarely try new foods right now, and I remind myself that's normal. Toddlers will eat when they're hungry, and it's been proven that they get the nutritional variety they need. Eventually.

When she will deign to acknowledge some new food that's been placed on her tray, her new method for testing it out is to squish it with the tip of her finger. She did this to a lima bean this past weekend and laughed delightedly when the outside of the lima bean came off, like a snakeskin. She eventually tried the lima bean and ate maybe one more; I'll keep trying.

One suggestion on a mom website was a bit of garlic salt-- they like the salty flavor and it gets them to try something new. Unfortunately, another toddler suggestion is to let them dip their food-- i.e. dip their bread into hummus, or their fruit into yogurt. This gets them nutrition, as well as gives them control over how they're eating. Sadly, Elle doesn't like combining foods. She doesn't even much like butter on her bread. She's a purist at the moment.

She did dip a saltine into applesauce tonight. Hm. Baby steps? Weird baby steps, anyway.

Elle has never been the most snuggly or affectionate baby. She's always been so busy doing other things and/or keeping an eye on the world; cuddling is time away from what matters. This means that when she is loving, I treasure it all the more.

This weekend I was sitting on the floor, slouched over (bad habit), and she scooted up behind me and hugged my back, resting her cheek on me for just a moment. She did it again a few minutes later.

Those are the moments that make it all worth it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

15 months

Dear Elle:

You are 15 months old. That doesn't seem right. I saw a baby today at work who was about six or seven months old, and that seems like the right number. 15 months feels too far along.

You are right on the brink of so many things: your one-year molars (two down, two to go), walking, complete sentences. There is not a moment where you aren't looking around for something to get into. You are a nonstop blur of activity; in fact, I'm having trouble getting clear pictures of you these days, even on the good camera. You have Things To Do.

These Things To Do are often hard on you. Molars are painful, and you don't understand why your mouth hurts. You are so good, really, even though you hurt. Walking is still something of a mystery to you, though you're figuring it out more each day. Language-- well, I'm not worried about that. Your vocabulary and receptive language are both exceptional. I don't understand all of your babbling, of course, and feel bad about that-- you sometimes look at me as if you're thinking "Lady, could I be more clear? Why don't you know what I'm saying?"

Sometimes, I feel like I'm just in your way. You have never been the snuggliest of babies and that has continued into toddlerhood. You are so alert and interested and independent; taking time to nestle into my shoulder probably seems like energy that would best be spent planning on how to destroy the dining room. So the rare moments when you wrap your hand around mine, or lean against me, or rest your head on my shoulder, are moments I treasure. It's also one of the ways I can tell when you're truly tired-- if you rest your head on my shoulder, I know you're really ready for bed.

We've started saying prayers at bedtime, as part of the routine. Nothing fancy-- we sit in the rocker and ask God to bless the people we love, ask for good dreams and a good night. Sometimes we'll say a more formal prayer, but it's usually just a few words before our last lullabye. You seem oddly attentive during this time; I think you recognize some of the names I list off, and maybe this short addition to the bedtime routine is already familiar and comforting.

I don't want to underestimate the power and importance of routine to you. Routine, especially for children, gives you something to hang on to. It's a structure that's part of your world. That lullabye (which has been the same since you were born), no matter where we are when I sing it to you, is always the same lullabye. All these tiny things, woven into your life in different ways, are things I can do to reassure you how much you are loved, and that you are safe.

You may only have one parent, but I will always try hard to be the best parent I can be. Sometimes that will mean getting out of your way. Sometimes that will mean holding your hand in mine as you toddle awkwardly across the floor. Sometimes it will mean holding you as you scream for no reason at all. Always, it will mean loving you.

Your mom

Sunday, October 9, 2011

If it's October, shouldn't I be able to pack away my shorts?

We are having strangely summer-like weather here in the middle of the country. I can't even call it a proper Indian summer-- it's summer, plain and simple.

I know it's probably related to global warming and doom, but it's kind of nice.

Elle's sound asleep right now; on the video monitor I can see her sprawled on her back, her little polkadot skirt all up around her waist, her hair tousled, her cheeks rosy. (It's a black and white monitor, but I know they're rosy.) Seriously, she's adorable. And I'm not at all biased.

When she gets up we are going out. OUT. Well, there will probably be a snack first (she's not eating much this weekend, again) but then we are going out to drink in every bit of this beautiful day. There will probably be a visit to the park in there somewhere, as well. You can't waste a day like today, after all.

No big updates, really. At the end of it, life-- whether you're single, married, a parent, or childless-- isn't always about the big updates. It's the little day-to-day things, good and bad, that make up the fabric of your life. Right now, they're mostly good things, and I count my blessings every single day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

City living

An unexpected day off today (my sitter was sick) ended up being a (mostly) lovely day. We're having sunny beautiful weather here in the middle; if you['re going to have an unplanned day off, might as well be able to get out.

Someone didn't want a morning nap, so we headed out to the library story hour, which is followed by open play. It's geared towards babies up to 15 months, so it's a nice time, and there were clearly a lot of moms who knew each other. There were a few I recognized, too, which made me feel good.

(One is a woman I go to church with; her girls were baptized the same day as Elle. She never seems to recognize me, though we've met more than twice, and doesn't make eye contact. Since she seemed not to make eye contact with anyone there, I'll say it's because she's shy, not because she hates me. But she probably hates me. Heh.)

Finally got Elle settled in for an afternoon nap, and was able to sit in on a conference call for work. As the call was winding down, about an hour later, I started hearing noise out behind my place. Sawing, of some kind. A quick glance at the video monitor told me that Elle wasn't moving; thank goodness. She needed that nap. She's a good solid sleeper; some sawing isn't going to bug her.

Within a few minutes, any hope of the nap going longer than an hour was gone. Because they started using jackhammers. Literally right under Elle's window.

She woke up crying and disoriented, and I gave up hope on both the nap and on getting any more work done and got us the hell out of there. The noise was so loud that there just wasn't anywhere to go in my house to get away from it, so we escaped entirely.

Again, thank goodness for the beautiful day-- long walk, a bit of window shopping, playing in the park (oh, we love the swings, yes we do). Really lovely end-of-summer day, and Elle was remarkably sunny all the way to bedtime, given her sleep deficit. She was out within about two minutes of hitting her crib. My poor girl.

She'll probably sleep most of the day at her sitter's tomorrow!

This is such a great age for her. I want to freeze her here, but I don't. I just have to enjoy every minute as much as I can. One of the hardest things about parenting is being truly present when you're worried about other things (bills, taxes, what's for dinner).

That stuff doesn't matter, really. What matters is your little girl holding a book up to you with an expectant look on her face, and dropping whatever you're doing to read it to her. That's what's important.