Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blog Envy

I read a lot of blogs (only some of which are linked on the sidebar). Some single mom blogs, some mom blogs, some dad blogs, some blogs that have nothing at all to do with children, some blogs that are just photography, some food blogs. I may have issues with some things about the internet, but I am and have always been a nosy chicken, so blogs are just a way for me to look into other people's windows. So to speak.

I have to be very careful, however, to just read the blogs... not to take anything in them to heart, in either direction.

I shouldn't feel superior to anyone else because of something they say that I disagree with. On the flip side, I shouldn't let other people's lives make me feel less than. Someone lives in a fabulous house with a pool? Good for them. Someone spends thirty hours a week teaching their child to (insert skill here)? Wow, that's awesome. Someone has a ginormous birthday party for their daughter and even has personalized labels on the root beer bottles? Damn, that's cool.

That last example, by the way, is for real. At the time I was still planning Elle's first birthday party, and I truly had a couple of days of completely feeling like some kind of derelict parent because I was planning a potluck picnic at a park, rather than a party with cleverly-named food, personalized party labels on the root beer, elaborate goody bags, and a pony. I truly thought, for a little while, that clearly I should not be a parent. A pony! Why the hell was I not having a pony?

(Because a pony is overkill for a one-year-old, that's why. Arguably, it may be overkill for a four-year-old, but that's not my call to make.)

So I was feeling like roadkill about how my daughter's first party was going to be crap on a stick, and I shared that particular blog entry with a friend. The friend shot me an e=mail, the gist of which was "Holy crap, that's cute. But seriously, who has that kind of time? Please."

And I felt better.

It was a really good lesson. I'm going to be the parent I'm going to be. I'm going to be better than some parents, worse than others. Richer than some, poorer than others.

It's not a contest.

But I still reserve the right to be dreadfully jealous of the gorgeous, gorgeous photography over at Peonies and Polaroids. I wish they lived just a touch closer than Scotland. Also that I could afford to have them take pics of Elle.

By the way, Elle's first birthday party was terrific. There was a huge crowd of people who love her. Everyone enjoyed all the food and the cake and the playground and the sunny day.

And not a single person asked why there weren't custom labels on the soda.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

365 days, plus a few

My little Elle is now a year old. That seems completely impossible, but it's true. This time last year I had an infant and was in the throes of figuring out sleeping, eating, and bathing (for me, not the baby!) Now I have a one-year-old with chubby arms and legs, wispy curls at the end of her hair, and very, very Definite Opinions on many things. She has a mind of her own, that's for sure, and I love it.

She's still not walking, but she scoots around like a pro. I'm a little concerned that she's still not pulling up, nor can she get into a sitting position from lying down (she gets the concept, and tries hard, but can't do it without help), but her pediatrician says give it a few more weeks before we are officially worried. I know kids develop at different paces, and her overall health and disposition are so good that I try to take it easy. (Unless my parents start harping in on it and get me wound up. I try hard to not let them wind me up.) She just needs to find a compelling reason to walk, I think. Why walk when you get what you need from scooting?

Her scooting is fast enough that I've finally babyproofed and installed a good, strong gate at the top of the stairs. No more leaving her on the bed and walking away; she's moved to the floor, where she does her best to get into everything she shouldn't.

She doesn't have much of a vocabulary yet, but her receptive language seems to be on track and she babbles all the time with a wide variety of consonants (unless she's around people she doesn't know; she gets quiet then). She can identify specific toys, and when you ask her to give some love to Dolly, she'll squish Dolly to her face and love on her. She knows her own name for sure. She knows "no" and REALLY doesn't like hearing it (see above re: mind of her own)-- she'll do this little scrunchy face thing when you tell her no, which is hysterical. Several times lately I'm pretty sure she's repeated a word after I've said it; her enunciation isn't great, so for a while I thought I was imagining things. I wasn't!

She loves her Dolly. She loves stacking things and knocking them down. She adores books (that's my girl). She likes things that make noise. She turns into a zombie if the TV is on (again, that's my girl). She's fascinated with handles on drawers, and especially likes the handles that swing up and down and make a clanking noise when you pull them up and let them drop. She likes to open and shut drawers, over and over and over. She has a tendency to go after shoes to play with them, which I'm trying to discourage. She likes the swimming pool and isn't bothered by being splashed, and has even started kicking. She enjoys baths.

When she goes scooting off on one of her little adventures, she always takes a toy along with her (once, it was a mini box of Raisin Bran; clearly, she's not picky). Often, she'll take the toy, throw it out in front of her, then scoot to catch up with it. Repeat as needed. She talks to herself along the way-- she has a whole narrative going on-- and it's obvious that she has Very Important Things to Do. We just don't understand what those things are, you see.

She feeds herself, though I'm still giving her some baby food as well. She loves blueberries, bread, cheese, yogurt, bananas, graham crackers, cherries, hummous (on bread), and pasta. We're still working on finding veggies she likes outside of purees-- that's part of the reason I'm giving her baby food. It's the only way to get vegetables into her, so far. She's not big on meat, outside of purees, though she'll eat a bit. She doesn't care for peas, strawberries, or tomatoes (though she's fine with all three if they're pureed!). She'll try anything you put in front of her, though she'll always go for the cheese and blueberries first. She's OK with eggs. I'll probably also give fish sticks a shot, since those are a quick and reasonably healthy dinner.

After many years of single eating, the contents of my pantry, fridge, and freezer have undergone a radical transformation, that's for sure. And I need to remember the cardinal rule of feeding kids: the parent decides what food will be offered and when it will be offered; the child decides whether they'll eat and, if so, how much. If her dinner consists of three bites of chicken, four pieces of rotini, and two cherries... well, that's her dinner.

She uses a sippy cup, although she sometimes doesn't remember you have to tilt it up to get the actual liquid, and she'll slurp away at it looking very confused. She has no interest in holding her bottle, and we're phasing that out over the next little while anyway. I think her night bottle will probably be the last to go.

She's incredibly curious-- her head and most of her body are on a swivel when you're out in public with her. She loves people and faces and conversation, and is happiest when she's playing in the midst of a group of people talking. She's fine if they're not talking to her; she just likes the company. She doesn't miss a thing.

She is not a cuddly toddler. But then, she wasn't a cuddly baby, either; she hasn't fallen asleep on me since she was a couple of months old. When she's very tired, or doesn't feel good, she'll tuck her head down on my shoulder. Sometimes, if I ask her to give mommy a kiss, she'll press her head to mine-- she knows how to give a kiss with her mouth, but her current means of showing affection seems to be the press of the head.

She is a happy, healthy, even-tempered baby. Sorry-- she is a happy, healthy, even-tempered toddler. I am blessed beyond words with this beautiful little girl. When I'm tired, or when I (unfairly) compare her to other little ones her age and wonder why she's not doing X yet, or when I just want some alone time, I look at her face smiling at me from around a corner and realize I don't even remember what I did with my life before she was part of it.

Happy birthday, baby girl.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Still here

Apologies for my absence of late. It's not because my life is dull and I have nothing to say... more like I need to find time to say all the things.

(shoutout to Hyperbole and a Half, which if you haven't read, you totally should. Try "The God of Cake" first. Or any of her dog posts.)

Anyway, I have a post about Elle turning one. But it's on my work computer. I promise to track it down and post it Monday. Or possibly Tuesday.

FYI, Elle is now one whole year old. There's too much to say about that, truly, so I'll just say it and then toddle off to bed. See y'all next week.