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Another’s Perspective

Girls at Japanese Garden, Portland, OR

We met some friends at the Japanese Garden today. We got there earlier than they, and took that time to explore on our own. I used to come here regularly before kids, and only once or twice when Chloe was little. It is a lovely place, even in winter. Unfortunately, by the time our friends arrived, Leo was ready to go. However, we stayed for another hour or so, giving the girls time to hang out and enjoy being together. Leo was clingy and wanted holding the entire time. By the end I was ready to just get home.

Before leaving, we decided to exit the garden (no food or drinks allowed), and eat a snack outside the gates. The other mom is a newer friend of mine. She’s done a lot of traveling and living around the world, and married a man from another country. I love hearing about her experiences in other cultures, and I often see, by things she says, how it has informed her perspective.

Anyway, there are two particular instances that stick out in my mind, that I found myself thinking about later. The first is that she remembered to pack her daughter’s snack – a cheese quesadilla, some unpeeled clementines and a water bottle. I, on the other hand, did not consciously pack a snack, instead relying on what I happen to have in my bag for moments like this – a kids Clif bar, which Chloe and Leo shared, packets of organic gummies and two small juice boxes – all pre-packaged from the store. I also wiped my kids hands with a wet wipe and offered one. What do you think? Interesting to see the difference between the snacks, right? While I believe both are perfectly acceptable, I should have known, since my kids didn’t eat much for lunch, that they would be hungry. It was a good reminder to try and pack fresh more often than I do, though our impromptu snack was fine.

The other instance was when we got back to the parking lot. The mom took a peek inside our minivan, behind the kids’ row, and exclaimed “You could have a dance party back there!” It made me laugh, because it’s true (a preschool dance party anyway)! But her comment does put into perspective our choice of vehicle (newer, though we bought it used after David accidentally totaled our last car). I am really happy with it. It is comfortable for our family of four + dog, though it is the biggest car I’ve ever owned. It reminded me how lucky we are to be able to make these choices. From many perspectives, we are truly living the American dream right now. We have more than most. I don’t regret our choices (though I may in the future, and I did miss the AWD of our old vehicle when it snowed here a few weeks back). Looking through the other mom’s eyes was enlightening. It reminded me to be grateful. To be more conscious of my choices and time, and how they affect my children, our budget, and our family.

Sometimes an outside perspective really does work wonders.


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Transitions

siblings on the slide

I can say already that this is going to be a weird post. I know I’ve been neglecting this blog and I hope some day to get back into making it a part of my week again, but I’m just not sure when that might be. Its gone through several phases – randomness when I first started in 2006, a mommy blog after I had Chloe in 2008, a craft blog, and now I’m going to make it a personal journal? I don’t know, but I have a lot of things on my mind right now, and I think it might be good for me to share.

I’ll start with what’s likely to be the strangest one…I am having a really hard time accepting the fact that my son is potty trained. At 2 and a half years old, it’s a few months earlier than his sister, and yet everything I had read told me that boys were harder to potty train than girls. Well, that just wasn’t the case. I don’t know if its because we did everything right (read books, gave him opportunities, provided a fun and comfortable potty chair, had his sister encourage him, rewarded him with candy…), but he just decided one day that he was done. As a matter of fact, he might have been done months before that, but I didn’t really pay attention. Maybe he was ready, but I was not. And now, he’s done. No more diapers. Such a big, meaningful milestone…

An image of Leo painting at preschool, sent by his wonderful teacher

Walking the baby aisle at Target made me unexpectedly sad today – to think that I am done with all those things – those symbols of new motherhood. The fact is my baby isn’t a baby anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I am SO proud of him. Even more so because he has overcome some SPD (sensory processing disorder) issues that I thought would make it extra hard for him. For example, his sense of smell is so sensitive that he often literally gags at his own poop. I’ve taken to giving him a piece of clean laundry (like a shirt or towel) to hold up to his nose so he doesn’t have to smell what goes into the potty. Also, he HATES the sound of flushing toilets in public restrooms. Even now that is a problem when he needs to go, but resists entering a women’s restroom, occasionally with kicks and loud protests. But all that didn’t make a difference – he was able to conquer those things enough to successfully potty train, which is, in a nutshell, AWESOME.

kids on scooters

The other thing that is really stressing me out is my oldest entering Kindergarten in the fall. Actually, I have no problem with Kindergarten – she is totally ready, but the question is WHERE. We are on the wait list for a reasonably priced, private kindergarten where I would love to see her go, but the waiting is KILLING me. Because if she doesn’t get in, then she will go to public school, and I am depressed to say that our local public school is rated one of the worst two schools in our entire district. I just don’t feel confident sending her there, at least not for kindergarten, and I am internally freaking out about it. When we moved here we were in a “good” school district (and we still are as far as middle and high school), but I am so scared that Chloe will not get that solid educational foundation that she needs to succeed once she finally gets to middle school. Of course, if I think rationally, I could help support her academically, but mostly, I want her school to be responsible for her education. Isn’t that what school is for? And most of all, I want her to be in a safe, supportive social environment. I want her to have opportunities to be inspired, make lasting friendships… to flourish. But I don’t believe that our public school is that place.

I will say that reading Design Mom’s article about letting her kids go to a public high school in Oakland also rated a 2 out of 10 gave me food for thought. However, I would much prefer a 2 rated high school over a 2 rated elementary school.

If worse comes to worse, and Chloe does not get into a private kindergarten, we will give public school a try. It might be fine. If not, we could try petitioning for a transfer to a different elementary school (although there is no guarantee that a sibling would get in, which means possibly two different schools for the kids). Or, we could move (which would be so hard because we love our little house). Or, I could home school. Of the school-aged families I know on our block alone, two elementary schools are represented and one family home schools. They are each doing what they think is best for their family, and we hope to do the same.

Wish us luck.

This is a sign someone posted to their facebook feed. There wasn’t a link, but it really resonated with me.


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Chapter 8: Soothing a Baby (With a Bra) + a $100 Babies R Us Giveaway!

Like many soon-to-be moms, I read a lot of baby books while I was pregnant with my first child. I knew all about what to expect during the pregnancy, and my husband and I took a class so we could prepare for the birth itself. Overall, I felt pretty confident. After all, we tried for 5 years to get pregnant with Chloe, and I was going to do my best to make her happy.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Chloe turned out to be a fairly easy baby. She was healthy and generally good-natured. She smelled as sweet as honey and I’d spend what felt like hours just marveling at her perfect smallness. However, there were some things that didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped. Breastfeeding, for instance, took us a while. The books and the nurses made it sound so easy, but it took lots of tries and advice and eventually a nipple shield (for a short while) for both of us to get the hang of it.

Then there was the sleeping. Or… lack of sleeping. Chloe was an extremely light sleeper. Anything could wake her up, even quiet sounds like the dog walking by her door or the heater kicking on. Unfortunately, during those times the only thing that would help her back to sleep was nursing.

Eventually, exhausted, I began searching for an alternate back-to-sleep soothing method. I scoured the baby books and parenting web sites. At first, we tried giving her the pacifier that the hospital had given us. I’m embarrassed now to say that I really wanted to do things “by the book,” and “by the book” meant discouraging pacifier use. But, I tried it anyway. Chloe would give it a few sucks and then spit it out. I’d edge it back and she’d spit it back out. Basically, no go.

So began the long trial (and error) of every soothing thing I could think of – humming, singing, white noise, radio, baby-wearing, softies, blankets, rocking, teethers (I had high hopes for Sophie the giraffe), and anything else I could think of. Each option was given several chances in the hopes that it would be “the one.” Sadly, some crying ensued, but I wasn’t about to give up hope.

One afternoon, after putting Chloe down for her nap, I heard her rouse after just a short while. I’m sure I cringed inwardly, and honestly, I can’t remember exactly what I was doing (possibly prepping dinner), but whatever it was took a little time to complete. By the time I got back to check on her I found that she had gone back to sleep! On her own! Hallelujah! But, wait. What was that thing clutched in her little hand? Was that… my bra?!

Miracle of miracles, all Chloe needed was my bra. I’m not saying it was all perfect from then on out. Oh, no. However, I began leaving one with her and sometimes it worked. Plus, I learned to not go rushing in (this was totally against the grain of “by the books” back then, but I was beginning to see how bending the rules might have its advantages). Eventually, Chloe began putting herself back to sleep (and sucking her thumb, sigh).

The moral of this story? No matter what anyone tells you, no matter what advice you’ve been given or tales you’ve been told – there will never be a child exactly like yours, or a mother exactly like you. While it’s good to glean information from the plethora of sources out there, the best things you can do is experiment, trust your instincts, give it time, ask questions and don’t be afraid do things the way that works best for you and your baby. Because, you are the mom, and you will figure it out… eventually. 🙂

…….

The post above is one of many personal stories that have been included in the MAM Blogger Real Parenting Guide. My particular post is Chapter 8: Soothing a Baby (With a Bra), but I encourage you to read other chapters and also to find out more about the products (bottles, pacifiers, teethers, etc) that MAM makes. The right tools definitely make the job of parenting easier.

Want to win a $100 Babies “R” Us gift card?

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

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Making Exceptions

I am making a lot of exceptions today. Right now, as I type, I can see Chloe playing in the backyard with Leo and Barkley. She is wearing her Mini-Mouse princess dress. Her legs are bare and on her feet are Keens. It is cool outside, but at least she is wearing her coat. Normally, I don’t let her wear any of her dress up clothes outside, but today I don’t care. I’m just glad the kids are out of the house for a while.

This week I’ve put in extra effort to keep the house clean. It is so hard! One of the problems of wanting a clean house is recognizing that the house has clutter in the first place. And noticing that the kids are causing the majority of it. So then I get frustrated. Two minutes after picking up, there is a mess on the floor again. Right now I am looking at the discarded wand, butterfly wings, and light up princess shoes by the back door that Chloe dropped in her haste to get outside. I can either pick them up or I can ask her to do it. Either one involves me getting involved. Its easier to just do it so I don’t have to remember to ask her, or to follow up and make sure they go back to their proper place. Or I could ignore them.

And there! Chloe just presented me with another example. I mopped the floors this morning. She just ran in, through the kitchen to the living room before I noticed the muddy shoe prints she was leaving and called for her to stop. Stop!

It’s impossible. I can’t keep up.

I’m tired of being the cleaning lady today. I’m tired of being the cook, the laundress, the referee, the coach, the safety monitor, the naysayer.

I just want to be the mom. The hugger, the playmate, the tickler, the storyteller, the teacher, the explorer, the kisser of bruises, the planter of ideas.

But today isn’t that day. I’m too tired. It is my fault. I’m not getting enough sleep, or eating right. And today is not a day I can dedicate completely to the kids. There are other things I’d like to do. But I’m too tired to do anything more than sit here right now. And drink water, and take my vitamins. Remembering to begin again with the little things, one at a time.

The kids have abandoned their lunch on the chair outside. Another exception, because I let them eat partially unsupervised. Which means they may have eaten a little dirt.

There they are. Getting muddy, having fun, enjoying the sunshine that just recently flooded the yard. The birds are chirping merrily. Someone is mowing their lawn. When the kids come in they’ll be a mess, but I’m going to help them calmly because I never care how messy they get outside, as long as they’ve given me a little peace while doing it.

Better yet, it will be nap time soon.


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Blogging Your Way

I’ve been trying to do some serious thinking about this blog and where it’s heading. Asking myself questions like: why do I do it? What can I do better? Why do people come here? How can I include better content and encourage more visitors? What do I enjoy writing about?

I’m not sure I have many answers. So, when I saw that Holly Becker from Decor8 was doing a Blogging Your Way e-course this month, I thought it might be just the thing to help me focus on what’s important.

Here is what I do know: I enjoy taking photographs. I have some skill, but I would like to get better. I am a mom. A mother naturally documents the lives of her children. I like having a record of my kids, and also of the projects we do. I am a professional graphic designer. Though I no longer have a design day-job, my understanding of design and personal aesthetic inform my decisions on the projects we do – whether its a home improvement project, a craft project or a kid project.

What I’d really like is for this blog to be a place of inspiration. I feel that if I can do something, others can, too. I am not particularly talented or motivated. I barely have  time or energy left at the end of the day. Lots of moms face this same issue. But I do recognize ways in which I can add just a touch more fun and function in my kids lives, and in our home. We all love our kids and want to provide them with happy homes and childhoods.

And, let’s face it. This is real life. Sh*t happens. It happens to me, too. My kids love to make a mess. They make it hard to go shopping. They  get muddy. And mis-behave. They make me crazy! And yet they are also amazing beings that bring the purest joy to my heart. While our experiences may vary from other families, there is a thread of familiarity, of normalacy. Sometimes that is nice to read about, to know we’re not alone. Sometimes its just nice to read a different perspective.

Another question I wonder – can I successfully blend my personal family stuff with the projects, tutorials, and free printables that most people come for? Would it be better to split off my personal stuff into another blog? Relegate more of it to just Facebook? Does anyone actually care, beyond immediate family? If I look at some of my favorite blogs, almost none include their kids. Something to think about.

Lastly, this blog generates a tiny amount of income for me and my family, due to that ad in the sidebar. Enough to take the kids for a special treat or pay the babysitter a couple hours, once a month. It is probably every blog mama’s dream to generate income this way, doing something you love, with flexible hours and no boss. While I realize this is unlikely, I don’t think it is unreasonable to want to expand opportunities here. Right now I don’t get paid to do product reviews or anything like that, and if I did I would definitely disclose that information and have a level of transparency. To do otherwise would feel inauthentic. I don’t believe I’ll actively cultivate revenue opportunities, but I won’t ignore them either.

So… whew! That is where I am right now. Is anyone still with me? Please, please give me your feedback. Anything at all. Why do you visit this blog? What is or is not working for you? I promise to listen and consider everything. If you don’t want to leave a public comment, feel free to send me a direct email at paperseed (at) gmail {dot} com.

Thank you so much for being here. Truly.

Emily


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How it feels to be happy

I’ve been feeling happy. It seems strange to write it, but its true. Something has aligned, and for now, it feels unusually good. Sure, there are times when I’m tired, or the kids are extra challenging, or I’m worrying about my mom and her chemo treatments, but mostly I feel good.

I’ve even been motivated to do things long on my to-do list. In the past couple weeks I’ve spray painted some kid furniture, completely emptied and re-organized my craft drawers (HUGE!), sewed a floor cushion cover, a dog bed pad, a new seat for Leo’s high chair, and transformed an old paisley duvet cover into a nice looking twin set for Chloe’s room. The kids have had more outings than usual – more parks, the library, the children’s museum, a day of flyfishing with dad… I wish life always felt like this – full of joy and well-being. Appreciating exactly what I have, getting rid of things I don’t want, feeling like I have a handle on this life of mine, instead of just letting it slip by.

The question is: why I am feeling this way? Are my vitamin D levels up? Is it the weather? The promise of spring? Enjoying some rare social occasions? The relief of finding a reliable accountant? Spending quality time with David? Just last night we went on a very rare “date night” so we could test out a new babysitter before we’ll need her for an event next month. It was really nice. We went for sushi at a nearby place we like, but don’t go often. Part of me lamented the $40 we paid in childcare alone, but I am not sorry. Once in a while its a real treat.

So, today, I am savoring everything – all these facets that make up my life. Things may not be perfect (and never will be), but I’ve been dealt a fine hand. I don’t want to forget that my kids are growing everyday, and so am I. I’ll miss this once its gone – all the innocence and trust and open caring and unscripted dialogue. It is unspeakably precious.

Let me hold it in my hand and bury it in my heart for now. When I close my eyes someday in the future, I’ll see it again, just behind my eyelids, and be glad I did.


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Life

I’m leaving on a trip tomorrow. By myself, without the kids, for a week. I don’t want to leave them. I am trying not to freak out. I want to be calm and rational. In four years, I have only been gone from them for one night.

But… something has happened.

It will be awkward. I will be uncomfortable. I will pretend to be more confident than I am. I will go beyond my comfort zone and be the best supporter that I can be. There will be some good times, too. I am sure of it.

Motherhood has taught me that I can be strong and capable of many things. That I can cope. Strange to think of motherhood that way. That something so cherished and wonderful and natural can also be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I should be so lucky.

The kids will be fine. They’ll be home, in familiar surroundings, in a comfortable routine, with people who love them.

And I must rise to the occasion. And also to pack.


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Dear Chloe, Age 4

Dear Chloe,

You are now four years old! We celebrated your birthday yesterday at a local gymnastics academy. You had a wonderful time with your friends – running around, jumping on the trampoline and into the foam pit, and all around the inflatable bounce house and slide. You chose the chocolate cake with the rainbow on it and you also requested a pinata. You’ve been asking for a fairy pinata for months, but since we couldn’t find one you finally chose a butterfly instead. 🙂

..

..

Now that you are four, I’ve decided we’ll join in on the popular new tradition of 20 questions. I hope that we’ll repeat this every year. Tonight, right before bedtime, I interviewed you. Here is what you said:

1. What is your favorite color? Blue and purple. First, I like blue.
2. What is your favorite toy? My Lalaloopsy doll
3. What is your favorite fruit? Grapes
4. What is your favorite tv show? My Big, Big Friend
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Pasta
6. What is your favorite thing to wear? My orange (sun) dress with the orange bloomers
7. What is your favorite game? Playing with you. Candyland and dress-up
8. What is your favorite snack? The chocolate cereal (Kellogg’s Krave)
9. What is your favorite animal?
A Butterfly
10. What is your favorite song? The lullaby we listen to in the car where the baby floats in the air (Rockabye baby in the tree top, when the wind blows the cradle will rock, when the bough breaks the cradle will fly, and up will drift baby into the sky…)
11. What is your favorite book? The Octonauts and the (Great) Ghost Reef
12. Who is your best friend? You. And I love Anjali. And Rosabelle and Hazel.
13. What is your favorite cereal? Marshmallow cereal (Mallow Oats by Mom’s Best Cereals). Chex.
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play in the sandbox and run
15. What is your favorite drink? Juice and milk
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas and Halloween and when I give out heart cards (Valentine’s Day).
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Backpack baby and (light-up) Ladybug
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Cereal (granola and/or corn flakes) with (vanilla) yogurt and milk
19. What is your favorite dinner? Meatballs and spaghetti
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A mommy. I mean, a daddy. 🙂
I love you my little girl,
Forever and always,
Mama

Chloe’s 4-year specs – Height: 3′ 1.5″ (0.953m) (9.11%)  Weight: 29lbs (13.154kg) (5.56%)  BMI: 14.50 kg/m2


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You know you’re a mom when…

You know you’re a mom when… you’re rushing two kids out the door, arms full, carrying a backpack in your teeth and your coffee in a sippy cup.

**and**

On the way to preschool for child #1 you spy a nice wood twin bed frame with a “FREE” sign on it. Perfect for child #2, so you load that sucker in the vehicle (by yourself!) while child #2 complains from the backseat. Then you drive home to unload it (alone) before leaving again to run errands at Target.

Yep, I’m a mom.

For the record, the coffee was in a sippy cup because it was one of those mornings when it was easier to find a matching lid for a sippy than one that belonged on a to go container. And you can see from the photo, the bed frame is the top half of a bunk bed, complete with built-in rails on all sides – perfect for when Leo is ready to transition to a “big boy” bed. It’s in excellent condition. Lucky me!


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Sleep baby, Sleep!

Here’s a simple mobile I made for Leo’s room using a Kikkerland hanging photoclip mobile. I actually bought it years ago from a now defunct downtown toy store with the intention of making a felt mobile for Chloe’s nursery, but I never got around to it. I’d like to sew one for Leo, but in case I never get around to it either, I thought these paper elephants would make cute placeholders, and Leo seems to like it.

Speaking of Leo, he had his best night ever last night – only one 3am night waking and then up for good at 6am as usual (I don’t count the wakings that occur before David and I go to bed). What a change from the 4-5+ night wakings that have been plaguing us for months! Maybe it was the excitement of his first birthday party (photos to come!) or that he was still recovering from his 5(!) vaccination shots at his Friday check up, but we’ve definitely seen improvement, especially over the last few days.

You know parents who say “we’ve tried everything!”? Well, that certainly feels like us. In the last few weeks since we’ve moved Leo out of our room and into his own we’ve:

(1) Strewn several extra pacifiers around his bed in the hopes he’d try and find one himself instead of waking us up to do it.

(2) Installed a bumper to keep the aforementioned pacifiers from falling out while he reached for them (which happened A LOT).

(3) Plugged in a night light so he could see the pacifiers in the dark (a major downfall of the mam brand pacifiers, which are mostly transparent. They do make a glow-in-the-dark version, which we’re trying, but unsure if that helps.

(4) Started using a white noise machine. I think this has been a key element. I was against these with Chloe, especially because I personally can’t stand noise while I sleep, but Leo is very tuned-in to the sound of his sister’s voice, or her pounding feet in her room next door (for such a lightweight she walks like an elephant). Also, Leo’s new bedroom is at the front of the house so street sounds can be an issue. Even with the noise machine, our neighbor’s ridiculously loud pick-up engine roars to life in the wee hours of the morning and never fails to wake him up.

And these are all things we’ve added just since his new room, so that doesn’t include cutting out nighttime nursing (which occurred a long time ago), creating a consistent bed time routine, etc.

All in all, I think we’re on track to a better sleep schedule for both of us. However, the irony is that last night, during Leo’s best night sleep, was one of Chloe’s worst nights. A record 10+ wakings because she was sick. Ah, the irony.

 


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Dear Leo, 3 months old

Dear Leo,

You are 3 months old. I love you very, very much. When I found out I was pregnant with you, I had thought (and hoped) you were a girl, but now that you are here and we’ve gotten to know each other, I can hardly remember why I felt that way. I am so happy you are who you are, and I mean that with my whole heart.

Here are a few things about you right now:

Every morning when you wake up, you smile. I love this.

Occasionally you’ll fall sleep with your eyes slightly open. This is called nocturnal lagophthalmos. Turns out it is fairly common and you’ll grow out of it.

You have sweaty feet. You get this from your dad.

You easily overheat in the car seat. I can’t believe car seats aren’t made with more ventilation or a more breathable material. I’ve looked at dozens now and haven’t found anything better. We’ve practically frozen ourselves with the air conditioner this summer just trying to keep you comfortable.

You prefer to be carried upright.

You have a mild case of cradle cap. I did one treatment with jojoba oil and now it is clearing up nicely.

Your hair is slowly filling in and replacing your (now longer) newborn hair. I’d attempt to cut it and even it out, but your dad won’t let me.

You have never had diaper rash (fingers crossed).

It’s too early to tell, but I think you’re going to have your dad’s blue eyes, just many shades darker. Although, already you have the tiniest patch of brown on the bottom of your right iris.

You’ve begun using your hands. You swat and occasionally hold your toys, and sometimes soothe yourself by sucking your fingers. You’ve even figured out you can rub your face with the backs of your hands, so you don’t accidentally scratch yourself (a good sign you’re tired).

Sweet dreams little one!

Love,
Mama


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4 Sanity Savers for a New Mom of 2

Being a mother of 2 is hard. Here are 4 things that have been a big help to me this second time around:

1. Face Wipes When I am too exhausted to wash my face (or even shower), I’ve found the Yes to cucumber towelettes a quick and refreshing substitute. The Yes to Baby Carrots Nose + Face wipes, have come in handy for cleaning up baby, too.

2. Tandem Stroller A tandem stroller is a must. We got the Joovy Caboose. My toddler usually wants to walk everywhere, but there are times when she’s tired or needs a place to stand while I speed along. This stroller has an almost universal infant car seat attachment, so baby goes from the car to the stroller with ease. The optional Joovy Parent Organizer puts drinks, keys, phone, snacks, etc., right at your fingertips. The only down side to this stroller is its slightly heavier weight and size (compared to a single stroller), but they do make a more expensive ultralight version.

3. Video Monitor There were so many times when I wished I could check in on our first baby without going into her room. My babies are such light sleepers, that a floorboard creaking can wake them up. And an audio monitor just isn’t the same. A picture is worth a thousand words (or sounds)! Plus, our Summer Infant Baby Touch monitor can pan & zoom, has two-way talking, and can take multiple cameras on the same handset.

4. Smart Phone OMG am I so thankful to have one of these. Its great for taking photos and videos of the kids, handy to keep in my pocket, check the weather, you name it. And there really seems to be an app for all things baby – from tracking feeding, poops, and milestones to providing white noise. Sometimes I’ll read, play games or surf the web while breastfeeding, and when necessary I can instantly hand it off to my toddler to play with when I just want some peace with the newborn.

Are you a mother (or grandma, aunt, child-care provider, etc)? I’d love to know what helpful items you’d suggest!


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The neglected toddler

These photos were taken at Rainbow Trout Farm a few weeks ago where Chloe got her first “real” fishing experience. David insists that Chloe will be a champion fly-fisher one day, so he is starting her down the path to success. Leo was only 2 weeks old then. He mostly slept through the whole experience.

***

In the case of a toddler versus newborn scenario, it is almost certain to be the toddler who gets shafted. I feel like I’m always asking Chloe to “hold on” while I see to Leo’s needs first (feeding, diaper changing, whatever) before I can get Chloe what she wants (anything from setting her up with a project, getting her a snack or putting on a video). Very rarely do I let Leo really cry while I see to Chloe’s needs, although sometimes there has been no choice in the matter.

One of the reasons I am grateful for David’s paternity leave is the time he’s been able to devote to Chloe. Yes, I’ve needed a little help with the newborn, but at this point I have the skills to take care of him on my own. Knowing Chloe is getting attention from Daddy (and grandma while she was here) really helps assuage the guilt I feel for not spending more quality time with her. It also leaves me more free time to focus on Leo. This newborn period flies by, and I am trying to savor it the best I can, knowing it will be gone all too soon.


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One month down

Leo turned one month old this week. Several times I sat down to try and write about what life has been like this past month, but I can’t seem to find the right words.

Basically, it’s complicated.

One thing for sure – being a mother of a newborn and a toddler is HARD. Existing on such minimal sleep is the worst part – like living life through a fog. Simple tasks can seem monumental. And I feel like I should be happier – like when my mom was here, I felt like I should have been so happy, but I wasn’t quite as happy as I thought I should be. Does that make sense?

Anyway, in a nutshell, this past month has been stressful, but things are getting better. I am feeling better, both mentally and physically. Best of all, we are slowly starting to adjust to our new shape as a family.

As for Leo, he is definitely growing. Seriously. It was like I woke up one morning and my tiny newborn was replaced by a hefty baby boy (which makes sense when I think about it, since all he wants to do is nurse). Nights are getting somewhat easier, and what seemed to be his constant fussing and crying is giving way to a few more periods of “quiet alertness.” Thank goodness.

The thing I miss most is the little time I had for myself, and going out with the “ease” of having just one child. Now there are two little individuals with vastly different needs. There are moments I feel trapped and frustrated in my own house, and other times when I don’t want to leave again, ever. Plus, I miss my husband. He’s here, too, doing his part, but our whole lives are revolving around the kids right now, with no time for us. It will be good when Grandma Sandy (my mother-in-law) comes next week. Hopefully that might give us time to reconnect. So, again, it’s hard. But we’re dealing. And learning. And living.

One day at a time.

(Btw – that photo was taken by David a week or so ago, so Leo is not a one-month old in that photo. Note to self: take more photos!)


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Sand and water

A couple weekends ago we had Daddy all to ourselves. This particular day we joined him for a brief afternoon on the river, and then a few hours at Cannon beach. It had been a long time since we’d done something like this, and we had such a great time. Chloe loved playing in the water and especially the sand, despite the cold temperature.

I wish we could do this kind of thing more often, like we used to, but there are so many reasons we don’t – I’ve been so tired this pregnancy, or David has to work the weekend, or we need to take care of house-related errands or chores… And honestly, Chloe is becoming a handful. At two, she is naturally more independent and willful (and sometimes downright naughty!). There are days I can’t even bear to take her for groceries, and have put it off, if it just isn’t a good day. I wish it wasn’t that way.

I wish getting out of the house was easier… that everyday could be spent somewhere stimulating and fun. But now I’m okay if its just a few times a week, not counting her dance class or her morning at baby preschool. And when Baby Two comes along… well, I think its going to be tough for a while. David said something along the lines of wishing we could fast-forward through that first year, and though I see his point, this will be my only other baby. The last time I’ll get to experience the wonder of a newborn and all the sweetness that entails. And I want to share that with Chloe in a good way. I want them to love each other, to get along, to be friends. But I won’t be able to help them do that if I’m exhausted all the time, like I am now. So, when things just happen to work out, like it did on this special day, I am that much more grateful.


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Dear Chloe – 22 months

Dear Chloe,
You are 22 months old today. Thanks to a new Babymate app, I’ve been able to record some things about you as they happen. Here are some noteworthy occurrences during this past month:

Sept 14aYou got a black bean stuck in your nose. During dinner you kept saying “bean… in… nose” while holding a bean in your hand and gesturing toward your nose. We kept telling you that no, we don’t put beans up our noses. Then Daddy finally figured out that you already had a bean stuck in your nose. Oh boy. Daddy told me to run and get the tweezers, and after a slight hesitation, I did. I guess I was afraid we’d scratch the inside of your nose with the tweezers, or worse, push the wayward bean back in too far. Turns out Daddy was only able to pull small pieces out at a time, while the majority remained lodged. Then he got a tissue, held your right nostril closed and told you to blow. I was afraid you’d inhale it even further, but after a few tries it came shooting out. I guess it was a good thing you already had a little cold, so the mucus helped it slide. Go figure.

Sept 14bThe potty got a record amount of action on this same day – both your first time peeing and your second time going poop.

Sept 15Your second pee in the potty!

Sept 16a – You and Daddy love playing “blocks” (mega-blocks, legos, and/or wooden blocks) together. This particular day, you built a structure all by yourself which you called a “baby bed,” and then proceeded to lay the baby in it.

Sept 16bYou slept through the night! Consequently, you’ve been sleeping amazingly well ever since. Not always through the night, but with less wakings than you’ve had in a long time.

Sept 17You fed the Lorikeets at the zoo all by yourself. Although you’ve always enjoyed them, their piercing squawks and abrupt movements kept you from getting too close during previous visits. Today we had the area all to ourselves and it was pretty special. I was pretty proud with how far you’d come. The lone attendant said you did amazingly well for your age, especially since you moved slowly and listened when I told you not to touch the birds. I took a video of you with my iphone, and consequently, you love to watch it over and over.

Sept 19 – While Mommy and Daddy were working in the office, you left and took your pants and your diaper off, and then put your pants back on. Did you think we wouldn’t notice? This is far from the first time you’ve taken off your diaper, but the first time you put your pants back on afterward. Clever girl.

Sept 20Your first train ride. You and I took a morning ride through Forest Park on the zooliner. It was a really special experience for the two of us.

A few other tidbits about you this month:

  • You’re vocabulary is growing, and your making more complete sentences.
  • You like yogurt covered raisins, which you call “beans”.
  • Yellow and Orange are the colors that you consistently know.
  • When you’re excited, sometimes you’ll loudly call out random numbers – “Two! Eight! Seven!”

I can’t believe you’re going to be 2 years old in only another two months!

Love,
Mama


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Dear Chloe, 21 months old

Dear Chloe,

You are 21 months old today! Although I recently shared a couple of your big accomplishments, I wanted to include a few more tidbits about you this month:

• Now that you’ve mastered basic animals and their sounds, you’re taking a special interest in transportation vehicles: cars, trucks, trains (choo choo), airplanes, school buses and boats.

• Loud noises still scare you, although you’ve made a tentative peace with the vacuum.

• You like Elmo from Sesame Street. You point him out in the toy store, in books, even on your diapers. You’ve now watched two Elmo dvds and although you enjoy them, you really do not like Mr. Noodle. I’ve learned to fast forward through his segments in Elmo’s world. (Baby Einstein videos remain your favorite).

• Although you’ve always eaten beans (black, kidney, not green beans) you are really enjoying edamame. I think you like the process of opening the pods and popping out the beans by yourself.

• You could finally use a haircut. At least a bang trim to get it out of your eyes. I can’t decide whether to do it myself or just let it all grow out. You look quite nice wearing a clip to pull your bangs back, but your fine hair seems to reject even the “no-slip” kind.

• You’re learning colors, although orange is the only one you get consistently right.

• Today, the head of child care and another child care attendant both remarked on what a large vocabulary you have for such a young age. It does seem like you are surprising me with new words everyday.


Holding hands with Daddy at the zoo

• This past month we made a special trip to Ikea to get you some toddler supplies: the Latt table and chairs, Mala easel, Rusig rocker, Patrull bathtub mat and various art supplies. You were so happy the next morning to see your own child-sized table and chairs! Not a day goes by where they don’t get used. You call the rocker “Horsey” and when you ride it you say “Whoa! Whoa!” I think it won’t be long before you start saying “Giddyup!”


Playing with “Meow”

In your room, with buppy

Overall, we are having a wonderful summer, full of sunny days, splashing water fountains, summer dresses, local adventures and new explorations. We are so lucky to be able to spend this precious time together. I feel grateful to have you in my life and I try to remember that all this innocence and wonder probably won’t last forever. It is in the here and now, and that’s where I want to be too.

I love you my sweet little girl,
Mama


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Dear Chloe, 18 months old

Dear Chloe,

You turned 18-months-old last week. Yesterday was your 18-month check-up and you are officially at the 0% percentile for weight. You’d likely be negative if the chart measured below zero. As usual, the doctor found you to be very healthy. You got your tetanus shot and had some blood drawn to check your iron levels. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and apparently you have a nice vein in your left arm. Turns out you’re mildly iron deficient. We’re beginning a multi-vitamin with iron until you turn two. Once your iron stores replenish, I’m told your appetite should increase, which could lead to normal weight gain. The nurse told us that it should be given with orange juice to help absorption, but not within an hour of milk or dairy products, which will hinder it. So maybe all the whole milk I’ve been trying to give you might not have been a good thing after all. The nurse also cautioned that iron supplements can stain teeth. I still hope it helps.


The girls at Saint Cupcake and then hanging out at the park (again with the rain!)

To celebrate this 18-month milestone, you met up with a friend at Saint Cupcake who shares your same birthday.  It seemed fitting to have a little mini-cupcake together. Both of you are on the petite, picky-eater side, so it is nice for me to have another mom to commiserate with.


Watching the big hail storm last week. Curiously, the hail was in the shape of diamonds.

There is so much about you that I want to remember from this age, and I’m going to kick myself in the future for not capturing it on video. Your smile is infectious, your laughter bubbly. The feather-light smack of your sweet kisses melt my heart. Some days you’re a study in opposites: little miss independent one day and then saying “up, up” (aka “hold me”) the next. You’re all the good, lovable things a little girl should be, despite the occasional frustrating, demanding times that I expect will keep growing as your needs and desires outpace your vocabulary and restraint. I just hope that I can be the loving guidance you’ll need, even when I have to grit my teeth. 🙂

Love,
Mama

Chloe stats: Weight: 18lb 13.2 oz, 0% | Height: 2’7″, 28% | Head circumference 17.99″, 26%)


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Happiness

I’ve been feeling a little bad about the last post. Some days are just harder than others, and I realize that there are a lot of people that would happily exchange their problems for mine. So today I’m just concentrating on happiness and I’m finding a lot to be happy for.

Happiness today is…

  • Chloe going back to sleep after waking up early
  • Spending that extra time snuggling with my honey
  • Watching Chloe’s happily explore during her art class
  • Driving downtown to pick up my professionally printed photo for the Living River juried art exhibit. Can you believe it?! My photo was one of 80 works (from textiles, sculpture, photography, paintings, etc) selected out of over 350 submissions. I’ve never “shown” my work like this before, which is kind of thrilling.
  • Treating myself to a mocha and bressane from the Pearl Bakery.
  • Chloe falling asleep on the way home, and then taking a second nap later in the afternoon.
  • Finding out my mother-in-law is coming for a visit!


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Night Night

Today, while Chloe was sitting in my lap and I was briefly checking my email, Chloe put her head down on my arm. I heard her saying something over and over, and when I gave her my full attention I realized she was repeating “night night.” Fascinated, I cautiously asked her if she wanted to go night night. After all, I didn’t want her to worry I’d lay her in bed, just because she happened to say the words. Well, she didn’t say no, even though I asked her a couple times and walked her into her room. There I laid her down and covered her gently with a blanket, all the while expecting her to protest. But she didn’t. She took at nap.

Chloe’s napping has been haywire lately. I think she’s transitioning from two naps to one. She hasn’t taken two naps for days now, and I have to gauge carefully when is a good time to put her down. I usually guess correctly, and she goes right down, but sometimes, its anyone’s guess.

I already miss the two nap schedule. I have a hard time getting anything done, and working is almost impossible. It has gotten to the point that she cries if I sit down at my computer. She is also more energetic than ever, and very LOUD. She’ll wander around the house yelling Mama! Mama! or More! More! over and over again, or just generally crying at my legs until I get up.

It is really the days when I have work to do that are the hardest. Regular days are fine, where I can give my full attention to just us. David has suggested I give up working from home, but I don’t want to. But I also don’t want him to come home to a messy house, frustrated wife and grumpy child either. I know that something’s gotta give. I just hope to put off whatever it is a little longer. I’m scared that if I stop taking work and lose my clients it will be impossible to get that momentum back. Plus, it is something I enjoy (when I can concentrate) and it keeps my skills updated. Who knows what things will be like if I stop now and try to start again later? The industry and software is ever changing. I could get left behind. But I also want to be a good mom. And a good wife, too.

Why can’t I just have it all?

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