“nastics!”

in august, lu immediately recognized how much fun came from bouncing. be it a bounce house, a mini trampoline with some assistance, or a couch – an addiction to bouncing was slowly developing.

then, the dare-devil tactics rose to the next level: she independently began front rolls.

huh? where did she acquire this skill at 1.8 years?

a decision was made to seek out a toddler gymnastics class. with some research and a few calls, we soon learned we had received a spot in a parent-child class. ry and i were pumped and a trip to target was made to locate the right “gymnastics” attire.

so came the first class and along with it: tears. the gym is situated within a monstrous warehouse and [without exaggeration] has hundreds of activities. however, 1/3 of the activities for that session included the use of carpet squares. hmmm. foam pit vs. carpet squares. trampoline tracks vs. carpet squares. i think we can agree on what is more enticing to us; that doubly applies to an almost two year old. when lu & i were instructed to engage in the organized activities, she wasn’t able to understand. tears flowed.

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here, i’m coaching her to embrace the squares. GIANT fail.

the most traumatic experience came when i was forcing her to do the activities. here is lulu practicing log rolls:

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[thank you to the photographer for permanently sealing these memories for a lifetime]

the tears – although certainly shed – ceased upon the release to free time. when free time began and daddy hit the floor, lu found love with flying.

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lucy totally found love in [what she deemed to be] a hopeless place.

since the first session, lu has learned to accept the structured time and to give tremendous credit to the gym, they always manage to incorporate something new into this time or implement a range of varied activities. lucy reallllllllly loves it there. it seems she knows when the week is concluding because we start fielding questions about “nastics.” and when saturday arrives, lucy is super stoked.

“nastics” was/is certainly worth the time and fee. now that more smiles accompany her into each session, i’ll be sure to capture these as she enters her last class. and then we start with session #2!

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ruh roh

as most lil’ ones approaching their second birthday, lulu is developing a dense vocabulary. it’s pretty spectacular to hear her craft strings of words to articulate what she sees/hears/feels/thinks.

ry carefully selects words to help lu’s understanding of syntax and word-choice by using “emulsify” and “locate”. good dad.

my newest contribution to her language acquisition: “dammit.”

what might be scariest is her ability to determine when to appropriately insert the word.

spilled cheerios? “dammit.”

computer froze while playing your favorite song? “dammit.”

dropped a piece of pizza and now the dogs are chomping at the bits to get to it? “dammit.”

mmmhmm. my child uses the word “dammit” and quite accurately. now, before your panties become bunched, let me elaborate on what is true of this current situation:

  • we are not a foul-mouthed family. ry rarely mutters “words of choice” & i believed the same to be true of myself…until lu acquired this unfortunate vocab word while her father was away @ a conference [whoops].
  • seems to be that this word finds its way into my language in two circumstances. the first would be when i’m cleaning stella’s muddy paws. she always escapes me with one paw remaining. so – naturally, unconsciously – i say, “dammit. come here.” lu initially attached “come here” onto her “dammit”, but that is now done infrequently. i also use the d-word word when i misplace items. such was the case on saturday when i couldn’t find my keys after loading lu into the car. i said it. she said it back to me. and so it began. [whoops #2].
  • lu’s use of the word is not condoned. i shamelessly chuckle [and shield my face while doing so] when i hear it leave her mouth because she says it with meaning – not to provoke laughter from an audience, but…well…something frustrating occurred. we are currently attempting to curtail “dammit” by helping her to know it is not a good word and shouldn’t be said. she’s also learning to replace it with “darn it.”

while the dreaded d-word still circulates in lu’s vocabulary, i’m trying to be more mindful of how i verbally express myself [especially in my interactions with stella]. and for you, i’d recommend the same. these little sponges take everything in.

before the post ends and i gaze out my dining room windows to see that autumn has found its way to upstate, i’ll share some photos of lulu cozying up in her new poncho. talk soon!

Back to blogging!

hi, everyone!

yes, the title of the post is true! you are reading a new blog post…and it’s one that promises more blogging action! 

not that there hasn’t been a reason to blog – it’s just that there is more of a reason to do it because, friends, the womb is occupied! welcome to cheeks of rose and tiny toes: round 2!

as our party of three grows to a party of four, there will undoubtedly be a bevy of story-sharing coming from this end.

how about i begin this new series with this treasure: teeter tot #2 is a saboteur.

with the approach of week five came nausea. intense. debilitating. painful. wrecking. lucy’s initial fetal development brought trouble and pain to me, as well. however, with the onset of this bout came the most overwhelming sense of desperation & helplessness.

i spent days in bed or on the couch [and luckily, i was afforded such an opportunity because of summer vacation]. i did everything to avoid the kitchen. i don’t think i stepped foot inside in from mid-july to mid-august.

when you can’t move for fear of vomiting, you become entrenched in your personal pity party. tears were shed, in person & in front of ry: “but, i can’t do anything…i just want this to pass…this is the worst…it never gets better…you might have a rough go at work, but you get to come home and experience relief; i get NO RELIEF…wahhhhhh.”

with my return to work, i did nothing to disguise how rotten i felt. i was shameless with my display because the only feeling that mattered was the one that rarely came, yet with it came the most zen: stillness. like nothing was troubling my body and my mind was fresh of worry. so, i propped myself against any standing wall when conversing with others, put my head down upon my desk, and took mini naps on the cot in the nurse’s office [kinda gross, right?]. again, none of this mattered. if i had to proceed through the day, i had to make it work any way i saw fit. 

with pregnancy – part I, relief did arrive and it greeted me right around week 16 [as my neighbor had projected it would]. week 16, part deux, starts tomorrow and i can’t say that this nausea bit has chosen to end itself and its insanity. surely, life is tolerable again & i can function; this came about 4 weeks ago. the occasional brushing of teeth can bring me down, but i’m better able to prevent such an occurrence with a little trick called “timing”. and another trick is eating all the time. no exaggeration – i eat nearly once an hour. if i don’t eat frequently, i jeopardize my stability. 

one component of this pregnancy is being able to only stomach certain foods while needing to extremely distance myself from others. some of the fare i love [MACARONI & CHEESE–double gag, mexican, japanese, salads], i don’t enjoy eating or smelling or seeing. if i do have some variation, i must carefully select the ingredients to avoid an encounter with the porcelain piece situated within the bathroom. 

oh, teeter-tot-in-the-making, do talk to mommy’s hormones & help them to understand the need for me to move on. we have lots to do to prepare for your arrival [we cannot wait!]. be a good tot, ok?

reevaluation

the transition to mommyhood has been one that constantly requires me to evaluate my life.

in attempts to be my best version of a mom, wife, friend, employee, & person, it seems that some of my efforts are concentrated in one area which leaves something to be overlooked.

these past two weeks have required me to focus a lot on my career and the responsibilities within it. the work day would leave me feeling exhausted & mentally drained; however, there was still the expectation that i’d transition into the joys and duties of tending to lucy & her development in a 10-minute window of time once the school day ended. during this time, i didn’t give much time to connecting with people in my life or working out or being active outside my standard roles of “mom”, “employee”, or “maid”. Goo.

last weekend left me feeling GREAT–i felt a sense of purpose & accomplishment when reflecting on how i spent my time. nothing tremendous was achieved that weekend [lu advanced to a new car seat–wahoo], but i think–without intention–i created a sense of balance. when reflecting on what exactly happened to create this feeling, i noticed a few similarities between each day: they began early & they involved a morning activity that got me out of the house on my own. as i age, i recognize how much sleeping in is something i don’t enjoy in hindsight simply because i don’t like wasting time [my days of being akin to eeyore are over–kinda]. the morning activities i did aren’t worth detailing. they matter because they got my day going!

i’m gradually identifying myself as a person that enjoys other people. i notice more how much i relish interactions–big & small. part of me wants to cling on to the introverted side that shelters me. it’s a safe zone. i sometimes think i’ll flop and flounder when i mingle with people, but i’ve had more experiences that suggest that’s all in my head.

i think two takeaways are most evident: i do best when there’s a little structure to my day & i need to push myself to engage in more opportunities that get me engaging with other people.

so with this realization, i make these proclamations for myself:

  • i’m going to think about 2-3 activities/tasks i want to involve in my week & determine when they’d be best accomplished. these will become priorities.
  • find time that goes unused. example: when ry comes home after lax practice, there is a 45-minute period i can claim as “workout/physical activity” time. again, this will be a priority.
  • take advantage of meetup–a social network tool that helps you to connect with local people that share similar interests. for too long i’ve lamented about the unlikelihood that i’d meet people in this area where we’ll likely live for sometime. in the past, i’d avoid an idea of this sort like the plague because anxiety would deter me from thinking i would actually have fun doing this. and even though i’ll likely have to wrangle myself away from instantly reverting to this mindset, i’ll try to calm my mind and ease it from traveling in that direction. if i can get past this and train my mind to believe that most things are worth experiencing once, i’ll be a success.

have you ever felt the need to reevaluate & reclaim? what mindsets did you have to shift to feel reconnected & revitalized?

 

 

give it to lucy–she’ll eat it.

when the decision was made to go straight into solids as lu approached 6 months [I encourage interested parents of infants to consider reading Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods–and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater], two benefits were immediately apparent.

  • $$: extra products were not needed to prepare lucy’s food nor did we have to buy jarred food. because of this, we were able to minimize costs incredibly.
  • time: when we began solids, mealtime for lu usually meant washing broccoli or cutting a piece of fruit into finger-sized portions. starting around 9 months, lucy began eating what we ate for dinner. even now when she doesn’t share our meal, she’s usually content with beans, avocado, or eggs–all of which are simple to make.

One of our first attempts with introducing solid food @ 4.5 months

lucy immediately was content being in control of her food intake [you may have heard about her need to be independent & i suppose her early exposure to it via baby-led weaning may have something to do with it]. as we put different veggies & fruits on her tray–bananas, apples, broccoli, avocado, green beans, cucumbers–she became enamored with knowing she could manipulate her food.  at first, it was purely experimental for her; she would touch the food, put the food in her mouth, and suck on it, but that was it.
now that we’ve been feeding lucy like this for over nine months, we’ve seen other perks with this decision.
  • hand-eye coordination: we rarely relied on utensils to help lucy get her food, so she was consistently working on handling her food.
  • openness to new foods: with new textures and tastes being introduced often, lucy embraced the opportunity to try new food. for awhile, it seemed like her preferences were akin to those of a garbage disposal, yet recently she is exhibiting some pickiness.
  • convenience: i eluded to this earlier. feeding time wasn’t burdensome. if we were out to eat, we knew we’d likely share our meal, so we kept lucy’s digestive needs in mind. even packing her meals during the week is quite simple.

lu taking a leap & sampling a red onion during our trip to maine @ 7 months

squealing delightfully/demanding more

baby-led weaning is an ideal way to transition into solids, especially if you’re a freak about ingredients and quality like me. lucy’s diet is probably more balanced than my own, largely consisting of fruits and vegetables. baby-led weaning does not mean giving your baby anything to eat–the sodium content of a dish must be evaluated and there are particular foods that should be avoided until a certain age. although both require knowledge, educating yourself is fairly easy and soon, everything becomes habitual.

blueberry baby, currently @ 15 months

if there’s one very small downside, it’s this: eating has a social appeal for lucy. that being said: if you’re eating, expect her to want some. this forces us to be mindful of what we’re eating, but it has also forced us to sneak snacks when lucy turns away or feign ignorance as she asks for more because she notices our mouths are too full to speak.

i didn’t imagine that feeding lucy solids would ever be something i’d identify as fun, but it really has been, plus, there’s something that is super charming about a 9 month old enthusiastically requesting more chana masala & guacamole.

herro!

hi, everyone. let’s not get too ahead by tagging this blog post as my “comeback”; i didn’t really leave.

i grappled with the direction of this blog & overdosed on over-thinking. i think blogging is pretty cool. it seems like blogs often fit into categories like health, home improvement, food, or life as a stay-at-home-mom. my blog had an identity crisis–‘who am i?’ it wondered, followed by ‘how do i stay relevant?’

well, cheeks of rose and tiny toes fans, turns out the blog was silly for having such thoughts because it soon determined that its appeal is its originality. it is what it is: reflections on motherhood, random lulu details, & anything else it fancies [mostly reserving itself for the first two].

“reflections on motherhood” is the first direction we’ll travel in this post. as you know, over 9 months have passed since we last checked in. first reflection: what would i do without lulu? it is unfair to compare this current life to a life  i will never live, but dare i say that life would lack its sparkle if not for lu? maybe. no doubt that moments have come where i casually reminisce about the freedom to attend happy hour or going to the gym without feeling exhausted or shopping without too much remorse [i’m sure that last one really gets those closest to me laughing because i still partake in the routine of going to a store, seeing something that i really like & can justify why it should be mine, then agonizing over how i don’t need it & that i should save money, so i put it back. maybe i felt this less before i had childcare expenses added to my budget?]

one struggle for me has been adapting to a new sense of flexibility. this is really humorous to me now, but i once thought i epitomized adaptability. “oh, we’re going to drink margaritas instead of red wine? that’s ok by me!” and today’s version: “BUT I THOUGHT WE COMMITTED TO DRINKING RED WINE.”

a modern-day example: trying to take advantage of the weekend, ry & i plan out the day. we begin it & then, lucy unexpectedly needs to nap. or getting ready takes longer than the allotted 45 minutes because while blow-drying my hair, i must create a make-shift gate [obstacle, really] of toys and books  that prevents lucy from scaling the tub, which means that we now don’t have time to do one item on the grandiose list we created. not only that, but i feel like i didn’t do all that i could with my time. this feeling agitates me, yet i seem to experience this type of frustration almost daily because i perused people.com instead of sleeping–it felt good @ 9:45pm on wednesday, but hurts very badly at 5:30am thursday.

perhaps that is what becomes our biggest obstacle: we don’t fairly recognize or fully account for the limitations of the day. you know? we feel invigorated because the weekend has arrived which prompts us to ambitiously project our desired outcomes for the day. being honest, it is an accomplishment to do a load of laundry, fold it, & put it away. there’s so much we usually need to tend to in order to maintain the order & cleanliness of our home on the weekend. some can just jump into the weekend & carpe diem until 10pm sunday night. i wish that was me.

if there are unloaded laundry baskets plotted throughout our bedroom [which there normally are], or piles of mail/paper/electronics stacked to resemble the hanoi tower on the dining room table [this is pretty normal, too], or shoes along each step of the staircase waiting to find a home in their respective closets [always], i’m a mess. these conditions send me into a tizzy. all of this means i’m practically ready to breathe into a brown paper bag to control my anxiety that stems from trying to balance what i want to do with what i think needs to be done.

i think i entered new territory yesterday that might be the start of something big. ry had invited a friend over & she arrived before i came home. might this have happened on a “normal” day for me, i would have FREAKED. i would moan to ryan that the house was disorderly with dirty laundry in the bathroom, dog hair littering the floors, & the ever-present hanoi tower resting on the dining room table. all of this was still in play last night, but i didn’t care. company, schmopany–the house “is what it is” [such a relevant mantra nowadays]. i chose to enjoy the moment with our friend instead of frantically re-shleving lucy’s library.

it’s probably best to take on this new approach day-by-day & maybe it’s catching on. you know, i could’ve swept the stairs instead of indulging you & me by writing this post.

She does what she wants like going pantless & "drinking" coffee.

Lucy + Stella

Stella was my fur baby. I’d say she still is, but she now fancies herself as Lucy’s mother. Oh, Stellbear and Lucy.

Stella in her truest form: wood consumer

Lu & her "mother"

Not a pony

SO regal and protective, that Stella

The Best Way

I thought being a TFA corps member, and employee, was bad–but it lacks an edge with its abundance of overly confident, perfectionistic, and slightly judgmental personalities when compared to the mommy population.

I love moms. Hear me out: the idea of women linked in a community because of a shared journey is amazing to me. However, this impression is evident only from afar and then you find yourself in the group–wanting to isolate yourself. In my experience, finding a place among other moms often {not always} means having to subject yourself to scrutiny.

Being a new parent opens you to newness: ideas, products, practices, etc. I love the newness & loathe it simultaneously. I want to navigate the breadth of knowledge and figure out what to do, buy, teach, and believe independently. Sometimes, I just want an answer from a seasoned veteran. Honestly, I do both daily.

Most of all, though, I want to make my decisions without having to feel like a justification is needed and that seems to be the pre-requisite if you choose to contribute to a conversation on child rearing in a circle of moms. Although I am a sensitive person, I don’t think I’m exaggerating the sizing up that occurs when you share your experiences in motherhood. More recently, a new mommy friend mentioned that she was hesitant to mention she was formula feeding to another mommy friend for fear of judgement. Wait, what? That’s your choice and I believe it was probably one that came to be over the course of a thoughtful process. Who are we to think we know the best way? Moreover, why are we categorizing another parent’s decisions {decisions that do not cause harm} as “right” or “wrong”?

Ok, so here’s the kicker: I’ve participated in the sizing up. I have heard or seen something another mother has done and quickly scoffed {internally}. ‘Well, that’s not how I would do it.’ Consult my husband & he’ll agree. I’ve balked at poor manners and styles of discipline…and I’d be dishonest if I began proclaiming that I’d turn off that fixture within me right now. I’ve owned up to it to you & to my therapist and I’m actively working on lessening my jump to judge. Sometimes we do things to make us feel like we have one up on those around us. Strangely, this can be a comforting feeling, yet its manifestation over time is ugly both internally & externally.

Now what? Here it is: I motion for a movement where we seek to understand why moms do what they do. Assume the best. Believe that somewhere within, that mother came to her decision with some logic and belief it was best for her and her child. Let’s share our experiences–not compare them. Ask questions to learn more, not to belittle or demean.

Regularly, the conversation of birthing brings statements like, “Well, Super Woman over here without her epidural,” or  “I didn’t need the ‘Mother of the Year’ award, so I went for the epidural,” or “I couldn’t be like you. I had to get the epidural.” My choice to go natural was not a choice made to help me feel superior among women. No, I wasn’t aspiring for any accolades. Yes, I’m aware that no trophy or medal is bestowed upon those who forego birthing interventions. And, if you chose to have an intervention, don’t feel small or diminished or embarrassed around me. I made my choice for me and Lucy. Reasons why I went natural: I wanted the experience, I’m a little untrusting of the medical field, and my mom did it, so I thought I could do it, too.

I’m moving each step with confidence and acceptance of myself–which enables me to be more accepting of others. I know the judgement and nose-turning will unlikely change, but my mindset and actions can. Let’s all–especially those of the mommy variety–be more open and understand the ol’ phrase that “One size does not fit all.” Perhaps with this, we’ll be free to be and feel ok when we misstep and even feel ok enough to share it. Fingers crossed.