Thursday, February 25, 2016

2016 One Little Word: Rhythm

“Dance with your sacred rhythm.”
-Lailah Gifty Akita, Pearls of Wisdom: Great mind

I've said it before, but I'll say it again... Ali Edwards's One Little Word workshop is the single most important self-care splurge I make each year. (And, at $31, it's hardly a splurge!) 

The choosing of a word that will guide my year is one of my favorite traditions, and the monthly prompts remind me to check in with my word throughout the year as well as give me the excuse to play with my craft supplies for an hour or so each month. This is my sixth year to align myself with a word [2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015], and this year I am looking at life through the lens of the word "rhythm."

The word rhythm came to me in a conversation with Callie over Christmas break. Then as I wrapped up my 2015 album, I was struck by how many times I used the word last year to describe the weeks and months that felt good. The times when things seemed to fall into place.

In 2016 I'm striving to find rhythm in my days. A little bit predictable, but not necessarily repetitive and boring. A foundation to fall back on when things out of my control try to wreak havoc. 

I want to live into the rhythms of our daily life. I want to celebrate the smallness of our everyday. I want to find comfort in our routines. I want to stay focused on the needs of my family.  I want to cultivate good, healthy habits. I want to practice my values until they become second nature. 

I already see rhythm at work in my life in the routines that I've created both intentionally and serendipitously. As we waded through the newborn phase last year, I relied on these rituals for strength, connection, and to get keep the damn floor clean.

I often remind myself that there are seasons to life. And that I don't have to find the perfect solution for all time, just the right solution for right now

I'm excited to see what happens this year as I lean into routines and habits... when I silence the noise and focus on my guiding values. I hope to find an internal peace and harmony that will infuse throughout our family. I can't wait to watch Silas learn and grow and to hold his hand along the way. I'm also eager to see the impact that the he{art} and soul collective (the creator's group that Callie and I are hosting) makes in my life as well as the other contributors.

On the other hand...
As excited as I am about watching Silas grow as an individual, I also feel the weight of my responsibility to guide him. I fear that I will not be able to give him the strong foundation that he needs. I fear that things out of my control will disrupt our days and leave me feeling stressed and frustrated. I fear that I will not be able to savor the moments of Silas being little. That I will forget what these wonderful moments feel like. I fear that I might find drudgery and resentment in the routines and find myself wishing for more spontaneity, freedom, and excitement.

Follow my progress and be inspired!

Let the rhythm move you!


Friday, February 05, 2016

12 months with Silas...

"He falls asleep and I feel I could die of love when I watch him, and I think to myself that he is what angels look like. Then I doze off, too, and it's like heaven, but sometimes only 20 minutes later he wakes up and begins to make his gritchy rodent noises, scanning the room wildly. I look blearily over at him in the bassinet, and think, with great hostility, Oh God, he's raising his loathsome reptilian head again."
-Anne Lamott

Wow! What a year! As I've said before, it seems like such a long time, and yet it just flew by.

What's Silas up to?
Silas is learning that he has a lot of independence at dinner time. His list of favorite foods has changed several times this month... one night he loves grapes, the next night he throws them all on the ground. Repeat with sweet potatoes, pears, chicken, etc. Some nights he refuses to eat unless spoon fed, some nights he won't let a spoon grace his lips. And sometimes he begs for a baby carrot off of our plate until we give it to him to gnaw on. It's enough to make this mama crazy!

No door or drawer is safe from Silas these days, and neither is the stuff inside... although occasionally he seems to follow the commands "leave it alone" and "put it back." After finding the DVD remote in the recycling can, we took action to move the trash cans to the other side of the baby gate at the dining room door... we'll see how long it takes for Silas to learn to go around.

It took Silas a day and a half to figure out how a straw works, although he still hasn't figured out that you don't have to tip the cup. Now he can also stack rings back on a spindle and will spend a long time trying to put the cap or lid back on a container. The best is... when he finds a sock on the floor, he stops and tries to wrap it around his foot even if he already has a sock or shoe on.

He started taking a few unassisted steps around the middle of the month, almost as if he didn't even know he had let go. As soon as he realized he was on his own, he would plop down on his knees. However, he surprised us on his birthday by walking the length of the living room (several times!)

Silas has been sick a couple of times this month: once with a scary bout of croup that ended up with an ER visit and a quick hospital stay, and then just recently another ear infection. Also, did you know that shedding fingernails/toenails can be a lingering symptom of a bad case of hand, foot, and mouth? Or so I learned from Dr. Google after Silas lost a thumbnail, a big hunk of a fingernail, and is about to lose a toenail. Luckily though, it seems to be only a temporary issue.

From mama's perspective...
I'm the mama to a one-year-old... how is that possible? All of a sudden Silas seems so big, his legs dangling from my lap as he nurses. More mobile every day, with plenty to say, if only we could understand. With independence comes tantrums, and this feels like whole new territory. While I know we've only just begun down this road, I find myself running to parenting blogs and books, and debating which philosophies and scripts I think will work best for us.

This month we put our deposit in at one of the Montessori nursery schools, in hopes of Silas starting in March. He has to be walking and drinking from a cup. We've been holding our breath on the walking part, but it seems that he is going to make the deadline.

Our freezer stash of milk is on its last days, so just days before Silas's birthday, we began to introduce whole milk into his daily bottles for school. I have fretted about the best way to make this transition, knowing all along that Silas would probably adapt just fine. I am hoping that he'll still want to nurse when I am with him, but I will trust his lead.

We woke Silas up with a crib full of balloons on his birthday, with hopes of creating a new family tradition. I've also been planning a "big" bash for Silas's birthday... both Rob's and my families are planning to be in town to celebrate the weekend afterwards. All of my brainspace has been devoted to party planning lately. After that is over, I know I'll be itching for a new project...

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

11 months with Silas...

"But from the very start, there is that small streak of steel within each child. That thing that says "I am," and forms the core of personality."
― Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber 

During the first weekend of the month, a rash started to develop on Silas's face. We racked our brains trying to think if he had eaten anything new that might have caused an allergic reaction. Then the next day he started running a fever. By Monday the rash had developed into swollen blisters and covered his cheeks, thumbs, one arm, and bottom, and it was obvious he felt awful.

His pediatrician said he was a very sick boy and that they would have admitted him to the hospital if they didn't know us (making me glad we hadn't gone in to urgent care over the weekend). After taking blood from both arms (it took two nurses, mom, and dad to hold him still), we went home with three potential diagnoses and four prescriptions to treat them all. We had to check in with the doctor every day, and Silas was out of school all week. By Thursday the rash started to fade, but even now (four weeks later) he still has remnants of the rash. (Turns out that his whole class was out sick Wednesday through Friday, and most with hand, foot, and mouth disease... so we're guessing that he had a really bad case of it.)

Luckily the month ended on a much better note with our trip to Shreveport to celebrate Christmas with my family. Silas got lots of love from his Lovey and Papaw, as well as tried to take away all of the toys from his cousin Luke. It was a long drive and Silas slept horribly while we were there, but it was so worth it for all of us.

We aren't big New Year's Eve people, but we rung in the New Year at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Greenville (Silas ate a whole chicken soft taco, plus some) and then were in bed by 10:30 pm. This boy is headed full steam ahead to the one-year mark, and I'm so proud to be holding his hands all the way there!

What's Silas up to?
Silas is getting a reputation of being "Mr. Personality" at school. He often needs someone to pat his back to help him calm down at nap time, and sometimes won't nap unless a certain teacher is in the room. One day all of the babies were moved to a different room for the afternoon, and he refused to nap until he was brought back to "his" crib in "his" classroom. Stubborn boy... like his daddy.

After fighting his medicines for the first couple of doses, Silas decided to open his mouth and suck the medicine from the syringes. I can't tell you how much easier this made the week. I really dreaded having to wrestle him to the ground three times a day for ten days.

As Silas started to feel better after the onset of his rash, we really enjoyed our time together in house arrest. He would play by himself in the living room for a good part of the afternoons, but take little breaks to come over for a hug and kiss. He is also starting to "dance," aka rock back and forth, when music is played. And, one of his favorite songs comes from his Fisher-Price nativity set. He will also pick out the baby Jesus figurine and give him kisses when prompted. We would repeat, "Give Baby Jesus a kiss" over and over again because it was so cute.

Silas loved pushing the walker toy that Lovey has. His balance seemed to get much better in the week we were there. He is now babbling like crazy; it kind of sounds like "baba" and "mama," but it doesn't really seem to have a meaning yet. After months of modeling the sign for "more," it seemed to really click this past week. It looks a lot like clapping, but it is very clear that he is using it deliberately. He is also starting to give me big open-mouthed kisses on the mouth.

Silas loves trash cans, and especially the two white containers we use to collect recycling. He will leap over tall buildings (or at least the barricade Daddy made with kitchen chairs) to get to them. He also loves paper. He carried around one of my mom's catalogs all day long, tearing out pages and wadding them up as he went. We have to be careful though, or it quickly ends up in his mouth. I find myself saying, "we don't eat more paper" more often than you imagine. (I was only able to get him to lay still for this month's photos by letting him "pretend" to eat toilet paper.)

Three more teeth popped through this month... the one just to the right of his front teeth first, and then the one to the left of his front teeth, and then finally the front right tooth. And, it seems like he's about to get the other front tooth at any time.

Silas traveled so well on the way to Shreveport. He slept most of the way, so we just kept on driving until he woke up from his naps. He spent the first half of the trip trying to figure out how to get Cheerios out of his no-spill snack cup, and the second half of the trip eating them one by one. Cheerios were all over the back seat and stuck in all crevices of his car seat. If he is the least bit tired, Silas hates being buckled in the car seat... he locks his knees and refuses to sit down. Which means it takes us even longer to get out the door and on the road.

From mama's perspective...
I began the month fearing that our breastfeeding days were coming to an end earlier than I hoped. My pumping supply tanked, even though Silas still seemed to be getting milk when he nursed. After a call to the lactation consultant at the hospital, I upped my vitamins and herbs (Calcium/Magnesium and Fenugreek seed) to combat the hormone changes from the return of my menstrual flow... TMI?? Sorry. The week at home sick may have been our saving grace though because we were able to save our freezer stash of milk for January.

Silas is becoming very deliberate with his toys... carefully moving them from one surface to another or taking them in and out of a box. While a month or so ago, Rob and I would wonder aloud about what was he was thinking; now as he plays, it is often very clear what is going through his head.

We were so eager to take Silas to see the Christmas lights at Roper Mountain. We were just sure that he would be amazed by all of the colored lights. However, he was much more entertained by the phone screen. Maybe next year?

This month provided lots of opportunities to be present for my family. With a week home sick (all three of us at one point) and two weeks of Christmas vacation, it was a lot of together time with Rob and Silas. And, given that blessing, I appreciate both of them all the more. Silas is at such a fun age, with his little personality shining through. As his first birthday approaches, I am amazed at how much each of us has grown and changed this year.

A few of Silas's favorite Christmas gifts...
Silas was certainly a very lucky little boy on Christmas morning. In addition to a couple of small Santa gifts, he had many gifts to open from his grandparents, aunts, and friends. Below are a few of his favorites so far. Although he also received several fun gifts that he will come to love in the months to come.

  1. Hape Mini Van : Great wooden "car" that Silas has learned to roll across the floor. With the window holes, there are lots of ways for his little hands to get a grip on it.
  2. Match Stacks Little Hipster : This maybe Silas and Mama's favorite Christmas present this year. I love that the wooden discs were made in the USA and of sustainable products. Silas loves to pour them out and carefully put each disc back in the tube. He can sit and focus on this for ten to fifteen minutes... which I'm learning is really, really long in baby/toddler time.
  3. Oops Imagine! Wooden Forest Puzzle : Magnets in each of the pieces keep these blocks standing upright. Silas doesn't yet know how to put it back together, but he sure likes knocking it down.
  4. Old MacDonald had a Farm Finger Puppet Book : Silas loves a finger puppet book. He likes to watch the puppet "dance" on each page, and sometimes leans in for a kiss. Although this is only one verse of the classic "Old McDonald" song, Silas really won't sit still for much longer yet.
  5. Lillaboo Toy Vehicles : These cars roll well across the carpet and hardwood. And the interchangeable pieces keep things interesting for mom and dad, too.
  6. Countablock : Not your average learn-to-count book. Such fun for kids and parents alike. The illustrations on the die-cut pages are gorgeous. And, there's just enough humor to keep you counting all the way to 100 (Granted, after 20, every 10 numbers are presented on just two spreads.)
  7. Litter Critter Plush Doll : Little Critter was Rob's absolute favorite as a kid, and he is eager to share the classic stories with Silas. Right now Little Critter is getting lots of open mouth kisses over his whole face.   

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

10 months with Silas...

“Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood - finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.”
― Jodi Picoult, Perfect Match

10 months old... better late than never...

My mom/Silas's Lovey came to visit for a long weekend early in the month. She was able to have some one-on-one time with him while I went to work, and then I rushed home to spend the afternoons with both of them.

A few weeks later, after being home sick with RSV for a few days, he went back to daycare for one day before we headed out of town for Thanksgiving. We traveled across the state to Rob's parents house for the holiday. It was a pretty low-key trip with a big feast, a couple of walks around the lake, several sleepless nights, and lots of hanging out at the house.

What Silas is up to?
Silas started pulling up on everything... especially the living room windowsill and the corners of the side tables. And, by the end of the month, he was been cruising, taking a few steps while holding onto the couch, and even climbed the flight of stairs to the second floor by himself (with Mama close behind, of course).

Silas loves to play with cardboard boxes and empty bottles as much as any toy. He has become quite the wiggle worm during diaper changes. Sometimes though you can trick him to lay flat by handing him two toys to bang together. Banging things together is still a favorite pastime: often it's the family photo cards that I printed and laminated for him. And, sometimes he will even give the photos open mouth "kisses."

To show his love for us, he leans in to Mama's shoulder to give her kisses, yet he head-butts Daddy... which we both love respectively. When he gets upset, Silas puts his forehead on the ground as he wails, even if that means folding in half from a seated position.

Silas has learned to wave this month. He spends his whole breakfast waving to me across the kitchen, although he rarely waves on cue yet. However, he is awfully clingy in the evenings after work... I can't easily hold him as I cook dinner because he tries to grab the knife or knock over the eggs. So instead I prop him up on the bar stool or scoot his high chair over to the kitchen, so he can watch me work.

Although still a big eater, he's getting much more picky about what he eats. Often picking around his tray to choose only his favorites (sweet potatoes and corn). He also loves when we go to Jason's Deli because Daddy lets him eat off of his salad bar plate (mango quinoa, black bean salsa, feta).

Things got a little snotty just before Thanksgiving. After a long weekend of fever and snot out the wazoo, we took him in to the pediatrician. He tested positive for RSV; the doctor said that he seemed to be "handling it well," but the symptoms could last for weeks, "into the new year." Oh yay :(

Silas earned his first battle wound after taking on a fight with Grandma's coffee table. As he tried to pull up to standing on the metal and glass table, he lost his balance and bled from his forehead and nose. The first of many, I'm sure.

From mama's perspective...
I feel like we've hit a really good rhythm this month. Things feel good. I'm trying really hard to notice all the little milestones that Silas is hitting. It seems like he learns new tricks every day. On one hand, I know that many of these habits are fleeting, so I'm trying to capture them all with words and photos. But I'm also trying hard not to live with a camera in my hand and to remind myself that the memory captured is only as good as the memory made.

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