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Thursday
Jan122017

My Mo is four years old

Four years ago I gave birth to a life-changer. My Mosie. I am loving Mo at this stage, too. She is my little buddy, and we love hanging out together. Sometimes I feel a tad guilty because if I am choosing between Mo or Drum to run an errand or something, I will usually pick Mo. Drum is awesome, but he requires so much more effort. I mean, he's one, so duh. But Mo requires less and she's just fun. We enjoy spending time together and I am so lucky to have such an amazing mini companion.

Mo hair eyes park instagram

 

Mo at four is silly, loving, and full of adventure. She loves to be around people and draws her energy from others. One day, out of nowhere, she said, "This whole world is like a party!" and there could be no truer statement to describe her outlook on life. She makes everything a party, and especially loves an actual party where the goal is to hang out with other people and eat snacks. Someone told me that the way they are as young kids is essentially the way they will always be, and if that's true, Mo is going to live a great life. I'm excited to continue watching her make the most of any and everything she does.
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Mo silly closeup instagram

Mo started preschool in the fall, and it is going well. If asked directly, she says she'd rather stay home than go to school, but I suspect that is because she enjoys hanging out with us so much. She doesn't quite understand that the alternative to school is not lazy days at home with family, but rather going to daycare, which she definitely doesn't want to do. When I ask her what her favorite part of the school day was, she'll say, "When you picked me up!" But I know she does well there. Her teachers say only great things about Mo and her time at school. In fact, her primary teacher always tells me how much she enjoys Mo. She'll often pick her up and cuddle with her a bit when I drop her off, and Mo loves her back. The teacher says that her vocabulary is impressive and she's always saying the funniest things. She describes her as silly, smart, easy-going, and klutzy.
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Mo silly face closeup

Mo is very affectionate. She still loves to be close to people whenever possible, cuddling up on the couch, pressing her body against mine or crawling onto my lap. She likes to sleep with me, and it's a little treat for her on the weekends. If she stays in bed all night (she went through a phase of getting out of bed a million times at night), she gets to sleep with me on the weekend. When I drop her off at school, she wants "one more kiss and hug" again and again. I love it. I love it so much. I want her to always want to cuddle and kiss and hug me. I cherish every time I get to hold her hand, every time she climbs into my lap unprompted, every time she gives me a kiss. I know there will come a time when she doesn't need or want to hold my hand or cuddle with me, and I don't want to take any of that for granted now.
A year ago Mo was just starting to learn letters, and now she's almost mastered them. She can recognize all letters (though she sometimes struggles with lowercase d, b, n, and h), and she can write them well. She loves to read, and will stay up far too late reading books in bed. She's can't actually read of course, but she loves to "read" books and magazines. We put a reading lamp in her room because her night light wasn't bright enough to read and she kept turning her overhead light on. I can't wait until she learns to really read - I hope she loves devouring books like I always have.
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Mo makeup instagram

She continues to be a picky eater. She went through a phase for several weeks where she had a huge appetite, wanting to eat all day long. But even then, she was picky about what satisfied her endless appetite. Fortunately her list of acceptable foods includes things like peas, broccoli, black beans, carrots, cheese, yogurt, granola bars. We get her to eat some pretty healthy stuff, but she also loves "treats" and tries to negotiate for them all day long. "Mommy can I have a treat for being good?" Always.
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Mo is still wearing pullups at night, and still very much needs them. I wrote a year ago that we were too lazy to work on getting her out of overnight pullups, and oops, that's still true! I do kind of wonder if it's a problem. She has been potty trained for a year and a half, but still wets at night. I had a kidney thing that had me wetting the bed until I was well into elementary school, and I want to be sure there's not something going on with Mo. I plan to ask the doctor at her four year appointment.
Anyway, another cool thing to watch is how Mo and Drum grow together. Drum is old enough now that they can play together and they often do. Both are still pretty independent at times - Mo likes to "cut paper" or draw by her self at the table sometimes, and Bro likes to wander around the house and explore solo - but they also invent silly little games together. I hope they continue to be friends forever.
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Mo is very creative. She likes to draw, paint, and color. She has been really interested in puzzles and games (I made her a memory game for Christmas, and she also got Spot It and Guess Who - three games she has been loving). She still loves to watch TV as much as we'll let her. She usually goes through phases of obsession with different shows - the show du jour is Shaun the Sheep. She sings little songs, some she's learned and others she's made up. She likes to tell and hear stories. She pretends a lot, becoming a superhero, a princess, a kitty.
It has been the joy of my life to watch her grow these last four years. I worked hard to bring this child into the world, and I work hard to be a good mom to her, and she makes me proud every day.
Happy fourth birthday Peach Pie!
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Thursday
Dec292016

Drum - fourteen months

I'm a couple days early, but I'm off work this week AND I sent the kids to school/daycare today so I'm just getting all kinds of stuff done. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you're not working and have no kids around. 

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Drum will be 14 months old on New Year's Day! This month has been busy as it always is, but it has been good. Drum just keeps on growing. He's still not talking at all (making sounds, but no meaningful words), but he's very interactive. He recently learned to point to his hair and nose when asked, and he loves to blow on his food before he eats.

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He's starting to run and loves when we chase him. He's always dragging large objects around, like the laundry basket or an large empty box. His cousin Scarlet got a microphone and stand for Christmas, which she left at our house, and he loves to drag it around. He figured out how to turn on the music, so he walks around, dancing, with that thing dragging behind him. He also likes to find three of something - pacifiers, markers, toys - and carry one in each hand and one is his mouth. For no real purpose, he just hangs out like that. He also loves his snack cups. We fill one with puffs or cereal, and he strolls around snacking from the cup, perfectly content.

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Drum loves to get into the recycling, the trash, the pantry, the baking cupboard, and the cupboard full of pots and pans. If ever we can't find something (like a missing remote), we first check those places and 9 times out of 10 we find the missing item that way.

We had his daycare's holiday party at an indoor play place. He met Santa, and though he was not impressed, he only fussed. No tears. But at that party I watched him bully another kid. The kid was standing somewhere Drum wanted to be, so Drum screamed and kind of hip checked the kid to get him out of the way. I guess he's like that at daycare a lot. Dude, my kid is the toddler bully, what the heck?

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He loves this one particular woman (K) at daycare though. I think she's like his second mom. When I'm around, he won't go to anyone else. But he will happily go to her when I drop him off. It makes me really happy, and I told K that she's not allowed to leave until Drum goes to preschool. She was noncommittal.

Bro is a big time climber. He's all over the furniture and anything else he can scale. He has definitely developed that tendency a little earlier than Mo did. She's a big climber now, but looking back when she was his age, I think she was just starting to figure out how to climb onto our ottoman, something Drum has done for awhile now. It might also be because he's a lot taller than she was and can climb up things more easily. Anyway, every day is an adventure with him!

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One thing that kind of concerns me is that Drum hates reading. HATES IT! He always has. Mo did as a baby but by this age she had learned to love books. Bro wants nothing to do with them. If we try to read to him, he pushes the book away or closes it, and wriggles himself free. I know how important reading with your kids is, so I wonder what developmental stuff he's missing out on.

We celebrated his second Christmas. We always have a lot of family parties, and it can be tricky with his nap schedule, but he did pretty decent. On Christmas day we stayed home. We didn't do much for the kids in the way of presents, which was a good thing for Bro. He was only mildy interested in opening gifts. His favorite was a big orange ball his sister had picked out for him. 

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I spent a couple days home with both kids while Mike worked recently. I love them dearly, but I was reminded why I wouldn't be a stay at home mom even if it was an option. It's frustrating and it's definitely not the kind of stimulation I need to feel like a full person. I do wish life wasn't quite so crazy so I could have a little extra time with them, but I'm glad for the reminder that staying home full time with kids is not for me. Plus I think they get so much out of daycare and school, things that I can't provide for them.

I do wish there was a little more time for snuggles though!

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Wednesday
Dec212016

2016 Year in Review

I didn't do a year in review last year (maybe because I had a tiny baby who required me to sit on a yoga ball 95% of the time), and I realize I rarely write here anymore. But whatever, shut up. Let's review 2016!

1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?

Voted for a woman for president! I voted for HRC in the 2008 primary, but this year I got to vote for her in the primary AND the general election.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Several friends had babies, but no new babes in my family. I think my siblings (other than my half-sibs who are 20+ years younger than me) are done with having babies, which is sad in a way.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

Nobody really close, thankfully.

4. What countries did you visit?

None, unfortunately.
5. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
A bigger presence in my community. I am maxed out, I'm at capacity, I don't know how I'll fit anything more in. But after the election, after learning that nearly half of voters support racism, bigotry, and misogyny (or at least are willing to overlook it when electing a leader), I need to do something more. I hope to find ways to be more active locally in hopes of impacting people and policies everywhere.

6. What dates from 2016 will remained etched upon your memory?
November 8. A monumental day as I voted for the most qualified presidential candidate ever and a personal hero of mine. A devestating day as the least qualified presidential candidate ever and one of the most vile representations of humankind managed to win the election.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting through. It was a tough year adjusting to two kids while both Mike and I started new jobs and we figured out our new normal. I hate to say that surviving was an achievement, but it was a challenging year and I feel good about how we ended up.

8. What was your biggest failure?
Not doing enough to raise awareness in my inner circle about the danger a Trump presidency posed. I tried really hard with a handful of people, but I should have done more. I know my efforts alone wouldn't have changed things, but I regret assuming that several people I'm close to would vote to actively block him. Not only did some of those people turn out to be third party voters, but others turned out to actually be supportive of him. I'm still working to reconcile that what I thought I understood about some of the people in my life is just not true.
9. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Last time I did this (2014), my answer was a miscarriage. Thank the lord I didn't experience anything like that this year. No serious injury or illness at all

10. What was the best thing you bought?
Not so much bought, but donated. We support Planned Parenthood and will continue to do so. If you disagree with that, I implore you to ask me about it. I would love to have a respectful dialogue about why I believe it's so important to support reproductive health and rights.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The 2.7 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton. 

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Everyone who voted for that other person whose name I don't even want to write.

13. Where did most of your money go?
Nothing exciting: mortgage, insurance, student loans. The biggest expense though? Child care. Preschool and daycare expenses is by far our largest expense each month.

14. What did you get really excited about?
My kids. I just super love them.
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- happier or sadder? I guess happier. This time last year I was on maternity leave, full of emotions, not sleeping, listening to a gassy baby fuss all day and night. I was happy, but it's easier to feel the happiness when I'm not so sleep deprived.
- richer or poorer? Neither. We make a little more money, but our expenses have increased (two kids in full-time child care), so while technically richer, we feel poorer.

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Advocated for what's right and good in our country.

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Yelling. I got kind of a yelly with my kids a few (dozen) times when it wasn't warranted.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
I'm doing this before Christmas, but as usual, we have A LOT of holiday parties so we'll be all over the place again. 

19. Did you fall in love in 2016?
Not with anybody new.
20. What was your favorite TV program?

I watched the Veep series. Mike wasn't interested, but I thought it was pretty funny.

21. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No. Loves trumps hate. See what I did there?

22. What was the best book you read?
I read about 34 books so far this year, which I think is pretty good considering TWO KIDS AND A FULL TIME JOB! One that sticks out is "Rise of the Rocket Girls." It was poorly executed, unfortunately, but it opened a door to learning all about the contributions women have made to science that have been buried by history. 
23. What did you want and get?
Continued health for my family. I try to never take that for granted.

24. What did you want and not get?
I wanted an HRC presidency so badly. I wanted this country to prove me wrong, to prove that we won't tolerate hatred. Despite the majority of voters trying to prove me wrong, we did not get an HRC presidency. (Are you seeing a trend here? This election hit me hard, and for good reason I believe.)

25. What was your favorite film of this year?
I've been watching a lot of Hallmark holiday movies while I work. They're great for mindless background noise!

26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 36 earlier this month. I worked a long day, then had cake and ice cream with my family. 

27. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I think this one goes without saying lest I beat a dead horse...

28. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Desperate. That's what I said in 2014, and it's still true today. My body changed yet again after Drum was born, and nothing works on me anymore. I bought a few news things, but fashion is not in the budget right now, so it means I'm only comfortable about 5% of the time. It's not that things don't fit because they're too small, but they don't fit correctly and comfortably. I need to start all over with a fresh wardrobe, preferably assembled by a professional stylist, but ain't no way that's happening in the next decade!

29. What kept you sane?
Mike. We are good teammates. We're partners in this chaotic life we've created and when I'm losing my sanity, he's there to keep us together.
30. What political issue stirred you the most?
I just can't.

31. Who did you miss?
My extended family. We all live pretty close to each other, but our days are so full that we don't see each other as often as we used to or we'd like. I hope we can change that.

32. Who was the best new person you met?
I kind of met Hillary Clinton. I mean I was about 20 yards from her when she spoke in my city, so let's just say I met her and she's the best.

33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Be the change you want to see. I've long known that quote and I frequently share it as a life motto, but it seems ever more pertinent this year. We can't just talk about the change we want to see, we can't just hope for the change we want to see, we have to BE the change. We have to DO the changing.
Sunday
Dec042016

On how we approach Santa with our kids

Awhile ago, on the verge of Mo’s first Christmas, I wrote about whether or not to “do Santa.” It felt very pressing at the time to determine our stance on this because it would set the stage for future Christmases. A friend kindly pointed out that at 11 months, it kind of didn’t matter. Point taken.

So that Christmas we didn’t do anything Santa related. Santa made an appearance at her daycare Christmas party, but that was it.

The next Christmas, when she was almost 2, it was much the same. She was still too young to get it or to ask any questions, so we didn’t bring up Santa one way or the other. He came to the daycare party, he showed up in a storybook or two, he made an appearance in some Christmas songs. But we never told her one way or the other if Santa was real, not real, brought presents, didn’t bring presents. It was a non-issue.

A year later, when she was almost 3, things got a little more interesting.

In short, here’s what we learned: If you say and do nothing about Santa, the child will make up his or her own mind!

And that’s the approach we’ve taken, sort of accidentally. Mo hears about Santa from everywhere – school, stories, songs, TV – and we let her craft her own ideas about the whole thing. We don’t correct anything, nor do we assert anything. We don’t discourage, and we don’t encourage. We don’t confirm nor deny.

I figure it’s like any other imaginary figure. I don’t go around telling her that the Paw Patrol characters aren’t real. I think kids exist in a state where real and fake are not defined in the same way they are for adults (although with the rise of fake news stories being accepted as fact, or facts being described as subjective… but that’s for another post). It doesn’t occur to her to ask us if Marshall and Chase are real in real life, and it doesn’t occur to her to ask that about Santa either.

We don’t make a point to take the kids to have their picture taken with Santa, but he shows up every year at the daycare party and they sit on his lap. We don’t tell Mo that Santa brings presents on Christmas or lives in the North Pole or rides a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. We’re not writing the story for her – we’re letting her take the things she hears and piece together what makes sense to her.

I am curious to see how presents go this year. Leading up to last Christmas, she mentioned a couple times that Santa was bringing presents and we always just said some version of, “Oh yeah, you think so?” And then we might probe a little further. “Why do you think he brings presents? Does everyone get presents?” and so on. Rather than confirm or deny, and rather than correct or endorse, we just acknowledge her thoughts and maybe try to understand a little better what she believes. On Christmas morning, she didn’t say a thing about Santa so we didn’t have to figure out how to answer the question of what was from us and what was “from Santa.”

This year, however, she’s older, wiser, more aware. She hasn’t asked to make a list for Santa or directly acknowledged that she expects gifts from him, but she has expressed a general idea that he brings presents on Christmas morning. If she asks, I think we’ll handle it like anything else under the Santa umbrella: ask her what she thinks.

I’ve also thought ahead to the day she asks us directly if Santa is real, and though I can’t say for sure what I’ll do in that moment, I imagine it’ll be something like, “Do you believe Santa is real?” If she still does, then he can be real. If she doesn’t, then I can help her figure out what that means to her.

I completely respect other approaches to Santa, but I’ve found this to be a great approach for us. We’re not telling her what to believe and we’re not telling her she’s wrong for what she believes. We’re letting her take the lead and we’re following along to see where she goes.

It feels trite to write about this in light of what is happening in my country right now, but I needed something lighthearted to give me a mental break so I can dive back into the important work with new energy. Off I go!

Friday
Dec022016

Drum - thirteen months

Pretty sure I just wrote his 12 month update. No literally, I only wrote it 10 days ago...

Anyway, I realized that I kept up monthly updates with Mo through her second year, so I guess I'll try with Drum too. I don't write much of anything here anymore, but someday I'm sure the kids will find this space and compare updates and I want to be fair and equitable. But no promises kids!

Mom and Drum 2016

At 13 months, Drum is a grumpy little bugger. He's a screecher actually. He screeches about everything. I mentioned this in the last update, but woo boy does it drive me crazy. I hope it's just a phase that won't last much longer. I think part of it is that he doesn't talk, and I'm realizing that maybe he's frustrated he can't talk. he screeches rather than talks. Even our progress with signing has not only halted but digressed. He won't sign at all now. I'm not going to worry yet, but I do hope he finds some words soon.

Drum lay frustrated

This is just after throwing a fit.

He's still stuck on 4 teeth. Mo had at least twice as many by now! She even had a couple molars. Drum's teeth are apparently more stubborn about keeping quiet. It's also funny to compare their hair at this age. Mo's was wild and significantly longer and fuller than Bro's. His is still pretty short, white blonde, thin, wispy and pretty straight.

Drum doctor appointment

#brohair

Mo's crazy hair

#mohair

One thing Bro did a lot faster than Mo was walk. He figured it out in a a couple weeks, and it's so fun to watch him walk around like a big kid. His cousins were around for Thanksgiving, and for the first time he was on their level. No more crawling around their feet. He's not quite as fast as them, but he'll get there.

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We recently added a blanket to his crib. He seems to love it - when I put it over him after laying him down, he smiles and slams his hands down on top of it in glee. Sometimes in the morning he grabs his blanket or his monkey to take downstairs with him.

Despite the screeching, he's a pretty awesome kid.

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