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"Mo"nthly Photo - Twelve

This is my last "Mo"nthly photo since I probably won't do these every month going forward, yet it seems like I still should be documenting every moment. It all passes by so quickly and I don't know how I'll remember it if I don't write it down!

I have so much I want to write about this first year of motherhood, but I'll save most of that for a future post. For now, as usual, a look back at the last month. 

It's around this age that everyone wants to know if she's walking yet. She is not. I know she has the ability to do it - she's a pretty strong stander and walks with ease behind her push toy - but she hasn't really given it a try yet. A couple times she's been holding onto a piece of furniture near me, decided she wants to get to me, and has taken an accidental step or two when she realized I was further away than she thought. But no, not walking yet.

She is communicating more lately. She still only has a few actual words, but she is so full of fun noises, and she learns how to make new noises all the time. Her latest favorites are saying "aaahhh" while patting her hand over her mouth, saying "uh oh" but she says it more like "uh..............oh" with along pause in between, clicking her tongue, taking deep breaths that cause a deep sound in her throat, and imitating certain animal noises like "woof" and "oh oh ah ah" (like a monkey). I love to watch her figure these things out. She usually listen to us do them a few times, then she'll try. And then she'll practice for awhile, and once she's mastered something, she moves on. Uh oh was huge for awhile, but now we can only occasionaly get her to say it. Even though she isn't saying a lot of recognizable words, her doctor says she's actually very communicative.

She has also been more affectionate lately. She was never a cuddler, and still isn't really, but she has been showing a bit more affection. She especially likes to lay her head on things to show a little love, so she'll rest her head on a toy she likes, or on our leg or shoulder, or even on the couch if she's trying to tell Oberon she loves him. She also likes to nuzzle some of her small stuffed animals to her neck, and oddly, she bites or nibbles things she likes. When she gets really excited about her stuff Kitty or another plush toy, she squeals and gnaws at it. She also bites my slipper a lot, which I think means she loves my feet. And my favorite thing is that she learned to kiss. If we say, "Can I have a kiss?" she will smack her lips. Sometimes she'll lean in for a kiss, sometimes she'll blow a kiss, and sometimes she just continues what she's doing while making the kissing sound. I die every time.

Mo is still a really good eater. She pretty much eats what the big kids eat at daycare, and eats what we eat at home, though she still gets some purees to fill up because it takes her FOREVER to eat table food. They're also moving her to dairy milk at daycare, but she still nurses at home. However, I'm done pumping! I thought I'd do it through January, but I'm just so over it. I was down to about twice a week anyway, and then a couple weeks ago I pumped for the last time without knowing it was the last time. It's better that way, less ceremonial.

As of her first birthday, Mo had six teeth, though I've seen two more pop up in the last couple days. Those may be the reason she was sick on her birthday. Fortunately we celebrated early so she was healthy for her party (which I intend to write more about soon), but our plans to take her to dinner on her birthday were foiled when she came home early from daycare with a fever. A fever that got up to 104.1 the next day and stuck around longer than I would have liked. Two days after her birthday, the temp was significantly lower, but she had her 1-year appointment at which she had to have SIX shots. And she didn't sleep at all that night, poor babe. Not a great way to spend your first birthday and the few days following it. 

This is how we started her birthday:

And this is how we ended it:

Typically, when she's not feeling icky, Mo is on the move. I like to joke that she does parkour in our living room - she climbs and rolls and tumbles over everything. I have video of her crawling over Mike's legs and doing a somersault to get over the other side. This is something that happens ALL the time. Maybe she's a future gymnast? Or a future American Ninja Warrior?


My 2013

1. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 33 in December. The night before my birthday my mom watched Mo, and Mike and I went to a movie. But not just any movie. We went to a new theater where you can order dinner and beer and snacks while you watch. It's basically the perfect date for us! We saw Catching Fire. The actual day of my birthday we just stayed home in pajamas, which is our other perfect date.

2. What are your strongest memories from this year, and why?

The birth of my child, obviously. That whole experience is so strong in my memory: the horrifying pain of labor, the moment I met Mo, the first weeks at home where we fought in the trenches together just to stay sane and the three of us - me, Mike and Mo - bonded for life.

3. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?

Gave birth. Breastfed. Mothered a child. 

4. What did you want and get?

A healthy birth and a healthy child. Sorry, there's obviously going to be a theme here.

5. What did you want and not get?

More money. I know, so materialistic. But I've been wanting to find a way for our household to have more income, and we just can't figure it out.

6. What would you like to have next year that you didn’t have this year?

Curtains on all my windows. We've lived here a year and a half, and about half of our windows are still curtainless. Which is really just a symbol for the never ending home improvements that come with home ownership. But really, I need some damn window treatments!

7. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

Do I even have to say it? BABY!!

8. What was your biggest failure?

Eating better. Because I was breastfeeding, I didn't care much about what I ate for about six months. I was starving so I just ate what I wanted. Then, though I'm still breastfeeding, I decided I should be more health conscious. Mike and I downloaded My Fitness Pal and counted calories, and it did make us more aware of what we were eating, but I haven't noticed any changes in my weight or my energy. So yeah, fail.

9. What did you rely on when you were overwhelmed?

When Mo was born, the most overwhelming time of my year, Mike was my rock. I learned to appreciate him in new ways. I also leaned heavily on my amazing family. They always showed up when I needed them, and I feel so blessed to have them.

10. What was your most enjoyable purchase?

Skinny jeans. I know! I swore for years I was not a skinny jean person, and then one day, on a whim, I tried on a pair at Old Navy, and I said to my sister, "Am I delusional or do these look good?" And then I bought them. And I love them. I think I might buy more.

11. Did you travel? If so, where?

We spent a weekend at Sleeping Bear Dunes with my family in August, and then immediately following that I traveled to Chicago for work. I wanted to bring Mo with me, so I brought my mom and niece, as well. It was just as logistically chaotic to take her along as it would have been to leave her behind, but I wasn't ready to be away from her for two nights yet.

12. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Yoga. I didn't start again until fall (my last class being a few weeks before Mo was born), and I only did it once a week. I really should do it every day.

Also, I wish I could have spent more time with Mo. I'm still struggling with the fact of being away from her 9 hours a day. I wish there was a way to see her more often.

13. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Laid awake in bed. Which is my way of saying can I please be a better sleeper?

14. Compared to this time last year, how are you different?

My hips are wider. I weigh less than when I got pregnant, yet I'm up a pants size. I don't think these hips are bouncing back any further.

Also, I'm a mother, which means I'm different in a trillion ways.

15. Compared to this time last year, how are you the same?

I'm still tired all the time. And I haven't changed my hair in years. 

16. What’s a life lesson you learned this year?

Don't blink. Because it all goes by so fast. 


Mo's first Christmas

Mo celebrated her first Christmas with SEVEN different parties! Her first was with her daycare friends. Our provider hosts a party at local kids' play center, and covers the cost of dinner and gifts from Santa! We decided our approach to Santa (see this post for reference) would be somewhere down the middle road. We wouldn't go out of our way to convince her that Santa is real and brings her presents every year, but we likewise wouldn't go out of our way to banish Santa from her life. For instance, we didn't intend to make a special trip to the mall to sit her on Santa's lap, but when daycare invited him to the party, we went for the photo op.

She surprised us all by being uncomfortable with the old guy. She's normally content with anyone, but everytime she looked at him she was confused and then decided she hated him.

Then we had several family parties over the next couple weeks. Both my and Mike's parents are divorced, so we bounce around a lot during the holidays.

For the most part, she really didn't care about any of it, which is to be expected. But she loved being around her family so much! 

On Christmas morning, we gave her a few gifts from us. We decided not to do too much, so she got a giraffe that glows and plays music, and a couple books, plus a stocking with some dollar store stuff.

I'd say she had a pretty good first Christmas. Next year when she's almost two will be really interesting!


Who is raising your children?

There is something that has been bothering me a lot lately. It's the phrase, "raising my own children" or any variation thereof, referring to parents who stay home with their children rather than use some sort of child care. This is usually only said by parents who can and do stay home, and even though I don't think it's meant to criticize parents who do use child care, I do think it is an offensive statement.

When I was much younger and long before children were even on my mind, a friend was preparing to have a baby. She was going to quit her job and stay home with her child. And she said to me, "I just don't want someone else raising my child." Even though children weren't even on the radar for me at that time, I remember being very uncomfortable with what she said. She was implying that anybody who does use child care is allowing others to raise their children. That they're not doing the job themselves. (And even though this isn't the point of my post, there were definitely undertones of, "And that's not good enough.") Now that I have a child, her statement bothers me even more. And lately I've seen or read similar words from other parents, and I'd like to advocate that we all stop saying it!

There are many things that bother me about this. First and foremost, I don't like the suggestion that by using child care, we are surrending the raising of our child to someone else. That is just such huge crap that I can't even come up with an eloquent way of saying it. It's horse crap! Raising children is so much more than caring for their basic needs or spending time with them. Raising children means shaping who they become. It means making all the decisions that influence how they grow up and what shapes them. It means choosing who they spend their time with, including who provides their care when we can't. My child care providers don't decide what Mo knows about spirituality or who her doctor is or whether she gets gifts from Santa or how much TV she watches or whether we take her to a pride parade or what to do if she is every bullied at school. We entrust them to be partners in her care, but we decide all of those things and make so many other impossibly hard choices, and daycare only helps us enforce them. That is what raising a child is, and I'm offended by anyone who implies that I'm letting someone else do that because I don't stay home with her. Even if that is not what they mean when they say it, that is what they are implying, and it is an ignorant statement that needs to stop.

Another thing that bothers me about that phrase is that it dismisses and ignores the privilege of choice. Some people have the choice to stay home, others do not. That's really just lovely that you have the OPTION, the CHOICE to stay home, but many parents don't, and you're basically saying, "Oh you both have to work full-time to make ends meet? That's too bad, I guess someone else will have to raise your kids for you." It's wonderful that some people want to stay home with their children and even more wonderful that they have the option to do that. But that is a privilege. A very big privilege that is not afforded many people. So please don't rub your privilege in my face by implying that you think I'm not raising my children because I have to work. 

And also, even some people who have the privilege of choice choose not to stay home. What does your phrasing suggest about them? It suggests that they had a choice to raise their kids on their own, and they chose not to. What is so very wrong about that is that their choice to work is not a choice to let someone else raise their kids. It's a choice to partner with someone else in the care of their children - a difficult choice that is part of the difficult job of raising children.

I fully recognize that most people who say "I'm staying home because I don't want someone else to raise my kids" or "It's important to use that we raise our own children" don't actually mean that because I work, I'm not doing the important work of parenting them and shaping who they become (though some do mean that, unfortunately). But I think it's imperative that we change that language, that we quit implying with our words that working parents who use child care - whether by choice or by circumstance - are somehow not parenting as hard or as well as those that stay home. Child care does not take the place of parenting or of child rearing. Child care is part (one of many parts) of the child rearing process, one of the many decisions parents make in raising their children to shape who they will be.

So please, I beg you, stop saying that you're home with your kids because you want to be the one to "raise them." Even if you don't mean anything about me and my circumstances (and the circumstances of all working parents who use child care) when you say it, please change your language. Instead, how about: "I stay home with my kids because I am privileged enough to have the choice to do so, and I made the decision to care for them full time rather than partner with someone else in their care."

I know that sounds all politically correct and crap, and why do we have to be so damn picky all the time? But language is important. One of the first steps to better understanding is to use the right language. Let's start there.


"Mo"nthly Photo - Eleven

Miss Mo is eleven months old! This has been a pretty exciting month for her, and she's getting to be such a big kid.

We had no way to weigh her and a very imprecise way of measuring her length this month, so those are really just guesses. Guesses that reflect the fact that I don't think she's grown much in a month. In fact, these numbers only give her a half a pound (and no inches) over her 9 and 10 month numbers (which were the same). She's a great eater and still gets plenty of breast milk, but she's just a wee thing I guess.

I helped my sister take my nephew's eleven month photo the night before we did this one, and Will was not at all interested in laying still. So when I laid Mo down on the blanket, I was ready to rapid fire a couple photos before she rolled over and crawled off. Instead, she put her hands up like that and laid perfectly still for several minutes. Like, "No Mom, I got this, I know what I'm doing."

Which is fitting since Mo did her first professional photo shoot last week. I'll have to write about it more thoroughly later, but basically I sent her photos into a local agency a couple months ago, forgot all about it, and then I got a call last week out of the blue that a large local company wanted her for a photo shoot. I'll share more details later, but she was so sweet and I was proud of her wonderful demeanor.

While she's not yet walking, Mo is quite mobile now. For awhile after she learned to crawl, she wasn't very eager to go too far. She mostly crawled around the room we were in, so she was easy to keep track of. But now she's all over the place, and we've reverted to building what we call "baby wall." Our living room opens up into the kitchen and the front room (a multi-purpose area without a good name), so to keep her contained, we line up some larger toys, a couple baskets and the ottoman to block her in.

I think the funniest thing about her crawling is that she has to use her hands, and therefore can't easily use them to transport things. So we often see her crawling around with things in her hands. Sometimes it's just a sock she found or a piece of paper, but sometimes she tries to crawl while holding a bulky toy or, her favorite, a used diaper that hasn't quite made it to the trash yet. Or, even funnier, she'll put something in her mouth to move it around. Fortunately, she hasn't tried that with a diaper yet.

In the last couple weeks, she has gotten better at standing on her own. I wouldn't say she can exactly, but whereas she used to tip right over when we put her in a standing position, she now can hold herself there for a few seconds. And rather than fall or tip, she can usually lower herself down in a controlled way. It's pretty incredible given that it wasn't long ago that she couldn't even support her own head! And while she's not yet walking on her own, she does walk behind her push toy, so she's well on her way.

Mo is an incredible eater. This is something I'm very excited about because I know some kids are programmed to be picky, and I hope this is foreshadowing for her future eating habits. She usually eats breakfast, lunch and a snack at daycare which consist of some finger foods, some purees and yogurt. And she gets a few bottles of breast milk still. Then at home she nurses once or twice, and we feed her dinner. We start with finger foods - cut up fruit, veggies, cheese, chicken, etc. - and she feeds herself, though she is pretty darn slow about it. Because finger foods take her so long, we then heat up some purees to fill her up. She eats like a champ, and we haven't found anything she doesn't like. Between all the healthy food and continued breast feeding, it's interesting she's still so petite. 

In my 10 month post, I wrote about Mo being sick, and she was sick again this past month too! All the germs at daycare finally caught up to her I guess. I think the worse part about her being sick, besides the fact that she's miserable and I can't do anything about it, is that it throws off her beautiful sleep habits. Even after she was mostly feeling better, she kept waking up around 4am and wouldn't go back to sleep without nursing. Fortunately it didn't last too terribly long, and she's back to being a super sleeper again.

We got to celebrate Mo's first Thanksgiving with her. Unfortunately she was still pretty sick. The day before we thought we'd have to miss the family meal altogether, but Thursday morning her temperature was way down, so we decided to go for it. She ended up taking an epic three hour nap amidst the chaos of her cousins playing, and she completely missed dinner. I tried to give her some Thanksgiving goodness when she woke up, but her appetite was still gone from feeling sick. Hopefully next Thanksgiving she'll can really indulge in my favorite holiday!

I think Mo has found her lovie. Much to my chagrin, it's a pink stuffed kitty with a pink bow. Not that it matters really, but I was hoping she'd become attached to something else - maybe her sock monkey or one of her many stuffed elephants or giraffes. It's my fault though. Aside from a small stuffed bird, Kitty is the first thing I added to her crib. Kitty plays music when you pull its tail, and our routine quickly became to lay her down, hand her Kitty, pull the tail and slip out. Now she is thrilled whenever Kitty is around. When we approach her crib to take a nap, she'll see Kitty and lunge for her. Sometimes she grabs Kitty after a nap, wanting to take her downstairs with us. One time Mike heard her suddenly start screaming during a nap, and when he checked on her, he found Kitty on the ground (I think Mo stood up with her in hand, then accidentally dropped the kitty over the side).

Mo is starting to communicate a little more. I'm pretty confident she's saying "hi" and she now attaches meaning to "dada." She says "mama" but I'm not positive she is intentionally referring to me. And when you hand her something, she'll usually make two little sounds that have the exact inflection of "thank you." She has also started to figure out the sign for "all done" though I think she's just mimicking us and doesn't yet know what it means. Probably her cutest noise is when she's frustrated. If you redirect her from something she really wants - like the cat food or a hot stove - she grunts/groans/growls in frustration. And she likes to smack her lips. I think she's trying to imitate a kissing sound, but it ends up more like a lip smack.

Mo is a HUGE help around the house these days. A few of her favorite chores: folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher.

That's it for the 11 month update. Mo says bye-bye!

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