Sunday, December 28, 2014

P's First Christmas and Becoming Santa

This Christmas was one that I will remember for many reasons. Mostly, because it was P's first. I feel in love with Christmas all over again. It takes on a different meaning. You have such amazing memories from your childhood and you realize that those traditions and memories are the biggest gift that you could ever give your child. I gto to shop for P and open all of her gifts with her. And eventhough she wasn't really aware of what was going on. It was the first time she had been around my whole side of the family at once. It was very special to me that she have that experience. This year is the first year that I experienced the other side of Santa Clause.

As a child I loved Santa! I bought into it hook, line, and sinker. I love the tradition so much! It made Christmas very exciting for me. I want to have that for my daughter! My husband, having grown up Jewish--doesn't get it. He feels that it will be lying to P. While I know that it is true that it is a lie--I still want to do it. I just have such happy memories from my childhood waking up on Christmas morning to the gifts, writing letters to Santa every year, and going to get my picture taken at the mall. I don't buy that it is about getting your child to be good all year. I don't care about that as much. I am all for any tradition that will bring a huge smile to my child's face. I know that this one will.

I suspected, but wasn't completely sure, of just how much joy I would get out of the whole process from the other side. Last week, I dragged J all around on our Santa mission. What I loved most about it was that it became time for the two of us to spend together as well. I enjoyed so much shopping for P with him. We debated on which toys would be the best. We argued about whether she was developmentally ready for a few toys. I always seemed to think that she was while he would say she wasn't quite there yet. It was a bunch of fun.

In the end I think we ended up with a few great things. J and I both agree that the gifts from Santa shouldn't be outrageously expensive. We do not want to perpetuate the idea that Santa discriminates from child to child. We don't want to ruin anyone's idea of this fun tradition. So we tried to keep it simple and practical. I am also all about keeping with things that are needed or that I have been wanting to get her for awhile.

To me it is more about spending time with your family. Growing up, it was the only time that our whole family gathered and spent the night together under one roof. That was so special to me. I am realizing that this may not always be the case as our families are growing too large for one house. My cousin has a 16 month old as well. It was so much fun watching the two babies in the house. I know for my mother and her sisters--it breathed new life into this season. My Grandmother loved Christmas so much and she always made it very special for all of us, and since her death it has never really felt the same. With these two little tykes running around--I feel that we have a reason to make it extra special again. I am most thankful for that this year.

I have always enjoyed giving gifts. I will admit that I like receiving them a lot as well, but I get happiness from buying for those that I love. So I am sure that now that I have P to buy for I will enjoy it all the more. While I am sure that this year P did not really understand what was going on--I am so looking forward to the years to come where I can really appreciate the wonder that Santa and Christmas will bring to my child.

Hope your Christmas was as special as mine!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy 11 Months P!

I can't believe I almost forgot to write this post. It is the holiday season and time is just flying by at record rates. We are getting ready for P's first Handley Christmas and her first Hanukkah Party with the Steinbergs! Here is what has changed in month 11!

This month P tops the charts at almost 23 pounds! Geez--I thought she was going to start slowing with her weight gain, but sistah is still packing em on. She is a lot more active this month, so hopefully we will see some slimming here soon.

P took her first steps in month 11. She broke her two top teeth, and can stand on her own without any support and without pulling up on objects.

P loves her baths as long as she is allowed to crawl around and stand. She also loves to play with her rubber duck and bath letters (for some reason she only enjoys the letter Q).

She is a champion sleeper--sleeping 12 hours at night. It has been awhile since we have even heard her stir in the middle of the night. We went through a little rough patch with our naps as I worked on a transition in her schedule. However, P adjusted beautifully after a few days hard work. My work changed my class schedule on me in November, and I was going crazy worrying about if I was going to be able to make it work. Now, I can breathe a little bit easier knowing that P should be able to sleep while I am teaching all of classes. I don't know why I ever doubted my girl. She always makes me pay for not having enough faith in her. While I know that it wouldn't have been the end of the world (for her) to have to go to a mom's morning out or a daycare a few times a week--it would have set us back financially. We are working hard to save for a house, and didn't want to have to pay for childcare. I will post P's new schedule for those of you who like checking out schedule ideas for each stage of your child's development.

We have definitely had a lot of verbal progress in the 11th month. P's list of words contains: mama, dada, doggy, kitty, right, light, cheese, hi, bye-bye, and hey. I have also noticed that she is able to follow simple and moderate commands. If I ask her where something is she can point to it. If I ask her to go get something, she can do it. She can blow kisses and play Peek-a-boo. It is just amazing seeing language and cognition developing. It brings me a lot of joy to see her learn.

Another thing P has developed is a pretty bad temper. P loves sharing my morning bagel with me. I often pinch off little pieces of the soft middle for her to eat. If I do not do this, then she pitches a tantrum. Complete with slapping and kicking. We are not really sure what we can do about this at her current age. She certainly doesn't understand the concept of time out yet.

We continue to struggle at times with solid foods. P is very picky with her finger foods. She only eats cheese and bread so far. She is also getting frustrated with puréed foods. We are having to try all kinds of crazy tricks to get her to eat. Couple that with the fact that she is not really interested in my milk any more, and it is frustrating. She will still drink fairly good amounts of water out of her sippy cup, though. We are going to transition to whole milk soon. I cannot wait to be done with the pump. I am planning to do something ceremonial with it when I am done to commemorate the 9 months I spent exclusively pumping for P. I'm thinking burial or smashing it with a sledge hammer. What do you guys think?

Happy 11 months my sweet P! You have brought me so much joy in the past 11 months. I love sharing sweet hugs and kisses with you. I can't wait to experience childhood again through your eyes. Merry Christmas my angel baby!


Friday, December 19, 2014

It's Beginning to Feel A Lot Like Christmas!

It's here! It's here! Another Christmas season is upon us. I am so excited to celebrate with my daughter for the first time ever! Just typing that made a knot appear in my throat. Oh, how much I love having that little girl around. She makes everything in life so much more exciting.

P is extra lucky because she is going to grow up receiving the knowledge and traditions of two religions. I was raised Baptist and my husband was raised Jewish. So while neither of us are what you would call practicing religious participants--we still like to instill the basic ideals in our children. We believe that there is value in a religious education. We hope to expose precious little P to both religions. One day she may choose one over the other, or she may choose neither--that is just fine with us too!

This year she is still a little too young to really understand what it is going on, but I know that next Christmas and Hanukkah will be even better. She will be able to really listen to both of the stories, and really get excited about them both. This year my aunt gave her a Hanukkah Corduroy book, and it has quickly become one of our favorite. P loved to count the candles on the menorah with mommy and daddy! Next year, I can't wait to light the candles with her and have her actually appreciate how beautiful it is when the menorah is full.

This year I am most looking forward to having time off with my little family. The last couple of weeks have been rough as P is at yet another transition in her nap schedule. She has been wearing me out lately. I am chasing her around the house. I'm always kissing her boo boos that are inevitable with a baby as mobile and off the wall as she is. Entertaining her has become a full time job, and unfortunately (for me) I already have one job. So I am looking forward to having two extra hands around to help me entertain my hyper nearly 1 year old.

I have been working really hard on P's birthday preparations. I have made her invitations, food labels for the food at her party, signs for the party, and her birthday chalkboard. I am going to get all of these things printed over the break while I have time. I have become pretty good at making these printable things for her party. Since I couldn't really find what I wanted--I just made my own. So I have decided that I will start an Etsy shop and sell digital prints to moms like me. It's hard to find exactly what you want out there! I know there are a lot of moms out there who have less time than me to make something that agrees with the vision that I have in my head. You can check my shop out here.

And just for fun. Here is a little something I made for the holidays! Think of it as a present from my little family to yours.  You should be able to right click and save to your computer. Then you can print  at home or on office depot (for like $3) and frame. Merry Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

P's Birthday/Holiday Wishlist--What to buy a toddler?

I have been getting a lot of questions about what types of things Piper wants for Christmas/Hanukkah and her Birthday in January. Of course, She doesn't want anything because she doesn't know any better. But I understand that it is really hard to know what to get a one year old. you want to get something that the baby will like and that will also help the parents out in some way. So it really boils down to what she needs and what we need as her parents. If you have a one year old in your family that you are needing to buy for--this is the list for you.

I have recently been trying to change her schedule to better accommodate with my new work schedule. I am finding that she is more than willing to stretch her awake time, but she does not want to play independently. This has been a struggle for me as a work from home mom. So--The number one thing that I think P needs is age appropriate toys. I am hoping that several new toys will help her play independently for longer bursts of time during my work day. Here is what I found while doing my research.

1. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stroller Styled Walker
One of P's friends has this walker and says that her little one loves pushing it everywhere. I think P would do the same. I also love that it helps with that nurturing side. I know a lot of 18 month olds that seem to go through a nurturing stage where they want to take care of their toys--even diapering and rocking them to sleep. This toy would be perfect for that stage.

2. Munchkin Bath Dunkers
P loves the bath, but she is quickly getting tired of her current bath toys. I think that she would love these bath dunkers. It is essentially a basketball net that you can put on the side of the tub so that baby can put the toys in the net. So cute.

3. Fisher-Price Click 'N Learn Remote
We went to a friend's house over Thanksgiving and her baby had this play remote and P was obsessed with it the entire time we were there. She plays with our real remote controls around the house, so I know that she will love this and get a lot of use out of it.

4. Pajamas and Sleepers
P still gets serious wear out of her sleepers and pajamas. She wears holes in the toes within a week or two of wear. She has started to get a little too big for her 12 month sleepers, so it is time to start stocking up on the 18 month pajamas.

5. Playskool Poppin' Park Elefun Busy Ball Popper
P loves to play with balls, so I know that this will get me a couple of minutes to work during the day. I think that it will take her awhile to learn how to work it, but once she does she will likely be chasing the balls everywhere. Now to keep the cat and dog away from them.

6. Baby Mozart Music Cube
This toy is on every parenting magazine list that I reviewed. Since my darling P loves anything musical. I know that she would enjoy this toy that plays different musical instrument sounds and lights up.

7. Board Books
P loves to play with books. Even when I am not reading them to her she loves to sit and flip the pages. If the book as buttons with music and sounds--even better.

8. Play Kitchen
Yesterday I posted on Facebook looking for some suggestions for how to keep P busy during work hours and this is the number 1 response that I got. While I had thought that she wouldn't really be able to play with a play kitchen until two. All of my mommy friends were saying that a play kitchen with play plates, pots and pans would give me hours of independent play. Well--I am all for that.

Of course there are other, less exciting things that P needs. I just didn't feel like putting socks on the list. Who wants to buy that? BUT-- What baby doesn't need socks? Somehow we are always losing them and are in constant need of new pairs. P is also starting to walk and needs shoes. I would love to get her some of those moccasins off of etsy, but they tend to be a bit pricey. I see a lot of babies around wearing them and think that they are adorable, but I am not sure of how "piper-proof" they are. My girl is rough and tumble for sure.

I always tell family and friends that when all else fails--babies always need clothes. Especially at this age where P wears the knees out of her pants crawling around. So if you are ever in doubt, and can't find anything to get a little one--clothes are always a good bet. I also would never be upset with receiving a pack of diapers. I don't know a momma that would.

What types of gifts do you recommend for your toddler?

Monday, December 15, 2014

If I Could Do It Again...

As January 13th draws nearer--the nostalgia sets in. I find myself sifting through P's monthly photos. Sometimes I smile and laugh. Other times I sit and cry silently. I can tell that it is even starting to get to J a little bit. I find him wanting to hold onto P a little tighter. Almost as if he too is savoring this last month of infant-ness.

The last couple of days I have been thinking about what I would do differently if I ever have another child. I think that this is a common thought that most mothers probably have at one point in their lives.

I am sure you have noticed that I am a planner. Before P was even born I had a strong philosophy of how I wanted to structure her first year of life. That is just it--it was very STRUCTURED. The whole thing. When that structure was thrown off--we struggled to operate. Because I was like this--she was a great baby. She does things that a lot of mom's wish their babies would do. She falls asleep on her own. She soothes herself back to sleep. She sleeps 12 hours at night, and she wakes happy (most of the time). I am so grateful for all of these things. I give credit where credit is due, and I know that I worked hard at each of these things.

BUT...there is a downside to this. Because I worried endlessly about P being about to soothe herself and fall asleep on her own--she does not want me to soothe her. She does not want to fall asleep with me. Because I worried that she would be spoiled if I held her all of the time--I put her down and allowed her to play alone most of the time. Now, she does not like to be held, rocked, or hugged. I put such an emphasis on routine and keeping everything the same for her so that she would sleep well--and now she will not sleep without these things and that routine. She will not sleep in the car or in her baby carrier, or in your arms while out and about. She is a slave to the routine and not the other way around.

If I do it again--I will probably do it the same with some small modifications here and there. At least in the first 8 weeks or so I wouldn't worry so much about putting her down and not holding her all of the time. I would hold her as much as I wanted. I would wear her in that moby wrap and handle whatever needed to be handled. I would cherish those days mightily where they can sleep through anything. I wouldn't be so quick to put her down. Because next time, I will understand that those days are the only days in her life where she will completely and totally belong to me. Those are days and memories that I will cherish forever. They are moments that no one else gets to have with my baby. They are reserved only for us. I will not deprive myself of those next time because I am afraid of spoiling her. If I have to work harder later because of it--then so be it.

If I do it again I will be more proactive with breastfeeding. With P, we hit a bump in the road at 8 weeks, and I just switched to pumping. I gave up. At the time I just went with it because I felt like it was easier for P. While it was easier for P, it was devastating for me. I became attached to the pump, and I still am. If I could do it again, I would fight through the tough days and go to a lactation specialist. I would work hard for breastfeeding for myself and for my baby. I am so jealous of my friends that still breastfeed their almost 1 year olds. I want to have that time cuddled up with P. I want to hear those soft wheezes that she used to make. I feel that I missed out on intimate time with my daughter because I just didn't know any better. If there is another one--I will do everything I have to do to help us both sustain that relationship as long as we can.

Looking back, I think that J and I have done a great job so far. P is very happy and healthy. We too are very happy with her. So--my plan worked out in the end. But I think you would be hard pressed to find a mom that didn't have a thing or two that she wished she could change. These two things above are mine.

So my advice to you new mommies with tiny ones. Hold them close, nurse them often, and don't worry too much about spoiling them. When they are running around your house terrorizing the cat these are the moments that you will miss.

What would you do differently with your next child?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

First Steps

While I was attending my brother in law's wedding last Saturday, I received a video in a text message from my cousin. My aunt and cousin came down to watch P while J and I attended the wedding. The video was captioned ," just wait for it." I instantly knew what I was going to see when I watched the video. I knew that it was going to be of P taking her first steps.

Here is a little background for you. P has done the majority of her firsts when I am not around. It is a nasty and devastating (for me) habit that she has. She rolled over and crawled for the first time when I was not there. It is really strange because I am almost always with her. I have this sick tendency to never want to leave her. It is almost as if I am afraid that I am going to miss something big--oh wait, that is because I have.

So when I got the text and saw the caption--I just knew that is what that video would hold. I received the text during the ceremony, but decided not to watch it. I was trying to focus on the vows and the marriage I was witnessing. BUT that phone just seemed to be a brick in my purse. I even told my step son to take my purse away and put in another room. However, people at the wedding were wanting to see pictures of P, so I ended up holding on to it.

After J's best man speech and the first dance was over. I decided that I couldn't take it any longer, and I decided to watch the video. J noticed what I was doing and was watching it too. As soon as I started viewing it I told him, "She's going to walk." He replied, "fall down Piper, don't walk now."

See, that is one of the reasons why I love this man. He gets me. He knew how much it would devastate me that she did it without me. So while everyone else thinks that I am nuts. He understands it, and he validates it.

Then, she did it. She took three wobbly little steps into the arms of my aunt. Three perfect little steps. Three first steps. Three little jabs into my heart. Maybe it was the fact that it was already a pretty emotional day, or the fact that I was about to start my period. Either way--I lost it. I burst into tears right there in the middle of the reception with everyone looking at me like I was crazy. J quickly made me go outside where he comforted me away from prying eyes.

So I feel the need to explain myself and my feelings, and you guys are the lucky--or unlucky outlet.

It was not just that she should have walked into my arms. It was more than that. It was that I couldn't deny her new stage of life anymore. This baby of mine was no longer a baby. She is a toddler. It is amazing, overwhelming, and sad all at the same time. Of the major milestones--this is the last one. I was in denial about it coming. I had convinced myself that she wasn't even close to walking and that it would be after her first birthday. NOPE. Here is my daughter, the toddler.

It goes even deeper than that, and more personal than that. I have held her so close and hastened against time since she was born. There is this constant panic in my mind saying that this may be the only time I do this. I may never experience any of this again. I know that it is crazy to feel that way so soon after having your first child. But it is the truth. I have loved almost every single facet of being P's mommy. The thought that I will never do those tiny baby things again. It's painful. When you experience that type of unconditional love--you want it multiplied.

It is a very real, while maybe completely irrational, inner struggle. See, there is uncertainty on J's part about whether having another child is emotionally and financially responsible. I understand each of his concerns, and I am trying to accept and prepare myself for the finality of our family if that is the case. I cannot help the feelings that I feel, but I try not to bring it up. I do not want one now, and I do not want one next year.So, I have a don't worry about it now opinion. I just do not want that door closed yet. I have started grieving that possibility just in case.

It is for that reason that I get so upset with P's milestones. I am grieving that they may be the only first steps I could have witnessed and I didn't get to see them. I didn't get to pick her up and twirl her around and shower her with praise and kisses. That moment is gone forever, and I may never get another chance. I know that if I had another one--there is chance that I would miss those first steps too. It's irrational, but two chances are better than one, right? Anywho, thanks for sharing in me with my craziness and allowing me to vent. it really has made me feel a whole lot better.

Monday, December 8, 2014

New Beginnings

First of all, I would like to apologize for my absence. I was deathly sick over thanksgiving and then crazy busy last week due to work and my brother in laws wedding. I am back and ready to share with you all again. Yippee

This weekend was a whirlwind. We celebrated the marriage of my brother and new sister in law in Perry, Georgia on Saturday. It was a beautiful wedding for sure. I am excited to have a new sister, and am hopeful that they will give P some cousins to grow up with (hint, hint).

Weddings tap into my sentimental side. I don't think any married person can sit at a wedding and not think about their own special day. I spent a lot of time thinking about my wedding day. It was fun to relive the moments, to understand the stress that the Bride and Groom were feeling, and to be so glad to not be in their shoes! It also made me think about myself as a wife. When I heard their vows--I tried to think about whether or not I do a good job of those things. Am I unselfish? Do I put my husband's needs above my own? Do I cherish him? Do I support him?

So I started thinking about the 5 biggest lessons that I have learned in my two years of marriage. All of these things are things that I am still struggling with in some way.

Communication is the best strength in your marriage and the root of every problem in your marriage all at the same time.

I always feel more connected to J when we are having a really great intellectual conversation. BUT conversations are not necessarily communication. In our pre-marital counseling this is something that our counselor really stressed to us. You need good, direct communication to avoid conflict as much as possible. It can be as simple as saying (in a nice but direct tone), "I need you to do _____." or "I feel __________ when you do ____________." It seems so simple, but at times it is so hard. But I do believe that it causes more problems when you do not have those types of conversations when something is bothering you.

There is a fine line between selfishness and selflessness

I totally believe that you need to meet your partner's needs and that you need to put their needs ahead of your own at times. However, I also believe that it is totally possible to lose yourself in the process. I often worry that this is happening with J. He takes such good care of me and P that I worry that he is not getting what he needs from me.

Learn to apologize and to accept apologies

I am still really bad at this one. I have been known to be the last to apologize and to also hold on to anger from resolved issues. Even if I said that I am over it--I still dwell on it for awhile. I am a silent punisher at times. I will admit that I sometimes bring up things from months before. It's never healthy to look back and bring these issues to the present. This is a real struggle in my case.

Always have your spouse's back

I am not going to say that I have never said anything negative about J to a friend when I was mad or upset. However, there is a definite difference in talking to a friend for perspective and bashing your spouse.I feel like this happens a lot and it can be really hurtful to your relationship. I see it a lot within families. The husband will tell his family that he wants to do something that his family wants him to do but his wife doesn't want to. Maybe they are trying to pawn the blame off thinking that their family will be less likely to say anything to their spouse. To me that is really hurtful. You should be a united front even when you don't feel that way. Your spouse should, at least, feel that you will back them up with anyone outside of your relationship.

You have to fight fair

It's going to happen. You are going to disagree. Things are going to get heated sometimes, but it doesn't have to become a big blow out. I have heard of couples not talking to each other for days and weeks after an argument. That is just crazy to me. I believe that there are certain things that should be off limits in a fight. For example-- my biggest one is bringing up the D word. While you might be able to forgive or be forgiven for things you said--it is really hard to forget the hurt the words caused.

What are some of the things that you have learned in your marriage? What advice do you give the newlyweds in your life?