Thursday, February 27, 2014

18 Months

18 Months Old: 02/19/14

I'm not quite sure how we got here. 

I have an 18 month old. A toddler. A child

I thought the infant months went fast. That is, until Lyla turned one. When suddenly, time began to travel at such an intense speed that everything seemed to be in the past tense. It's just like going on vacation. You find yourself flying home thinking Um. That was seriously 7 days? I'd like an encore please.

It's quite unnerving really. To be so encapsulated in the everyday, that you wake up one morning and realize 3 months have gone by. So, I'm trying to carve out little compartments in my memory bank. Hoping to hold on to the little moments, each special in it's own way. And I especially hope to remember the seemingly mundane moments. The ones that you are just sure you'll remember forever. Until suddenly, you can't. 

Like how Lyla kicks her legs when she spots a fruit, and no matter the type, calls it an apple. Or how she says Hiii Lyla the moment we open her bedroom door in the mornings. Or how she taps her little pointer finger ever-so-lightly on objects so that we can name them for her. Or how her little voice goes up an octave with every word she speaks, as if to ask a question. Or how she'll be playing hard and all of a sudden walk over to me, put her head on my leg and say ni-niiight

I could eat those moments. 

And of course we have some not-so-fun moments. 

We are in what I like to call the sweet and sour stage of toddlerhood. Half the time, Lyla's so darn sweet I think her veins are pumping syrup. The other half of the time, I'm pretty sure she's swallowed too much lemon juice, straight from those lemon-shaped bottles. One minute, she's hugging, kissing, and sitting on my lap nuzzling and grabbing my face. The next minute, she's throwing a monster-tantrum whilst throwing herself to the ground, thrashing about, and screaming as loud as her lungs will possibly let her {for no apparent reason, other than Samson looked at her funny.}. It's sort of like getting whip lash.

Luckily, I'm acutely aware when we are about to have a melt down. These explosions occur when 1. Lyla spots food that she isn't eating herself 2. is feeling tired, or 3. is frustrated because she can't accomplish or communicate something. But, I obviously do whatever it takes to avoid these tantrums...especially in public. This is why I carry "ta-tas"(crackers) with me wherever I go. Yes. I sometimes quiet my child with a snack. A carb-y snack that we call ta-ta's no doubt. {Disciplinarian model of the year.}

But aside from the toddler tantrums, this age is just a ball. You know on your wedding day, when you smile so much your mouth hurts? That's how I feel with my heart. We find ourselves laughing every night at something so cute it makes our hearts hurt. Like during this new little game Lyla plays while we rock her before bed. Just as you think she's fallen asleep, she pops up, starts laughing, kisses our lips as hard as she can, and then slams her head back on our shoulder. Then UP she pops, plants a big smackaroo on the lips, then down slams her head. And she repeats this over and over while we're all hysterically laughing.

We just love to play silly little games these days. Peek-a-boo is still a favorite, as well as anything that involves jumping or being thrown on the bed. And she's been doing this thing where she raises her eyebrows, opens her eyes as wide as she can, and expects whoever is with her to do the same. This usually has both parties in stitches. But one of my favorites is something Gabe plays with Ly. He asks her, "Lyla, what's for dinner"? She giggles in anticipation, and then he shakes and wiggles her and yells "SPAGHETTI"! Then the rest of the night she'll wiggle her body and in a high pitched voice yell "BADELLY"! 

But I also laugh at things I probably shouldn't. Like when she feverishly signs "more" and pathetic little tears start welling up, simply because she wants another goldfish cracker. Or when she very ungracefully trips, falls, and rolls on the floor, as if it was perfectly choreographed. Or how she sternly and confidently points and says "NO" to the dogs when they do something she deems naughty {like walking anywhere near her while she's safely eating in her high chair}. 

Ah, yes. The word "no" is a current fave this month. "NO" to the dogs. "No" to herself when she throws her sippie cup on the floor. "NO NO" to sweet "Li-Li" at daycare when she grabs something she's not supposed to. I'm hoping we don't have a little bossy-pants on our hands. ;)

And although I'm not sure we're anywhere near potty training, Lyla definitely shows signs of understanding. She sits on her little potty when Mom goes to the bathroom. She reaches out her hand for toilet paper. She "wipes". She lets us know when she goes "poo-poo" and pee {which we don't have a word for yet} by pointing. And she recently started saying "toot". Ha! 

And we're still going to Mommy-and-Me music classes. I look forward to them all week! But to be completely honest, it takes Lyla 30 of the 45 minutes to warm up every week. Lyla's never liked being center of attention, and she really likes to feel completely comfortable before trying new things. I try not to force her to do anything she doesn't want to do, but I do lovingly encourage her to participate. Although she'd much rather be an observer than a participant, she has slowly come out of her little shell and is starting to really enjoy herself. She especially loves shaking the musical eggs, rolling the spiky balls, and waving around the scarves. I, of course, love the mother-daughter bonding. 

In addition to easing into new situations, Miss Beans is very particular and detail-oriented. Yes. My 18 month old is incredibly detail-oriented. And the amazing thing is, she's always been strong in dexterity and fine motor skills, more so than gross motor. But she is very methodical in how she does things. Even if it doesn't make sense to us, she sure is confident she knows what she's doing. She will carefully stack blocks so that they fit perfectly together, or she will put a specific amount of little toys to fill a tupperware and close the lid, or she will line things up in a line facing a certain direction. 

She also notices when things are out of place. Like if there is a different-colored piece of fuzz buried in the carpet, she will spot it, say "uh-oh" and bring it over to Gabe or me. Or like the other day, I was wearing my paint clothes. She was standing about 10 feet away from me and distraughtly said "uh-oh"! I asked, "What's the matter, Ly"? She walked over to me and pointed at a paint spot on my tennis shoe. Or if she gets any dirt on her hands while playing outside, we get some wide-eyed "uh-ohhhh"s, while she carefully picks each piece of dirt off her hands.

Perhaps we have a perfectionist on our hands?

Again, I'm not exactly sure how we got here. How I have this 18 month old with feelings, opinions, and a spectacular personality. All I know is that I'm loving every moment. And I'm thankful for the ride, no matter how fast it's going. 

All I can do is hop on, buckle up, and hang on for dear life. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Our Day: Working Mom Update

At this exact moment in time, I have an ideal mom-of-an-only-toddler work situation.

Of course there are moments when I wonder what it would be like to stay home, when I wonder if I should stay home. Time is just so precious and moving at a blink-and-you'll-miss-it pace.

But those thoughts are not a place I stay for too long.

The thing is, I am incredibly blessed with my job. Aside from the frantic before-dawn rush that is our mornings and the fact that I'd really like more time together in the evenings, our routine is a well-oiled machine. I have a great boss and co-workers, I get to run errands during my lunch break {sans toddler}, and the moment I leave work, I don't think about it again until I walk in the next morning.

Oh. And I get Friday's off.

Last year, I remember thinking, on what seemed like an hourly basis, if only I could just have Fridays off. two day weekends are simply not enough. Saturdays and Sundays were days spent cleaning, grocery shopping, errand-running and preparing for the next work week. If only I had one more day in the week...

And I was right.  It is incredible how one extra day is the most generous game changer. Sure, sometimes I get a bit greedy and wish for just one more day, until I realize how blessed I am for my Fridays off.

Admittedly, I wasn't quite sure how to adjust at first. Not that I had no idea what on earth to do with all of this extra time, it's just that I suddenly had the time to realize how much I had let slide. How much there is actually to do to maintain the home. I had neglected our little home for so long. So, I spent every Friday racing to clean the house, run multiple errands with Lyla in tow, cross off my multitude of to-do's, and meal plan for the next week.

That didn't last long.

My sweet husband reminded me why I took my job in the first place - to be able to focus more on my family, not on all that has to be done.

So, I made a promise to myself. That Friday will always be our day. A day just for Lyla and me. A day where I get to be a stay at home mom. Where we go to mommy and me classes, have playdates, grab lunch with friends, explore, learn and have fun. And then there's the much-anticipated nap time. Because nap time, my friends = Mommy time. I get to read, blog, have phone dates with out of town friends, and sometimes I get a little crazy and try a Pinterest project. Life on the edge, I tell you.

There's only one rule for Fridays. And it's not allowed to be broken.
No work allowed.

It sure is the little things that actually turn out to be monumentally huge things.
I can't think of one thing, not even one, that is better than Fridays.
Except maybe Saturdays and Sundays.

When Dad gets to join in on the fun.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day. Love, the Slackers.

I could never be a "lifestyle" blogger.

The main reason being that style and I are not really synonymous.
But also because I am never really holiday-ready until the week, or sometimes even the day of.

Take Valentine's Day, for example. While most bloggers began crafting and planning cute pink and red outfits at 12:01 a.m. on December 26th, I find myself scurrying around at the last minute feeling like a Valentine Grinch.

Even though I love the idea of baking and making for holidays {especially ones that require so much little pink hearts}, I am often a procrastinator. And I'm not really sure why. I like to think it's because I'm busy with life. At least that was my reason last year as I was simply trying to survive as a new working mom. Or perhaps I'm just not creative. At least not as creative as my perfectionist mind needs me to be. But most of the time, I'm really just trying to enjoy the moment I'm in, not where I'm going to be months from that point.

I battle with this counterintuitive mindset because in most areas of my life, I'm a neurotic planner. But it stresses me out to think about Lyla's birthday party theme or next year's Halloween costumes when it's not even spring yet.

I want to enjoy February 14th first.

I actually read an interesting article about "Mindfulness" in Time Magazine. Long story short, it's about taking the time to fully be present in the moment you are in, rather than multitasking 20 things at a time. Which is what I, and most other Americans, do all day everyday. Mindfulness helps us to focus on one thing at a time and is practiced in things like yoga and cognitive behavioral therapy {a technique many counselors and therapists use today to help with anxiety}.

Or maybe that's just my intellectual-sounding way to really procrastinate.

Either way, this year, I really do have a good excuse. To not be on my Valentine-ready supermom A-Game. Our house was recently hit by the sinus monster-plague. We were down and out for two weeks. So all of my felt-garland crafting and homemade Valentine-making plans went by the wayside. {I sure could have used a snow day *or two* last week to make up for lost time.}

But once we all started feeling human again, I suddenly felt the pink and red spirit! Last-minute or not, I wasn't about to say bah-humbug to some memory-making with my mini Valentine.

So it may have been by-the-skin-of-our teeth, but we've already had quite the fun in preparation for Valentine's Day. And I must say, I'm a bit smitten by little cutie-pie Valentine this year.

Oh. And can we talk about the preparation involved in finding the perfect holiday bow?!?! Or, I guess in my case, finding 10 perfect bows and forgetting about them in my Etsy cart. I usually remember about my stocked cart 5 minutes after the "cut off time". So then we settle on something we already have. The travesty!

However, this year, I planned ahead. But of course just as I went to push "Submit Order", I chickened out. I've had some major *major* issues with USPS and a couple of vendors on Etsy lately. In fact, Lyla's special Christmas bows did not get to me until Christmas Eve. And I ordered them at the beginning of November.

So for Valentine's Day, I decided to take matters into my own hands. And I made a couple of bows during nap time one day. You guys. They took about 4 minutes...combined. I may be no DIY-er, but I sure can glue and cut like nobody's business. Plus I'm always trying to find ways to use some of my bajillion leftover crafty things from teaching.

I was pretty happy with the way they turned out!

This was taken about 6 seconds before Lyla ripped the bow out of her hair, and Samson used it as a chew toy. 

And then we had some "fun" with painting. I decided to use Lyla's masterpiece to make Valentines for her daycare pals. *And one extra for Daddy, of course*. 

 Yes. My 17 month old is wearing my softball team t-shirt from 4 years ago.

 Dad decided to paint their faces to try to make Lyla laugh. In case you hadn't already guessed, it didn't work. 

Needless to say, Lyla was pretty proud of her work.

Lyla and I will be enjoying music class, a sweet little Valentine's party, and a nice, long nap.  Then the evening will commence with a toddler who goes to bed at 7:00 followed by the hubs making me a classic Italian seafood dish we were first introduced to when we lived in RI. 

Now, that's amore. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Little Things {like sick days}

It has taken two full weeks of doctor visits, antibiotics, and nose-sucking, but Lyla is finally on the mend. Hooray!

It's the little things that sure make this ride of motherhood so delightful. Take sick days for example. Having a sick little may mean lots of tears, but those tears are quickly followed by extra needy snuggles. It also means being unable to clean, cook, or do anything really without your toddler begging to be held.  But oh my, the snuggles.

We're lucky in that this was really the first time since Lyla's been born where she's been pretty sick. Of course the downside is that when it takes this long to get sick, the monster infection decides to make up for lost time and refuses to leave or even subside for two full weeks. 

Day two of monster infection. Poor baby!

And although it's nowhere near the struggle I felt last year, I can't help but feel extreme mommy guilt when my baby is sick. Of course I am very happy and feel balanced most of the time with our daily routine, but there are some days when I think I'm missing out and should be staying home. Especially when my baby bursts into tears when I drop her off at daycare and cries "mama" over and over. 

Ugh. The never-ending internal battle as a working mama. 

Anyway, I was able to take one day off and utilized every moment of the weekends to give lots of extra love, attention, and cuddles to my little muffin. And although we had to skip music class and play dates, we were able to spend a lot of one-on-one time together. Just me and my mini. 

There's no doubt about it, having a sick child makes you pull out your cape and turn into Super Mom. Doesn't matter if your baby is 2 weeks old or 20 years old. No one but mom can make sickness feel better. Mom is just what the doctor ordered. 

And minus the whole being sick part,  I've come to the conclusion that sick days are the best days. They're downright fulfilling for the heart and soul. There's just something heart-enhancing about the unexpected reminder that your normally-independent toddler really just needs her mama. The last time we had a sick day was last year. Always a "good" time. 

We had two visits to the doctor - gotta follow that mommy instinct that things are not okay! Found out we had our first ear and sinus infection. 

But of course the extra cuddles with the fur-babes perked us right up. Almost as good of a remedy as chicken noodle soup.

Got out of the house for the first time in three days to stock up on saline and Pedialite. Oh, and finally caved and bought one of those nose frida nasal aspirator things. You.guys. I swore, swore, swore I would never buy one of those gross things. But friends, it is the best invention ever made. Ever. Promise the snot goes nowhere near your mouth. My only regret is waiting until Lyla was super duper sick.

 She wanted to give high-fives to everyone we passed.

Broke all kinds of rules, like eating in Mom and Dad's bed and watching movies for 4 hours straight.  For multiple days in a row.

And of course soaked up hours and hours of snuggles.

Oh my goodness. 
Is there anything better?
I can't possibly even begin to imagine. 

Except maybe, when the snuggles start to pay off. And your kiddo smiles for the first time in over a week. 
Now that. That's better.