Monday, February 23, 2015


Amaliya plays hide and seek now.  Kind of.  When it's her turn to seek, she will hide her face but sneak glances at me the entire time.  When she's done counting, she runs directly to my hiding place and busts up laughing.  When it's her turn to hide, she stands right behind me as I count and absolutely falls out with giggles when I turn around to see her.

Her turn to count!

That, friends, basically sums up the last couple weekends around here.  I've been able to work a little less and have had more help around the house, which means more time to do sweet, sweet nothing.  I'm hormonally balanced (for the moment) and Amaliya seems to be through her mental growth spurt and is back to being my sweetheart again. Life feels really good right now.

Amaliya's never been the most energetic kid.  She couldn't do more than 3 hours of being awake until she was practically a year old, showed minimal interest in any physical activity, and liked best to snuggle up in front of a movie or play on the floor with her babies.  That has changed quite a bit in the past few months - she is a legit toddler now, into everything and bursting with crazed energy.  It took me a while to catch on, but in the last week I think I found a method to deal with her madness.  She kept screaming in the house or in the car, for no reason, and when I'd tell her to be quiet she'd say "No!  I have to be loud!" and get very upset.  This weekend we told her that, if she needs to scream, she can tell someone and we'll take her outside so she can be loud.  There are no limits to loudness outside, but she cannot scream in the house or car (especially in the car - I have not-great hearing, so extremely loud noises sound like static in my head and are painful).  It worked like a charm!  All weekend she'd come over and tell me, "I want to scream," or "I need to be loud now," and we would calmly go outside, scream our heads off and run around for a minute, and then come back in and play quietly.

Being silly.

We also solved the getting-dressed problem, wherein she would wiggle, flail, run, kick, and do basically everything to prevent me from getting clothes on her body (which, yes, resulted in a smack on the bottom a couple times on daycare mornings because Mama don't play when we're running late).  That one was simple.  Get naked, run one lap around the room.  Put on diaper, run another lap.  Pants, lap.  And so on, until fully clothed. She has fun, it takes a long but predictable time to get dressed, and we're both happy at the end.

A moment with her Great Aunt

It's amazing how figuring out these little things can totally change the family dynamic and make everything work so much better.  Kids change so fast.  I may think I'm listening to Amaliya, but in reality, she's gone through a big mental leap and is communicating with me in different, more complex ways.  I'm listening to the person she was yesterday, not the person standing in front of me.  Wouldn't that piss anyone off?

A moment with her Nanny

Back to her ridiculous toddler energy.  It's become clear that spending the day at home is a recipe for disaster.  Much like her Mama, Amaliya goes stir crazy at home and is a beast to live with if she can't get outside and play.  We hear that, so we're trying to spend more time out on the town exploring new places.  Last Sunday morning, President's Day weekend, we went out to the Living Desert out near Palm Springs. It seemed like the perfect compromise - not too expensive, plenty of beautiful trails and animals to see, sparse crowds and only 45 minutes from home. Timing was everything - we were up and out early in the morning after a quick breakfast, and arrived at the park at 9:30 (my girl may be energetic, but she's still a thorough introvert; two hours in a new, stimulating environment is about all she can handle before totally melting down).

It turned out to be a lot of fun!  Amaliya loved the model train village and was interested in the animals this time (not like our last zoo experience).  She named the giraffe "Gerald" after a character in her favorite book, and thought the zebra was pretty cool (I did too).  When she asked to touch the jaguars I said, "no, they'll bite your little booty," which she found fascinating, and kept asking throughout the trip if various animals were going to bite her booty. Ha!  After a quick stop at the petting zoo (she is still not keen to touch goats, though when I asked her later, she said the goats were her favorite part of the trip!) and the playground (throwing dirt around is the highlight of any outing), we ate a quick picnic lunch in the shade, and packed up.  We were back in the car by 11:45. A quick trip, but so refreshing.  The desert is my happy place.

This past weekend, we took a long walk, cooked a bit, went to the park, played tennis in the front yard (her new favorite thing to do), and enjoyed each other.  Sunday was Geography Day here in Redlands, and the world's largest map of Africa was being hosted at our local library.  We ventured out in the rain to run around on a giant map and beat some drums.  I am so blissed out right now - I love babies, don't get me wrong, but I am thrilled that Amaliya is getting to the age when she really gets excited about seeing/doing things and participating in activities.  I feel like a kid again, experiencing all these things through her eyes.

 My last post was a bit of a venting/therapy session, so I'm happy to be back with more positivity this week.  Life really is a rollercoaster - you have to ride out the bad times with as much honesty and grace as you can, but also give yourself permission to own and revel in the happy moments.

Have a great week, friends.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Getting through it.

5:15 alarm. Downstairs before my husband to pack his lunch and make his coffee. Make my coffee, see him off.  Workout video, or kitchen-cleaning, or laptop open to start on some work.  Make and eat breakfast. Dress, wake and dress kid, multivitamins for all, grab a half-dozen bags of random stuff, and we're out!

Daycare drop off, then work. Desk, meeting, desk, meeting, coffee, coffee, COFFEE.  Eat lunch at my desk, quick gym session in the afternoon, desk, meeting, LEAVE.  Daycare pickup, and we're home.

Doc McStuffins on, and I'm in the kitchen. Dinner prepped, cooked, she and I eat together. Couch snuggles until daddy comes home, he eats and I clean the kitchen. Bedtime routine underway, "two short books," two songs, light off.  8pm. Laptop or phone on, work 'til 9pm, finish tidying the kitchen and prep coffee pot for the next day. Melatonin popped, read in bed until it starts working. Lights out. 9:45pm. Seven-point-five hours later, begin again.

Domesticity's such a drag, isn't it?

I've been struggling lately.  Partly due to this new routine, which makes 4-5 days per week look exactly like the above (with the swapping of the gym session for a run some days).  The weekends are a frenzy of cleaning and cooking so as to make the week as streamlined as possible.  Throw in meal planning (with a spreadsheet), grocery shopping (with an app), and budgeting (yet another spreadsheet), and I truly feel more Roomba than human most of the day. I usually rock a good routine, and gain immense satisfaction from efficiency.  I suppose I'm burning out a bit.

A larger part of the problem, I know, is this Nexplanon in my arm pumping a constant flow of crazy-making hormones through my body.  I didn't mind this thing at first, because the physical side effects were mild and the mental ones virtually nonexistent.  At first.  I'm not sure if something's changed, or if this is just an inevitable side effect of a full year-and-a-half of altered hormones, but yikes.  I feel like I did when I was on the pill, arguably one of the lowest times in my life for no good reason beyond chemically-induced depression (not to talk about the physical side-effects - suffice to say, those have ramped up as well).  I have little patience for things that negatively impact my quality of life for too long, so I'm going to have to do something soon.  I'm just not quite ready for the obvious solution, you know what I'm saying?

I'm venting, but most of you reading are females, and you understand.  Sometimes, it feels like the responsibility for birth control on top of all the other roles and duties is just too much.  Especially when the "best" solution makes you feel like total crap all the time. 

I chose mindfulness as my theme and mantra for the year, and it is resonating with me right now in a big way.  I feel the weight lift when I make the extra effort to be present in the moment.  Observing my daughter, marveling at how small and warm she is, how intelligent and silly, taking the time to sit on the couch with her and just watch her, it helps. Being present at work, throwing my whole mind into various tasks and problems, that helps too. Consistent exercise is somewhat of a challenge right now with how my body is reacting, but I still run 20ish miles per week, and during weeks I feel good, I ramp up my other workouts for balance.  None of it makes much of a difference in how I physically feel, but it relieves the crazy and brings me peace.  Life is truly, thoroughly good. Mundane, routine-driven, semi-robotic much of the time, but beautiful nonetheless. And though I'm pissed that I am not able to fully feel and enjoy it right now, it will be okay.  I know what's causing it, and I know it won't last forever. I can stand through this season. The next will be better.

So there you have it.  I've decided to revert this back to more of a personal journal-type blog, instead of trying to generate "content" on lifestyle/social issues, etc.  It remains a life goal, but right now I just do not have the mind space and time to devote to it. I want to write for me, for the therapeutic effect of processing feelings through the written word, and embracing vulnerability by putting it out there in the universe.

There you have it.  If you read all that, and if you chose to keep reading... you are my tribe, and I am thankful for you.

Just me.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Letters to Amaliya - Two and a half


We celebrated your half birthday with a treat of your choice.  You chose candy, so we ventured downtown after daycare, in the rain, to visit a candy store and then over to the crepe place (because Mama needed a crepe).  You danced through the shops and ran down the sidewalk screaming whenever a rain drop touched your head. It was so good to see you silly and full of energy, after a long week of being down with a cold.

It's been a time of change, for all of us.  Your daddy started working full time, and you now go to daycare for four full days per week.  It's a new daycare, slightly more affordable for us, and though I worried about springing both of these changes on you at once, I shouldn't have.  You are thriving in your new environment - you are fond of your teachers, enjoy the structure of a classroom environment, and are sometimes reluctant to leave at the end of the day (especially when I have to tear you away from painting "beautiful things," as you say).

Also known as painting holes in the tablecloth. Hey, if it's beautiful to you, who am I to judge?

Two is a challenging age, but less challenging and more fun as the days go by. The older I get, the more of myself I see reflected in your developing personality.  You are assertive (I will not say bossy) and curious (I will not say nosy).  I can't so much as flip a light switch without you coming over and informing me that in fact, I did it wrong, and you need to show me how to do it "correctly." You test and defy and push boundaries all the time now, but not nearly as much as other kids your age might.  I see you blossom when you receive praise from adults, but you take criticism and correction very hard.  In some ways you are very easygoing - we rarely fight over what you will wear, or bedtime - but when you do not want to do something you will not do it (eating certain foods, using the potty, or taking pictures when you do not want your picture taken).  For the most part, we know better than to force you into something you don't want to do.  You have the memory of an elephant, and can whine about the same injustice for hours, refusing to be distracted from it.  So much your mama's child.

We can't eat anything without you trying to climb into the bowl.
Trying to take a nice family selfie, but nope, "No pictures today, Mama!"
You are demanding of our time and attention, never content to play on your own or venture off without companionship.  If given the choice to run around and explore by yourself, or sit with me and be involved in whatever I am doing, you will always choose to be near me. One-on-one conversations are your specialty. You've been surrounded by adults your whole life, adults who spend a lot of time working and talking, so I understand why your preferred forms of play involve lots of structure and discussion.

As serious as you are, as you have always been, you are still a silly goose and radiate such innocent joy.  You love...

... your Dora bathrobe and mittens...

... selfies....
And I love your big, beautiful eyeballs.
...Riding your tricycle...

... mama's belly...  

... Doc McStuffins (and by "love" I mean you harass me about watching it 24/7 and know all the songs by heart)...

...climbing on Daddy...

... and playing pretend.  Seeing your imagination bloom is, by far, the best part of parenting for me.  My best memories from childhood involve the elaborate fantasy worlds my brother and I created, and seeing you unleash your wild imagination takes me right back to those carefree times.

You're fond of treats and extremely fond of eating.  You drink your tea tepid but love spicy food.  You're not psyched about cooked vegetables but will happily snack on raw mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, and (weirdest of all) frozen bell pepper strips. 

We started another semester of Music Together and you're already learning so many new songs.  You are much less inhibited this semester, dancing freely around the room and joining in with your instruments.  You can hit a drum and clap on beat, and are starting to get a handle on your vocal range (though you still shout songs in a tuneless baby voice, which I am in no hurry for you to lose thankyouverymuch).

You have a great many likes and dislikes, but your favorite thing on earth right now is.... me.  I wish that were ego talking, but alas, you really are a mama-obsessed little girl.  You won't let me out of your sight when I'm home, ask about me constantly while I'm gone, and won't let anyone else do a thing for you (the exception being my mom, your Nanny, who occasionally usurps me from the #1 spot in your heart).  It's a little overwhelming for me, to be honest.  I'm an independent sort and very high energy, used to jumping around from room to room and project to project on a whim.  You've put the kibosh on that - you are very communicative with your emotions, and let me know when I haven't paid enough attention to you or haven't engaged with you enough.  I'm very proud of you for that, now that you mention it.  It takes courage to be so open about your needs and expectations.  

So nowadays I may not be as productive as I once was when I'm home, but I spend a lot of time snuggled on the couch with you or outside horsing around... and that's better than domestic efficiency any day.

You always pull my shirt up and burrow into my belly.  You love the skin-to-skin contact while you're flopped on me watching TV.  I love that you're so snuggly, sweet, and affectionate.

You are so special, little girl.  So smart it leaves me speechless, sometimes.  You speak like a much older kid - full sentences, proper pronouns, funny little expressions (you've started addressing your daddy and I as "hey, guys!" and the other day you fell, reached up for me, and asked, "Can I get some help down here?"  I DIED.)  You've started asking "what's that?" about everything you see, and my answer is always met with an innocent, "why?"  You've recently gained an understanding of differences and opposites, and love pointing them out whenever you come across them ("that light switch is OFF, and that one is ON!"  "It's dark outside!  Not light!" and my personal favorite, "My (stuffed) puppy does NOT have a penis!")

You moved to a big girl bed last month, and though I was concerned about how you'd take the change along with all the other changes we've put you through lately, you are over the moon for that bed.  You haven't fallen out once!  And you probably sleep better now than you did in your crib. It makes you so proud to be a "big girl," except of course if I mention that big girls use the potty, in which case you insist that you're "still a baby."  Sigh. You still let me hold you, rock you, and sing you songs before bed though, so in that respect, I am very glad you're content to stay little for a while longer.

I'm trying harder these days to stay in the moment with you, to be present and put down my phone and soak you up.  It's hitting me hard now, how fleeting these stages are.  I love seeing you grow more independent and opinionated every day, but man... you're so utterly sweet at this age, so innocent and trusting and silly.  We, your dad and I and your grandparents, are literally your whole world right now.  I'm going to be a little bit sad when you realize that the world is much larger than you and me.  Larger, and not always nice.

May the world always be as light and good as you are, baby girl.


First time seeing snow!