What M’s Up To

I’m not planning to continue ‘formal’ monthly updates for M now that she’s a year old, so I’ll probably just write posts here and there to mention what she’s up to. Here are just some little bits and pieces:

– M is big into putting lids on containers right now. She figured out how to screw the top onto the little bottles I used to freeze milk (we accumulated a load of them in the hospital!). We were at my parents’ house when she started doing it, and my mom and I would cheer ‘YAY!’ for her each time she put the lid on the bottle. After one big cheer, she tried and couldn’t get the lid off, so she decided to act as though she’d successfully put the lid on again. She held it up and gave a big ‘YEEEEY!’ — we weren’t fooled, but she was very happy for herself.

– We just started using the mei tai back carry every now and then. Usually M is happy playing on her own while I do chores, but every so often she wants to be with me or gets fixated on doing something she shouldn’t, so it’s handy to strap her on my back. She loves it. I’m a little surprised we never tried the back carry before now, but it makes it easy now that she can stand up behind me to get in. It would be really tricky to get her wrapped up like that if we were out of the house, though. I thought maybe it would be easier with the Ergo, but it was actually MORE challenging — and less comfortable. I don’t think I have a very ergonomic body.

– Now that M uses her straw sippy, she’s much more amenable to the idea of those squishy pouches of food. She’s pretty much always been ~0% interested in having me feed her with a spoon, so purees and cereal haven’t played much of a role in her diet until recently (which is kind of backwards). There is ONE fruity pouch she likes (Ella’s Kitchen Pear-Mango-Papaya), and right now she loves having baby oatmeal from a reusable pouch in the morning. I mix up two servings with just a tiny bit of brown sugar and cinnamon, and she’s so excited when I bring it over to her at the table. Same with yogurt.

– I took these photos after putting M’s hair up. First I asked her to brush her hair (the top photo) and then to brush mine (she’s reaching out to brush me in the second photo). She doesn’t always love having her hair brushed, just because she has better things to do after a bath, but it’s always more fun for her if she gets to brush my hair (or Kitty Cat Doll’s hair) afterwards. Oh, and she’s not actually a redhead, as these photos would suggest!

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I’ve mentioned several times how apathetic I’ve felt about food/cooking both while pregnant and since M has been around. Part of it has just been down to my energy level, I’m sure — it’s hard to want to stand around chopping vegetables (or even to think up creative meals) when you’re super tired. I’m also starting to wonder what role hormones have played. M is drinking cow’s milk during the day (with a bottle of pumped milk from the freezer before bed — until it runs out in another ~10 days), and suddenly I’m feeling like I want to eat real food again. That’s real food as compared to the zillions of grilled cheeses and bowls of macaroni and cheese and plates of chips and cheese (noticing a pattern?) I’ve eaten in the past 1.5+ years.

I didn’t feel particularly hungry this past year, but I had to eat a LOT to stay at a sensible weight (obnoxious but true). I thought it would be hard to give up my calorie-burning super power and return to eating like a normal person, but it’s actually feeling like a big relief at the moment. I sort of wonder if my desire to eat carbs and cheese (and donuts — let’s not forget all the donuts) was really a craving for calories in their most convenient forms.

Anyway, I pulled out Appetite for Reduction yesterday and went to the supermarket, and today I made the black bean chili and cornbread. I used extra olive oil in the chili, since neither I nor M need to have a low-fat/calorie diet. I’ve made this chili a couple of times before, and I really like it. And so did M! It has a tiny bit of heat from 3Tbsp of chili powder, but M still gobbled it down. In the few months she’s been seriously eating solids, she’s ‘always’ preferred assembled meals like this instead of a random selection of foods. So that’s more motivation to keep cooking!

Maybe next, I’ll see what M thinks of Thai green curry with tofu. I bet she’d like it!

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I posted this photo on Instagram and captioned it ‘YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT.’ — because if you decorate for the holidays in November, people are always all, ‘Noooo, not Christmas!’; ‘What about Thanksgiving?’; ‘It’s toooo early!’ But I don’t care. It’s a lot of work to put up all the decorations, so I want some time to enjoy them. And I just really like that Christmas-y, wintery feeling.

Anyway, I haven’t finished putting everything up yet, but I also have to take care of the small pile of lumber that’s sitting in the entry way right now. We’d like to extend the kitchen cabinets to the ceiling by building boxes that will (I hope) look something quite a lot like this. My plan is to try building one for the short run of cabinets over the microwave — if it feels doable, I’ll eventually finish the rest, but if it’s looks crappy and/or seems impossible, then at least I won’t have bought materials for the entire project.

I’d also like to build a small shelving unit for the mud/workroom. Kind of like this. I’d use 2x2s instead of 2x4s, but it seems like both of those are available only in construction grade, and I don’t love how they have rounded corners. And I don’t even have a table saw, so I can’t make my own.

What other crazy ideas were Rob and I coming up with? Oh yeah, I was going to build a room inside the barn — a finished, heated space for the workbenches, etc. And replace all the window/door molding in the house with something more like this. Which, of course, would mean painting all the fiddly woodwork around the windows white, too. MY FAVORITE THING. (Not.) But I think it’s going to have to happen sooner or later. Probably later, but not a distant later — not, like, twenty years from now.

For now, I’m going to focus on those holiday decorations and maybe work on the new cabinet box here and there. It turns out that the baby STILL can’t watch herself, and work STILL doesn’t magically get done on its own. Tsk.

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Kitty Cat M

Unsurprisingly, M was a kitty cat for Halloween. She loves cats. She didn’t realize that she was a cat today, of course, but we went out for lunch, and everybody enjoyed seeing how extra cute she was. And she enjoyed some cuddling with the baby cat:

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Review: Uncommon Goods

On M’s birthday, we received a really fun package in the mail! About a week earlier, I’d been contacted by Uncommon Goods to see if I’d be interested in writing a review. I don’t do many reviews, and sometimes I’m a little hesitant to commit to writing about a company/product if I’m not sure I’ll love it — but that wasn’t a concern in this case! Just reading a little about the store had me really excited: lots of handmade products, lots of items made in the USA, and lots of recycled materials. They’re dedicated to making responsible environmental choices AND donate money to charities. So I was on board from the get-go.

I spent a looong time browsing the gifts for babies section (here), of course. The company offered to send me a few products so I’d have something to review, and all I ever think about (it seems) is what M would like. But I also looked around the section here for gifts for women, as well as the stocking stuffers category. Mainly, though, I wished I had found the site before I’d bought all of M’s birthday gifts! There are just so many fun choices that are really different from what I’ve seen a hundred times a standard store shelves.

I wound up choosing a state dish towel for myself, since I like all (well, most) things Minnesotan. And for M, I chose the Stacrobats and baby tube socks. And honestly, for real-reals, I’m so impressed by the quality of this stuff! Everything is just SO perfect for gift-giving. The tea towel came in a little fabric envelope, which makes it feel really special. I had thought the cross-stitch border was just part of the print, but it’s real stitching. So nice.

M has really enjoyed her gifts, too. I had been looking for nice-quality knee-high socks for her a while back and never found anything — these ones are PERFECT! I suppose four pairs of baby/toddler socks for $30 seems pricey compared to really cheap baby socks, but M isn’t too tough on her clothes (yet), so it’s worth it to pay more for something that can hold up to frequent washing and still feel nice. I actually paid more for her Smartwool socks a while back — I feel like you shouldn’t mess around with keeping toes warm during Minnesota winters. I feel silly going on and on about socks, but these knee highs are just sooo cute, and the primary fiber is bamboo, so they’re super soft, too. I love that I’ll be able to put them on under M’s pants to keep her legs warm when it’s really chilly outside. They came in a tiny tin lunchbox, which, again, is just such clever packaging for a gift.

We both are goofing around with the Stacrobats a ton. M immediately started playing with the jingling balls — I think she’s had more fun with those than anything I gave her for her birthday! The carrying case (which is also the stage that the Stacrobats stick to) is really heavy-duty for a toy, and I think we’ll be toting these guys with us when we travel here and there.

I don’t want to sound too infomercial-y, but if you’re shopping for holiday gifts — for anybody, but especially for young kids — check out Uncommon Goods. Our little presents have been such a delight. I just love finding surprises for people that they’ll want/use but would never have expected, and Uncommon Goods really fits the bill!

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Birthday Times

M has had a nice couple of days! We celebrated her birthday with my parents and Rob on Friday and then had a small party yesterday. M didn’t quite get the concept of unwrapping her presents, but she enjoyed playing with them once all the wrapping was off! And she’s quite a ham, so she enjoyed all the attention. Her latest thing is chuckling for no reason to get other people to laugh.

It was fun to get the house (really, just the dining room / kitchen) decorated for the occasion. I hung up some photos (M’s monthly photos and a bunch of the little Instax snaps), which I think was M’s favorite part of the decor. I made a big carrot cake for the party, along with a little carrot cake for M. She licked a bunch of frosting off her fingers and ate a couple little bits of cake and then conked out when I put her down for a nap about ten minutes later. It’s tiring having so much fun!

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One Year!

Happy birthday to M! What a year it’s been. It really does seem impossible that M’s big personality hasn’t always been out in the world. She’s just a sweet, clever, happy little girl, and I couldn’t have wished for a better daughter to spend all my time with. And I know that this year will get off to a better start than the last!

Size: M is about 21lbs 8oz, and 30” long. She (more than) tripled her birth weight! Sometimes it’s hard to believe how big she is — but other times, it’s hard to imagine she could have ever been as small as she once was. Her hair has also gotten so much longer recently. It’s funny to look back at photos from just a month or two ago and see how much it’s grown.

Likes and Dislikes: At one year, some of M’s favorites are…
Books: Silly Sausage, I Kissed the Baby, Kitty Cat Doll’s Day (which I made for her).
Toys: Kitty Cat Doll, the lion walker, the piggy bank. Anything that she should NOT be playing with.
Foods: Pasta (with any type of sauce), string cheese, bananas, tomatoes, tempeh.
People: Mama, Grandma, Grandpa, Rob.
Other favorites: Animals of any kind, pictures on the wall (her current obsession!), baths.

Eating: She switched to drinking mostly cow’s milk during the second half of this month. At first she pushed it away, so I mixed it with pumped milk, and after only a few days of that, she had decided that cow’s milk was okay, after all. Now she drinks milk from her straw sippy with each meal, and she still has a bottle of pumped milk before bed in the evening. I would call her a ‘light eater’ these days, as opposed to a ‘hardly eats anything’-er a month and a half ago. She usually eats a light breakfast and lunch and a bigger dinner.

A typical breakfast is a veggie sausage, some banana, and a couple of mini waffles. Sometimes she’ll eat almost all of that — sometimes she wants only the sausage and some fruit and just nibbles a little on the waffles. Lunch is usually something like a cheese sandwich with tomato on the side. Her favorite dinner would be pasta (she’s not picky about the sauce, but she likes marinara a lot) with cheese or tempeh. Sometimes she eats a cracker for a snack, but not every day.

Sleeping: Sleep is the same as last month. I thought for a while that she was going to give up one of her naps, but we stuck to the usual schedule, and after a week, she was back to normal. Whew! The only real change to the sleep routine has been that she goes down for naps without a bottle now. That was no problem — she was usually still awake when I put her in her crib, anyway.

Working On / Accomplishments: Walking! Only a few steps in a row, but it still counts. I’ve been sure she COULD walk if she just tried, but she never dared to take a step without holding onto anything. She’s realized what she can do now, so she’s been experimenting with it. I think about seven steps in a row is her highest so far, but she keeps improving a little each day.

M is such a little scientist — so curious about how things work. She loves to put objects inside of baskets/bags/buckets, and she understands what you mean if you ask her to put X into Y. In fact, her language comprehension seems really good to me. She’ll point to people and different objects in photos and around the room if you ask her where something/one is. She’s not into mimicking sounds (she doesn’t have any words yet and won’t repeat anything I say), but she is very good at copying actions if I show her how to do something. She’s been trying really hard to use a fork when she eats, but the food never wants to cooperate!

Most of all, it’s just amazing how much she’s changed over the last year. She’s gone from being a tiny lump in the hospital to a healthy little girl. She’s grown so much, but my love for her has grown even more!

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Our Weekend

We had the best weekend! My friend Julie came to stay (I hope she won’t mind my showing you that second photo — she and M look so cute, playing with the iPad (which Bear was sitting on)), and we enjoyed the sunshine while hardly moving from the sofas. She hadn’t seen M since July, and after spending a longer period of time with her, she came to the conclusion that M is an improbably happy baby. Well, toddler, practically. M took her first… step-and-a-half while Julie was here. She’s done it a few more times, but she refuses to take more than three steps.

Yesterday morning, Bear was on my lap, and I guess M must have been jealous, because first she tried to grab Bear (who remained unfazed and unmoved from her spot), and then M bit my toe! The nerve. She thought it was quite funny. I picked her up, and we had a cuddle, and Beany decided to join us. Just a big cuddle pile. That’s what every weekend needs.

p.s. — Oh yeah, I have really short hair again. I think I forgot to tell you.

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Life with Baby

(Yes, those two images are different! Different days, different outfits, different cats — same curiosity of the cat tree (M) and what’s going on beyond the screen door (cats), though.)

If M had arrived on her due date, she’d be a year old today. Instead, she’s only a measly .978 years old. Fifty-one weeks old. I’ll be doing her usual ‘monthly’ update on/near her birthday, of course, but I thought I’d also write a bit about how I’ve changed since she came into the world.

I’ve said before that I don’t find the whole ‘can’t remember what life was like before baby’ thing to be true for me. Maybe it’s just something people say, and nobody really feels that way — I don’t know. But I do remember what I did with my time, etc, etc. And, actually, I mostly feel like ‘myself’ these days. I realized that because when I thought back to the early months, I didn’t feel like myself. Which I think is because I felt quite… helpless? Not necessarily where M was concerned, but all around the edges. For a good stretch there, all I could do was take care of M. Even something as basic as repotting a plant seemed a fanciful dream. But somewhere around six months, we hit a magical mix of sleeping better and more independence on M’s part, and I’ve felt like I’ve been returning to ‘me’ ever since then.

Having hobbies is huge in that. Luckily, most of the non-baby stuff I enjoy doing is easily done with a baby amusing herself off to the side — sewing, baking, organizing. (Although M is a master disorganizer. The world is hers to pick up and then discard behind her.) I’ve heard a lot of guilt expressed over not amusing / interacting with (happy) babies all day long, and I’m not immune to it. But A) I have work to do during the day and B) it’s AWESOME that M plays so well on her own, and I don’t want to get in the way of that. I’m not in the ‘parents shouldn’t be playmates’ camp, but I do think it’s healthy and good for M to see that I have my interests and she has hers.

I think the biggest change for me (outside the obvious ways that having a baby changes your life) has been in my level of contentment. I think a lot of yearning for something only begets more yearning once you have it — it’s more a sign of wanting something intangible than wanting whatever object/experience you’re after. That’s what I’ve found to be true, anyway. But I really, really wanted a child — before I’d decided to become a single mother by choice, once I had but was figuring out how to make it work, once I’d done that but was having trouble getting pregnant, once there was a baby on the way but not actually here yet. It’s a dream that’s come true. She is perfect — our life together is perfect. I still have my daydreams about the future, but for the most part, I’m incredibly happy with where we are right now.

It’s allowed me to become a less jealous, more genuinely happy-for-others type of person. Some people manage that on their own, because they’re just really good people. I had to wait for M to come along. Just by being, she’s filled some important, previously-missing space in my life. I can be thrilled for other people when I hear of new pregnancies or exciting trips or new adventures. I don’t have to waste my time wishing for what other people have — I’ve got the best ‘thing’ I could have wished for.

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