Saturday, October 21, 2017

10-17-17, 11:15 a.m.

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, at 11:15 a.m., my daughter told me she loved me for the first time.

I went to pick her up from the nursery at the church where the Mothers of Preschoolers group in which I participate meets.  When she spotted me, she came running and gave me the tightest hug and said, clear as day, "I lub you." I was in a little bit of disbelief, as she had copied us saying it before but had never declared it spontaneously, so I waited for her to say it again.  And she said, once again, "I lub you!"  I told her that I loved her too, of course, and then asked her to put the Big Bird toy she was holding (the one she starts talking about as soon as we pull into the parking lot of the church) back where she found it.  She put it right back, first time asked!  Let me tell you folks, we are not at the communication level where this happens consistently yet.  In that moment I was just so dern proud and happy and warm inside.  Even though I know that she loves me, for her to be able to tell me and really seem like she knew what it meant, it was so huge.  It was like, in the two hours we'd been apart, there had been a slight shift in her ability to comprehend and articulate feelings and thoughts, and we were both made aware of it in this perceptible way that is difficult to explain but that felt very real.

It may seem like a silly thing to write a whole post about; I just have to remember forever all the little details: the tiny arms squeezing my neck, me trying to hold back tears in a public place, her thin baby hair against my cheek.  She's always worth the dirty diapers, limited free time, and messy living room, but in those seconds it was like my whole life made sense and I knew I was doing okay at this mom thing.

As I sat by her crib last night and she begged me to, "hold you," I tried to remember that perfect moment.  We've never sleep trained and I'm slowly trying to get her used to falling asleep on her own, which usually goes great.  Her bedtime routine works like a charm, and sometimes she doesn't even want to finish reading Goodnight Moon and singing our rocking chair songs - she just wants to go right upstairs and get in her crib.  Last night, however, she had no interest in going to sleep, so I tried to stay near her and comfort her without giving in and letting her doze off in my arms.  I was working so hard to be comfortable with letting her share her feelings without allowing them to dictate my actions.  I acknowledged her, over and over again, and told her that I was nearby but that it was bedtime and she needed to rest.  The crying continued, off and on, for almost an hour.  When I finally caved and picked her up, she was sitting  up on her knees staring at me and crying in a desperate way I've rarely heard her cry.  As I held her, she melted into me and fell asleep almost immediately.  She continued to snooze soundly after I gently put her back in her crib. As I walked downstairs after, I was almost sick to my stomach.  In those low times, it's so easy to convince myself that I'm doing everything wrong.

She slept like a rock, as she usually does lately, and woke up this morning calling for me happily.  Like every morning, she smiled and hopped up and down when I walked into her room.  I realized I'd been worried all night that her feelings toward me may have changed somehow - that by not scooping her up right away when she cried for me last night that I had chipped away at our bond, made her trust me less.

I read somewhere this week (I apologize for not remembering where) that what "good" mothers give their children, more than anything, is a sense of security.  Their children may not comprehend what "security" means, but they would feel it if they didn't have it.  I was there in the dark beside my daughter last night, and even if I had left the room, as I sometimes have to do, she would still know I would never truly leave her.  She is protected and cherished, and, from her toddler perspective, I'll always be able to keep her safe.

She felt the same love for me last night as she did on Tuesday morning, and I felt the same love for her, too.  I was just having to show it in a different way.

To all my mama friends out there, I have no doubt that your babies feel completely safe, and they know you love them, so much.  And they love you with everything they have, even if they can't tell you yet.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Watch Liesl Grow - ONE and a HALF!

I've been putting off writing a Liesl update for a long time because she has grown and changed so much since she turned one, and I knew it would take me FOREVER to write.  Free time is a luxury at the moment; this kid is busy, busy all the time and has a knack for finding the most dangerous activities.  So I'm going to write this as quickly as I can, so I can maybe work out and do a little bathroom cleaning before nap time is over. : )

For a refresher, I went back and read the post I wrote six months ago when Liesl (a.k.a. Birdie, Liesl Ann, Liesl Bird, Birdie Ann) turned one, and, oh lord, I thought she was full of personality back then!  I had no idea!  She is now talking up a storm and copying pretty much every phrase we say.  She knows EXACTLY what she wants most of the time, and has no problem letting us know.  She is so sweet and kind-spirited, and she's generally very good at sharing.  Now that she's a little older and more aware of who "her people" are, she isn't quite as smiley and talkative as she used to be with strangers when we're out and about.  But she's a happy little firecracker at home! Her listening skills are typically pretty good, and she loves to follow instructions, like, "please throw this in the trash" and, "get a blanket and put baby night-night."  Like many kiddos her age, she's a boundary pusher, so it's taking lots of creativity, patience, and persistence to help her distinguish between safe/acceptable behavior and dangerous behavior that isn't "okay."  She's a climber and an adventurer, so I do my very best to make sure she has opportunities outside every day to exercise her need for exploration and physical activity.

I've been astonished at how much she remembers lately, from what we talked about and saw days ago, to letters and numbers and names.  There is so much going on in that little head all the time.

She does become frustrated very easily, and it doesn't take much for her to lose her patience - I know a lot of this is her age and the struggles with communication that come along with this time of transition from baby to toddler, but it's also obvious that some of it is just her personality.  With a lot of practice and reminding, she's doing tons better asking for help instead of just becoming upset when things aren't going her way.  Her toys must sit "just so," and sometimes her dexterity and understanding of physics don't mesh with her expectations.

I remember when she was tiny dreaming about the days when I would be able really understand who she was and how she felt about things.  And now that she is able to communicate and comprehend her emotions and ideas, I'm loving it even more than I knew I would.  It's such a wonderful thing to talk WITH her instead of TO her.  She gives the best hugs, and she loves to "sit with Mama" (briefly) and walk to the playground holding hands.  I'm proud of her and her joy for life and desire to learn every single day.  And I have no doubt her curious, kind, free, strong spirit will serve her well her whole life.

Liesl loves -

  • Whole milk!  It's a struggle to get her to drink water/juice these days, but she'll chug milk.  The doc says we have to cut back because dairy can block the absorption of iron.
  • Puffs, blueberries, cheese (especially on quesadillas!), watermelon, sweet potato crackers, FRIES (sweet potato and regular), Annie's gummies, and ice cream
  • Books! Lately she's been into the Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit Collection that the Mister's grandparents gave him when he was little.
  • STUFFED ANIMALS!!! She loves them all so much and most of them have names. Her faves include her elephant and a little pink bunny she calls "Foo Foo." 
  • Climbing, particularly on the bar stools and the couch... and throwing things behind the couch (which is a no-no.)
  • Listening to music in the car (lately she only likes female singers), dancing, and singing "Row, Row, Row" and "Baa, Baa, Back Seep (Black Sheep)"
  • Bath time and going to the pool
  • Playgrounds - her favorite one consists of bug statues that are made for climbing and sliding, and she calls it, "play with bugs!"
  • Swinging
  • Animals!  Especially dogs, horses, and bunnies
  • Making animal noises and, very recently, putting them in sentences - e.g. "Hank says, 'woof woof!'" "Cat says, 'meow.'"
  • Being outside
  • Peek-a-boo
  • Facetime and Snapchat
  • Dave and Ava (iPhone video app)
  • Hiding in cabinets
  • Her pull-along dog, Digger
  • Stickers
  • Sitting down randomly in stores and on sidewalks... If you ask her what she's doing she says, "sitting," like, "duh, Mom."
  • Playing in the nursery at church
  • Bubbles

Liesl does not like -

  • Being confined in anything (stroller, car seat, shopping cart) - she'll tolerate a high chair only while she's eating.
  • Shopping (obviously, since she hates shopping carts)
  • Sitting still, especially during diaper changes
  • Being held for long periods of time
  • When her stuffed animals don't sit the way she wants them to in her stroller, on chairs, etc.
  • Being away from Mama... except for in the nursery at church - it's magic.
  • Naps and bedtime (she fights sleep with everything she has.)

We were sleeping through the night pretty consistently until her and I went on a two-week-long trip back East last month.  Although the time with family was definitely worth it, we've been struggling with sleep ever since.   I'm sure she'll regulate eventually - we're slowly getting there.

Her hair is long enough now to have a little curl on the ends and is mostly light brown with some touches of blonde from all the time we spend in the sun.  It definitely still has an auburn tint in the sunlight, but isn't as red as it used to be.  Her eyes are blue with flecks of green and gray.

I've heard from tons of folks and can already tell that these early toddler years are going to be a blast.  She's a little sponge right now, and every day is a new adventure.  Even though the infamous "terrible twos" are approaching, I have a feeling there will be much more good than bad with our Birdie in the next few months.  Being her mama is the very best.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Making a (Temporary) Rental House a Home: PART TWO

I've been wanting to show you some photos of our new house, but before I do that I want to catch up on sharing a few from our Oklahoma home that I never got around to posting.

When I look back on these photos, I'm pretty proud of us for making our OK house work for half a year.  It was old and pretty yucky and tight on space.  Not to mention we shared it with a colony of wolf spiders and various other creepy crawlies.  We had to do what we could with our budget and the short time frame, plus it was a bit of a challenge to find a decent rental house that was dog friendly.  Taking a glimpse back to last year also makes me really thankful for the clean, new-ish, spacious home we have now.  We're lucky duckies, and we're really enjoying making this space ours.  It's nice to know we'll be here for a while and can settle in.

These photos are from the back half of our OK house which included the hallway, bedrooms, and bathrooms.  I shared the kitchen, dining area, and living room in a previous post.

Our guest bedroom was nothing to write home about, but it did the job - we were lucky to have both our parents come visit a couple times each.  I chose to make this extra bedroom a guest room instead of Liesl's nursery to ensure our families didn't have to stay in a hotel when they came out west, and because, honestly, I was still more than happy to keep L in our room. : ) The gun rack pictured was made by the Mister while we were in OK, and it ended up in the guest room due to the fact that he didn't have an office/man cave in which to display it.

The guest room was the dogs' domain during the day when I was home alone with L and couldn't wrangle everyone by myself (they didn't love being quarantined, but they were happy to have a great view out the front window from the bed), so that's the reason for the baby gate.  These ceramic tiles ended up being unbelievably slippery when wet, hence the random assortment of every rug we owned in the hallway.  I ended up kind of loving the patterns together, though, and the rugs made traversing to the bedroom after bath time much safer.

The house had two bathrooms, a full bath off the hall and a half bath off our room.  We would have been fine with just the full - it's the only one we really ever used since it had the shower and tons of counter space.  As you can see from the photo above, one pro about this house was that it had TONS of natural light.  I am a sun junky, and having all those happy rays streaming in was good for my soul.  Luckily, our new house is the same way; it may be even brighter during the day (we are in the desert after all).

I went minimal with our master bedroom, other than Liesl's little nursery corner.  Like I said, that natural light spoke for itself and I mainly just wanted to highlight the big window.  We bought curtain rods and curtains for our room but never got around to hanging them before it was time to move (oh, military life!).  The Mister made our platform bed at my request (and the fancy, schmancy dog bed, too!).

I was itching to do a tiny bit of a nursery in OK since there was no reason to have one in NC (we moved for the first time when Liesl was still tiny and sleeping in a bassinet by our bed).  This space was full of precious items, including the canvas above that my sweet and talented cousin, Molly, painted.  I hand made the bunting for our wedding reception and the bear print depicts Liesl Bird's favorite stuffed animal at the time (that we lost in the park, sadly - if you have a Target hook-up and know how to buy discontinued items on the black market, let me know). I liked the coziness of this space, but I love Liesl's new nursery where everything is a little more spread out since she has a room all to herself now.  Can't wait to show you! 

I custom ordered this print featuring the first two lines of my most favorite hymn to hang over the crib.  It's one of the dearest things to me in her current room, too!  It brings me a lot of joy to see our little one sleeping under these words.

This frame was on the wall in our master bedroom and it's become a treasure to me.  The first photo is from the night we got engaged, the second is from our wedding (obviously), and the third is from when we were moving out of our first home in NC with baby Liesl in tow.  When we arrived at our new home in TX, I removed the engagement photo and added a photo of us in front of our OK house that was taken on the day we moved out (and scooched the other two photos over to make it chronological).  I plan to keep this up with each move - but I may have to buy some more frames because I kind of like the idea of having a photo of our little family in front of each house on display... both because it's fun to see the different houses we've made homes and because I love to see the snapshot of our family at that moment in time.

All in all, even though I didn't LOVE our house in OK, I do love the memories we made there.  It was our home for a lot of Liesl's life so far.  I think we made the best of it, and I'd choose that house again (minus the spiders) if given the option.  I think Hank and Luellen really miss it - they had a big backyard full of lots of wildlife.  Now they have a teensy sandy lot with a pitiful patch of grass.  Poor pups!

I'm glad I finally got around to sharing this post.  Now I can show you some photos of our new house (which I really, really love!)... If I ever get around to taking them that is.  : )

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Liesl is ONE! / Watch Liesl Grow

This news is a few weeks old, but I wanted to share here that our little girl is somehow a whole year old!  How has she been on this earth for more than 365 days??

It's hard to believe that a year ago today we were trying to figure out how to share our home with and care for a newborn.  Our life involved a lot of marathon nursing sessions, babywearing, and spit up.  But who am I kidding?  We're still trying to figure things out!  Except now we're dealing with flying food, injury prevention, and a living room that seems to always be covered in toys.  I loved the newborn stage, but I'm REALLY enjoying this moment.  This babe has so much personality and love for life.  I know some moms say that the days drag on, but most of the time my days are pure joy (check back with me on that after we've added a couple more kids to our collection :] ).

We left off on 19 weeks on my last Watch Liesl Grow post...

Liesl loves -

  • Bananas, juice, yogurt, cinnamon raisin bread, and peas (and feeding herself - she's over being fed.)
  • Books!
  • Stuffed animals
  • Climbing
  • Walking and running (away!)
  • Rocks
  • Music of all kinds and dancing along
  • Bath time (and blowing bubbles underwater!)
  • Dogs!
  • Dave and Ava (an iPhone video app)
  • Making animal noises
  • Being outside
  • Putting things in and taking things out of containers and bowls
  • Peek-a-boo
  • Facetiming
  • Emptying cupboards and drawers (and occasionally putting things back)
  • Sitting on everything that's the right height
  • Pointing to her own head and hair, and other peoples' noses and eyes
  • Hair bows (but she doesn't want to keep them in her hair)

Liesl does not like -

  • Being buckled into anything (highchair, stroller, car seat, Ergo)
  • Being held when she could be adventuring
  • Having her face wiped, teeth brushed, lotion applied, etc.
  • Sitting still
  • When Mama leaves the room
  • Having her diaper changed

We're mostly sleeping through the night now, thank goodness.  We bought a Munchkin projector that's made a big difference in her ability to self-soothe, and I've been doing better about making sure she falls asleep in her room (so she won't be confused when she wakes up somewhere different than where she fell asleep).  Her bedtime is usually somewhere between 8-9 pm and she sleeps till 6-8 am.  Better sleep has been lovely for everyone!

Her hair is auburn in the sunlight but brown otherwise, and her eyes are mostly blue with a touch of green in the ring around her iris.  She seems pretty fair-skinned, but she hasn't been out in direct sunlight much without sunscreen.

She is an expert communicator, finding ways to point and yell until we figure out what she is trying to tell us.  We're working on pleases and thank yous, because she can be a bit pushy : ).  She's strong-willed, but she comes by it naturally.  I love her personality.  She gives me scrunchy-nosed, slobbery kisses all day.  We dance and read and laugh.  A lot of my time is spent doing damage control and trying to find ways to make "no's" stick... She has been climbing on everything this week and it's a little scary.  Now that it's getting warmer, I take her outside whenever I can so she can be free to run and jump and play and climb on playgrounds (which are safer than coffee tables).  When we're out and about shopping and such, she insists on walking, and it's all I can do to keep her little hand in mine.  We had our first busted lip/mouth experience this week when she fell face-forward on pavement.  She does everything HARD (she also comes by that honestly) and there will probably be a lot of bumps and bruises in our future.

She'll copy most anything, but some of the words that have stuck so far are: "Mama," "Dada," "Shooz" (Juice and Shoes), "Nana" (Banana), "Dah" (Dog),  "Nahya" (Nala from the Lion King), "Bah" (Ball), "Baw Baw" (Paw Paw), "No" (No and Nose), and lots of animal noises.  I'm sure there are more but those are all I can think of off the top of my head.

I can already tell that she's stubborn, generous (she loves to share), and generally very happy.  Even when she's frustrated and so mad she's in tears, we can make her smile again in just a few seconds. And people always comment on how "smiley" she is when we're out and about.  We can't wait to see more and more of her personality as she grows and learns.

Happy belated birthday, sweet Liesl Bird!