Raising Vada: The Long Days of Toddlerhood

vvvFirst off, I can not believe how much Vada has change in just 2 short months! I know part of it is her hair, which is growing like a weed…finally, but in the last few weeks she is looking so much like a big kid! She’s also acting so much like a big kid, full of sass and tantrums, but also really funny and quirky.

Here’s how things have changed over the last few months:

FIT THROWER

In the last month or so Vada has learned the fine art of a full on tantrum. Limp body, throw herself on the ground and scream. Preferably in Target, or at the Farmers Market, or anywhere that other people might have a proper view of her total meltdown. It’s a real joy. Seriously though, its FREAKING HARD. It makes me cringe and feel frustrated. I’m not exactly sure how to handle these situations besides A. Give in B. Haul her kicking and screaming away C. Distract/redirect…blah blah blah. We do all of the above depending on what it is. To be honest I try to let her do lots of things. She’s not interested in the stroller anymore so I let her walk everywhere, and I let get SO dirty, and stomp in ALL THE PUDDLES, and I let her eat shit off the ground and throw gravel, but that only entertains her for so long. Mostly she wants to hurt herself or destroy other people’s things, preferably both at the same time. To hell with toys and playground, she’s much rather climb on a strangers bike until it falls over on top of her. Shes not a sweet gentle quiet child, she’s a rowdy adventurous outgoing child who wants to explore everything and destroy her clothes while doing it. We are averaging at least 3 outfits a day right now. Part of me is so in love with her spirit, and the other part of me is flat-out OVER IT. I tell myself that she is learning, that she is not maliciously trying to exhaust me, she’s just testing boundaries and learning what she can get away with, whats fun, whats dangerous. All those things you have to learn eventually, but she’s going to do it full force, no tip toeing into the water, Vada is running into the water fully dressed, “screaming MAMA WAAWAAA!”

vvmThere are days where I drop everything, we pack our bags and leave the house and don’t return until nap time. These are the days where I make no plans, no play dates, have no errands to run, we just hop from the park to a walk in the woods, to lunch in the grass, I take lots of photos and do nothing but follow my busy bee around until she’s rubbing her eyes. These are our BEST DAYS. These are the days I don’t fight with her, I don’t text my husband in tears, I don’t let my house get destroyed (because no one is home, duh), but these days aren’t every day, they can’t be. I have a job, I have lots of errands for home and work, I have emails to answer and bills to pay and taxes to do monthly. I have dishes to do and bathrooms to clean and a lawn to mow. I have to grocery shop, and pick people up, and watch other kids. I have a very busy and very full life, and dropping everything to follow Vada through the woods looking for bugs and sticks can’t be every day. She doesn’t understand this, obviously, and she FIGHTS ME over every task I need to do. She hunts me down and clings to my legs and whines and thrashes and hurts herself anytime I look away from her. These are the WORST DAYS, where I want to give up, where I want to trade places with anyone who works full-time, where I am so angry and so over it, and am such a crappy mom. But I know this is our season, this is toddlerhood, and it is sooooo long and sooooo short, and it will change just when I get the hang of it. My baby is never going to learn to talk again, she is never going to hold an earth worm for the first time again, she is never going to have her first bite of carrot cake, her first stamp for riding on the mall train, her first pair of Salt Water Sandals ever again. So I will drink lots of wine and sob to my husband, and make lots of time for evenings with girlfriends, and I will document ALL the firsts, and ALL the sweet moments between the tantrums, and we will get through this stage and still love each other…mostly (:

THAT DIRTY CHILD

My kid is TOTALLY that dirty child. She’s messy as hell in everything she does. Her clothes are so stained with food and dirt and blood, and snot. She’s got a runny nose and chapped cheeks. Her knees are all scabs from falling down over and over, she never even cries or notices the blood. She’s got a fat lip and a nasty scab on her nose from falling off the patio table. We strictly wear shoes that can get wet and muddy, I collect them in the evening and scrub them and put them in the dish rack to dry for tomorrow. She’s got greasy hair from sunscreen and peanut butter. Her nails are too long even though I cut them once a week, her toes are filled with lint and covered in scratches. She eats holding her fork in one hand, unused, and shoveling food into her mouth with her other hand. She’s got a 2 inch blueberry stain around her whole mouth, crumbs filling her car seat. She’s taking her smoothie down the slide with her, chewing on sticks like a puppy, I’m fishing cigarette butts and snails out of her mouth that she’s picked out of the pea gravel at the playground. She woke up with a puffy eyelid and a sunburn on the tops of her feet, the ONE place I didn’t slather with sunscreen. Shes the most beautiful disgusting child I have ever met. ALL THE HEART EYE EMOJIS.

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A PICKY EATER

I’ll be the first one to say I HATE picky eaters, especially adults, I think it’s weird. I know that’s so rude of me, and who cares if people wanna be picky, but it’s seriously drives me CRAZY. If I raise a picky eater, I will have failed as a mother. Vada has always been a very adventurous eater, right from the get go she would eat anything. These days she has way more of an opinion. She would live off of frozen blueberries if I let her. It’s the only food I could bet money she would eat (besides ice, she’s happily trade in her mother for a cup of ice). Almost every other food is a real hit or miss depending on her mood. Some days she gobbles up all of her food, some days she eats nothing. I don’t worry too much about how much she’s eating, in fact I’m glad that she knows when she is hungry, and knows when she is not. I continue to offer her a similar amount at every meal, and she can take it or leave it. I also continue to offer foods that I know she probably wont eat: raw vegetables, salad, steak, because she does put them in her mouth, she tries them, maybe she eats a little bit of them, maybe not, but at least they are familiar to her, and maybe one day when she has more teeth or her palate changes she will eat them. I’d hate to keep vegetables off her plate because she doesn’t always eat them, because then they become foreign to her, strange, weird, yucky. By offering up all the foods I want her to eat, it allows her to have continual exposure, which I hope makes her more eager to eat them later on. We also don’t make her eat anything, sometimes if she hasn’t touched any of her food we spoon feed her a little and she likes that and will often happily eat a few bites, but if she shakes her head or pushes it away we stop. Her body, her food choices. I will say one of the bigger down sides to Baby Led Weaning is that she is really only interested in eating with her hands. This means she is super messy and very tactile. We offer a fork at every meal, and she tries a little, but so far she prefers her hands, and really who wouldn’t?

Recently I have stopped giving her fruit at breakfast and dinner, only lunch so that she doesn’t become full off of just blueberries. We are also still giving her two bottles a day (first thing in the morning and at bedtime), I know she’s old enough to stop using them, but I just don’t see a problem with it yet. It’s one of the last baby things I still get to do for her, rock her at bedtime in the dark with a bottle. I love it, it’s the perfect ending to crazy days, where it’s just me and my baby and she quiet and relaxed and she strokes my face and has her “bah” and then I lay her in her crib and she falls asleep. I promise to be done with it by 2. (: Another thing that continues to be a concern is sugar. We have let Vada have the occasional bite of sugar (home-made whip cream, a bite of carrot cake) but we still don’t allow her to have any regular sugar. No cupcakes at birthdays still, no ice cream, no juice, no cookies. She doesn’t care at this point, so it’s still working well for us.

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SHE’S SO VOCAL

We get this a lot, people commenting on Vada’s vocal skills. She knows a lot of words, and can repeat most words. I can tell she’s working on building sentences, but they haven’t come quite yet. She blabs all day long to anyone who will listen. She greets everyone with a “hi” and any time she sees someone putting on a “coat” or a “bag”, maybe a “pack pack” she yells “buh bye” to them. She points out all the “puppy, woof woof” “bird” “kitty, meow” “crow” any “baby” walking by, any kid is greeted and chatted at. She talks about animal sounds, about her “shews”, about “poopoo” and “potty”. She wants “water”, wants to “eat”, to have a “bite” of a “Crackuh” a “nack” “pwease” “tank yah” “here yago mama” she wants her own “cup” to have her “bib” put on so we can eat out “side” so she can “slide, wee, side, wee” she sits at the top of the slide and counts “one two weee” and slides down. She knows “eight, five” too. She kicks “ball” pulls “Avey wagdon”. She’s always excited to see any of us, and talks about all the people in her life, lists us in a row “mama, papa, graama, nana, avey, sister, puppy, eba” all she wants to do is go for “walk” pick “fower” and listen to “crow bird caw caw” watch for “car car” tries to open strangers car doors. If her “shew” falls off she promptly tells you “uh oh shew shew shew” until it goes back on her foot. She like to tickle herself “ticky ticky ticky” and give hugs “awwww”.

The words are endless, all the foods and books and numbers and colors and sounds and objects. We tell her everything we are doing, we narrate our lives to her and she repeats them back to us. She has begun to sing the lyrics of songs she hears in the car. When she is upset she spews a mumble of words we can’t understand with snippets of ones we can. She says the same jumble over and over exactly the same, she knows what she is telling us. We just don’t know it yet.

vvbTHE ENDLESS ADVENTURE:

We are busy busy GO GO GO. I don’t want to stay home all day and be miserable having to clean my house over and over and over. If we get out of the house then the house stays clean and Vada is so much happier. often this is just in the backyard, which we are putting a lot of work into. We have built a large play area (which I’ll blog about when it’s done) and put up a brand new fence! We have collected lots of balls and outdoor toys so our backyard is a big kid oasis that we love. Vada plays for hours by herself outside, its like a 180 from the way she plays inside, where she is clingy and needy and bored. Outside the world is our oyster and I get some space from her and she has fun. We also explore our town a lot. We have visited so many parks in the last few months, each unique, some better than others. There is a new “cool” park by our house, that I kind of hate. It is crowded, and there are too many big kids, too many bikes and roads and stairs to be dangerous. Vada wants to explore and not  just play on a playground. I have found other parks that are quiet and have grass and trails to explore that work so much better for us. I’ve also discovered that it works so much better if I don’t go to parks with other people. Vada is so independent, that it feels frustrating going with another mom, because I can’t talk to her, and our kids don’t play together. I LOVE having playdates at our house, in the backyard, but park adventures are best when it’s just Vada and I and no distractions.

EasterBunny

We went this year to the local apple orchard for Easter and Vada LOVED to pet bunnies and do the Easter egg hunt, which she totally got and thought it was so fun to find eggs and put them in the basket. Luckily Vada LOVES a big mascot, so she did great for the Easter bunny too! We celebrated Easter with some friends and she had so much fun running around their yard and blowing bubbles with Nana and finding rocks. We also have tried to keep swimming, we might start swim lessons again soon, but I worry about the schedule commitment. Vada is such a good swimmer, it blows me away. We took a  family vacation to The Great Wolf Lodge water park and she was awesome and had a blast. It was so kid-centric that she just ran wild and loved the water so much.

We like to take Vada to the mall to run around, it’s a fun open space for her to explore. We also love the museum, Perch and Play, anywhere that lets her be a kid. Eating out with her has taken a bit of a backseat, shes a bit too wild to sit in a high chair for long. We will probably be going to picnics in the park as the weather gets warmer. Our bedtimes have slowly crept back to 8 or 8:30 because we are having too much fun in the evenings with friends. I’m excited to do all the fun family summer things, but I have to remember that Vada is unique and that we need to do fun things for HER and not just for us. If we try to fit her into a box of playing with other kids nicely then we will be frustrated and disappointed. We need to remember she needs freedom, open spaces, less structure more exploration. I should make a reminder every day about this, lol, its easy to fight it. I also have to remember to slow down too sometimes, to blog, to take time for me. Mr. Gaunt is good about letting me get away with friends in the evenings after Vada goes to bed. He knows I need the break to keep me sane. I also have to remember to spend money on me, to buy myself new clothes, to be ok with putting on a 20 minute episode of Little Bear so that I can get ready without a screaming baby at my feet. If I feel good about myself then I feel good as a mother. Me First. (:

vvySo that’s where we are at. Our lives are so boring and so thrilling all at the same time. We are parents of young children, and I know that the only people who can understand how that feels are people who are currently going through it. As soon as it’s over you wont remember the struggle, you forget, you look at moms of toddlers who look so so exhausted and you think “I don’t think it was that bad when my kids were little” and it was, you have just moved past it, you don’t remember it, thank god. (;

PS: This blog was brought to you by a solid 2 hour nap. THANK YOU JESUS.

 

 

That First Summer

vadas first summerChildhood is built on holidays, vacations and summertime.  My fondest memories growing up almost always involve one of those three things, and when I dreamed of being a parent, summertime seemed magical. We are finishing up Vada’s very first summer, and man was it a good one. When she was born in November I remember being excited that she would be sitting up and crawling by summer, and how much fun we would have. This summer did not disappoint.

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SUMMER HIGHLIGHTS:

-Celebrating our first 4th of July with a walk through Cornwall park, a visit to the Splash Pad, a BBQ, and an early bedtime so mom and dad could stand in front of our house and watch the fireworks go off.

-Swimming in our baby pool, at the Aquatic Center, in a bucket, and Lake Padden!

-Eating tons of peaches and fresh Raspberries from our yard, and so many blueberries!

-Going to the Elizabeth Park Concerts.

-Having Nana visit while mama and papa worked a big wedding.

-Lots of workouts at Continuous Motion

-Play dates at the FIG, Perch and Play, and Boulevard Park

-Front yard lounging on the big quilt.

-Bells Baseball games.

-First trip to the Fair

-Eating everywhere and everything!

-Spending afternoons at the restaurant.

-Happy hour with Grandmas at Jalapenos, Pepper Sisters and Rock N Rye.

-Trips to Semihamoo and Birch Bay to play in the sand.

-Eating Mallards ice cream and Fat Pie Pizza.

-So many walks to the park, to swing on the swings.

-Play dates with Avery, and Birthday parties with Lucas and Kendall, and BBQs with Katy and Charles.

-Visiting papa at work, and at weddings.

-Petting and kissing lots of dogs, and kitties, and even a turkey!

-Strolling around the Farmers market.

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I know this is just the beginning of all the cool things we will get to do with Vada, but I’m a little sad her first summer is over, and that the days will be getting shorter and colder and darker. We are planning on staying busy this winter so we don’t get bored and depressed. We have a BIG FIRST BIRTHDAY coming up, and the holidays, plus music lessons, swim lessons, and play dates galore.

I feel so lucky that I’m getting to spend so much time with Vada these days. There are times when I am burnt out, annoyed and just want some relief, but mostly I am thankful for our lives and for my family. My 29th birthday is coming up on the 12th, my last year in my twenties, it flew by. I know this year is going to be extra challenging, and so full of emotions, being pulled in different directions. Work more? Work less? Working on budgets, and balancing time with Mr. Gaunt, with Vada, and with myself. Continuing to work towards self fulfillment, and comfort in motherhood. The never ending goal to be happy and content and to step back from frustrating situations and look at my life as a whole. To not let anxiety and guilt debilitate me, to stay positive. To cherish Vada’s youth, her memories, her life always. To continue to respect my husband, to hold his hand, to be his equal, and to settle more comfortably into our “with children” roles in this relationship. Let this fall bring warmth, joy, and excitement that will carry us through the winter with plentiful happiness.

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RAISING VADA: Two Months Old

v2It’s so hard to remember to write down all the things I think and feel about having a baby. Today Miss. Vada is two months old! Ugh, where’s my tiny baby? We don’t go to her 2 month checkup until the end of the month, so I’m not sure what she weighs, or how tall she is, but I’d guess: HUGE. Shes freaking huge. ): sob sob sob. I thought I might recap some of my feelings over the last couple months. I feel like I was given a lot of false information from the masses, or at least information that didn’t really apply to me and my baby (this may be long, feel free to skim).

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1. BREASTFEEDING: This is super hard. At first it was just scary worrying about how much, how often, is her latch right?  Has it been two hours, how long should she nurse for? Is she pooping and peeing enough? Lots of questions. And it hurts like hell. I’d compare it to wearing new shoes and rubbing the skin off the back of your heel, and having to walk around, only your heel is your nipple, and you have to rub it raw every 2 hours. Gah! It hurt pretty bad for the first 4 weeks. My midwives were of no help and said stuff like “if it hurts her latch is wrong” but that’s BS, it hurts because my boob is not use to being sucked on all day long. It got really hard at first, at about 3 weeks I broke down and felt like I kind of hated my baby, I just really did not want to nurse her again, but I did. Grit your teeth and bare it, give it your all, and if you cant, then quit. I use to have a lot of judgement of moms who didn’t nurse. To be honest I still hate the “I didn’t produce enough” or “my baby couldn’t latch” those are often just excuses, the fact is, NURSING IS SUCKY HARD AND WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO QUIT!? So yeah, if nursing sucks and its making you hate your life and hate your baby, aint no shame in stopping. If you can push past the shitty stuff and have faith that it will get better, good for you, its cheaper and healthier for your baby. Oh, and I found nipple creams totally useless? Do other people find them helpful?

Now nursing’s pretty ok. Its still hurts sometimes. At night if she’s lazy with her latch, and I’m asleep, Ill wake up with a sore nipple and it will hurt for a few days. Ive got the hang of it now though, I know how long to nurse, I’m more comfortable with knowing when shes hungry, when she wants to comfort nurse, I don’t worry about her being hungry anymore. I also nurse EVERYWHERE! You know why, because the options are either A. Stay home all day B. Listen to my baby cry, or C. Nurse whenever, wherever. I’m a busy person, I don’t have time to go home and sit in her nursery to nurse, and I sure as hell am not gonna nurse in a bathroom. I’m discreet, because I have small-ish boobs, and because I’m not that interested in making other people uncomfortable. I personally don’t care that much if other people see my boob, they’re pretty average. So far we have nursed in: Costco, the car, Cash N Carry, Home Depot, The restaurant, Jalapenos, My house, My grandmas house, the studio, Perch N Play, Fred Meyer, The Movie Theater, Woods Coffee, Old Navy, The Mall…you get the point. We are getting good at nursing in the Boba, otherwise I use a scarf or thin blanket to obscure the view without smother or over heating my baby. I used my nursing cover one time and hated it, aint nobody go time for that!  I also pump a bottle a day that she has with her dad. No nipple confusion, no issues. I got good advice from a friend to only nurse on one side all night so your other boob is huge for pumping in the AM. Works great. As far as our long term nursing plans, I’m shooting for a year, and then we will see how we both feel about it. (:

sleep

SLEEPING: People ask me all the time if I’m exhausted. They assume that with a newborn I’m up all night, which is a pretty good assumption! I’m not though, not tired, and not up all night. I KNOW I’M LUCKY, I hear this all the time. Vada had one (yeah, one) bad night at 2 weeks old and was up allllll night long, it was awful! The first two weeks in general were a little bit touch and go, but once she hit 3 weeks sleeping has been golden. Full disclosure though: we co sleep. That mean shes literally sleeps in the bed with us. She sleeps right next to me, we spoon (no I am not worried about her safety at all, and I would not do it if I was). This was not my plan, and we have a Pack N Play next to our bed (that Hula sleeps in) and we have one of these in the bed sleepers, and she hates that too. She likes to snuggle with her mom. She has her own blanket, and sleeps with her face at my boob level so I can nurse her 2-3 times a night. We go to bed around 9:30 every night, I side nurse her for 15 minutes until she falls asleep. She sleeps anywhere from 3-6 hours before she gently kicks me awake and I pull out the boob, fall asleep, and nurse her for 10 minutes or so until she sleeps again. We do this at least once more, and then she wakes up on her own around 9:30-10:30 in the morning. No crying. There is ZERO night time crying. There is no rocking, no bouncing, no getting out of bed for at least 8 hours. WE ARE WELL RESTED! And this is why I co sleep. I would like her to move to her pack n play around 3-4 months, and then have her sleeping in her crib around 6 months hopefully. I am prepared for sleep regression or issues around teething though, so I’m not delusional that this will last forever.

getting dressedMY BODY: There is lots of information about postpartum care, and how you may feel after having a baby. Despite having an 11 pound baby, I was very lucky and did not have enough tearing that I needed stitches. My body bled for about 3 weeks, more if  I was physically active, but by week 4 I felt great! Ive had a few digestive issues, mostly related to dehydration caused by nursing (I think). My hip pain, tailbone pain, and carpal tunnel in my wrists is slowly getting better, but still not 100%. I have not had any extreme sadness, minimal crying, and I do not hate my husband. So you never know. I felt fine going back into work around 3 weeks, everyone is different. I’m looking forward to working out a little more, and hopefully dropping a few pounds, but I don’t have any crazy unrealistic goals. I do not hate my body, I’m ok with the little stomach pooch I have now, I’m a mom, I’m Vada’s mom, and I love myself for making her. I will NEVER do anything to make Vada feel less than perfect about her own body too! I also did NOT get bigger boobs from nursing, and my hair didn’t fall out. Everyone’s different. We also try to get dressed and put on makeup every single day! So important! It might sound silly, but it makes you feel so much better to not be a bum.

workWORK: No one quite knew how the baby would affect the restaurant, and how much she would fit into my schedule. This past week we adjusted our hours, and things have suddenly taken a turn for the best. I’m feeling great about my schedule, and feeling more productive, and my mom seems happier. This is excellent, and I hope things continue to improve. Right now I take Vada to work with me on Thursdays from 10:30-2:00. She goes in the Boba carrier and will sleep there at least unitl 1:30 when we have a nice long nurse and diaper change. She is happy as a clam while I run the register, wash dishes, etc. Customers coo at her, and she just sleeps away. At 2:00 Mr. Gaunt comes down to the restaurant and takes her home for 2-3 hours until I get home. Ive been pumping a bottle every morning for him to give her, should she need it. The rest of the week I go in to work from 2-5 or 6, and Mr. Gaunt watches her. Sometimes they come down and have dinner, and I nurse her, otherwise she takes a bottle. We also do grocery shopping a few times a week. I put her in the Boba and we do bulk shopping, and she sleeps. Sometimes we nurse in the Boba too if she gets a little fussy. At home when I’m working doing things like taxes and marketing stuff, I nurse her and put her in her swing and she naps while I get things done. It’s all a bit dreamy. Not that she’s always perfect, shes NOT! She cries and fusses, and melts down sometimes too, but those times are few and far between. Shes happy around loud noises, lots of people, shes easy going for sure. I just feel so lucky right now that my baby is flexible, my job is flexible, my family is so loving of her, and that my husband does his absolute best to make me and Vada happy. We are lucky ducks.

 

Everything else has just been pretty excellent. I take Vada everywhere. We run errands, hang out with friends, go to mom groups, have coffee. We work at the restaurnt together, we clean together. I let people hold her, I let Mr. Gaunt take care of her without me. Its excellent.

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