Thursday, February 28, 2013

Audrey - 26 months


You are such a big girl now. We converted your crib to a toddler bed this month and you did very well in the transition. We took the rocking chair out of your room completely and I think this has made a huge difference in the quality of sleep you get. We had a horrible habit of still rocking you to sleep at night, and I think you woke up in the night and needed that rocking motion to fall back to sleep. Now, we read your story with you tucked right into bed. You've been sleeping fairly consistently from between 7:30 and 8 at night to anywhere between 3 and 5:30 in the morning. If it is 3 or 4 in the morning, you will sometimes fall back to sleep on your own, or you may call for Mommy, but with a quick and gentle reassurance, you fall back to sleep. If you make it to 5 or 5:30 am, we'll usually let you into our bed and you'll sleep until 6:30 or 7. Nap time is sporadic. Some days you nap great and other days you don't nap at all. Overall though, your sleep habits are greatly improved, and we're all reaping the rewards of more, more restful sleep. 

I think I also feel safe pronouncing you "officially potty trained!" You did so well and had very few accidents. I am still putting a diaper on you at nap time and bed time, but you always wake up dry from each, so I may stop that soon. You have had the very rare, occasional accident, but it seems like those happen when you are acting out and trying to get our attention.

Speaking of acting out, you are the epitome of the "Terrible Twos" right now. I know it is a completely normal phase, but boy-oh-boy is it frustrating! "It. Not. Fair!" is one of your favorite phrases, and comes in the sternest voice with your hands on your hips. I don't know where you learned it, but it is either hilarious or outraging depending on the number of times I've heard it that day.

On the flip side, you are also incredibly sweet. You often say, "I love you, too, Mommy," and "You my best friend in the whole wide world." And they both melt Mommy's heart every single time. 
Your vocabulary continues to expand and I don't know where you come up with half the things you say. You say "popcorn" like you're from South Boston and I love it! It's like you know where you were born despite the fact that we don't live there anymore and neither your father or I have Boston accents. When you're thirsty you say, "I need some sip a water." Not "I need some water," or "I need a sip of water." It's really, really cute.

Your last two molars finally broke through your gums and have really been bothering you. But - HALLELUJAH! - we're almost done with teething! I think we'll both be happy to leave this phase of your life behind us.

We've started going to the library's toddler play group and story time every week now. You were shy at first, but now you love singing and dancing and playing with the other kids. It makes Mommy proud to see you socializing and I think once this group becomes more routine, we'll add another play group into the mix as well.

You are challenging me more than ever, sweet girl, but Mommy is working on her patience and I think we're going to get through this just fine. I'm just praying that 3 isn't worse than 2 like everyone says it is.

I love you more than my heart can contain, and even though you clearly aren't a baby anymore, you'll always be my baby!

Love always,

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Week 2

My 40 Days of Gratefulness continues with Week 2. I don't think I did as well representing each day with a photograph this week as I did last week, but I did the best I could. And the reflection part is really more important than the photograph.

Day 8
We got up this morning and, beaming, Audrey asked me, "Mommy, you got surprise for me?" I said, "No, hunny. I'm sorry. No surprise this morning." And she responded, "Yeah you do! We gonna make blueberry muffins together!" Apparently, the surprise is for Mommy. 
Today I am grateful that I have the opportunity to stay at home with my daughter and make blueberry muffins together in the morning if we want to. It isn't always easy. It is challenging and frustrating and a test of my patience daily. We make lots of personal sacrifices so that I can be with her. But I am grateful every moment for the quality time I get to spend with her and for all she teaches me about life. I do not take for granted that this opportunity is simply not an option for some people.

Day 9
There is an old saying that "It takes a village to raise a child." Today I am grateful that the village surrounding me my whole life has always been one filled with love and support and encouragement. I am even more grateful that the same village that surrounded me, surrounds Audrey also.

Day 10
I am grateful today to not only have food to eat, but to have healthy, nutritious foods available to me at all times. Reflecting on this today, I am especially mindful that so many in this world go hungry and that I am blessed to not have to worry about how I am going to feed my family every day.

Day 11
Today I am grateful for my camera, for all I have learned about photography, and for the priceless memories I have been able to capture. Children grow and change in the blink of an eye, and I have so many beautiful photographs that can transport me back to the funny face she would make waking up as a newborn, to the expression on her face when she found her feet for the first time, or to just how tiny she used to be. These memories fade and soften in our minds over time, but the photographs will forever take us back to what we saw and felt in that moment.

Day 12
Today I am grateful for laughter. For a night out laughing with friends, to laugh with them, at them and at myself. I am grateful for the release of stress and worry, and the healing that laughter provides. I am grateful for the joy that radiates from the laughter of a child.

Day 13
I am grateful for the internet and the limitless resources, ideas and inspiration it provides. I am grateful that it helps me be a teacher to my daughter, as well as a mom.

Day 14
I am grateful today that technology allows me to see this sweet face, even from over 400 miles away. I am grateful that it allows me to watch my nephew grow, and to have a relationship with him that the phone alone would not.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I have a full time job, too.

I talk a lot about how much I love being a mom, about how it is a calling for me, about how in love with and in awe of my daughter I am. I know it is not like this for every mother out there. I know there are some moms out there that get annoyed by moms like me. That's okay. I know you can still love your child unconditionally and not be with them 24 hours a day like I am most of the time. Some moms don't have a choice. They can't afford not to go to work. I sympathize with those moms that want to stay home, but simply can't swing it. And I know that there are plenty of moms out there that have a passion or calling that is something other than being a mother. And for those mothers, they are doing a great service to their children by showing them that you are pursuing your dreams and providing for your family.

But let's be real for a second. I don't judge you for going to work, whether you go to work because your career is important to you or whether you can't afford not to. But there are some working moms out there that like to hate on stay-at-home moms like me. Some do it quietly to themselves or to a friend. And some post things like this openly on their blog or their Facebook wall:

Hmmm... And what do you think your daycare provider does while you're working? Do you think they're sitting on their behind relaxing with a refreshment and a good book or leisurely surfing the internet? Do you think they're cleaning their house and doing their own laundry and dishes? Or do you pay them to teach, nurture and watch over your child? How is what I'm doing different than that in the basics?

The tone of this ecard bothers me. Raising kids and running a house keeps you busy, too, hey? Well I'm, technically speaking, raising my kid 8-12 hours a day longer than you. While you are working outside of your home, I'm not sitting around doing nothing because I'm at home. I'm doing the same thing someone else is doing for your child while you're at work. So does that not count as me having a full time job? And running my house? You say you do that all before you go to work in the morning or after your kids go to sleep at night. I have news for do I! The majority of my chores get done while my child is sleeping, not during the day while you're at your full time job.

Yes, I can throw a load of laundry in and fold it while she's playing. But you at least get 30 minutes to an hour to yourself for lunch. When or if Audrey naps, I'm lucky to get a quick shower and something to eat, but I'm usually picking up or setting up an afternoon project at the same time.

We're all moms. And we're all doing the best we can, the best way we know how. We need to give each other a break. I don't think what you do is easy. Do you think what I do is easy? My husband and I make huge sacrifices financially and personally so that I am able to stay at home. It is not easy for us financially at all. You say you can't afford to not work, but really what some of you mean is that you can't afford to not work and maintain the lifestyle you currently have. And that's fine if that lifestyle is important to you. But some of you probably could afford it, it just takes a great deal of sacrifice. Easy? I love my daughter unconditionally and I am grateful for the time I get to spend with her, but spending that much time with anyone, let alone a 2 year, is certainly not easy emotionally.

The moment when a woman becomes a mother is a beautiful catastrophe. We are forever changed. It is wonderful and amazing. But we all, in some way, mourn the loss of the person we were before our child joined us. We can never be exactly that person again. And that can be sad and frustrating, as well as fantastic and overwhelming and joyous. It is easy to take that frustration out on someone who is a mother in a different way than we are. But even though we are all mothers in different ways, and we all mourn the person we were to different degrees, this beautiful catastrophe connects us. And instead of criticizing each other for not doing what we would do, or for doing what we really want to do, but can't, we should support each other. We should remember that being a mother isn't easy for any of us. My struggles simply aren't the same struggles as yours.

*2/26/13 - A few of the sentences in this post have been very slightly edited only to help make my original intent more clear. This post was in response to the tone of the ecard above, implying that working moms are busier because they work outside of the home. I know that not all working moms feel this way. I don't in any way think that working moms or stay-at-home moms have it harder or easier than the other. I was simply saying that I'm not sitting around doing nothing because I'm at home and not in the workplace. The intent of this post was to express that ecards like this are not okay whether they are aimed at stay-at-home moms or aimed at working moms. Being a mom is hard no matter what, and we need to support each other despite our differences, not tear each other down.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Week 1

Last week I talked about how what I was going to give up for Lent was going to be a little bit different this year. Instead of giving up my usual rotation of either caffeine, chocolate, a favorite food, or Facebook for Lent this year, I decided to dig a little bit deeper. It is incredibly easy for me to get caught up in the schedule and chaos of my every day life, and to forget to look around and appreciate my many blessings. This year, I decided to give up the complacency that settles so easily into my life when I'm not paying attention. To do this, I committed myself to really appreciating and reflecting on one blessing in my life, every day, for 40 days, and challenged myself to take one photo to represent each blessing in some way. The result: 40 Days of Gratefulness.

Here is a look at Week 1:
Day 1
Today I am grateful for true friendship. Whether it is sitting down to chat with a cup of tea and a friend who lives close by, or a 45 minute phone date with someone who lives on the other side of the state, I am blessed with a handful of true friends. I know that despite the changes in our lives or our busy schedules, they are always there with an open mind and an open heart. Their love and support is not something to take for granted.

Day 2
Today I am grateful for small acts of love. They may not happen as often or with as much passion as they did in the beginning, but something as simple as a bouquet of flowers to say, "I love you and appreciate you," is something to be grateful for.

Day 3
Today I am grateful that I am able to see the world through the eyes of my daughter. Her love, excitement and appreciation for the things she discovers around her are a constant reminder for me to pay attention to and appreciate the world around me as well.

Day 4
I am grateful for the comfort of my bed. A warm, soft, safe place to snuggle up and rest at night, or to recuperate when I'm not feeling well. A luxury not afforded to everyone.

Day 5
I am grateful for my Sunday morning yoga class, for the strength it is helping me build - body, mind and spirit. I am appreciative of the small amount of time to myself, to let go of the stress of the previous week, and to start the new week fresh and with a clear mind and heart.

Day 6
Today I am grateful for bacon. No further explanation necessary.

Day 7
Today I am grateful for a restful night of sleep for all of us! Audrey slept in her big girl bed from 8:30 pm until 6 am! I know we are responsible for her bad sleep habits, but I am grateful that we are slowly correcting them and that peaceful, restful SLEEP is the result!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope your day is filled with love and flowers!

Audrey and I are certainly enjoying our flowers from our main man!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I have been thinking a lot the last few days about what I want to give up for Lent this year. The usual chocolate, caffeine, any favorite food, and the internet or Facebook popped up immediately, but they just didn't seem right for me this year. So I started to think about why we give something up for Lent.

My understanding has always been that the idea behind giving up something for Lent comes from Luke 9:23:
Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."
Is denying myself chocolate really going to help me "take up my cross daily"? Would it help me to think about growing in Christ and following in His ways? Will it prepare me to reflect on His resurrection and all He gave up for me?

I started thinking about how busy my days are and how comfortably unappreciative I can get of the things around me. The days fly by and there is so much to do, and it is easy to be ungrateful - not ungrateful in a purposeful way, but more in a neglectful kind of way.

So instead of giving up something I love, I decided to give up something that is not helping in my journey to grow in my relationship with God and be a better follower of Christ. So this year, I am giving up ungratefulness. Or to think about it in another more positive way, I am going to show more gratitude and appreciation for the blessings in my life and the everyday miracles that surround me.

Every day, I will take a photograph of someone or something that I am grateful for. And during that day I will take time to reflect on its presence in my life and show appreciation and gratitude for it.

I am blessed in so many ways, I know that. During Lent this year, I will pay closer attention to and appreciation for just how blessed I am. I will give up the complacency that comes when we get caught up in our everyday lives.

I'll try to share my photos and some short reflections here weekly, and hopefully 40 days of doing this will help me to continue to acknowledge and show appreciation for the individual blessings in my life, and not simply say a generic prayer of thanks for "all my blessings."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

L L F M D: Today is a new day.

11. Today is a new day.

Do not limit yourself by who you were or what you thought, said, did or felt yesterday. Reflect on it. Learn from it. And then set out to be the best you that you can be today. If you focus for too long on the past and your mistakes, you miss all the opportunities the future holds to learn and do better. And if today doesn't quite go how you planned, the good news is, tomorrow is a new day.