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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

thoughts on motherhood (9 months)


I have a baby who is nine months old (technically 9 1/2 at the time of this writing), and I have no idea how that happened. When I was pregnant with Theo nine month olds seemed HUGE and old! And I figured a mom of a nine month old obviously had everything about parenting figured out. Now I'm the mom with the huge, old baby, but everything seems just as it did when we came home from the hospital - though I know so much has changed. 

Time is tricking that way. The days are long and the weeks are short. So time always seems like it passes so slowly, then you blink and your baby is suddenly nine months old and WALKING!  Yes, Baby T is walking. You can probably imagine that I have mixed feelings about this.  I'm so proud of my baby guy, but having a walking baby is so much work. I have to watch him like him a hawk, and even then he still manages to fall and hurt himself or get something in his mouth that he shouldn't have.  He's so fast!! 

Here are a few other thoughts from this mom of a nine-month old. 

- I've talked about how having a c-section really rocked my world, and nine months later I still feel like I'm coming to terms with it.  Every time a friend has a baby "normally," I feel so happy that they didn't have to go through what I did, but I also feel a twinge of jealousy. There's also feelings that I wasn't strong enough to have Baby T or that my body failed somehow. I was sharing this with my mom yesterday, and she something so helpful. She told me to remember how strong I had to be to make it through my labor and that I did what I had to do to safely bring Baby T into the world. Instead of feeling like I failed because I had such a hard labor, remember to feel strong for getting through it.  Hearing that made something click for me. Hopefully that will help me find more peace with my labor experience. 

-Newborns feel so tiny to me now. A few friends have had babies in the past month or so, and when I hold them I feel like I'm holding a big folded towel. One that squirms and makes squeaky sounds. They are just tiny and light! 

- It is amazing to be a witness to a baby's development. There is so much evolution on a weekly basis. I say the phrase "this is the new thing he's doing" a few times a week. I try to journal about the little things he does since most of them seem to be very fleeting. Some of the things he's currently doing: walking around the house with socks in his mouth, saying "doi doi doi" when he gets frustrated, reading all of his board books, feeding himself with little finger foods, and tucking his toes onto the bottom of his high chair tray. 

- Having to put away baby clothes that don't fit anymore is the best way to get me to cry. 

- I spent a week in Milwaukee this month, and let me tell you something that is probably completely obvious: it's hard travelling with a baby. The actual car trip was fine, surprisingly. But spending a week at someone else's house - even if they are the nicest people in the world - is enough to turn a baby's world upside down. I felt like I was on edge most of the time trying to keep Theo from eating things he shouldn't and just trying to keep things feeling normal. Come to think of it, it probably also didn't help that I was trying to train someone at my old job - with no babysitter. Moral of the story: try not to bring your baby on week long work trips. 

- Want to know how to make a very happy mom anxious? Ask her if her baby is sleeping through the night. If you want to make her really anxious, tell her about how well your babies slept through the night at that age, without having to do anything. I really don't mind that Theo doesn't sleep through the night consistently, but having to justify his little natural behaviors is hard. 

- Theo is going through a period of separation anxiety. And I find that I also have separation anxiety being away from him. Don't get me wrong, having a few hours away from him for a date night or time with friends is fantastic and a great way to hit the reset button. But thinking about a whole day or a whole night away from him gets my heart racing! My mom says that motherhood is a journey of letting go, and I'm finding that to be true, but not to be easy. 

- Laughing with Baby T is one of my favorite things in the world. He'll giggle, then I'll giggle, then he'll giggle again, then I'll do it again too, and we'll gone on like this for a few minutes. Because we're that cool. But seriously, making him laugh is the best feeling in the world. The only competing feeling is watching Paul make him laugh. <heartmelt>

- My baby guy looks more like a little boy everyday. He's learning to express himself and really seems to be understanding more. He watches animals at the zoo. He pulls food out of his mouth, checks it out, then eats it again. He stretches his neck to look around corners for things. He waits, moving from foot to foot, while the tub fills with water for his bath. He tries jumping out of my arms so he can climb up the stairs to his room. And he arches his back when he sees that he's going to the diaper changing station.  It's so cool to see him discovering and making sense of his world.  

- I am so, so, so thankful to be spending this special time at home with Theo. When we moved to St. Louis, I went back and forth about whether to find a job or stay home full time. I felt like I *should* be working, but everytime I looked at jobs I got all panicky. Over the past couple of months we've settled into such a nice routine, and I couldn't imagine trading this time at home with Theo for anything. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

m is for magnolia


Growing up, I never noticed the magnolia trees much.  Maybe it was the seasonal allergies that hit me every spring and prevented me from breathing and seeing much of anything. Over the years my allergies have gotten better, and my love of magnolia trees has grown. They're currently in bloom all over St. Louis and luckily we haven't gotten any bad storms that have damaged the flowers (so far). These photos were taken during my latest trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden aka heaven. 








Bonus: some white magnolias! The bulb garden is below and is just as beautiful, but that post will be for another day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

snow at the missouri botanical garden (in iphone photos)


St. Louis weather is largely unpredictable, with a warm, sunny day followed immediately by a freak snow storm.  There's a saying here that goes something like "if you don't like the weather, just wait a day and it'll probably change."  Except for summer weather.  Heat and humidity are the name of the game of summer in St. Louis.

During one of my many visits to the Missouri Botanical Garden's orchid show in February, I noticed a "what's in season" sign.  It was the middle of winter, so I didn't expect any flowers or trees to be showing.  Instead, the sign read: 

"Seiwa-en: Garden of Pure, Clear Harmony and Peace.  Snow is considered to be a flower in the Japanese Garden.  In the winter, shapes and contrasts become the visual pleasures of this garden, and many elements are meant to be appreciated when the snow delineates their graceful forms."

Beautiful right?  It inspired me to venture outside to take a few pictures during the next snow.  Predictably, the snow only stayed around for about a day, so I'm glad I went when I did. 










I stood by this waterfall for a few minutes before walking out of the Japanese garden.  Have you ever noticed how being still for a few minutes in normal life seems like hours?  Well, it was a beautiful place to spend a few moments or a few hours. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

my new year's resolution


March 2 seems like a great day to share my New Year's resolution for 2016.  Blame it on lack of sleep or all the time spent chasing a little baby guy around, but I'm honestly just happy I'm managing to share it with you at all!  

Ironically, this has been the longest I've stuck to a resolution in quite some time.  I'll give some credit to the tracking tool I purchased from Elise Joy.  For $4 I downloaded the tracking sheet and could print it as many times as I wanted.  Now, could I have just made one myself?  Absolutely.  But there was something about making a tiny investment in the tracker that made me want to stick to my commitment a little more.  Plus I saw that someone last year had colored their circles in with different markers and that made me want to do it too. 


I've committed to sketching, drawing, or doodling fifteen minutes a day for every day in 2016.  So far I've missed only one day had three other days where I sketched, just not for the full fifteen minutes.  Most days I draw for longer than fifteen minutes, but I never "require" myself to do it too long so that it always seems manageable with everything else I have going on.  

In January I copied Lisa Congdon's sketchbook pages and threw in random original drawings like the one above.  In February I copied Mirdinara's sketchbook which was much harder and not nearly as enjoyable.  But I stuck with it all month and practiced a style that was out of my comfort zone which is what I've been hoping to do as an artist for some time.  
The hardest part of art for me is usually practicing and this resolution has finally helped me work on that.  Plus it's a great way to relax in the evenings, and I feel like I'm "accomplishing" something completely unrelated to being a mom or wife.  I've come to realize that I need something that is mine alone so that I can be a better person for my family and friends.