Goodbye to 2016

I know many people are considering 2016 a dumpster fire of a year, and I get it. There were many reasons it was hard to get through it. But tonight I’m trying to focus on growth. 

I had turned on the  Netflix original series Beat Bugs for Colt since I knew my mother enjoyed the show and she was stopping by for an impromptu babysitting job while Mike and I had dinner with some friends. When we returned home it was just before Colt’s bedtime so we finished up watching the episode and I remembered that Netflix had created mini cartoons to let young kids ring in the new year, so I tuned it to the Beat Bugs. Colt and I danced along to The Beatles song It Won’t Be Long and then counted down to 2017 (it was midnight in Dubai). 

After that Colt climbed up onto the couch with Dada and we all talked about all of the things Colt had learned during the year. From walking, running, and jumping. To speaking and signing new words and even phrases. Counting. Eating with utensils. Coloring. Singing and dancing. 

We went to a few new places. Splashed in puddles. Swam in the lake, went for a boat ride, played in the sand. Jumped in leaves. Bundled up to play in the snow. 

It really is amazing how much kids grow in such a short period of time. And I have to say that I think Mike and I have done a lot of growing as well. I continue to be grateful that he and I share many of the same parenting beliefs. We both of course want whats best for Colt, and value independence and imagination, and strive to make every day a learning opportunity. 

I am looking forward to a new year with new experiences, new travels, new perspectives and new challenges. Goodbye 2016! Hello 2017!

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Happy Holidays! 

I’d say we had a pretty successful weekend celebrating Christmas with Colt.  

Friday, Mike and I were both off work and able to spend time with peanut and get some last minute shopping completed. Surprisingly, Colt didn’t take a nap, but was able to stay up and go to my Aunt Ronnie’s house that night.

It’s been quite a few years since I felt like a kid at my aunt’s house at Christmas, but I definitely felt like an adult this time. My mom and her sisters are grandmas now. Watching the next generation run around my cousins, sisters, and I brings back so many memories. I definitely miss my grandparents. 

Colt is still learning about opening presents, in that as soon as he opens something he wants to play with, he’s done opening gifts for a while. This was definitely the case with the toy vacuum he received from my aunt. 

Saturday was a busy day. We were up around 8am and opted to leave for Grandpa’s just late enough in the morning that the car ride would sooth Colt into an early nap. A few extra laps around the Gander Mtn. parking lot granted us a little extra time sleeping. 

Of course Grandpa got Colt a number of toys to play with. A few suggested puzzles from the Lakeshore Learning store were great. Colt also got a few new cars. 

After some lunch, we headed to Doug and Debbie’s house to celebrate Doug’s birthday, which has become tradition. Colt ate his weight in cheese and crackers, chased their pets, and gave Debbie a heart attack every time he ran up and down the stairs. The short nap didn’t seem to stop him. 

Christmas morning was spent at home. Grandma, Jes, and Jer came over for breakfast and gifts. We had a feast of Colt sized foods; mini pancakes, mini waffles, mini scones, mini cinnamon rolls, and mini quiches. 

It was a year of cars, puzzles, and household items (? He got a vacuum, dishes, and food, lol).I love that most of what he got required him to either think or use his imagination. 

Though, this week between Christmas and New Years has been a little difficult. We’ve been out of our routine, we’re trying to encourage more food choices, and Colt’s been a tad clingy. I’m wondering if there is a growth spurt coming. I’m sure by next weekend we’ll be better. And before I know it, it will be Colt’s 2nd birthday. 

22 Months! 

I’d start by saying time really flew by, but for the first time in a while it didn’t seem that way. 

Colt has learned the art of the tantrum. Though, I do count my lucky stars that they have all been at home and fairly brief. Usually it’s because I won’t let him play with something, or eat something. Tonight was an epic whine-fest because he was hungry but didn’t want to eat the dinner I served. Sorry kid, goldfish and oranges are not an acceptable dinner. 

Colt still loves to be read to and thankfully he’s bringing me more than just the same 2 books over and over. We’ve started playing games of “I Spy”  to make the books more entertaining. 

Regardless of what type of music I choose for Colt he still loves to have the radio on most of the time. He’s particularly fond of Mike’s “90s County” station on Pandora. He’s also quite the singer now. His song book includes; “Ring Around the Rosie”, “Frères Jacques”, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, and “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”. He also knows the hand movements to “Bringing Home A Baby Bumble Bee”, “Patty Cake”, “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, and “If You’re Happy And You Know It”. 
Colt’s communication style has moved to more spoken words and less sign language. When he wakes up, he calls for “mama” and “dada”. He now asks for “milk” or “fish” and I think today he tried to say “oranges”. He says “hi” and “bye” to most people and things, and recently started asking for “hugs”. Other favorite words are still “book”, “dog”, “duck”, “bath”, and “outside”. Very recently he started saying “go poop”. 

As a matter of fact, the other weekend Colt started saying “go poop” and looking around for his potty, which he drags all around the house. I asked him if he needed to go and he kept running around and occasionally sitting. Smelling the familiar oder, I asked if he needed a diaper change, and he ran into his room and grabbed a diaper. Not thinking anything about it, I took him to his changing table and was surprised to find no poop. I told him he went pee and that he can do that on the potty as well. I don’t think it was 5 minutes later, he sat on his potty while playing and actually pooped. I guess he was warning me after all. 

The following week, we came home from school and he started running around and proclaiming again “go poop”,  so I asked him if he wanted to sit on his potty and he was very eager too. I was even able to pull down his pants and remove his diaper, he’s resisted sitting bare butt in the past. We waited for a while, but nothing happened. He was however not happy to put a diaper back on. And the same thing happened a few nights later, and then again. I’ve since decided that I’ll put him in pull-ups while at home in the evenings with him.  I’ll get into the habit of asking him frequently. If we have some success, then we’ll try to fully potty train over Christmas break. If he’s not ready, I won’t push it. 

Speaking of holidays, Colt got to experience Trick or Treating a few times this year. Once at the campground Doug and Debbie were staying at. That was just about perfect. It was at the beginning of October so the weather was still warm, it was during daylight hours, and we only had to walk a few feet between campers. Later, he got dressed again and visited the retirement home my friend Jessica works at, and Trick or Treated with the residents. And then there was his party and costume parade at school. Colt was a pro by the time his dad and I took him around the neighborhood. 

Thanksgiving was probably more about fun for him than it was about food. He had a blast playing with his aunts and grandparents. He snacked pretty regularly, but come dinner he didn’t want anything to do with what was on his plate. And apparently he easily forgets how much sweet potatoes don’t suck, which has been the reason for tantrums the last few nights. 

Patience continues to be something I work at. I’m getting better at choosing the battles worth fighting. I know dinner is going to be a long one again. We’ve been busy a lot and we’ve been too quick to offer up the chicken nuggets. I’ll be focusing on offering good dinners again. 

It’s also been very easy for me to get fired up about politics and my son’s safety lately. Watching the news is crushing. I won’t go into details, but if you are messing with my child’s safety,  the country he will grow up in, or the planet he will inherent, I will have words. I’m a momma bear. 

20 Months! 

From month to month I continue to see growth in Colt that I am still amazed at. Yes, he’s getting big, he can use a untinsil to eat, he loves to climb, he’s independent, he’s even talking and singing more. It’s his emotional growth that leaves me in awe. 

His teachers tell me that Colt is always friendly with the new kids in class. They appreciate also that he’s usually there early and that helps the new kids transition. But besides that, I’ve heard how loving and caring he is. Twice he’s melted my heart when he’s consoled friends when they were upset. Gently patting their backs, while quietly speaking to them in his little toddler gibberish.

It’s that behavior that makes me a proud momma. It also reassures me that I chose an awesome daycare. Besides an incredible academic experience that includes math, science, physical fitness, and language, his daycare also believes that etiquette and philanthropy are necessary for raising good people. The proof is in his behavior. 

In the past few weeks, other than the stories from his teachers Colt’s become more affectionate, he’s been very well behaved at dinner, he’s better at holding hands while we walk, and has overall just been well-behaved. That’s not to say he doesn’t throw fits. We’ve had our moments, Colt is still an independent toddler with selective hearing. 

With all the hate going on right now. The shootings, black lives matter, sexual assaults, Syrian refugees, and the presidential election. There is so much anger in the world. But looking at my son, innocent and unknowing, he reminds me that there are good people out there. And it’s going to take those good people to keep teaching our children to be good, kind, caring, and charitable. Colt is my reason for believing that we can be the change we need. 

A New Room

Well sort of… 

I didn’t have to work Friday, so of course that meant that Colt was wide awake at 6am. As I rolled over, rubbed my bleary eyes, and stared at the black and white image on the baby monitor, I watched as Colt stood at his crib rail. I laid there, trying to use some sort of telepathy to woo him back to sleep. He grunted out his usual commands to come get him. And then Click! The screen flashed, and like Dorothy waking up in the land of Oz, my son stood in full color on the screen. Click! And again a flash, back to the darkness and night vision illumination. Click! Click! Click! The light flashed in the hall. Time to get up.  

Colt’s newfound reach of the light switch only meant trouble. You can’t put a toddler to bed when he’s not tired, and not expect the light to get turned back on. It looked like I’d be reorganizing his room. 

And it worked out pretty well actually. I moved the glider we no longer sit in and rock out of his room. Moved a dresser to the closest, his changing table to the opposite side. His crib is now along the inside wall. His toy bins are now in the one corner along with his bookshelf, and beanbag chair. Giving him a little area to relax and play. 

It’s starting to look like a big kids room. I didn’t really miss the glider til just now. It’s so very true that you never know when you’ll rock your baby for the last time. Rocking and singing was slowly replaced with hugs and “night, night”. And tender kisses on the forehead with sloppy wet kisses back. For every memory of that tiny infant that you miss, there’s a new milestone to be excited for. 

A Whirlwind Week 

This past week has been busy, fun-filled, and exhausting. I’ve laughed and cried. It was far from perfect. But it was filled with love and family and I couldn’t ask for more than that. 

Earlier this year my Aunt Barb decided that rather than coming home to Michigan at Christmas like normal, she and Eileen would make the trip out for a week in the summer. This excited me as it meant that she’d get to meet Colt sooner rather than later. And we’d be able to plan a few activities in the warmer weather. 

Warmer weather was an understatement. It may have actually been the hottest, most humid week of the entire summer. We did our best to beat the heat and still have fun.  

As a kid, my Aunt Barb was another of my mother’s goofy sisters. Only she lived in Boston so we didn’t get to see each other often. But that never stopped her from being a part of our lives. We frequently received colorful packages in the mail. She runs a childcare center out of her home and always related to us kids in fun educational ways.  

Since becoming a mother, I’ve reconnected with Aunt Barb. I love sharing Colt with her and Eileen through stories and pictures. It’s like my way of validating that I learned something about raising a kid from all the experiences of her kids she shared. Having her meet Colt for the first time was important to me. I hoped that she’d be impressed with how smart and well behaved he is. 

Of course, the trip back to Michigan ended up staying little more important and sentimental then we had planned. Barb was diagnosed with breast cancer after Memorial Day. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster emotionally and physically for her. I can’t imagine how difficult the trip had to be but I’m eternally grateful that she and Eileen did. 

Monday Colt had his 18 month check up. And aside from the long wait to see the doctor, everything checked out well. He’s a typical 1 and a half year old.  Mom, Colt, and I had breakfast after, did a little shopping, and then visited with Barb and Eileen at our house for a while.  

On Tuesday, Barb and Eileen took Mom, Colt, and I to the Sea Life Aquarium at Great Lakes Crossing. It’s a great little place for young kids. It wasn’t too busy, thankfully. Unfortunately, Colt is just old enough to want to roam about freely without the understanding that he needs to hold an adult’s hand.  He was a bit fussy, but overall I think we all had a good time.  

Wednesday Colt and I spent some mommy and son time in the morning visiting the Stage Nature Center in Troy. For being so close to home, it’s a nice little get away. It’s definitely a place I can see going back to frequently. And hopefully Colt will continue to grow and appreciate what he can learn there.  

Thursday started with some miscommunication, but ended on a positive note. Most of my mom’s family was able to get together for dinner at Olive Garden. Colt has been a bit of a fussy eater again lately so I was embarrassed that Barb and Eileen paid for a meal that went mainly untouched. But Colt was well behaved so I can’t complain. 

Friday was more visits with the aunts and grandma at our house. We kept it pretty low key, since we would all be up early Saturday morning. 

Saturday was our big family outing to the Detroit Zoo.  And of course it was the hottest day, with the most humidity, and of course rain. But most of the family headed out any way. It was great to spend time with my sisters, and my cousins Amber, Kelly and Valerie. As well as my Uncle Wayne, Aunt Jan, and Uncle Mike. Along with my cousin Tyler’s kids; Kenzie and CJ. It was a lot of fun and I hope that we can spend more time together soon. And thanks to a gift of a membership from my aunts, my family will be able to enjoy the zoo many more times. 

Sunday was a day of rest, in that I tried to rest as much as possible while also wrangling Colt. He’s really a lot of fun, but he seems to suck all the energy right out of you. It’s exhausting just looking at him some times. While I can’t say it was the best vacation, it was definitely memorable. 

Maybe next year we can all head out to Boston! 

18 Months!

In January, Colt made the transition from the Infant B classroom to Toddler A classroom at daycare. He had already grown s0 much over the last year, I couldn’t imagine what he would learn in the next short 6 months with his new teachers. “What developments can I expect to see?” I asked Ms. Megan. Her answer amazed me.

My little baby, who’s size 12 pants were still baggy, and sleeves too long, now fits just right in 18 month clothes. His tiny feet have outgrown his first shoes, and his second pair of shoes, and now has a whole collection of little sneakers. While he doesn’t seem to have actually grown a single inch, he looks at least 4 inches taller, and at least 5 pounds heavier. We’ll know exactly how much he’s grown at his pediatrician’s appointment next Monday.

Colt’s tiny steps have turned into marches, kicks, and stomps! He climbs, slides, scootches, and crawls around the playground! And just the other day, he used a box of diapers to try and climb on the cabinet in the living room. He can reach and stretch for things he wants on the countertops. And lay on his belly to get toys from under his crib.

Colt speaks! He says a number of words, most often it’s “dada”, “bye bye”, “shoes” and “dog” but I have heard “rabbit”, “cat”, “duck”. He asks for “waffles” for breakfast. And he knows cows say “moo”, and sheep say “baa”. And while being verbal is still hard, he routinely uses sign language to ask for “more”, “water”, and “milk”. He even says “please”. Our bedtime routine includes signs for “bath” and “brush teeth”. And when he’s finished, he says “all done”.

Our daily routine is getting simpler. Though Colt likes to play and pretend to sleep when I wake him up in the morning. Colt is very good at sitting at the table and eating his breakfast while Mike and I get ready for work. Then we get dressed, and he helps me put on his shoes. It’s not always easy getting him into his car seat, but once he’s buckled in , he reads to me his Hello magazine or tells me all kinds of stories I can’t wait to understand. Once at school, he and I practice holding hands and walking together into the building.

Colt is so good for his teachers, Ms. Emily, Ms. Megan, & Ms. Shannon. I am impressed daily with all the activities they do with the kids. His daily sheets are now categorized with subjects like; Art & Sensory, Language, Music/Movement, Fine Motor/Math, Focus Activity, and Physical Fitness. He’s taught manners, and how to clean up. He can tell me where his eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, hair, feet and belly button is. He can match colors, seems to understand there is an order to his rings, and knows that his car is for driving. You can ask him to bring you a number of his stuffed animals by their name. And books are still his favorite.

Colt was on bit of a toddler hunger strike for a little while. Things he used to eat were now nearly tossed aside. He’s eating fruit better now, and anything crunchy. I am working vegetables into his diet. His favorites are still mac’n’cheese, and now chicken nuggets. He’ll eat hotdogs, and devour mandarin oranges. Strawberries, bananas, waffles and yogurt are key breakfast items. He eats well with his classmates for snack and lunch. I’ve found that if I just hand him his plate and continue on making my food without really paying attention to him, he’s more adventurous and will try things on his plate. Trying to encourage him only makes him turn his head away or offer it to you in return.

Colt has finally cut one full molar on the bottom right, and the upper right, and lower lefts are peeking out while the upper left is trying to make an appearance. We’ve worked brushing our teeth into our routine. He sits on the counter and “brushes” his teeth, while I brush mine. And then we’ll trade toothbrushes and he “brushes” my teeth while I brush his. Still, putting our tooth brush away at the end tends to lead to a noodle baby tantrum.

I have to be grateful, Colt hasn’t thrown and real in public tantrums just yet. He did fuss quite a bit when he wanted to walk down the path in the park on his own, but wouldn’t offer right of way to the passing bicyclists. He’s usually too busy people watching to throw much of a fit about anything. Our usual arguments are related to “chairs are for sitting, not standing”. Overall he’s a pretty well behaved kid who’s generally happy.

Most of the time I amaze myself at how well I can deal with Colt. I can read the same story with just as much excitement and emphasis the 100th time as I do the first time. Most of the time I am fairly patient with Colt, and can gently say, “no no” or tell him he may get hurt (while also signing the word “hurt”). But there are other times I do still lose my patience. And then I feel guilty. And it’s usually when Mike steps in at just the wrong moment, when I could have used him a second or so earlier. I have found that he knows when I am not paying attention to him. He doesn’t seem to mind if Dada comes in the room and reads a magazine, but if I try to catch up on a news article on my phone, Colt will come over to me and throw himself on my lap and try to bite me. He thinks it’s a fun game. I have told him no, told him it hurts, “cried”, moved him off me, sat him in his chair for a “timeout”, and left the room. Of course all it really does is make me feel guilty that maybe I am not spending the quality time with him that he wants.

Overall, Colt is smart, funny, adventurous, independent, and happy. I am still so proud of him and so grateful I get to be his mom.

Happy Fourth of July! 

What a busy weekend it’s been. And that was probably for the best.  
Colt had started once again with the snot and coughing earlier in the week. So it was once again a a battle to get him to eat or take his medicine. Seems we always take a step back with every step forward.  

On Saturday, we went and visited Doug and Debbie at 7 Lakes State Park where they were camping.  We had fun sitting in the shade and watching Colt play. It was a shame we couldn’t stay longer, but we knew Colt would be hungry and it’s easier right now when we ha multiple options.  Never mind that he ate plenty of Ritz crackers while at the park. 

Once we were home he was super tired from all the time spent outdoors and he took another nap. Aunt Jerri and Grandma came over and we at least got him to eat some Lo Main. 

On Sunday, Mike got up early and started slow smoking a pork shoulder.  Grandma Nancy and his Aunts came by again while Colt was down for his nap. By the time he woke up, his Grandmama Margaret and Grandpa Ken were here too. Colt had a busy day outside playing with all of his family and toys. He had a new bubble machine and a sprinkler to play with, as well as the slide Grandpa Ron had gotten him for his birthday.   

For dinner Mike pulled that pork apart for some delicious pulled pork sandwiches.  Colt was again a picky eater bit he didn’t go hungry, that’s for sure.  Later that evening Colt got his first skinned knee when he tried to climb down off a chair and slipped.  Poor guy was a champ though.  

Monday, we spent the afternoon at Indian Springs Metropark. We’d all gone for the nature center, but found the splash pad to be much more fun.  Colt wouldn’t go directly in the water, but he had fun splashing around the edges. 

Back home for the evening, Colt was a little better at eating dinner having some leftover lo main, and a stolen cheese sandwich. He was great taking a bath, didn’t fuss too much about taking his medicine. And the cherry on top was figuring out a less stressful way to get him to brush his teeth. 

When we can get through a night without any toddler tantrums, the whole day seems better. I really have lucked out with a pretty laid back kid. And when he gets to just be himself and do his own thing, he’s just a happier kid and that makes for happier parents. 

Unfortunately, as I’m sitting here writing this, after Colt has gone to bed, fireworks booming around the neighborhood, it finally hit Mike and I that it’s the anniversary of losing our sweet Diesel pup. I can’t believe it’s been a year already. I think about him often but it’s just not the same here without him.  

Work/Life Balance 

Work/Life Balance is one of those key terms that keeps buzzing around corporations these days.  And it’s definitely something that I hear often where I work.  

I am grateful to work at a place that allows me to occasionally work from home. This is great for me, even though I still have to take Colt to daycare. It means I can sleep in a little longer, skip the shower, and just throw on jeans and a hoodie when I get up.  I can also do things like run the dishwasher and throw a load of laundry in.  And once I even let something cook in the crockpot for dinner. 

Unfortunately, the ability to work from home means that I pretty regularly log back in at night after Colt goes to bed. Though, I have to say I do this less frequently than before he was born.  

Today I was “reprimanded” in a way for letting a client know that a rescheduled meeting was technically outside my working hours, but that I would try to attend. My boss basically called it a lesson in professionalism.  And I get it. Just because my official day has come to an end, I should have stated it differently. I’m an honest person and I responded with an honest answer. I attended the meeting and all was well. 

But that was my half hour

I wake up at 6am. I am dropping Colt at daycare by no later than 7:15. I’m at work by 7:30,and there for the next 9 hours. Then I fight traffic to pick Colt up and it’s 5:30 by the time we’re home. It’s dinner, playtime, baths and bed by 8pm. That leaves me 2-3 hours for me. And that includes eating, showering and if I’m lucky, logging back into work. 

That’s right, I’m spending 9 hours a day at work, plus 1 to 2 more a night, at least once a week. And I’m spending 4 hours with my son. 

4 hours that also includes arguments with someone who can’t talk yet. We don’t stand in chairs, don’t throw food on the floor, yes you need to wear pajamas,  yes it’s time for bed, and no 3am is not a good time for snuggles. 

I understand now why people choose to be stay at home parents. But it’s also very obvious why I do work. And it’s because I’m lousy at arguing with tiny people who can’t talk yet. 

So where exactly is this balance and how does one make that work? 

Edit: I should also point out that I get a lot of time off. It’s just remembering and figuring out when I can take it. 

Edit 2: I am also extremely grateful that I have a parenting partner in my husband that I can count on to help with Colt in the evenings and weekends. 

Unfathomable

My heart is aching. I feel like I could vomit. And tears have been welling up in my eyes. 

Last night a young boy was killed by a wild animal in a place that was meant to have a lifetime of wonderful memories. But in the upcoming days a family has to return home from vacation with a body and prepare for a funeral. It fucking sucks.

I can’t even imagine the pain, guilt and desperation that family is going through  and will continue to deal with forever. All I know is that it makes me want to hug my child close and never let him go. 

I can’t even really explain how much this pains me. I’m lying in bed thinking about how I have to eventually teach Colt what to do if he’s lost. That I have to teach him that adults are there to help, but that he also needs to be aware of strangers. And then I shake the thoughts out of my mind because I don’t want to rush this. He’s my baby.

I think about how independent he is, and how proud I am of that. He’s content playing on his own occasionally. And then I worry about when he’s older. Will I feel secure enough to let him be on his own? Will I let him ride his bike down the street? Around the block? To the park?

I think about all of the exciting places that I want to travel with him to; Yellowstone, The Smithsonian, The Empire State Building, The Grand Canyon. But now these places seem terrifying. What if there’s an accident? An emergency? A fucking terrorist attack? I have to remind myself that life continues. That there are far more great days than bad. And common sense and awareness can get you through most of it pretty safe. 

I have inherited the exhaustive worrying every mother gets. How I cope with it will be how Colt remembers me. Until then I’m going to not miss a single moment where I can steal a hug, kiss the top of his head, or tell him I love him.