Saturday, December 15, 2012

From Tragedy Comes Patience

Yesterday, when the news broke about Sandy Hook Elementary, it took me two or three hours to turn on the TV. I'm not sure what it was, if I was so hard at work that I put it off, or if I couldn't bear to think about it. Or, maybe I knew that once I turned the news on, I wouldn't be able to pull myself away for over an hour.

What is it about these details that we seek? I imagine that we think if we listen long enough, we'll hear the solution to the problem: We can prevent this with more security. It won't happen again if we outlaw guns. More mental health care will keep us all safe. After realizing that I had stood in front of my television, mouth agape and stomach queasy for longer than a half hour, I shut it off.

Then I returned 20 minutes later and turned it back on.

Off again. What do I think about? Always first comes the realization that one of those children could be MY child, lost forever, making my life ever dark, sad, and bleak. Then comes the faces of the children that I've worked with, the teachers that I have interacted with, the cop that I am married to that may all some day have to face this frightening and deadly situation.

What do I do?

What do any of us do? I've read all day on Facebook the ponderings of how we should be honoring these victims and how we stop it from ever happening again. My fingers have twitched as I've wanted to add my views and stances. But I've not typed a single comment. I just can't.

I don't have any answers.

So, this weekend, I've done the only things I'm capable of. I have smiled constantly at my daughter. I squeezed my husband extra tight as he headed off to the police station for work. I have been exceptionally patient with my daughter, as she has tantrums from exhaustion and missing her daddy. Any other weekend I would have snapped at her. Any other day I would have turned on cartoons and retreated to my office for a break.

Not today. Today is for hugs and kisses and building towers together. Today is for understanding frustrated feelings, taking deep breaths, and keeping my voice calm.  Today is about holding my daughter's hand, kissing her cheeks, and holding her tight. Maybe it's too simple.

But it's all I can do.

Maybe this won't last very long. Patience and the bitter sting of tragedy don't last forever. But for today, I honor all the lives that have been lost by being exceptionally patient and loving in this moment that I am blessed with right now.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Day at the Zoo

Dear Amelia,

Today I had planned for us to go to the art museum, but the weather was so nice (in the 50's on December 1st!) that I decided that we should head to the Toledo Zoo. We stopped at your grammy's work first to say hi. She was excited to see you.

You love animals and asked me right away if we could see the penguins. You also loved the hippo and the monkeys. We were there for almost 3 hours... a long time for a two year old! Excitement carried you through and you didn't get upset once. The birds in the aviary were a little overwhelming and you were a bit scared of them, especially the bigger birds. We ended our trip with some time on the playground. You are getting very brave about going down slides, and I even convinced you to go down the big tube slide!
Amelia watching the penguins eat lunch.

Mommy and Amelia by the new elephant exhibit.

It's hard to get her to pose by anything :)

Going down a 'big' slide!

I love taking the time for mommy/daughter trips while your daddy is working. You get really frustrated when he can't be here with us, which reminds me of how much you love him. I'm glad we can make the most of it and explore new places together. I have lots of holiday trips planned for us this month and hope that you enjoy all of them.

All my love,

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Now You Are Two

Dear Amelia,

Last Saturday you turned two years old. I was so excited to celebrate your birthday with you after being away for a two day conference. Your daddy had to work, but we went out to breakfast when he returned home from third shift in the morning. You had a cinnamon roll instead of cake, but were too hungry to wait for us to sing Happy Birthday before you ate it:
Mmm, cinnamon roll!
Opening your maraca- you also opened a Thomas the Train interactive book and a new outfit.
We also went to an indoor playland in the evening with our friends. You had a great time and were so excited to see Bela and play with all the new toys:
Vroom, vroom!

Playing with your friend, Bela.

This past year with you has been so very fun. Other parents warned me that toddlerhood could be very difficult due to the possibility of you running all over the place and getting into things. On the contrary, you were so cautious that I never had to worry about that. You are becoming somewhat stubborn and even more determined as you grow older, but you are always loving and give the best hugs.

Random things about you at the age of two:
  • You like: Thomas the Train, Sesame Street, Bubble Guppies and pretty much any movie. 
  • You tell me "Hit it, Mommy!" when you want me to put a movie in for you.
  • Your taste buds are much like your daddy's- you like french fries, chips, and other salty foods, as well as burgers, pasta and popcorn. You aren't  a very big fan of vegetables but like lettuce and peas.
  • Music seems to be something you are very interested in. We go to Musikgarten together every Monday, and you have a CD in the car that we listen to all the time. If I try to listen to regular music, you tell me "No, Mommy! Apples and bananas!", which is one of the songs you like the best.
  • You are very good at building, stacking, and organizing. 
  • We sleep together about 50% of the time, and I love your cuddles.
  • You say 'please' and 'thank you' all the time, and I am so proud of you for having good manners. You usually say 'EXCUSE YOU' when you burp, but if you fart, you say "POOP!" and giggle. We have no idea where you got that from, but we find it hysterical and find it hard not to laugh along with you.
There are 500 more funny and loving things that I could say about you, but our family is coming over today to celebrate your second birthday. I love you more than life itself. Today you will open many gifts, but YOU are the greatest gift I've ever been given.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Night Away

Dear Amelia,

Tonight I am away at a counseling conference. You are spending the night with your daddy. You and I have had a difficult couple of weeks with your canine teeth coming in and a cough that you have. It has left me a little frazzled. But, as your daddy predicted, I cried when I left this morning, and when I called this evening and you were crying on the phone from being tired, I cried too.

On a positive note, I spoke to you on the phone twice today and realized that this is the first time I've talked to you on the phone! This morning you told me "Hi, Mommy! Puppy! Puppy!!! Bye, Mommy!" and then this evening, once you calmed down, you said "I wuv you!" Twice. And it melted my heart.

Remember this- no matter how frustrated I become, or how thin our relationship ever would be due to anger, arguments, or anything else-- I am grateful that you are my daughter every single day and I love you with all my heart.

Hugs and kisses,

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rough Week

Dear Amelia,

It has been a rough week. You are getting all four of your canine teeth and sleeping in your own room for the first time, plus you have a bit of a cold. You aren't sleeping very well because of all this. Although I also switched rooms and I'm in the bedroom right next to you, I love you so much that I worry that I won't be able to hear you if you need me. Because of this, I'm having a hard time sleeping too.

Since we are having trouble sleeping, I let you sleep with me last night. I loved waking up to your smiling face this morning and kissing your soft round cheeks as soon as you opened your eyes. You watched Elmo on my phone while I cuddled you.

Even though we haven't been sleeping well, lots of fun things happened this week. We played with the leaves outside:

We went out to lunch, where the owner of the restaurant was totally impressed with your language skills (you said "Highchair! Please?") and thought you were the cutest thing ever. And she's probably right:

And yesterday we watched your cousin Max while Auntie Becca had to work. You loved on him even though he pulled your hair and made you cry. I guess you returned the favor though because ten minutes later you threw your plush ball in his face, scaring the daylights out of him and making him cry too.

I love you very much. I'm glad I get to spend the rest of this Sunday with you. We will probably watch movies and go see Grammy and Papa.

Hugs and Kisses,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Change Is Good

It's been over a month since I've posted here. Certainly it is not because I've had a lack of anything to say. We have been adjusting to my husband working a different shift, Amelia sliding into her 'terrible two's', and enjoying the fall season. It provides plenty to write about, but I think that the truth is, at the end of the work day, I just cannot bear to touch my computer. I love my job, and I think I still enjoy writing, but after 8 hours of staring at a screen and having my toddler patiently wait for my attention, I haven't been motivated to post anything. I even briefly entertained the thought of abandoning my blog, but I just can't.

This has brought about a lot of thinking about how I can keep my blog, be consistent with it, and not feel like it is one more chore added to my plate. As with anything to do with mommyhood, this has been a challenge of balance, and I think I've developed a solution. Before I discuss this solution, however, I have a confession:

I am horrible at keeping up with Amelia's baby book.

Perhaps I'm not the only mother with this affliction, but on some level, I feel horribly guilty about it. I recall purchasing Amelia's baby book with a bit of dread, knowing that it would remain mostly blank. And, I was right. I think I filled it out here and there for the first few months. After that, I started shoving the medical updates with her growth written on them into the book, promising myself that I would write it all down during the upcoming weekend. I would have friends say "Oh, what was Amelia's percentiles at her last check-up? I'll have to look at my daughter's baby book to see how they compare!" With that sentence, my stomach would turn slightly queasy with guilt.

This is just not my strength in parenting. Things I'm good at- coloring, watching kids movies, ignoring obnoxiously loud toys. Things I'm not good at- keeping up with the baby book, keeping her thousand's of digital baby pictures sorted and backed up, packing up and storing her clothes as she outgrows them. Clearly I'm not much of an organized person; however, I want Amelia to have some kind of record of her childhood. Maybe she will hardly ever look at it, but I would feel better knowing that she has at least something.

So, my new resolution is to use my blog to write letters to Amelia, like this. I don't have the motivation to set up a new e-mail account, as this mom did, but I think that if I can write a short letter to Amelia here and there, it will be motivation to keep up with my blog and will give Amelia something to look back on. If I'm really motivated, then maybe someday I will print out the letters and bind them into a book. They will be all right here, waiting for me, unlike my scattered memories of when Amelia got new teeth in, or those check-up papers strewn across our house.

After all, my little Bean (yes, I've started calling her Bean instead of Peanut- apparently she is so deliciously cute that I can't stop nicknaming her after foods) deserves to have written accounts of how I love her so.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Manners, Manners

It has been a while since I have mentioned anything about Amelia's development. Mostly, I've been griping about work and failed weekend getaways. Never fear, Amelia is healthy and happy and well.... a talker. We saw early signs that this was going to be her strength, but it still amazes me daily that she can say so much and speak so clearly. I'm not sure that I can claim much responsibility for this. I have always talked to Amelia a lot and never really did much baby talk with her even when she was an infant. However, it often seems like my reading to her is infrequent and that she watches entirely too much TV since I work from home. The only thing that saves me from feeling guilty about the amount of TV she views is that she has probably gained a fair amount of vocabulary from it.

And, I doubt she learned the phrase "Oh, shit" from the TV. I will take the blame for that one.

In any case, her most notable speech development recently has been learning manner words. I have tried hard to model this from the beginning. My parents and family are big on manners. I rarely recall getting away with asking for something at home without saying "please". If I forgot to use that word, I either didn't get what I wanted or I got the evil eye and quickly rephrased my request. While I found it terribly annoying as a teen, it is certainly something that I'm grateful for as an adult, particularly when I am speaking with students (or parents) that are lacking in the manners department.

We started first with Amelia saying please when she asked for something. This started out as "PEEEESSSEEE?????", then went to signing please when she refused to say the word. This sign is supposed to be rubbing the middle of your chest in a circular motion. Usually she looks like she is rubbing both of her nipples, which I find to be fairly hilarious. We went on for a few months with her saying only this phrase, but me continuing to tell her to say thank you, you're welcome, I'm sorry, and excuse me.

I should note here that this sometimes gets me some odd looks. Amelia is rather petite, so although she will be two in November, she is still wearing mostly 18 month clothing. And, I think that people have this perception that if a child can't say something, then you shouldn't ask them to. I think they forget, though, that one day she will say those words because I've been telling her for months to do just that.

And now she is. Although not always correctly placed.

This became apparent last week when I sneezed and Amelia quickly said "Sorry, Mommy!" This was particularly funny because Amelia has had an increase in some mildly aggressive behavior-- towards me only-- since my husband started working a different shift. I have a variety of ways that I handle this, but my approach always includes telling her to say "I'm sorry"-- which she never does because she doesn't really understand those words yet. But since I view it as planting the seed to grow good manners and respect, I keep telling her to say it. And she is. When I sneeze. And also when she runs into the dog. But never to me when she hits me.

It's a work in progress.

Another phrase that we've been working on is "thank you". Growing up as an only child, I have heard the false belief that I must be spoiled, and therefore do not appreciate what I have. I'm sure people have realized from some of my posts that this is not the case, and it is of course important to me that Amelia be grateful as well. And she seems to be, as evidenced by her saying "thank-you-you're-welcome" when I hand her a cup of milk.

Finally, we have the words 'excuse me', which she says as "excuse you" because that's what I've been telling her. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to tell her "Say excuse me" instead, just as I have with all of the other phrases, but it does make me laugh when I sneeze and she says "EXCUUUUUSSEE YOU!!".

We are still working on 'bless you'. Parenthood. Always something to improve upon :)
Learning good manners is exhausting