Thoughts on Two Years

First PartyMy sweet daughter turned two on 15 August.  It was the weekend of GenCon of course, and the house was full of guests (the way I like it).  “You’re still going to Gen Con?” people said, a twinge of disapproval in their tone. “Yes we are!” I cheerily replied.  After all, I wasn’t just dragging her around in a feeble attempt to maintain my hobby; I actually registered her into a kid’s event where she made a handprint from special clay.  She looked around with wonderment.  She wasn’t afraid at all; more like, inquisitive and absorbing.  I wonder at what age she’ll realize that these 30,000 people aren’t all in Indianapolis for her birthday.

Gen Con Birthday Girl

Gen Con Birthday Girl

Ainsley fearlessly walked in the crowds and it’s a wonder she wasn’t pushed aside.  I haven’t been able to carry her due to my hip injury but she loved navigating the crowd.  She then perched atop Jason Siadek’s shoulders to get a better view of her party.  She soaked it up and loved when people stopped her to take pictures.  The differences this year have been huge.  Last year, she barely walked; this year, she ran and talked and looked and talked and and and.  I was so happy to see her enjoy the day.  After the clay sculpting, we headed to PF Changs where she ate everything in sight and had her first French conversation with someone other than me (thanks again to Mr. Siadek).

Look at this lovely party all for me, Mr. Siadek!

Look at this lovely party all for me, Mr. Siadek!

She’s been doing great at understanding both languages.  My French is really terrible and it’s hard to keep up with the absorptive powers of a young mind, full of mirror-neurons just waiting to learn.  The problem is that while everyone in her life supports the concept of a bilingual child, nobody really likes the practical application.  I get eyerolls from friends and jabs from family.  I must admit…I’m probably annoying.  My French is bad, and of course, nobody else around Ainsley can speak it, so to them I sound like a pretentious snot, plus it’s terribly rude to speak another language around people who don’t know it.  I’ve almost given up the fight a few times, then

Cochon, Chien, Lapin, Kolala!

Cochon, Chien, Lapin, Kolala!

Ainsley reminds me why I’m doing this by saying things like “Mommy says ‘je t’aime’ to say ‘I love you.’”  I’m not trying to prove anything.  I’m using what I know to provide her brain with new things to learn every day.  Her favorite book, Green Eggs and Ham, is also on the shelf as Les Oeufs Verts au Jambon.  She almost always asks to read both in a row and calls one book Sam-I-Am and the other Sam-C’est-Moi.  She even took both of them for quiet time, and spent over 20 minutes comparing them, page by page, to understand the differences.  I’m so happy she is interested and as long as she still wants me to read in French, I will endure the criticism and give my little girl the opportunity to learn more than one language.

2008 Beach

2008 Beach

We are in Charleston again on vacation, and we’ve spent some time at the beach.  I couldn’t help but compare the photos this to the photos from just ten months ago.  Yep, she’s wearing the same swimsuit!  This year, the sleeves don’t need to be turned up and the bottom fits her little legs, hitting just at the knee.  I also loved seeing the difference in her activities.  Last year, she was entranced by sand only.  This year, she’s taking in the ocean (even though it scares her) and waving at the far-off moon (see the photo at right).

Beach 2009

Beach 2009

She is increasingly open to people and says hello to many. “I’m jumping in the pool!” she’ll happily exclaim.

I’d like to pretend that I wanted this post to be totally retrospective, and to compare the photos you see.  But really I have been too busy to blog.  (I will bet money my only readership is through FB.)  The fact is this: any time one says “I’m too busy,” it really means, “I’m putting my time into other things.”  Sometimes the “other things” are the heart of life, like reading or cooking with my Ainsley.  Sometimes the “other things” consist of drowning in details and forgetting true living.  Are the dishes clean?  Did I finish that presentation for work?  Have I made a hair appointment?  It’s discouraging to me that I so often forget my promises to myself.  I have started to drop

Snuggling with Friends

Snuggling with Friends

everything more, and to focus on the simple.  No more working on weekends (even if I only worked while Ainsley slept).  No more worries if my house looks perfect or my hobbies are flourishing.  Time to focus on the little things, which quickly add up to be the only big things.

You’ll recall from my last Ainsley post that she and I struggle to understand each other.  We still fight and the tantrums are worse.  I learned recently that I really do let her whine, and she knows how to push me.  It’s incredible how intuitive she is.  I’m learning to stop and educate, and sometimes, to just leave and let her cry it out if she needs it.  I’m giving more clear instructions and sticking to them.  In short, I’m giving her the tools to make the choices in life that she can make, and explaining those things where she doesn’t get to make the choice.  During tough conversations I often revert to English because it’s faster; now, I’m trying to slowly explain in both languages, so she doesn’t associate my English with hard times.

Grinning

Grinning

The Montessori method is still a huge part of our household, and Ainsley’s teacher makes a big impact there.  She’s not only Montessori trained but also has a gentle, loving spirit that is certainly impacting Ainsley’s worldview in a positive way.   She gives me ideas for activities, encourages my creativity, and looks at things differently, challenging me to incorporate education into every day and also to stop trying so hard sometimes, and simply to be with my daughter and watch her explore.  Ainsley also has a second, part-time teacher, who adds another unique dimension.  Ainsley has so many people in her life who are all cheering for her.

KiteFlyingAEB

KiteFlyingAEB

Ainsley flew a kite today!  It was her first real flight and the kite was so high she was a bit scared.  I think she knows that in her favorite book, Tiny Bear Goes to the Fair, the kite-flyer is taken into the air my the kite.  She even mentioned little Tiny Bear.  After mentioning him, she handed me the string and told me to do it.

I’m trying to start incorporating more charitable work.  Sure, we pray, we go to church, she has love for animals, but it’s time for her to do things like go to animal shelters and help.  Even if I’m doing the work while she giggles at animals, it’s a good habit for her.  I have been too “busy” to do several things with my friend Amy and I want to do better. I only wish our beloved Khyati were still here, lending her brightness and love and experience.

Surely I’m overthinking all of this.  I know it.  But I can’t let any more moments pass unnoticed, in this amazing life that is Ainsley.

Thoughts on One and a Half Years

My relationship with Ainsley has never been at one speed. We move from gentle moments to funny ones, then struggling. The struggles are hard for me.

At the beginning of January, she experienced a time when “no” was the only word she knew. Everything was no. But it wasn’t just willfulness; she would say “no” to something she actually did want and then cry, confused by her own answer. All I could do was be there and not allow her frustration to frustrate me. My sister helped me re-center and concentrate on being Ainsley’s constant source of peace and acceptance.

I speak only in French to her and I love to read her books. I also love to roll around on the floor and make her giggle. I love to feed her freshly made, organic foods of many cultures; I laugh and comply when, after dinner, she repeats, “cookie? Cookie? Cookie?”

But our relationship is still far from ideal. She cries when Daddy isn’t in the same room. Last night, I took a running leap into Carlton’s arms. She cried; I got down to include her in a three-person hug. She only wanted Daddy and pushed me away. We realized that she was jealous that Daddy was holding me, not her.

She also delights in pulling my hair or scratching my face. We do gently but firmly correct her, telling her it isn’t acceptable, but she is still doing it.

It’s very hard to write this. Being a parent is my number one job, and my client doesn’t like my work. I guess I’m writing this so that other mommies out there who may struggle similarly can know they aren’t alone.

Every day with her is a gift. I’m not shallow enough to let her rejections harden me against her. The moments when she is the most difficult are the ones when I most need to be caring and loving. When I am alone with her, we have wonderful times and I get to see her sassy and sweet little self. She’s comprehending English and French; she speaks words clearly and is stringing together ever-longer sentences. She is wonderfully compassionate with animals and children. She is excelling at learning to dress herself and excitedly helps put on her “show-sooorss.” I love watching her clean her tray or sweep the floor carefully.

My dear sweet Ainsley, I love you more every day. I hope that my constant love and acceptance now will help you understand you can always rely on me.

Thoughts on Fifteenish Months

So here I am again, trying to encapsulate what it’s like to be in the life of a growing child.  I’m afraid that trying to sum up everything isn’t going to work tonight.

A quick story, then.

The past few weeks have been a string of difficult days.  Ainsley is strong and bright and independent…and a Daddy’s girl.  I dislike labels like that; they pit one parent against the other and don’t help strengthen a family.  But in this case it is so true it hurts.

Ainsley loves her fun daddy.  He makes her laugh but is still firm when she needs guidelines.  I am not as good at being silly.  As a result of many factors, she’s started to like anyone but me.  She never wants me to hold her even though every other blood relative is worthy of the honor.  She panicks and throws a tantrum when she’s left alone with me.  She barely hugs me and won’t smile at me very often.

Imagine, if you will, sacrificing yourself for the life of another person and then experiencing utter rejection.  I expected she’d reject me when she was eight or fourteen, but not so young.  I have questioned everything I do.  I won’t go into my parenting methods here, because I don’t think what I’m doing or not doing is the problem.  The problem is a matter of her feelings toward me and it’s a different pain than any I’ve felt.

Writing this post has even been hard.  How can I admit to the world that I’m not that great of a Mom?  Maybe I’m good at providing nutrition and at educational opportunities and a fun activities, but not so good at being somebody’s mommy, the person who loved them more than anyone else ever will, the person that any baby would want in a time of need.

I admit that this cold front has made me not do as well at parenting.  My sister reminded me that people, especially children, need my patience when they deserve it the least.  So I’ve been trying to improve and to open myself to Ainsley even when it hurts so much I can’t talk about it.

It’s working!  In the past few days, Ainsley’s started to hug me again and to want to be with me.  I’m still not her favorite person but she is at least taking me back in her social circle.  She awoke screaming in her sleep last night and I cradled her for an hour and a half while she settled into slumber again.  I could have stayed there all night, but she sleeps better in her crib and me in my bed.  I remember thinking at the time that I would have balked at losing sleep for any reason!

These pictures were taken by me when Ainsley was starting to sleep soundly again.  I took these them with my eyes closed, but I hope you can see what these moments are.  They are a mother who loves her child enough to break down any wall and do anything.

Circle of Life

I was raised in Indiana, but I was born in Charleston, South Carolina.  We moved to Indiana before I was old enough to remember anything; however, we return to Charleston for vacation frequently and still have family friends here.  Every time I come here, I feel a tug to live here.  I applied for a job at a chemical company here and ended up not taking the job; I’ve kicked myself for that decision!  I really feel at home here more than anywhere else.

I always felt special to be born here.  When people ask and I tell them, they invariably gush about a visit or experience of Charleston, and the charm it holds on them as well.  I was born here because my dad had moved here for a job.  My parents have mixed Charleston emotions.  My dad was working a lot and my mom was alone with two children under 5 years old and a newborn baby (me).  Despite the challenges, whenever our family visits here, there are more fun stories.  I love to hear about my parents driving to the beach for the afternoon:  they had three small children and enough gear to set up camp for weeks.  I played in the sand or in a playpen.

So when we decided to take a vacation, our little family of three decided to make the long drive to my home.  This picture was taken just a few minutes after we arrived in our seaside condominium after driving all night (I was relieved to have slept a whole hour).  The scent of the marsh, the salt-corroded signs, the first view of the ocean- all of it hit me in a new way this year.  Why?  Because I have a daughter.

This picture is typical- Ainsley loves to give Sunny treats! Today I took Ainsley for a 4k walk/jog along the path in the community where we stay (Sunny’s heart condition is too bad for her to make that long of a trip).  I showed her other streets where we’ve stayed and I told her stories of those trips.  This afternoon, I took sweet Ainsley to the ocean for the first time.

I didn’t realize how emotional it would feel.  I realized that I was her age and I played on this very beach.  I let her wander and collect shells and seagrass stems.  She proudly showed me her finds and put them in a bowl.  We sat on the beach and played.  At one point, she giggled and gave me a big handful of sand, so proud to give it to me.  I took the sand but explained to her that this beach was not mine anymore- it belonged to her.  As I said it, tears unexpectedly welled in my eyes.  I wasn’t planning some big speech to her but when she handed me that little piece of beach I felt so much wistful joy.

I always feel a bit insignificant when I’m in a natural setting and see the amazing beauty God gave us.  But today? I was completely insignificant.  I realized that I have passed the torch to the next generation, and that for the rest of my life, I will stand in the background while Ainsley takes over the world.  I also realized that despite my insignificance on the stage, my part in preparing the new lead is far from over.  Every parent must feel this sense of duty to show their child the world, and to give them a worldview that allows the child to grow and learn and become the next generation.

My dear, sweet, darling daughter.  I love you and I hope that I will have the privilege of standing in the wings and letting you take the world as your stage.

My New Favorite Toy

We’re all a big bunch of technophiles, and this is my favorite thing so far. My husband installed a secure network camera so we can see Ainsley while she naps/sleeps. It has been very useful…but mostly tons of fun.

It’s useful because we can see if she’s going to sleep or if she’s fussing for real, or if she’s wiggled herself into the corner and is stuck, just needing help to be comfy. I also never knew how much she moves in her sleep.

It’s totally fun because I can look at her while she sleeps and feel all warm and snuggly inside. Here is a snapshot for you (that’s not how I put her in her crib, btw):

Duckie Jammies

Aww….the neat thing that with a secure username/password, I can see the cam while I’m at work. It doesn’t keep me from working; actually, it’s the opposite- it keeps me on task and motivated to hurry up and finish so I can go see her when she awakes.

Speaking of which: back to work so I can go home!

What’s to Eat? How ’bout a Couple of Baby Feet?

WARNING: Amy, there are foot pictures in here!!  I had to post a counterpoint to all the foot hating.

Sweet Little Wrinkly Bath ToesI love feet. I’m fascinated by the differences in people’s feet and the fact that I can already tell my daughter’s feet look just like my husband’s. Some feet are gross, gross, gross, but not mine nor my family’s.

Starting very young, I enjoyed foot rubs. I gave them to members of my family and sometimes they would return the favor. My dad preferred very firm hands; I would use pedicure tools like a foot file and lotion for my mom’s feet; my sister and I would exchange light foot rubs (more of a relaxing rhythm than actual rub) and my brother and I would read books and rub each other’s feet.

As I read that paragraph, I realize that we might look like a bunch of weirdos. But I’ll keep going…

I really like my own feet. Other than the few months of new motherhood, I’ve kept my nails neatly polished since age 14. When I was too pregnant to reach the toes, my wonderful husband applied the polish for me. My poor toes also showed the fact that I was a new mom…my polish was as ragged as I was! I like cute open-toed shoes and very high heels. Amy wonders how I deal with the pain. Easy: I’m an idiot.

My poor, swollen, fat, pregnancy feet.  But cute polish, am I right?!?I wore size 7 or 7 ½ shoes. This was not a small-feet-are-dainty kind of thing; I just assumed my feet were done growing and, admittedly, I wanted to borrow my older sister’s shoes that were much cooler. Her feet are actually size 7 ½. When I was 23, I was professionally measured for steel-toed boots at work and found out I have one foot that’s size 8 and one that’s almost size 9! My poor feet had been shoved into shoes that were too small and I just thought that all shoes (even tennis shoes) were a bit uncomfortable. So now that I wear my actual size of 8 ½, I don’t flinch at a little foot pain. I can even dance in 3-inch heels (low boots are best for dancing- less chance of an ankle twist and no straps to cut into my toes).

I still really love to give foot rubs- even more than receiving them. I’ve found that few people understand how to give a foot rub. I’m one of them the few, and it’s very enjoyable to me. But don’t misunderstand: I love a good foot massage. I’ll even settle for putting my feet in my husband’s lap so he’ll rest his hand on them.

I haven’t had the luxury of time to have a pedicure in over 2 years but my toes are still freshly polished and groomed, even in the winter when nobody can see them. The pregnancy messed with my joints, so my feet have been cracking lately. I hope I’m not in for early fracture!!

Amy mentioned her foot memories that included plastic bags in her moon boots. I, too, suffered from Bread Bag Foot. I have to thank whatever crummy manufacturer made big, hot, clunky boots that weren’t even waterproof. My favorite shoe memory is of my wedding shoes, which I now wear as funky Mary Janes. I was in an airport during the beginning of this whole shoe-bomber nonsense and they x-rayed my shoes, then took them out in a search. Apparently they have metal plates in the sole and vamp, plus two metal rods in each heel! No wonder they’re so heavy.

I’m still searching for the Holy Grail of shoes: four-inch heels that feel like flats. Christian Louboutin can forget it- those things are torture devices. He even once referred to the fact that he didn’t care about anything but how the shoe looked. The famous Manolos and Jimmy Choos are a little better but are now not my first priority where money’s concerned.

So there you have it. I love my feet, and like to dress them like little dolls on the ends of my legs. Um, that sounds icky. Sorry.

Thoughts on Seven Months

Drinking Water for the First TimeSince my last “Thoughts on…” post, Ainsley has hit so many milestones. On 18 January, she started sitting unassisted. It was like a light switch; one day she’s a tripod, the next, she pulls up to sitting. She won’t crawl though! She’s walking with assistance and motors across the floor. On 31 January, she drank water from a glass. She turns the pages of books when I say “Ainsley, turn the page.” She has two little front teethies, starting two Fridays ago. She started eating solid foods. I wonder what the personalities of other babies are, because right now I just assume they all act the same. She’s often smiley and giggley, but can be superfussy if you’re standing between her and a nap. She loves Daddy most of all, and I love to see her wiggle with excitement at seeing him. He can make her squeal with delight, too.

Walking with her Doll PramThe road has been satisfyingly unbumpy from the perspective of her, but I decree my personal February to match Mymsie’s 2007 status. We were without our regular Montessori teacher and it was really hard. Carlton and I did a lot of working from home and we leaned a lot on family as well. I couldn’t be happier that school is back in session now!

We had another first of sorts…first illness. It was mild but shocking. Ainsley awoke screaming, and I mean screaming, at about 3AM. I flew to her room to find her crib and garments soaked- she’d thrown up her dinner in her sleep sometime earlier in the night. I cradled her in my arms and nursed her- she drank like she was starving. Carlton changed the crib sheets and then cleaned Ainsley after she was done eating. She recovered very quickly and went to sleep happily in her crib, and was fine the next morning. It reminded me of the difficulties some parents face and how fortunate we are that Ainsley’s so healthy.

Now that she’s eating solid food, she doesn’t drink as much milk but I’m still following the AAP guideline for healthy babies: nurse for at least one year. I estimated that I’ve nursed her directly 950 times; I’ve pumped for someone else to feed her 250 times; due to her feeding issues early on, I’ve pumped, then fed her from a bottle another 200 times. If you figure a conservative 30 minutes for each of these sessions, the time starts to compile quickly! Oh yeah, that’s where my spare time went.

Having a child has been a joyful challenge. I’m starting to handle my temper better, but it’s still not ideal. My self-esteem is still pretty shaky. My ability to give selflessly has increased and expanded to other non-Ainsley areas. Carlton and I were lLook at those Teeth!ying with her and he was making her giggle out loud and I said, “the part that hurts my heart is that not all kids get to start life this happy.” I want Ainsley to grow up knowing that Mommy and Daddy (and she) do our best to help other people.

Happy seven months out in the world, little girl. May you always giggle this much!

I’m Gilbert Grape

Everything was eating me today. I was cranky about little stuff. I had a whiny, typically blogoshperey-crabby post all composed in my head.

But

I decided to write this one instead. Here’s what’s making me happy today:

  1. The security guard at work who, when I said “have a good night,” responded with “you too, sweetie, have a good night,” in a tone that made me feel like one of her very own children.
  2. The Montessori school teacher who, despite all odds, returned to teach my little girl.
  3. The best friend who made me dinner and shared a wonderfully impromptu evening with me. (And didn’t wince when I showed her the baby. I might have. :) )
  4. The peer at work who thanked me for my hard work.
  5. My husband who supports and nurtures me.
  6. The baby who.  Who everythings.

The Bale Girls

Look how un-glam I am!  And yet publishing the photo.  I think my joy is prettier than makeup.  Thanks, little Ainsley.

What Time Is It?!?

Can you believe how pretty 6AM can look?As I start this post, it’s 0635AM, also known as, literally, 0-dark-thirty. (I took this picture through a window, so no, we aren’t on a planet with three moons, but it’s too cold to go outside).

I’ve already fed Ainsley, unloaded the dishwasher and cleaned the kitchen, washed and folded three loads of laundry, started working on a project for work, and, yes, all of this was made possible by my first task: I made a pot of coffee.

It doesn’t hurt that I went to bed at ten. On a Friday! In years past that would have meant I had a migraine or something. But I’m so behind on work that I must do chores and business stuff while Ainsley sleeps or we’ll have no quality or quantity time at all this weekend.

Yesterday was awful from a work perspective. I started early- 0530AM- so I could finish early. At 0620PM, I stopped for the day. I was interrupted by twenty different things, all spurred by the phone call of my Montessori school’s teacher calling to say she would be late (don’t get me started). She had a sick kid so I didn’t want to chance her bringing the flu to the student! Add to that stress that I realized that I forgot my computer keycard at work, thus could not connect to work. I worked on offline documents for as long as I could but had to drive to work to find the card so I could drive back home to work from home. It felt as dumb as using a wet towel to dry off.

I could keep griping, but I’m choosing the other road. My husband had a planned vacation day to work on household projects. Due to the lack of a teacher for Ainsley, he and I had to switch our schedules and decide who would do what all day. I’m so behind on work that I basically demanded he drop everything (wow, what a nasty attitude).

Feeding the hungry fish together- my crewHe didn’t complain. He spent almost all day with Ainsley, and not begrudgingly. I would take work breaks and walk through to see wonderful moments. He played with her, he read her books, he worked on physical development with her. I heard him talking to her about which organic fruits and vegetables had just arrived at our front door. He even made a delicious pasta primavera for us, stirring the pots at arm’s length to keep the heat away from Ainsley.

After her bedtime, we gave Mr. Kitty (Baja) his fluids, let Mini out for some play time, I brushed Sunny’s teeth and gave Silo fresh carrot tops, and we watched a show together. Our house is developing a good rhythm. Finally.

Well anyway. I have less than an hour left before most of the house’s sleeping creatures stir. Off to do some work projects.

Thoughts on Five Months

In my last update, at three months, I talked about how time doesn’t fly. That is still the case. We’ve enjoyed our time with Ainsley immensely.


I’ve been told that this is a “fun age,” and that is true! Ainsley has been a complete joy in the last eight weeks. She smiles and giggles a lot (watch the video of her with Daddy for a sample). When she’s presented with a new toy, I can see her furrow her brow and try to figure out how to make it make noise.

Smiles for Mommy!Bath time is no longer just to wash. She smiles each time the cup of water comes close, and studies the stream of water as it splashes her hands or chest. She holds her cup (my old Campbell’s cup)and bangs it against the tub. She has floating little piggies that she likes to splash with her feet.

Bedtime has shifted to an earlier time and she continues to sleep all night. She now goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:00PM, all happiness and smiles. She kicks her feet happily, finds her thumb, and goes to sleep without a peep. She sometimes will awaken and fuss in the night but never for more than 30 seconds, then falls back to peaceful sleep.

dsc_0045.JPGI still awaken her at 5:00AM to feed her and it doesn’t always feel terribly early. Her routine had been to fuss dreadfully until I started feeding her, then drowsily eat for about 20 minutes. I would be barely awake myself, head dropped forward with my eyes shut while I held her close. She was asleep by the end and still asleep when I put her back in her bed. One morning, and I’m guessing this was two months ago, I was leaned forward with my eyes closed, and I felt a gentle touch. Her tiny hand was reaching up and touching my chin. Her eyes still closed, she touched my cheek, chin, mouth, and nose, all with the softest little fingers I’ve ever felt. It was a symbolic reaching out: it was like she said, Mommy, I’m here, for the first time. She wasn’t just staring at us anymore and her personality is growing.

Since that morning, I look forward to 5:00AM more. She still touches my face nearly every morning. She pats my hand gently while I change her diaper. When I put her back in her crib, more often than not, she’s awake and holds my cheeks while I kiss her and say goodbye.

Tasty ToesAinsley rattles anything that will make noise and she’s moving around a lot too. We’re having a hard time teaching her to sit without support because she’d rather stand! She tries to walk, too, but it ends up looking like a little hula dance and she only moves one foot forward. She’s been looking at her feet for weeks and I saw her stick her toes in her mouth- by herself- for the first time the other night. Carlton has his camera so we even captured a first on film. Since then, those feet are in her mouth a lot! She wakes up from naps with a bare foot and a sock in her hand. She turns pages in her books while we read and often is looking at me, not the book, and listening to my voice.

She hasn’t had a weight check in nearly six weeks. I still obsess about her weight too much. She started life losing too much weight and it’s been a battle for me ever since then. However, she’s outgrowing her clothes and she’s obviously doing some very good brain development. She eats on a very predictable (but flexible) 4-hour schedule and doesn’t spit up nearly as much. Her digestive system is maturing nicely, I suppose.

An aside to any new mothers or mothers-to-be: please, please try to nurse your baby. I neither enjoyed it nor found it easy for several months. Some days were a battle with my body; sometimes I didn’t produce enough; sometimes I produced too much. It was very difficult for me but has ended up being very rewarding. It only takes one good article about the positive benefits of milk to help keep you on the track to success. And if you simply can’t keep going, know that every day you nursed your baby was a huge benefit to his/her immune system.

Mommy, why all the hats?I’m excited to watch her grow and to help her along in her journey. We’ve learned her rythms and we know what each cry means. Carlton and I work together on parenting and on giving each other alone time and, most importantly, on spending time together as a couple. Our relationship is much stronger than ever. We were always a great match but the difficulties and joys of parenthood have amplified our strengths. We trade putting her to bed because we both enjoy it. And, when she’s asleep, we are usually spending time together and we have wonderful conversations about nothing and everything.

We still have our troubles. I’m patient with Ainsley, but my fuse for Carlton is much shorter than it used to be. I’m sleeping better, but not perfectly. I still have an ear open for any sounds from her room. I think maybe I should sleep somewhere else one night a week and let Carlton listen. The week moves by so quickly that sometimes I forget to relax and enjoy anything.

Thanksgiving Day 2007I had thought I would mention how I don’t do much that’s interesting any more. However, as I’m reading this post, I’m realizing that I am actually quite busy. I spend lots and lots of time with my dear daughter. I love it!

I’m becoming different. I’ve joined the cult of parenthood. I love seeing babies on television. I am both more mellow and more intense. And I’m in love with my guy and my girl. To quote Frema, I don’t know how I ever lived without these two people.