Thursday, January 31, 2013

How Mama Got Her Knit Back

Without realizing it, I lost myself. Again. (Still?)

It's easy to do when you are *literally* chasing a toddler all day, and have a convalescing dog to add to it all. This last year, I had only managed to get Genevieve a few naps (less than 20) *not* in my arms. Or in the Ergo.

I'm incredibly lucky to have a knitting group full of brilliant, creative women. Most of whom have beta tested raised children who are all incredible adults. While commiserating about nap times (or the lack thereof), Ingenious Janice told me that when her boys were little, they all had a sheepskin that they would sleep on.

Honestly, if they had told me I had to ritually sacrifice a chicken to get her to nap on her own, I would try it. I was getting stir crazy and resentful of being pinned to the glider for between two and six hours every day while she napped. Genevieve hasn't been a child who "transfers well" - a concept I'm only now learning about. That combined with how low her crib is? No wonder it ended in tears for both of us.

The sheepskin in the crib was not successful. Mom has (as usual) been invaluable, and suggested putting the sheepskin on the floor in the living room (nowhere to fall from) and going from the glider to the sheepskin as soon as she was asleep. (If we nurse laying down, it becomes Cirque de au Lait.)

The first few tries were not successful, but with Mom cheering me on (silently, of course), this has been working really, really well for us.

Napping with Pat the Bunny

This has worked so well, in fact, that I started knitting again. A lot. Because, while I could do ANYTHING (within reason) while Genevieve was napping, what I did was knit and see what all the fuss was about Downton Abbey. (Which is surprisingly fantastic, by the way.)

Not only has it given me a little breathing room, but my creative side - which admittedly, had atrophied - is blooming. Andrew has noticed that I'm happier, too. And like we've all heard, when Mama is happy, everyone is happy.

Another naptime bunny. I'm noticing a theme...

An unintended bonus of using the sheepskin is that when Genevieve is starting to get tired, she'll mosey over to the sheepskin (which we put down around naptime) with a book and stay put for a few minutes. A clear indicator that her batteries are running down.

Even if she thinks she isn't tired enough for a nap, this is usually what she looks like about 15 minutes before she's out cold.

Reading The Very Lonely Firefly from Eric Carle's Very Little Library

She naps, I knit, and when she wakes up EVERYONE is happy. And better dressed, in the long run.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Luh dada

A while back, we had an acquaintance over for a craft date. She, in turn, invited a guest. Her guest was 20 years old, and great beauty was her gift. Alas, tact, grace, and wit were not among her charms. Thankfully, GreatBeauty was a total knockout.

While we were sitting around having lunch, I was feeding Genevieve. With every bite, I would say (in a crazy, sing-song voice) "More please, Mama!" while furiously signing the same thing.

GreatBeauty looked at me, looked at Genevieve (10 months old at the time) and said plainly, "You know, she's not going to say it back to you."

The parents among us will appreciate getting child-rearing advice from someone who (a) is childless and (b) very likely hasn't read a book in the last year (or five years), never-mind a parenting book.

In lieu of a language development lecture (we learn language by being spoken to), I smiled at her and said, "You never know!"

(I was rewarded with an eyeroll, for the record.)

Fast forward two weeks.

I was bathing Genevieve, and in that same crazy, sing-song voice, I tell her I love her and then say, "I love you, too, Mama!" (We tell her we love her about a thousand times a day, but I couldn't help but lobby a bit.)

She looked me straight in the eye, and in a tone that said "you are mistaken, mother," she said clearly, "Luh DADA."

After I got over the shock, I thought about it for a moment.
Andrew, wearing Genevieve in his ERGO Sport, with the new sucking pads
What's not to luh about Dada, really?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Going with the flow

On Wednesday, I had a doctor's appointment and Genevieve was due for a vaccination. Both went smoothly, and while our usual nap routine was thrown for a loop, it wasn't altogether a terrible trip.

When our routine is interrupted, there is always a recovery period. The recovery period usually involves an exhausted baby who can go in a moment from this:

Punch-drunk baby
to this:

The elusive "boo-boo" face, finally captured for posterity.
My normally sweet, even-tempered, happy DangerMouse has been positively EXHAUSTED the last two days. You'd think an exhausted baby would sleep better, but noooooooooo.

So, we've both been exhausted. Genevieve has wanted to be held in my arms at the exact same time that she wants to run around. She was so tired that she couldn't figure out which way was up today.

What do you do when everything is upside down and inside out? Go with the flow.

We read a little, played a little, and nursed down to "Down To The River To Pray", which makes me happy down to my toes. She didn't nap for very long, so I did something that we never do.

We sat in the glider, rocked, and watched television. Not very much, but I let go of some of the ever-present Mommy Guilt ("Oh, no! Her brain is turning to oatmeal RIGHT NOW!"), and figured if she was tired enough to stay put on my lap, we could veg out for an hour. So we did.

Generally speaking, I think mothers are too hard on themselves. We all do our best, and - in my experience - still feel like we're not doing enough. That we're always leaving our kids wanting something. It's like trying to fill a colander with water; you can try your hardest, but it's never really going to get full.

Crazy, right? A colander isn't a bowl. We use colanders to wash vegetables, strain pasta, and occasionally as an improvised helmet. Not to hold water. As parents we are a lot of things to our kids, and I think that if we agonize over the things we're *not*, our kids will inadvertently miss out on all the great things that we *are*.

I'm actively working on focusing on my strengths as a parent; I'm fun. I'm organized. I'm feeding her a nutritious, varied diet. I problem-solve. I'm creative. Most of all, I'm present and engaged. I'm a colander. Or a paring knife. (Andrew says he's our Tomato Knife.)

In that spirit, I bring you today's silver lining: her first real word. She picked up Horns to Toes and in Between by Sandra Boynton (my personal favorite), brought it to me and said "Book!" clear as a bell.

What do you do? Read her the book, and swell with pride that you're doing a good job.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Large steps for Mousekind

In under a month, Genevieve has gone from a few tentative steps, to walking with assistance, to going solo.

After one of our walks, Andrew noticed that Genevieve had walked a hole in her little See Kai Run shoes. The time had come; my baby needed real shoes.

We went to Stride Rite, which is where Mom took us to get shoes when we were little. I love that they sell good quality shoes and really fit kids' feet.

We picked something neutral that she could play and be comfortable in. Something that said, "I'm here to have fun!" and wasn't fussy.

These shoes are made for walking. Errrr...toddling?
DangerMouse's first real shoes, 5.5W.
I love the sound of these shoes on the hardwood in our house. It's the sound of milestones, independence. Also, trouble. So much trouble.

For example, the other day when we were out for a walk, and as we turned a corner a tall teenager with a jingly backpack walked by. Guess who has two pigtails and did a complete one-eighty to follow that siren song? You guessed it.

Going for a stroll with my darling DangerMouse.
Walking, talking, teething.
What I love most is being able to walk hand-in-hand, side-by-side with my incredible daughter. Happy trails, indeed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

If you knit a mouse a sweater

Like my blog, my knitting has also become a love letter to my darling DangerMouse. When she was first born, the baby clothes on the "girls'" side of Carter's were all pale, pastel colors. Like her father (and her grandmother) she has beautiful olive-toned skin, and pale pastels just don't do her complexion justice.

When spring arrived, and with it, the spring color palette, I was overjoyed. Bright colors. Fuschia! Lime green! Daffodil yellow! Citrus orange! Be still my heart!

3 months, 18 days
I bought Genevieve a set in the 9 month size, and it turned out to be my favorite set to dress her in. And as it started to get small on her, I noticed that they match EVERYTHING in her wardrobe.
6 months, 14 days
Naturally, I needed to knit a sweater to go with them. Onesie in hand, I made my way to Purlescence and got *perfect* color matches in Cascade 220 superwash.

In my usual "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" fashion, I thought to myself, "If I'm going to knit a sweater to match this set of onesies, I should buy some in a couple of bigger sizes." 
Same onesies, 18M and 24M sizes
I came home, did some doodling, and then remembered the Playful Stripes cardigan by Alana Dakos. The pattern is well-written, adorable, and I'm enjoying watching it grow like magic off of my needles. Especially the garter stripes.

Sweater in progress
You'll notice that I started the garter stripes on the right side (as opposed to the wrong side) because my tenuous grip on sanity demanded it. (When I knit this sweater again, I'm doing it as written. KNITTING ON THE WILD SIDE!)

Sweater, onesies, and the yarn.
Knitting yoked sweaters is incredibly satisfying; you knit the boring bits first, and as soon as your attention starts to wander - BOOM! The fun part! Plus, the knitting goes fasterandfaster as you go.

As of today, I only have the collar and buttonbands left to knit. You know what happens when you knit a mouse a sweater.

She's going to need a matching hat.

Friday, January 4, 2013


One year ago today, my darling Genevieve was born.

We both had a big day.
Obligatory "hit by a freight train" photo
And, while I wasn't pleased that Andrew wanted to take pictures with me in them after all that, in retrospect, I'm really glad that he did.

Even from the first moments, I was learning how to be a Mom. I'm just so amazed that we started with this:

which turned into this:
First ultrasound!

who grew to this:
It's a girl!
and was born, utter perfection. From the moment I held her, I loved her more than I ever thought was possible.

6lbs 11 oz, 19" long. Birth story here.

In a year, my darling girl has gone from a vulnerable, tiny, snuggly niblet:
I marvel at her tiny-ness
To my fearless, funny, independent, big girl:

Are you going to take pictures, or chase me, Mama?
The world is hers to explore, touch, and (sometimes) taste. But as far as she's concerned? It's all there, and she's busybusybusy doing it.

Investigating leaves at the park. Sweater by Auntie Helen.
I know this is only the beginning of things to come, and Andrew and I are happy that she wants us along for the ride. She'll grab our hands, and it's OFF we go! 
Walking with Dada
We still snuggle, but it's not like it was when she was wee. Now she'll grab a book to read, bring it to me, and we'll read in the glider. Today's selection was The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Rockin' and readin'
I treasure the moments when she snuggles up for comfort, plants a wet kiss on my cheek, or gives a delighted squeal when she turns a corner - usually dragging Mom or Andrew behind her - and sees me.

I love when she shares her food with us. I love that she laughs when we laugh. I even love her fake laugh, because I know that she's realized that laughing feels good and she wants to keep the good times coming. I love her fake sneezes, and her "cute face"- the one that Mom taught her to do.

Drinking from her cup, solo.
The "cute face" in action
I love the happy booty dance she does when she hears a song she likes. I love that peek-a-boo is endlessly entertaining for both of us. I love pretending she has stinky feet because it makes her laugh. I love singing silly lyrics to popular songs while I change her diaper. (You don't even want to know what I've done to Gangnam Style. No pop song is safe.)

I love pretending to be a dinosaur - a game invented by Mom, verbed "Rexing" by Auntie Laura - because Genevieve squeals in that wonderful, safe, delighted, kind of scared.

I love seeing her change from day-to-day. There are days where she's Mom's MiniMe, days where she's all Andrew, and days where she's all DangerMouse. I love seeing flashes of all of us in her.

Even the hard times have their silver linings; I've hummed "You Are My Sunshine" endlessly, kissed bumps from falls, and rocked and nursed her back to sleep a million times over. I still find her baby smell intoxicating, and I just breathe her in while she snoozes in my arms. 

The birthday mouse, flanked by GrandmaDahling and UnkieSam

Happy birthday, Genevieve. You are the mouse to my cookie.