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The Second Year

12 February 2014

Yesterday Caroline was in full-blown toddler mode, and it really got me thinking about motherhood and how my experience has evolved. A year ago, my worries were not about Caroline using the oven door as pull-up bar, but instead, if she was more comfortable on the Infant Lounger or the Boppy, and if I had vacuumed the carpet sufficiently before putting her down for tummy time - please don't ask me the last time I vacuumed our rug in recent months.

Your first year as a mother is such an adjustment period -- at times it seems like you are just trying to make it to the next day. There were nights early on when we would put Caroline in her car-seat and drive around for nearly an hour to get her to settle down enough to go to sleep, or I would drag her huge swing into the bathroom just to get a shower. Sitting in my living room,  the evening after Caroline's 1st Birthday party, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment -- like I had just completed a marathon. My 5:30am wake up call the next day brought me back down to earth -- hey, Amy, you haven't finished this marathon, you've only just begun!

Toddler-hood has come with an entirely new set of challenges -- if the first year is survival mode, the second year is about devising your battle strategies, and working to maintain your sanity! Every morning, as I stand perplexed at the things that Caroline does, I have to silently remind myself -- be smarter than the 1 year old. I mean, certainly there has got to be a reason why she thinks it is completely reasonable to throw her apples across the room, yes?!

Caroline's second year has brought the stomach flu (note to self: You were never truly a mother until you experienced this) -- nothing says welcome to parenthood like being thrown up on. Depending on how you look at it -- this year Caroline has become a pediatrician's nightmare {or at the rate we have lined their pockets, I suppose you could say dream}. WebMD has become my most trusted ally, and viral exanthem has become part of my general vocabulary...gotta love the petri-dish known as pre-school.

This second year has also been a time of great personal reflection -- and building confidence in my parenting abilities. In this digital age, there are constant reminders of what others are doing, and it's so easy to compare your situation with that of someone else, and begin questioning what you are doing. Am I doing enough to develop her vocabulary? Do I provide sufficient opportunities for her to explore and try new things? Am I setting a good example? Do we watch too much tv? Is she getting enough vitamins? How should I be disciplining her? Am I building her independence? Some days you just have to remind yourself that your love is enough.

And with every challenge, there is a reward -- although sometimes you have to be creative in finding it. You just spilled milk all over yourself because you managed to pull the top off of your sippy cup? -- awesome, your motor skills are really developing. You stuck your hands in the toilet - fantastic, you really have a love of water. There are stickers all over my cabinet doors -- you are so creative! You broke a bottle of  glitter nail polish on the floor -- yeah, I agree, the grout was lacking a little something.

Albeit such a cliche, this year {or 5/12 of a year} has really taught me so much about enjoying the journey, rather than seeking just the destination, that the apple juice stains on her car-seat and rice snacks ground into the upholstery just mean that Caroline is well taken care of, that waffles for dinner is completely reasonable, and it has introduced me to a bright, spunky, dancing, 'nanana' loving, shameless kissing, basketball playing, bundle of crazy. Caroline, you are my most signifcant challenge, and my greatest reward.

Here's Your Sign.

02 February 2014

A week ago today I was in the middle of an unexpected 3 day weekend bliss. Houston was experiencing abnormal weather conditions, and much to the delight of my funny bone, the entire region was locked down over the possibility of sporadic ice and snow. I completely ate up the news coverage of ice on picnic tables in the Woodlands area, and spit it out in the form of sarcasm laden Facebook statuses, and Instagram posts. -- Don't get me wrong, I was ALL about the extra time with my little family and the perfectly organized craft closet that it afforded me the time to complete, but, I was also thoroughly convinced that this whole ordeal had been blown completely out of proportion. Totally out of proportion.

So, fast forward to Monday night when I was literally PRAYING for another 'snow day' on Tuesday, because I was set and ready to launch a barrage of clever and crazy, heavy on the hash-tags posts. This was the stuff of my dreams...not to mention, another day singing Barney songs with my bug and hanging out in sweatpants?! Put me down for two, please. Wish granted.

Let's fast forward again to Tuesday night -- I was checking my e-mail for another snow day or delayed start like it was my job -- this was something I could totally get used to! In between reloading my mail, I scrolled through my Facebook feed no less than 7.25 million times when I stopped on a post from the TODAY Show - a picture of children sweetly listening as their teacher read to them in a hallway -- the headline read 'Hundreds of Kids Stranded at Schools in Georgia, Alabama'. Okay, you can stop now TODAY Show, this isn't funny. 

Gosh if that didn't stop me dead in my tracks. The thought of being stuck at school overnight? --um, if you ever needed to find a cruel and unusual punishment for me, there ya go. But the thought of not being able to get to my daughter?! The thought of her having to stay overnight at her school?! My heart was in my stomach people. I grabbed the baby monitor off of my nightstand and laid in bed watching Caroline clutch her stuffed bear; lulled to sleep by the soft sound of ocean waves crashing emanating from her noise machine. The mere thought of laying in bed, picking up the monitor and not seeing her cherubic face because she was stuck at her school was downright crippling. I could feel a heaviness over me, and when I decided to just set my alarm to check on the status of the following school day and simply go to sleep, I found that I couldn't. I tossed and turned, I had visions of Caroline waking in the middle of the night on her nap mat in the middle of her classroom, desperate for a hug, a kiss, a cup of almond milk.

My heart skipped a beat as I slowly opened the door to her bedroom, and then settled back into a normal rhythm as I saw her mess of hair peeking out from underneath her blanket. Against all of my mom judgement, I bent down, picked up her sleeping body and carried her to the couch in the playroom. Laying there, listening to her breathing as the light of the street lamps shone through the window -- illuminating her sweet, peaceful face, dancing on her eyelashes and small button nose -- I felt an enormous debt of gratitude. Gratitude for this moment. Gratitude for a healthy child safely tucked into the crook of my arm. Gratitude for the seemingly outrageous response to the weather. 

Fall Mail Exchange

18 November 2013

I am such a mail person. I can pretty much have the absolute worst day ever, and the contents of my mailbox can fix that immediately. Hence the reason why Amazon Prime has a steady stream to my door -- mail just puts me in a good mood {I have tried explaining this to my husband to no avail}. Anyway, I began seeing different mail exchanges pop up on my Instagram feed, and so, I became curious, and then I just decided to take the plunge. I signed up for two exchanges -- the Cara Box exchange, and Mom Mail.

I will start with the Cara Box -- this box was created by Kaitlyn -- it is seasonal, so, you get matched up with two people, and one sends a box to you, and you send a box to another. The boxes are to fit a theme, and act as a token of encouragement and friendship.

I received my box from Kendra -- she was  so generous, and sent me a great box!

So, I'm a big nerd and because the lighting in our house is terrible, I attempted to do a photo shoot of my items. Fail. It just ended up looking silly, ha!

I sent my box to Sarah, you can check it out here. Overall I enjoyed the Cara Box exchange, though, I wish that I could have gotten to know both of my partners better. All of us had extremely busy travel and life schedules during the time of the exchange, so, that was kind of sad, but, I am eager to participate again!

The second box exchange I participated in is the Mom Mail Exchange. The Mom Mail Exchange only involves one partner, and you send boxes to each other. I was paired up with Brittney. The thing that I liked about this exchange is that we were given each other's Instagram information, so, we were able to follow each other and learn more about each other that way, and therefore, even if we didn't have stellar e-mailing habits, we could comment, like, and learn about each other through a more informal medium {did I really just insinuate that e-mail is formal?!} than e-mail and got to know each other better.

Britteny sent me an awesome box -- so awesome in fact that Caroline and I opened it up together and I completely forgot to take any pictures {d'oh}, so, I tried my best to remember everything that was in it, and found stock photos for each item.

Hilariously, Brittney and I both purchased the book Where is Baby's Pumpkin for each other's littles. I absolutely love these books, and I've pretty much purchased one for every single season, and occasion for Caroline. Great minds think alike!

Also, she must really know that I have a serious caffeine problem, because she included two of my favorites -- caramel macchiato k-cups and Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice VIA packets -- I love the VIA packets, and use them regularly already, however had never tried the Pumpkin Spice ones. I thought that they were so delish, that when Sarah told me that she liked coffee, I bought her some to include in her Cara Box...can't go wrong with Pumpkin Spice!

I thought I'd share the box that I sent to Brittney -- I loved sending some of my favorites to Brittney and her sweet girl! ...and can you tell I love Target's line of notebooks these days?! I mean, I just die over the gold foiled polka dot notebooks -- definitely sent these to both of my mail exchange partners because they are so cute!

I'm currently preparing my Mom Mail Exchange box for my November partner, Julie, and I can't wait to share that soon! So great to meet new people and exchange fun gifts!