Choose Joy

I half drafted a post about how it’s been a rough time in the Engineer’s household, and some of the lessons I’ve learned. It wasn’t really a negative post by the end, but I got halfway through, and realised that I’m sick of only writing here in the hard times. I think it’s important to share those hard times, and will continue to do so, but at this rate everyone is going to think it’s all hard times here, and that I’m not enjoying this parenting thing. That is definitely not the truth, so today I’m going to focus on some of my favourite things about life with The Engineer’s Baby.

image

This age (nearly 15 months if you’ve lost track, which wouldn’t be surprising with my posting (in)frequency) is so much fun, but my favourite thing is the babble. She doesn’t really speak any English yet, but her babble is fairly communicative and totally adorable. She adds sounds and syllables and babbly-phrases every day, it seems, and I love it.

We get on just fine, her and I, but she is absolutely crazy about her Papa. When she hears his car roll up, she gets the biggest grin on her face, and rushes to climb her chair and look out the window. It’s the cutest.

image

Every so often she completely surprises me with what she understands. I’ll say “I’ve got a sore head”, and she’ll point to her head (and it’s repeated, so I don’t think it’s coincidence). Or I’ll ask her to get a cloth, and she actually does it. The other day she cleaned up her own spill with only instructions from me. It’s pretty astounding to me that babies can go from little newborn blobby cuteness to following verbal instructions in just over a year.

I love watching her play. She’s all over the place, of course, but every so often she’ll really focus in on one thing. Opening a container, getting a shoe onto her foot, pulling her buzzy be around, stacking her stacking rings. Her little focus face is adorable.

image

She’s gone from a barely-cuddly baby to a really great hugger. Big around the neck cuddles, head resting on chest, the whole nine yards. Each night before The Engineer takes her through to bed, we have a last snuggle, and it’s just lovely.

This isn’t even the half of it really. There is so much joy in parenting a toddler. Sometimes it’s a little hidden behind some very real challenges, some not quite so real challenges magnified by sleep deprivation, and a whole lot of mess. But it’s there. And today, at least, I’m choosing to shine a light on it.

Advertisements

Daddy Daughter Fridays

Friday afternoons are my time off. I love this for me (a break! A mani pedi or a coffee or a long shower or whatever the heck I want!) But I also like it for them. This is time where The Engineer and The Engineer’s Baby get to hang out without me getting all up in their grills. They get to develop their relationship more. And she LOVES her Papa.

image

I often sit in another room, but occasionally I sneak back in to watch them together (yes, I’m a creep). Today I took a video (and because I’m a numpty, I can’t embed it, but here’s a link).

Daddy Daughter Fridays: http://youtu.be/oAgqZAIC32A

Then I left them to it, and went to take a really long shower (complete with phone in a plastic bag playing podcasts; I’m a genius.)

Sometimes I forget that taking space isn’t just selfish. I feel bad for wanting/needing a break. But watching this video reminds me that my breaks are good for all of us. They need time together without me. I love her desperately, but I need time without her. It’s a win-win.

And with that in mind, I think I might go and get a coffee!

My Favourite Things #1: Baby Carriers.

I love me a blog series, even if I’m not always great at keeping up with them (see the “Weekly” Challenge series on The Engineer’s Wife!). So I’m going to start one here, and after much some a little hardly any deliberation the chosen topic is My Favourite Things (parenting things, that is).  The things I talk about in this series may not all be actual physical things.  But they’ll be the things that I’ve found most useful as I get used to this parenting thing.

1-2014-12-28 13.22.47

When I thought of the topic, the first “thing” was obvious.  If there is one tool we have used more than any other in the last eight months, it is a baby carrier (more accurately, less grammatically correctly, it is baby carriers).  From the very start, we have carried The Engineer’s Baby a LOT.  In fact, almost every nap The Engineer’s Baby has taken has been in a carrier.  Naps were pretty haphazard for a long time here, so I don’t know how many naps that is, but my estimate is approximately 900.  There have also been times we’ve carried her when not napping, so this baby has probably spent nearly 1000 hours in a carrier.

She started off nearly 10 pounds, and is now well over 20 pounds, so I am amazingly glad that we have a stash of comfortable carriers.

We started off with a stretchy wrap.  When she was little and squishy, it was just perfect.  People always said it looked like a pain (it is 5 metres of fabric, after all), but we got very efficient at tying it, and after a week or so it was really easy.

1-2014-08-23 15.15.11

We then moved into a soft structured carrier with mesh, because it’s so blimmin’ hot here.  It was great as she grew.  Easier and quicker than the wrap, but still nice and cuddly.

1-2014-11-023

Then we got another one of those (because it had beards on it!) and a woven wrap and a ring sling.  And we moved onto back carries.

1-2015-01-22 13.22.52

And basically, it’s been amazing.  The woven wrap hasn’t had as much use as I thought (after how much we loved the stretchy).  But the combination of carriers has had huge benefits:

  • She gets enough sleep, even though it doesn’t always come naturally to her.
  • We didn’t have to lug around a big bulky pram when she was little, and just moved straight into a lightweight pushchair when she could sit well.
  • We became somewhat “famous” locally, and get LOTS of attention. (Actually, I don’t know if that’s really a positive, but it’s certainly been interesting.)
  • All the walking and bouncing and carrying involved in carrier naps has made me much fitter than I otherwise would be at this point.

1-2014-12-17 15.21.41

There are a few downsides too, though:

  • Now we have to wean her off it for day sleeps.  This is scary.
  • When we were out and about when she was wee, we didn’t have anywhere to put her, and there wasn’t always a helpful baby-holder around.
  • There are lots of things I can’t do while she sleeps.  Mostly yoga!
  • It’s an expensive habit!

So there we go, my favourite parenting thing.  Watch out for another post in the series at some point, hopefully soon!

Thankful

I’m a bit early for Thanksgiving (not that we really celebrate it), but I think every day is a good day to think about what you’re thankful for.  It’s one of the strategies I used to get through fertility treatments (probably the hardest thing I’ve done in my life so far) and those early newborn crying jags, and it’s something I don’t think you can do too often.  So today I’m talking about five things I have been grateful for as a new mother.

  • The Engineer
    I can absolutely 100% say that I don’t know how I would do this without him.  He’s a hands on Dad, always willing to help, and he totally understands that being at home is hard sometimes.  He gives me breaks to go get pedicures in the weekend, does all the nappies when he’s home (even at night), and doesn’t complain if I do nothing but keep the baby alive for the whole day.  I’ve read some horror stories about other people’s partners, and I don’t quite know how I got so lucky!1-2014-07-27 15.09.39
  • Breastfeeding
    I have been ridiculously lucky in this area, because The Engineer’s Baby seems to be a natural.  She was wriggling around to improve her latch at two days old, and has only improved as she has grown.  I considered adding bottles of expressed milk a while ago, but it just all seemed so much more complicated with the sterilising and storing and getting things the right temperature.  And that’s not even considering needing them in the night.  Breastfeeding is often seen as the more difficult option, but for me that has not been the case, and (once again) I don’t quite know how I got so lucky!
  • Our cleaner
    Since a month before Baby Engineer was born, we have had someone come in three times a week to clean for us.  She cleans, washes dishes, does laundry, the whole nine yards, and it is amazing.  Particularly because she doesn’t have to ask – she just does what needs doing with no input from me.  I know we are very lucky to be in the position where this is possible.  But it has seriously made my life a thousand times easier.  Well worth it.
  • Modern technology
    With being so far away from friends and family, video calling is pretty much an essential.  When I lost my phone, I was so sad to think I might have lost all the pictures of her first couple of months, and was ridiculously grateful when Dropbox backup came through for me.  Having TV that I watch on my schedule (or more like her schedule!) is a lifesaver some days.  And you don’t even want to know how many things I’ve Googled since she has been born.  Sometimes I just don’t know how people raised babies in the days before the Internet!
  • My social and smiley wee girl
    I don’t like classing babies as good/bad, easy/difficult, etc. and I really don’t even know where Baby Engineer would fall.  But one thing I do know is that when she was just a few weeks old, and started up with the intense evening scream sessions, her smiles made it so much easier to deal with.  She really is lovely.

Sometimes it’s hard to be a new parent.  Sometimes it’s very hard indeed.  But remembering the positives is such a boost on the days where everything just seems to be going haywire.  With a baby who is going through a huge development stage and seems to be starting teething, I think I might need to come back and re-read this list a fair few times in the coming weeks!

It’s hard with posts like these for me not to feel a little bit gloaty (probably something I need to work on). So I want to emphasize that I take no credit for any of the above; I am just very grateful for the good things that have come my way.  I do not in any way intend to “show off”, and I really hope it hasn’t come across that way…