2016 Focus

Really? It’s 2016 already? As a kid, I always envisioned having gone through the apocalypse by now. Everyone socially equal and wearing the same brown canvas sacks.

That was just me?

Anyhoo, it seems that I have a different perspective on resolutions every new year that rolls around. (Seriously. Like here and here and here…although that last one still rings true today.) This year, I have some loose goals. By “goals” I mean stuff I’m looking forward to…and working on. Being at home with a newborn and frequently at odds with a rambunctious toddler will do that to a person. We could even call it my “focus” for the year. List time!

happy new year!

WRITING

Straighten out the blog – There’s actually a bit of a list I’ve gotta work on with this one, but just know that things will continue to transition here as I’m able to chip away at it. 😉 Vague, but I know what needs to be done. Now, if only I could find the time to do it!

Search out more freelance – I was super lucky in 2015 to start picking up more paid gigs with my BFFs at Green Child, weekly blogging for Thirsties, and some other fun side work. In 2016, I’m hoping to seek out more opportunities. So, hit me up if you want to work together!

Keep writing – As you see from my relative infrequency, I took an impromptu blogging hiatus with the birth of Harper. I was still writing, but my other paid responsibilities + craziness that accompanies a new baby/high-maintenance toddler/the holidays meant that something had to give – and that was MAO. I’m hoping not only to get back at it more regularly, but offer tips in addition to the usual personal stories to offer more of a life guide for you guys.   


Social media – After straightening things out around the joint, I’d like to orient my social media use to more of a professional venue. The time suckage that is Facebook (a topic I’ve grappled with before) isn’t something I can simply give up. There are times that my online gigs deem it necessary to dapple with all forms of social media, so it’s just not plausible. However, for blogging purposes, I’d like to choose a couple of my favorite venues to engage more in the simple living/green/parenting worlds. Won’t you join me? 🙂

 

FAMILY

Trips ‘n Things – Honestly, this is what I’m looking forward to most in 2016. We went on our first “Family of Four” outing last weekend to Cooperstown. We had no goal in going aside from getting out of the house. There were a couple of bumps in the road, but Harper did awesome bundled in her Moby wrap and I returned home completely rejuvenated. I actually felt like my old self for the first time in awhile.

So, this year, I’m hoping to fit in some more activities. A jaunt on the local walking trail. Seeing some distant friends and fitting in a trip to a local-to-them museum or discovery center. Trying out a new zoo. (Hadley’s been asking to go to an aquarium, too.) Packing up the car for a drive. Finding a family-friendly hike in the Adirondacks (and maybe hitting up a cabin for a day or two). Oh, and visiting a historical site would make my year.

Yeah, I don’t expect to do all of these things by a long shot. But, if we can try to get to a few of them, I’d be a happy mama.

Cloth – We’re finally going to start cloth diapering more diligently with Harpy girl. I’ve used them periodically, but after a lengthy boil water advisory and the holidays threw us off, we’re finally ready to take the plunge. We may stick with disposables during the nighttime for the time being, but one step at a time, right?

Happiness – This is pretty much the word of the year. Any goals I set are with this in mind, ultimately. It also is my reminder to try to pump more happiness into life for those around me. With the challenges that come with all these new transitions, there’s no point in piling more stress and obligations on our shoulders even further. So, if I don’t excel or, hell, succeed at some of the things on this list…no worry. I’ll be happy for what does get achieved. Bam. Happy is as happy does.

 

LIFE

New home – Now that we’ve got another +1 in the house, it’s crystal clear that we need to get on our house hunt…pronto. We’ve been “on it” before, but Dorky Daddy and I are both dedicated to the hunt now. We’re hoping to bridge all of our needs (and some of our wants) with reality. But, if we could get a place that we can *eventually* make our own in *one of* the towns we know to be kid-friendly in *a realistic price range*, we’d be happy. Heck, we’d be over the moon.   

Simplicity – As with life in general, we’re looking to continue our goal of living a simpler existence. House hunting and *hopefully* moving will help with the “do we really NEED this?” purging. Now, about all those Christmas toys…

 

That’s what we’ve got going for 2016. How about you folks? Any resolutions? What do you think of ours? Feel free to chime in! 

And the Second Birthday Theme Will Be…


Yep, we’re going kind of classic and traditional on this one. (And that greenish is totally supposed to be blue. Zoinks.)

I pondered several generic ideas (zoo, barnyard, “twinkle, twinkle little star” — not with animals present on those first two, though…I’m no Kate Gosselin) and a handful of more obvious “kidcentric” character themes he’s into (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Mo Willems, Sesame Street). It was a total tie between Sesame Street and “ducks,” and I’m not gonna lie — it was a tough decision.

I’m not too surprised, either. They’re both totally Hadley’s jam right now.

We’re not huge “buyer of trademarked stuff” people, but he’s got a Sesame Street fold-out couch that he uses to watch ANY of “his” shows (a sweet gift), a handful of hand-held character toys (let’s call them pre-action figure action figures…of cute and cuddly Muppets), and, of course, his plush dolls of Bert ‘n Ernie, Cookie Monster, Grover, The Count, Big Bird…and I’m a horrible Mommy because I’m forgetting if I left anyone out. *scratches head*

Notice we don’t have Elmo (he likes Elmo, but he’s not in LOVE with Elmo…ya get me?), or Zoe, or Abby Cadabby, or any of the newer breed of Sesame Street monsters. Let’s just say that if we’re going to show him an episode on Netflix and he demands requests a particular character, it’s usually “hee hee” (the noise Ernie makes when he laughs, you know the one) or “la la la” (Big Bird) or “ah aaaahhh” (The Count). He also does a “bam bam bam” motion (for Oscar) and a “nom nom nom” hand to mouth motion (for Cookie Monster). Um, he’s also calling lots of things “Bob” lately. That may or may not be related. Bob.

But, the word “duck” comes out of his mouth about 50+ times a day lately. I bring home duck books (fiction and non-fiction) from school. He quacks. He carries rubber duckies around whenever the thought occurs to him. He didn’t want to leave the flower shop we visited just before Easter that has an awesome annual display of a dozen happy, splashing baby ducks.


Kid’s obsessed.

And it’s just so sweet.

After some more conversation, Dave and I realized that next year, he’ll probably still be into Sesame Street. If that’s the case (hopefully it is), we can do a Sesame theme next year, or something else he’s super into. But, he isn’t always going to be into such an endearing little thing like duckies. Plus, it was a huge theme for his baby shower, so it makes this mama a tad sentimental to think about the evolution from shower to second *sniff, sniff* birthday.

Duckies, it is. Plus, Hadley agreed to it when we asked him to pick between the two. That clinched the deal. Not that he in any way knew what he was really voting on.


So, what’s this theme about? The invite is just a quick mock-up (sans the place or RSVP info…not even sure of the time yet, really), but can you really have a two-year-old’s duck party without the ubiquitous rubber ducky? Didn’t think so.

Side note: If we do Sesame Street next year, you know I’m repurposing rubber duckies for an Ernie connection. #usewhatyouvegot

Speaking of reusing, most of the stuff I made last year (cake topper, big poufs, even utensils and plates), I’m using this year…if the tissue paper poufs have held up being squished in a bag all year. (Ahem.) 

Last year’s party was mostly a colored theme (orange, yellow, blue, green), which all totally work with duckies.

The food will most likely be simple (if you really know me, you’re laughing at the use of that word — last year was SUPPOSED to be simple) – fruits and veggies with dip on ice, either pizza or BBQ-type stuff, pretzels/chips, and dessert. There is much pinning to be done, but we’ll either do a nice big cake with yellow frosting or cupcakes (mini duck toppers, anyone?) and a small cake for monkey to dive into. Why do I think he’ll dive a bit more this year?

Decor, well, yeah. Ducks. But to keep it cohesive with the mix of last year’s colors, blue and yellow tablecloths (blue = water) should do the trick. As the invitation implies, I hope to make some buntings to drape, either across the seating area or behind the food table…or both. Maybe some blue or yellow streamers. En masse, they can pack a punch. And I’m sure I’ll probably make a couple of ducky posters or a “year in pictures” poster to hang.

I’ve seen some cute ideas for the food area, like rafia (hay) as fillers, but the thing I’ve noticed most is that the thing that makes a table is its organization. Rows, my dears. Rows. Oh, and cute signage. Preferably on sticks. (“Quackers”, anyone?)

Beverages can be chilled in a baby pool or galvanized tub (whatever is handy) and an additional small tub can be used as a fun game: everyone picks a duck out and the ones with an “H” (or whatever) marked on the bottom wins a prize.

Oh, and since these shindigs tend to be adult-centric for now (he has one best friend/cousin about a year older; then two teenaged cousins who are incredible…just way older; otherwise, friends in far-off places), those gifts will be, like, plants or candles or something. We’ll see. 

I’d do a duck piñata, but like I said, it’s gonna be mostly adults. (Although, the image of our moms whacking away blindly is kind of awesome.) We keep things low-key at our events since our friends and family are pretty good at mingling and finding their own fun. One day when more kids are involved, they’ll need more fun/structure (structure does not equal zero fun, I promise…says the boring librarian ;-)), so we’ll do more games/activities at that point.

For now, just digging out the sidewalk chalk and balls for catch will be just fine, I think.

If you want to see what else I’ve got up my sleeve, check back on my Pinterest board for Hadley’s birthday. (There are also some ideas I picked last year that I never used, which may help me in my future parties, too.) Check back often; I’m sure it’ll be growing a ton.

He Pooped — Kid’s a Genius

Yup. I’m that mom who’s going to tell the whole world about her child’s potty behavior. If you find fault, please get over it. It’s not like I’m going to get graphic or show pictures (um…which I DO have…I’m clearly a first-time parent ;-)). ANYhoo, welcome!
Hadman is just over 18 months old. If my very shoddy math is correct, that’s a year and a half. Firstly, I can’t believe the time has gone so quickly from his first birthday to his “half-year” mark, but I guess time in general does whatever it wants when children come along. This is my excuse for pinning 2nd birthday themes, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Over two weeks ago, while at his grandparents’ house (and Mommy and Daddy were enjoying a wicked meal at The Tailor and the Cook), he let Grandma know that he wanted to go potty. Mind you, he’s verbal, but not
that verbal — he has cues and he knows how to use ‘em. (Grabbing a pillow and a dipe, which means he wants his diaper changed/potty’s happening; pointing at the potty. Nothing too vulgar…yet.) He proceeded to go both “1 and 2.” Whoa.

I wasn’t totally shocked, although the fact that he “did” both was astonishing. Santa had brought him a super sleek, super comfortable potty (yup, Santa went with the deluxe “has a higher back and even spots for him to rest his arms on” model; he looks like an old man leaning back, I swear). We only got one since we weren’t sure if we’d need one both upstairs and down (the bathroom is upstairs, but we’re keeping it in the kitchen since we spend most of our non-sleeping time downstairs, and let’s just say that the flooring’s not carpeted).
“How ya like the chassis on that one, guy?

From the moment he saw it, he decided to lug this kinda clunky “chair” around and simply sit in it. We didn’t see any issue with him using it this way since I wasn’t sure when we’d officially start the potty-training process. Well, I’m guessing that he’d noticed his cousin using her potty, because he started showing cues that he was ready. He would sit on it and make noises and look like he was “pushing”. Eventually, he would just come and point to it, so we’d ask if he’d like to use it and he’d immediately say “uh-huh!!” (I wish you could hear it; it’s a very high-toned, adorable sound that occasionally borders on “of course, why didn’t you know I wanted to do that this very moment?” annoyed.) So, he went a little. Then, the next day, he went a little more. It’s been sporadic since then, but he’s gone a TON more at his grandma’s house (she’s his daily sitter, too).

Okay, so maybe this is getting a little graphic. Sorry!

As I see it, he’s kind of potty-training himself at this point. If he wants to, great (and we celebrate with a potty dance and high-fives and lots of praise), but if he wants to use his diaper, no big.

We didn’t push him into it. He showed us he was ready and quite interested. I’m going to get some poster paper and make a “chart” (just a half-sheet of poster paper that says something like “Hadley’s Chart” or something inconspicuous…y’know, for when we have the Fancypants family over and don’t want them to know we’re keeping track of his poops and tinkles) where we can place stickers every time he goes. It’s basic, but I don’t want to do a calendar (I may start jotting down on the family calendar the number of each that he does to keep track, though) to make him feel like he HAS to do it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Now, as far as M&Ms or anything like that…well. Hmm. How do I say this? I don’t want to offend anyone, since I’m pretty sure I might have had a “treat” for going potty (although when I was fully trained, it was a let-down not to get something anymore…since pottying is pretty much a toddler’s only job, aside from not biting — which I’m told I failed at), but we’re not keen on using food (especially the dye-laden kind) to reward behavior. I might consider using raisins or his organic graham cracker bunnies if he falls off the wagon (er, potty) and starts needing additional encouragement, but for now I’m hoping to stick with the positive praise and stickers that he can put on himself (stickers are his thing…actually, they’re almost every toddler’s thing).

I MEAN NO OFFENSE TO THOSE WHO CHOOSE THIS METHOD!!! I’m also not judging you. Just don’t judge me for using something as boring, er, wonderful as stickers. Every parent’s different; there’s no right or wrong way here!

Anyhoo, all that being said, I fully expect him to regress. I’m not hoping for it, of course, but I find that it’s easier to be flexible and prepared in situations (especially such unknowns as kids) if you ready yourself for possible failure. Some might call it pessimistic, but I don’t intend to be. (I’d say I’m a realistic optimist, personally.) Besides, I’ve known other kids to hit a setback and end up needing a dipe here or there (or, heck, who need to hit the “reset” button on potty training altogether), anyway. Since he’s so ahead-of-the-game on this, I don’t want to make him feel horribly if he does have a setback.

Oh, and is it weird that just about the time he started getting interested in potty-training, he started getting way pickier about food? He used to eat literally everything and anything put before him (“our little eater”); now, his favorites (like peas and corn) are left on the plate. At least he still likes things like carrots (for now), but it throws your mind and heart for a loop when you’re so used to his habits. I guess like I said before, I should prepare myself for all sorts of disappointments. 🙂

If you have a little one, when were they potty-trained? Or are you planning to start trying at a certain age? Do you have a method you tried/will try? Do share! And, remember — this is a no-judgment zone!

Side note: Given how “advanced” (early) he is on this thing, I totally expect any future kids to be wicked late and teach me a whole new lesson. Hmm. Okay, maybe I am a pessimist. Sometimes.

Massachusetts

A couple of weeks ago, we made our first family overnight trip to Massachusetts. We had a couple of goals while there: visiting some friends, specifically for a baby shower/house warming party (and being so lucky that those friends let us stay over with them! With a one-year-old in tow, nonetheless!! That’s what I call lifelong friends, folks), hitting up the Eric Carle Museum and outlets in Lee on the way home.

My main priority was how the baby would do. Would we be pushing his limits by expecting him to ride three hours? Stroll through a museum? Nap in a strange place (it did take him awhile to settle down in his pack ‘n play setup)? Get down and dirty in *gasp* the grass to socialize with strangers at a BBQ? Spend almost an entire day at an outside outlet mall? Then take a last-minute ride to Utica to celebrate a family birthday?

Whew. I’m exhausted just thinking of it. But, honestly, he was a freakin’ trooper! He’s at the age where he gets squirmy (he’d much rather be getting into everything) so there were moments, but all of our goals (and then some) got checked off the list and he remained a happy little guy.

So, here’s a rundown. We left EARLY Saturday morning to stop as needed (and we did) and in hopes of getting to the museum before heading to the barbecue. Done and done! While we didn’t dillydally at the Carle (Dave would’ve, I’m sure; I had to drag him from the first exhibit (the Eric Carle one) to keep the momentum going; they had an awesome scavenger hunt that had him quite occupied), we got to experience it fully. It’s one of those places where you could spend an hour (a rushed hour, but an hour nonetheless) or an entire day, easily.

The best part for us is pretty much a given: the Mo Willems exhibit. *squeals like a Beatles fan…’cuz I am one* Hadley waved at EVERY character he saw. Pigeon, bam. Piggie, bam. Naked mole rat, bam. It was like seeing old friends…in the rough…before they had a final snaz-up for publication. Just incredible! And fun. And funny. All the things that Mo is and does. (Side note: No pictures in the exhibits. We’re rule-followers. Most of the time.)

Next best part? The library. You’d think that, as a librarian, that would be my favorite part, but I’m weird (I’m a museum NERD). I was, however, wicked impressed that the whole place was organized by illustrator (vs. author) and the importance they put on the Caldecott Award. There were also play areas and comfy colorful seats where you could read to your little ones…which I did, until his attention was diverted to the Legos. I tell ya, he does the same thing at Barnes and Noble. He had a blast, even when an older kid (ANTHONY!) stole his toys. (And since I’ll never see Anthony or his cohorts again, here they be…)

Kids in old man hats? Priceless. I think Hadley wanted to go live with them.
(I actually think Anthony is MIA from this picture. Whew.) 

The NEXT best part? The tiles in the bathroom!!! So damn cool. Eric Carle artwork as accent tiles throughout the bathroom. That, and the awesome stuff in the jam-packed gift shop. We grabbed at least one book and an “H” painted in Carle-style and a couple of postcards to use for art later on.

I’m pretty darn sure Dave was secretly wishing I’d come up with an idea for the bolts of Pigeon cloth they had. He had scoped it out online before going and sent me the link. Mhmm. I didn’t get any. 😛

Oh, and I’m sure we’ll be visiting when Hadley gets bigger. When we do, we’ll a) spend more time (and maybe meet up with the little boy on his way!), b) bring a picnic (they have a cafe area to eat but just organic snacky-type stuff, no real service) and c) take part in the arts and crafts option, which is free with admission. Just sayin’.

We were just in time for the BBQ, which was a nice casual take on a shower; not dressy, not fussy, go-with-the-flow. The baby napped inside in his pack ‘n play for awhile, and when he came out and finally warmed up, he played A LOT with one little girl in particular. Um, yeah, they “kissed.” Adorable…and terrifying. One of the best memories was when that little girl took a break for it into the neighbor’s yard (these yards are awesomely-sized!) and, of all the adults, Dave was the one who chased her down. Classic moment.

We got out of the way to run a few errands (baby painkiller much? Teething sucks) and stopped by the cafe where Dave used to work to say a quick ‘hi’ and catch up with more friends, who had Hadley S-M-I-T-T-E-N. What can I say? He loves the ladies. 😉 It was great to see them and meet some new friends, if only briefly.

Then, inside the cafe there was a great open mic happening, so while Dave got his plain coffee and I my smoothie, we listened to the live music. Hadley was hooked, big-time. We knew he loved music, but he was enamored — rocking out (with his whole-body swaying and his arms up, very serious) and clapping when the song was over, then waiting patiently for the next song. We didn’t stay long, but the audience was taking notice. For once it wasn’t because he was crying or otherwise distracting negatively! 🙂

When we returned to the house, we gave Hadley his first EVER bath tub bath, which he really seemed to have fun with. He didn’t know what to do with all the extra space around him! Then, we read to him and got him settled down for his bedtime. I hopped in the shower, then we got some awesome alone time with our friends. It felt so nice to chat and catch up, especially with all the good news swirling around our heads.

The next morning, the baby awoke QUITE early and we didn’t want to wake anyone up (we weren’t the only ones sleeping over) so we read more in bed until I finally brought the munchkin downstairs to eat his breakfast. We stayed a little while longer and chatted (and saw a horribly hysterical “adult” version of the Count from Sesame Street…I’m still disturbed and laughing heartily) before getting some gas and heading to Lee.

Between needing some new sizes for the Hadman and shoes for Dave, grabbing a thing or two for our niece, and hoping to find stuff for myself before returning to school, I’d call it a success. We even had wraps from a local franchise, “That’s a Wrap!” (which is better than the other stuff they had in their food court), which had some delicious options. Nom nom.

After a stop or two on the way home (what, it was hot? We needed ice cream), we headed home to do a quick dump-and-run before hopping back in the car to head to Utica. While we were absolutely exhausted, we were happy to be able to visit with Dave’s dad and family for a little while and to wish him a happy, happy birthday.

So, I’d say we fit A LOT into that weekend. And that’s two or three more items crossed off my summer to-do list! When I wrote the list, I was hoping that we could hit up Concord and maybe Lexington (if not Boston) sometime this summer, but we had some shifting happen and it just wasn’t plausible this year. But, that’s okay! We had a blast and learned that we CAN travel with a baby! We’re already excited to test it out this autumn… Stay tuned!

Wicked Wicker

On my mission towards organization, I’ve been trying to find little, manageable projects to spruce up the joint. Here’s my latest 5-minute fix-up.



Our diaper-slash-clean-up-slash-miscellaneous station had been the same basket since Day One. It’s not really our style, but it has served a purpose…even if it has found a way to explode every other week. I’ve organized the thing a million times, but I finally had an “a-ha!!” moment. 


This wicker basket (which was wicked cheap at the Christmas Tree Shop) has been floating around Hadley’s room…and the basement laundry area…and everywhere in between. I prefer its neutral look…and it gained Winston’s approval, so there’s that.


So, the best way to do some organizing is to make a mess. Sounds weird, but it’s true! I allowed the basket to explode, picked out the stuff that was in the wrong spot (I’m talking to you, rubber ducky), then layered stuff in order of frequency of use in the basket. Voila!


And don’t worry. Winston moved on quickly after his eviction. He’s flexible…sometimes.


Wait…crap. Does that mean we can’t get rid of the basket now? Huh. Guess so.


Slowing Down

So, we’ve officially been breastfeeding going on shy of 11 months now. It hasn’t been a rollercoaster, necessarily; maybe more like a walk with peaks and valleys, days that were natural and easy with others that brought about pain and frustration and a sense of failure.

I’m in the crux of one of those “am I failing?” moments right now. Since writing this last week, I’ve reverted to “natural and easy” but still thought it would benefit me (and some reading, maybe?) to share my thoughts. 🙂

See, there was a time that the little man was “demanding” about 28 – 30 ounces while at the sitter (plus feedings at home, possibly several throughout the night, at about 7+ oz. per feeding) and I could easily pump that much by lunchtime, and then some. I hate stores in the freezer, folks.

Now? It’s after 4pm. I have yet to reach tomorrow’s full amount, three bags of 4 ounces each. Yes, folks, 12 ounces, and I’m at about half. Plus, I have to try to store up 8 ounces for a sitter to feed him while Dave and I travel for an award ceremony this weekend. That being said, I may not be going, and that just sucks.

Of course, the Hadman is the #1 most important thing on Earth. Of course. But, my supply’s slowing down because his demand is less. The fact that we’ve made it this far in the world o’ nursing is miraculous, in my mind. Especially after his teeth came and he started using me (very rarely, but still!) as a chew toy with his razor sharp little grinders. And the day that I must’ve blown out a blocked duct while pumping only to see a bottle FULL of milk and blood, mixed together. And the early days of soreness and squirting and weird latching and gassiness (on his part) and screaming (on both of our parts). It is a bit of a feat, actually.

But, my goal — for myself, for my family, for Hadley — is to make it to one year. If we go past that, AWESOME! But, there will be so much to celebrate on this kid’s birthday, it’s ridiculous.

Now, it’s time for me to go brew some mother’s milk tea in this sweltering heat and do some meditating to reduce stress and hopefully pump up the ol’ pumping ability. I can see the finish line from here and I’m not giving up.