We figured out why she doesn’t like music

Here is what listening to music with Aria was like. 

Aria points to the TV, which means Music Mommy!!

We sit together on the couch and Aria waits expectantly as I pull up Pandora. 

Three seconds. Maybe. Not exaggerating. 

“No no!”


“All done music?” I ask. 

“NO!”

“New song?” I ask. 

Big head nod. 

I change stations, since that’s the only way to change the song. 

Disney radio? 2 seconds. 

“No, no Mommy!”

Pop fitness? 3 seconds. 

“Egrggarh!!”

Latino dance? 

Alternative?

Modern?

Top 100?

Moana?

Jazz??

Classical???

Spa radio????

Nope. It’s not her ears. Got those checked  and she’s fine ๐Ÿ˜‰
“All done??” I ask in exasperation. 

“More, more!”

And this is how it’s been for months. Almost a year. Really. Can’t get through ten seconds of a song without the decider-in-chief asking for us to change the song. 

It was a mystery. 

A great, great mystery. 

And then daddy had an epiphany. 

He skimmed the stations. There had to be something. 

“How about Children’s Dance Radio?”

Three seconds. Aria starts clapping. 

She dances back and forth. 

“Yay!”

We get through the whole song. 

One after the other after the other. 

Laughing, clapping, dancing. 

Gesturing and doing what the song would say to do. 

Wiggle, shake, touch your head. 

I think she just wanted to understand the words. She likes the simpler, playful beats and music. 

So weird! No taste at all! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Suddenly energized by patterns and order

Just a moment ago, Aria lined up a bunch of Jenga blocks. She paused and looked back at her creation and was like:

“Oh yeah. Look at that! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!” (In a mix of words and gestures ๐Ÿ˜‰


I’ve been seeing Aria create order to things lately, like with napkins at Christmas:


And then more recently creating a thoughtfully planned bedding arrangement for her toys:
When DH and I saw this we both froze and looked at the other, “Did you do that?”


There was just so much intentionality to it – a new and blossoming sense of the order of things and then an ability to mimic that order. DH frowned: “That’s kinda creepy.” A possessed gremlin is clearly in our midst!

Well, may this be the first step towards reducing the mess : helpfulness ratio! 

Cheers to that!

Marching for a brighter day

From 16 to about 50 years old, my mom loved being involved in politics. It was her pride and identity – serving causes she believed in. 

Part 1 – Memories of my Mother

I remember her telling the story of being sixteen in Ohio and going to one party headquarters. They smiled patronizingly and told her how cute it was she wanted to get involved. Then she went to the other party and one of the main guys enthusiastically welcomed her to the work, telling her how great it was when young people get involved. She became a lifelong democrat after that. 

Her other favorite story was of moving to Utah. She was in a car full of women from church. They asked her what she did for a hobby and she said politics, but was sad to say she was giving it up because there were no democrats in Utah. All the women started laughing. Before my mom could feel embarrassed, the driver asked Mom if she recognized her. Mom didn’t, of course, and she introduced herself as the wife of a democratic congressman of Utah. 

Mom collected political buttons as she worked the political scene in Utah, managing campaigns and serving causes. 

Eventually, some thirty years later, politics, another’s cruel ambition, and her own health soured it all. She was still reeling from the ousting as a simple admin assistant at a county democratic committee office when she died eight years later at 58. 

Part 2 – My political awakening

I’ve never had much interest in getting involved and being political. I was registered independent for a decade until my state removed that as an option and I realized being left unaffiliated would exclude my from the primaries. 

But even then, voting was the extent of my politics. Beyond that I was just as happy to serve in education, ensuring the disenfranchised would have the sword of learning to fight for their rights, a good career, and their own happiness. From government teacher, to principal data consultant, to program director I’ve gone. A decade in and I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface of realizing my dreams for the experiences I want for the young people of the city where I serve. 

Then this last year happened and it seemed like everything decent in the world had been thrown out the window. At the same time I’ve been learning on the ground about the extensive needs of those in poverty, I’ve been watching those services vilified and the black people of the cities dehumanized. 

Add that to a renewed normalizing of the objectification of the female sex and the demonizing of truth and the press that protects it. I forget the challenges women still face because I’m in a field where woman are unrestricted in ourgreatness. This last year reminded me of how it was being one of two ladies among eighty computer scientists in classes at college. 

The environmentalist and innovator in me is also reawakened. I’ve watched a cabinet get packed with fossil fuels and financiers, pillars to the golden oligarchs of the 20th century. Backwards industries. The antichrists of innovation. 

Part 3 – Marching for better

So for the first time in my life, I stood up on Saturday and marched. I wanted to be a part of the crashing wave, rising up to break the tide taking us in every wrong direction. 

I told DH I want the March on Washington to be my first step in a direction, not just standing up to stretch, then sitting back down again. 

Awesomely then today I was at a baby shower, still thinking how I could get involved, and I met the VP of an activist committee in a neighboring county where I hope to move my family in a few years. She gave me her card and told me to get involved. 

I will. Maybe someday down the line I’ll even run for office. 

For Aria, for my students, for my country, for the future. I think I need to do more. We all do. 

Lest I look down one day and find empty the social toolbox I rely on to turn things around for my students. 

Lest I look over one day and see my daughter belittled out of a career and position of influence of her choosing. 

Lest I look up one day and see my beautiful world crumbling. 

We all can march together for a better world. 

Sickness, followed by another culture reset

Every major disruption to the routine requires one. There’s never a mile marker you get to and perfect order is achieved. There is a rhythm to life and when it gets off beat, you have to drum your hands a bit until the music starts to flow again. 

It took three days after our trip to Cali to reset Aria’s sleep. 

It’s taking three days to reset her after she came down with a fever three days ago. 

This is one of the painful resets. Two hours in to the middle of the night meltdown. Ten minute intervals because I am weak tonight and can’t resist the draw to go to her. 

Yesterday, after dad and I both took turns wrestling and playing with her for an hour, I fell asleep beside her, holding her hand. 

Tonight there can be no compromise. She is well and she needs the rest that a reset will afford her. It is the only way to give her full night rests every night. 

Round one, an assuring pat on the shoulders as she screams like a banshee. 

Round two, I pick her up and rock her as she thrashes like a drowning cat. I acknowledge she wants to eat or go downstairs or get a drink or do anything that involves being held and away from her crib. Her screams never stop. I leave. 

Round three, I pick her up and wrap her in a blanket. Finally her screeches turn to gasps and quiet tears. I lie her down. I hold her hand. She weeps, but is calm. I exit. Screams and moans follow me. 

Round four, I slip in and hold her hand. She reaches out and strokes my face, litte gasps and sobs escaping her worn lungs as she clutches for me. I hold on for a minute or two. Her breathing steadies, her body relaxes. I leave. Wails errupt. 

Round five. I hold her hand for a short minute. I let go, but assure her I am still there. I feel impatient for her to overcome this and hate myself for my weakness in my fatigue and with my own sore throat. It’s been an hour and a half. I leave. She laments my exit, but her tears are tired. 

I know I can’t go back in at this point, so I retreat to my blog to escape the ticking of the clock. 

Three quarters in from the post, she sleeps.  

Did I succeed? Tomorrow will tell. 

Tired. 

Reveling in the stillness. 

Still yearning to hold her. 

Musing about Addisons

Addisons makes me feel like there is a growing weight on my body. Each year further from the boundless, untamed passion and energy of my youth. Tired without being weary. Too often cloudy. Unable to push into the depth of night rather than make the hard choices about what ideas and causes to chase down. But yet happy, having shaved down many elements of my life and work to the richest activities. If I could just forsake the anxiety of what I cannot do or care about, I would be happy and at peace. 

I sprained my neck, so of course Aria did too!

“Sweetie, I can’t pick you up — my neck hurts. I need to put an ice pack on it.”

Empathetic grimace. 

Then she clutches her neck. 


Very convincing. 

“Ah, www. Ma waaaa…”

Sounds of pain and distress. 

“Ow! Owa ma ma.” 

Very subtle and sincere. 

I shake my head sadly. 

“Oh no! Do you need an ice pack too?”

“Yeeah… :(” She says, as if in a great deal of pain. 

I get us both ice packs. She holds it too her neck for ten minutes. 

Repeat. 

About 12 times today. 

Bedtime come. 

“Aria, I need to put the ice pack back in the freezer. It’s time to go night night.”

“Nooo. No no mommy! Owww!”

So, instead of baby, tonight Aria steps with Ice Pack. 

Care to join us for dinner?

She cooks the chicken, cleans the veggies and steams them, and preps a salad. Then she gets Pooh Bear and Baby. I help her sit them at the “table” and then she searches out plates and glasses. 

Then she fills up all our plates. 

And makes some delicious asparagus water. 

She jumps up to fill our glasses. 


Then sits down. 

She looks around, suddenly still. 

Blink. Blink. 

We were both thinking it. 

Now what?

A little uncertain. Then a shrug. All done?

“Mama, book?”

Tending to Dolls

It was only a couple months ago that Aria showed interest in dolls. It was as if when each new chord of imagination connected in her brain, dolls leaped forward in prominence in her simple life. 

I didn’t get her any, though Grandma G got her a little doll with a magnetic binkey. They became the enticement to get her to stay in the gym daycare.

First she just wanted to hold as many as she could. It was about possession of a friendly face, rather than imaginary friendship. 

Then another thread looped in her mind and she was pushing the doll around in a stroller or cart. But she’d do this with a bowl of cereal with just as much attachment. No extended attachment.

 

Then another thread connected and launched quick glittering moments of imitation — giving the baby a bottle or putting her to bed. 

Another week or two passed and now on occasion baby was coming with us into the car, but tossed aside and forgotten soon after. 

At Christmas this year one more thread clicked. Concern. Empathy. Love. 

She got a doll and a velveteen rabbit for Christmas. If I tell Aria she needs a hat so her head will stay warm, then Baby needs a hat too. If Aria feels thirsty, then she’ll make sure baby gets a sip of milk too. As Grandpa C read her stories this evening, she made sure Rabbit and Baby could listen too, and patted a blanket atop them asking “Cold?” Wherever we go, whatever we do, she looks around, saying “Baby? Baby? Rabbit?”

I like seeing this motherly empathy developing in her. It’s tender. I wonder if it’s a first stage to really being able to read other people or think from their perspective. Empathy is the essence of goodness. 

And if I have two hopes for Aria’s life it is 1. that she will always be able to find happiness inside herself and 2. that deep down at her heart’s core will be empathy and love and the wisdom in how to express both. 

Time

I lay here, holding Aria in my arms as she sleeps. Her breathing is steady and relaxed, her body heavy and draped across me. Daddy’s hand is cupped open beneath hers. 


I could’ve put her back in her crib and waited another fifteen minutes for her sobs and cries to turn to coughs and whimpers and the low drum of slumber. 

Then I could’ve grabbed my binder and opened up another chapter in the math curriculum, preparing to step in as a full blown math coach in my spare time at work come January. The numbers are in and they are harrowing in our middle school. Without concentrated action and support from our tiny, six person central office more than 80% of our middle schoolers will head to the next grade below grade level. Half far, far below. 

So it’s my job to step in. The principal is new and focused on culture. The pseudo AP is actually the special education director and has more than two dozen kids to worry about. My boss has the world on her shoulders and is still managing to carry it, seven months pregnant. So math is mine. There is no one else. 

But Aria is struggling with jet lag and I needed to hold her, to enjoy that renewing power of caring for the ones you love. 

So I read PARCC problems and the achieve the core focus guides and pondered about pacing on the geometry standards that will only get two questions on PARCC, but could make or break their SAT scores. But if the seventh graders don’t get expressions and equations they’ll fail out of Algebra and never graduate. Perhaps they will pick up the area of a circle later?

It would be easier if I had a paper and pen, but chewing on next steps is meditative. At least that’s what I tell myself. 

I made the decision a long time ago to never scrimp on time with Aria. She wants me to read to her at breakfast, so I do that instead of study for the PMP now. She wants to paint, I paint with her instead of bringing my computer down. I’m always tempted to stop interacting with her and sacrifice our time on the altar of my needy students. Occasionally I do make the trade. 

But it never feels right. 

My colleague SM is expert at this. She’s a mom too, but of a seven or eight year old. She is the High Priestess of Getting Stuff Done, but simultaneously the queen of “Not my job” and “No.”

That’s how she does both. She cuts past the fat and eats only the richest meat at home and at work. She always focuses on what matters most. It never feels like enough, but in a dozen years she won’t feel like she cheated our schools or her daughter. 

I’ve mapped out my work calendar more thoroughly than ever before. I’ve blocked off time for what matters most, especially this math intervention, followed by my foundational state of the union meetings, followed by managing our family engagement work, capped of with our leader development program. Everything else will fall away like the chaff from the wheat. The chaff, unfortunately, would still be good. It might even make bread. 

But Aria and DH. I won’t trade them for another loaf. Aria has a whole lifetime of good ahead. I intend to guide her there through a million moments and acts of love. 

I only get so much time with her– the weekend, the mornings, two hours at night. So the best I can do is make all my time rich. I’ll never get more of it. 

I just need to steal enough moments when DH and Aria are with the grandparents and I can study my math. Not too many to feel absent to those I love, but not too few to let those 80% fail. 

Does that sound right? I hope so. It’s so hard. So complicated. But getting this right, this balance in me and in my life,is perhaps the most important thing I will ever figure out. 

“Mommy, I need to go to the potty” – the birth of a first sentenceย 

I’m 90% certain that phrase came straight from Aria’s mouth last night as Aria was protesting bedtime. 

I stared at her in shock and it had nothing to do with potty training. 

I could never fathom what it might be like when parents say their child didn’t talk and then started in full sentences. 

A month ago I visited a friend whose similar aged son was saying things like “I’m so sophisticated” and “please hand me the tractor.” Aria was stuck on five or so words total. “Mommy,” “Daddy,” “Aria,” “Bye,” “Mine,” “More,” and “Milk.” Her most complex phrase was “Bye Dada” and she would get annoyed when I’d ask her to say words. 

Stupidly, I took her to the doctor, worried that the six months of ear infections may have hurt her language development. She referred us to an in-home assessment. 

But Aria made such complex sounding phrases and chatter. 

And I know kids develop at different paces. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. The wires in the brain just one moment fuse together and suddenly your baby is laughing or pointing at dogs or using sign language or imagining as she reads or pretending to cook. One moment the play kitchen is just a bunch of doors to open. The next it’s a stove and sink and she’s getting water from a play faucet and pretending to drink from it. 

Aria is astonishing me daily like this. And I can tell language, sign and verbal, is starting to click. 

A couple days ago Aria showed me her water bottle. In an unexpected hand gesture, she illustrated turning and pulling off the lid, then eyed me eyed me expectantly. 

Then later that day she made a hand gesture like a slide to explain she wanted us to go down the stairs on our bottoms. 

It makes me appreciate the complexity and beauty of communication. Never really paid attention before. 

And yes, in the morning, Aria asked me again, albeit with a cringe and a point to her diaper and a call to my name. 

Only this time she was triumphant. 

What a remarkable week!

Childlike Wonder: Lurray Caverns and Circ De Soleil

My sister T told me once that her favorite thing about our mom was her unceasing childlike wonder at the world. It was something she never grew out of. After my mom died, T told me that then became her favorite thing about me. 

After Addison’s, I’ve felt my endless zeal and energy becoming much more tempered and focused. I almost think I’ve lost my childlike wonder sometimes. The adult in me even tries to message to my brain that I don’t need to know or wonder about things like trees or a feathered dinasaur tail captured in amber for the first time. 

But then there’s Aria. She makes it all matter all over again. 

Moreover, I’m so sillily surprised at how entranced she gets by new and marvelous things, even though she has no context or understanding of what they are. 

This fall when we visited Lurray Caverns, I was surprised by her excitement and awe at each new formation. She squealed with delight and clapped her hands. She pointed and wore a most enthusiastic smile.


She had no notion of a cave. 

It didn’t matter. 

It was amazing. She didn’t need me to tell her that. 

At 18 months, she could appreciate the wonder of it all by herself. 


Tonight we took Aria to Circ de Soleil in Quebec. DH had been opposed at first — “It’s like the least Canadian thing we can do!” Then our food tour guide yesterday introduced himself, “My name is Jacques and I am from Baie St Paul, a small city in North East Quebec and the birthplace of Circ de Soleil!” 

For once in my marriage, DH totally ate his words!

Anyway. 

Aria was entranced. At first, as a gleaming building sized red egg shook and flashed in the middle of the stage amidst whirling music, Aria began to wail. 

And then out stepped a insect-like conductor with pied wings on his back, long curled toes, and bobbing antanae from a bald head. A swarm of other colored insects took the stage. Grasshoppers with angled green legs bending at the backs of the normal human legs. Playful red ants with tiny antanae and lovely grins. A curvy lady bug with bright polka dots and darling red wings. 



Aria was entranced. She laughed out loud at the costumed insects. 

She sat in my arms for a while. Then had to get closer. She moved down a row and hung against the railing, her head leaned against her folded arms and her eyes fixated on the stage. 


She by the second act, she was clapping after each performance with the crowd. 

It was like that for an hour. 

At intermission, I tried to get her to go to sleep, but she wanted to go back in. She wanted to see the end, though it was an hour past her bedtime. 


Again. She had no notion of a circus. But she loved it. It was new and colorful and fascinating. That’s all she needed to fall in love with the performance. 

I don’t know why this surprised me, how someone so little could enjoy so many different, but new experiences. 

I wish she could remember them. 

I wonder how experiences like these impact her long run. 

I just don’t know. 

But I do know that I love it, that there was no real thought of leaving Aria home as we went off and fled to Canada for Thanksgiving. We just like it better with her. 

She just makes everything so new. 

She restores the wonder within me. 

Painter

Slowly, but surely, Aria is beginning to understand watercoloring. Reminds me of my mom, with whom Aria shares a middle name. It’s nice too, because art transcends death. It outlasts us. It remembers even when we do not. 


Imagination 2: Plucking fruit from the tree on the wall

I admit, I didn’t think she knew or noticed the big white tree painted on her nursery wall. 

It’s been there since before she was born. I never told her it was a tree. I never even pointed it out. 


At first, I thought she’d found some random scrap of food on the changing table. I checked her mouth and her fingers, worried about what I would find. 

Then she did it again. 

She pinched her fingers against the painted leaf and popped another imaginary berry in her mouth. And then she grinned. 

I feel silly I was surprised that she understands representations of things. That’s what books are full of. And she’d learned from her book that trees have fruit and that the fruit can be picked and eaten. 

I grabbed my camera. 

“Can you do it again?”

She picked it and ate it. 

Just like in her book. 

Amazing. 

Sleeping Through the Night :)

Oh yeah. Feeling successful. Honestly, just having a strategy that feels right and that we’re agreed on feels great. Add pretty quick results and I’m on cloud nine. Maybe it’s the full eight hours I got the last two nights for the first time in months. Maybe it’s the taste of just a little success. 

It was hard, but we knew exactly what we’re were going to do, so it was easy too. Put out a spread a dinner, set new foods alongside familiar foods, with enough to ensure she could get adequate calories, but learn that she can’t choose her mealtimes or add to her menu options. 

She downed her pizza spaghetti squash casserole! Go dad!! Then happily fed me her veggies ๐Ÿ˜‰ At least she loves the green smoothies!

Suddenly she was more hungry and thirsty at breakfast. Yesterday she accepted that she had to wait in her seat while breakfast and dinner were brought to her. 

We also stayed consistent in the night with the timer. Also made sure to peace out before she could fall asleep holding my hand ๐Ÿ˜ฆ She figured out after a couple long stretches not getting her demands met that there just wasn’t any point to heralding mom or dad in the middle of the night. 

We’ll see how long it lasts. I mean, we still got those three canines and the terrible twos!

Game Plan: Culture Reset

After my rather mopey post last night and a much-needed day in the grind working from home, I was ready to pull my self-punishing head out of the sand and talk strategy with Papa Bear. 

We read articles, read comments from friends online, and then went back and forth and back and forth for about three hours until we’d settled on, agreed upon, and normed on our suite of strategies and policies. 

Some we’d already been employing with 75% fidelity. Others less. A few others used to be policy, but in the face of changing winds, had dropped to mitigate growth spurts, teething pains, or night awareness. 

That’s how it is with kids. They throw you new curve balls as they develop and change. Like my middle schoolers at work, emerging in their new sense and awareness of injustice and the beginnings of teenage hormones intensifying their reactions. They’re changes require new skills and new levels of self-regulation. They need somewhere to focus that energy, in leader or sports or classes that inspire them. They need adults that listen to their claims of injustice enough to be able to get them to expand their world view. And they need boundaries. Firm ones. Consistent one. Boundaries they can rely on as they learn new tools of self-regulation. Like accepting a teacher’s directions, but asking to talk to her after class so he can explain how the seat she moved him to makes it difficult to concentrate. 

So back to my toddler. Where DH and I landed is what my very astute boss might call a “culture reset.” You make changes, bend policies, and respond inconsistently in the face of difficulty. House or classroom culture goes off the rails. Little corrections won’t fix things. Everyone has to agree on and believe in the rules again. And that means struggle, firmness. It means total alignment of adult wills and strategies. This is how my boss turned the lowest performing elementary school in the district into one of its standard bearers. It’s how she’s kept our other school from going off the rails this year. 

Who knew I’d learn something about parenting like this?

Here’s our suite of policies:

Dinner 

  • No snacks within two hours of dinner
  • Involve Aria in the cooking where possible 
  • Make all eating at the dinner table. Bring food to Aria rather than letting her go to the fridge and demand stuff
  • Distract with activities, not fruit, until meals are ready
  • Set time for dinner where we all stay at the table, even if Aria is done or uninterested in eating
  • Add most of the healthy snacks as part of the dinner menu, so they sit alongside the more meal-like foods and create positive associations 
  • No pushing eating. Our job is to offer good foods, Aria’s job is to decide when she’s ready to eat them
  • Introduce more finger foods for meals
  • Always talk positively about the food
  • Limit fluid consumption in the evening and increase in the morning 

Night Time

  • Use more absorbant night diapers
  • Don’t allow Aria to fall asleep with me in the room
  • Leave when Aria is close, but not all the way to sleep
  • Wait twelve minutes before answering a cry
  • Use a timer (this is excruciating)
  • No food for two rounds of cry answering. Milk and a small snack on the third. 
  • Take turns. Mom first two times. Dad third time. 

3:39. She woke up at 3:01, which is later than most nights in the past few weeks. Been to the room twice to console her. She wrestled and fought for a while before I could calm her down. She even started calling for dad. We went in to see him and when he also didn’t take her downstairs for a snack, she calmed down. 

She melted down after I rocked her for a while, put her down, and then left the room. Monitoring her closely. She’s starting to climb the rails. 

It’s 4:35 now. We’ve been following the night policies since she woke up at 3am. Just offered milk and five goldfish. Crying for us to come. Setting the timer for the fourth time. 
4:40. And Out. 

DH warned me it would be hard. He verified my commitment after we’d agreed on everything. I was a bit offended, but yeah. It was important. 

Hopefully this culture reset doesn’t take too long. I’m tired. But at least I’m tired and hopeful!

Broken Sleep. Failing all over the place.ย 

I’m just making it worse. Everything I’m doing leads to endless nights of broken sleep. The more exhausted I get, the more I struggle to get it right. 

I can’t get her to eat in the evenings. We’re trying everything. We’re making all sorts of delicious home cooked meals. We try buffet style, casseroles, soups, and simple. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. She won’t eat anything. At best I’ll get her to have a yogurt and some fruit. Then I talk to my friend and she’s talking about  how much her son loves lentils and everything else she makes and already knows all his upper case letters. And how he runs to take his nap in the afternoon because he loves taking naps. Her son is three days older then Aria. And then I really feel like Aria needs a new mom. 

Then it’s seven thirty in the evening. Aria gets super thirsty right before bed and downs a lot of milk or water. 

Then I ease her to sleep, holding her hand. Too often I hold for too long and she falls asleep with me there. Stupid. Sentimental. Tired. Detrimental. 

And then the awful night begins again. 

Starving at 11

Lonely at 1 

Super wet diaper at 3

Starving at 4:30

At 11 I try to keep her in bed, but she melts and desperately signs for food. Fifty percent of the time I cave. Bye bye 30 minutes from the initial cry away to the eating to the post cry. 

At 1, I’m steadfast. I let her cry for ten minutes then let her know I’m hearing her cries. Then tell her night night. Bye bye thirty minutes of sleep. 

At 3 I’m exhausted. I go in after three minutes. I see how wet her diaper is and change it. She’s really fussy. I lay down to calm her. I fall asleep on the floor beside her. In the chill of the morning, I drift in and out of sleep for an hour or so, then finally pull myself up and trudge to bed. 

Fifteen minutes later, she’s melting down. I hear the hunger in her cry. 

I finally solicit DH’s help. We set the time for fifteen minutes. Her meltdown escalates with each passing minute. Finally the buzzer goes off. DH takes her downstairs and gives her a yogurt. It takes another five minutes after that for her to fall asleep. 

I am wide awake. The night is over. It is 5AM. Another failed night of my own making. 

Rinse and repeat. Going on maybe four weeks of this pattern. Every three months since she was born we get a new pattern, finally win after two months of desperate struggle. Sleep okay for a few weeks then it starts all over again. 

Still waiting for those last two canines to pop through her gums…

Seeds of Imagination

Yesterday I was reading a book about picking fruits and vegetables and eating them. When we got to the page about the blueberry bush, Aria reached out, plucked a blueberry from the tree and popped it in her mouth. In the evening, she did the same thing with an apple while daddy was reading. 


A couple of months ago, Aria started “play” — pretending to feed and take care of dolls. 

These moments with the blueberries and apple seems somehow different. There was no fruit or bush, just a book. Somehow the page came alive in her imagination. 

Creating a world all my own was the best part of childhood. I find myself oh so very eager to see the world Aria creates, the world she is only just beginning to see. 

Books. That’s a big part of this. She loves them more than anything. We read a set morning noon and night. She seems to understand them more and more each time we read, each one planting the first seeds of imagination. 


I never was a big reader or lover of books, but I’m starting to understand the love all these reading teachers in my schools have for reading. With each read and reread, the world gets bigger and more interesting. What a gift it is to see it from the start with my own daughter. 

Potty Trained by Two? Challenge Accepted!

You probably don’t want to know what I do in the bathroom, so be grateful you’re not Aria. For several months I’ve been quite explicit. “Mommy is … Look, the … just went in the toilet. Mommy has underwear — I doesn’t need a diaper because I … in the toilet. Look how cute my undies are!”

I bought two kinds of potty training toilets — a little freestanding green one and a toilet seat with a magnetic training toilet that can be dropped down. I showed her these and how special they were. I even had the neighbor kids sit on the freestanding toilet right after we got it to demonstrate. 

Periodically since then, whenever I see Aria …, I take her to the potty and set her on top, diaper and all. Just helping her to get the idea and avoiding traumatizing her by pulling her pants off and demanding action!

A couple of weeks ago, I got a storybook about a girl potty training. Aria was not interested. 

Then last night Aria saw the book on the stairs and asked me to read it. She seemed totally engrossed, but all of the sudden, in the middle of the story, she left and headed up the stairs. 


I frowned and followed. 

That’s when I found her climbing up onto the toilet. She pointed to her diaper and said “Ca ca!” I asked if I could take her diaper off. She nodded and I set her back on the seat. I showed her how to make a … face. 

And low and behold! 

She farted!

We clapped! 

“Yay!” she cried. 

Then we flushed the empty toilet together. 

We did this three times today. I even caught her in the process of a number 1 so I could tell her what she was doing. She was happy to get on the toilet, even though I knew she was already done. 

So, maybe I will get to meet DH’s challenge and have her potty trained by 2!  I’ve got four and a half more months left. 

But really, really. No pressure. Only when she’s interested. 

Only when she has her … game face on!

Yay!

Will you hold my hand?

When you want to walk 

Standing straight and tall

Down the stairs, Up a hill,

Far away, not far at all,

You take my hand in yours. 

When you feel alone

When it’s late at night

The lights are out

Reaching out,

You take my hand in yours. 

Sitting at breakfast 

Or reading a book

I don’t know why

Or what you’re trying to say

As you reach to take my hand in yours. 

But I feel so warm 

And feel so loved

It changes me for good. 


First day of school?

On your wedding day?

In times of loss?

At my nursing home?
The day I pass?
Will you take my hand in yours? 
A life well lived, joy and hope, if the answer, 

dearest Aria, 

is yes. 

She may not realize it. But she just weaned herself.ย 

We were down to a single morning feeding. Yesterday and today, she forgot about it. Interestingly, she also just started showing attachment to stuffed animals in the last week. 


So, at three am, she took a yogurt pouch. At 5:30 am, she picked up Pooh Bear from beside her in the crib. I asked her if she wanted breakfast, she laughed and nodded. 

We went downstairs. And that’s it. She’s weaned. I’m pretty confident my boobs won’t hold out another day. They’re asking to nurse, like a warm, nurturing buzz. But it’s more of a whisper than it has been before. 

All the Brewers yeast and fennel oil and oatmeal and tears fighting the feeling that I just wasn’t ample enough for Aria. The pumping six times a day to bring in 12 ounces of milk to provide half the milk Aria was drinking. Finally letting go and accepting it was just fine. 

Five pumps, four pumps, three pumps, two. Pump in the car ride. Pump at night. Pump, pump, pump, pump, pump. 

Three pumps, two pumps, one pump. None! No more in the teachers lounge, oh what fun!

12 nursings. 10 nursings. 5 nursings. Two. Comfort nursings. Nap nursings. Just for you. 

Nursing. Nursing. Middle of the night nursing. Let’s get started with the morning is bright nursing. 

Two nursings. One nursing. Cuddle in the morning nursing. 

Now lookie here. Let’s count to none. 

18 months and Aria is done.