Thursday, January 30, 2014

More than a Pretty Face

It was a pivotal moment for my fourth grade dream to one day become a beautiful actress. 

We were on our second round of The Babysitters Club Game
My older, tall and lean, olive-skinned neighbor friend drew her playing card:
If you had to choose between being really pretty or really smart, which would you choose?

And do you know what she said?
Well, I'd much rather be pretty. But since I'm already really pretty, I guess I'd choose to be smart.

I can't be sure, but I'm almost positive I threw my game piece at her face.
Or maybe I just thought about it. 

{Way to encourage intelligence, drive, and self-esteem, Milton Bradley.} 

Either way, that was a defining moment for me. 
From that point forward, in my own fourth grade understanding, I knew that I never wanted my self-worth to be tied to appearance. 
And I was also quite confident that it was possible to be pretty and smart. 

That being said, I am no women's right activist. 
I would never think about burning my bras. {They're way too expensive}. 
Nor do I have the hopes to one day show all my male corporate counterparts who's the boss. 
And I'm definitely not the girl who never wears makeup and rarely shaves her armpits.


But I do have a problem with our celebrity-obsessed culture of trying to achieve fictional perfection. We're trying to look like someone we're not. Buying clothes that we can't afford. And putting way more focus on how we look than who we are. 

Take the other night for example. We were chatting with a friend's girlfriend who is a high school teacher at an all-girl school in Australia. Her class had to complete an assignment on their biggest hero - a woman whom they looked up to and wanted to emulate. She was so excited to get their responses, being that she's a history teacher. But nearly the entire class wrote about Miley Cyrus or Kim Kardashian. I'm sorry. What?

And I'll take this moment to go right ahead and confess. I totally get sucked into the addictive Kardishian vortex from time to time. But heroes? Hardly. 

And now we have this daughter. A 17 month old who is the girliest of girls. And I secretly LOVE that about her. I adore that she enjoys being in the kitchen and loves accessories just as much as her mom. I love that she squeals when it's time to pick out her shoes and pretends to put on mom's makeup. And I am absolutely smitten by our mother-daughter relationship. Just thinking of our future girls-only shopping trips, hair tip exchanges, slumber parties, boy advice, and prepping for school dances makes me positively giddy. And I don't think there's anything in this whole world more fun than dressing my little girl. 

Toddler fashion is an addiction, I tell you. 

However. And I do mean a giant HOWEVER, it is our goal to teach Lyla that beauty is more than just being pretty. So much more. It's using your imagination, learning, trying new things, exploring, accomplishing, being a good friend, embracing unique, nurturing a relationship with God, and loving, helping and accepting others.

We want her to know true beauty.

But truth be told, this concept is often difficult to instill within girls. Because from an early age, they are bombarded with a false sense of beautiful. Someone once challenged me to think about "small talk" I make with little girls versus little boys. And it's so true. When you see a little girl, the first thing you say is, what an adorable dress or you have the prettiest eyes or you are so beautiful! And of course I can't help but feel a twinge of pride when I hear how cute my kid is, but I also want to hear how smart/helpful/interesting she is!! 

So even though I am quite frankly obsessed with being a girl mom, I want to try really hard to encourage more than twirling in tutus. I mean, let's be honest, Lyla will never be a rough and tumble kind of gal. But it makes me so happy that one of her favorite things to play with is her buddy's toy cars. Or that she is so proud when she rolls or throws a ball, in that awkward toddler kind of way. Or that she spends 45 minutes figuring out how to fit pieces of something together.

Those things are just as fun as dolls and pretties {GiGi's word for jewelry}. 

So in addition to learning about how to do a mean fishtail braid or 6 ways to tie a scarf, we will also learn about history and nature and language and cultures. Because what's a pretty face without a big ol' brain to back it up?!?!

Needless to say, I'm beyond thrilled that one of the hot topics in education is placing more importance on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects in elementary school - especially with girls! There's a huge gender gap when it comes to STEM careers, and this movement hopes to lend support for a more balanced workforce. Despite the fact {or maybe in spite of the fact} that I was absolutely terrible in all STEM subjects, I am a full supporter of this influence. These subjects are crucial, and in the past, girls have not always been encouraged to pursue or even explore them. But luckily that mentality is changing because some of my most inspirational friends are gorgeous engineers!

Of course I'll be proud no matter the path Lyla decides to take in life. If she decided to paint herself purple and call herself an artist, I'd be showing off her work to everyone I knew. But I also think it would be pretty awesome if she turned out to be an electrical engineer. Or a neuroscientist. Or a financial planner. 

And if she ever has to complete an assignment about her biggest hero, I'd be super stoked if she said someone like Debbie Sterling. Talk about inspiring. I am absolutely obsessed with Debbie's cause - to get more girls to tap into their engineering strengths through Goldiblox, the cutest girliest construction set toys for girls. 

But seriously, have you seen the marketing for these things?


There is sheer brilliance in engaging kids at an early age in not-so-fun subjects. And that is exactly why I retracted my teasing comments for my husband when he came home with a turtle game geared at toddlers to teach them the basics of computer programming. As much grief as I gave him, I actually see the value in this clever little game.

Besides, you never know. Maybe one day a high school girl will have reason to write about Lyla as her hero.
And {God-willing} it won't be because of how she looks in a mini skirt.
But because of her real beauty, as evidenced by her scientific and mathematical talents.

**Edited to add: My bestie just informed me that Goldiblox will be a featured commercial during the Super Bowl. Uh. Big deal. SO HAPPY for them!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Spring Tease

I've never come across a flirty tease quite like spring.

I can just feel the warm sunshine and gentle breeze thinking about it.
Probably because we caught a glimpse this weekend.
Only to be completely cold-shouldered this morning.
Waking up to a brutal 16°.

Rude, Spring. Rude.

Although, I guess it is only January 27th.

But still.

I even took the day off work. Granted, it was to give my sick Beans lots of extra snuggles. But a little bit of sunshine wouldn't have hurt. Thankfully, the doctor was able to squeeze us in because Little Miss has a sinus and an ear infection. There is absolutely nothing more pathetic than a goopy-eyed, coughing toddler. Nothing, I tell you. Although I can't really complain. I'd say we dodged *several* bullets, seeing that Lyla is 17 months old and just now receiving her first antibiotic.

So in "light" of all the gloom that surrounds us today, I'm going to focus on cheerful! on fun! on bright! And what better way to bring on the cheer than to do a little virtual spring shopping for my toddler while she naps.

I would hardly call myself fashionable. However, I sure would say I like dressing my kid. My own child has a wardrobe I would eat worms for. I can't help it. Have you seen all the spring goodness lately? Oh my Heavens.

Although I have to remember my goal for the year. I'm really, really, really trying to focus on being intentional in all that I do - especially with money. So for now, I have a lot of things in my online shopping carts. But I'm trying to space out my shopping, wait for sales, and just wait in general (rather than being click-happy with every fun thing I see).

If I had to choose one adjective to describe myself, it would definitely be excitable. And if you know me at all, you know it really doesn't take a lot. That being said, sometimes I just get so *excited* that I can be a bit impulsive. Yes, I'm an impulsive planner. And a walking contradiction. Anyway. I'm trying to be more level headed and tame my shopping excitement. So, my rule of thumb is if I leave something in my cart and still love it a week later, then it's probably a good purchase.

And I'm a creature of habit. So I tend to stalk my go-to stores for most of Ly's clothes while I wait for sales. And I rarely buy something if it's not on sale. It has to be absolutely spectacular for it to not be. {Thank you, GapCard and Target CartWheel}!!! And I also give myself pep talks on why it's ok for my toddler to have a better wardrobe than her mom. Rather than focus on the fact that she will wear these clothes for about 1/85 of her life. But goodness gracious, you only live once.

So here are a few little diddies that are currently in my cart{s}.
And I'm going to be really good.
We'll see if they're still there next week. ;)

Friday, January 24, 2014

17 Months

17 Months Old: 01/19/14

Miss Beans

If a genie granted me a repeat of any month of your life to date, it would totally be this one. 

It was so fantastic. So special. 
And then we blinked and you were 17 months. 

We really feel like you have grown up overnight.  
There was no easing into it.  Just bam - little adult. 

I think a big part of the change to insta-toddler is because you went so long without being mobile. To the point where I would often dread the sympathy Oh, she'll take off in no time or the silent She's not walking yet? glancesAnd though laced with a smidgen of fear and concern, we were still confident you would eventually walk in your own timing. But it was still a bit uncomfortable {on our end only} when we would have playdates with your little friends. Because only then would it be made blatantly obvious that you were behind the others with your gross motor skills. 

But now that you've mastered walking over the last couple of months, we can't keep up with you! No one would ever even know you started crawling 3 months after your cohorts. You can keep up with your two year old friends, you're practically running, and your new favorite pastime is climbing up and down stairs. 

And that's all it took.
You have so much more confidence with your new skills. 
And just like that, you grew up.

Other factoids from the month:
  • You are a girly girl through and through. You love combing your hair, "putting in" your hair bows, playing with Mommy's shoes, rocking and feeding your baby, and having tea parties with Samson. That being said, just because you're girly doesn't mean we don't encourage blocks! and cars! and science-y things! {I'm quite passionate on this topic. Post to come, I'm sure}. But I love when you do things that show off your genius-ness, like when you match shapes in your shape book and puzzle. Or when you put lids on things. Girls can be smart too!
  • You have opinions, and you're not afraid to express them. And of course the ones you choose to express are those of distaste. You do not like diaper changes. You are not a morning person. You sure as heck do not like brushing your teeth. And food? Forget about it. I have no idea where in the world my non-picky, exotic-food-loving baby went. It's a guessing game every day. Which makes it incredibly difficult when you have about a 3 second window of patience before you begin pacing, pointing to your mouth and yelling EAT, EAT!
  • It still amazes me at how well you follow directions. And it always catches me off guard because you get so frustrated when we can't understand what you're trying to say. But you sure understand us. You are able to point to just about every body part when I quiz you. You come toddling out of a room when I tell you to come here. You shut the cabinet doors when we ask, even when you're desperate to explore inside. And you give me whatever it is I ask you to hand over - Lyla, give me those toe nail clippers, please
  • There are a few things you do at this phase that are so cute I could scream. Like when you are really tired, you just lie down in the middle of the floor and start sucking your thumb.  Or how you see yourself in the mirror or in a picture and proudly say La-La. Or when I ask you to give me a hug and a kiss, and you walk straight over, squeeze me really hard, and plant one right on my lips. Ahh. I die. 
  • I have finally *and happily* accepted that you are a homebody. Nothing makes you happier than quiet time at home. Of course you love your little friends, going out and about, and music class, but you just really love some "you time" too. I've finally found the answer to your toddler melt-downs. Just a few minutes of quiet time by yourself and you immediately calm down. Or like last week at music class. I was so sad because you just weren't yourself and didn't seem to enjoy yourself like you usually do. But the moment we walked in the door at home, you were an energetic maniac. Running through the house giggling and squealing. An introvert, perhaps? 
  • My favorite developmental skills to watch {or hear} is your expanding vocabulary. Some words you repeat after I say them, but most you say out of the blue after you've mastered them. And some words you say once or twice, and then we won't hear them again for a month or two. But your favorite word far and beyond this month is eat. A few others include poo poo, boots, cracker, bow, GiGihead, happy, hat, achoo (from a song in music class), and amen. And you started saying phrases like bye-bye poo-poo and Hi Zeke (Pops and Gigi's dog). And your new word for words you haven't quite mastered is consistently da-loll-lello. ???
  • You sure do love Sunday school. You start kicking your legs and dancing when we walk in. And I'm always relieved to get your little "report card" that tells me your mood was "happy". I'm admittedly nervous every time we drop you off because you are still - yes still - taking two naps during the day. And Sunday school is smack-dab in the middle of your morning nap. And sometimes they serve Cheerios. And you hate Cheerios. {What kid hates Cheerios, you ask? Mine. That's who}. Oh. And you have started folding your hands during dinner and bedtime prayers followed by the sweetest amen {ah-meh} I ever did hear. I can't even handle.
  • And a Few Fast Facts: No clue on your weight and height, but you're comfortably in 12-18 month clothing, size 3-4 shoes, size 4 diaper, you have 12 teeth. 

Next month, you will be one and a half years old.

And I don't want to talk about it. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thought Spewing

Sometimes my thoughts are like one vast run-on sentence.

Which makes me cringe seeing that I am nerdily obsessed with grammar.
{And yes I like to make up words that seem more appropriate than real ones.}
I just have so much to think, so much to say, to the point where my sweet husband has to remind me that I have covered roughly 7 topics in one sentence.

But then, when life slows down just enough to catch a breath, my thoughts take a quick reprieve as well. Admittedly, it feels odd when my mind takes a break. Like a blank essay staring back at me. But once I finally get going, I can't stop.

Hence the sporadic blog posts as of late.
It's January. And cold. And a lot of indoor nothing-ness.
And it makes me feel like my brain can't quite function.

So I sat down, took a good look inside this head of mine, and actually thought about what I've been thinking about lately.

Good old metacognition {a teaching buzzword for thinking about your thinking}.

And mine goes a little something like this.

-- The past couple of weekends have been so delightful that I've completely forgotten to snap any pictures. Aren't those just the best? And we didn't even do anything breakthrough, just spent quality time with some of our favorite people and had some really special moments with Ly. And except for a basketball game with friends, not a single moment was social media-lized. I sometimes have to remind myself that just because something wasn't documented via social media doesn't mean it didn't happen. #generationyproblems
Ready to cheer on *the undefeated* black and yellow

-- Speaking of social media, I'd really like to start making a more conscious effort to put down my phone. Seriously why do I feel the need to check my smart phone every 15 seconds? You'd think I was waiting for the biggest news of the decade or something. And sadly, it's become muscle memory at this point. I've got a spare 7 seconds, better check Instagram. Waiting for my pot roast to microwave, better check Facebook. Sometimes, something will snap Gabe and I out of our social media induced comas and we realize we haven't spoken in nearly 20 minutes as we've been too busy scrolling our phones. We should definitely take a phone-and-media-free vacation, but then what would we talk about? {Totally kidding. But seriously, I need to be better about this.}
So getting this for Gabe via Emily McDowell Inc.

-- Instead of grandiose resolutions, I have set a personal goal or two. One of them is to be intentional, specifically with money and time. Since overcommitting is embedded into my psyche, being intentional about the things I take on is a fairly new concept for me. Other than walking into a room of clutter, saying no is probably the hardest thing in the entire world for me. Because of this, I tend to burn out very easily. I go into something full force until I absolutely can't stomach it any longer. Unfortunately, this is what happened with teaching {50% of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years for this exact reason, and there is nothing more infuriating than knowing that I became a statistic.} However. I have done some major fat-trimming in my life recently. And so far, I've done a great job of being intentional, which has led to the destined mecca of balance and even saving some cash money *cha-ching*.  It's also allowed me to experiment in the kitchen, go to a movie, AND read books that aren't teaching or baby related. Oh the joy!
My second movie since Lyla's been born

-- Now that I've been blessed with a toddler who is the girliest of girls, I really need to step it up in the glamour department. It's time to stop putting all of my energy in my mini fashionista, and put a teensie bit back into me. I mean seriously. I haven't cut my hair in over four months. I recently removed the nail polish off my toes from the pedicure I got back in August. My winter wardrobe consists of nothing but chunky sweaters and leggings. I've worked out maybe 4 times in the last 6 months. And the last time I got Fancy Nancy'ed was for my husband's company Christmas party. Maybe January makes me feel meh. Maybe I like cozy. Regardless, it's time to start making an effort.
Mesmerized by Mommy's 4 inch split-ends

-- Our house projects have sadly fallen victim to my burn-out issues. When we first moved into our house, we unexpectedly went full-throttle into some major renovation projects. We were completely in over our heads and still have never-ending to-do's that we'd like to tackle. So finally, after about a year and a half hiatus, we're ready to hop back in the saddle. And we often remind ourselves that you do in fact only live once, so we get a little wild and spend our Friday evenings sanding and painting trim and doors. And with our recent decision to stay in our house longer than originally anticipated and a slight tweak in my attitude, I'm really starting to appreciate and even love our house. We still have some big{ish} updates we'd like to take on, but in the interim, I'd like to make some simple changes. Like new throw pillows. I just can't decide if I want neutral chic or a fun pop of color.

I still have yet to order something from Joss & Main, but aren't these cute?

That felt good. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Terrible Ones. {And eating my words.}

Someone could have warned me, you know.

Or maybe some have tried to warn me, but I've been too busy naively thinking We're totally going to dodge the bullet on this one. Our soft-spoken, dainty little puddin' will never throw tantrums or act toddler-y. She's too mature for that. 

Of course I don't really think those things, but we sure were completely blindsided last week. Because I really was under the impression that we had at least until Lyla's second birthday before we encountered real defiance. I mean, aren't they called the terrible twos?

That's just one bad case of false advertising, if you ask me.
Kind of like the paradox of "morning" sickness.

But seriously though. Our sweet Miss Beans recently decided to catch us completely off guard and confront us with behaviors we weren't prepared to deal with until well into her teenage years.

And I'm just going to come right out and say it. Last week humbled me in a tail-between-the-legs kind of way as I found myself eating every word I've ever said {or mostly thought} about other parenting "tactics".  And you have to remember I was a teacher. A position where you have prime view of all parenting styles. And where you see the very best and the very worst in kiddos. So my unwarranted not-yet-a-parent opinions ran rampant as I often thought I will never let my kid _____ or My kid will never act like that because I will be strict and he/she will know who's boss. 

Never say never, my friends.  

I was a pretty strict teacher, and I feel that I am/will be a strict parent. And by strict, I really mean structured and have clear expectations. Every time my principal came into my classroom, she'd tell me that she rarely saw classrooms run so smoothly,  and that it was clear my students were engaged and learning at all times. If I successfully wrangle a classroom of nearly 30 children, I thought to myself, parenthood will be a breeze.

I ought to go back and slap that girl.

Parenthood is difficult. And although I'm still a very firm believer in rules, consequences, structure, and letting your child fail, I still have no clue what I'm doing. Because it really is one lifelong learning curve. And the moment you finally master one thing, your kid does a complete 180 and leaves you back where you started.

In the dust. 

And we've just begun the toddler years.

Fortunately, we've been blessed with a pretty laid-back tot. Lyla has always been such a mellow, easy-going kid.
Until the moment she is NOT.
She has about a .03 second tolerance window between happy-go-lucky to downright monster beast. She breathes fire when she is hungry, tired, or uncomfortable in any way. So she is pretty much a typical toddler. And her frustration-filled moments are always fleeting, as she immediately resorts back to her sweet angel self with a simple distraction or a tickle of the tummy.

That is, until last week.

At first, it was comical. We've simply never seen such irrational behavior. For instance, one second Lyla was rocking and kissing her baby and the next she was a hysterical hot mess pushing and hitting Samson while yelling "NO". All because he brought her his toy. {Like he has every day for the last 16 months.} Or when her banana was on her placemat instead of her plate and she burst into tears. She cried so hard, we had to remove her from the table. Or when she refused to put her shirt on and started screaming and flailing her arms. I firmly grabbed them while she fought and tried to keep flailing, and I told her we do not throw tantrums . Once I relaxed my grip, she stopped fussing, looked up at me, and slo-o-o-wly lifted one arm in the air. Just to test me.

And what did I do?
I burst out laughing, of course.
{not recommended}

Last week was full of dreaded firsts. Flailing arms. Balled fists. Throwing herself on the floor. Shaking her head and saying "NO". Holding her breath and making her body shake. Falling apart at the slightest frustration. Hitting. Disobeying. And throwing food out of anger.

Well what do you know?
My dough-eyed angel demonstrated normal-ish toddler behavior last week.

Sadly, the majority of these haggard tantrums have revolved around food. And I can assure you, our child eats plenty {at least double what I eat}. But even with an already-full plate, she desperately pleads to "EAT" and signs "MORE" until someone gives her more food. Even my mother-in-law had a difficult time last week and described Lyla's newfound actions as confusing because everything was so completely uncharacteristic. She *gasp* had to take an apple away until Lyl calmed down. You know things are bad when GiGi takes something away. Especially when that something is food.

Also uncharacteristic were our desperate attempts at "discipline". I mean Gabe and I tried everything. We were stern and told her "no". We put her in timeout. We took away food. We slapped her hands. We calmly redirected her. We forcefully held her arms down. We ignored and walked away. We lovingly told her we understood her frustration. And we lost our patience. More than once.

And I had two unforgiving moments where I ate my proverbial words. The judgmental ones where I foolishly thought I knew how to parent before I, in fact, was a parent. Weak Moment #1: I lost my temper and shoved a mouthful of carrots into Lyla's mouth, resulting in the biggest crocodile tears I've ever seen. {and not just Lyla's.} Weak Moment #2: I gave in. I was tired and vulnerable, and I caved. After saying no the first time, I finally gave our screaming child what she wanted. Which I'm pretty sure was her 17th Ritz Cracker. {So that right there was two I will never's: giving my child what she wants only after she screams louder and providing snacks that are are something other than vegetables.}


Now that we've conquered our most difficult parenting week to date, I'm quite confident it was simply an off week. I found myself fiercely clinging to the usual scapegoats: tired? teething? tummy ache? And I nervously tried to convince myself that yes, yes she's teething. There's no way that this new child is my permanent child. Luckily, I think my hunch was at least partially correct because yesterday morning was the first morning in over a week where we didn't have a 20 minute melt-down before 7:00 a.m. And then she willingly gave me not one, but two kisses before bedtime. The kind where she had to walk over to me to dish them out. And tonight, she was back to saying thank you and lovingly petting the dogs.

So maybe there isn't a toddler apocalypse upon us as I suspected. Lyla really was having an off week and naturally acted out as a toddler only knows how. I simply think we've reached the infamous independent threshold. The one where Lyla can't quite communicate what she wants and refuses our help, but still desperately needs our help. She's testing her abilities, but especially her limits. And bottom line, she's trying to figure out these new feelings of frustration.

Lucky for me, Baby Center couldn't have been more timely. Today I received this in an e-mail. It reassured two things 1). That my daughter is completely and totally normal. 2). That Gabe and I have some work to do in the discipline department {as we did two of the things that you must never do when disciplining: lose your cool and give in.}

But at least I can walk away with a slightly deeper understanding of parenthood.
That its learning curve is infinite.
That you do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Even if that means doing something you swore you'd never do.
And when that fails, you try something else.

And then after all of the above, you eat your own words.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Season of Boring

Gabe mentioned something to me during our Saturday morning coffee talk a couple of weeks ago.
Something that's really had my wheel's turning.

This week marks the longest we've ever lived in one place since we've been married.
Exactly one week longer than the time we lived in Rhode Island.

Naturally, it feels a bit odd to not be packing our things.
It was always such a thrill getting news that we were to relocate somewhere we'd never been.
We would immediately spend hours Googling potential neighborhoods and reading Yelp reviews on local coffee shops and cafes.

Moving around provided some of the best years of our married life.
And I'd be lying if I said we don't get the itch every now and then.

Even just over a year ago when I was still pregnant with Lyla, Gabe mentioned the inkling of a desire  to move to a big city with more opportunity, culture, and hustle and bustle.
But as exhilarating as it may be to go in blindly to a new place, I really like being settled, I sure like convenience, and I really like a little thing called family.
I think I'm past my prime for the fast-paced city life, I told him, just like I'm past my prime for roughing it in the wild. I prefer having a car, clean towels, and being less than 5 miles from Target. 

I think after that, he went to the bedroom and cried a little.

And then it occurred to me.
Do I no longer thrive on living life on the edge or by seeking new adventure?

I'm not exactly sure when the switch was flipped.
The switch that made it so I suddenly became *seemingly* a dud.
But it most certainly was flipped somewhere along the line.

Of course having a baby changed a few things: outlook, perspective, priorities, the need for a more supportive bra, and the nap that I will never have again.
And then there was my job-change that offered a much more relaxed change of pace.
And can I count this cold winter as playing a part in my lack of desire to get out and explore the world?
But more than having a baby, changing jobs, and dealing with icky weather, I truly feel like hitting 30 caused the momentous change inside me. A change that was exactly what I {unknowingly} needed. A change that somehow made it ok to do the things that make me happy, even if those things seem stale and insignificant to the young whippersnappers.

Now that I've hit the big 3-oh, I say it's socially acceptable to be boring.
And thank the Lord.
Because I've been waiting on boring for the last 30 years.
I was never cut out for the party scene.
And I'm such an old lady at heart.

But don't be fooled for a second.
Boring, to me, does not actually mean insignificant or mundane.
And it definitely does not mean "not a thing on my plate" or "brutally un-fun".

It simply means more relaxed. Not caring what others think. Doing what makes me happy. Not focusing so much on what makes others happy. Enjoying the small things. Being less self-absorbed. Refining my taste. Experiencing a newfound confidence. Quality of friends over quantity. Wine and coffee. Intelligent conversations. Slowing down to take it all in. Reading interesting {and factual} articles. And accepting the fact that I'm much more of a homebody than I ever realized.

And so what.
I really like books and house projects and movies and lazy weekends {all of which completely describe last Saturday at our house}.

My 21 year old self is horrified.
But my 30 year old self doesn't care.

But this is also the season of life where I have finally let go. I no longer strive to do what I think I'm supposed to do or what I think others think I'm supposed to do. I do what I want to do. I fully embrace this life I've been blessed with. I'm abundantly thankful. When at one time, I wasn't always so grateful. I compared and envied and even felt slighted at times for not being given the same opportunities as others around me. But now that I'm older {and wiser}, I fully believe that regardless of the deck of cards we've been dealt, we ourselves must create opportunities. I've done a lot of growing and a lot of maturing and am fully confident that our circumstances, especially the bad, shape us into the beautiful individuals God intended for us to be.

I'm in a season where I actually like me.

I guess all I'm really trying to say is that growing up really doesn't suck as bad as I thought it was going to. In fact, being a grown up is my most favorite thing ever. I mean, of course I have those days where I would give anything to be back at the ADPi house watching The Bachelor, where my only worry was that I ran out of Diet Coke mid-rose ceremony. But overall, I much prefer this season of life over any other that I've experienced.

I've always loved the changing of seasons. So much that it leaves me to fight my constant intrinsic desire to move onto the next big season and battle my never-ending "need" to accomplish, to do, and to change. But I am humbly reminded to "be still" and savor this time, for this is one season that I'd like to stick around for just a tad bit longer.

Here I am. Just being boring with my Beans. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

16 Months

16 Months Old: 12/19/13

This monthly update is two weeks and one day belated.
And if you know me at all, you know that this fact practically has me in the corner breathing slowly in-and-out into a paper bag.

I like things in order, and I like things done on time.
{Said the girl who will not peek ahead nor turn the page in a magazine until every word on that page has been read.}

It even drives me crazy that the pictures in this post seem "outdated" because your hair is presently about 2 inches longer than it was one month ago.

Needless to say, Mama's been busy.

But last month's post couldn't be skipped.
We had some big happenings.

Someone took her first STEPS. 
On November 30, 2013 to be exact.
At 15 months old.

Yes. Your first steps were taken *ahem* over a month ago, and I'm just now blogging about it.

*Don't deny the fact that you are incredibly jealous of my mommy going-for-a-walk gear. Woof.*

Your dad witnessed the first couple of solo steps taken.
Of course when I rushed into the room, you refused to try it again.
But then you did it for Miss Diana at daycare several times.
But still not for me.
Until finally, I caught you. When you didn't know I was looking, of course.
I've learned to be sneaky to catch you in the act of...anything.

You were so cautious at first, needing lots of praise to boost your confidence.
Now, you are all over the place.
And we're still not used to it.

I lose track of you at least twice a day.

But it's so amazing to see how far you've come!
I was fully prepared to have a "toddler" who didn't yet toddle until a good 18 months.
That was the "cut-off" given to us by the physical therapist, and anything after that would signify a potential developmental delay.
But after working with you and giving you lots of praise to boost your confidence, you finally did it.

And although you may take dozens of tumbles a day, you are now *proudly* walking.
And it's SO MUCH FUN.

Some other notable happenings in month 16...

  • You LOVE pointing to and naming body parts. But you particularly find delight in your belly button. And actually, you don't discriminate. You love all belly buttons and can be found pulling up people's shirts to look for their belly button. You still get a kick out of your "tooooes" and have added "nose" and "ear" to your body part vernacular. And although you don't even try to say the word, you point to your mouth and start making "blub-blub-blub" sounds with your finger and lips to signify "mouth". Oh, and lately, you've been quite interested and have began pointing to your private parts asking me "thiiis???" You're a curious little bean.

  • You are in, what I like to call, the little engineer phase. You like to observe, be explained how things work, and then imitate what you've seen. Any toys that make noise or music, you try to find out where the sound is coming from. And your favorite activities include stacking blocks, attempting to work on puzzles, and putting your wooden rings on their pole. And you already show signs of liking to organize - A daughter after her mother's heart *pitter-pat*! You feel like such a big girl with your special drawer in our kitchen and Gigi's kitchen, and you organize your "dishes" for hours. 
  • I got nervous for a minute this month because you went through a short-lived phase of refusing to wear a bow. You would take it out the moment I put it in. But more than anything, you just liked hiding your bows, finding them, and trying to put them back in your hair. One day, you actually amazed me with your cognitive understanding. You had lost one of your bows, and I could not find it for the life of me. So, I just asked you Lyla, where is your hair bow? while pointing to the bow on your head. And you led me right to it - bent down, looked under the coffee table and pointed. 

  • A few loves this month: playing with toys that makes noise (like your new Russian stuffed animals from Uncle Jeff or your baby doll that giggles), peanut butter toast, being tickled, giving high-fives, going to your room to read books, sneaking food to the dogs, playing with older kids, pushing your baby on your car, and reading Modern Reformation (a bi-monthly magazine dealing with theology) issues at Gigi's - not kidding, you're obsessed. 
  • One of my favorite things *ever* is your sweet little voice. It's so fun to hear you talk. Lately, when you don't know the name of an object, you simply call it a dog. Seriously. We hear it all day long. But in addition to dog and your other favorite words, you have added a few more to your vocabulary. My favorites are when you're trying to describe the temperature. You say hottt while sitting next to the fireplace, when you hear the tea kettle whistle, when we're drinking coffee, or when we blow on your food. And you say brr when we go outside and it's chilly. You also started saying no (especially to Samson), Lyla (pronounced Yah-Yah), toast, apple, ear, pillow, Jesusuh-oh spaghetti-o (I kid you not. But your version is pronounced uh-oh puh-dedd-io), and hoo-hoo (for owl). You have these little owl pj's, and you always start hooting like an owl when you wear them - adorable. 

This is right after Gabe said "Take a pic of me and my girls"

Well there you have it. 
A last-minute, two-week late monthly update. 

I promise to do better next month. 
And I also promise to be just as proud.