Every Direction

I use Instagram for three things: keeping up with all of you (& my non-blog friends), inspiration for my Animal Crossing island (#nerdalert), and parenting information.

Let’s hone in on that last one.

Recently I started following some new (child) sleep experts and questioning every single thing I’ve done for M and her sleep habits. (Fear not- I question my parenting every hour of every day. All parents do…) It got me thinking… when it comes to parenting, advice and research is thrown at you from every direction.

Let’s think about a generic law. You show up to a store at 6:17pm and try the handle, only to find it locked. You notice that they closed at 6pm. What do the laws of the land dictate? You shrug your shoulders, turn around, and try another day. Breaking in would be wrong.

Ok… same situation, but apply the rules of parenting. Door is locked.
Well… some experts would suggest you jiggle the handle. Try tickling or stroking the keyhole to inducing unlocking.
Or you might try talking to the door about why it’s locked and whether or not it thinks that’s a good idea. If you’re more hands on, you might spank the door or shatter its glass to teach the door a lesson in defying you.
Try putting the door in time out and return 2 minutes later to see if anything has changed.
Maybe you don’t believe in locked doors. While locked doors might protect the herd, it’s not good for you and your family. You prefer open doors and plenty of sunshine.
**And there are no true consequences for any approach you take.**

That is a silly example, but it’s how it feels to read conflicting parenting advice on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

“You can’t co-sleep with your kid, you’ll crush them.” // “You put your child in a crib at 4 weeks?? Do you WANT them to die from SIDS?!”

“French fries will poison your toddler.” // “You know they make jar baby food, right? You don’t have to puree like a hippie.”

“Don’t give your child peanut butter(/eggs/fish/etc.) until they’re a year old.” // “Give you baby peanut butter before 6 months to reduce allergic reacts.”

“Breast is best.” // “Fed is best.” // “Goat milk is best.” // “Formula is full of sugar.”

“You must adhere to a strict and early vaccine schedule.” // “Make sure you talk to your doctor about spreading out shots and eliminating unnecessary ones.”

You get it.

It’s exhausting. (Arbitrary rules exist in more than parenthood, but this is trench I’m stationed in right now.) Like… give me a tried and true manual and I will follow the rules. Don’t give me this “Some experts say…” bullshittery.

Also… is fussing the same as crying it out? Because I would argue no but please don’t call the baby sleep police on me.

So what do you do? I don’t know. This isn’t an advice article. I’m just as clueless as the rest of ya.

A while back Kristen commented that she goes by, “Eat the fish, spit out the bones.” I can get on board with that. So here’s my not-tested, nonexpert-approved parenting advice:

Learn who your kid is. It’s tough because babies are potatoes but as they grow and their personalities emerge, change some of your routines and activities to foster their growth (and energy and sleepy cues and hunger pangs).

That’s the best I’ve got. Also- watch out for sleep regression and one-year-molars; they’re a true b*tch. I’ve heard the two-year-molars are just as gnarly. Will report back.

Best of luck, guys.

12 Months (!!) of Madelyn

This is the last of the designated M posts. I’m not planning to do more quarterly updates and this will round out the birthday-related topics. I’ll likely give an 18 month update mid-2021.

On Saturday we had a zoom party for my baby. It was lame, but it was safe, so I’ll take it. She also recognized people on the video so I think she enjoyed herself.

Nicknames: Maddie, Mads, Moo, Maddie Lou, Poodle, Snoots

Stats: Chunky monk is 23 lbs. and over 31.5 in. long. Clothing-wise she’s slowed down a bit and we’re still hanging out in 18 months outfits. (Thank Jesus.) She’s above the 99th percentile in height, though. WOOF.

Likes: Her dad, her dogs, and her stuffed animals. She loves music and dancing, likes to watch the dogs run around inside and out, and loves having her toes eaten. Lol

Dislikes: Shots (duh), being wiped off after a meal, Mom leaving the room, and having dog toys taken away from her. She hates being restrained, too. She also refuses to leave socks/shoes on.

Sleeping: M has always been a great sleeper. We were struggling with bedtime AND staying down for the night for a few weeks, but she’s back to normal now. I think it was the 1 year sleep regression. UGH.
We’re still doing 2 naps/day and I will hold on to them both as long as possible!

Eating: Our little poodle loves her noodles. She is a carb queen. She also loves avocados, eggs, meatballs, fish, and turkey. But pasta is the way to her heart.

Development: I don’t have time to list all the new things this girl can do. She does everything in her own time but once she’s got it, she’s got it. She stands, walks along furniture, walks with help, walks with her walker… but no independent walking yet.
M is a MONKEY. She climbs on everything- stairs, couches, toys, humans, dogs… lol. She knows how to get up and how to use tools to get up, and she knows how to go down (“feet first!” we say over and over).
She knows 4 or 5 body parts, yes and no, how to wave and clap and point and she tries to blow kisses, she signals “all done” when she’s finished a meal, she cuddles her stuffed animals, and she has mastered the colorful rings toy.
She makes a million sounds, says mama dada and da (dog), and will repeat back sounds and syllables of words you say to her. She knows who people and animals are- and can tell our dogs apart by name.

Personality: I hate COVID. Moo is so much fun to hang out with and take places. I hate that we can’t go anywhere with her. She has a happy disposition and she’s way more clever than me. She’s starting to find certain things funny and she’s starting to find some things scary. I love that we’re seeing her imagination develop. Unless she’s super tired or in pain, she’s a happy happy girl .

Travel: Sigh.
We have done some longer drives lately. We popped down to Cabela’s in Tridelphia, WV a few weeks ago and Maddie did great!
We took her to the reverse Christmas parade our town had and she loved driving through the float displays, waving at everyone.

Mom’s Summary: It was weird to see my baby turn one. I remember everything about the day she entered this world- and it doesn’t seem that long ago. M brings joy to everyone she meets and that’s especially true for me. I’m so proud of all the things she’s learned this year and I LOVE that despite all the isolation, she’s a happy friendly adventurous little girl.

M is starting to get a feisty, head strong, clever personality. I’m looking forward to shaping her into a kind little kid 🖤 I struggled a lot with the helpless newborn stage. I am much much more cut out for the communicative and temperamental toddler stage. I know that’s weird to prefer (and maybe I’ll take it back), but I love her budding personality- even the more difficult side, lol.

I now have a T O D D L E R and I am not ok. 😭

All professional photos courtesy of Jackie Beachy Photography.

To My Little Love

Sweet Moo Baby… today is your last day being ZERO.

Last year I knew we’d be meeting you soon. We had a scheduled induction on December 4th at 8am… but at 2am you decided to start things yourself. Now that we know you, I completely understand. You’re a headstrong, determined, do-it-yourself little spirit. I love your spirit.

When we brought you home Bristol barked and growled at you. She wanted to play with you SO badly. Enzo was more than happy to cuddle up & nap all day- although I think he was quickly over the sleepless nights. But you figured out sleep quickly. And then you figure out eating. And crawling. And babbling. I love your smart little brain.

Watching you grow and learn and move has been the greatest joy of my life, babe. You bring out all the strong emotions in me- pride, love, fear, frustration, humor. You are such a clever, funny, goofy little girl. I love your personality.

You’re not one for cuddles yet, but you will sit on my lap for a few minutes of Blue’s Clues. You gentle pet and play with Bristol’s fur when you’re taking a bottle. You nuzzle your head into my neck when you’re having a rough night. You freely give me and your daddy and all the stuffed animals kisses. I think you’ve learned not to kiss the pups- it results in a mouthful of hair. I love your big, sweet heart.

Mommy and Daddy had a doozy of a first year. We learned a lot about being your parents. We picked our battles. We had little sleep and lots of help. We navigated a pandemic as new parents and, as a result, we got to spend lots and lots and lots of time with you. I will always be so thankful for that. Despite the world being upside down, you were hardly affected. I love your resilience. You are a brave, happy, incredible little soul.

Your daddy and I spent many years together without you- but this year with you has been one of our favorites. I’ve never seen him so in love with or proud of another human. You will forever be the apple of his eye, my love. I’m happy to share his heart with you ❤️

Happy Birthday, Moo-da-Lou. We love you forever and always.

-Mom

Baby Talk: Parental Pressure

Have you noticed there’s a sense of pressure to enjoy certain things? I’ve written about this before in regards to summer. Summer stresses me out because you’re supposed to do all the things, soak in all the sunshine, experience all the activities… No. I’m hot, it’s hot, and I’m sweating. Let me sit inside with the a/c and burn winter candles, please&thanks.

Mom Guilt aside, there’s a similar pressure in parenting to enjoy ALL the things.
“Being a mom is the most amazing thing I’ll ever do.”
“Dad life is the best life.”
“There is nothing as rewarding as changing a poo splattered diaper and rocking a screaming kid to sleep while your coffee gets cold and your dog eats your dinner off the counter.”
You get it.

The reality is many parts of parenting aren’t fun or glamorous or rewarding. But you feel like a complete tool for admitting as much since the whole world has dubbed the experience “mAgIcAl.”

We’ve been working through this in our home.
I love sleep and there are occasionally nights when Moo decides she NEEDS held from 1:45am to 3:27am. I am VERY aware that it won’t be like this forever, that the extra snuggling is something I will miss, and that her need for me is natural. But I still effing hate being awake and sitting awkwardly hunched over in that damn glider. I love Moo. These moments are not magical.

I LOVE being M’s mom. I would not trade it in for anything- including my former freer life pre-kids- but I am so much more than a mom. I enjoy things OUTSIDE of being a mom. I require and demand time alone. I love my daughter so damn much. I love spending time with her, teaching her, taking care of her. But I don’t love every moment of motherhood. No one does. And so often I think there’s an unrealistic pressure that parents should.

I don’t have an ah-ha moment, but I wanted to share these thoughts because if you’re currently in the parenting trench of very tough stuff (teething, sleeplessness, infancy, day 5 of no shower), you’re not alone and you are 100% allowed to say to yourself (& other), “This sucks.” You can dislike it.

And that’s my up lifting Mom Minute for you today 😆 Sometimes it sucks and that’s normal.

(Thanks, Michelle)


Tune in next week when I talk about random exorcism-level vomiting and how to remain cool, calm, and collected when you’re covered in spoiled milk.

Nine Months of Madelyn

Time is a cruel mistress… I love M’s independence and intelligence, but I dislike how fast it all happens. Sigh. But here we are… my kid is NINE months old.

Nicknames: Maddie, Moo, Poodle, Moo Lou, Moo shu, Snoots

Stats: M is 21 lbs. 12 oz.  and 30 inches long. We’re essentially into 18 month clothes now. She is literally half my height- almost.

Likes: Watching people, petting cats, playing in water, eating dog bones (which we strongly discourage), bouncing on her knees or bottom, her lion Donovan & her rabbit Chad…

Dislikes: When someone leaves the room, when she’s not allowed to have dog toys, when the dogs aggressively bark, when she’s DONE eating and I make her wait 0.05 seconds while I wipe her off.

Honestly, she’s a pretty happy girl. Not much makes her mad.

Sleeping: Like a champ. She tucks her arms under her body and sticks her butt in the air. She also sleeps on her side occasionally with her leg kicked up like an adult. We’re down to two naps a day.

Eating: All the things. We’ve had to cut out bananas due to constipation issues (who knew??) but she pretty much eats anything. Not a fan of raw peaches. Big fan of noodles.

Development: The amount of development that’s happened in the last 3 months makes me want to cry. Baby Girl can sit up, crawl around, and pull herself to her knees (not to her feet yet). She’s so determined and can find/hunt/obtain almost anything she puts her mind to. She says dad and dadada, mamama (rarely), and bababa. She copies sounds and hums along to songs. She’s so incredibly smart. She lights up when the dogs pay attention to her.

Personality: I don’t know when/how I put such good energy into the universe to get such a fun and easygoing baby, but I thank the Good Lord Jesus daily. M is happy and chill. She’s opinionated and headstrong, but she’s usually up for anything. She’s smiley. She waves “hi” to anyone that’ll look at her. She LOVES watching and petting animals. She’s truly a joy to be around.

Travel: We haven’t gone far, but we did purchase a camper trailer. After a trial weekend with a borrowed camper we took the leap and jumped on the camping bandwagon. M is a fabulous camper. She likes being outside, sleeps just as well (if not better) in her bunkhouse, and seems to really like hanging in the camper. The dogs have been fantastic, too. Bristol is kind of a spitfire but has really taken to camper life!


Mom’s Summary: Someone told me that every new stage M entered would be more fun than the last. I have found this to be 100% true. She was fun 3 months ago and she’s even more fun now. But it also kills me that she growing up so fast.

In the mornings M usually wakes up around 5am for a small four ounce bottle. (I’d say she does this 5 out of 7 days a week.) When I scoop her up she hugs my neck for a few seconds before looking for her snack. And when she’s done we cuddle for a few minutes before I change her diaper and put her down for another two hours. I don’t love getting up early, but I LOVE this moment with her. It’s my favorite part of the day. I will be so so sad when she no longer needs her early morning snack.

I can’t believe our next update will be ONE YEAR.