Sunday, 7 February 2016

Written While Watching the Super Bowl

I had such big plans to resurrect my blog after my sort-of-radio silence.

But honestly...my life is just a series of monotonous routines.

On Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays our day revolves around Amelia, for obvious. Her naps, my guilt about how much she watches TV and plays on the iPad, her breakfast her lunch her dinner, her time outside poking stuff with sticks, it's all relatively predictable. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays she's in daycare and though I always have such great plans to get stuff done, it usually just...doesn't.

It's hard because I don't know what I could possibly write that would be interesting to anyone.

Basically our days center around just making it from second to second, just like they always have. Amelia is a dream toddler, honestly - minimal tantrums, she eats well, is learning to play independently, etc. - but that'll change soon and I'll be left wondering which biblical demon possessed my darling child.

Thaaaat's parenthood!

Anyway I'm going to try to write about...not kid things.

Hand lettering! I've been doing this pretty extensively and it's become my go-to method for decompression after my darling child goes to sleep. I think I'm getting better at it, but not as quickly as I'd like. If you want to see what I've been working on check me out on Instagram, because it's late and I'm tired and lazy and don't want to upload photos.

I've started up therapy again, which has been really helpful in light of a whole new host of anxieties that have arisen since I became a parent. Lately we've been addressing my strong sense of self-awareness and how I use it as an excuse to not feel feelings. I always like diving into the depths of my dysfunction so it's been an altogether good experience.

The weather around here has been absolutely insane. We have no snow on the ground. In February. For Vermont that's completely unheard of. We keep waiting for winter to happen and then it just...doesn't. We have a few snowstorms ahead of us but they're all like, 1-3 inches. I know I always complain about winter but I wouldn't mind a little bit of it.

So. That's basically all that's going on right now. I love you all.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Thoughts on Kids and Gender: A Post in 4 Acts

Over the summer, Amelia and I were hanging out in the kids' section at our local library. Sharing the space with us was a group of preschoolers and their teacher, who was herding children from activity to activity and making sure they didn't throw themselves off of couches or the pile of beanbags.

At one point the kids gathered in a corner of the room while their teacher read to them. A little girl named Ava, who looked like a miniature Carrie Brownstein, threw herself on her back and kicked her legs in the air. The teacher stopped reading and said,

"Ava, you're wearing a dress. You need to sit on your bottom."

First I felt a flash of anger--how dare this teacher stifle Ava's creative decision to throw her legs in the air just because of her dress? 

But then, I reasoned, Ava did have to learn that socially speaking we don't flash our underwear to everyone in the room. The teacher wasn't wrong, and neither was Ava for choosing to wear a dress that day.

What I settled on, then, was the realization that this is something boys generally don't have to think about--and something we don't really consider for them. There are few, if any, items of mainstream boys' or men's clothing that are policed in the same way as dresses and skirts. 

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From my perspective, with a few exceptions, parents spend more time thinking about what their daughters wear than their sons. Girls' clothes are deemed "cuter" and "nicer" whereas, in general, boys' clothes are seen as more utilitarian. Look at the girls' shoe section and the selection largely prioritizes appearance over function (for example, ballet flats with a smooth sole over chunky sneakers). 

You are far more likely to hear a mom chastising her daughter, in cute patent leather flats, for crawling in the dirt or running through the mud.

It's been this discrepancy that has guided us through our approach to clothing for Amelia, more than color or subject. For as long as I have control over what she wears, I don't want her clothes or her shoes to ever keep her from moving as freely as she wants to. I don't want to teach her that how you look is more important than what you can do.

I try to model this for her as well. When we are outside, I don't shy away from rolling down a hill or getting grass stains on my jeans. While it's important to take care of possessions, there is nothing wrong with getting dirty outside. 

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I think one of the downfalls of sticking with "gender neutral" clothing is the subtle message sent to girls that "feminine" things are somehow inferior and that they should aspire to be more like boys. There may come a time when Amelia only wants to wear dresses, and that is not something I want to discourage as long as she is the one choosing it for herself. Clothes can be fun, clothes can be useful, but they do not have to have intrinsic value in relation to who we are as people.

(I might just slap on some leggings or tights too so she can kick her legs in the air all she wants.)

I'm not naive enough to think that this approach will allow us to avoid the pitfalls of gender roles. There are many forces at play in a kid's life and as a parent I have much less control than it may seem.  The bottom line for us is that we want Amelia to feel like she can wear and be anything as long as it makes her happy. She will have many subtle gender-related messages relayed to her throughout her life and our goal is to, as much as possible, minimize those she receives from us at home.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I went to pick Amelia up from daycare one day and the kids were playing dress-up. Amelia was dressed in a blueberry costume and a blue tutu (and yeah, she looked adorable). One boy was dressed in a bumble bee costume, and his twin brother was a lady bug. The other little boy was wearing a princess costume with a pink tutu.

I commented to the teachers on how cute everyone looked and they told me that everyone had picked their own costumes. 

It made me happy that some of the other important people in Amelia's life don't seem to get all that hung up on appearance over fun and autonomy.

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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

New Year, Three Things

Heyyyy theeere friends.

I went a few weeks without writing a real post and as I got further and further away from it I had less and less motivation to try. But I'm feeling it now and god knows that feeling doesn't happen too often, so here I am.

Truth be told I'm taking up Suzy's challenge to write down any 3 things to jump start my blog into existence in 2016. Yeah yeah, I know she wrote it 2 weeks ago, but my Bloglovin' feed is backed up so I'm just getting to it.  Here are my three things:

1. I've been getting into hand-lettering lately. It started kind of randomly - I was on the floor drawing with Amelia a lot and found myself doodling more and more with words and simple drawings. When we got our Christmas cards I decided to try my hand at playing with names and addresses. They weren't that great but I had fun nonetheless.  After that I puttered around on Pinterest and found some designs and tutorials, and I've been going crazy with it since then. Like I'm literally doing it every night, from the time Amelia goes to sleep to the time we go to bed. I'm trying to give myself a lot of leeway with it - not giving up or hating myself when I'm not making progress as quickly as I'd like. It's been a good exercise in that way.

Here's another challenge for me: I've been sharing these even though it kills me to do so because of how terrible I'm sure they look.

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2. Along those lines - I'm reading this book about avoiding overparenting and the importance of letting your kids fail. It's given me a lot of perspective on my own fear of failure and how I can work to make sure that I don't project it onto Amelia. I've been using hand-lettering to help me break out of my fear at not being great at stuff instantly and so far it's going pretty well. In the book they talk about the difference between a fixed mindset (the belief that our skills are fixed and can't be changed - "I'm not a good artist," "I'm bad at math," etc.) and a growth mindset (believing that skills can be developed and honed - "I can get good at art if I just keep practicing."). I figure the best way to teach Amelia to not fear failure is to model a growth mindset for her.  It may not make a difference, but I figure it can't hurt either of us to not fall to pieces every time I suck at something.

3. It's winter! And it's cold! Amelia has been spending more time inside for obvious reasons, though we have taken her outside exploring in the woods. It's really cool to watch actually. The other day I was at the bottom of a little hill and told her to walk to me. She looked at the hill, studied it a bit, then sat down and slid to the bottom. THEN we walked over to a felled tree, and I asked if she wanted to go over it. She let go of my hand, got down on the ground and crawled under it. I know these are tiny things, but it's so. freaking. cool. to watch her problem solve.

So there you go, three things going on in my life now. Happy New Year, friends!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Survey Like it's 2005

I don't have a real post in me, so here's a 2005-style survey I found on Tumblr. Steal away.

1. What is your go-to flavor of salad dressing?
For "normal" flavors, ranch. But if I go to the grocery store I pick Annie's Lemon and Chive.

2. What's the t-shirt you wear the most?
During the summer just a boring grey one, during the winter I wear one of Rob's long-sleeved shirts from his crew in New Mexico.

3. What TV show can you quote the most?
Oh god, quoting movies and TV shows is like one of my 3 talents. I guess the top ones are 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Seinfeld, and The Office.

4. Do you put your left shoe on first or your right?
Had to think about this but I think right.

5. What's your study routine?
Read, get distracted on the internet, stress, read some more. Back when I had to study anyway.

6. One sound you can't stand?
A fork scraping against a plate.

7. Hot showers or cold showers?
Stupid question.

8. Breakfast or no breakfast?
Breakfast, but it has to be easy to make and eat. Laziness beats out over hunger every time.

9. What age were you given "the talk"?
It was kind of an ongoing thing in my house. I remember being given a book about it around age 9 or 10.

10. Ice in drinks or no ice?
No ice. Don't water my shit down.

11. What's one Halloween candy that you would hate getting as a child?
Mary Janes or Dots.

12. Blue jeans, skinny jeans, leggings, shorts, or no pants at all?
Skinny jeans or leggings.

13. What's one slang term you refuse to use?
Cray or bae.

14. Hardback, paperback, or ebooks?
Hmm, I'd have to say hardcovers. Easier to hold in the bath.

15. Would you rather go through the drive through or go inside?
Go inside.

16. Do you keep your car neat or messy?
It used to be neat but now very, very messy.

17. What's the first app you check when you wake up?
Facebook probably.

18. If I looked in your wallet, what would I find?
Cards, ID, and a bunch of coupons. Plus some sentimental photos and crap.

19. Spicy food or non-spicy food?
Generally non-spicy.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Hey guys! Long time no blog.

I've decided that I'd like to drag myself back into blogging. I miss it, or at least what it was a few years ago. I still interact with blog friends on other platforms, and I find that microblogging fits where I am mentally nowadays, but long-form blogging still has my heart.

So here's what's going on lately.

I hate to jinx it, but daycare for Amelia has been going a lot better lately. She still cries at every drop off, but it's much shorter lived and sometimes she doesn't even look back at me. It's been a rough slog, honestly. I've had a few people tell me that it's "good I stuck with it" even though it was hard, which made me second guess myself even more than I already was. Like, wait, should I not have stuck with it? Am I a bad mom? SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT TO DO.

Despite the doubt, I'm happy we did stick with it. I can't keep her home with me forever, and since we aren't planning on homeschooling, I figure it's better for her to get used to it now than throwing her to the wolves unprepared at age 5. Parenthood, man.

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There isn't much going on with me outside of my role as Executive Baby Manager. Some exciting things are happening career-wise. I've been rewatching the original Twilight Zone, and Rob and I started to watch The Great British Bake-Off thanks to Suzy's recommendation. It's very British and makes both of us want cake (only one of us can actually eat cake, however).

We took Amelia ice skating for the first time last week. We apparently failed to learn our lesson from the last 16 months and took her despite the fact that she woke up from a nap in a pissy mood. She was not pleased. She's also going through this thing right now where she hates to have articles of clothing taken off, and we didn't plan around that. So the first attempt at taking her sneakers off and putting skates on was...unsuccessful. She refused to leave my arms and we started to feel discouraged. We pushed on, though, and got her slowly used to walking on the ice in just her sneakers. By the end she loved it and I felt really proud - proud of her for overcoming her anxiety and trying a new thing despite her fear, and proud of us for not giving into the "easy" thing and just up and leaving. I don't know if it will stay with her, but right now she's showing a lot of signs of anxiety, particularly with new people and new situations, so I'm trying to figure out how best to approach it especially with her still being (mostly) nonverbal.


Today is Veterans Day, which we usually celebrate with a few drinks and general fun things. Rob had the day off, and it's daycare day, so we went out to eat and hung around at home. It was nice since the next few weeks will be busy: we are taking Amelia to her first women's hockey game, my dad and stepmom are coming to visit, and of course Thanksgiving shenanigans. We're also trying to get as much enjoyment out of fall before winter comes.

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So that's life now...just same old same.

Friday, 23 October 2015

More Fall Goodness

Because you haven't heard enough about how great fall is, right?

I promise that at the very least there are no pumpkin spice lattes in this post. I've never even had a pumpkin spice latte.

A couple of weekends ago we took Amelia to the local pumpkin patch (the same one we took her to last year! TRADITIONS!). Turns out the prediction I made last year was true--it was a much more fun this trip than last year. She loved running around and stumbling and grabbing tiny pumpkins and clinging to my legs whenever a stranger looked at her for longer than a few seconds.

There are a lot of tough things to this age--moods, tantrums, and lack of verbal communication in particular--but I am by and large loving it.

We managed to pick what ended up being the last weekend for peak foliage which meant the pictures came out beautifully (in addition to the obvious cuteness granted to them by my spawn). As this weekend approaches many of the leaves have fallen, and those that remain are brown or rust-colored. Looks like winter's coming no matter how many times I dance around a fire or sacrifice a goat during a full moon.

Here are our pumpkin patch photos:

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I was also able to find a bit more time after our date day to take some more foliage photos. Not much of an intro to these, I just think they're pretty.

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So there you go, the last remnants of fall before the hammer of November falls. 

Happy weekend, friends.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

The Different Stages of Baby Fever

It's starting.

That feeling you get when your child is more self-sufficient, when parenting starts to make sense, when there are more smiles than tantrums. It creeps in on the edges of your brain and slowly becomes something you find yourself thinking about more and more.

I could do this again.

I should do this again.

Amelia is 15 months old now, which means two things: (1) life is starting to feel a lot more normal and (2) so many of my friends with kids her age are pregnant. Add into that all my other friends who are pregnant...and suffice it to say, that which seemed absolutely unthinkable 6 months ago becomes a lot more doable.

Before Amelia was even a glimmer in my eye I came to the conclusion that there are two stages of baby fever:

Baby Fever Stage I: "I want to be pregnant and my friend is pregnant and I want a baby shower and cute newborn Facebook posts and an adorable Pinterest-worthy baby announcement." 

Baby Fever Stage II: "I am ready to add another human being into our lives, (if applicable) give my existing child a sibling, see me and my significant other open our hearts for even more love, potentially deal with colic and around-the-clock feeding again. Oh and yeah, probably a cute Pinterest worthy baby announcement."

I know enough about myself to know that right now I am solidly in stage I. I know that it's the excitement of my friends and family members having babies that leads me to wanting another. When I think about it logically--I like where we are now. Our house isn't really big enough for a second child, Amelia's infancy was tougher on me than I could've imagined, my career is moving forward and I'd like to see where it goes for now, and I like being able to focus on Amelia right now. 

All the logic in the world can't defeat Baby Fever Stage I. It's a strong one and with every new pregnancy announcement on social media it gets stronger. The only treatment is looking at old photos and videos of Amelia screaming her face off and even that isn't working so well these days.

We're not at stage II yet. We might never be. 

And of course all of this goes to shit if we have a happy "accident."

Either way there'll definitely be a cute announcement, let's be honest.