Waking up to a soft little morning voice saying "mama, hi!" and then being kissed all over my face with tightly pursed baby lips.
The 1.5 hour nap she took, lying across my chest with one hand tightly holding onto my hair.
Dancing all over the living room, snapping her fingers and shakin' her booty (while squatting almost to the floor) to Aretha Franklin's "Respect." Of her own accord.
Feeding herself an entire cup of yogurt all by herself. With a grown-up sized spoon. And almost no mess (!!!).
Climbing into my lap and demanding that she touch my tongue with hers. And then laughing so hard she nearly fell over.
Bumping a toe, head, finger, arm, nose, knee, etc while playing, and then running over to me making loud kissing sounds and holding out the hurt body part.
Her little arms tight around my neck while I sing her to sleep.
Reading this post today, which is beautiful and echoes many recent thoughts of mine
Thank goodness she still makes these faces. But now there are so many expressions that by the time I've grabbed the camera she's already on to something else. Somewhere else, perhaps. But underneath that fickle toddler face she is still the same.
I've started having (fleeting) dreams of holding a new baby again...
Waking up to a soft little morning voice saying "mama, hi!" and then being kissed all over my face with tightly pursed baby lips.
Our friends Darren and Christina are in China and have officially adopted their little girl Megan! You can read about their trip and see pictures over at 4 Dogs & A Baby. Anyone who knows them will tell you that any child would be lucky to have them as their parents. Megan and Pea are about the same age--can't wait to meet her and have little girl play times!
Posted by Annagrace at 9:49 AM
I'm back on the Elimination Diet. There are many ways of doing this (as you can see if you Google it) but to do it hardcore usually means to go off all common irritants or allergens: dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tomatoes, corn, all gluten, pork, beef, red wine, coffee, chocolate, peas, and all processed meats (or processed foods, for that matter) etc. I've done it that way before, for two weeks last November, but this time I'm simply going off all the things that trigger bad reactions in my body from time to time or in overdose: milk, cheese, wheat, corn, sugar, pork, beef, and.
We actually don't eat very much meat anymore. Due in large part to that and simply upping our fiber intake (Oh, Dr. Oz....) Jeffrey has already lost around 30 pounds in the past few months and I am weighing in at least 10 pounds below pre-pregnancy weight. But the reason for doing another two weeks of elimination is simply that with as worn-out as I've been the last month, physically and mentally (and even emotionally, with grandmother's death and child-raising in general), I decided to give my tired body a fighting chance of coming through this time in my life healthy and strong. I am, however, allowing myself the occasional decaf coffee or small glass of red wine (since I need something to look forward too), and some soy (since I don't seem to have any problems with it). The good news is that even on the hardcore version you can have all the rice you want, potatoes in moderation, and honey. What was interesting to me, last time I did this, was that my usual milk-supply issues (I was still nursing) completely went away. What's also interesting to me is that I actually feel MORE full when I'm eating like this than on my normal diet (which is also pretty healthy but has a good amount of pasta and dairy).
Don't even get me started on corn syrup. It's so destructive to the human body and especially children's developing brains and metabolisms.
I've also started some strength-training at home (after Pea goes to sleep) and though I'm honestly only doing about 15 minutes worth, I can already see the results in my stomach and legs. Now to get into a better walk routine....but that will happen easily when we move into a real neighborhood (just a few weeks now!)
So what DO I eat? Well tonight I made an Indian curry (sort of like what my dad used to make when I was little, except with turkey instead of beef) with ground turkey, farmer's market green beans and cherry tomatoes, served over potatoes mashed with a little butter, sea salt and fresh pepper. For lunch I had black beans, rice, and fruit, and for breakfast I had some sort of oat/flax cold cereal that I actually really like. Can't remember what it's called though.... Tomorrow I'll probably have eggs for breakfast, then almond butter, rice cakes or rice bread toast, and fruit for lunch. I haven't decided if I'm making Thai chicken tomorrow night or Saturday. But anyway, you get the idea. Once I'm in the right mind-set, I find it pretty easy.
Truly....just increasing our fiber intake and cutting out unnecessary meat protein has done helped me and Jeffrey immensely. It's interesting that low-fiber diets are linked to high cholesterol and high blood-pressure, which can then, largely due to the drugs they put you on, become pre-cursors for even worse conditions like adult-onset diabetes. The average American gets something like 50% less fiber than our bodies actually need--and it's a pretty simple change to make.
I'm going to go pour myself a glass of wine and go to bed. Pea's sleeping and we're all still on pins and needles about that....
Posted by Annagrace at 8:22 PM
I'm tired. I think I've mentioned that before. Good news is she only screamed for about 7 minutes tonight before pulling the tail on her lullaby bunny, chattering something to herself in her cute, albeit unhappy and tired voice, and falling asleep. Deeply. She actually slept through the night last night and as scared as I am to count on a repeat performance tonight....the tiny voice of Hope in me that refuses to die thinks maybe, just maybe we are getting somewhere.
Although she did scream for 2.5 hours at nap time. I'm starting to doubt that she's ever been a good sleeper--it's been that long. This 18-month old developmental stuff is only supposed to take a week or so and then "they say" every child goes back to their normal/former routine. Especially a child that knows how to self-soothe and can trust that Mom or Dad will be there if something is truly, actually wrong. If the details of her birth didn't clue me in to what a stubborn, single-minded being I was ushering into this world then maybe I was slower than normal.
We got a new camera. I've been without one for almost a month and I was actually feeling a little bit disconnected from life. Funny how in the last year I have gone from taking the occasional photo to having an urgent need to visually document as much as possible (though only a fraction is "public" on Flickr so that only I know just how urgent this need really is....) I took a bunch of photos today and I feel more like myself again. (whew) Also, I realize just how much Pea has grown up in the last four weeks, looking at her through this new lens....
Last Thursday night I went to a volunteer-appreciation thing for an amazing and local non-profit that for some reason I've known nothing about--Write Around Portland. They do incredible work with all sorts of different people and kids, primarily people in or coming out of crisis of just about any kind. I can't believe I'd never heard of them. Some day, when I'm a better a writer, I would love to help facilitate a writing course with one of their groups or just volunteer in any small way. They are giving marginalized and easily forgotten people a voice and a way to speak for themselves and....every single person I met that night was so warm and friendly and nice. As well as being a great artist in their own right (or write?).
I went as the guest of my lovely friend Pam and she and I had a great time together, there at the event and then later at a local pub over drinks and food. She is an amazing writer and thinker and I always come away from time spent with her feeling like my mind is on fire. In a good way. She makes me think. And is she is such a good mama, too, and I need as many encouraging and brave mamas around me as I can possibly find. I think every mama does. The "village" "it" takes is called "other mamas who will listen to you and love you and challenge you but never criticize". I'm glad she's in mine.
I've been suddenly reading a LOT. Trying to make up for the last few years I spent working like crazy and then the very last one that I spent at home with a newborn, watching endless hours of daytime TV under the impression that I didn't have the ability to focus on anything important other than nursing, trying to sleep, ravenously attacking anything with "protein" written on the wrapper (could be why I had to STOP breastfeeding in order to lose the rest of the weight....but who knows?), etc. Well, library system, I'm back. And apparently I'm back in a big way.
The latest thing I've read is The Whistling Season and it is already mentally filed under "Will read again". It was a really good read--well-told story, good emotional depth, excellent character development (in the way I like--without overstating things. HATE overstatement.) The other stuff I've read has been largely spiritual and/or parenting/relational and I'm not going to list the contents of that latter category here for anyone to get huffy about. But a couple of stand-outs have been this one and this one. I have fallen head over heels in love with Madeleine L'engle. I'm sure our library is on the verge of sending an Alert message to Ms. L'engle's people--I've special-requested and checked-out so many of her books lately. And so far, they're all amazing and thought-provoking and wonderful. I love that she was writing this way about god all the way back in 1982. No wonder everyone "Christian-establishment" thought she was nuts.
I preached on Sunday. It went well, if a little long.
I need to get boxes this week and start packing up the many bookcases. That should make me feel a little more on top of the moving thing. Oh, and I need to get over to a Benjamin Moore (not that there are any near me) and narrow my color selections for the tiny, turquoise bathroom and Penelope's room. The other color choices will wait until we're moved in and I've slept on it (slept on it IN the house).
Posted by Annagrace at 10:06 PM
by Naomi Shihab Nye
from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
Posted by Annagrace at 12:46 PM
Things are getting better around here. We're still getting a lot less sleep than we're used to--all of us. I was able to talk some things through with my mom and sister on Sunday, though, and I'm feeling better about the head-space I'm in. I like a certain amount of routine in my day-to-day living and when this is thrown off, especially by a child who very naturally fell into a routine of her own making from almost the beginning of her life, I start feeling crazy and then all these dark places in my heart get thrown open for all to see and I feel like Bad Mom--The One Your Neighbors Have Warned You About.
This may strike some of you as a little odd, since I've also written here that I don't like feeling boxed in or a slave to pattern, but while there are things I will never do according to a pattern (including journaling here), the framework of our days here at Chez Penelope do have a somewhat loose routine. And I like that. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I like a framework, a sensible amount of schedule. But, because there is a place in me that can very easily define myself by what I can accomplish and find great satisfaction in keeping up with other's accomplishments, I will NOT let myself make too many "non-essentials" a part of the set routine. I write a lot, but not always here in public. I switch it up. Of course I need to write more--I would be a much better writer if I did. But I am also determined to not make this some boring log of daily life. I admit that I am fascinated by other people's blogs that are much this way--cheap voyeurism, perhaps--but I can't do it. Because then I'd have to go all the way. Before you could say "jack rabbit" I'd be making posts about this morning's tooth-brushing and proudly counting how many time I've cleaned the floors this month. I have some obsessive tendencies and after much therapy and friendly interference I have found that it's best to let some things happen a bit more organically.
There--that's over. Back to the original topic.
My family was over Sunday and I have to say here, in public, that my family is wonderful. This is an amazing thing for me to be able to say, because it was only a couple of years ago that I wondered (we all wondered) if we'd ever be able to get through enough of our collective shit to have more than strained and cautious relationships. We've always loved each other. Most families do, at the core. But to be able to honestly share our hearts and lives and come away feeling encouraged and challenged in a healthy way and completely loved and accepted is pretty amazing. We still have a long ways to go and there are often dark places. But more and more, in ALL the relationships in my life, I'm beginning to see that this, the dark and strange stuff, is just as much a part of a real relationship as the happy, hunky-dory business. If you're truly opening your heart to someone, and they to you, there's going to be some moments of awkwardness, of failing to understand--situations where you have to apologize. More and more, I think that relationships where you never have to say you're sorry aren't really worth that much.
So anyway....we're getting there. Pea has days where it feels like she's getting it. Again. Where sleep happens as normally and undramatically as it did for the first 14 months of her life. And this is not an area of her little life where I'm going to bend and suddenly decide that at 15 months she can decide whether or not she actually needs to sleep more than 5 hours in a 24-hour period. Call me old-fashioned, but I think kids usually need more, not less, sleep and underneath my exhaustion and frustration I am willing to stick it out and get to the other side. I know there are lots of other things some mamas would also call me, since sleep issues seem to bring out the very worst in people.
I think that most of the time kids get a good deal of security from seeing that you're just as committed to the relationship--and all that pushing is to prove that you'll push back just as hard, that you're in it with them. I'm trying to keep my perspective.
But after a night like the last and its 4 hours of solid sleep....well, Heather, I just might take you up on your offer.
Posted by Annagrace at 4:23 PM
She says so much these days. "Daddoo" is what she now calls Jeffrey all the time. It's perfect, really.
She called her Auntie "Tutti" the other day and I've been shamelessly encouraging it ever since.
She says "button" and "bottom" (the last while grabbing at her diaper, which never ceases to make me laugh).
She says "winnow" for window and "meerrrr" for mirror and "bird".
She will only say "meow, meow" for cat, never the actual name.
When you ask her what a sheep says, she does the throaty, gritty and staccato version of "Baaa" that is pretty funny.
Her current favorite things are balls, trucks, and babies. She can almost do a somersault by herself and can kick and throw a ball.
She could still eat hummus by the pound, and now she sometimes munches on raw carrots and broccoli all day (weird child). She's not really into baked goods or anything gelatinous (including jelly and jam). She could eat beans and rice for every meal but doesn't often like sweet things. Of any kind.
She loves water.
She likes to take one of her favorite books (like this one or this one) and read them out loud to herself, using a whole vocabulary of sing-song words that I can't, for the life of me, get her to say at any other time.
I often stop and take mental inventory of everything she does well and wonderfully and all the ways that she is kind and lovely--for during weeks like the one we're in, it's so easy to forget that there is anything remotely good about life.
Posted by Annagrace at 12:05 AM