Monday, March 31, 2014

Reading Time

She loves looking for the dog and cat in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Way too much text, but fun pictures. (Picture from December 2013.)

One of my hobbies is reading. I just love to read. I read books like some people watch movies. I can sit down with a novel and three hours later -- BAM. Book consumed. (Sometimes my sweet hubby has to gently force me away from a book. I just get lost in book world.) I have so many wonderful memories of my dad reading to me before bed, all the way up through middle school. I was the nerdy kid who would go over to a friend's house and read a book there -- while she read too, of course. I actually packed books in my suitcase when I went to London for a reading-intensive semester abroad. A gift card to Barnes & Nobles was one of my favorite annual Christmas gifts growing up. The first year we were married, with no internet, no t.v. and a sleepy rural town, I visited the library weekly. Reading has always been a part of my life.

Being a mom hasn't necessarily cut back on my reading. I read tons of books for the first six months that Lauren was nursing. Not only was she an incredibly slow nurser (she'd nurse for an hour at a time), but she completely ignored the ipad. So I would borrow books digitally from our library and read, read, read. I read all sorts of books in the wee hours of the morning. I read Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, and it was so captivating that I almost stayed up to finish it despite the completely sleep deprived early days of motherhood. I read a sleep training book in the middle of the night, when I was desperate for some ideas on how to get Lauren to sleep. [Note: the middle of the night is the WORST time to read about how to get your baby to sleep through the night.] I read books on breastfeeding and babies and silly mysteries and memoirs and anything that sounded interesting.

Then Lauren started to reach for the iPad, nursing sessions got shorter (not that I'm complaining!), night awakenings kept happening, and reading disappeared for a while. Now that Lauren is older and sleeping through the night, I find time to chill out with a book, normally after she goes to bed.

All that to say, I love reading. Always have, always will.  And I assumed Lauren would love reading too!

Enter my child. Lauren is active. She was active in the womb, and she's been active ever since being born. When she was an infant, she would kick-kick-kick on the floor, her little legs never stopping. And reading? Well, as soon as she could move, she was much more interested in exploring than sitting in front of a book. All of the sleep advice that suggested reading a few quiet stories before bed made my heart heavy. My kid? Maybe if I strapped her down!

I persisted, as much as I could, sometimes reading to her while she was eating or if she relaxed for a few moments. Nothing really seemed to interest her until friends brought over some flap books with textures. She started to flip open the pages while I sped-read through the text. She'd lose interest almost immediately, but slowly -- very slowly -- she started to take an interest in books.

Right about the time Lauren turned one, we finally started to be able to read. It still wasn't the marathon reading session my nephew loves, but it was a start. It helped that she finally started to allow herself to relax, instead of fighting it. Her love has grown from there, and both Dan and I enjoy reading to her. (Notice that a blanket over your lap is a necessity for reading.)

Current favorites include (and the list changes nearly daily) are:

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Little and James Dean
Alphabet by Matthew Van Fleet
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
Mr. Paint Pig's ABCs by Richard Scarry
All Kinds of Kisses by Linda Dowdy

It's scary how many children's books I can recite, top to bottom. And we've only been doing this for 18 months! Imagine how many I'll have memorized after a few years.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


A while ago my mom said, “You know, I used to read this one blog, but the authors haven’t updated it in a while.”

It took me a second, but I figured it out.

Oh us? We’re still alive and kicking. Lauren is now 18 months old. The last half a year has zoomed by – holidays found us traveling (and not sleeping) and sleep regressions, teeth, fever, and colds have also kept us on our toes (and not sleeping). (There’s a theme, and it may have to do with the sleep roller coaster.)

We’ve found out – just like all other parents before us – that kids have a certain amount of gravity. Lauren has pulled us into her orbit. While in many ways it is okay for our family life to be primarily about her, there are two other people in this house with their own needs. So our current challenge is finding what works for us, what keeps us smiling and refreshed, and when it’s okay to let things go. And for the last six months, this is one of the things I’ve let go.

But today? I’m back. Nothing much to say, other than I’m here. We’re here. Lauren is blossoming into a determined, active toddler. She loves to make animal sounds (she’s mastered the sounds for dog, cat, cow, goat, sheep, horse, owl, chicken). She put this into practice the other evening when I was feeding her chicken.

“Would you like some chicken, Lauren?”

“Bawk, bawk!” she replied, each and every time I mentioned the word chicken. (It was even more strange when we had goat the following night. "MAAA. MAAA," she would bleat.)

She manages to communicate plenty with her mix of sign language and words, and even sometimes manages to stretch out bedtime routines with her demands. She would spend the entire day outside if she could, climbing up and down the stairs, sorting rocks, playing in the garden, putting away sticks Lander has dragged around the yard, kicking her ball, and practicing running. She loves when her daddy comes home. Lauren meets him at the door, insists he takes off his coat, and brings him his slippers. It melts my heart each and every time it happens.

I am so thankful that I get to be at home with Lauren, watching her grow. I'm thankful that our families have been able to be a part of Lauren's toddler hood through technology, visits, and old fashioned long-distance love. I'm thankful that Dan has a job, and I'm thankful that his job allows him to do fun things during the day like take us out to lunch.

My heart is full of thankfulness. Just another day in my favorite job.