Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Sometimes it's hard to believe I've been a nursing mama for more than a year.  For thirteen months and three days, I have provided the nourishment Eamon needs to grow as big as he has.  I remember when he was born, and I felt so proud to have grown such a strong, healthy newborn.  I was grateful that my body knew how long he needed to "cook," and for the innate wisdom of both of us - our nursing relationship was easy from the start.

As he began to grow bigger, I swelled with pride yet again.  As he grew and grew, I was still his sole source of nutrition.  I'm often overwhelmed by the idea of it...  It's so incredible that my body can sustain itself and support another person.  At thirteen months old and twenty-six pounds, my beautiful, strong boy eats a variety of table food, but most of his calories come from me.  More importantly, he has a firm landing zone in my embrace and at my breast.  When life gets to be a little too much for my toddler, he climbs up in my lap and snuggles in for a few quiet moments.  We've created a relationship that has its ups and downs, but is more wonderful than I could ever imagine.

Now that Eamon's past one year, most people tend to assume he's weaned.  Those who don't assume ask when he will be.  I don't have an answer for that yet.  He'll wean when he's ready.  Sometime in the next few years, he'll stop needing my nutrition.  He'll find other ways to cope with the world around him.  And just like so many other things in his life, it will most likely happen too soon for me.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

13 Months!

This week has been full of fun for Eamon.

We've been working on animal sounds.  I'm big on realistic sounding animals, especially since we can hear cows and chickens from our living room.  Our pig doesn't say "oink."  Of course, Eamon thinks all animals say, "Baa!"  Sometimes he'll repeat "bock bock bock," and "moo," but mostly it's "baa!" with a big smile.

I pulled out a few fine motor skill/tactile experiences for Eamon this week.  I poured some beans into glass bowls, added a few different size scoops, put the whole thing on a cookie sheet, and set it in the middle of the floor.  The look on his face was totally priceless, and the forty-five minutes of play was definitely worth the ten minutes I spent cleaning beans off my carpet.  This is a fun activity, one we will definitely do again.  Next time, I think I'll add a funnel and maybe a third color of bean.

 Since he did so well with the bean scooping (most of the ones on the floor are from tossing them out of the scoop), I decided to try marbles in bubbles one night.  I gave him this great little olive spoon I have, which was the perfect size for scooping up marbles.  He didn't have a lot of success scooping up the marbles, but he did have fun.  It's great to have these simple activities that help him work on motor skills and keep him entertained for more than three minutes.

It constantly surprises me how much time Eamon will sit and play by himself.  He's perfectly content to work on an activity for ten minutes or more, as long as: 1. he initiated it, 2. it seems to have a purpose, and 3. he's having a fairly high rate of success.  I've been putting these offerings out without really making a big deal of them, and letting him decide how to best approach it.  He wasn't sure what to think of the bubbles at first, but when he realized there were marbles in there, he dove in.

Fingerpainting was not such a big success.  He just wasn't sure what to think of it, and showed very little interest.  Most of the marks came from me, though he did explore a little bit.  On an upnote, I got to try out a homemade fingerpaint recipe I found on Pinterest.  I put the undyed portion in the frig, where I'm sure it will keep for a long long time.

We walked to the park one day this week as well.  The park near our house saddens me.  It reminds me of those abandoned parks in horror films - where the swings are swaying in the foreboding breeze, and dust is being kicked up.  Eamon was similarly unimpressed.  After about ten minutes of exploring, he climbed back into the stroller and asked to go home.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gratitude Tuesday

Today I am thankful for this chocolate cake recipe.  For years now, I've been eating those Betty Crocker Warm Delights cakes.  Full of preservatives and who knows what else, yes.  But chocolate cake in three minutes??  Can't be beat.

Except it can.  This instructables.com recipe is rocking.  I used a little too much cocoa this time, but next time I'll know.  I put it in my 16 oz Corningware dish, and it was the perfect size.  In fact, next time I'll probably cut it in half - I could only eat about three quarters of it.

Topped it with ice cream.  Just the best dessert ever.  And I made it with whole wheat flour, so it's healthy.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Sunday's Work

Sunday has always been my housework day.  My crafting day.  My mostly stay-around-the-house day.  The past few weeks - actually close to a month or more - I haven't gotten to do this, and it's clear I need to spend a day just hanging here.  The house is trashed, I haven't been focusing on finishing my projects, and I just need to a day to recollect.

Here's what I need to accomplish today:
1.  Finish Eamon's longies.
2.  Seal the wooden blocks from his birthday party, and take pictures.
3.  Date and put photos in Eamon's album.
4.  Download all the digital movies we got for Christmas. 
5.  Clean.  Clean.  Clean.
6.  Finish Eamon's fabric alphabet set.
7.  Finish Eamon's fabric shape set.

It's ambitious, but aren't I always?  It's 8 AM, let's see what I can get done today...

While you wait, here's a picture to enjoy.  Eamon likes to wear my underpants like a scarf.  Preferably several pair.  The other day he had a pair around his waist like a belt, and four around his neck.  I suppose that's what I get for leaving clean clothes in a hamper.

9:30 PM - I feel pretty good about today.  Didn't get everything on the list done, but I did a fair amount.  And I nursed a toddler about twenty times.  

1.  Finish Eamon's longies.  Got these finished today, now I just need to lanolize them, and they'll be ready to wear.  But I can't lanolize until I get the dishes done, since the sink is full right now.  Finished the dishes, and the longies are done and drying.  They just need an elastic waistband, and they'll be ready to go.

2.  Seal the wooden blocks from his birthday party, and take pictures.  Okay, so, I didn't at all get this done.  But I did get the homemade "Mod Podge" done.  It's in the fridge and all ready for me when I get around to doing this... Hopefully one day this week.

3.  Date and put photos in Eamon's album.  Yep, Eamon's first year photo album is done.  And I printed exactly the right number of pictures so that the last picture is him on his birthday with his birthday balloon.  Now I just need to get a new album to start for this year.

4.  Download all the digital movies we got for Christmas.  Got the important ones done and put onto the iPod.

5.  Clean.  Clean.  Clean.  Haha.  Maybe the first clean.  But my policy is always the same: cleaning will be there later.  Moments with my family and friends (and my crafts) might not.  While I'm busy cleaning, Eamon might be outgrowing the pants I wanted to knit.  And let's be honest, cleaning with a toddler running around is pretty useless.

6.  Finish Eamon's fabric alphabet set.  I definitely didn't finish the whole set, but I DID finish all the vowels... And that almost counts, right?  I had hoped to make these magnetic, but I've not been able to find tiny, strong magnets, so I gave that up.  I'll probably make a nice fabric box for the set.  But not today.

7.  Finish Eamon's fabric shape set.  Eamon has recently entered a sensitive period for matching shapes.  I decided to throw together these scrappy little shapes for him.  I've been working on them all week, so these were done except the red squares and blue semi-circles. Super great stash busting project - just like the fabric letters above.

Friday, January 20, 2012

One Year Old, Week Three... A Big Reader

Eamon and Daddy at Eamon's birthday party

Thoughts for the week...
Each night before bed Eamon and I (or Eamon and Daddy, if he's home) read a few books before settling in to sleep.  We've done this since he was tiny, and he comes from a long line of bookworms, so it's logical that he is an avid reader already.

For a few months now, Eamon has been sitting in front of his book shelf and reading books to himself.  It's quite adorable.  For a few weeks now, he's been bringing books to us to read.  Also quite adorable.  For the past few days, he's been picking favorites and asking to have them read again and again.  Not quite so adorable.

Last night, we read "If You Give a Dog a Donut" six times in a row.  If you are unfamiliar with this series of books, it's a basic recipe of: If you give a creature a food item, he is going to ask for xyz, which will lead to this, then this, then he'll want this, which will remind him of this, and on and on until he cycles back around to the first item you gave him.  I like these books because they are entertaining and easy to follow for toddlers.  They have strong, well written sentences that neither drag on and on or fall off at the end.  (Many children's books have choppy sentences; drives me batty).  The illustrations are relatively easy to identify, and there is a cadence to the books that appeals to me.

But six times was a bit much.  I was so sick of that dog and his baseball throwing (and apple tree climbing and pirate pretending and water fighting and kite flying) by the end of the fourth read through, I just wanted to chuck the book out the window.  It is going back to the library today.  And we'll probably find a new book that will drive me to the edge of sanity.

I love that my child is a reader.  I love that he shows respect for books even at his young age.  I love that we can make family trips to the library, and that the librarians know him already.  And I love a lot of children's books.  I'm always looking for suggestions about books.  What's your favorite children's book?

Fun this week...

Eamon went bowling for the first time over the weekend.  He had fun, but it was exhausting trying to keep him from running up the lane.  He bowled a few frames with Chris - I was pretty impressed (not at their score, but at Chris' ability to hold Eamon and roll a bowling ball).

We had some snow this week, too!  The past few years we've gotten early and frequent snowstorms, but this year seems to have returned to "normal" southwest Virginia weather - it was nearly 60 degrees the other day. But we got a little snow, and even though you can't see it in the picture, Eamon went out and played.  But doesn't he look so cold?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rules for Mamas

The kid has better style than me...

I recently ran across a link on Pinterest called 25 Rules for Mothers of Sons. It's a beautiful list, and I want to share some of her points here.

1. Teach him the words for how he feels. The author makes the point that teaching children to identify emotions now helps them name feelings as adults. This is true, but I think teaching our sons about emotions serves another purpose as well. Boys are often taught to "suck it up," and "be tough." Women often complain that men are emotionally unavailable. Correlation? I think so. By teaching Eamon to identify and express his emotions, I hope to make a man who can feel good about having emotions, and feel free to express those emotions.

4. Read to him and read with him. Our house is filled with books. I've always loved that Chris is an avid reader, and the first time I saw his mom read to Eamon, I knew exactly how he became that way. Even at only a year old, Eamon brings us books and asks us to read. We always make time to do so, and never tell him to wait when it comes to sharing a book. We make family trips to the library, and often all three pile into bed at night with a book each.

5. Encourage him to dance. Eamon dances joyfully, and it always makes me smile. It makes me want to dance. And it makes me sad to think about the day when he will become embarrassed about moving his body. PS - Want to see a great video of Eamon dancing?

9. Teach him to have manners. All people should have good manners. We ask Eamon nicely, we use "please" and "thank you" with him and with each other. We try to model the behavior we want to see.

11. Teach him that there are times when you need to be gentle. Today, Eamon held a two month old baby in his arms. It was the sweetest thing I've ever seen, and he was so careful and gentle with her.

14. Go outside with him. This is such a wonderful piece of advice. Eamon can spend hours just wandering around our yard, chasing chickens, picking up sticks, and exploring nature.

15. Let him lose. One of the biggest disadvantages we can give our children is to give them every advantage. Too many people come to adulthood without knowing true disappointment. Like the old timers say, "It builds character."

18. Answer him when he asks, "Why?" This applies on so many levels. As parents, we should always answer our children honestly. They don't need every detail, but answer the question they ask. It's important to help children learn how to find answers, too. I Google everything, and I think it's because as a child, when I asked a question, my parents would say, "Go look it up in the encyclopedia." I learned to research, and I'm a researcher to this day.

20. Let his dad teach him how to do things. This is a no-brainer in our house, since Chris has so many wonderful skills that I couldn't begin to teach. But aside from talents and hobbies, it's important for both parents to share in the wisdom-imparting. It's hard sometimes for me to give up control, but when I watch Chris help Eamon master a new skill, it's heartwarming to see them bond over a singular goal.

24. Kiss him. Refer to point #1. Boys who are raised in affectionate homes grow into affectionate men, which is good for future spouses and children.  Eamon gives the sweetest kisses you've ever gotten.

25. Be home base. It's so important to provide a consistent, trustworthy base for your child. Eamon feels good about roaming because he knows we will always be around when he needs us. We respond to his needs, but we don't hover over him all the time. Now that he's so mobile, he's very independent, but will ask for help or a hug when it's needed.

Check out the whole list here. It's very insightful.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gratitude Tuesday. Today I'm thankful for one thing.

Recently one of my girlfriends returned to work after having her baby.  So many of the women in my life have made this journey - the return to full time employment after the birth of your child.

Today, and every day, I'm thankful for the ability to mostly stay home with Eamon.  I work a few hours a week, but my job is very flexible, and Eamon frequently goes to work with me.  Other than those few hours, we are together all the time.  I'm so fortunate.  It takes sacrifice from our family, but it works for us.  And I usually forget to say thank you.

Today's gratitude is all for the POSSLQ.  He has always supported me in all my endeavors.  He works back-breaking-ly hard so that I don't have to do the same.  He makes sacrifices every day so I can stay home and raise our child.  And on days when I do go to work, he stays home to play with Eamon, and never calls it "babysitting."

I'm not sure enough "thank you"s can be said.  The ability to stay home with a child has always been important to me.  I know many other women know the importance, but their financial situation prevents it.  I'm so lucky my man feels the importance, and helps our family make it work.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blech. So much for a weekly craft.

I feel a little sad about my craft-a-week goal today.  It's the end of week 1, and I haven't finished my craft yet.  BUT... Four days of mind-blowing, gut-wrenching (literally), laundry-tripling illness in our house this week has left me with little time to knit.  I've been up to my elbows in vomit and dirty diapers, nursing a one year old through a nasty stomach bug.  For twelve hours, I had gastrointestinal pyrotechnics I've never seen before.  And now, as POSSLQ lays on the recliner recovering, I'm trying to get the house back in order after all the madness.

Needless to say, I'm running a little behind.  I'm cutting myself some slack, though.  My goal this week was to finish two little knit vests for twin boys who are good friends with Eamon.  Even with all the illness, I've made good progress, and I think I can finish at least one tomorrow.  I hope, anyway.  Eamon has an afternoon playdate with Pap-pap, which should give Mama plenty of time to sit on the couch and knit!

In other news, Eamon completed one of his first outdoor chores today - feeding the chickens.  Usually when we go out, he plays while I take care of the girls.  But today, he showed a good deal of interest in watching them gobble up their scratch corn, so I showed him how to throw handfuls out to them.  Watching him pick out about eight kernels and drop them right at his feet was so entertaining, especially since we have seven hens, and they can eat fast.  I do wish I had taken a picture, but who carries the camera to the hen house?  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One Year Old, Week One

Thoughts on Parenting...

It's hard to know where to start talking about Eamon.  He's such an engaging, intelligent child.  He's truly a delight to watch grow up.  We are so fortunate to be blessed with him, even in his challenging moments.  The first year with him was mostly about parenting him in an attached, gentle, responsive way.  Until very recently, his wants and needs have been one in the same.  Now that he is growing old enough to have wants separate from needs, it's a little bit of a struggle for him to understand the changing dynamic.  This venture into toddlerhood is the beginning of frustration and exertion of will.  Eamon is quite advanced in his motor skills, but his reasoning is just where a one year old's should be, so teaching him safe and respectful interaction is sometimes challenging.  He just doesn't understand that running half way down the aisle at the grocery store could be potentially dangerous, or that everything in a store is not for him to touch and toss around.  

We generally try to limit him based on a few simple questions: Is he in definite danger (not the "if he falls just right and the fork is turned up and the planets align he could poke his eye out" kind of danger)?  Is he putting someone else in danger?  Is he potentially destroying property or violating someone else's person?  If the answer is 'no,' we don't usually stop his behavior.  I constantly see children who are limited in their actions at every step, and then parents wonder why the child is so scared of everything.  I want to raise a child with a healthy outlook on life, a sense of respect for all people (self included), and a good head on his shoulders.  So far, we've succeeded.  Eamon is bold, kind, thoughtful, curious, and appropriately cautious.  

A Birthday Week...

As I mentioned yesterday, Eamon's birthday party was this past weekend.  Though we haven't gotten to see pictures yet, here's a little video of his birthday walk.  It's such a neat tradition in the Montessori method, I really enjoyed making it our own.  It will be really great to do this each year.

The Delights of Eamon...

These two pictures were taken eleven months and one week apart.  Clearly Eamon doesn't use the baby bucket seat anymore, but when he saw baby Eli get out, he wanted to try it out. Really shows you what a year of mama milk can grow... 

There are few things Eamon loves more than brushing his teeth.  Each evening, he spends about ten minutes gnawing on his little adorable toothbrush.  He's very into imitating us, and this week he's learned that spitting is a part of tooth brushing.  Unfortunately, he doesn't spit into the sink...  But watching him "pa-toohy" is so sweet, I can't bear to correct him.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Gratitude Tuesday

Dear Friends,

Thank you for making Eamon's birthday celebration so special.  Even though he won't remember it, we will, and we are truly blessed to have such dear friends and family.  Eamon is truly loved.  It will be a while before we see any pictures from his birthday night, but I wrote some things down in my Eamon notebook when we got home, and I want to share some of those thoughts here.  

"You are surrounded by a world of love.  So many people love you so much, it makes my soul smile...  Hard to believe how far we've come in just one year...  Right now, you are in the place between baby and boy, but your growing independence becomes more obvious everyday...  I know you won't remember your first birthday party, but hopefully you will look at pictures and smile at the fun we all had - it was an amazing and beautiful one, just like you."

Here's a picture of our boy with his birthday balloon--

Dear Swap Partner,

Thanks for a lovely package full of goodies for all of us.  Thanks especially for such a cool hat!  

Dear Mom,

Thanks for having the patience to preserve our holiday tradition.  I know it was difficult to justify baking cookies with only a few days at home, and little ones running around.  Spending time in the kitchen with you really helps it feel like Christmas to me, and I'm so happy we got to share that with Eamon this year.  I hope he'll grow up with cozy holiday memories of baking and candy making.

Dear Universe,

Thanks for a child who shows such joy at the simplest things.  This is an expression we see quite often, but can't capture "on film" much.  Eamon has just the sweetest happy face, and I'm so delighted when I see it.  We couldn't ask for a more amazing child, and we are so blessed to have him. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year

New Year's Day has never been terribly special to me.  In years past, we've celebrated with friends, but never done The Fancy.  Last year, we were just settling into our new life as a family, and this year - and I expect for many years to come - we are just recovering from both the holidays and a very special birthday.

The purging and renewal that surround New Year's Day are symbolic and a little cliche.  As I've grown older, however, I've grown to really enjoy the symbolic and cliche, so here I am on New Year's Day purging and renewing myself.  Well, my internet self, anyway.

I've been slowly weaning myself from Facebook.  There's a few features I don't particularly like, and I really don't like how I can spend hours just looking at Facebook, without accomplishing anything.  I'm hoping that, by switching my focus away from Facebook, I can have a better blog presence, and dedicate more time to the social media sites I really like - Pinterest and Ravelry.

I'm laying out a blogging schedule for myself that will include at least three posts a week.  Gratitude Tuesdays will be my first weekly post, followed by "One Year Old, Week xx" on Wednesday.  In my non-internet life, I'm setting a goal to complete one craft or DIY a week, so my third weekly post will probably be in that vein.  My blogging plan is ambitious, I will admit.  I love to write, but I'm not very disciplined about it, so this is my way of remedying that.

Hopefully I can follow through with this aggressive plan, and 2012 will be well documented in our household. If not, well, let it be yet another New Year's Resolution not fulfilled.  Last year is riddled with them, after all.