Transition to Toddlerhood

We’re transitioning to toddlerhood. It is just that simple. And I can’t believe it.

So what better time to finally share Rylan’s professional birthday photos from July as I shake my mom head in disbelief and bring you up to speed on 13 months…

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You already know that Rylan is walking. Despite predictions he is not yet running, thank god, but he moves fast. He is not a fan of our main baby gate in the kitchen that keeps him from tumbling the back stairs that lead to more, steeper basement stairs. When I close it there are usually tears.

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There are also what I refer to as “fake tears” and back arches when we:

  • Close the fridge
  • Close the freezer
  • Get near the changing table
  • Change most diapers
  • Let Kona eat from the floor around him while he is still eating
  • Get near his car seat, especially in the morning
  • End bath time
  • Pass the back door without going in the backyard

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I’m assured by late-night blog reading and the Highlands Mommies email threads that this is all incredibly normal. And, quite frankly, I already knew that based on having nieces and nephews.

Luckily, his episodes are rarely more than a minute or two and because we’re on to the next thing and try very hard not to give in, he’s quick to move on as well. Sometimes I feel like a hard ass but I know what’s fake and what’s real.

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The other HUGE change is the move to one nap. This one was not initiated by Mike and me. Instead, the one nap phenomenon seems to be a universal daycare move around 12 to 13 months. I was shocked when it was mentioned and questioned everything we’ve come to love about daycare. Then, I calmed down and started talking to parents around me, with kids at all different sorts of daycares. One nap wasn’t a crime being committed against our sleep-loving family. Turns out, it is a common shift.

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It took several weeks to stretch his mornings and he has fallen asleep in his lunch. But we’re pretty much there and our weekend mornings have become so much more fun and flexible, having until about noon before we need to be home. But make no mistake. If we had a nanny I’d still be clinging on to two naps for as long as possible.

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Summer flew by with our first official family vacation to San Diego and trips sans-Rylan. Travels included Sonoma, Lake Tahoe, Breckenridge for me and Rylan, Crested Butte camping for Mike and friends…we’re incredibly fortunate.

However, I also feel like we missed out on some fundamental hometown experiences and vow to slow down and savor being in town more next year. We’ve yet to go to the zoo, did not try a single museum and only went swimming a handful of times. Our fall is shaping up to be just as hectic with weddings to attend in Aspen, Mexico and Southern California. Ski season is never tame but at least we’ll be in Colorado for a few months following Thanksgiving.

Thankfully Rylan is oblivious to my disappointments about over scheduling. He’s happiest in our backyard with bubbles or in the basement having a dance party. Life is unbelievably sweet right now. I am smitten with our budding toddler and am MY happiest when we’re having boring, quiet family weekends. Those weekends are what keep me centered and grounded.

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With every huge milestone and the challenges they bring, I can’t believe how much I love being his mama. I also owe a tremendous THANK YOU to Sarah Hill for another amazing round of family photos. We could not be more thrilled with your ability to capture Rylan’s personality. If you live in, or plan to visit Colorado, there is no one I recommend more for affordable and fun family sessions than Sarah.

Walking

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Quite fitting that in the month it has taken me to post a new blog, Rylan has finally connected weeks of true “baby steps” into full fledged walking.

Over the next few weeks I can’t wait to catch up on life and share pictures from our incredible San Diego vacation earlier this month, post our new favorite Spiralizer recipes and in general, take a deep breath as we wind down summer and prepare for fall.

Rylan is One

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Our sweet boy is one year old (as of July 24…it has been a busy week).

Much more a toddler than a baby, we simply cannot get enough of him. His smile is contagious and his belly laugh is unbeatable. He adores us but is rarely hesitant to go explore with other family and friends. I hope to always nurture his independence, yet I also embrace that he is thoughtful and cautious. Perhaps that will save us a few trips to the ER once he enters the wild boy stage.

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The first year with Rylan is hard to capture in words. I tried recently but the post only scratches the surface. I just can’t believe that we went from expecting to deer-in-headlight parents of a newborn to comfortable, pride-filled parents of a one year old boy. I am really proud of us as individuals and as a couple.

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In the past week I have spent a lot of time talking and texting with the moms who make up my tribe…tribe of moms near and far who are always there for the tough, real questions of motherhood. I’ve leaned on them through tears related to how fast year one went and my sadness of nursing him for the last time. After weeks of fighting for my supply, I decided the morning of Rylan’s first birthday party would be our last nursing session. I closed his bedroom door and soaked up every quiet and serene minute. My heart is so full knowing that we had this special year together. I am very proud of our accomplishment.

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Mom’s 12 Month Favorites:

  • Our connection–the kind only a mom and her son can experience
  • Watching him surprise himself by taking a few, unassisted steps toward me the morning after his birthday party. I am thrilled I was there for the moment
  • His predictable mealtime pickiness and obsession with blueberries
  • The way he acted extra silly and crazy on his actual birthday…like he knew it was his super special day
  • The total awe on his face watching Mike work on our backyard. He is ALL boy when it comes to staring and pointing at heavy equipment
  • His weird obsession with the vacuum. He cries when I turn it off, which allows me to get quite a bit of vacuuming done without feeling guilty that we’re not playing with his toys

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Dad’s 12 month favorites:

  • Watching Rylan discover new things and the inquisitive look on his face when he is introduced to new experiences
  • The joy he brings to our faces, and the excitement on his face when we see him after a long day of work
  • Watching him start to figure out how to walk, even though he can’t quite do it on his own yet, you can tell how much he’s trying to figure it out
  • His curious personality
  • Watching him interact with other kids, especially his cousins, and seeing him learn how to share and be social with other kids
  • His strong affinity for meat and blueberries, though we’d like him to expand his food preferences a bit more, at least we know there are a few fall back foods that he’s likely to eat when we need him to chow down

Year One Realities: 20 Personal Learnings

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We have less than a week to go until Rylan’s first birthday. I find myself almost daily looking back on our first photos as a family. The speed at which babies change in year one is nothing short of remarkable. His budding personality and infectious smile, especially his little smirk and what I call “mom eyes,” are what motivate me even on the toughest days.

Year one is messy. Messy in the literal sense (So. Many. Diapers.) and messy emotionally. You go from only taking care of yourself to giving 150 percent of yourself to this little being, wanting to give even more if that is humanly possible. Exhaustion is real. As is questioning–everything. My return to working full time out of the home was tougher than I prepared for mentally. I still struggle, especially on Mondays after a fun weekend, with leaving him five days a week.

Year one is also truly rewarding. Who knew the pride that comes with watching your baby find its hands? Rolling over? Forget about it. My iPhone is full of videos from that day. Below are some more of my personal year one realities. I’d love to hear about yours as well.

  1. Worrying. About everything. All the time.
  2. Cringe-worthy Google searches.
  3. Humorous and tear-stained text message sessions with other moms. At 2 a.m.
  4. Sleep. There is never enough.
  5. Friendships changed in wonderful and difficult ways.
  6. Complete reliance on your partner, falling in love over and over again.
  7. More disagreements with your partner than ever before. See #4 lack of sleep observation.
  8. So much judgement, from yourself and others (other moms being the harshest sometimes).
  9. An Amazon Prime addiction.
  10. A dresser drawer of t-shirts and sweats where dry clean only tops used to live.
  11. A hot shower behind a locked bathroom door = divine escape.
  12. Quiet nights and weekends at home as a family are deeply fulfilling…realizing it is ok to miss out on things.
  13. Cutting a little too loose when you do stay out past 8 p.m. I’m in dry clean only clothes people!
  14. Feeling overwhelmed with pride for the littlest achievements. My baby clapped today!
  15. Running out of space for all of the pictures and videos on your phone.
  16. Wondering what the heck you did with all your free time before baby.
  17. Gaining an entirely new perspective on life’s blessings…and regaining it over and over again when you see a single mom, or a sick child or a family desperately wanting a child.
  18. Patience.
  19. Humility.
  20. Love. Gut wrenching, tear evoking, soul changing love.

Rylan, we’re in utter awe of how fast this year has gone. I want you to reach for every star in the sky and promise to help you in every way we can. But my heart also drops a little that our first year with you is nearly complete. You were and still are the most incredible baby. We love you tremendously and can’t wait to embrace the next year with you.

The 5:30 a.m. Wake Time

I have a bone to pick.

Where are the books or websites dedicated to helping dual-working (outside the home) households navigate the schedule and transition hurdles associated with having a little one in daycare full time? Do they exist?

I can’t readjust Rylan’s entire day when he decides wake time is at 5 a.m. His teachers are accommodating to a point, but his room has a schedule too and they are working very hard to keep the babies on somewhat of a similar routine. Similarly, I would need to leave work early every day in order to make his bedtime any earlier than 7:30 p.m. to see if that helps solve our current 5 a.m. – 5:30 a.m. wake time occurrences.

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On Monday – Friday, by the time we race into the house around 6 p.m. or 6:15 p.m. depending on traffic, I run around like a crazy person to throw down something nutritious on his highchair tray for dinner. This sprint is followed by bath and if I am lucky, a few moments of cuddles and playtime before Rylan begins whining and rubbing his eyes in exhaustion.

Why is he exhausted? Well, Rylan is much too curious to nap for longer than 40 – 50 minute stretches on his daycare days. And yes, I feel we have tried everything. Letters to his teachers about it being okay to let him CIO at the 45-minute mark. Moving him to the furthest, back corner crib to mitigate noise and distractions. Bottle before nap. Bottle after nap. Bottle after nap and milk in his sippy cup. New sleep sacks. If we’re lucky Rylan gets two 50 minute naps during the day there.

But there isn’t a chapter in any of our books on how to deal with that. In fact, in one I read recently it talked about adjusting naps and bedtime and then said, “this is very difficult for babies in daycare.” Period. Nothing else. No real-life examples or words of advice. Seriously?

Yes, yes…I am 100% aware that kids don’t actually follow the baby books word for word, but they were sure helpful in the beginning. I miss being able to reference things like sleep phases and eating issues.

Or maybe I am reading the wrong books entirely? The Honest Toddler has a helpful post on how to decipher toddler mornings. Rylan isn’t a toddler quite yet, but this “schedule” from The Honest Toddler is also informative.

Mike and I have decisions to make. Consider the 5 a.m. hour wake time “fun” a phase and attend to him upon waking? Try CIO, which breaks my heart and makes me stress about leaving him in there when he could be hungry or dirty? Take a chill pill on all of it and toast to the next phase of impending toddler-hood?

There is one solution I wholeheartedly embrace, thank goodness. Coffee. Lot and lots of coffee. Normally my answer would be wine but I’m too sleepy for that.

Happy sleeping!

Rylan is 11 Months

IMG_8439Eleven months (last week). Counting down to one. I’m simply amazed by how fast the most life changing, thrilling, exhausting and humbling year has gone.

Rylan is still one of the happiest babies around. His smile and belly laugh is infectious. He loves his mama and dada but warms up to strangers within minutes. If Rylan could choose his own adventure each day, it would consist of being outside as much as possible, eating meat and blueberries, watching ceiling fans, opening kitchen cupboards and dancing to music…any kind of music. The kid loves to bounce and clap.

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This has also been one of the most challenging months yet. Rylan is beginning to test limits and has a very predictable reaction when things do not go his way. He has taken to folding over while crying to hide his head in his hands. And when it comes to the car seat and diaper changes, he contorts into a full body arch to protest. Sometimes we can’t help but laugh because he is upset over such a silly thing. But other times I get nervous about the toddler road ahead. Behind Rylan’s sweetest smiles, I fear, is a stubborn streak that will surely test us in ways we can’t predict.

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However, until then, I am holding onto every cuddle and every nursing session for dear life. I cannot get enough of how he waves his arms and crawls to me at warp speed at daycare pickup. My heart melts at the way he curves his arms through mine when I am holding him, pulling himself that much closer to me. I adore watching him stare in awe at his older cousins. Their bond is already strong and he is going to follow them around like an unshakable shadow in the next year.

Mom’s 11 Month Favorites:

  • Holding his little hands while we “walk” around and around the house together
  • The fact that he is still up for nursing at least twice a day, and the look that only I get when we hang out and cuddle and play after nursing and before bedtime
  • Hearing from his teachers just how social he has become. He is the class “tour guide” during stroller rides, pointing out every tree, building and other sights along the way
  • Asking him, “where is the owl or where is the light,” and seeing him think then point to the correct object
  • His easy going nature when we are away. My mom watched him for three nights in mid-June and he was his happy and flexible self

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Dad’s 11 Month Favorites:

  • His extremely inquisitive personality. I love answering his point and “bah” questions with an explanation of what he is seeing. It is especially neat to watch him learn how to recognize, with repetition, the things that he is pointing at…especially ceiling fans and lights
  • Seeing him go from crawling, to standing, and walking with support, along with his growing interest in figuring out how to walk on his own
  • Watching him begin to mimic mom and dad, and the excitement on his face when he figures it out
  • The HUGE smile on his face after being away from us
  • How his smile and giggle makes us smile and laugh right back, no matter how challenging the day

Little bud, we love you so darn much! Can’t wait for what the next few weeks have in store.

Beginning of the End: Breastfeeding

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Rylan turned 11 months yesterday (pictures & blog post soon). The day marked the beginning of the end of my pumping and nursing journey.

It is a much more emotional realization than I ever anticipated. I set out to try and make it six months. I assumed my return to working full-time outside the home, five days a week, would leave me dry and worn out by the six month mark. Reality? Quite the opposite.

Following my five and a half month nursing post, I received an overwhelming amount of encouragement and personal advice for how to keep going–if that is what I wanted.

I am grateful that my body cooperated with what my heart decided was best for Rylan and me. The ‘me’ is a very important part of this journey. Nursing before and after work has slowed me down. I can’t do dishes or pack us up for the next day. I can’t get online to work and ask Mike to give a bottle. Rylan and I sit alone in a quiet room and for those minutes, however long, it’s just us. And I am helping him grow and stay healthy. I feel grounded. I re-gain perspective.

Pumping twice daily at work hasn’t been easy but it is what I needed to do to maintain supply and store (i.e., hoard) milk. My coworkers have been extremely respectful of my “Personal: Block” calendar holds. And even though I work on my laptop through every pumping session, I am able to steal a few quiet moments to think about Rylan, our family and all that I simply love (or on some days, dread) about motherhood.

My body gave me the gift of a strong milk supply and I felt – and still do – like it was a sign. A sign that Rylan and I needed to be connected in this way. Breastfeeding and pumping ends in heartbreak for so many moms who want nothing more than to make it to one year, if not longer. I have tremendous respect for any decision a mother makes, because we’re judged for all of them regardless. “You’re still pumping? That is nuts.” “You went straight to formula? Hm.” We’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. Thank goodness our little bundles love us unconditionally, regardless.

I am hopeful that with enough Mother’s Milk tea, fennel essential oil and Fenugreek I can continue to nurse twice daily until his first birthday. However, if my supply continues to drop at the rate it is going we have enough milk stored to carry Rylan for several (we think) months past the big first birthday milestone. There is no denying my milk hoarding mentality when you look in our garage freezer.

I owe a HUGE thank you to my blog readers who have reached out via Facebook, text, email and more. Your encouragement and wisdom-sharing is why I am here at 6:15 a.m., pumping and blogging before I go to the gym. Morning gym days mean a 5:45 a.m. pump so Mike can give a fresh bottle. Thank you all so very much.

My breastfeeding journey is wrapping up…but the fun is just beginning around here! The countdown to one is on…

Review: Soybu Yoga Wear

Disclosure: I was generously given a Soybu yoga top and pants to test in my everyday fitness classes. All opinions and observations are my own. 

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My body has changed. Despite what people see or what the scale says, my body has changed since having a baby. Most notably, none of my old workout clothes fit quite like I need them to in the chest or stomach areas. I need more support and more “holding in” than before.

That said, my old clothes fit so I have had a really difficult time justifying new activewear purchases. I own quite a bit of Lululemon but following last year’s PR debacle I have not wanted to purchase any more of their products. So, imagine my thrill when a very dear friend joined Soybu as a local PR consultant here in Denver. Before she even began talking to them I had observed what looked like a fantastic Mile High Mamas event at Soybu’s new flagship Denver store and loved all of the photos I saw being posted by local moms I admire on social media. All different body types yet everyone was smiling and posting about how good the clothes fit–how they felt beautiful, strong and supported.

When my friend asked if I’d be interested in trying an outfit I leaped at the offer. I do not do a lot of traditional yoga, so I told her the clothes would be put to the test in kettle bells, sculpt, cycle and more.

On my doorstep, just in time for a Saturday morning kettle bell + barre class, was a pair of the Killer Caboose Crop (um, yes please) and Goddess Tank. At $59 and $44 respectively, both pieces are extremely durable  and versatile investments without breaking the bank. The top has removable pads and is ruched in all the right places, especially for us mamas. I am still nursing and like to add a little extra support for classes with a lot of intense movement. I wore one of my lighter sports bras for added support and it was an extremely comfortable layering fit. The pants lived up to the name and gave my struggling booty a noticeable lift. And finally, for once since having Rylan, I felt like they sat properly on my new waist and stomach–a huge boost of confidence.

But how would they perform?

To be fair, the gym I frequent can be pretty hot in the summer. Add on hundreds of kettle bell swings and plank jack tabatas and it’s a sauna. The top did not breathe quite as much as I needed it to but in other classes that has not been an issue whatsoever. Now I wear wear the top and pants separately depending on the class, saving the tank for classes where I know there is A/C or a slower, yoga-focused pace. The pants are good for just about everything and I have no fears of mistakenly showing off my backside when doing a forward fold or leaning back into race mode on the bike. That’s key!

I love that the company is passionate about making women feel beautiful. Shape and size don’t matter. It’s about feeling strong–strong for you. For me I feel strong in all different ways. I feel strong at the gym, at work and when I am sitting quietly nursing my son. From my brief experiences with Soybu so far, they are a brand that wants to help me embrace all of this.

I am eyeing the Lotus Capri and Kelly Tank next. And the Utopia collection that is being teased as “Coming Soon” on the website currently looks really cute! Are you new to Soybu or have you been wearing it for years? What do you love on the website?

 

Rylan is 10 Months

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Ten months old as of Saturday. Double digits. Officially within the window where it is okay to talk to other parents, especially first-time moms, about first birthday party plans.

What. Is. Happening.

Each day Rylan is becoming more of a little boy. He wants to stand on everything and can no longer be easily corralled with bouncers and jumping apparatuses.  No kitchen drawer is safe and baby toys are boring compared to bathroom waste baskets, dog beds and wobbly tables. And Ry has the bumps to prove it in his 10 month photos. Look closely at where his poor little forehead met the stainless steel fridge head on. Let’s hope he develops better depth perception than his mama.

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If Rylan could plan his perfect day I think it would consist of being outside as much as possible. Stroller rides, sandbox time, slides, swings, water–anything to stay outdoors. I know this early preference will bode well later in toddler-hood when he is schlepped along for hikes and camping trips on a regular basis.

Ironically, if Rylan could plan his own meals I think meat would be a part of every sitting. Perhaps that is from not getting any chicken or red meat in utero. He loves fish too, thankfully, but can down meatloaf, meatballs and sausage at record speed. Other favorites include any type of fruit, especially blueberries and watermelon, noodles, yogurt and cheese. We did introduce peanut butter with no reactions, but it isn’t a favorite yet. Purees have also become a thing of the past, though I am still making fruit purees to stir into his oatmeal and plain yogurt since I refuse to buy the pre-flavored baby varieties.

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This month Rylan will enjoy another weekend with Grandma Judy (my mom) when Mike and I take a 10 year college reunion trip to Lake Tahoe. While Grandma gets up early and plans outings to music class, the zoo and park, I am dreaming of sleeping in, reading fashion magazines by the lake and drinking mimosas.

And speaking of mimosas, I guess I’ll have to plan for a bit of the infamous “pump and dump” routine on our trip. Ry is 10 months and still going strong on breast milk. I nurse morning and night during the week and typically all day (four feeds) on the weekend. I am pumping three times per day (morning and twice at work) and taking Fenugreek to help my supply, which dipped pretty dramatically last month. If I am good about water, Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk tea during the day at work I am pumping 7 – 10 oz daily in addition to nursing, sometimes more. That is a HUGE decrease from just two months ago so I am extremely grateful that we have a good amount stored.

My new goal is to nurse until Rylan turns one and then mix what we have left in storage with whole milk. I am determined to get to a year, which makes trips like Tahoe stressful but I know it will be great for all of us.

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Mom’s 10 month favorites:

  • The silly, milk-drunk grin he gives me before bedtime
  • When he squeals after a nap or in the morning when we open the door to his room
  • His growing fascination with everything Kona does and how he stays totally calm even when Kona is barking loudly near us
  • Saying “shake shake” and then having Rylan shake his head side to side, which causes his whole body to sway back and forth
  • The moment he clapped on his own and the huge grin that crossed his face
  • The way he holds onto my arm when I am carrying him…so content and trusting
  • His opinions. New-found opinions don’t make it easy to change diapers or tighten the car seat, but he’s developing and I am so intrigued by what he does and doesn’t tolerate these days

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Dad’s 10 month favorites:

  • Watching him begin to mimic our gestures and actions
  • Seeing his big smile whenever he sees mom or dad, especially when I pick him up after a long work trip away from the family
  • Getting to watch him interact with his classmates and see who he is becoming “friends” with
  • Watching him learn to pull himself out and slowly progress to standing on his own–and the surprise in his eyes when he realized what he has done

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Rylan, we love you so darn much. I remind myself every day just how lucky we are that you picked us to be your “ma ma ma ma” and “da da daaa da da.”

A Thought on Motherhood

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Earlier this week I was driving Rylan to daycare. Mike had been traveling, Rylan had been up every night coughing and I was simply wiped. In fact, later that day I tried to wipe what I thought was ink from my face only to realize it was the circles under my eyes. Sexy.

During our drive I was in a total zone. I was thinking about all of the things I wish we were doing now for Rylan, rather than focusing on all that we are doing with the limited time we have together as a family.

Sign him up for swim lessons. Find a Saturday music or movement class to meet, hopefully, other moms who work outside the home and some kids in our neighborhood. Read more. Say “screw the mess” and recreate one of the many art projects he completes at daycare on our front porch on a nice day. Go the the library for a story time.

But then I had this little personal epiphany. It made me smile and dissipated the lump I still get on my throat during many morning daycare drives.

I may have become a mom in an instant, but it’s going to take a lifetime of trial and error to become the mom I envision myself being.

I say “instant” because even though pregnancy is nine long months, I didn’t feel like a mom yet. I still got to sleep as much as I wanted. Go to the gym based on my schedule alone. Take trips without guilt and only keep cereal and milk in the house if life was too hectic for a grocery store run. Pregnancy chips away a little at your selfishness but not completely.

It was, however, an instant between the last push in the delivery room and the moment Rylan was put on my chest. Seemingly within an hour or two, all the nurses and doctors who hovered over me during labor were on to the next family and there I was–a mom. A clueless and terrified mom holding this tiny little boy. A clueless and terrified mom with a lot of hopes and dreams of what motherhood would look like.

Some have come true. Some have not yet.

As moms we tend to dwell on the “have not” when there is so much to celebrate on the other end of the spectrum. However, I am actually okay with the regularly questioning of myself. Asking myself, what we can be doing better? While exhausting it means we’re really in it–living parenthood every day. I care so damn much about making Rylan a well-rounded little guy.

This post is not intended for people to tell me that I am a good mom. I am not looking for empathy or cheerleading of any kind.

I simply feel the need to reach out and connect with the other mamas out there who feel the same way–that motherhood is an instantaneous shift, yet it takes every hour of every day to figure out what the hell you are doing!

I am thankful every day for my network of support–spoken and unspoken. And wine. I am very grateful for wine.

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