Full circle

If you can believe it, my parents still live in my childhood home. I have no statistics on this or anything, but in my experience it seems that this is becoming less and less common–especially when you factor in that I actually only had one childhood home, since that house was actually my Dad’s bachelor pad! I didn’t officially move until I was 21 years old, since college dorms don’t really count (as in, no one shuts off your internet because they didn’t process your payment correctly in their own system *squints accusingly at Verizon*). I don’t know if that has anything to do with why I super mega HATE moving, or if everyone super mega hates moving and I’m just particularly whiny about it, but there you have it.

My point in all this is that when I go to visit my parents with Asher, I’m taking him to the house that I’ve identified as “home” for the most aggregate years. I’m bringing him to the place where I learned to walk and talk and do calculus and recover from heartbreak. His Pack ‘n Play is set up in my old bedroom, and I give him a bath in the same bathtub I splashed around in as a baby.

Crazy hair don’t care!

The very first time Asher ever went to “Nanoo and T-Pop’s” house, my Dad came out to the driveway to meet us and asked if he could carry the baby inside. This was special to him, because he had carried me inside the same house for the first time 30 years before, and now it was coming full circle.

My parents’ home is only about 40 miles as the crow flies from New York City, which means that after the attacks of September 11th, 2001, we smelled the smoke for days. I have a visceral memory of an event that had global impact, and which will be 20 years in the past by the time Asher can even begin to wrap his mind around it. And 9/11 is only one of the many reasons that he and I will always understand the world differently.

Such as the fact that I listened to music on cassette tape, didn’t have a cell phone until I went to college, and had to get off the internet when someone else needed the phone line. Heck, I’m OLDER than the internet! I got Facebook when you still had to have a .edu email address, and even then it could only be from certain schools. I can’t even begin to fathom what strange new contraptions and platforms Asher will need to explain to me with when he’s home from college; I’m afraid to dwell on what terrible events are still to come that will serve to shape his worldview.

The divide between our generational life experiences will only continue to widen as we surge ahead at the speed of light. The world Asher will grow up in is not the same one I did, and this uncomfortable truth matters in some incredibly fundamental ways. I hope that I’ll be able to remember that in the future, when his opinions and choices absolutely baffle me…and I’m pretty sure that they will, at least some of the time.

All that makes it so much more precious to me to be able to share my childhood home with him. We may have very few things in common someday, but we will always have this. He may not remember these days of crawling the same floors his mama crawled, eating at the same time-worn table, playing in the very same yard, but I will–and I will cherish them.

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Grace for dropped stitches

Well hi there! Things around here have been more than a bit hectic for the last few weeks, as evidenced by the total lack of activity on this little blog–not least because a certain young man has started to not only crawl, but also pull himself up on furniture, yank things off shelves, and just generally wreak adorable havoc wherever he goes.

Exhibit A: Dumping out the clean laundry and creating a fort from the basket.

Gone are the days when I could put him down somewhere safe with a favorite toy, and actually expect him to stay there while I emptied the dishwasher or switched clothes from the washer to the dryer. Don’t get me wrong, I am completely thrilled by his growth and development, but the more mobile he gets the more creative I have to be to keep him safe while getting life done (as a stereotypical first born, he despises his play yard on principle, no matter how many fun things are in there). What usually happens is that I scramble frantically to Do All The Things while he naps, and it’s like he’s got some kind of radar–the second I finish the last Thing, he wakes up ready to play!

Also, Asher loves both books and yarn with a deep and abiding passion. This is exactly what I wanted for our child when I was pregnant, as those are two things that have brought Dave and I endless wonder and joy. HOWEVER, I expected him to start loving them when he was a wee bit older, and wasn’t primarily deriving pleasure from things through his valiant efforts to choke on them. Mama can’t really read or knit in front of Baby when he immediately NEEDS whatever I’m holding to be in his mouth…and he can now merrily crawl over to me and retrieve the desired object in no time flat. Hashtag facepalm.

“I don’t know what she’s talking about, I would never do such a thing!”

Combine these two factors, and you have a devoted knitter and reader who has rapidly dwindling opportunities to do either…which is the reason why I was knitting a complicated pattern on Tuesday night while simultaneously reading a really interesting book. See? It’s completely not my fault that I was doing something kinda dumb. I wasn’t setting myself up for failure, I was a victim of circumstances. I had no other choice. Et cetera.

So, I’m knitting along on this pattern (which I had already repeated enough times to have memorized) and reading along in my book, and it’s all going swimmingly UNTIL, dun dun dun…I dropped a stitch. I knew it immediately, but not because I saw it happen–as we’ve established, I was being a nincompoop and not looking at what I was doing–I knew because I felt it happen. Dropping a stitch isn’t that big of a deal, as long as you notice it right away and are able to fix whatever collateral damage has occurred. Not noticing, however, can literally cause an entire project to unravel, because every stitch in a knitted fabric is linked to every other stitch, and losing one can mean losing all.

(Note to self: Explore knitting as a metaphor for social justice sometime in the near future.)

I’m a really experienced knitter. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years, and there’s so much muscle memory built up that I’m far more likely to feel a problem happen than to see it happen. And when it does, I stop, examine my work, suss out the wayward stitches, make the necessary corrections with minimal fuss (usually; I’m only human), and carry on.

That’s what I did on Tuesday night. I put down the book, retrieved the lost stitch, rearranged myself on the couch, and I was off to the races again. And then I stopped, and wondered to myself how long I would have to do this motherhood thing before I could take a problem in stride that easily. When will the day come that I can feel something going wrong even before I see it, examine the situation, suss out the wayward attitude or word or desire or whatever, make the necessary correction with minimal fuss (usually, since my child and I are only human), and carry on? When will motherhood be as simple as that?

After much deliberation, I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is… it probably won’t. Many things about motherhood have evolved into instinct as Asher has grown and I’ve gotten more practice, and I’m actively engaged in expanding my parenting toolbox. So, I have lots of hope that I can, and will, continue to get better at being his Mama… But, maybe the day will never actually come when something as complex and nuanced as raising a child will feel like second nature, something I could do with my eyes shut. Maybe it’s not even supposed to.

Honestly, that prospect is pretty frightening for me. I thrive on mastering things, and one of the reasons that I like knitting so much is because I’m good at it–even the stuff that I struggle with feels like a puzzle to solve, not proof that I should quit. Now, on the journey of motherhood, I am being forced to learn moment by agonizing moment to give grace to myself, because this is not something I ever expect to truly master.

I need to give grace to myself when I have no idea what I’m doing, grace when I try my darnedest but still don’t get it right, grace when my own selfishness stands in direct opposition to the needs of my tiny human. Lord have mercy, I especially need to show myself grace when I do something that’s just plain old stupid.

I would like to think that at the end of the day, Asher will benefit more from a mother who has fought hard and learned to show grace even to herself, than a mother for whom the whole thing came easily. And, since that second one isn’t actually an option, I am committing myself to becoming an imperfect mother who knows how to give and receive grace.

And that will only happen one mistake, one dropped stitch at a time. Here goes.

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Pre-pregnancy jeans and newborn hats

Happy September! It’s been crickets around here lately, because Asher and I got to spend some time at a beach house down in Long Beach Island and I left my computer behind! Unfortunately Dave didn’t get to come with us, because he was home waving his fingers over his keyboard and making magic things happen. He tells me about his work all the time, and I still manage to have absolutely no idea what he does because it all just sounds like Swahili to me.

It was actually pretty cold while we were in LBI, hence the layers of fleece and wool in this photo:

“Mama, what exactly are we doing out here? It was warm inside, and there were snacks!”

And those layers are what I’d like to talk about today. First of all, you see that hat? There’s a story behind that hat. My wonderful and extremely talented friend April made it, in a class at The Blue Purl that she and I were supposed to take together…and which I, in my pregnancy-brain haze, COMPLETELY forgot about! She ended up texting me 15 minutes into the first class asking if I was coming, to which I was like, coming to what? So, because I was too spazzed out to even write down a multi-week class on my calendar, Asher got a hat–he’s lucky I have such good friends! It’s a gorgeous yarn (Madeline Tosh, I think!) that has lots of flecks of color in it, so it’s masculine without being just straight blue.

I knew it was going to be chilly when I was packing for our trip, so I decided to bring that hat along. It kept Asher’s little head warm throughout his first several months of life, when it was just so cold and damp all the time…he even wore it home from the hospital!

Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

And therein lies the problem. This gorgeous hat is newborn size. It was big on him for so long because he was born quite tiny, but I failed to account for how much his head has grown in the months since it got warm enough to ditch wearing a hat…and his head has grown a lot.

Yeah, we’re not getting another winter out of this one!

Sigh. I guess April will just have to make him a bigger one (wink wink)!

Speaking of things that are tighter than they once were…those are my pre-pregnancy jeans you see in that first photo. Now, I fit back into them by the time Asher was 3 weeks old, a meaningless feat that, at the time, felt like I had won an Olympic medal. However, they have since been put in Time Out for saying rude things about my body. I really don’t know how they managed to sneak into my bag, but in packing up the 7,364,129 things needed to take an 8-month old child away from home for more than 4 minutes, they got in when I wasn’t looking.

The jeans fit. They zip and button just fine, and I can even sit down in them…but they went in Time Out anyway, because they seem to feel that my body should still be shaped like it was before carrying and delivering a miracle, and insist on pinching and poking until they get their wish. If we can get up close and personal for a second here, I actually weigh less now than I did when I got pregnant…but the skin on my stomach is looser, my rib cage is wider, and I still have to get up almost every night no matter how much I dehydrate myself before bed.

Having a baby changed me, body and soul. Elizabeth Stone says that to have a child is to have your heart walk around outside your body, and she is spot-on–everything about me feels more vulnerable now, in part because I know there is so much I can’t protect Asher from, no matter how hard I try. But I also feel that my edges are softer than they used to be, that I am faster to empathize and to at least try to understand, because I’m practicing for the day that this tiny little person will need me to do both…probably in spades.

In many ways I’m still the person I was before Asher came rushing into the world; the basic shape remains the same. But the details are slightly different, and I see no point in trying to pretend otherwise, in trying to force myself into ways of being that don’t lay quite right anymore. So, my schedule looks different, my hair is longer so I can get it up and away from grabbing baby hands, my days are primarily spent pouring into my two guys instead of trying to save the world, and I don’t wear the pre-pregnancy jeans. In the future some, or even all, of these things will certainly change yet again, but this is where I am today…and honestly? I like the new jeans better anyway.

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The privilege of being buried

I expect that my son will bury me someday, and not the other way around.

Anything can happen, of course, and nothing is guaranteed to any of us, but as a mother in the United States in 2017, this is a fairly reasonable thing for me to believe.

I have the privilege of assuming that I will not have to bury my child.

What got me thinking about this less-than-cheery idea was a truly terrible book about parenting around the world that I just finished reading. It’s badly written and weakly argued, but honestly, the central thesis just made me angry: these people actually had the audacity to argue that North American parents are too uptight in our parenting because we’re so worried about our children’s futures, and that we should just cut it out. Now, that in and of itself isn’t so terrible, and might very well be true–the problem is why these authors came to this conclusion. They said that we North Americans should loosen up because parents in the developing world don’t stress nearly as much about how their children will function in the future, and are almost entirely focused on teaching immediately applicable skills.

Forgive me for being blunt, but it seems fairly natural not to stress about your child’s future if you harbor no certainty that he or she will actually have one. 

When I played “The Oregon Trail” as a kid, my characters died of cholera with annoying frequency; that is the closest that disease has ever come to impacting my life. This year, the World Health Organization estimates that anywhere between 21,000 and 143,000 people will die of cholera worldwide. My computer game inconvenience will rob thousands of real mothers of their real children in 2017…and that’s just one disease. Never mind HIV/AIDS and parasites and droughts and famines and unspeakable violence and lack of even basic medical care and, and, and. UNICEF says that 21 children die every single minute, almost entirely in developing nations.

As a mother who has the privilege of assuming that my child will bury me, I find it patently absurd to hold up a woman in the developing world who does not have that privilege as a standard by which to measure my parenting. Hold her up, in the holy name of God hold her up, but hold her up as a sister for whom my heart should break. Hold her up as someone to speak out for, to fight for, to sacrifice in order to help. If she is unconcerned about her child’s vocabulary because she is too busy showing him how to find enough food, I don’t think I should stop worrying about my child’s vocabulary–I think I should start worrying about why her child isn’t guaranteed enough to eat.

This has been gnawing away at me all day, ever since I finished that book–be proud of me, I didn’t actually throw it across the room even though I really super wanted to. I don’t know what to do about these staggering numbers of tragedies oceans away from me. Merciful God, I can’t even stop the heartbreaks of people I see and talk to every day. I pray, and I give money, and I have fought on the front lines of death and loss and anguish, but no matter what I do, no matter what small victories I help achieve, I cannot bridge the gap between how things are and how they ought to be.

Since before Asher was born, Dave and I have prayed that he would be someone who holds a candle in the darkness. He will be no more able to bridge the gap than I am, but I hope he will try anyway. So, maybe that is how we should try to raise him, in light of all those parents in the developing world: to be brave enough to fight in a battle he absolutely cannot win. Perhaps I should worry a bit less about his future well-being, and focus instead on how he will choose to use the future he is very likely to have.

This is little consolation, but it is all I have in the face of just how broken this world is. Holding even a small candle in the darkness, and teaching my son to do the same, must be better than holding none at all.

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Sunday Stitch Count 8/20

Hi there! Better almost bedtime than never, right?

You’ll notice that these photos are a bit darker than normal, seeing as how I just took them and all…it was a busy Sunday for us! But hey, I can absolutely guarantee that this post will be less gruesome than tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones probably will be, so this can just be considered a brief reprieve!

Find Your Fade by Andrea Mowry

Glory be, a color change! This newest beauty is Tosh Merino Light in Ophelia. I actually got quite a bit of this done this past week while my Dad drove us to the beach, because what better way to celebrate your child’s first beach trip than by knitting a blanket shawl in 100% wool?!?

Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman

Still looks nothing like a jacket, but I got to see a finished product at The Blue Purl this week and I could actually see what was going to be what in the end…so there is hope! I’m feeling very conflicted about my button choice for the end product, but I should probably actually finish it before I worry too much about that!

Baby Blossom Blanket

This is one of those projects that likes to lull you into a false sense of security, because it goes so quickly that you think, “oh, I don’t have to rush on that one”…and the next thing you know the as-yet unborn baby you’re knitting it for is crawling. I mean, not that I’ve ever actually experienced such a thing, I’ve just heard rumors…#bettergetamoveon

And to wrap up, we have Asher demonstrating his newest skill–getting himself into a sitting position! He’s only been able to do this for about a week, and now he’s doing it like a pro. This photo was taken the first time I went to get him after a nap and he was sitting up waiting for me…I was equal parts elated and heartbroken, because every time he learns something new I gain a baby who can do that thing, but lose the baby who couldn’t. I tell him every night how glad I am that I get to be his mommy, and I really, really mean it.

Stay safe with the eclipse tomorrow!

Last week’s Stitch Count:

Sunday Stitch Count 8/13

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Asher’s Adventures: The Beach!

Asher went to the beach for the first time this week!

Asher supervising while T-Pop sets up his special umbrella tent–it was one of his first Christmas presents!

Let’s go ahead and acknowledge that it’s weird for me to call that place with all the sand and ocean “the beach” instead of “the shore”. I’ve lived in New Jersey for exactly 80% of my life, and apparently everyone else who’s actually from here calls it “the shore” (after all, there’s a reason that awful TV show got the name it did). I have no explanation for this, and I’m just as confused as all the people who have pointed this out to me over the years–and there have been several.

ANYway, Asher went to the beach! My Dad and I took him to Island Beach State Park (yep, the Chris Christie beach), which was really special because we’ve been going to that beach since I was a little girl…after the medical waste got cleared up, that is. My parents were real squares and didn’t want their kids playing with dirty needles and used bandages. Sigh, parents.

Still trying to decide how he felt about all of this!

So, we packed up all of the accoutrements needed to take a baby to the beach (which is a LOT), and we were off! We take a super-duper back road route to get to this beach, and I’ve ridden it so many times that I can literally close my eyes and envision the entire trip.  Once we got there the three of us trudged up “Agony Hill”, our affectionate name for the sandy hill you have to climb to get to the less crowded part of the lifeguard area. It’s not nearly as agonizing as it used to be, because back in the day it really was very steep, but carrying a 16 pound person while walking up it was still a bit of an effort.

Asher had a great time, and as a result, so did my Dad and I. Asher’s little feelings were rather hurt when he grabbed two handfuls of sand that immediately ran away from him, but T-Pop gave him a cold bottle of soda to hold and that made up for the insult.

We were able to stay on the beach for several hours thanks to the wonders of babywearing–that is to say, pigs would fly before Asher voluntarily took a nap without Wendy Whale, but he was powerless against the forces of a wrap and a nice walk by the waves. He was out cold in 5 minutes flat, and woke up ready to keep playing!

This is a Solly Baby wrap and I absolutely love it, in case you’re looking for one!

My Dad and I took turns holding Asher in the water when the waves weren’t rough, and he definitely has some swimming instinct because he kicked his little legs like a champ. iPhone v. Atlantic Ocean never ends in the phone’s favor, so I don’t have any pictures of that part, but you can take my word for it–it was adorable!

Speaking of taking on the ocean, at the very end of the day our little camp setup got swamped by a rogue wave. Talk about rude! Fortunately nothing was actually damaged, just soggy, but it was a bit of a chore to get everything packed up (full disclosure, my Dad did about 93% of the work). To that end, Asher got the “job” of monitoring the bags…

He was quite pleased with his contribution to the project!

Once we were finally packed up and ready to go, we headed back down Agony Hill and made our way home. Now, you know how a lot of babies conk out the minute they get in the car? Asher is NOT one of them. He must really enjoy watching the world pass by, because he will stay wide awake for an entire hour long car ride…even when it really would be best to sleep because it’s, you know, nap time or something. However, I didn’t think he would last long when I saw this face…

And I was right.

He slept the whole way home!

So, long story short, I got to revisit one of my favorite places from my childhood with my own child. I am so grateful to be able to do this sort of thing with him, and I can’t wait for all the adventures still to come!

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Sunday Stitch Count 8/13

Today I gave Asher an avocado for the first time, thinking he would like it…

I was wrong.

I remembered after this wildly unsuccessful attempt that I was never able to keep an avocado down once in my entire pregnancy with him, so at least he’s consistent! And Dave doesn’t like avocado either, so unless some opinions start changing around here I guess I’ll have the avocados all to myself!

Over in knitting world, I have to confess to starting not one but TWO new projects this week. I was really trying to be good, but I was growing a bit weary

Find Your Fade by Andrea Mowry

I blame this shawl for my lack of knitterly fortitude over the last week. I was at least able to capture a bit of the shaping that’s happening over on the right side there, but honestly, this lovely pattern and gorgeous yarn has gotten…boring. Gasp! I’m probably going to have my license to knit taken away for admitting that, but it’s true. At this point in the pattern the shape is changing by one stitch (out of 235) every other row. That is a LOT of knitting with, like, no visible change, so my attention has been wandering a bit to…

Baby Blossom Blanket by Hayfield Company

Okay, for real, HOW cute is this little blanket?!? The yarn is Baby Blossom Chunky by Hayfield, and it’s self-stripping, so all those cute little blossoms and leaves show up of their own accord with a single skein of yarn! No intarsia, no color chart, no bobbins to keep in line, no extra ends to weave in, you just cast on and go! And since it’s chunky yarn, it knits up super fast–I started this project on Thursday evening. It’s so nice to be able to whip up something like this when it feels like I’m just not getting anywhere with the fancier projects (*cough* Find Your Fade *cough*).

Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman

This pattern is the stuff of knitting legend. The “BSJ” is notorious for the fact that when you’ve finished all of the actual knitting, it still looks nothing like a jacket–hence the “surprise” part! The pattern has been updated since the original publication in 1968 to be a bit more helpful (my two favorite lines from the original are “work will start to look very odd indeed, but trust me and press on”, and “hope you are still with me”), but it’s honestly still on the sparse side. But it’s not a shawl, and it’s more complicated and thus more engaging than the baby blanket, so I’ll do as Elizabeth says and press on. Also, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (a.k.a. The Yarn Harlot) wrote a fun post about the BSJ back in May if you’d like to see finished photos!

Falling Waters by Knit-A-Bit staff

Falling Waters is plodding along, neither overwhelmingly dull or thrillingly new, it’s just minding it’s own business and doing it’s thing.

Finally, I thought a close-up of the yarns for these four projects might be fun, so you can see the difference in yarn weights (I know, it’s an astonishing idea, try to contain your excitement!):

The yarn on the left is “chunky” weight, the next yarn over is “worsted”, then we have “DK” (I had to look that up, it apparently stands for “double knit”–who knew?!), and finally “fingering” weight on the right. You can see why the blanket using chunky yarn is going so much faster than the shawl using fingering, the yarn is twice as thick!

And now, it’s time to put my avocado-hating baby to bed! Happy Sunday!

Previous Stitch Counts:

Sunday Stitch Count 8/6

Sunday Stitch Count 7/30

Sunday Stitch Count 7/23

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Wendy Whale for President

Just to be clear, this is not about politics. It’s about the fact that Wendy Whale is probably responsible for my sanity still being relatively intact, and as such I am her biggest fan. She was made by Gund, she’s soft and squishy, and there are little blue ribbons sown to her spout to look like water. She has a swirly button on her tale, and when it’s pushed she plays soothing, oceanic music and moves through a series of gently pulsating lights. She is very calming, and she was the breakthrough with Asher’s daytime sleeping.

This picture wasn’t posed, I went in to check on him and found them like this.

Asher has slept through the night since he was a little less than 3 months old. The fact that he was on formula by then could definitely be a contributing factor, but he also seems to just be a naturally good sleeper…at night. But during the day, he was like a different person…a person who didn’t like sleeping.

At bedtime, we go through Asher’s little routine, and barring an unusual circumstance like a tooth poking through to make him grouchy, he goes down in his crib awake and promptly falls asleep. He sleeps all night, then he wakes up in the morning and starts chatting with himself until someone goes in to retrieve him. I was convinced he would have a terrible sleep regression at 4 or 5 months, because it just seemed too good to be true, but he never did. So far, so good.

This is not how it was during the day. Getting that child to nap while the sun was out was like herding cats. Actually no, worse than that, I’m surprisingly good at herding cats (I think it’s because I understand their nervous energy, but that’s a topic for another day). Asher has fought going to sleep for an hour and a half, only to wake up 45 minutes later in a bad mood because he’s still tired. Sigh. It didn’t matter how exhausted and in need of a nap he was, he didn’t want to sleep so he wasn’t gonna sleep.

I was honestly at my wit’s end about his napping strike, and it was especially confusing because he was such an angelic sleeper at night. A number of other moms dismissed my woe out of hand, saying that it didn’t matter if he refused to nap because he was always getting a good night’s sleep. I know they were just trying to put a positive spin on it (or, let’s be honest, they were jealous), but to be harsh for a second, they were wrong. It did matter that he wasn’t napping, because he was exhausted and unhappy all. damn. day. And with an exhausted and unhappy baby, I’ll give you one guess at MY emotional state!

Then one day my Mom came over to visit, and she brought this cute little Gund whale with her. She knew I would like it because I’m a sucker for aquatic creatures, and it was soft and cuddly so Asher was totally into it. I honestly can’t remember now if it was her idea or mine, but the next day I tried putting Wendy Whale in Asher’s crib with him during naptime. This wasn’t an instantaneous miracle cure, and he didn’t become a good napper on the spot; but let me tell you, my child no longer tantrums for an hour and a half before going to sleep.

When it’s time for a nap, Asher drinks his bottle, cuddles with me for a few minutes, then I put him down in his crib and turn on Wendy Whale…and he falls asleep. Every so often Wendy Whale’s timer will end before he’s completely out, a situation I am promptly alerted to by his indignant hollering. And on more than one occasion I’ve gone in to check on him because he’s slept for so long, only to find him wide awake and playing with Wendy Whale, totally content.

Wendy Whale’s official headshot!

I don’t know if it’s the lights, the music, the shape, the color, the ribbon spout, but something about that little stuffed whale makes my nap-resistant son think, “huh, I bet falling asleep right now would be super pleasant and refreshing”. And I know it’s not just a coincidence, because I’ve tried putting him down without Wendy Whale, only to swiftly recant on my foolish decision and return her to her rightful place (indignant hollering is very effective on me!).

So, sometimes help comes from an unlikely source. After trying absolutely everything to get Asher to nap, the breakthrough was good old Wendy Whale. The two of them are happily snoozing away as I write this. I don’t know why it works, I’m just glad it does!

Have you ever gotten help where you weren’t even looking to find it? Was it as surprising as a singing whale?

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How a spoon works

“But he definitely understands how a spoon works?”

Asher didn’t have his 6 month appointment until he was a few days shy of being 7 months, because that was the soonest we could get in to see the pediatrician a neighbor had glowingly recommended after Dr. Lon passed away. Now, this wasn’t a problem, but the thing about people who are that young is that a month can make a world of difference developmentally. So, while he hadn’t officially turned 7 months yet, Asher was sort of looking like a super-baby by the 6 month old standards. He had 4 teeth already, he was not only sitting up well but was actually standing on my lap while the doctor took his medical history, and as she judiciously put it, he was very aware of his surroundings–enough to cause way more drama than was actually warranted by the situation, i.e. screaming like a banshee when the stethoscope came near him.

But the thing he wasn’t advanced on was his diet, specifically how many solid foods he had eaten. By the time of the 6 month appointment I had scheduled with Dr. Lon, Asher had tried all the solid foods Dr. Lon recommended by that age–cereals and pureed fruits and vegetables. I had anticipated discussing the next dietary steps at that 6 month visit…

And then I called his office to confirm the time of Asher’s appointment the following day, and the voicemail informed me they were “closed due to the passing of Dr. Lon”. In addition to some other very serious concerns (like the fact that there was initially no covering physician for Dr. Lon’s patients, and I had no access to medical records if an emergency happened), I also had no idea what to do with Asher’s diet. Yeah, feeding a baby isn’t rocket science, but we couldn’t see the new pediatrician for 3 weeks, and I had no one to call in the mean time if he developed a rash or his breathing got weird. With no safety net, I was just too scared to give him any new foods.

Cue the 6 month appointment that happened at nearly 7 months. I could tell the pediatrician was a little surprised that Asher was only eating solid foods once a day, and only from a very small pool of options, but once I explained why I hadn’t advanced him she was totally sympathetic. She immediately gave me carte blanche to feed him anything except honey, as long as he could manage the texture and consistency. And then, she threw me the “softball” question:

“But he definitely understands how a spoon works?”

Asher Chewing On A Spoon

“Don’t worry Mama, I’ll take it from here!”

See what she did there? Obviously he understood how a spoon worked, I had just listed all the things he’d eaten off of one! She wasn’t actually asking me that question, she was affirming how far we’d come from the days when he didn’t know what a spoon was for. Rather than making me feel bad about his lack of culinary variety, she chose to focus instead on what I had already done right.

Oh, how I wish I could learn to talk to myself like that doctor talked to me! I will discount an entire day of good mothering because Asher pitched a fit in his car seat and I couldn’t calm him down while driving. I’ll beat myself up for not immediately realizing that he’s crying from hunger, not tiredness, at what would normally be naptime. I feel awful when I lift him out of his stroller and his back is sweaty, even if he’s been serene and happy the whole time he was in there. And yes, I went into that 6 month appointment embarrassed that he hadn’t tried more foods.

I am so much harder on myself than I would ever think to be on anyone else. Heck, I’m too hard on myself about being too hard on myself! There will always be things to improve on in my mothering, my marriage, my homemaking, my professional development, really any task or relationship I can think of. But if I could learn to pause for half a second and give myself credit for what I’ve already gotten right, I bet I’d be a lot happier and calmer about how far I still have to go.

So, my baby knows how a spoon works. That seems like as good a place to start as any in recognizing what’s going well, what I’m already good at. My baby knows how a spoon works, he knows he is cared for, he knows he is safe, he knows he is loved. I’m not a perfect mother, but I am a good one.

What about you? Are you too hard on yourself sometimes, like me? If so, what are you already doing right? I bet it’s a lot!

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Sunday Stitch Count 8/6

Happy Sunday!

We have a new tradition in our little family of walking into town for ice cream every Sunday afternoon, and the walking part makes the ice cream part feel completely justified. However, the smallest member of our family, who has not yet been introduced to the glories of sugar, tends to feel a bit left out of the festivities.

“I really don’t think my key chain tastes as good as your ice cream does!”

Today was no exception, so if you see Asher and he feels compelled to share his woes with you, just go ahead and assume it’s about the absence of ice cream in his life. He’d probably appreciate a sympathetic sigh or two, while you’re at it.

Over in knitting world, there’s been some modest progress:

Find Your Fade by Andrea Mowry

I’ve finally moved on to my fourth color, Tosh Merino Light by Madeline Tosh in Kimil. I took the second photo to try and show the four different yarns I’ve used so far, since even in person it’s hard to tell the difference between the first two without direct sunlight. It’s harder to photograph knitting than I ever realized, and I now understand why Stephanie Pearl-McPhee always enlists her husband for help! Also, I really can’t show the changing shape of the pattern because the width is now longer than the cord on my circular needle. Sigh. Who will play me in the movie?!?

Falling Waters by Knit-A-Bit staff

I’m making some headway on the second panel, but it’s really just a bunch of cables with a small median between each, so it’s not terribly exciting at this stage. But believe it or not, when the stitches get dropped at the end it will look like that first panel on top! I photographed it vertically, just to show the effect, but the two pieces are actually aligned horizontally for the finished product. The pattern is definitely a leap of faith (the instructions don’t really seem like they should work but so far they have, and dropping stitches on purpose feels more than a bit bizarre), but the nice thing about knitting is that worst case scenario, you rip the yarn back and start something new!

And now, if you’ll excuse me, Asher would like his turn with the computer, so it’s going to disappear for a while!

Sunday Stitch Count 7/30

Sunday Stitch Count 7/23

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