Every night before bed we read Gracie two books, one of which is always Sandra Boynton’s “The Going to Bed Book.” On the last page the book says that after turning out the lights and saying goodnight, the animals all “rock and rock and rock to sleep.” We rock her back and forth and then take her to bed, saying goodnight, singing Twinkle Twinkle, turning on her turtle light.
Lately life has felt like it is rocking in every direction, violently. No sooner do B and I get our legs about us, we are hit in another direction with something else. Not all of it negative necessarily, but just so much change, so fast. As someone who tends to thrive on routine, I haven’t always handled everything with a lot of grace. Unless of course stress eating a package of Thin Mints and scrubbing grout with a toothbrush while ignoring a pile of clean laundry is “graceful” and in that case, I nailed it.
Now that we seem to have moved past the “make difficult decisions” section of everything, we’ve moved on to finding our new normal. A huge part of this is our change in child care. I now have a daily trip on the El (Chicago’s subway system) to the daycare to pick up Little Miss and bring her home. It changes how my daily routine operates. It means she has to get dressed every morning to get out the door. It isn’t bad, but it is new. I know over time it will become our new normal, but now I’m figuring out how best to prep dinner on my work-from-home days. What I really need is some crock pot recipes that need 8+ hours in the crock pot for the two days I go into the office. After taking a bus from my office to the very Northern end of the El, switching lines, going all the way down to Gracie’s daycare, picking her up, riding the El back up to the stop near our house, getting her, our SUV style stroller, and my work bag/diaper bag down 3 flights the stairs (our El station doesn’t have an elevator), walking to our house, and then getting us all inside and up three flights of stairs, I’m ready to lie down in the entry way and let her stack blocks on top of me while the dog chews my hand off. Making dinner? OY.
(My Grandma, in Gracie’s newborn days, confided in me that having 4 boys wasn’t easy, and that sometimes, when it was just all too much, she would lie on the living room floor and let all 4 boys drive Matchbox cars all over her while she closed her eyes. It is, hands down, my favorite piece of parenting advice EVER.)
When I list it out like that, all the steps of the process, it seems rather overwhelming. But this is city living, this is one car living, and there is so much we love about living in the city I have to remind myself of the tradeoff. We like being able to walk places. We enjoy the museums. The zoo. The lakefront, the city parks, the mish mash of cultures and restaurants and people, the hustle and bustle.
But now, I’m just a bit tired. Rocking in rough waters, finding my new sea legs. (Note to self: continue to work on improving your metaphors). I’m ready for smooth sailing. (Groan).
It is out there, I know. Dare I say….on the horizon? But right now I’m crossing my fingers for better weather (literally, I am so over the snow and mind numbing cold), a relaxing weekend and some family time. One day at a time.
You know the old question…if you had a dinner party and could invite anyone, who would you invite? For most of us I’m sure our guest lists rotate regularly, but right now, my invitation list would look at lot like this:
With myself and B, all place settings of china are accounted for. I’d probably serve something from Smitten Kitchen and have a lot of wine on hand.
Top Five Favorite Shows of All Time:
TV Shows I’ve Never Seen (But Plan On)
TV Shows We Currently Watch
Shows We Got Behind On When We Moved (and had no DVR) and We Miss
Television Shows I Didn’t Like
Number of Academy Award nominated films I saw this year: ZERO. Compared to last year (we saw almost all of the Best Film nominees) I’ll give us a big fat fail.
Recipes I’ve Recently Made and Loved:
Weather forecasts for the Chicago region that have pleased me: NONE. ZERO. ZILCH.
As I’ve mentioned, Gracie is a member of the February Club, which is a fun way of saying she has a few friends with birthdays in February. Having just completed the First Birthday Circuit, I feel qualified to share what I think are awesome first birthday gifts to give. I will note that most kids don’t need anything so if you have someone you want to celebrate, donations to their college fund, your local children’s hospital or Ronald McDonald House are all great ways to give them something that doesn’t clutter up the living room. I also love giving experiences so my first suggestion would be a day pass or play pass to a local children’s museum, zoo, playroom, or private playground. But if you want to give the wee one something to actually open, here goes. (Amazon links are affiliate)
These toys and books are all fairly gender neutral, or for the most part can be found in “neutral” colors – Gracie has very few “girl” toys and we are just fine with that. Princess days are sure to come.
Books! I firmly believe every kid needs a full library. Classic choices include Sandra Boynton (her boxed sets are great, as her seven stories in one volumes) or Dr. Seuss. If you are shopping for a child that already has a robust library, I’d highly recommend the Little Pea/Little Hoot/Little Oink boxed set, or for parents with a devilish sense of humor, Jon Klassen’s “hat” books are eyebrow raising and fun. If you are going a more sentimental route, anything by Nancy Tillman will make parents and grandparens smile with happiness. Textile books (with flaps/fabric/slides) are also popular around here, Gracie can’t get enough of Dear Zoo and this version of Brown Bear Brown Bear.
Leapfrog My Pal. Gracie was given a My Pal Violet, a little stuffed dog that comes with a USB cord so you can input your child’s name, favorite songs, food, color, and animal. The end result is a little dog that sings and talks to your child, often interjecting his or her favorite items. Gracie can’t get enough of Violet.
Fisher Price Tea Set. This only comes in pink (in case you think that makes it a girly toy) but this set is fun for girls and boys. The songs are not too annoying, and we have a lot of tea parties. Bonus: the tea pot has very nice manners and uses please and thank you liberally. Double bonus: the tea pot has an off switch.
Leapfrog Picnic Set. This picnic basket comes in pink or purple (uh, what is wrong with “netural” colors?) and we’ve had a lot of fun with it. We often hold joint tea parties and picnic, and this set lovingly comes with volume control and an off switch.
Fisher Price Little People Farm. After Gracie’s Little People nativity was packed up with the Christmas decorations, she totally missed playing with the animals. The farm has filled the void and she loves that the barn doors make sounds. The farm has an off switch (yay!) but no volume control (boo, it is really loud). We plan on getting her some addition packs as well- perhaps a tractor and some more animals.
B. Parum Pum Pum Drum. This drum has been a hit at our house and many of Gracie’s friends. B toys are generally awesome- their packaging is nice, their materials are non-toxic, and their toys seem to really please the kids. Tip: you can find a lot of B toys at Target for much better prices than online or traditional toy stores. The drum stores all the other musical instruments inside, which makes for easy clean up (and we toss in other noisemakers we have as well to keep them contained).
Alex Toys Play & Pretend Musical Gator. This wooden toy is not nearly as loud as I anticiapted and Gracie promptly mastered the art of cymbal crashing. I love wooden toys and she loves playing with it so…win!
Brio Toddler Wobble. A wooden push cart that Gracie got for Christmas is a total favorite around here – she loves filling it up, pushing it, pulling it and playing with it. I like that it isn’t plastic and rolls well on our hardwood floors (a popular complaint for other brands of walkers). It isn’t as stable as a “tripod” style but I still recommend it.
(Amazon links are affiliate)
Something That Makes Me Smile: Gracie’s been really joyful to interact with lately – mimicking, sharing, playing “chase”, laughing hysterically. The other night she grabbed a toy of the dog’s out of his basket, and took it to him. Our normally lazy dog took the opportunity to play with the toy while she watched with a huge grin on her face. Totally one of those simple life experiences you hope you never forget.
Something That Really Annoys Me: When people “like” things on Facebook that ask you to like them so they can hit a certain number of likes. Most of them are scams, no one is giving away money or airline tickets plus spending money, etc. This article really reinforced why you shouldn’t do it….
Something Random: It looks like this summer I will be going to New York for work. Before Gracie was born I went fairly regularly (every 6 months?) but the project ended and I haven’t had a chance to go. I love going to New York for work, so I’m pretty excited. I’m staying in Midtown which isn’t my favorite (normally I stay in the meatpacking district) but I found out one of the events I’m attending is going to be at an amazing location I haven’t been to, so I can’t wait.
Something Sad: Our nanny share is ending this week. A lot of feelings saying goodbye, wrapping things up. I think on Friday afternoon what I will feel will be relief, but come Monday morning I’ll be a bundle of nerves.
Something Happy: Today is my brother’s birthday! He and I have had, at times, a rocky relationship (siblings, ahh) but I do love him more than anything.
Something I Need to Do: Send in some student loan paperwork and mail Gracie’s thank you notes from her birthday party. FOR SHAME.
Something I Tackled: Our desk and its mountains of paperwork. We finally got things sorted, filed and shredded. Weight off my shoulders.
How about you? Anything that makes you smile/annoyed, something random/sad/happy, any to do lists or tackled items?