Getting the Hang of this Toddler Thing. Maybe.

By Angela

It feels like Matt and I have fallen into a routine again, which is why there’s been a lack of Eng Dynasty posts lately. Our days are long: we get up at 5:30, get ready for work, get Zelda ready for daycare, and depart for our respective commutes. I head to the metro, Matt drops Zelda off and drives into work. He picks her up in the afternoon, around 4, and I get home around 6. We’re just getting the hang of getting dinner started (which is easier on days I don’t telework) so that we don’t eat around 8. Then it’s a couple of hours of YouTube videos or video games before we tumble into bed. Rinse, repeat.

I’m oddly okay with this. At least, for now. I’m constantly tired, but my career is thriving and I’m succeeding at being a working mother. Every now and then I wish the days would slow down, but I’ve gotten a lot of what I’ve always wanted: a writing career, a job in a big city, motherhood, an amazing husband. Being tired is a small price to pay.

Couch time with Zelda.

Zelda is now almost two years old. I cannot believe how fast the time is flying. A few months ago I wrote about how I was nervous about having a toddler on my hands. Admittedly, I’m still nervous. I see toddlers having meltdowns in Target or read friends’ stories about living with their toddlers, and I think, “I’m so not ready.” But here we are, in the thick of it, and I wouldn’t say we are doing remarkably, but I also don’t think we’re doing a terrible job, either.

Currently, Zelda is babbling with a few words thrown in. I experience a little of that “Mommy Anxiety,” though, when people ask me if she’s talking. Our conversations go a lot like this:

Other person: How’s Zelda doing? She’s how old now?

Me: Oh, she’s great! Growing like a weed. She’s almost two. Can you believe it?

Other person: Oh wow, two? Is she talking yet?

Me: A little. She knows a few words, but it’s mostly babbling. 

Other person: Oh my niece/nephew/cousin was counting and saying his/her ABC’s by the time he/she was a year old! 

At this point in the conversation, my eyes glaze over and I have the urge to defend Zelda’s development, but I end up nodding, smiling, and escaping. I don’t know if it’s me being defensive, the other person being insensitive, or a combination of both, but my hackles always go up at the implied comment that Zelda is somehow inferior or defective in some way.

Truthfully, she awes me, which is probably why I get so defensive. She’s fearless. She started attempting to scale the couch when I wrote my last post, but now she likes to climb up on the armrest and do a dramatic dive off it and onto the cushions. She runs full-tilt throughout the house and plays small games of hide-and-seek. She plays with Torrance and tries to be friendly to Gozer (who’s not having it).

She also figures things out at an alarming rate. She knows how to work the TV remote and navigate to her favorite show (Little Baby Bum). She knows how to get to her favorite app on the iPhone (Wheels on the Bus). She asks for help when she’s stuck, but she always tries to do things herself, too. She’s learning to clean up after herself and understands the concepts of “hot” vs. “cold.”

Mid-tantrum after Matt left to walk the dog.

Her tantrums, however, are not as awe-inspiring. I put her down, and she squawks. I tell her “No, not right now,” and she wails. Sometimes she flops on the floor like a fish. I leave her there until she decides to act more civilized. Sometimes, when I tell her no, her face crumbles and she cries loudly. Just this morning she batted me in the face, and I said, “No, we don’t hit people.” She started with a pout, and by the time I got her outside and strapped in her car seat, she was full-on crying. But she didn’t hit me again, at least!  I wished Matt good luck on his commute and waved goodbye.

Mealtimes are still a challenge, but they are getting better. She eats a lot more than she used to. She loves fruit, french fries, and rice the most. On good days, she eats her dinner without a single boo. On the bad days, she eats a few bites and then sends some food over the side to Torrance. When I tell her to stop, I get one of three reactions: a cute smile, a scowl, or a sweeping gesture that sends all of her food to the floor. Sometimes she ends up wearing a lot of her food, but on those days Matt and I just smile, get the bath water running, and do what needs doing.

Mealtimes are a battlefield.

A lot of the time, I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. There’s so much pressure out there to do things perfectly, and there’s that weird feeling of competition I feel when reading posts online or talking to other mothers. Perhaps that’s something I need to work on, but for now I’m plowing ahead the best I can. It helps that Matt is on this adventure with me and doing the best he can as well.

Most of all, and perhaps the most important of all, is that I love seeing her out and interacting with the world. She’s changed my world, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she changes it for other people.

But not through tantrums.

Learning What It’s Like to Live With a Toddler. At Least, I Think So

By Angela

Zelda turns a year and a half tomorrow. I can’t believe how fast the time has flown. At the same time, those dark nights of feedings every two hours and cleaning up diaper blowouts seem like they were a million years ago. I wrote a post last month about all the indicators that we have a toddler on our hands. It’s bittersweet, really. There’s so much I miss about Zelda being a newborn, but there’s a lot to love about her being a toddler. That being said, I’m kinda terrified about what comes next.

I might be guilty of reading too many Scary Mommy blogs. I’ve read horror story after horror story about raising toddlers. A sample:

Today, my daughter cried because my son took away her imaginary rocket ship. She was crying over something that does not exist.

As soon as he’s done chewing ice . . . He steals another fork and commences banging. There is only one thing to do. I get out my phone and hand it to him because I am easily defeated, and I want to have a conversation with my husband that doesn’t involve someone else’s feces.

There is no need to switch out stuffed animals at 3 AM. They are stuffed and they have no real feelings. I, on the other hand, do, and when you wake up and refuse to get back in bed at 3 AM, the feeling I feel most is anger.

Combine those with some of the horror stories/videos I see on my Facebook feed, and I’m feeling slightly uneasy about the times to come.

A tantrum after reading a book for the 30th time

Zelda’s already starting to show more signs of toddlerhood. At the moment, she’s not trying to open all the cabinet doors and toss down the Windex, but I’m waiting for the day I turn to Matt and say, “Well, time to toddler-proof the cabinet under the sink.” She’s fond of opening the one next to the stove and throwing all of the spare pot holders and dish towels on the floor, but that doesn’t bother me much. She’s tried to climb the cat tree a few times and attempted to scale the couch, but for the most part she’s content to run throughout the house and toss her books all over the living room. That doesn’t bother me much, either. What does bother me, but is slightly endearing at the same time, is when she cries at the end of a book.

She did, however, crawl through the cat door once and get into the study beyond, where the we keep the cat’s litter box. I rounded the corner in time to hear the unmistakable sound of her sifting through the litter. She got a bath immediately afterwards.

Having fun at the National Museum of the Marine Corps

In public, she’s pretty well-behaved. She prefers to walk as opposed to sitting in her stroller, and she likes to try and escape her high chair in restaurants. If I try to hold her hand in a crowded place, she shakes me off and tries to walk on her own. The biggest source of anxiety is when she starts to scream over something, which is probably an entire different post on its own. For now, I’ll say I’m not a huge fan. Judgment abounds and it makes me so edgy I want to start screaming myself.

Don’t even get me started on mealtimes. It’s a battle. It usually ends with me sweeping and mopping up the area around her high chair, because she loves to throw food over the side to the dog. When I tell her to stop, making sure to keep my face in stern, rigid lines, she does one of several things: gives me a hammy grin, claps her hands, or throws more food over the side.

As I type she’s screaming bloody murder in her crib. I put her in bed at the normal time, but she’s refusing to lie down and go to sleep.

Someone asked me recently about parenting, and my reply was, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” It’s true. Matt and I both don’t have a clue. I mean, we could read all the books we want or listen to all the advice we could possibly stand, and we still would probably be clueless. That’s the funny thing about parenting. It’s like putting together furniture with no instructions. You just kind of guess how everything is constructed until something works.

Stay tuned. The next six months should be interesting.

Being a ham

 

 

Infant to Toddler: I Get it Now

By Angela

My last post was about coming to grips with the fact Zelda is changing. I couldn’t quite articulate it last post, but the change can be summed up in one sentence:

Zelda is no longer an infant, but a toddler.

I guess you might be thinking DUH. I mean, she’s practically one and a half now (where did the freaking time GO?). I think the delay in that AH-HA moment is a combination of being a first-time mom and full-blown denial. I mean, motherhood is so subjective. That seems to include having blinders on when it comes to our own children. We’re so proud of how they grow, yet we’re so sad to see it happen. It’s more “I miss those baby snuggles!” than “Oh shit, she’s climbing the cat tree!” It’s when those two are reversed that you’ve accepted the inevitable truth: you have a toddler on your hands.

Here’s some other signs that snapped me out of denial:

1. I can’t stand the smell of her poo anymore.

I used to think, “Hey, the smell isn’t so bad. I can handle this.” Nope. It now smells like straight-up human feces.

2. Trips to Target/the grocery store/the mall are much more stressful.

“Let me out, Daddy. Carts are for chumps.”

We (well, let’s be real here, I) used to love the occasional spur-of-the moment tripto Target or the weekend visit to the mall. We’d take our time, stroll around, and push an indifferent Zelda around with us. Now she wants to walk EVERYWHERE and inspect everything. I honestly don’t mind it until she pulls a display off the shelf or tries to steal an item someone else is holding.

3. I start randomly singing songs from the shows she likes.

Right now it’s “Little Baby Bum,” a show from the U.K. We let her watch a little in the morning so we can get ready for work, and a little in the evening so we can get dinner on the table. And the song have penetrated our brains, even when she isn’t around. Just today I caught myself singing, “Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me,” when I was driving to the dry cleaners.

4. She’s discovered whining—and tantrums.

When Zelda cried, it usually meant she wanted something: a diaper change, food, a snuggle. Now she cries when she is denied something: getting picked up, a piece of food, or re-reading a book that’s been read twenty times. It’s not real crying, but it is loud, desperate, and pathetic. I now understand why parents will do anything to get them to stop doing it in public, because man o man you suddenly turn into the worst kind of nuisance. When she has a tantrum, she drops to her knees, then collapses forward on the floor until she’s facedown on the ground. It’s almost cute because it’s so dramatic. I usually tell her that life isn’t that bad.

5. Words are emerging from the baby talk.

Right now her vocabulary consists of up, dog, apple, mama, dada, and water. When I say “vocabulary,” I mean that she not only says those words, but knows the meaning attached to them. She’s starting to catch on to other words, so Matt and I really need to start watching what we say.

6. Eating is gross—and maddening.

I’m not a fan of mealtimes anymore. Food gets everywhere. Sometimes she chews up a mass of food and spits it out in her bib (we have one of the kinds that catch everything, which is a lifesaver). Sometimes she throws it over the side of her high chair, much to the delight of our dog. Sometimes she mashes it all up into goop and tries to offer it to me or Matt. It’s cute to watch her try to feed herself, but it’s no fun to clean up after. Especially on days she has fruit.

“I get my own chair now.”

7. Her rate of growing is speeding up exponentially.

She’s on the lower end of the percentile spectrum, but I suspect that will change soon. Her appetite is huge these days. Her body is filling out more, and her weight is noticeably rising. It’s to the point Matt will get her out of the crib one morning and will ask, “Did you grow overnight?”

8. She’s a master manipulator.

I like to joke that I have nerves of steel and that Matt is a pushover. Zelda knows how to play him like a fiddle. For instance, she knows when he’s irritated with her—like when she’s throwing food over the side of the high chair—and he tries to be stern, but she turns on the charm and acts irresistibly cute. If she cries at bedtime, Matt will always go get her, but she ends up with me. When I say, “time to go back to bed,” she starts acting charming, and Matt will say, “oh, look at her. Just a few more minutes.” I have to admit, it’s worked on me a few times as well.

She’s too much, sometimes.

9. Miss Independent

Zelda’s starting to forge her own path, and it’s becoming more and more apparent. When I’m pushing the stroller, she’ll get in front of me and push it from her much lower vantage point. Just recently, when Matt and I were at the MGM casino in Maryland, she had to go up and down the stairs with little to no help. She’ll bat away our hands if we try to hold hers, and she makes it a point to only indicate a need for help if she is stuck. As Matt is fond of saying, “She’s an independent woman who don’t need no man.”

Miss Independent on the stairs at MGM Grand, Maryland.

10. She picks things up FAST.

Zelda can now turn on the TV, get to Netflix, and navigate to the Little Baby Bum show. She can swipe on a phone to her Wheels on the Bus app and start playing it. She smashed her fingers in a drawer once by accident, and the next time she started to move her fingers out of the way when closing it. Matt’s dad got her a kiddie drum set, and she picked up how to change the beats and tones within a short amount of time. She holds the sticks and hits the pads, then shares one of them so Matt and I can play with her. I know every parent thinks his or her child is amazing, but her ability to learn straight up awes me.

 

I’m sure we have many more wondrous things in store for us, good and bad. Being a mom is so amazing, yet so heart wrenching at the same time. Nothing anyone says really prepares you for the journey.

Now what’s the phase after toddler? Full-blown kid? Heaven help us.

 

Tick-Tock, Time is Ticking

By Angela

“Enjoy it, time goes by so fast!”

Every time I hear those words, they are usually in the context of a person I don’t know remarking how cute Zelda is. After an awkward smile and maybe a thank-you, the person continues:

How old is she?
16 months.
Oh enjoy it while you can. Time goes by so fast!

A disclaimer. I know these people mean well. I know they are trying to be nice. That said, I can’t stand it when I hear those words. It’s not because of the awkward situation this imparting of wisdom causes. It’s not because it usually comes at times I am chasing my 16-month old down the aisle at Target. Hell, it’s not even because a perfect stranger might be assuming I’m not enjoying motherhood.

It’s because I’ve already learned this lesson, and it’s kind of broken my heart a little.

Wrapped like a burrito.

Let me explain. When Zelda was teeny-tiny, we used to wrap her in a swaddle for bed. She slept in a pack and play napper in the corner of our room for the first seven months. Every morning, I’d take Zelda out of the napper and unwrap the swaddle. She’d yawn, stretch, and make the cutest little duck face while she was stretching. Every morning for those seven months, without fail, she’d make the start of the day perfect. Then she started rolling at seven months, and we had to put her in a crib. No more swaddle, no more unwrapping, no more duck face. Just like that, one morning that perfect start to the day was over.

Saturday, Super Lazy Edition.

Another favorite was our Saturday morning ritual before Zelda learned to crawl. She’d wake us up early, Matt would make coffee, and I’d breastfeed her. Then, with piping hot coffee in hand, we’d settle Zelda with some toys and books, drink our coffee, and watch the morning news. Those mornings are long gone, since Zelda can’t stay in one place for more than five seconds. Both of us miss those mornings so much.

Slinging it in the local record shop.

There’s a whole list of things I miss: her toothless smile, the YA DEE she used to say when she wanted something, breastfeeding her right before bed, the newborn cuddles, carrying her in a sling, giving her baths in the kitchen sink. I understand how fast the time goes, and how important it is to savor every second. I also know the aching sadness that comes with the realization that those times are gone and will only exist in my memory. It takes a lot for me not to say something like I KNOW when I hear someone tell me to enjoy it.

However, as sad as I am that these little moments in time have passed, I’ve also realized something important: there are just as many new and amazing moments to enjoy. They aren’t the same, but that’s the price you pay for being a parent: seeing your child grow.

So now, when Zelda gives me a toothy smile, says “mama,” or stuffs her face full of bread at breakfast, I try as hard as I can to savor those moments. Sometimes I feel like I didn’t savor the other ones enough. The good thing is, many more of those amazing moments are yet to come.

Valentine’s Day, 2016. Snuggles from Zelda and Torrance. Zelda was five days old.

So yes, I’m enjoying it the best I can. Every time I hear that I should, it’s sort of like the twist of a knife. I know. I miss so many moments already. But there’s plenty more to look forward to.

“Peek a Choo-Choo”: Zelda Discovers Books

By Angela

I’ve loved reading since I was a little kid. My mom and dad tell me I always had my nose stuck in a book, and I preferred books over toys. Recently, my mother gave me a box of old books that had been sitting in the attic: a vintage Disney storybook, two volumes of fairy tales (the originals, not the sanitized versions), Richard Scarry books, Aesop’s Fables in Scots verse, and more. My love for reading followed me through grade school and college, and to this day there is nothing more exciting to me than starting a new book.

I’ve been hoping Zelda becomes a bookworm, too. She didn’t show much interest in books until Christmas, when she got a cute book called Peek a Who? from her grandparents and another one entitled That’s Not My Dinosaur! from her cousins in Oklahoma. One night, when she wouldn’t settle down one night, I heard Matt reading Peek a Who to her. She quieted down, so he read it to her again and then successfully put her to bed.

Zelda surrounded by her favorites. Peek a Who, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Baby Animals (from the kiddie encyclopedia), That’s Not My Dinosaur, Peek a Boo, and Sea Star, from the Little Ocean series.

Somewhere in the weeks to come, she would start finding the book and handing it to us to read. Sometimes it would be punctuated by her way of saying “read this”: YAAAA DEEEE. And we wouldn’t read it once, we would read it no less than ten times, sometimes more. That’s Not My Dinosaur! got added to the mix, and soon we were constantly reading those two books, day in and day out.

Reading Peek a Boo on a trip to Virginia Beach.

She now has a rotating set of books she loves, including random tiny books from a kids’ encyclopedia set her grandparents gave her. Her books, not her toys, litter the main room of our house, and they keep her entertained while we travel. Matt and I, with our regular habit of creating our own language, will let loose with a random “Peek a MOO” or “gorilla infant” at random times and laugh like it’s the funniest joke ever.

She doesn’t do the YAAA DEEE as much anymore, but she does cry when I finish a book and demand I read it again. I think of all the books I’ve finished and cried because they’re over – and I wonder if I started off this way, crying at the end of a book like That’s Not My Dinosaur! When I open the book and start reading again, she stops immediately. It’s uncanny.

Elizabeth I’s biography from the rebel girls book.

My personal favorite is a book called Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls. It’s a collection of famous women’s biographies, written like fairy tales. It has amazing artwork for each woman. I had to take the book away from her because she was starting to break the spine, but she loved looking through the pictures. I’m hoping it will be her favorite when she gets older.

While reading Peek a Who forty times a day gets old, my inner English scholar is pleased. Keeping my fingers crossed that she loves reading as much as I do.

“What a Le”: An Eng Nickname Primer

By Angela

Back in June, when writing about Father’s Day, Matt mentioned he had a family tradition of developing a sort of in-family language. He’s extended this tradition to me, so now we’ve got our own in-family language. A quick (and updated) vocabulary lesson:

“Hey how much?” – It’s time to make a bottle. How many ounces?

“Are you going to boob her?” – Are you going to breastfeed?

“Here comes the sadness”- We’re about to dump water over your head in the bathtub

Are you ty-ty? – Are you tired?

Not as good as “Frogurt.”

Aside from the weird sounding questions, Matt’s got a habit of naming those nearest and dearest to him, and they tend to catch on fast. Think Sawyer from Lost, only a bit more abstract. The cat is not Gozer, she’s Kee (short for Kitty), Shrimp Toast, Puddin’Cup. The dog is rarely Torrance, she’s Boo-Boo, T-Dawg, Butterbutt. Those are just examples. In many cases, the names evolve and become offshoots of one another. And no, I do not get the cute names.

Zelda, however, does. Before she was born, Matt started calling her Z-Gram, the semi-official title for policy directives issued by Elmo Zumwalt, an American naval officer in the Vietnam War era. Several friends have heard us call her this, and one who was familiar with naval history even had a laugh about it. Our last trip back to Suffolk, her 6 year-old cousin used the term and I thought I was going to keel over from the adorable.

Little Crabcake.

For awhile we called her “La,” which was a direct reference to the sounds she used to make when she was crying: “La, La, La, La.” We also called her “Little Crabcake,” because I got her footie PJs with crabs on them. We don’t really use them anymore, though.

An early one that stuck was “Plumpo,” which eventually evolved to “Plumpy.”  Offshoots include Plum, Baby Plump, and Little Plump. I try not to use this one in mixed company too much, but one time I referred to her as Plumpy in front of my brother. He asked, “Who’s Plumpy?” and I probably turned fifty shades of red. This one is slowly getting phased out in favor of “Poopy.” I’ve got to remember not to use that one in front of anyone else!

A more recent one is “Qua-Le” and its offshoot “Wah-Le.” This sort of comes from her daycare provider. She speaks another language, so sometimes she holds out her hands for Zelda I hear her say, “Cha-Le.” I don’t know what it means, but I assume its some form of “come here.” Matt latched on to the “Le” (pronounced “lay”) part of the phrase, and started calling Zelda “Le.” He still does, but only in certain contexts. I’ve noticed he mostly uses it when she’s showing signs of being tired, and makes comments like, “Aww Le. What a Le.” Qua-Le and Wah-Le came about from one of Matt’s made-up songs that goes something like, “Qua-Le, Wah-Le, a doot-doot-doot, a deet-deet-deet.” Now, when he texts me and asks how she’s doing, it’s always “How’s that Qua-Le?”

I guess it all sounds kind of silly, but I love having our own language and making up our own songs. Sooner or later Zelda’s going to catch on, and it’s all going to change. I distinctly remember my mom calling me Stinkpot when I was a kid, and I’m pretty sure I must have told her to stop at some point. Got to enjoy it while we can.

Year One

By Angela

So, here we are. One year. Just . . . Wow.

We couldn’t have a full day together—work and all—but I did get off a little early and we went for a meal at our favorite Mexican joint. Zelda ate a generous helping of refried beans and rice. The servers all sang Happy Birthday and presented her with a birthday sopapilla. It was all very low-key and fun. This weekend we’ll travel back to Suffolk to celebrate with family.

Birthday Sopapilla!

I could write about all kinds of sappy things, like what being a mother means to me, how having a daughter has changed me, and the joy of raising a tiny human. However, I think a lot of that would be a lot of pre-packaged, canned sentiment. The truth is, having a daughter HAS changed me. But not in the glossy magazine mommy-blog type way.

 

Behold, the list of things I do/think now that I didn’t before having a baby:

1. I sing a lot more. Every day, even. If you know me, you know how wonderful my singing ability is. Luckily Zelda doesn’t know any better.

2. Poop doesn’t bother me anymore. I’ve faced projectile poop, scrubbed it off walls, witnessed ones that stretched from head to toe, and tossed out many ruined onesies.

A blowout for the ages.

3. I’m having trouble enjoying horror now. I’m an avid Stephen King fan, but for some reason I haven’t been able to read him lately. I read his most recent collection of short stories on my metro rides shortly after returning to work, and one featured a car wreck in which a number of children were killed. I haven’t been able to pick up a King book since, even books I’ve already read.

4. I miss disposable income. I also miss impulsively going to movies, concerts, and restaurants. Some days I miss it more than others. I miss naps the most, though.

5. I’m perpetually tired. I didn’t know it was possible to be this tired and survive. And this is just with one kid. 8pm is a perfectly acceptable bedtime.

Matt and Torrance at 3 AM, shortly after bringing Zelda home.

6. Early into parenthood, I remember fetching Zelda at about 2 AM. While I was nursing her, Matt said, “Why are you starting vacantly into space?” Remembering an old Rugrats episode, I answered, “Because I’ve lost control of my life.” Sometimes I think that will be my state of mind forever.

7. There is no better sound in the world than your child laughing.

8. I’m more sympathetic to children who cry in public and the mothers that have to deal with it.

9. I really wish that there was a better mechanism for pumping breastmilk. The one available now makes me feel like a cow.

10. I love being a mother and would not trade it for the world.
Here’s to many more birthdays, and many more memories.

My Valentine’s Day in 2016. it was perfect.

Zelda’s First Thanksgiving

By Angela

So, Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, this holiday meant spending time together as a family. Usually we’d cook all day, watch football games, eat, and maybe play games afterwards. Later on down the line, somewhere in the late 90’s, my brother and I started the tradition of early-morning Black Friday shopping (we were trying to find Star Wars figures). Now we have families of our own and our traditions have been altered, but some, like Harrison Dip, still remain (Harrison Dip is a secret family recipe and we have had it every single Thanksgiving I can remember).

img_0071
Zelda with Grandma and Grandpa Harrison

This year was incredibly different. Zelda is now nine and a half months old, and her presence has transformed the holiday. Last year, I was massively pregnant and had acid reflux, so I didn’t eat much. I didn’t move much, either. The holiday was spent in the same house we’d spent Thanksgiving for the past 30 years. This year, Thanksgiving was in my mom and Dad’s new house in Suffolk, I ate way too much, and I was chasing Zelda all over the place. It was—dare I say it—fun.

It was a full house: my mom and dad, my brother and his wife, their three kids, and their neighbors and their three kids. It was chaos: kiddie toys strewn about, screaming children, thumping footsteps, lots of tears and even more laughter.

Spending quality time with cousins
Spending quality time with cousins

All the kids played together nicely. I think, without a doubt, one of my favorite moments of the night was when Zelda’s younger cousin came in and made a beeline for her. They looked at each other for a second, then Zelda lit up. When she did, so did he.

I drank a lot of wine and ate a lot of good food. Zelda even got in on the fun. I gave her a spoonful of mashed potatoes and she ate it all—but she also got it all over herself. Matt joked that there was an “It’s Something About Mary” hairstyle going on. We had to bathe her afterwards; she’d gotten potatoes everywhere. Matt and I were both aching by the end of the night from all the running around, but we were full of good food and ready to get some good sleep. Too bad I snore, and too bad Zelda had other plans.

Potato head
Potato head

We spent the rest of the weekend visiting small towns outside Suffolk (Smithfield, Rescue, and Franklin, to be exact), visiting friends in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, eating excellent sushi, having dim sum with Matt’s parents, and walking around the pathetic excuse for a mall called Pembroke. I finally got my mane of hair chopped off and I feel magical. There’s all the things I’m thankful for that aren’t the usual staples of family and friends: good food, a wonderful haircut, being out and about, and seeing new places.

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Playing with friends

I guess I summed it up pretty well when someone asked how my Thanksgiving was, and I said good, loud, and full of kids. I added, “It’s a big reminder how my life has drastically changed.” When Matt and I were headed to downtown Norfolk to get a drink with some friends, I mused about how I’d go dancing or something on a night like this not even five years ago. I wasn’t sad about it, but I hit an unexpected twinge of nostalgia. A life far different, sure, but full of enough memories to pass along to my daughter when the time is right.

So yeah, this Thanksgiving was different from the family traditions I grew up with, but I like this new wilder and crazier one. Here’s hoping the next one is even wilder.

Playing Catch Up

It’s been awhile. Truthfully, we fell off of posting, let the domain lapse, and just now got around to getting it back. But we’re back now, and we plan to post some more.

baby pillow
One of the rare nights she decided to fall asleep on me.

My last post was in June of 2016, which does and does not seem that long ago. In June, Zelda was four months old and just starting to become more human. We were falling into a routine. We were getting a solid five hours of sleep a night. Now she’s eight months old, even more human, the routine is pretty much the same, and we average about three hours of sleep a night right now. I’m nostalgic for those swaddling days already.

Somewhere in our four month hiatus, I had a friend ask me what it was like to be a parent. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: I kinda love being a mommy.

Friend: I can tell! I’m so happy for you!

Me: She’s pretty much the best thing ever. You know that feeling when you start a new book, play a new game, or get a new gadget? That feeling is like, every day.

Friend: Well, that is one of the most compelling descriptions of parenthood I’ve ever heard.

Me: Don’t get me wrong. There’s some days I want to ruin screaming out of the house. But the good feeling outweighs that.

I have no idea if this feeling will last or not, but I know that right now I wake up every day excited to see her. Every night, I’m sad she’s in bed and I can’t play with her anymore.

So I’ve been trying to think about how I can make up for four months of lost blog posts. She’s grown so much in the past four months: she’s eating solid food, she’s crawling and able to pull herself up to a standing position, she babbles, and her smile is still sans teeth but able to light up a room. Instead of rehash all that, I’ll leave you with a list of her five most current personality quirks:

1. She doesn’t like fruit. Put a banana near her face and she’ll scream. She’ll eat mangoes and pears, but she’s not too enthusiastic about them. She does seem to like apples. But vegetables? She loves them: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, peas, freaking zucchini. She eats them all and she’s happy to do it.

2. She wants to see anything and everything, and she takes it all in. She’s been all over the place: the National Zoo, the American History Museum, the Air and Space Museum, the National Mall, and countless other places all over DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland. She loves being out and about, and she loves being in her carrier. She wants to be where the action is. Even when she’s in the carrier facing me, she’ll crane herself backwards so she can see what’s going on. I love her curiousity, and I love her intensity.

3. Her favorite game at the moment is what Matt calls “Mission Impossible.” You know the scene where Tom Cruise was hanging by all those wires in the super-fortified room to get the NOC List? Matt pretends like Zelda is doing the same thing, and swoops her up and down while singing the Mission Impossible theme. She laughs so hard every time he does it.

Let me play!
Let me play!

4. She loves music. Matt plays the guitar and ukulele, and he plays and sings to her on a regular basis. He even makes up silly songs about her. My current favorite is one entitled “Mama.” She even participates, since it’s the only word she knows. Fun fact: I am tone deaf and can’t sing worth a crap, but I sing to her when no one’s around. She seems to like it.

5. She is the sweetest in the morning. Usually she gives us a wake up call at five AM. I stumble in the nursery, bleary-eyed, and carry her back to the room. Matt’s usually snoring away and the dog is snoring right next to him. After I nurse her, she wakes up a little more and starts to babble. That’s when I put her in front of Matt and say, “excuse me.” Soon as he wakes up, she gives him a sloppy grin and tries to crawl all over him. We could put her back in the crib and try to get a little more sleep if it’s the weekend, or start getting ready for work if it’s a weekday, but she’s always so happy and so sweet that we’re content to stay in bed and play with her.

Matt and I are hoping to be more vigilant when it comes to posting, so here’s to more of the (mis)adventures of the Eng Dynasty.

Pumpkin patch day!
Pumpkin patch day!

Routines and Curveballs

By Angela

Ok, I’m guilty. We haven’t updated in awhile, mostly because we’re finally starting to fall into some kind of rhythm. I’m guessing that’s part of this whole parenting thing: finding a routine that works and keeping in line with it. In some ways, I’m good with that. There’s a small measure of comfort in routine. In other ways, the former version of myself wants to fight it. I never liked routine. To me, routine was one step away from being an automaton.

Right now out routine goes a lot like this: I wake up at 5:30 in the morning to feed her during the week, and the second she sees me I get a huge smile. I love that. I feed her, get her milk and diaper bag ready for daycare, and get my makeup on. Sometimes Matt changes her, sometimes I do. It depends on who’s further ahead with getting ready. We drop her off and are on the road to DC by 7 AM. I’m at work sometime between 7 and 8, depending on traffic. At 4 PM, I pack up and ride the metro home. From there it’s dinner, feedings, and killing time until bedtime. Then rinse and repeat. On the weekends I feed her at the usual time, then go back to sleep till the next feeding. We lounge around in bed with Zelda and  the dog until we decide to get moving for the day. So far as routines go, it’s not bad. Sometimes we get a curveball with fussiness or blowouts, but for the most part the days are similar. Of course, this routine could change at any time, but for now I’m content.

Then we have nights like tonight. I was trying to feed her and was getting frustrated about her nails raking all over my skin. Those little nails can get sharp! I insisted that we cut them with some baby nail clippers, because last time we tried a file it didn’t go so well. She screamed so much she vomited her last feeding. This would be much faster and more efficient, right?

What they don’t tell you: this dolphin can bite. 

WRONG.

Matt did great with the first three nails, but on the index finger he cut some skin by accident. We both went into panic mode because there was so much blood. Blood all over the place and Zelda was screaming. I had Matt wrap the finger and apply pressure, but I didn’t know how the hell to administer first aid to a four month old. If it was me, I would have slapped on some Neosporin and a Band-Aid, but I didn’t even know if you could give a baby Neosporin, or if using a Band-Aid was a good idea. So I called the doctor.

A half-hour later, she’d finally stopped bleeding and crying. In fact, she was passed out in Matt’s arms. We finally had a good look at the cut, and it looked like a really bad paper cut, nothing more. The doctor advised using Neosporin, but no Band-Aids. Keep her hands out of her mouth and watch for infection.

Okay, I take back what I said about routine. Routine trumps curveballs, especially where nail clippers are involved.

Matt nursing her wound.