Posted in family life

sensory play without sensory issues

As babies and toddlers, neither of my boys especially enjoyed being dirty and playing in the mud. I still remember the first time Rondel explored the soil in our garden of his own accord, and the poignancy of watching him touch the moist dirt without panic or revulsion (he was better with sand, but dirt was difficult, and mud impossible for a long time). Limerick would tolerate and investigate things, but never sought out the sensations, preferring to watch and observe; there wasn’t the overt sense of something being off or abnormal that there had been with Rondel, but there also wasn’t the “typical” childhood pleasure of immersing oneself in those physical sensations that I remembered from my own experiences.

Aubade, however, actively seeks out the dirt, and very visibly relishes getting wet, dirty, and muddy. While this of course comes with its own challenges (any ideas for persuading a baby not to shovel fistfuls of dirt in her mouth whenever the opportunity arises?), it is so incredibly refreshing for me to have a baby who initiates that kind of interaction with her environment. She is so bent on exploring and experiencing the world around her, with no hesitations, anxieties, or sensory discomforts to hold her back, and I love watching her!

Posted in family life

a small rant on stereotyping of baby dolls

I don’t really understand gender stereotyping of toys.

Other people have expressed the general concerns with the practice better than I can here, however, so I will skip straight to my particular and most pointed dispute with it: baby dolls are marketed purely for girls, when both boys and girls are highly likely to be parents some day and have babies of their own. If any real-life imitative play skill is going to be useful in adulthood, surely taking care of one’s own toy baby is! It’s even worse than isolating toy kitchens to the “girl” aisles and construction benches to the “boy” aisles, because it represents an even more fundamental part of life and of being human.

With that said, I don’t actually have baby dolls for any of my kids. They’ve so far always had real babies to play with by the time they were old enough to be interested in dolls, and stuffed animals can be a decent substitute in a pinch. But Rondel’s classroom at church has a baby doll, and it has been his sole focus during free play for the past month at least – he rocks the baby, feeds the baby, puts the baby to sleep, and dances with the baby during music. It makes a lot of sense to me, since play is a child’s way of understanding their world, and we have a baby at home! I just don’t see why it isn’t an accepted and even assumed part of every little boy’s life, as it is for little girls.

Posted in family life

Aubade at eight months

What do babies do at eight months?

Well, this one is learning about “in” and “out” with her little red bucket and whatever miscellaneous toys she can find:

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She’s playing peek-a-boo on her own, taking the initiative to hide under a box or scarf then pop out eager to catch the smile or laugh on someone else’s face.

She’s noticing silly sounds that don’t match the normal cadence of speech (like the chug-chug of a train) and laughing at them:

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She’s eating every piece of food she can get her hands on and begging for more! We’re doing baby-led weaning so she’s had quite a large variety of foods already, ranging from the standard banana and Cheerios to pesto and spicy cilantro wheat berries.

She’s charging into every splash pad, hose spray, and puddle she can find, with no fear and pure delight!

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She’s solidly outgrown all her 9 month clothes and is starting to move from the 12 month to the 18 month selection (probably has something to do with all that eating!)

She understands and communicates so well; she is her own little person with an opinion about everything, an openness to exploration, and a great sense of humor – more quirky than Rondel’s pure goofiness, as if seeing something funny hiding just under the surface of everyday life:

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She’s bold, tough, independent, smart, joyful, curious, and persistent – I’m only eight months into knowing her and already I can’t imagine life without her!

Posted in family life

my aubade (a belated six month post)

Aubade is not quite seven months old, and already I find it hard to imagine what our lives would be like without her.

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She is bold, tenacious, and adventurous; she pursues what she wants with determination and persistence. She constantly pushes herself to do more, to learn more, to find out more, and to be more. When she falls, as all of us fall in the process of growth, she gets back up again to keep trying – but what I find more remarkable still is that she takes the time to appreciate the world from her new perspective before going back to her original course of action, and is not so bent on one path that she is blinded to alternate opportunities around her.

(She can fall straight backwards from a standing position, gaze curiously around her while lying on her back for several minutes, than roll over and continue playing and exploring as though nothing had happened. I am amazed every time it happens.)

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She finds happiness and excitement in just about everything she encounters: the feel of grass on her feet, water to splash, a smile to return, a familiar voice, a snuggle and a kiss, a toss in the air, the wind on her face, or the laugh of a friend.

And her closest friends of all are her two big brothers. Rondel seeks her out for hugs when he’s feeling hurt or sad, brings her toys to play with, and makes silly sounds or plays peek-a-boo with her when she is tired or upset. He almost never fails to make her smile when he tries to cheer her up, and takes pride in every laugh that she directs at him. Limerick has had a more difficult time adjusting to her addition to the family (Rondel’s already been through this once before, after all), but he also loves to see her smile and laugh, and is becoming more enamored of her as she becomes more able to play along with his games and participate in the things he enjoys doing. Her presence brings out in both of them a social maturity – a desire to share their happiness and involve others in their activities – that is beautiful to see.

I am so thankful for this curious, strong, independent girl. She encourages me in my own femininity and as a mother, just by being herself, and I am so excited to watch her grow and mature over the years to come.

 

Posted in family life

aubade, the pacifier, and the little purple hippo

Aubade has been a very different newborn than her brothers were (which is probably a good thing for the peace and sanity of our home). Aside from her bout with RSV earlier this year she’s been a remarkably easy baby – she sleeps 4-6 hours straight at night, she doesn’t need to nurse to sleep, and she is able to find comfort in a variety of different things (as opposed to just walking or nursing, which were the only two options with the boys).

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sleeping peacefully all on her own 🙂

These sources of comfort have included, in part because of her hospital stay and the no-food-by-mouth rule she had to follow when her breathing was over 70 breaths per minute (or when the high flow oxygen was over 4 liters), the pacifier and its accompanying hippo.

Neither of the boys ever showed interest in the pacifier, so I am new to its ways, but the medical aide during our second hospital stay showed me how a beanie baby can be used to help hold the pacifier in while they’re still learning how to keep it there, and sometimes I think Aubade likes the hippo just for its own soft snuggly weight. And even if she doesn’t, it’s pretty adorable to see her cuddled up with it.

His name is, I think, the perfect name for a hospital gift of encouragement to travel home with a girl so joyful and content: Happy.

Posted in family life

a boy and his sister

Rondel is head-over-heels in love with Aubade. She’s the first thing he talks about when he wakes up in the morning, and he comes looking for her all throughout the day to snuggle with her, hold her, or check on her – he’ll just sit next to her beaming.

Earlier today she was lying on the bed and he came up and was looking at her for a while, then asked me, “why is she so little and cute?” (He brings up her littleness all the time.)

“You really like how little she is, don’t you?” I asked him in return.

In response he ducked his head down, curled up for a second, then bounced on his bottom on the bed, all with the most adorable little shy smile on his face.

“Did you just bounce because you were so happy about how cute and little [Aubade] is?”

“I did!” – with the same sweet smile.

As he leaned over her again, she flashed a big smile in his general direction, and I pointed that out to him – and he got so excited that he bounced up and down again.

“Her smile made me bounce!” he exclaimed.

There’s not much sweeter than a baby’s smile, even in the eyes of a preschooler, apparently. And there’s not much sweeter to the eyes of this momma than a big brother who adores his baby sister so completely.

Posted in family life, musings, Uncategorized

beauty in the little things

newborn baby giggles as little girl slips, milk-drunk, into sleep in my arms…

the smell of fresh bread, sweet and citrusy, to celebrate Epiphany…

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it got a bit lopsided but tasted delicious!

warm sun and a cool breeze and a couple hours at the park with my family…

little boys all crazy smiles running through the splash pad in the cold…
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warming up before heading back into the spray

sunlight on baby girl’s face, streaming through the window to the changing table, holding her spellbound for a good twenty minutes…

little boy hugs, head laid down on baby’s tummy, arms ever-so-gently tucked around her…

big boy love, wild and exuberant, caring and protective, running joyfully in each morning to say hi to the baby, showing her his toys, getting up at dinner to check on her…

tiny fingers capturing us all with their utter perfection…

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not forgetting that tiny perfect nose and mouth and chin of course! or the perfect chubby curve of that tiny cheek…

Postpartum is hard. But in with the hard times, there is so much beauty – beauty in the new life, beauty in the old familiar everyday that keeps on going on – and the beauty is what keeps me going on as the old and the new become one.