Passage

G stopped nursing last week and for, perhaps, the first time here on the blog I feel a little speechless.  I suppose it is because I feel so many different things at once.
Pride, longing, blessed, sadness, excitement, relief, happiness…

For G, it wasn’t a difficult break-up.  He was ready.  Sometime around his first birthday, I slowly started weaning him from his four remaining feedings, removing one per week.  Yet, I decided that I’d hang on to the bedtime feeding as long as he (we, honestly) wanted to.  This past Sunday, however, he was so content rocking with his daddy after story time that I decided to see what would happen if, instead of nursing him, I just continued to rock him.  As I began to rock with him, I caught myself grinning with certainty that he’d soon protest and want to nurse just like he’d done every other night of his precious little life.  Instead, I found myself rocking and rocking — and rocking — and then…quietly weeping.  He didn’t balk.  He didn’t protest.
He was perfectly content to simply rock to sleep with this mommy.
I squeezed him tightly as we rocked, cherishing every moment.
But, I knew then, nursing was over.

Enter the flood of emotions — so, so many emotions.  I feel truly blessed for the nearly fourteen months I was able to nurse G.  I feel happy and prideful in seeing the bubbling, thriving little boy that he’s grown to be and in knowing that I sustained and nourished him during such a critical part of his life.  I also feel {unexpectedly} reassured that our nursing ended so peacefully.  All too often I think we mommies ask ourselves, “Am I doing the right thing???”  By not protesting, I knew G was ready.  I also feel a bit of freedom and relief.  No longer do I have to carefully plan my schedule around his nursing.  Nor do I have to constantly watch my diet and analyze how it might effect him.  My head knows all of these things to be true and tells me that, without a doubt, I made the right decision.  My heart?  It isn’t so convinced.  It is there that I feel sad; I feel as if I am giving up one of the most special parts of our bond.  Still, I fight the urge to snuggle him close at bedtime and nurse him.  Tears. 

His weaning is a major milestone and milestones mean growing up — it is the latter of which I believe to be the root of my heartache.  As his mommy, I can’t begin to tell you how I look forward to watching my son turn into the amazing little man I know he’ll become.
Simultaneously, I want to freeze time, keeping him as my itty-bitty little baby forever…  

Weaning is a passage; it is a passage from one relationship to another.  This week, G and I made it through one of our first major passages.  I know there will be more.  Each one will be significant, meaningful, beautiful and amazing.  Some will be difficult and tearful.  But, God willing, we’ll walk through each of them together.  For the togetherness, I am full of thanks.

Why do Parents Spend $$$ on Toys?

Presumably, most parents have heard, “My child received several wonderful gifts but he/she was most interested in the gift bags and wrapping paper!”  Well, it is certainly true in our household.  I’m 150% positive that if we removed all of G’s toys from our home he would still be more than satisfied and that he would realize no shortage of entertainment.
The hilarity in the assortment of “toys” by which G is particularly amused really hit me as I was picking up the bathroom last night.  In hopes that other mommies {and daddies} will get a chuckle, I decided to share with you a few of his “little gems.”
Disposable Wipes Case Lid

Medicine Dropper 
Ah, yes, the medicine bottle + dropper.  I’m sure plenty of you are familiar with this one.  
I can’t lie, I distract G with these when I need to — in a pinch.  It’s no wonder he thinks they are toys.
The Mail
This is a daily highlight, folks.  When the mail arrives, G marches over to our little mail slot — a tiny little door on the inside of our home that I’m sure he thinks was made JUST for him — opens it and pulls out every last piece.  For the half hour {or so} that follows, he plays with whichever pieces are particularly amusing.
 
Tupperware “Collection”
(a.k.a. drum set, stacker toys, blocks container…)
Loofas
 Though he has pretty much outgrown his loofa phase, he was at one point SO enamored with them that I would be remiss not to include one in this post.
Credit Cards
 stock photo, people…I’m no dummy!
;-)
Remotes

Laundry Baskets

These are especially entertaining when they have folded laundry inside for G to pull out.

 Telephone

 Honestly, these have turned out to be great toys.  We use them solely for their intercom capabilities and don’t have them hooked up to a telephone line.  G loves playing with the buttons and calling Daddy & me on speakerphone.

Empty Shampoo Bottles

You’re looking at G’s favorite bath toy, folks.  We just fill this sucker with water, let him sling it all around, and he is one happy little nugget.

And last, but certainly not least…

a toothbrush — his FAVE non-toy at the moment. 
Watching him with this is hilarious, actually, because anything with the word ‘brush’ in it is something he uses on his hair.
Hee hee.

So, what funny non-toys are your kiddos playing with?
Don’t you love cheap entertainment??

 

Thank-You Note Etiquette

Before I spout off about how I think it’s important to {promptly} write thank-you notes, I shall admit that I haven’t always been the best — or the most prompt — at writing them.  
When I was a child, it was an avid practice, thanks to my mother.  Ever heard of writing a thank-you note for a thank-you note?  Um…yeah.  Then the slow, yet no less grateful, decline set in around my late teens.  I blame it on residual egocentrism; perhaps, a bit of immaturity.  Heck, even into my early 20′s I could be wishy-washy.  (Sheesh.  All this divulging makes me feel like I should apologize to anyone who sent me a gift for which they are still awaiting the thank-you.  SORRY!)  
I suppose you could say I have come full circle — practically back to the “thank-you note for a thank-you note” phase.  I just {personally} find it important to acknowledge a kind gesture.  (That being said, I neither hold the same expectation of others nor give gifts/do nice things for the recognition.)

I am — by no stretch of the imagination — perfect at this practice, at times writing them much more promptly than others, but the effort and intention is good.  When it comes down to it, there are a few “guidelines” by which I try to adhere:
1) I try to write thank-you notes within a week of receiving a gift.
For larger events, requiring a handful of thank-you notes, I try to get it done within 2 weeks.
Does this always happen?  Gosh no.  But, I do try.

2) I use real, physical thank-you cards, not e-cards or other digital formats.
Perhaps I’m a bit old school, here, but I simply prefer to write an actual card.  The time it takes to write the card is a large part of showing appreciation.  Sometimes I use Simply Postcards on my iPad (which allows you to upload a photo and write a personal message) but a physical card is still generated and sent in the mail, not emailed.
3) I try to send a thank-you note for kind gestures, not just physical gifts.  
Often, I find that the sweetest and most thoughtful acts of generosity have nothing to do with material items.  Such acts — {i.m.o.} — are more than deserving of a thank-you note.
4) When time {and sanity} allows, I like to hand-write the envelopes.  
Typically, this is pretty easy because a couple of notes here-and-there isn’t a large undertaking.  However, when several gifts are received at once — weddings, showers, birthdays, etc, — quite a bit more time needs to be carved out.  In these instances, try writing your return address on the envelopes before the event.  I did this for G’s baby shower and it turned out to be a huge time-saver.

So, what do the “pros” say?
What is proper thank-you note etiquette and/or does that even exist?
To find out, I checked-in with one of my fave stationary companies, Tiny Prints.  Lo and behold, they had a little write-up on thank-you note etiquette, via Miss Manners.  {Gotta love Miss Manners!}

According to MM, thank-you notes should be written within 20 minutes of receiving a gift so that your excitement/enthusiasm is fully captured in your thank-you note message.
(YIKES!  I don’t think I make that cut-off.  Ever.)
However, she goes on to say that up to 14 days is also “acceptable.”   
(Phew!)  
 And, in case you’re freaking out now, thinking, “It takes me two months to write a thank-you note,” don’t worry.  The article’s final thought on timeframe is that it is really never too late to send a thank-you note.
Better late than never, right?
Right.
What about e-notes (and the like) which are becoming increasingly popular in our digital age?  The experts {widely} reject this idea when it comes to thank-yous, stating that it is best to show a time investment by writing an actual card.

There you have it.
My take + $.02 from the experts.
What do y’all think?
And, how do you handle thank-yous when it comes to your kiddos?

Let me know your thoughts.
In the meantime, I better get to writing G’s 1st Birthday thank-yous!!!

G’s personalized stationary

Sleep Deprivation: Day 374

Okay, so maybe it’s not quite that bad…but it’s darn near close.  
I’ve been blessed with one precious little boy, that much is true, but sleep through the night he does not.  
To be completely honest, he has slept through the night here-and-there depending on his particular phase, but it’s been nothing to write home about.
Some nights he only wakes up once; others it’s a handful of times.
Some nights all he needs is a quick rock back to lullaby-land; others, he’s up for 2, 3 maybe 4 hours at a stretch.
Some nights I can deal pretty well; others, not so much.
It’s a tough place.  Many a morning, it’s all I can do to find the coffee pot {thank goodness for coffee}.  You know, the mornings when you think, “How am I going to make it through this day?”  
Yet, miraculously, you always do.  
Yep, it’s a tough place, but I know I’m not the only occupant.  I’ve leaned on many friends, my sis for one, who have been in my shoes.  I hate to be a “venter,” but, once in a while, it really helps keep that whole sanity thing within reach.  
My personal survival tactics?
Try to maintain perspective.  
Try to stay focused on the realization that it’s just a phase.
Try to see the silver lining, the light at the end of the tunnel.
Try to remember that He never gives us more than we can handle.
Try to remember that there are many others dealing with much worse.
And, that as much as I’d love consistent and complete sleep at night, I know that one day I’ll wish he’d wake up…just so I can go in, scoop him up and hold him close…
I suppose that’s as good of an outlook as any, right?  It seems to help me, anyway.
That, and one BIG, really big, hot cup of coffee.

1st Birthday Parties

 

As G’s first birthday party {rapidly} approaches, I have, naturally, found myself knee-deep in party planning. Like with many aspects of mommyhood, my approach to the framework of his party was, “What will work best for G and for us?” I think with the wee-ones, that’s the safest starting point.
With that said, planning a baby’s first birthday is a “first” for me, so I did a tad bit of research in hopes of uncovering some helpful tips. Here are a few that I found useful enough to share — albeit, a bit “commonsensical.” (looks like there’s a hung jury on whether or not ‘commonsensical’ is a word…it’s totally a word here on my blog…)
1) Keep it small and keep it short.
These are both pretty self-explanatory and, likely, good ideas. 
I’m not sure how we’ll score on “keeping it small,” but G is pretty familiar with all of his expected guests which I think is a big plus. I don’t anticipate a whole boat-load of people, so hopefully G won’t find himself overwhelmed. Additionally, I’ve allotted two hours for the party in an attempt to avoid over-stimulation and possible fussiness.
2) Cater to the kiddos.
As an adult, it can be easy to slip into “grown-up party planning mode” and to start outlining needs based on the adults instead of the kiddos.  
This one is huge {i.m.o.}. Even though G is only turning one, it’s important for me to remember that this party is for him and other wee-ones his age. Sure, I hope to make it fun for the adults, too, but I tried to base most of the major decisions (food, entertainment, location, timeline, etc) around G’s needs.
3) Save presents for later.
Avoid chaos and tension by opening gifts after the party is over.  
Honestly, I can’t decide what I’m going to do on this one. I really like the idea of pushing them off until after the party — avoiding the “spotlight” moment where everyone just sits around watching G play with tissue paper and gift bags. Plus, I think the event would be more enjoyable for him in a more calm environment. Notwithstanding, gift-givers love to watch the recipient open their gift. Don’t you agree? I certainly don’t want to disappoint anyone who takes the time to come to the party. Any opinions on this one?
4) Less is more.
Keep the party simple. 
I don’t really have any major “plans” for G’s party. I simply wanted to create a time for him to enjoy himself and his friends. Not to mention, shuffling one-year-olds through a laundry list of activities sounds like a recipe for stress. I definitely went the simple route.
5) No smash-cake moment.
Similar to “saving the presents for later,” some sites suggest nixing the big cake smash and any “performance” anxiety. 
Here again, the jury’s out. I might have a smash-cake moment on his actual birthday, or after the party with just family. BUT, everyone comes to the party expecting to see the little tike in his/her dipee, tearing into the birthday cake. Thoughts? Either way, it will be a priceless moment.
My $.02:
Don’t over-think it.
Create a fun, loving, baby-centered environment and simply enjoy your baby and your guests. A non-stressed mommy {and daddy} will make a non-stressed baby. Most of the time, right?!?!? :-)
Want to share some advice?
Have a little first-birthday-party-planning experience?
I’m all ears…
Check out Parenting.com for more 1st Birthday Party tips.