Mmmm mmmm Good Riddance Food: Molars are Dumb

Breakfast with a teething toddler (Almost-live-blog edition)



4 a.m. - baby wakes you up. Per all sleep training history, leave her to resettle.

But you're up, so go ahead and get started on breakfast. It may be your last chance.

4:30 a.m. - baby attempted to go back to sleep. It didn't work. She's howling. You know she's teething and that motrin only lasts so long.

5:00 a.m. - you've gone up. You've given her tylenol. Held her as long as it should take to kick back in. Nursed her because she's totally wired. Decide that sleep training is stupid when daddy is about to be up anyways and he's always looking a little forelorn when you insist we let her play upstairs when she's awake in time for his weekday breakfast (avoid making early risings a habit in theory... ah well)

5:30 a.m. - you've dressed. Toddler has nursed. She's sat awkwardly on your hip while you finish up breakfast.

5:40 a.m. - Daddy usually is down and eating by now. Figure it's ok to set up baby to have breakfast. Why not?

5:45 a.m. - Toddler is set up and howling at having been set down. Daddy finally emerges from the ether, which calms her for a few minutes. He says HIIIIIII CHAYA in an amused voice betraying his delight to see the little Miss. Mommy is not amused and points out this is not a good amount of sleep, and the baby is very grumpy.

5:47 a.m. - Daddy suggests that maybe this is just the "new normal."

5:47 a.m. - Bury Daddy's remains in the basement with his bikes. No really... Not really. Though I bet they sleep in jail sometimes.

5:50 a.m. - Daddy's almost done scarfing his breakfast. Chaya is nursing again.

6:00 a.m. - As mommy goes to put Chaya's milk&OJ back in the fridge, Chaya grabs it and angrily slurps half the cup.

6:40 a.m. - Breakfast part two, after some rambling around the house.

Timeless...

Chaya only consents to be put in her chair, after being supplied with a tupperware full of freeze dried strawberries. As the tray is set down, she yells NAH. Offer her banana. Chaya shakes her head. Then yells NAH again. She eats some strawberries, puts some strawberries in her oatmeal. You put the slices of banana that you'd offered her earlier in her oatmeal. Chaya tosses the the strawberries out of the tupperware. She then plays with the lid for several minutes.

Chaya pokes at her oatmeal. Finds a banana in her oatmeal and yells NAH. Reaches for your coffee. Howls like she's been stabbed, then shoves a strawberry in her mouth while pointing to her reflection in the window and humming DADADADA.

Move some of Chaya's egg to her tupperware. Chaya eats a few pieces from the tupperware.

Chaya throws some egg in her oatmeal.

Chaya throws one spoon on the ground and returns to the tupperware lid. She finds a nut from somewhere on the table (the inside of a peanut M&M) and chews on it for several hours before spitting it back out intact. Mommy goes and finds some pepitas, since she's eaten these before.

Chaya eats a pepita, and begins throwing the rest in the tupperware that used to have strawberry covered eggs.

Chaya tosses the entire tupperware of pepitas in the air. A shower of pumpkiney goodness falls upon the land.

Remove the oatmeal after realizing you're eating more of it than your stomach can take, and that Chaya is likely to throw it on the floor eventually.

Bring over the yogurt-PB-and-fruit smoothie bowl (fancy code for "random ass mush you threw together in the hopes she might be enticed to eat something other than dried fruit for every meal") you'd made earlier after Chaya loved a similar bowl in lieu of her previously planned dinner the other day. Chaya stabs at it with a fork, throws a few strawberries into the mix, and goes back to her tupperware lid.

Chaya yells NAH again. Ask whether she wants banana or if she's just telling you that it is a banana. She yells NAH, reaches out urgently, then shakes her head indignantly as you offer her a slice. She points to the area where other bananas are stored, indicating she doesn't want an old used banana.

Chaya grunts and points in the direction of your coffee. You offer her the banana again. Then a baby sized spork. Then a large spoon, which interests her enough to take a huge scoop of the smoothie olio and smear it all over her face.

Chaya waves the spoon around and drops egg on the ground in a 3:1 ratio to actually putting a few bites in her mouth.

Chaya starts crying woefully and tears off her bib. Then grabs some egg and shoves it in her mouth. She yells "EYE" and points at your face. You say "yes, eye" and point at your eye. She reaches for your eye in order to poke you in the eye while screaming "eye." She is dismayed that you lean forward, but not enough for her to reach you with her food-stained digits. Sobs. Then another strawberry.

Chaya grabs her milk, chews on the straw, and tries out the smoothie bowl as a trusty cupholder. Staring at you with a certain intensity, she bangs the cup on the table, spreading yogurty peanut-buttery goodness around the table. She then is "spent" and casually tosses the drink aside to the ground.

You decide that there's enough smoothie and oatmeal to last another day if you combine them. Also, Chaya likes moving things from bowl. So you bring the oatmeal bowl back out.

Chaya has no interest in mixing the two, but you go ahead and mix them anyways. You throw a few raisins into the smoothie bowl. Chaya grabs one. You mix the rest of the pepitas and errant strawberries in with the oatmeal.

After emptying half of the smoothie bowl into the oatmeal, you've refilled the bowl. You remove the smoothie bowl and take a few other things back to the sink as you get ready to clean up.

Get distracted by some notification on your computer. A few minutes later, you look back and notice that Chaya is now eating from the oatmeal bowl with gusto (and her hands).

Return to the table and drink some coffee. Chaya sees part of a banana and yells NAH! Then eats around it.

Chaya starts squirming and hooting. Remove the oatmeal and start spooning it into a storage container. Chaya picks up an errant blueberry from the oatmeal that was on her tray. Spoon a little oatmeal onto her tray directly. Chaya eats it. Continue spooning little drops of oatmeal. Chaya insists on having the large spoon. She stabs the oatmeal on her tray with it. Then eats some more. Then stabs. Then eats. Then gnaws on the spoon while pointing outside and yelling DAH!! Agree that dogs are outside sometimes, but probably not while it's so dark out.

7:15 a.m. - the velocity of food has increased, mostly towards the floor. Unleash the beast and bring her to the sink to "wash her hands." She plays with her bowls and the faucet for roughly fifteen more minutes, occasionally crying out in agony because of some imagined slight from one of the other dishes. Feel in her mouth to identify the big bulging molars poking through her gums. One is almost out. None of them are nearly close enough though. God, Daddy's right. This is the new normal.

7:54 a.m. - Chaya has done with the sink. You've removed her over-smock t-shirt. She's run around briefly and has located a bag of dried figs, which she proffers to you exepectantly. You give her a small piece. She climbs up. You give her a baby carrot that you were originally planning to eat. She takes it as you wander around the room holding her. She points into the fridge as you go to get another baby carrot. She yells NAH again, then shakes her head when you ask if she wants a banana.

7:57 a.m. - Remove a ziplock bag of squash bread you made. She points as you start to eat one. Give her the bread. She eats a small bit. Figure it's worth a shot and do the same with the egg. She takes a large hunk of egg from you, chews it for a while, and then spouts a fountain of masticated egg all over your shirt and floor.

And so goes the rest of the day...

*****



Snack

Began with lentil curls bought at the store. An experiment. One that didn't stick. Then she licks some celery dipped in peanut butter. Then half a fruit leather. Then another baby carrot. And a few bites of rye cracker. This was mostly to buy time, while putting groceries away, and less a concerted effort to feed the mad creature.

***

Lunch, which began with some pad woonsen jae (Chaya was having a serious noodle phase last week), sesame crackers and goat cheese, and a big bowl of green beans. Chaya ate the green beans, so more was made. And since Chaya was absolutely ambivalent to the noodles, except when mommy slurped some down and dangled them (which was funny but not enticing), the green beans were drizzled with oil to add a little fat to the mix.

Chaya ate half of the second bowl, making funny noises and showing off her burgeoning teeth in a green-speckled grin.

Then we ended up with Chaya (who was still breaking into howls at the indignity of her high chair) sitting on my lap, upending the bowl of green beans in front of me, throwing goat cheese all over the floor, and eventually growing compulsive about removing the sesame crackers from their container, breaking them and stacking them on the table. Again, eating every third cracker piece. Somewhere in there, she finished her milk, drank a fair bit of water, and threw aside her first milk cup when she saw I'd filled another already.

Lunch ended when Chaya turned around on the ball and started tearing at my shirt.

***

Snack after an unprecedented 2.5 hour nap

Chaya ate most of an almond butter sandwich, a small bowl of frozen peas, several raisins, and some puffs.

***



Dinner when Daddy gets home

Chaya tasted a piece of bread she had demanded from mommy, ignored her rice, eschewed her egg, drank all of her water (and then spends several eons removing her straw and poking it back into the lid), swilled half of her milk&oj, and maybe ate roughly half of a Plum Organic Over-priced-applesauce-but-toddler-won't-eat-regular-applesauce-or-much-else-from-a-refillable-pouch-so-lord-knows-what's-magical-about-this-puree-and-pouch pouch. She used the remainder of the pouch puree apple-sauce to finger paint all over the tray. Then she played at the sink for several hours while mommy feels that stupid couple of molars that are so nearly through, she can feel the indents and some serious sharpness.

***

Fell asleep easily.

Woke up at 4:30 a.m.

Begin anew!!

Swingin' Seventeen Month Old

Rules for "Managing" The Big Old 2-1 Nap Transition for your Fiesty Seventeen Month Old:





1. Be consistent. Set them down at the same time every day and avoid morning naps in order to help them reset their biological clocks and consolidate that nap.

2. BUT be flexible. The cumulative sleep debt will probably totally derail everything. So, you know, maybe it's better if you alternate one and two nap days.

3. OH AND, be rigid about the morning and consistent about the midday nap, but move bedtime around like crazy because there's nothing like an early bedtime.

4. BUT, it will probably lead to even earlier wake up times.

5. Hang in there.

6. Although, was your child really ready to drop that nap? If it's not working, man, why are you forcing this??

7. Never try a nap transition or make any changes to the schedule if your child is any of the following: teething, sick, just back form holidays or vacation, going through a developmental milestone, under 42 inches tall, warmblooded, or growing hair.

8. Do everything you can to avoid that sleep debt building up if child is (a) any of the above factors listed in number 7, or (b) making a nap transition. Oh yeah, and actually teething doesn't really disrupt sleep. Science said so. So I guess whatever. Your child is just a drama queen suckered in by old wive's tales and probably fake news propogated by 400 pound Russian trolls.

9. BUT don't fall back on any old sleep crutches under any circumstances.

10. There is ultimately one right way to do this. The other ways will just lead to months of agony. Go cold turkey. Maybe you alternate every other day or somehow otherwise wean out the morning nap. Or the afternoon nap. Or maybe you'd better gradually push the morning nap back by fifteen minutes very slowly. Or maybe you should stop trying this transition thing and try to put your child down earlier in the morning. Because you never know. In fact, just leave her/him in the crib for the entire day and the odds are that at least one nap will eventually happen.

11. Oh seriously, sleep training is basically child abuse. Co-sleep with your child according to her natural rhythms. I'm sure one of you is not at work at any given time of the day, right? Get a baby carrier that allows your child to be suckled to your breast at all times. Schedules are such an artificial trapping of modern civilization.

12. Oh yeah? Science says you're wrong! Circadian rhythms. Homeostatic sleep pressure. Peak melatonin. Delta waves... uh mumbo jumbo voodoo jujubees.

13. Science says your face looks like a gorilla and that you smell like two gorillas fornicating in a sauna.

14. Uh... you know science isn't actually an anthropomorphic being or deity right?

15. By the way, Math says your momma so fat that uh actually math isn't super quick on the badinage. But Math doesn't like you very much.

16. Well the feeling is mutual. You don't wanna hear what Anthropology has to say about you. Now back to baby sleep.

...

Anyways, so far I'm doing exactly what nobody recommends. During the week, Chaya passes out in the carseat on the drive home from some morning activity. It's one of those theoretically dreaded catnaps (meow - but no politically topical "pussy caps," because she's strongly against headgear). Usually between 15 minutes to 25. So, in theory these are supposed to be the absolute worst thing ever. Like they make it hard to fall asleep for a real nap, but they also aren't restful. Which  may be true. I don't know. What I know is she zonks and I push her nap time back a bit. And she takes a longer nap around 1 to 1:30 (her old second nap time, before she started needing more and more awake time).

Some days, she doesn't fall asleep in the car. Then I put her down for a nap at 12:00 or so. And hopefully she sleeps. If  not, or even if so, we hope to god there's chance for an early bedtime.

And, at least for this week, it didn't matter when I put her down or how much she slept during the day. She basically slept 10.5 hours. Except for the mysterious 10 hour Friday and Saturday mornings. Which isn't ideal. She was having a nice long spell of 11 hour nights. And when we put her down an hour early last night, it seemed to get her back to a nice meaty 11 hours (with her trademark 5:20 waking of course)

 But it is what it is. She's a toddler. It's not horrible. I do think the burgeoning molars have something to do with it, but who can say how much. At least the last couple of days, she's been waking up happy and not flipping her baby shiznet.



In the meantime Chaya is blossoming up all kinds of awesome language and understanding.

Here's a makeshift list of Chaya words:

Dah - dog, or really any four legged animal
Bu(unpronouncable noise)eh - bunny and/or any stuffed animals of indeterminate classification
Bay(unpronouncable noise)eh - baby, particularly the ones on her poster
Zhuu - shoe
Ni - knee
EYE - eye (often uttered while jabbing at somebody's eye and shrieking)
Nah - banana
hooohooohooo - monkey (well, "what does a monkey say?")
SZSZSZSZSZS - Snake
BAAAAABAAAA - sheep/lamb
Puuu - puff. Snack. She hasn't used this one as much recently.
Dadda - daddy, of course. Although sometimes she says variations which seem to mean something else.
Buuuh - Boot
Baaaaauh - Bath
Ouuuuu - usually "out" I think...



occasionally maaaahmaaah, but only if she wants something or is unhappy. Maaauuh -  usually means kissy noise.

Words I don't quite know yet, but which clearly mean something.

minamina
miiiimiiii
laddladdladdle




Words she especially understands and enjoys responding to:

eye/nose/mouth/knee/shoulder/ear/light/fan
mommy/gramma Pam/Grampa Ian
Dance
Jump
Shoes/socks
"take off ____"
"Put on ____"
"Sit down"
turn on/off the light
Want to go to the bathroom (which just means mommy carries her while mommy uses the bathroom, and Chaya makes the whole thing very awkward by not wanting to be put down)
"Wash your hands/the dishes"
"Where are/is..."
"Look ___ (direction)"
Outside
Walk
Let's go shopping
Would you sit down so I can put your shoes on?

...

Actually the list goes on to a pretty impressive extent. Thursday morning, I told her we were going shopping. She found socks. Then shoes. Then her coat. Then, while I was distracted, she brought me my keys, and my coat.

And she laughs when I tell her that I'm going to go to the bathroom.

**



And she is definitely starting to assert even more of her preferences, and testing boundaries. For about a week, Chaya insisted that I be the one to carry her upstairs for bedtime. This is despite her father always doing so.

And boy does she have preferences about which books she wants somebody to read to her (if she starts saying DAH, it means she wants the Dog book, of course). Which shoes. What utensil will actually induce her to decide to start eating. We've had a lot more mealtimes in which Chaya practices her throwing, bouncing, mixing, and smearing skills far more than any actual eating.




And she's growing a wee bit more independent. When we get to a slide, she can now climb up and slide down on her own. Not that she doesn't request assistance sometimes still, but often she'll take off as soon as we arrive. She's not quite gotten to reverse climbing the slides, but boy is she trying. And she's getting more proficient walking down stairs.

It's amazing to watch her grow and evolve every single day, in other words. It's interesting to watch the blend of growing independence and little twinges of separation anxiety. As if her desire to be her own person reinforces the existence of her support people.

And, it being well past 5:20 a.m., the baby is giving herself a minor tutorial on crib climbing. That terrifying transfer to toddler bed (and all the baby room-proofing that may ensue) looms on the horizon. But as a more distant likelihood. Probably something to save for that 18 month regression I keep hearing about.

As we truck on, we cross our fingers, continue removing potentially deadly and breakable objects from higher and higher ground. Anyone want any beautiful paintings or several pounds of books?

Happy Seventeen Sweet Chay-Chay. Pretty soon, I'll just be telling people you're 'a year and a half'

And then I'll be thinking you're a year or two younger than you are.

And then you'll be graduating from college. And then... well, I hope that then you'll sleep pretty well, but that will be kind of on you at that point.

Sleepy Sixteen (and 3/4) Says Bye Bye Baby

Our dear manic pixie dream bae is a baby no more. Ok, technically she's still kind of babyish. And she's just learning the word BAYBAY, which seems to include herself and all pictures of babies and toddlers on her poster.



... But she has truly wiped away the last vestiges of babyness in my eyes. This is truly and surely a toddler in all sense of the word. Her receptive language has exploded, and she is developing new words every day. Sometimes I wonder why she keeps yelling DAH when I get to the the fridge and after she's demanded her twentieth NAH (banana) of the day. Turns out actually she's pointing at the cow on our yogurt container. Because dogs and cows are the same thing in her world. In toddle-waddle land, snakes say SSSSSS, monkeys hoot, lambs go BAAAABAAA, Dogs arf arf (as do ducks, apparently); she dances when you say the word; bellies/eyes/ears/noses/mouths are all things that can be pointed out and pounded; brushes/hats/sunglasses/necklaces/socks/gloves/shirts come on and off and are used in some semblance of their appropriate usage; everything has crayon/pen/pencil/paint marks; color matters; everything is made for stocking and throwing; nothing is funnier than having mommy throw a towel over your head before you take a lap around the kitchen shrieking; and nothing is more worthy of a tantrum than mommy misunderstanding your direction to throw that towel over your head and instead thinking you wanted to play the "blow your nose" game you were playing two minutes ago.




In my toddle-waddle land, it's normal to find toy boats in my bed, half gnawed NAs in my purse, and my keys in the empty puffs container somebody retrieved from the recycling and relocated to the laundry hamper. And ... nothing else. To find nothing else anywhere ever.

And the progress and perils continue on.



Sleep... it could be worse. It was markedly worse this time last year. I hear it might get worse again. So far, we will definitely embrace the term "regression," though. Whether it's teething (it's never teething, but still, maybe it is - girl hasn't finished off her incisors yet, but I swear I can feel a swelling where a molar might be and when she's actually opening her mouth in the carseat, I swear I see an incisor poking through), upset stomach, nap transition, cognitive milestones, early 18 month regression... it definitely is a throw back to the olden days when she didn't nap quite so well.

Baby finally has bedhead!!

I hate to even invite destiny's contradiction, but so far she sleeps mostly ok at night. Mostly.

Ok, there was last night where she started howling after I put her down and Andrew spent a half hour holding her until she'd gotten drowsy enough to let him put her down again. And the fact that she woke up early this morning.

 Yeah, she's been waking up early quite consistently. Really, she's been pretty much getting up before 5:30 even on days where she goes down later). If she's been awake too long before crashing, she also tends to wake up vexingly early (10.5 hours instead of 11, or even 11.5 if we're really making up a bad nap day and managed to get to bed early enough).

But mostly naps have been the massive problem. Her second nap - when it was a second nap - usually got longer to make up for a missed or truncated morning nap. Her sole nap looked to be doing just that the first few weeks. But now, not so much. We've had naps ranging from an hour and ten minutes to forty minutes. Which is brutal on both ends.

Sleep never really recovered from Thanksgiving. There was a brief interim where she was starting to recover from that awfulness. Then the first nap died. Then two weeks of what seemed like promising transition. Then train wreck sleep debt regression. I tried going back to two naps a few times. Every once in a while it works. Sometimes early in the morning. Sometimes - like the last three days - she passes out in the car at some totally random time and I rush to Tetris the hell out of our usual schedule. Eleven o'clock nap for twenty minutes aaaaaaaand... GO!

There are the occasional long naps. My standards have changed. That first week or two, I was ok with an hour and forty, but was hoping for two hours. Now I'm relieved at the 45 minute mark, then again at the hour mark, then again at the hour and twenty. If she makes it past that, I guarantee that I've done nothing all nap time except stare at the monitor waiting for her to stir. She does stir. Usually every 40 minutes or so, but on those blessed days, she lifts her head, rolls over and sleeps some more. Of course on the longer nap days, she's often grumpy as all get out when she wakes. But it's random. And hard to predict.

And no matter how they configure, I want to think I've figured it out. Was it not giving her dairy at lunch? Was it a double dose of tylenol and motrin? Was it a little nap in the morning followed by a later sleep? Was it an earlier naptime? A later bedtime? Getting out and being really active? Staying chill so she doesn't get overtired? Was it the red underwear I was wearing that day? But if anything suffers from a severe replication crisis, it is the sleep schedule of a sixteen and a half month toddler.

My current theory is that she is best being awake about 5 hours in the morning and 4-5 for the rest of her day. Which is awkward for two naps. But requires some pretty long over-stretches with one,  given she sleeps 11 hours at night at most and doesn't take long naps. So in my desperate attempt to make sleep better in the face of a thousand confounding factors, I may try putting her down for a morning nap much later in the morning and then seeing what to do about a second afternoon nap.

And I swear that was a flash of white I saw in her gum when I momentarily got a glimpse. Girl is very protective of her mouth, despite loving to shove a hand straight into anyone else's.




 I only manage to get her teeth brushed, by allowing her to "help" with the dishes. She could live at the edge of the sink. We got her a little ladder to help her wash her hands. But then she started grabbing dishes. Sometimes the sponge. And it's not nearly as disasterously messy as I'd imagine. There's usually a tantrum when we finally relent on poor Mother Nature and turn off the faucet.



But, yes, sleep. By the time we figure this all out, of course, we'll probably tank it all and officially move. That's right MOVE!

We have officially embraced...


MOUNT VERNON, WA as our Grand Compromise/Happening Place for the Wrights to be.

No, nothing tangible yet. Apparently real estate (in the off season and right now and right where we want to be) in Mt. Vernon is pretty much hotter than a ghost peppers smothered in wasabi. Several times we've resolved to look at a house that just came onto the market; several times, said house has gone "pending" by the time we see it. But we are keeping on keeping on. Andrew spoke with our mortgage guru and we're good to borrow copious amounts of debt should we so desire. We're working on pre-approval so we can pounce on the perfect house as it comes up.


We're giving our Real Estate agent plenty of run for his "I work in Bellingham, but for you, we can look around Mt. Vernon" money. Between me, my dad, Andrew's mom, and several Zillow/Realtor/Trulia type sites all on the alert, we are constantly flagging things.

And we're getting some good practice with our carseat naps, albeit not so often on our treks down there, yet. Perhaps today. Perhaps... perhaps... Chaya will nap on the drive down and we'll coax a decent afternoon nap out of her. Perhaps whatever caused the nocturnal meltdown last night won't recur tonight. But I count on nothing. Except my maternal drives to protect the beast and my sweet, sweet baby-daddy.

Godspeed all!

Sweet Sixteen Months (of Merry Mayhem)




Our little toddle-waddle is nearing the eighteen month mark. Although she be but-bae, she is fiercely nobody's baby no more (and like hell is she staying in any corner anywhere). Kiddo is definitely growing up and getting busy with the cognitive capers. Just in time for Christmas! Trust me, our decorations are minimal, mostly outside, and fairly baby proofed on the inside.

Our tree this year is made of felt with an understudy of tinsel.



And where do we stand in the baby battle fronts? We don't stand, don't be silly! We run. We careen. We ping-pong. We hover near tall objects and point with great whiny elan until somebody helps us scale them. Stand? Ha.

But on the frontlines, we bring you the usual updates:

Boobs - mine, not Chaya's, are still producing baby juice. And counter to all expectations, Chaya is nursing more than ever. She does finish off about one sippie cup's worth of vanilla unsweetened coconut-almond milk and OJ. Yeah baby has specific tastes.

And mostly those tastes are pretty breastmilk intensive. I'm officially off the domperidone after an incredibly gradual wean. And waiting two weeks to see what happens. But so far, it's all still happening and Chaya's a little boobie monster. Her favorite new diversion is to nurse while I read a book to her. It involves many acrobatic contortions and some very deep concerns about mommy's safety as Chaya arabesques, suckles, points pokes, waves, and tries to turn the pages while perched on mommy's belly.  I'm sooooooooo glad I fought so hard for this breastfeeding relationship. Soooooo glad. No really, I am grateful we can still have this relationship. But sometimes, I think I missed my shot to ever wear turtle necks again.



Sleep! The eternal battle.

So you know how I was despairing of Chaya's wonky sleep schedule and feeling we were teetering but stuck at the precipice of the grand 2-1 nap transition? Pretend you do. Basically, seemed like she was almost ready to drop a nap. Then vacation happened and she pretty much dribbled, free-shot and tossed naps and sleep to the winds. We were recovering from that when she got a cold.  And...



It appears Chaya felt like it was time to go ahead and just fling herself into the abyss. I think her nasty cold has some part in this, but she refused her morning nap four straight days last week. So far, she's taken a relatively meaty afternoon nap to compensate. Of course I'm told there's no such thing as a pattern with toddlers. And I'm told that it's all meaningless until something has happened at least 2 weeks, but on the other hand... mamma kinda wouldn't mind just capitalizing on this time and figuring out the nap transition. And/or just going "cold turkey" - which appears to be Chaya's wont the last few days.

Really, I've tried. I've taken her up early/late. I've read to her in a dark room. Changed her. Crooned lullabies to her. And waited for her to whimper a little bit in the crib after she has just nearly nodded off. And thus far, it has typically yielded bupkis. Well, in fairness, it has yielded  a somewhat cranky morning baby who may yawn from time to time, but otherwise is fine right up until about 12:30.

We didn't quite want to spring this on Andrew, since early bedtime is often prescribed, but pushing her to stay awake until just around 1:00 has actually yielded a second nap that almost gets us to her usual nap time on a 2 nap schedule. She even broke her record length of an hour and forty-five minutes on the third day. The fourth day, she was back to an hour and forty-five. And on the fifth day, Chaya rested... or was so restive that she woke up at 5 a.m. and was actually willing to crash. Then a one nap day. Then a two nap day... And the merry-baby-go-round continues spinning. We'll see what the next day and week and month and years shall hold.

At this point, I believe we're in a holding pattern of double schedules. If Chaya wakes up early or seems really tired, she gets a morning nap, has lunch around 12:30, with a second nap some time between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m. If Chaya gets better sleep at night, she's more into a single nap. While we've been pushing it to 1:00, we're thinking that it probably doesn't make a huge amount of sense to push her to stay up sooooo long between waking up and her first nap. So in theory, her lunch will be between 11:00 and 11:30, and her nap will be around 12:00 or 12:30 p.m. We'll see. Today, it was 12:20. It'll all change tomorrow!

Who knows, but is is going to take some serious adjustment for mommy to transition from two to one naps. First, giving up that forty minutes in the morning. And then reclaiming the additional hour in the afternoon. I've managed the morning a little better. I can load Chaya into the back carry on the ergo while doing any chores that are fairly active. Lunch can be prepared while Chaya's distracted (read, in between tantrums, nursing, and running around tackling mommy). There will be some form of going out. But often by the afternoon, I do all my urgent chores in a half hour and spend the remainder of the time restlessly staring into the baby monitor and wondering what of the bajillion things I'd been planning to do for weeks might I do. I end up feeling overwhelmed and do nothing, usually.




The Toddlering of Bae-bae Chaychay:

Chaya is ambling and rambling, but not particularly verbal yet. That's not exactly representative. She's extremely vocal. Just not in any particular version of English. She does definitely say "DAH" for dog, followed by barking noises. "DAH" also refers to any furry quadrupede. She says "PUH" for snack, duh to the prevalence of rice puffs in said snack repertoire. She makes hooting noises for monkey. "BUUU" for boots. "BUUUUHHHH" for bath. Sometimes, she says "BAAAAAH" at stuffed sheep. And Naaanaaa appears to be banana. NUM or NUH seems to be "nurse"

More of her desires are expressed through moaning and pointing, which is moderately maddening. But it is amazing to watch all the little synapses fire.

She understands significantly more. She knows nose, eye, ear, coat, lunch, breakfast, Gramma Pam, Dadda, Mamma, fan, foot/feet, outside, up, balloon, down, duckies, belly-button and a variety of simple sentences like "Do you want to go turn on the lamp for mama?" or "will you help mama find your socks?"

She is also understanding more of human interactions. She definitely knows things are off-limits with me. And with daddy. And she'll continue to attempt trying these out with different people until she gets her way. We are, in other words, entering the early hinterlands of discipline! DUN DUN DUNNNNNN.

So far, this mostly means that there are some "rules" that we ought to be consistent about in order to spare a lot of confusion and anger. When Chaya understands something isn't allowed, she's far more accepting of it than when it's sometimes allowed and sometimes not. So I'm trying to start being more aware of what she can and cannot do.

A Few:

* You can climb on the chair by the light switch and the rocking chair and the sofa and your impromptu changing station. Mommy will help you do so. 

* You can play with the sink faucet while we wash your hands. You can stand on the step ladder to do so. But you cannot grab knives in the sink or the drying rack. You then go down. 

* You cannot climb into the sink. Once you try, you will go back down. 

* You cannot climb on the counter. We will not help you and if you try to do so while sitting on somebody's lap, you will go down. 

* You cannot have things from the shelves above the counter. We will not give them to you. You can't reach them. 

* You cannot touch the wireless router no matter which adult you enlist to help you stand on the chair next to the shelf it's on. You will go down and that chair will be removed. 

* You cannot have anyone else's cell phone (negotiable unfortunately in desperate times, if something needs to be done)

* It's really cool that you know where mama's eyes are. No poking in the eyes.

*Don't steal other children's toys or stick things in your mouth in front of other people for god's sake! Your mommy will be embarrassed and remove them from you. 

* Screaming and writhing will not excuse you from having a dirty diaper changed. But if you haven't nursed in a long time, you may nurse before. And you may have a toy to play with while it is happening. 

* Yes we can nurse a thousand times a day as long as mommy is warm and has her phone. No, we cannot nurse in the car when it's 28 degrees out after you just nursed for ten minutes in the store.

* You break it, I buy it. You don't get to break it. And if you do, you don't get to keep it. 

* Poking children or animals in their eyes while screaming is not ok. Eye gouging requires a quiet hummm

* No matter how much you hoot and holler, mommy will not give you glass containers or knives

* You can play with various plastic containers, bottles and pens, until you figure out how to get the caps off. After this, they are forbidden. 

* You can eat your food off the floor. But first we will sit down at meals. 

* You cannot eat gum or other obvious trash off the floor if we can help it. 

* If we are in public, mommy will try to hold your hand. 

* You cannot rip pages out of the books at the library. 

* You will be removed from an area if you try to grab cords or plugs. 

* While I would prefer you not eat mud, I recognize it will happen. You cannot eat or chew on rocks. 

* We will keep a distance from animals until their owners give us a go-ahead to touch them. 

* You can play with mommy's wallet... after she's taken her credit cards out of it.




I'm sure there are more. But you get the idea. At this point, it's not about punishing "wrong" behavior since that would mean nothing to her. Really, I don't think discipline ever is about retribution. It's more about creating a safe groundwork for interacting with the increasing complexities of the world around the Chaya beast. In a way that eventually will allow her to navigate spaces without parental intervention. But we're a long way from that. We're at the early stages of tantrums and transgressions. And just that wee hint of testing boundaries. I'm practicing my gentle parent affirmations in which I acknowledge Chaya's very big feelings of frustration, fear and anger, when a rule conflicts with her desires (and just generally). I'm holding her through tantrums and trying to juggle my desire to make space for her big feelings, while also finding distractions as appropriate. And I'm only sometimes flipping my toddler off behind her back.


New rule: well, I can't force you to wear clothes in the house, but can we at least start that way? And you're getitng a coat when we got out. Don't make me put you in turtleneck onesies. 

MomME:

For me, I'm slowly processing my return to persondom. It's a gradual process, but one with multiple levels of self-reflection. Chaya is now a teeny tiny person. And that means there is a self and other between us that immediately reasserts our own distinct identities. That has evolved quite gradually, but ever so distinctly. I am a certain assortment of things to her; I come with a set of impressions and expectations. They are distinct from other familiar figures.She will behave differently with me than another. She will behave differently with me even when there is another person around. And she demonstrates real intention in the way she interacts with each close figure around her.

Once you have another individual's version of yourself hovering in the ethos, you may return to contemplating your own essence. At least, it reasserts the awareness of one's self in a different way. Sure, I still tell myself that I need some self-indulgence or time with my husband "for the sake of the baby," but more often now I also sometimes just personally need some actual ME time because I want it and I need a break.



In addition to reevaluating my distinctive quiddity, I am reflecting on how I have changed. Inside and outside. But enough of the navel gazing (though mine is really weird looking these days and Chaya likes to poke at it painfully)

And I can say, I don't begrudge the physical change wreaked upon my once taut form. I'm actually gradually gaining weight as Chaya weans. Well, not really as she weans (given she has nursed roughly fifty bajillion times in the last 24 hours). As I feed her more, and more often. I've given up any pretense of making my own meals. I just eat her food. And she eats well. Fruits and veggies, legumes, whole milk products, seeds, nuts, fancy oats and teff and exotic grains and fruits, and all kinds of healthy fats snuck in there. For all of that.

 I will eventually (maybe) have the energy to regain some strength, but I also recognize that my body was not 100% healthy, and that it was hormonally all over the place. I intend fully to remind myself that gaining a little weight isn't a bad thing whenever I feel a mild sense of panic at the rising scale numbers. And, in my case, could be a good investment in long term health. It's amazing to think that even as I hover around the realm of underweight, I weigh about the same as I did prior to pregnancy. And that prior to pregnancy I had significantly more muscle. I must have had no body fat to speak of.

I don't bemoan a little weight gain. But I'd like a little say on how it comes back.




Mostly, I want my booty back! My junk has left my trunk. I hope it's a temporary shift brought on by breastfeeding. I know having a baby is worth any ravages on my vanity, truly. I enjoy the maternal rotundity of my PP belly. But I miss my Callypigian profile. And my poor hip-to-waist ratio has wasted away to something quite average. I am no longer Sir Mixalot's bag of tea.

Yes, my reemerging self-image is pretty much contained in superficialities at the moment. There's something fresh about this. Things with babies are awfully profound and weighty. So best to focus the personal weight on actual girth.

Wrapping up the wrapping season - hell no, I'm not ready for Xmas, but it'll happy. And for at least another year, Chaya won't know the difference. She'll have plenty to open up. Despite our promises to avoid too much stuff, none of us could resist buying gifts for Miss Chaya. She'll have plenty. And plenty of wrapping paper to throw over her head while she runs around the house screaming.

And, it being the end of a truly crazy year (inside and outside the nest), we have to have a little break to sip pumpkin spice lattes with our peppermint white chocolate M&Ms and say, "wow does the time ever fly."

May your days be merry and bright and may all your baby pics be right.

Merry Xmas from the toddle-waddle and her creaky crotchety handmaiden.




We approve of the Starbucks holiday cup this year.

Thanks-be-to-giving the Baby Her Own Crib - Sleep Chronicles and the Fiften Month Frenzy

So despite our fondest wishes to eliminate the dourest of months in recent history, November 2016 happened. Chaya actually was fourteen months for part of that.



Then she was fifteen months.



Now she's fifteen and a half and a rip-roarin' no-way-I'm-a-babe-even-with-power toddler. Holey moley where did my baby go? Toddler Chaya may have eaten her while making dinosaur noises and running around the house throwing her hands in the air! Where did my toddler go? Chances are to the most dangerous and messy thing she could find. I'm sure I'll hear her barking soon to summon handmaiden mommy for help climbing the Xerox machine.

And life gets more intriguing by the minute.



Toddler waddler is waddling like a pro these days. And boy did she have fun in San Francisco.





Her Grandma's new house has stairs and then some. Nice deep and loooong stairs. There was also a soon-to-be-dearly-departed puppy: Meg, longtime companion and family puppy in Grandpa Tom 2's family home. Boy did Chaya love Meg. Meg - who was suffering terminal illness and biding her time before euthanasia after one final Thanksgiving with the family - was a little less certain about the rabid toddler beast. We had to pull her off the saintly sweetheart several times. Chaya knows how to say "DAH" and point like she means it.

Yes, we had a really poignant trip to San Francisco for the holidays. In addition to the canine cancer, there was a very heart-aching loss in the Wright family: Great Grandpa Wright, the patriarch of that side of the family passed on a week before Thanksgiving. I'm heartbroken he missed Chaya that one last time. He loved her so deeply. It's an honor to have had him in her life.




We were also short one future-sister-in-law/mother-of-Chaya's-non-existent-Wright-cousins, as Zach and his girlfriend had recently parted ways. To add a smart to that uncoupling, they had to put down their dog after being unable to break him from having dangerous aggressive spells (the dog, not Zach, who manages any aggressive spells at the track on his juked up motorcycle). Zasch's birthday wish for the year was to erase November 2016. Aside from Chaya really starting to take off, I have to agree we could use a big can of white out on that accursed month.



But those who survived came together and honored the legacy of those lost with their own fresh life and fond memories. There was an amazing amount of wonder and discovery and love. And Chaya featured heavily in all experiences. She held up to her role as breath of future promise with very few tantrums. Despite being sleep deprived and too distracted to eat all that much, Miss Chaya was wonderfully diverted and taken with all the attention.




To the point of, of course, not particularly noticing the hunger or sleep debt until a typical toddler crash. As sweet as she is, she mostly saved the tantrums for mommy, but kept on trucking admirably up until her midnight breaking points. In exchange, she received a mini baby lifetime of new sensations and experiences. She even got to visit her first aquarium and take a trip to the Marin Headlands.



And of course that returns us to elaboration on the baby basics.

Nap Battles 15.0!

It's been just about a year since the accursed sleep regression threw everything into the abyss. And just a little under a year since we officially Ferberized the little Furby. Things have gotten so much better since then, it's surreal. But there are always little issues with baby sleep.

Vacations and well-slept toddlers are oil and vinegar; that is, if the vinegar is rice vinegar and the oil is petrol. This trip was no exception. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing something wrong. Is it my attitude that prevents Chaya from being an easy-napping toddler? If I were just more easy-going, would she relish long car rides, sleep anywhere, and never fuss at the loss of some key component of a reliable routine. Then I remember most of my friends with babies who do these things also keep them up all night still. Babies are different. We have our battles.

It would be an exaggeration to say it, but this feels pretty true right now: basically, a year of sleep training and a painstaking month of nudging back Chaya's schedule to account for the time change was rapidly undone in less than a week of vacation.



Two steps forward and giant baby leaps back, of course.

Before the trip, we were pushing her schedule later and later again. We were doing so mostly unintentionally. It appeared we might be hitting up against the 2-1 nap transition. This is a time that typically occurs between 15 and 18 months, though most of Chaya's friends have pared down to one nap a few months ago. It's kind of one of those awkward transitions where a toddler can stay awake for longer periods of time and will stay awake longer between sleep to the point that you can't fit all the sleep into a single day. But it's also often a time where a looong stretch of being awake can derail night sleep anyways. So babies often go back and forth, and things just get a little screwy.

No matter how she distributes it, Chaya routinely gets 13 hours in a 24 hour period. If she's recovering from an ailment, slightly more. If something is actively wrong, slightly less. If she gets a good night's sleep, one of her naps will be middling. If she gets two longer naps, she'll take a while to fall asleep or wake up early. It's just awkward enough that we have grumpy baby with a bad bit of sleep at some point during the day. And it's just enough that her schedule seems to nudge further and further apart to a point where getting her sleep into one day feels awkward. So, this was where we were going into things.

I swore I'd be a little more flexible during the trip, but to try to keep some semblance of routine just to help Chaya not go totally off the rails. I'm told going off the rails kind of sucks. I've confirmed that it ain't ideal.



The trip began with a decent stockpile of sleep. And Chaya continued to show her ambivalence to the two-nap tango by staying awake and babbling for about five hours after she'd woken up. This is pretty long, incidentally. Her first nap is usually about 3.5 hours after waking up. Sometimes 4 hours, if she's woken up early.

 And when she did fall asleep, there weren't many tantrums or major exhaustion signs beforehand. She babbled. She rubbed her eyes. She looked a little tired for about ten minutes. Then she zonked. Just to continue proving that a longer wake up time might be good, she seemed to actually sleep in the car. For more than thirty minutes. This is fairly unheard of.

Unfortunately the car ride to SeaTac is only so far, so we didn't have much chance to see how long she might have slept. She woke up as we were dealing with the parking situation.

And that was it for her naps that day. She was far too entertained playing on the plane. She loves planes and people and the bajillion distractions mommy and daddy offer her There was fussing on the ride from the airport, but no sleep. And she was seriously hyper and distracted by her wonderful Grandma and aunties while mommy and daddy rampaged around the common room trying to find the Pack and Play (seriously, we NEED that damned P&P, even as much as Chaya hates it), and otherwise prepare the room for sleep. She crashed early after an impromptu standing dinner of "artisanal goat cheese that mommy handed to Chaya while holding her and making conversation with the rest of the family before bedtime"


Day Two wasn't so bad either. Chaya woke up early, but within the range of normal. She took a middling morning nap after a bit more fuss and complaint. She frolicked with her grandpa and Great Aunt Cathy.





She fought her second nap tooth and very sharp baby nail. But she eventually crashed for another middling sleep. Both naps were concluded with an hysterical baby howling until I went and got her. We put her down a little earlier than usual. She fussed at bedtime and cried a bit when I tried to put her down, but eventually crashed after about an extra half hour.

Through the night she stirred crying a few times and seemed restless.


Day Three she woke up at 4 a.m. and fussed, then cried, then fussed, and then went back to sleep after about an hour. She woke up at 6:30 a.m. and decided that was about enough for good naps. Weary of the exhausting nap ritual and in honor of the wishes of the rest of the family to get out on an excursion earlier than later, we decided to try her morning nap on the way out to the Marin Headlands. Hey she'd surprised me with that long carseat nap on the way to the airport.


She resisted. I suggested we hike with her in the boba, hoping she might crash. And about forty minutes later, she did sleep. For twenty minutes. On her home schedule, she would have made up for that in her afternoon nap. She didn't. The nap wasn't the worst, but was more like 45 minutes. Meaning she was up super far from her normal bedtime. But that was convenient, because Andrew was going out for the evening. We put her down early so he could do his part of bedtime. She took a decent amount of fussing to fall asleep.

She woke up an hour later. She eventually got back to sleep. Then woke up again. Then again. You get the motif. Have another baby picture.



Day Four... And then made a permanent howling go of it at about 5:00 a.m. Both of her naps were short and ended with hysterical howling. In the evening, she fussed and cried, but eventually fell asleep. For a few hours. Then stirred on and off until 2 a.m. at which point it was hysteria. I sang to her for about forty minutes while she twitched and struggled and hit me in the face. She fell asleep. I put her in the P&P, she started howling. I waited to see if she would settle herself. It was agony. There were hints she might, but quickly erased. I went back and sang to her for another twenty minutes. She was far more wont to fall asleep, but stirred and howled every time I put her down. I finally brought her to bed with us at about 4 a.m. She never sleeps with us. We wake her up. She wakes us up. But she was already asleep in my arms. She perked up as I landed on the pillow, said "DADA!" Andrew said hi and I murmured to be very quiet. She then slept fitlessly until...

Day Five...5:30 a.m., at which point she said "DADA!" again, and began happily hitting me in the face. She was actually in a shockingly perky mood for having gotten about three hours less sleep than usual. The ride to the airport was minor agony, however. She did not sleep, but she kept nodding off, jerking awake, fussing and repeating this. For about the hour it took to get to SFO. We nearly missed our flight due to the traffic, but made it.

And she slept on the plane. Kind of. She started nursing and closed her eyes and slowly drifted away, occasionally jerking and nibbling my exposed nipple. After thirty minutes, she jolted awake crying hysterically for about four minutes, before changing sides and starting to nod off again. She stayed that way for another half hour. We rushed the clock getting home and put her down for a nap, with some protest, but far less, at home. It was a shorter nap. And she crashed at bedtime.

Now we're home! The good news, she doesn't hate her crib. She wakes up in her crib and typically plays (with exceptions - see below). Sometimes she goes back to sleep if she wakes up early. I suspect part of the problem is that she does stir when she's sleeping and napping. Usually just a little, and enough to move a bit and go back to sleep. But enough that she was aware she wasn't home, and to be scared by this in her half awake state.

Anyways, things are not back to "normal" yet. Her naps improved again and she was getting thirteen hours of sleep, but the last few days, she's been waking up early again. Grumpy through the morning. Often acting very tired after her naps. Usually perking up just before her next nap or bedtime, so I can't quite believe she's ready to sleep.



Last night she was tantrummy all afternoon, yawning and glazed before dinnertime, but a bundle of energy at bedtime. She cooed and played and pummeled me in the face when I was singing to her. After I put her down, she played for about ten minutes before growing absolutely hysterical. We waited a half hour. Andrew went in and held her. She eventually calmed down, until he put her down. I am assuming this was the accursed "sleep training redux" that I'd been wary of, but also gave her some motrin just in case. She immediately fell asleep when I picked her up. But she woke immediately upon being set down. She settled after about ten more minutes of baleful howling at the edge of the crib. An hour and a half after bed time.

I guess she still has a deficit she isn't quite making up as much as moving away from. I guess sleep training is ongoing. Andrew and I were deliberating on what to do (this is only the third time she's not soothed herself to sleep without interference and before this trip). We agreed, that our relationship just wasn't at a point where we could go back to bedsharing mommy-baby and daddy in the Bachelor pad. So we're working on waiting her out a little bit more. And steeling ourselves for some grumps

 And I guess as long as she's waking up early, waiting four hours before her next nap actually doesn't nudge out her schedule. But the more day sleep she gets to make up for the bad night before, the less night sleep she seems to get the coming night.

It's nostalgic really. Awwww remember when I was verging on psychosis because I never got more than 90 minutes of sleep at a time? It must be the Christmas season again!




As for me, I'm nearly weaned off of the domperidone and paying a bit of a price for that. People don't really warn women about the longer term postpartum stuff. Oh you hear about pregnancy. You hear about the horrors of labor. You might even get some resources about the first couple of months after giving birth. But what about at six months PP where your thyroid maybe goes crazy and you start losing hair? What about the rips and ruptures that you don't even realize until you're a year out? And what about the hormonal hora that is weaning!?!

I'm not weaning. Chaya nurses roughly fifty times a day recently. But the slow withdrawal of extra progesterone basically mimics weaning. And it sucks. I know women who've gone to the hospital thinking they're having heart attacks. Mood swings. Weight gain. Weight loss. Total emotional derailment. And of course nearly ever pregnancy symptom you can imagine. I feel like I'm pregnant with the flu (except my hands and feet are still cold and I can stomach vegetables, so not my prior pregnancy).

But I'm so happy to be home. And so happy to have a crazy fifteen month old going on fifteen years.

This too shall pass and that's bittersweet!

In the meantime, I'm so glad to have a separate room for the hubba-hubs to sleep in, and a nice big safe crib for my little one to toss her bunny about in.

Happy holiday season!





Pleasant Outrage and the Plan for a Less Great but Better Tomorrow.

So far, I'm not a huge fan of Novemebr 2016. Well, with exceptions. Chaya is always the exception (even as she bashes her bunnies together and likely leaps about in her own ever-redolent poopies at 5 a.m. in the morning).

She started walking with assertiveness the day after election day. She continues to grow by leaps, bounds, and many eeny weeny tantrums-turned-giggles. A little sprig of spring in the deepest snows, perhaps.

But otherwise, the 2016 slate of deaths keep coming. Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Prince, and now Chaya's Great Grandfather Wright. And others near me have had misfortunes ranging from losses of children to putting down beloved family pets, to break ups of longterm relationships, to bad friggin' hair days.

And yeah, our nation is a bit in a roil right now. Reported hate crimes are up. Protesters are mixing peaceful with not-so-peaceful. Families aren't super thrilled with each other right now.

I guess we truly and strongly need this holiday season. I hope we can suspend our squabbles over the proper d├ęcor for our $10 pumpkin banana spiced coconut gingerbread lattes and put the Christ back in Christmas by rallying together to love the least lovable, help the less advantaged, wash the feet of sinners etc. And yeah, that's the most self-sanctimonious sentence I'll utter here. I'm directing it at myself more than anyone.

But right now, I'm thinking about 2017. And how I will take it by the horns and wrestle with the dour foreboding that shuffles under 2016's little staggers. Politically speaking in particular.

It's not exactly Morning in America. Maybe like that weird time around 4 a.m. when you wake up to use the bathroom, and everything seems strange, but you just can't go back to sleep. Yeah, I don't know if it's merely 'our turn' or if Trump's ascendency is as unprecedented as it feels. I am constantly uncertain, and having a Gaslighter in Chief doesn't really help avoid normalizing, feeling outrage fatigue, and remember how easy it was to dismiss the anti-Obama hyperbole once upon a time. We all have our own foundational beginnings. All have our own news sources and echo chambers. It's a time of shifting sand and fears upon fears.

But I know I've been (West) coasting on my progressive happy-dappy liberalism for far too long. I know that I want to make the world a better place - or at least preserve what's so great about it - for my little Beastie. And for everyone, really, but she's the embodiment of that visceral urge. Even as I continue to withdraw into my familial cocoon. People are scared of losing so much. People have so little already. Yet, I have so much. Regardless of the White House, I am of an age to know I have not given back nearly enough.

I frankly don't rightly know what I *can* do. I'm not the kind who attends meetings and protests. They take so much out of me that I'm fairly useless. I have a voice and I write well, but is yodeling through my personal echo chamber particularly helpful? I can sign petitions even. And if it ever actually came to it, I'd register as Muslim etc. Still I'm skeptical and cynical of the tangible actions I could take in the short term, beyond donating money. And my time and energy feels so limited for volunteering. I hope to expand from that cocoon, but not so quickly. It's a balance of honoring myself by embracing my limits, and honoring myself by fighting for what I believe in.

I'm still figuring that balance out. But regardless, I will not let go. I will not embrace complacency. I will also not pretend that pestering my friends and family counts as activism.

But regardless of how my role pans out, I will bind myself to these principles first and foremost.

1. I will remain informed. I will not hyperbolize. I will know what I'm fighting before I shout out the battle-cry. I will check my news stories. I will struggle with the nuances behind the headlines. I will not assume a small instance can be projected to an entire movement - as I consider sample sizes, cause/correlation, and confounding factors.

2. I will not dismiss information that triggers my cognitive dissonance, regardless of the tenor with which that information is presented. I will check sources, listen before I shout, and reflect. I will accept that I do not have to sacrifice my ethical stances by considering those that conflict with mine.

3. I will act with respect. Whether or not somebody else has "earned" my respect is beside the point. It is about who I am as a person. It is about creating a space for the other to live up to that respect instead of shutting down the chance before we begin. And if that other does not, then that is on them.

4. In regards to those in power - and all people - I will continue to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I recognize that hope for better behavior in the future does not require me to cede my demand that their past misdoings be addressed.

5. I will respect my emotions as real and valid... as emotions. I will shout and rail and let off steam with many much needed laughs. But what defines me as a person is what I do with those feelings. I have a cerebral cortex. I will use it.

6. I will act from a space of love and respect, but I will hold people responsible for their actions. I will not allow a slow trickle carve a canyon.

7. I will step out of my comfort zone and use my privileges/fortunes to help those who are not as fortunate as me. I will hold myself accountable, while also recognizing my own limitations.

8. I do not have to assume the moral high ground to act on what I believe is right. I will stand firm but still look for common ground.

9. Belittling those opposed to me only blinds me. It does not prevent them from doing harm, and in fact enables them to do so more effectively.

10. I will embrace raindrops on roses, remember the amazing good that people are doing every day, and remember that despair and despondency will do nothing. I will see the good that we, all of us, are capable of and will rejoice in that, even while protecting against the bad in all of us. I will recognize that progress is slow and full of set-backs.


And of course, there will be baby photos and maybe even cute kitties. Because 2017 demands them. And who am I to resist?

Blue Thoughts from a Blue Girl in a Red World

This won't be different than a thousand other dumps from the out of touch elite liberal coastal folks (there's a German word for that right?). We're all stunned, I know. We all have complex emotions ranging from despair, hope, anger (bargaining?), and wonky analysis. And we'll have more than a few deeply personal stories to pepper into the mix. This is my turn.

Tuesday night was hard for me. I didn't just resign myself to Hillary Clinton. I actively liked her. I respected her past activism and the sacrifices she made for a husband who likely did not deserve her. I decried the sexist undertones and double standards that constantly impeded her path. I admired her debate performance. And, as somebody who is very introverted, I sympathized with her "likability" issues while noting that she was roundly loved by those who knew her personally. I read many of her emails and felt even more that she was a cautious thoughtful person, who probably overthought everything. But one who surrounded herself by experts and worked hard to nuance out the tough details. She was a pragmatist like me, in a world increasingly taken by shouting and twitterese soundbytes and simplifications. Was she pure and clean? No. There were some ick in her past and life. But politics is dirty and people are impure. And she was judged so much more harshly for each chink in her armor that perhaps I obstreperously denied her weaker points. And I felt they could be handled.


I was uneasy going into the evening, but starting to feel a little confident. Even allowing myself some excitement at the prospect of my daughter growing up with a female president. The most qualified person to ever run for office, more importantly. I dreaded the misogyny that would swell up with it. I was weary already of the likely nonstop impeachment proceedings. But I was ready for that fight. And ready to hold her feet to the fire. Ready to rebuild our scattered primary process and reform the party.

But that wasn't meant to be. As results came in, my heart sank. And then sank some more. And then even more. I didn't understand exactly why, but I felt sick. Despite having a cold and being more than ready to crash, I did not sleep. I cried. I cried a lot.

This wasn't like when George Bush won. I was disappointed then. I was freshly exposed to the oddities of the Electoral College. I had misgivings, but it wasn't the same. It was politics. And politics don't always go my way. This was something entirely different.

It's a petty simile, but I felt like I'd just been dumped. It was like being in a troubled relationship and knowing there was a lot of work to do, but having fully committed to some truly difficult times ahead. And then just like that, having my world stripped from me. My identity. My expectations. My sense of all that was familiar suddenly becoming infinitely complicated and scary. Being stunned. Being angry. Desperately wanting to bargain and explain my way out of it. And barring that, to act out in a way that created at least a similarly deep scar that had been left from this result.

I joked. I raged. I cried again. I felt a strong and eerie sense of freedom and impetus. I stress-binged on an entire bag of carrots, several M&Ms and a pot of coffee. I had a frenetic energy... and then I got a new haircut and sang "I will survive."

And as the new reality slowly settles in, I emerge from my cloud, thoughts become more articulable. Some of these thoughts are taken from other places as I sorted out my feelings. Some are fresh. I am sure there will be more.

1. I'm just so sad that my daughter will grow up in a world where a man who admits to sexually assaulting women - who then responds to accusations of the same by smearing their physical attractiveness as beneath assault -  is given a free pass. A world where he is repeatedly praised as "honest" while his accusers are attacked and marginalized. I don't want her to see that part of the world. I don't want her to grow up with the realization that she will be strong and yet still face setbacks because of her gender. I don't want her to have to come to terms with the fact that she will be treated like a lesser being or an object by the men in power. And that she will have to tolerate it sometimes for fear of repercussion. That if she tolerates it, she will be blamed. But if she doesn't, she will be penalized.

That she will have to behave in certain ways to avoid consequences that range from resentment to assault. That she will risk censure for pushing too hard, even as she will be pushed to push harder. I want her to grow up always sure that her body is her own and it is not her fault if that is taken from her. I want her to have faith that if she is violated in ways big or small, that society will be outraged and that there will be consequences. I do not want her to be afraid of speaking out against those who harm her.

I grew up in a shifting time. A time where consent was discussed, but also a time where men were still painted as sexual aggressors and that this was normal. That this was out of their control even. We understood the idea of "date rape". But at the same time we were also encouraged to be sex-positive. As feminists, we too could and maybe should want and enjoy sex. We should fight the narrative of sexually crazed men. We were warned of dangers but not of how complicated sexual aggression can be.

Too often I allowed men to cross lines because I knew they were good people, and felt that good people wouldn't do something as bad as what sexual aggression had been painted to be. I didn't want to make the situation uncomfortable by standing up. I normalized things. I went numb and hoped it would go away. I felt guilty for not being able to reciprocate a real desire, embarrassed that I was less sexually adventurous, and often feeling guilty of leading these men, these friends, on by not being firmer. And in time I learned to avoid situations where that occurred. Sometimes at the cost of friendship.

I once found myself isolated with a man much larger than me. He was persistent, although I tried to politely decline his conversation. I even tried to slip away in a public space. It didn't work, and I felt trapped. He bought me a coffee and asked me how come I was so fat if I didn't eat meat. I allowed us to drift into an isolated area of town. I knew I had no more control and yet my brain continued trying to normalize the situation. In the moment I told myself he was an annoyance. One who wouldn't go away, but just another clueless man who thought too highly of himself. I felt alone. And I knew the power imbalance, but it wasn't until it was over that I really recognized the full terror of the situation. I bargained more or less. I said a lot to him. I talked my way out of a lot. But what influenced him most seemed to be that I had a boyfriend (untrue), and I was a virgin (true).  I let him kiss me because I was afraid of what might happen if I didn't. In the end we parted ways, while he essentially congratulated himself for not having done "what other men would have done." In other words I was not a rape victim. That was supposed to be a victory. But that victory was by his choice and we both knew it. He said it as if to emphasize how much he liked me. He asked for my email address. I gave my spam one to him and later simply discarded the message from him.

Almost every single woman I know has a story or ten like this, and many have much worse stories. We don't talk about it much because we're embarrassed. Strong women, so the story goes, don't let themselves become victims. So many woman I love and respect have implied oh overtly said as much. Women who are victimized are and become defective. And we don't want our families to feel hurt. Even in our generation. I still think about these things when I go out. I watch my drinks. I'm careful who I talk with. I don't usually go out alone. I scan streets and crowds for potential allies and potential aggressors. I'll teach Chaya to do the same. To watch how she acts, where she goes, and what she wears. And it makes me angry that I have to. It makes me angry that men are still excused and given lighter censure than the women who accuse them. That when I'm with even men I love, I sometimes think about how I would struggle against them given the strength imbalance.

That is not something I want for my child. To be the aggressor, also simultaneously hurt and guilty and angry and unclear on the concept of another individual's dignity, is not something I want for my nephews.

And now I understand so much more that I don't yet know how to teach consent to my daughter. Or how to teach her that it is ok and safe to be something other than heterosexual and cisgendered. I don't know what to tell her when a woman cannot become president for all the double standards that I still see working in the world. I don't know what to tell her when a man who has openly torn down all those who are less powerful than him can become "the most powerful man in America". When that is accepted by the quarter of Americans who voted for him.

2. Fear is a natural evolutionary response, but do not let it pull you into the mire. Hate can only be fought by love. Despair only with hope.

This has been such a polarized election. We are each living with our own bubbles and facts, and our brains are bending over backwards to justify our choices. I truly believe that many people have simply lacked the exposure that would give them an insight into what so many Americans woke up to on Tuesday. I think they truly believe it was "just talk" and they don't understand the visceral fear of losing everything. And there is a lot of hurt at the implication that they are racist etc. because in their heads there is such an absolute and despicable Manichean distinction between bigoted and not-bigoted. I really do not know how to break through that.

I do not know how to reach out now. I don't know how to help others understand. I don't even fully understand the depth of the pain and anxiety these results have causes. I'm a very insulated white cisgendered hetero woman in the middle-class. All I can do is offer my love and my pledge to fight for everything that these people are. And for the beauty and strength they bring to this world. And I know that isn't enough. I want so much to do something even close to enough for you and every one now. This country is hurting in so many ways. I am so, so sorry.


3. I'd just like to emphasize to those who are Trump supporters. When I share things like this, I am not saying *you* are racist/sexist or hateful. I know you too well to believe that. But I am pointing to an increase in this behavior, and very real fear and distress in the lives of many Americans since the election results came out. And to a contingent of the American populace who has become emboldened by Trump's candidacy. And stating that I believe we as Americans have an obligation to intervene and make the statement that we do not support this behavior. I wish I could share my experience with you and vice versa. I genuinely want to come to a place of mutual understanding of both the fears and passions that motivate us. I admit I've spent this entire election cycle trying to "empathize with the Trump supporter" to the point of exhaustion. I think very highly of my conservative relatives although I disagree with them. And I think nothing is gained from slinging insults. I'm glad to feel that I live in a community that feels the same. Perhaps that's my own self-selecting bubble, but if so I'm happy it includes people who can disagree and still love each other.

To those who believe that Trump will not act on the comments he has made... To those (white people mostly) who believe the fears that are awakened by this result are exaggerated and misplaced: I appreciate your feelings and know you believe this wholeheartedly. Honestly, I don't know what will come. Trump has said and done so many contradictory things that the man is a human Rorschacht test. He has also previously been pro-choice and I'm sure has funded a few abortions, but I believe and I'm sure most who voted for him believe he now will follow through on his pledge to end Roe v Wade. So it's hard - or perhaps too easy - to cherry pick "what he'll do and what he'll be like."

What I do know, however, hurts my heart. During his campaign perhaps he was merely irresponsible playing with some pretty dark sentiments. He "joked" in a way that certain of his supporters took seriously and he emboldened several fringe elements to become far more prominent by being slow to repudiate them or their message. And I've seen him use what we'd call gaslighting to mock and belittle those who have claimed he's hurt them. This is a model.

And what I know now and what makes me sad is that since his election, there has been an increase in hateful language and behavior directed at those least empowered. The KKK is having a victory parade. People of all nationalities are being told that America doesn't care about the fear they've held and the increased hostility they've faced. A local Muslim family had feces smeared on their house. Other local children of people I know have come home in tears being told they'll be sent away because they're brown skinned. I have gay friends in rural areas who have been threatened, or whose children have been told they will be taken away from their parents. So many low income friends are fearing they will lose their healthcare insurance. Women are having their hijabs torn off of them in public. Some of my friends who are sexual assault survivors feel like the country just told them that their experience didn't matter and like they've been abused again. It may be a small contingent of Trump supporters, but it is a dangerous one that has gotten/taken a certain message. And I do think Trump will probably go at least as far as making policy choices that make it easier to act on these impulses. Not from malice or intent, but indifference.

And now I see that protests are also turning violent and this breaks my heart as well. And our country has its own history of some ugly moments (not with ill will, but generally from fear and overreach coming from vigilence). I think less of NAZI Germany than our own Japanese Interment during WW2. Or the way Americans were tormented during The Red Scare and McCarthyism. That's the America that Trump evoked on the trail, that "golden era." Or any other of our scads of violent instances. And I do not know what will happen, but I will be praying deeply that we all, especially those of us who are insulated from the immediate effects can make an impact.

4. I'm a Christian, albeit a liberal one who does not align with evangelicism that aligned with Trump. Jesus chose to die for us sinners. He embraced those whose intentions were most hostile to him. How can we, given this, demonize an entire faith/ethnicity for fear that one in a million of these people (and really the percentage is exponentially tinier) may mean us harm? Jesus cast out the moneylenders from his church and embraced the lowliest of society. How can any of us who claim the faith do otherwise? To those who supported Trump for reasons of faith and pro-life, I hope to see you on the frontlines protecting the most vulnerable.

5. Forty-six percent of eligible voters did not vote. If you're unhappy with the results, here's where we start. People aren't voting not because they don't care. Yeah some didn't like their options, but so many more faced absurd barriers. There are states where voting requires losing a day of work and waiting in line in bad conditions for hours, It's getting harder with shorter hours and more harassment. And the states where voting rights are most in peril are the places where many who are impacted have the most to lose and the fewest resources to make an informed vote. It starts with local politics and unsexy districting issues, to primary structures, to midterm elections, and goes straight up to that electoral college. I don't know how to make that better, but it's on us to address it.

6. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. And the electoral college was close. Very close. If not for any number of things - WikiLeaks, Comey's FBI leaks and Anthony Weiner's weiner, the DNC's treatment of Sanders and his followers, marginally better minority engagement in key states - this election would have an entirely different narrative. But it doesn't. And that sucks, but the petition to engage Faithless Electors is one that only threatens to shake the already shoddy foundations of our democratic system. The primaries laid bare some very unsavory truths about our ridiculous electoral system. If we the people want to move forward, something needs to be done. The Democrats have an opportunity to clean house. To reboot. And to start fresh. But I fear instead we'll be mired in finger pointing and internecine histrionics. I am praying that instead of resentments and hostile hindsight, we can move forward.

7. There is some bitterness for me in all of this. The GOP declared that Obama would be a one-term president. They obstructed him every step of the way, including in areas where their constituents might have benefitted. They shut down the government repeatedly. They played on racist undertones, while Obama hesitantly walked the line of being "too black" for a country that was patting itself on the back for ending racism with one election. They refused to even consider a Supreme Court justice in an unprecedented - and I believe unconstitutional - step. And then proclaimed they would reject any and all nominees from a President Clinton. And red states refused the government offerings that would have helped their poorest (and now angriest) citizens. they let people's lives get worse to capitalize on their hurt and anger. Obama tried to compromise and work together for an entire term, and it only made things harder. They cried foul when he gave up on trying so hard. They painted him as the hostile force. They repeatedly played chicken with American lives and livelihoods.

And they won. Or that's how it feels. They now have all three branches of government in hand. They may have been colonized by somebody who barely embodies conservative values, but each has made a bargain with the devil to gain power. I think it will come to clashes, but it still saddens and frustrates me.

Now Trump is reaching out across the aisle. Proposing some things that Obama had tried to do. Things that Democrats know will help. If they work with the Republicans, the credit will go to the President Elect. They will diminish their chances of winning back the White House. But if they obstruct, they become the thing they have decried.

Michelle Obama says "when they go low, we go high," but it's rather hard to continue that path when going low seems to be so effective.

But I hope that they do, nonetheless. I hope I can, nonetheless.

... BUT I wish that Obama hadn't been so civil about Merrick Garland. I wish that he had forced the issue. I wish that this made it to the Supreme Court. I wish instead of trying to model good behavior and shame the shameless, he had fought for that one.

8. As much as I'm heartened to see the activism and enthusiasm of all the people around me, I feel like we're already in a blue, blue State. Washington will do everything it can to preserve health care for the needy (we already have). We'll invest in the future. In roads. We'll raise the minimum wage. We'll pass anti-discrimination laws and protect women's health. We'll approve levies for public services. People will be hurt and there will be hate crimes, but Washington will prosecute those. It won't be as bad as elsewhere.

I sometimes think the real problem isn't the electoral college per se, but the fact that wealth, education, and diversity gravitates towards the coasts. The people in the middle have a louder voice in the electoral system right now. Minorities are clustered in states where their vote has less influence. Clinton won California by even huger margins than Obama did.  She received more votes than any presidential candidate in history other than Obama.

And that makes no difference in a winner take all college. Wealth and diversity usually mean liberalism. Higher educations. More investment in common goods and services. A higher quality of life, but also a higher cost of living. While conservatism in the middle states allows more and more people to slip through the cracks. These people are losing to a global economy that continues to make them more and more superfluous. They lack exposure to the diversity that all studies have shown to decrease racism and xenophobic attitudes. I don't mean to be condescending, but we truly have carved out two entirely different worlds by coring out the middle.

And it will continue to get worse. We can run up deficits "creating jobs" in the short term, but frankly, most jobs are not ever coming back. Not really. Technology is rushing to make human labor increasingly obsolete and the blue collar workers feel it first and hardest.

And they want change. They will continue to want change. Sometimes that will swing in favor of the democrats. Sometimes that will swing in favor of the Republicans. But I suspect they'll always be disappointed in the long run.

So instead of wringing our happy liberal hands about the electoral college, maybe if we really wanted to make a difference we'd all move there. Or wealthy tech magnates would build there instead of crowded out San Francisco. It would bring increased services and funding. It would bring more educational opportunities. More exposure to diversity. And jobs. It would piss off a lot of people, because gentrification is cultural colonialism, but it would bring exposure. nd it would bring jobs. Not the old jobs, but newer ones that bring people out. Will it help the voters with the loudest voices and the biggest problems? Maybe not. I don't know. But this may already be starting, as even the reddest states are beginning to have very liberal urban areas.

if you want your voice to matter, you have to live somewhere that right now sucks to live in if you're liberal. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

9. In the words of Stephen Colbert, I am a sexy kitty. And if you don't get that joke, that's life. There's going to be a lot of things we don't get in the next little time.

10. In the midst of this, my fourteen month old daughter made a breakthrough. After several months of flirting with a few steps here or there, she just clicked with walking. Nay, running. For the last few weeks, she'd run across the bed or sofa, but only take a step or two on the floor.

On Wednesday afternoon, I propped her up by the bed to change, and suddenly she'd bridged the gap and was back at my legs (ripping at my pant leg and giggling). On Thursday, she suddenly ran past me in the kitchen and kept circling the kitchen island shrieking and giggling and getting back up when she fell down. On Friday, she walked up the stairs with the help of the banister. In between she's been a holy terror of temper tantrums and messy sleep. But in the moment, it is the purest essence of human will and discovery. It reminds me how complicated walking can be. It reminds me of how long and arduous and slow the process to learning and accomplishment can look. How many setbacks there can be before suddenly everything clicks. And the unadulterated joy of life itself. The world is so full of love and discovery.

And things get better and they get worse. But they move on. And we move forward. And life, in all its messy horrific glory is a gift beyond words.

Baby steps... baby runs... and baby staggers. The world still can and will become a better place.