Ben in February

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Taking posed photos of Ben is more and more difficult, as this was the best we could get when we tried a Valentine’s Day photoshoot. His love for Big Bunny is epic lately.

6/52
Something about toddlers sitting at the real table like they’re people makes them seem soooo much bigger.

7/52
This is Ben’s “UGH why aren’t you complying to my demands without question?!” expression.

8/52
This was a regular weekday morning for us, and we had a lovely chat about blueberries during breakfast, and it was so freaking adorable I always want to remember it.

In 2016, Iā€™m taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.

Ben in January

Although I only halfway succeeded at my 2015 attempt to take a photo of Ben once a week with my real camera, I couldn’t resist starting the project again for 2016. Because the whole point is that I need to be taking more photos of him with my actual camera. So here are the weekly photos of Ben from January!

1/52Thanks, I think, to my dad, Ben totally cheeses for the big camera now. I think it started as a reaction to the flash, but who even cares when he’ll smile like this for you on cue?

2/52
As much as he’s still my baby, the glimpses of Ben as a kid are way more frequent lately. Like when he was sitting in the kitchen, just reading the NutriBullet manual.

3/52
Sit him in a snow drift almost as tall as him? No thank you. Let him run up and down the shoveled path in the driveway? All day forever. This kid LOVES being outside. Even in really cold weather with wet feet, apparently.

4/52Ben’s new favorite game is dragging a kitchen chair to the sink to play. Which means there’s an entirely new area that is no longer a safe place to leave things that aren’t for toddlers.

In 2016, Iā€™m taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.

Hello, 2016

It’s the new year, and this season always makes me reflective (whether I’ve been in the habit of blogging or not). As much as I’ve been reading this year that it’s an arbitrary change, that you can make a resolution to change or choose a word any day, just start!… it’s hard to ignore how refreshing it is to turn the page to January and have a whole year ahead of you to start over.

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2015 was a really great year; at the start of the year, I was emerging from the fog of new motherhood and beginning to see how I could fit my old self into my new life. Instead of one little word, I chose “just start” to inspire 2015, and I think I did a pretty good job of keeping that in the back of my mind. I started taking Ben to classes at the baby gym, I became a member of the local MOMs Club (and a regular member of their book club, which I’m so glad I did). I even exchanged numbers with a few moms, I mean, who am I even.

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And then at the end of the summer, we found out that we’re going to have another baby, which is so exciting and hard to comprehend all at once. I’ve been finding it almost hard to remember that I’m pregnant the past few months, despite my intense aversion to all meat (huh? so weird) and the fact that I spent most of Ben’s naptimes from September through November napping myself just so I could make it to 9pm each night. Taking care of Ben all day every day has a way of completely taking over my brain space. We found out in early December that it’s a girl and you guys, I’m still SO surprised. Although basically everyone we know had decided it was a girl, I became convinced it was actually a boy (as a way to be contrary? I don’t even know). So then I think I ended up being the only one who was surprised by the news.

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But you guys, a girl. A daughter! In some ways, being the mother of a daughter scares me so much more than having a son. How do I make sure she doesn’t have the same anxieties that I do? How do I help her be strong and brave and kind? (I mean… then I think about it and of COURSE it’s going to be just as hard to help teach Ben these things. But I don’t know. I always had more male friends than female and don’t even get me started about my aversion to glittery pink things and princesses.)

But then I picture a little dark-haired girl with bangs and I can’t imagine not having a daughter. I’m so excited. Now that the holidays are over and I’ve had a little more time to get used to the idea that this baby in there is a girl (it is seriously so weird to know already, after not knowing for almost 40 weeks with Ben!), now that it’s 2016, it’s like oh RIGHT. We’re having a baby in a few months. Maybe we should like… prepare or something. (Oh my goodness, you have no idea the task ahead of me cleaning out the craft room closet…. just thinking about it gives me the shivers.)

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Ben is … well, he’s Ben. He’s exhausting and funny and SO strong-willed and sometimes kinda impatient and obsessed with anything with wheels and busy busy busy. He understands so much, and although he doesn’t say any of the “normal” first baby words like mama or dada or bye, he learned windmill this week, so, you know. I feel like that says a lot about him in general. It amazes me how fast he’s learning, and watching him figure things out is so much fun. Honestly, half the time, I just hang out and watch him, like what’s he going to do next? He gets so MAD at me when I tell him not to do something and it’s hilarious because he lays it on SO thick with the crocodile tears and hurling himself to the floor… but it’s also SO frustrating (especially when it happens in places like Target). Dan and I wonder a lot about how much of this is just toddler stuff, like the pre-terrible twos, and how much is his personality. I guess we’ll find out in a few months. Oof.

When I get started wondering how difficult a terrible-two Ben is going to be, and then I realize that’s about when we’ll have another baby to take care of, I start to get really freaked out. It was never a question for either of us that we wanted to have at least one more baby; having siblings has been one of the absolute best things for both me and Dan. Giving Ben siblings is something we have wanted to do from day one. And I know it will be an adjustment, a few months of survival mode, for all of us. On the days when Ben is being an extra big handful, it’s hard to imagine needing one of my hands for another person. …. And then I think about tiny onesies and newborn baby smell and getting to watch another baby learn all of these things for the first time and I’m back to being cool about it. (It’s complicated.)

So…. that’s about a million words about what’s happening these days. As much as I don’t miss blogging per se, or the pressure to figure out what to write about on a regular basis, I do miss having a reason to write stuff like this out. I’m always glad to have moments captured in time after the fact. So while I’m not saying “I’m back!” I’m also not going to stay completely away, if that makes any sense.

Happy 2016, dudes.šŸ™‚

Books: 2015

  1. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
  2. Just One Year by Gayle Forman
  3. Just One Night by Gayle Forman
  4. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivy
  5. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  7. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
  8. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
  9. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  10. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  11. Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
  12. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
  13. A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
  14. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
  15. Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts
  16. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  17. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  18. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  19. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
  20. Broken Harbor by Tana French
  21. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
  22. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  23. Groundswell by Katie Lee
  24. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  25. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  26. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
  27. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  28. Easy Prey by John Sandford
  29. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  30. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  31. Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford
  32. Night Circus by Emily Morgenstern
  33. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  34. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  35. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  36. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  37. After You by Jojo Moyes
  38. Finding Lily by Rachel Del
  39. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
  40. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

2015 was a really great year for me, reading-wise. (Maybe not so much blog posting-wise? Ha.) Using Elise Cripe’s daily goal tracker, I made a goal to read every day. I even gave myself an out on that goal, and would count it even if it was reading to Ben or reading a single paragraph. In the end, I didn’t read for 365 consecutive days, but I only missed about one day per month on average. My conservative goal was specifically to read 30 books, which seems pretty reasonable for me, since I average about 40 books a year. And I definitely surpassed my goal, and got back to a perfectly even 40 for the year, which I feel great about. (I may have chosen a YA book after Christmas specifically so I would end up with a nice, round 40 books total for the year.)

I got into a nice habit of reading during Ben’s afternoon nap, which seems to work better for me than reading at night (when I often fall asleep after a page or two). It also works better in general in terms of feeling like a human person again after a half day of wrangling a tiny human, which I need to remember going into 2016. I just feel more like myself when I’m reading every day.

The really new thing for me in 2015, reading-wise, was joining two book clubs: an online summer book club run by one of my former librarian colleagues, and an actual in-person book club run through my local chapter of the MOMs Club. I have always wanted to belong to a book club, and it pushed me totally out of my comfort zone (going to a meeting at the house of someone whom I hadn’t met! Whaaaat.) But I’ve been able to go to quite a few meetings since I started in the spring, and although most of the selections have been re-reads for me (I guess I stay more current with books than I realized?), it has been great, and I’m looking forward to sticking with it in the new year.

I read quite a few books that I ADORED this year: The Royal We was thinly veiled Kate Middleton fan fiction and I enjoyed it so much; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of those books that is so charming that everyone should read it; I absolutely loved Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and companion book Carry On (and will definitely be re-reading those at some point); and The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was so interesting and different than my usual choices, and I look forward to reading more in that series. I also re-read the first three Outlander books and was kind of surprised at how I had forgotten how absolutely engrossing they are. It always surprises me so much when a 900+ page book can be so un-put-down-able, and I’m beginning 2016 by reading the fourth book.

(I guess I should blog more; I clearly have a lot of things to say.)

Setting 2016’s reading goal has been tricky for me. Knowing that I stopped reading for a few months after Ben was born, I’m trying to adjust my expectations accordingly for this year. If it was hard to read with one baby, it’s sure to be difficult to find the time with a Ben AND a new baby. But I do want to keep reading, and goals help motivate me. So… I’m going to set the goal optimistically at 30 books, and I have printed a new 2016 goal tracker (although I’ll be blocking off April, May, and probably June, and just release myself from the expectation that I’ll read daily or at all during those months). We’ll see. Happy reading!

In Previous Years…
Books Read in 2014
Books Read in 2013
Books Read in 2012
Books Read in 2011
Books Read in 2010
Books Read in 2009
Books Read in 2008
Books Read in 2007
Books Read in 2006
Books Read in 2005

364 Days of Motherhood

I’ve been typing and erasing sentences for ten minutes now, trying to figure out how to begin this post. It’s hard to know how to put it into words, this whole fact that I’ve been a mother for almost a year, that Ben has been around for that long. It seems impossible to me. I know people often say that they can’t imagine life before their kids were born, and it’s not like I’ve forgotten what it was like to sleep past 6:30am or how to participate in conversations with adults and actually use the right words to make sentences… but it is also SO hard to get it through my head that there was a time when Ben wasn’t here. Sometimes I feel like I was waiting for him my whole life.

06.14.2014 :: tiny photoshoot

I wrote about motherhood when he was six weeks old, and how contradictory things felt then. Even re-reading that post before writing this one was strange, because it feels like a lifetime ago that we were still so deliriously tired, or that Ben was ever quite that small. When we see other parents when we’re out and about, they look at Ben and then to their 5/8/10/15 year old and just say, “You’ll blink your eyes, and he’ll be this big!” and I kind of hate that but wasn’t it just the other day that we were losing our minds at Ben’s first real smile? A million years and just a moment ago.

08.01.2014 :: his favorite spot

There seems to be two ways to talk about parenthood – some people write beautiful, poetic things about how every day is a gift and there’s magic in the smallest moments and how the day their baby was born was the best day of their life and make sure you savor every moment because they’re only this little once and everything is sunshine and rainbows… and others connect over how impossibly hard it is to be someone’s parent, how NOT sunshiney and actually covered-in-poop it can be. And it’s really both. (And that may be why I don’t know how to write about motherhood in the first place…) I don’t think I have EVER been as happy in my life as I have been in this past year. I think back to how angry I’d get over things that would go wrong at the various jobs I’ve had, and even on the bad days, I never feel that anger anymore. (Not that I won’t again soon, because you know what they say about toddlers…) But realizing that really makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing. Sometimes, I go to check on Ben before I go to sleep and I just can’t handle how much I love him and how he’s ours; the giant poster I printed with all of his monthly photos made me cry, just seeing it all in front of me at once. Whenever I try to write about how awesome he is, the words just don’t seem like enough, so I end up just saying “oh, this little guy” instead. And other times, when he’s just dumped the cat’s water bowl again and is pissed at me for taking it away, or he’s turning a simple diaper change into a challenge that’s what I imagine wrestling an octopus might be like… it’s so frustrating.

Ben, eight months old

I feel like my life makes SENSE now; I’m good at being Ben’s mom and that makes me feel amazing. And yet, we bought a minivan a few weeks ago and I’m struggling with the idea that not only am I “only” a mom, but I’m a stay at home, minivan-driving mom who doesn’t have a lot to talk about that’s not her baby and how his naps went today.

I suppose the one thing I can say about motherhood is that it’s one giant contradiction. It’s wonderful and it’s strange. I feel more myself than ever before, but I also don’t really recognize myself some days.

15/52

Sometimes people ask if I miss working, and I don’t, not even a little bit. I’m actually growing to like the minivan and its 15 cupholders. (Maybe they’ll finally make me surrender my Hipster Club membership card!) I love taking Ben to storytime and his classes at the baby gym. It’s all going so fast, but he’s so funny and fun to be around and I miss him so much when I do get out by myself to do things that aren’t taking care of a baby.

19/52

I’m rambling, as ever, but mostly, it comes down to this: this little brown-eyed boy, my impossibly wonderful little baby and this life the three of us have? It’s just the best. I’ve wanted to be a mom for my whole life and it is everything I hoped it would be, every little bit of it.

16 – 17 / 52

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Ben has been such a good eater these days, as we introduce more “people food” among the purees. His favorites by FAR are blueberries and cheese, although black beans and peas (frozen, not canned, don’t think he doesn’t know the difference) are pretty close seconds.

17/52
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Ben’s favorite past time is chasing balls around the house. He’s surprisingly speedy at crawling (he has taken a few steps!!! but still prefers to crawl for speed most times) and will bat the ball away and crawl after it for seriously extended periods of time.

In 2015, I’m taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.

14 -15 / 52

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I realized the other day that Ben’s little red converse fit him, but just barely, so I wanted Dan to help me take some photos of the two of us wearing our chucks together. It was also Ben’s first time in the grass, and he took off crawling, no fear. So it wasn’t so much the posed photoshoot I had in mind, but my dirt-covered little guy had the best time. Barely contained, flailing arms and legs, dirty knees and all.

15/52
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When Ben sleeps on his side like this, he seems so little to me, and it makes my heart explode into a million pieces. He’s growing so fast and getting so close to toddlerhood… but moments like this remind me that he’s still my little baby for a while yet.

In 2015, I’m taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.