Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Fitness Wagon

Ah, the fitness wagon.  I'm a frequent passenger, but I usually buy the multi-stop ticket so I can jump on and off as I see fit (no pun intended). I'm hard core, I'm lazy. But the Fitness Wagon is always on my mind, for over a decade now it's consumed my life.

I don't want to be a fat chick anymore.

So last week I had my annual check up and I'm totally healthy. No concerns. Perfect blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure. No weird spots, no weird symptoms, no strange pains. C-section is healed, my body is ready for another baby.

But I'm not ready yet. I still have work to do. I still have a long ride on that Fitness Wagon to take.  So why is this so hard? Am I just lazy? Am I scared that my identity will melt away with the pounds?

I know that's ridiculous and yet, something has held me back for over ten years. Something has derailed every Fitness Wagon ride I've been on since college. Frankly, I'm sick of this bullsh*t. Excuse my French.

I've lost only 17 of the 30 pounds I set out to lose by June.  Now, June's almost over.  Still got 13 pounds to go before I'll let myself have that second baby.  So if you're waiting for pregnancy news, keep waiting.  Mommy's not allowed to do anything until she finishes this. Seriously.

So this summer, I hope I run right by you on the sidewalk. I hope I kick the pants off of Jillian Michaels and her insane workout DVDs. I hope I finally give myself the reward I deserve for all my hard work. And I hope I can finally be proud to stand next to my hot, 60-pounds-trimmer husband and feel like I belong there.

Give me a leg-up on this Fitness Wagon and then, please, keep the cookies and the cupcakes out of my way, okay?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Only For Now

There's this awesome Broadway show called Avenue Q, a twisted version of puppet-storytelling made just for the adults who grew up watching Sesame Street. While it's not something I'll be letting my kids watch (or hear) anytime soon, I really do love it.  I especially like the subtle wisdom it purports to fans... that growing up is sometimes disappointing, boring, and filled with things we don't really want to do.  But we do it anyway, sing a song about it, and move on.

As the finale song says, "Except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now."

So yeah, I think about that when stuff isn't exactly the way I expected it to be.  When I go through rough patches, it helps me stay focused on how I'm going to change what I can in my situation.  It's a good motivator, and a catchy tune too.

When I had Ellie, things really sucked. She was sick, I was distracted... it happens. But it was only for "then," and now we're on to the next things.  When I had a tough time juggling work and a baby and my writing, I pushed through it and kept reminding myself it would pass, it would get easier.  It did, it always does.  And now, here I am. A brand new set of "only for nows" in my life, a whole new list of struggles. Honestly, I don't let it bog me down.

I really don't have the luxury of letting myself get bogged down. It takes up too much time.

Yeah, parenthood is tough... mostly because it's so vastly different from the way your life used to be.  Who doesn't wish they could just go get an ice cream late at night or see the latest movie with only a few minutes' notice?  Spontaneity isn't one of my life's accessories right now.  But it doesn't bother me at all.

One day, my kids won't live at home anymore and I'll be able to see all the movies and get all the ice cream cones I want, with no one to stop me. But I'll have my own struggles when that happens and I'll probably mourn my "empty nest."  My "only for nows" suit me just fine right now and I plan to enjoy them for all that their worth.

I'll trade all the ice cream cones in the world for the day-to-day life I have, even with all the limits and difficulties. I don't want to be rescued, I don't need to be freed.  I get the occasional night out and I enjoy it, but really, I belong here. And I like it here.

Even if it's only for now.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Elissa at Sixteen Months

It's been a long, long time since my last Ellie update. And if you don't follow me on facebook, you've been left in the dark.  For that, I apologize.

Meanwhile, my little jelly bean turns 16 months old this week... and what an incredible journey it has been so far!  She's walking, talking, and causing trouble like a little tornado. It's certainly keeping me on my toes, but it is much more fun to spend the day with her. She's mimicking almost everything I do now (which means no more cursing!) and wants to explore every bit of her environment (which means more toddler-proofing is required!) I'm having a great time watching her learn and grow, possibly the most rewarding aspect of parenting I've discovered so far.

Another thing that's changing about our little Ellie is her crazy mane of hair. We've gone from short, stick-straight locks to all-out curly tresses.  I suspect she inherited this from my youngest sister, the only one of us to have so many curls and keep them later on.  Ellie's hair is beautiful (if I do say so myself) and seems to be staying light and naturally highlighted for the time being.

We're down to just one nap a day now, but at least she's sleeping through the night again... finally!  Those last four teeth came in all together and kept us up many, many nights together.  I'm just praying that her mollars come in one at a time and let my angel get some sleep (and me!)

So now we have one week left until Daddy is on vacation, Mommy's book comes out next month, and the Ellie Bean is growing big and strong and getting ready for her second exciting adventure-filled summer.  I hope it will be easier for me to keep you posted in the meantime!

My Neglected Blog...

Oh, my poor blog. How could I have neglected you for so long?

Once again, I broke my word and left you to suffer, while I busied myself with other blogs, articles, and novels. How dare I? 

Truth be told, I've even considered moving you to Wordpress, where my posts won't get randomly deleted in a systems upgrade. But I haven't had the time or energy for that yet.

My poor, neglected blog.

I'm back now. It's all going to be okay.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rearing, Writing, & 'Robies

The new Three R's are my life are exactly that: rearing, writing, and 'robies.  What's 'robies?  My nerdy term for aerobics, i.e. the Jillian Michaels' DVD I complete every single stinking day and my revved up treadmill training for that 5K.  The rearing--duh--is Ellie. And the writing--also, duh--is my job. And my hobby, consequently.  It just so happens to be the same noun.  And verb. Oooohhh...

See? Word Nerd.

So that's that. My life in a series of disjointed words, similar only in their alliterative appeal.

Giant Word Nerd.

The trouble is that they all demand a lot of my time.  Cramming a 20-hour-a-week part-time job into the nooks and crannies of my day is quite taxing.  Choosing whether to work or work-out? One of life's great rock-and-a-hard-place decisions.  Neither is ever done... I will work every day and I will work-out every day.  If I skip a day? I pick up where I left off tomorrow.  So how do you choose which is most important?  They all keep cycling back on themselves, a never ending hamster wheel of my life (I don't like the term "rat race," hamsters are far cuter and less disease-ridden...mostly.)

But of course, my priorities are already arranged for me, aren't they? That's the part of motherhood that doesn't translate from the pages of What to Expect... You know the baby will come first, always. That's obvious.  But they don't explain to you what it feels like to compartmentalize the rest of your life around the baby. 

And that's why the Three R's of my life are set up in that order.  Ellie always comes first, and with the rest of my time, I write to meet deadlines and I work-out as much as I can every day.  The result is that sometimes I can only get the DVD in and other days, I can find some time for a full hour-long run.  Once in a while.

But what you might notice is missing from my Three R's is the all-important fourth R. One that's probably missing from most mom's priority lists.  Relaxing.  Nope, there's not much time for that.  And within that elusive, missing R lies the time for my hobby.

You try writing a novel and selling it when you only have about two hours a week to really dedicate to your craft. For real.  Go ahead.  It's fun for me, it's good to have a hobby, but why did I pick one so aggressive?  No idea.  I'm an overachiever even in my spare time. How lame.  Or I'm just in love with the idea that I could make people laugh, worldwide, in their own time to Relax.  Sounds pretty nice, doesn't it?

Maybe it will happen. And maybe I'll find space for a Fourth R.  But if basic elementary school curriculums couldn't do it, is there any hope for me?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Confession: My Kid Likes TV

All right, folks. You might judge me for this post, and that's okay.  When I had Ellie, I too scoffed at parents who let their kids watch TV.  I swore a television wouldn't raise my daughter.  I promised myself not to get sucked into Nick Jr or the Disney channel or even PBS.

Yet here I am. Another victim to the television.  Another helplIess parent who switched on the TV and found something fun to watch.

My first parenting confession is this: I let Ellie watch TV sometimes.

Although experts recommend that you keep your kids away from the TV until age 2, I have to argue that it's not really feasible.  What kid isn't going to see a TV by then?  We watch TV and I'm fooling myself if I think Ellie's not watching it too.  Hell, my kid loves football, as we discovered this NFL season.  That made me very happy indeed, and it introduced me to the notion that the television might actually hold her attention long enough for me to get a fresh cup of coffee.

Yeah, it sure does.  It also helps distract her when her poor little mouth hurts from teething.  And when we sing along with her favorite show, she's learning how to dance.  Through some intense self rationalization, I've realized that TV isn't really all bad.  It's got some handy benefits.

The thing about TV is that you can't let it raise your kid, sure.  If I was plopping her in front of it for hours and doing my own thing elsewhere, I might feel guilty.  But her favorite show is "Bubble Guppies," this really cute little show with songs and dances in it.  And we both enjoy watching it together.  She's not old enough yet to learn colors or absorb the other content, but we can work on language and practice those toddler dance moves. 

Yes, it gives me time to go to the bathroom.  Sure, it's nice to relax and let someone else take over for a few minutes.  But it's more than that.  It makes her really happy when it comes on, and when she looks over at me all excited and starts clapping because I've cued up an episode, I can't really feel that guilty at all.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Harder Than Advertised

I'm still running, in case you were curious.  Sometimes I have a tendency to abandon these "missions" that I get into my head.  Sometimes I fall off the wagon.  I have tied myself to this wagon and I'm not letting go.  This chick is running a 5K, alright?

So running... it's still happening. But it's harder than I thought.  Why can't I just jump on a treadmill and run 10 miles, you know?  I get to the gym all motivated and ready to rock at running. Then, poof! I'm five minutes in and all that motivation dissolves.  My muscles hurt, I've got a cramp, my nose is running (more than I am)... etc. Not good.

I push through and I do the best I can, but some days are such a struggle that I do think about jumping from the wagon.  Will it ever get easier? Am I training the right way? What if I don't make it?

Then I have days like Thursday, when I manage to run for 18 minutes straight, no break. A record for me.  I was feeling good, almost like I could call myself a runner.  Almost. 

And just as quickly, the pendulum swings back the other way and I have a day like yesterday. We decided to go for a jog outside (gym was super busy) and I go about 2 minutes before I want to die.  Hills. Cold air. Pavement.  Things I don't encounter on the treadmill, things I will encounter when I attempt that 5k.  What happens when I get off that treadmill? What's the big deal about running outside? 

Why I am torturing myself like this?

Right, new commitment to fitness. Right.  Stay focused, Haddad.  Stick with it.

But in all seriousness, this is so much harder than it looks. I'm doing my best and I'm improving, for sure. I just wish it wouldn't take so darn long.

And as for that pavement.... you better look out. As soon as it gets warmer, I'm comin' for you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Read More of Me Online

Now is the time on my blog when I shamelessly promote myself.

If this is a newsflash, I'm a freelance writer when I find the time.  I write about health, skincare and beauty, pets, shopping, saving money, pregnancy, motherhood, and lots more. Juggling a handful of jobs, I try to paste together a small income.  Sometimes, I get paid per number of clicks my article gets. So even if you don't want to read it, clicking on it helps me make money.  Clicks are much appreciated!

Here are some of the places you can view my writing online:

Burlington Patch:
I'm a columnist writing about new parenting issues. 
Read my weekly column, Crib Notes every Saturday!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Paths We Walk

Yesterday, I watched Mike emcee a local variety show.  It was mostly a concert for a community orchestra, composed of purely volunteer musicians. And I gotta tell you, they were pretty darn good.  Mike was good too, but I already knew that. :)

But watching a huge orchestra, adults of all ages, musicians playing all sorts of instruments, well it got me thinking. I know, I know. I always "get thinking" about these things.  In this case, I started thinking about my own days as a musician.  A long time ago, I took both piano and flute lessons.  Even voice lessons, at one point.  I was decent - I needed practice, it's true - but I had a natural inclination towards music.

And before music, it was dance.  I once took tap, ballet, jazz, and even hip-hop.  I loved dancing, hated the practices though (some of that I attribute to how mean little girls can be, especially when you're the chubby kid).  In time, just as I walked away from the flute and the piano and my voice lessons, I walked away from all those dance classes.

Some of these changes were necessary.  We moved around a few times during my formative years, so I had to find a new piano teacher or locate a new dance studio.  Sometimes, lessons were just to expensive.  But giving up the classes didn't have to equal giving up the hobby. I owned a flute, a piano, a pair of tap shoes.  Instead of practicing, embracing my passion for these arts, I let my talents rust and my music and dance muscles atrophy.  Those things were easy to give up, easy to ignore as I chose a different path.  Why?

What makes us choose what we want to be good at?  The men and women of that orchestra remained committed to playing the flute, the violin, the tuba.  No matter the odds, they kept at it.  Perfected their craft, honed their skills, and dedicated time as adults to pursuing their beloved hobby.  I didn't choose that path and I wonder why not. 

In the two years since I found out I was pregnant with Ellie, I've given up another hobby: theater.  For a long time, acting and working backstage on shows was my life.  It got me through the tough parts of college, the rough patches in my life.  I turned to the stage as a refuge and came to relish the sound of applause.  Acting turned me from a shy person to a confident one and it stayed a huge focus of my life for nearly a decade.  After college, I started to let go, still dabbling in costumes and props here and there.  I got back onto the stage a few years ago, happily acting beside Mike, and then just gave it up again. Just like that. 

Mike, as many of you know, is still very active in theater.  That is his passion.  Acting, directing, writing plays... he's even on the board on one local theater and hoping to coach a summer program for another.  His talents are alive and well, they get plenty of exercise, and he chooses to spend part of his free time dedicated to this craft.  Theater is part of who he is.  He chose to let it define him.  I let it go; I didn't choose it.

As you know, I chose a different path.  A more solitary path.  Writing.  It's a craft you must do alone, but that you can share with others when it's done.  You can't practice writing with a friend, not really.  You can't get a troupe together and perform a night of writing (umm... boring). I chose the most solitary artform there is.  What made me choose the path? What made me say, "Yes, this is the talent I want to develop"?

I guess we all face many times in out lives when we have to choose a path. How many talents in your life did you discover and choose to walk away from?  Today, if I pick up a flute, I can still play it...kinda.  I still remember how to do a timestep, with a few minutes practice.  And if I wanted to read you a dramatic monologue, I'd probably get by okay.  The talents lay dormant, the paths unexplored.

So watching that orchestra reminded me of these things.  Of how all the little choices we make in our childhoods can result in one big path.  One path to writing, for me.  One path to acting, for Mike. One path to playing the xylophone, for someone else.  I like to think of how I might've done, had I picked another path.  But I didn't.  

In 20 years from now, Ellie will have picked her own path too.  I guess I'll just have to tell her to follow her heart, her gut instinct.  It doesn't really matter to me what she does - professionally or as a hobby.  Maybe she'll make a career out of one of the things Mike and I choose to do as a hobby. Maybe she'll have an extraordinary talent for something I've never attempted.  Whatever it is, I'll push her to follow it.  I have my
path and she needs to find her own path too.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lenten Fitness

Some people give up stuff for Lent.  As a child attending Catholic school, it was always a big deal to choose the perfect Lenten sacrifice.  One year, I gave up candy. Another, it was ice cream.  When I got older, the "sacrifices" became more sophisticated and specific: no Snapple iced tea, no Jelly Belly jelly beans, etc. 

And then I discovered that the Sundays in Lent aren't counted in the 40 day total, so you could "cheat" on Sundays. Pretty soon, with the tug on that one tiny thread, my commitment to Lenten sacrifices unraveled.  What was the point? So I don't eat candy for a month or so, and what does that do to save starving people or benefit society as a whole? What good comes from me saving a few bucks on a treat here and there?

Not much.  Sure, the sacrifice is more about being a metaphor of your willingness to sacrifice as Jesus did.  But man, he really did something.  Maybe instead, I should make a commitment to do something instead of not doing it.  I can't heal the whole world, but I could do something positive, right?

In my first year of this new positive commitment to the Lenten season, I'm choosing to stay small.  You all know about my constant struggle to bring my weight down and get in shape.  It's hard not to know if you read this blog.  My getting healthy is for more than just myself.  It's to ensure I'm around to see my kids grow up, to grow old with Mike, to avoid diseases that have plagued previous generations of my family, and to set a good example to my children and others who look up to me. 

I can't afford to feed a hungry family or go away to build a house with Habitat for Humanity.  The bigger things will come when the time is right.  For now, I can change things in my tiny bubble of a world.

So the treadmill keeps rolling. If the weather stays nice, these daily walks will keep up too. And Jillian Michaels's 30-Day-Shred is in the DVD player.  If you're interested, there will be a mini Just Dance party on my Wii here every night.  I'm going to get moving and hope it creates a ripple effect throughout my life and others'.  I hope that doesn't sound shallow or egotistical in any way, because it isn't meant to be. 

I guess you could say I'm sacrificing time on the couch for a healthier lifestyle.  That sounds a lot more productive and exciting, don't you think?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Reading Is FUNdamental

So I'm a writer, right? And writers, to perfect their craft, have to read.  Actually, nine times out of ten, writers become writers just because of how much they love to read.  I find myself wanting to write the stories I haven't read yet, creating the characters I haven't met yet...and the like. 

So I'm a reader, too.  And I read a lot. Not as much as my sister, who devours entire novels in a day. Honestly, no one reads like her.  But compared to the average person, I eat books for breakfast.  Well, not like Ellie, who actually does eat books. (Her favorites are Kristan Higgins's romance novels. On this we can agree, we just have different ways of showing it.)  But yes, reading is kinda my thing.

I hear a lot of people say things like "I don't have time to read!" or "I can't get into any books right now!" and other stuff like that.  Reading is a dying past-time, from my perspective, and I can't understand why, especially with e-books and Kindles and stuff.  I don't have tons of time on my hands -- what with writing novels, freelance writing, raising Ellie, taking care of the apartment, taking care of Penny, etc. -- but I squeeze it in.  Even if it's only a few pages a day - during nap time, just before bed. Whenever.

A few years go, I was one of those people who didn't have time to read. Or so I thought.  The first New Year's resolution I ever kept was to read more - one book a month, to be exact.  That was in 2004.  I've read at least one book a month for the past 7 years thanks to that resolution.  Now, I'm reading more like two books a month.  Right now, it's March and I've just started my sixth book of the year.

So why do I do it? It's the one thing I enjoy that doesn't take up tons of time or require that I go anywhere or wear something special.  I can read anytime, anywhere. I just need my book. Last year, when Ellie was in the hospital for 67 days after birth, reading was the only thing I could do to occupy my mind.  Writing required too much concentration and movies were tough to watch on the commute back and forth or hanging out in that hospital room.  Books fit in my purse, so I just kept reading and reading.  In 10 weeks, I read 14 books. It kept me grounded when my life threw me a curveball, so to reading, I owe a huge debt.

I'm glad I've rediscovered my love of books and I won't be giving it up any time soon. And between my packed shelf of "Books to Read" and the Nook I got last Christmas, I'm gonna be busy for many months to come.  But just think of all the inspiration - and enjoyment - it will bring me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Run, Stephie, Run!

In January, I started a new commitment to fitness.  I realized that all my diets (a decade worth of them) had always focused on the diet.  Diet's the wrong word, to be honest.  I changed my eating, practically starving myself, desperate for the first cookie I saw.  My diets were always a sham.  And I never lost that much, since I just took in fewer calories and continued to live my mostly sedentary lifestyle of writing and watching TV.  No bueno.

Two years ago, Mike got up and started moving.  He watched what he ate, adding fiber here and there, cutting down portion sizes, making healthier choices.  But the biggest change he made was a frequent gym habit.  Mike made friends with the elliptical machine, started running on the treadmill, took the bike out for 20+ mile rides when the weather was nice.  He got his butt in gear and he dropped 60 pounds that he's maintaining with minimal effort today.  He's probably cut his risk for heart disease and diabetes in half and added 20 years to his life.  Also, he looks pretty damn good in a pair of jeans.

I'm pretty jealous.

But I'm also realizing that if he's gonna be around for 20 extra years, I want to be there with him.  I want to run after Ellie without getting winded, not be a huge whale next time I get pregnant, and lead by example to teach my kids a healthy lifestyle.  So I put on my sneakers one random January day and I went to the gym. For real this time.

Changes to Site

Hey there,

If you've noticed the changes around here, that's because Ellie has reached her first birthday and it was time to redecorate!!!

Don't worry, you can still view all the missing pictures! I have moved all the photos from the sidebar (birth to one year) to a new page: Ellie-Vision Photo Gallery

The left hand side bar will now feature monthly pictures as we journey through Ellie's second year!

Thanks for taking the trip with us. Hope you keep reading!

- Stephanie & Elissa

Updates & Such

I did it again even though I swore I wouldn't.  I took over a month away from my personal blog.  I'm a jerk.

So here's what you've been missing since then...

#1 - Ellie turned one! She has officially made it to one year and beyond, a milestone that her daddy and I (and a few dozen family and friends) were only too happy to share with her.  More on the birthday and my little princess's big pink dress in a later post, I promise.

#2 - Mommy's got some new jobs.  I hemmed and hawed and left the one big writing job that was paying most of my bills. Why? Because it was also killing me.  My schedule was atrocious. No mom can stay up until 3 AM working then get up at 7 AM with a baby and be happy about it.  It's just not possible.  I traded that in for some new gigs that I was only too happy to find.  Another forthcoming post on this, I promise.

#3 - Get your running shoes, it's almost spring! Eager to get back outside soon, I've become super active Mommy and started training to run a 5K. Crazy, I know.  More on that later.

I'm sure there's lots more going on and my new commitment to blogging will capture it all. I promise!
Stay tuned for more in depth posts :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Good Mom, Meh Friend

I have to be careful how I write this post, so I don't come off as "Oh woe is me!" That's not the point.  This is meant to be an observation, a realization maybe, not a whine fest. So please read with that in mind.

Before I was a mom, I like to think I was a good friend. I did my best to always make myself available for a good cry/meltdown/nervous breakdown when my friends needed me.  I tried to give good advice from the heart when they asked for it.  I gave out hugs like they were going out of style.  And I always showed up when and where I said I would.  I laughed, cried, and watched stupid movies with my friends.  I cooked for them, baked them their favorites if they had a bad day, and hosted parties just for the heck of it ("You woke up cranky today? Let's have a party! That will make you feel better!")

Monday, January 17, 2011

Life's Mysterious Ways

Not to be cliche, but it's true that sometimes life just works out funny.  I've often thought about why things happen, when and how they happen.  And with Ellie, it's no different.  She came to us exactly the way she was meant to, no accidents.  I tried to blame myself for a long time for the unfortunate circumstances around her birth, but no matter how hard I tried, I kept seeing that it couldn't possibly be my fault.  After a few months, and especially when she came home, I stopped trying.  I just accepted that she got here exactly the right way for her.

Drama queen.

No, but seriously, life does have very mysterious ways about it. Have you ever noticed that you bump into people after many years at exactly the right moment in your life that they would be helpful? Or how you find love when it's unexpected, earn a promotion when you're not trying, or find something long forgotten when it becomes more meaningful than ever before?

When I was pregnant with Ellie, my writing came to a halt.  I tried to write, I really did.  I blamed my preggo brain for obliterating all my creativity.  I said I'd get better after I gave birth.  The end result was that my novels - and all my writing projects - sat neglected for over a year. 

While I was pregnant with Ellie, I also went for the routine ultrasound, got my little print outs, and promised to treasure them always.  Somewhere in the shuffle of our kitchen table, and all the stuff I kept leaving there as a reminder to get some writing done, they disappeared.  We moved from that apartment when Ellie was 7 months old, and I still hadn't found them.  I gave them up for lost and was just thankful that I scanned them onto my computer. At least I still "had" them, even if I didn't.

In November, finally, I got back into writing.  I wrote a new novel, one that I have high hopes for, and I set myself to the task of getting published again.  And, you know, not only did I start to feel like myself again, but something amazing happened.

This morning, I opened one of my favorite books on writing and I found it.  There they were, the ultrasound pictures.  Somehow, I had tucked them inside this book, whether on purpose or by accident I don't know.  But something precious to me was sitting inside this book, waiting for me to find them.  Ellie was in my book on writing.  Two parts of my life kept each other company when I thought they were lost.

And now I know that everything is happening exactly as it's supposed to.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Parenting Mistake #1 - Underestimating Your Baby

I have called my daughter many things: Dragon Baby, Destructo-Baby, Hulk Baby (she's very strong), and even Houdini Baby.  She's got super powers, I swear to you.  And as she grows and develops, I too have had to learn a few things.  Lesson number one, never underestimate your baby's abilities.

My daughter is ten months old and yet she can unscrew the top of her hearing aid container.  She's successfully negotiated a zipper on a few occasions.  She can open draws and cabinets, pull open the blinds on the sliding glass door, move her baby gate, tip the dog's water bowl, open the toilet lid, and climb into the bath tub.  She can get down off the bed and off the couch.  She can almost climb back up - almost.  But I know that as soon as I don't think she can do such a thing, she'll figure it out.

This little girl is tenacious, curious, and stubborn - a potent combination that makes her a disaster waiting to happen.  Think she can't reach that cup of coffee on the table? Think again.  Or maybe she won't notice that cell phone over there.... hmmm, even if she does, could she get to it?  Yes. The answer is always yes. 

When I was a little girl, I was an angel.  My mother extolls my virtues often, saying that she could sit me in the middle of the room, say "Stay here." and I would obey, no questions asked.  It's not that I wasn't curious, I was just obedient.  Ellie understands the word "No," but sees it as an option not an imperative.  She looks at you, cracks a smile, then resumes the forbidden activity with renewed vigor.  This child is a boundary-tester. This child is her father's daughter.

You see, my husband was the opposite of me as a child.  Into everything, curious about how it works, curious how far he could push it before his mother intervened.  Ellie invites you to chase her, hopes you'll get up off the couch and stop her.  She wants to be in trouble.

I have absolutely no idea how to combat this.  Such personality traits are foreign to me.  But step one is to always think ahead of the baby, never assume she can't figure out how to do exactly what she isn't supposed to do.  So far, I've diffused many harmful scenarios and I've developed tactics that help me distract her.  I'm just never leaving her alone. Ever.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Baby's First Christmas

Ellie's first Christmas has officially come and gone, and her play area received a complete makeover in the process.  From cars to horses, purses to singing story books, Cabbage Patch babies to her first Wii game, my kid got spoiled this year.

I have a feeling this is just the beginning...
Anyway, she opened some presents, played in some boxes, and tried out as many of her new toys as Mommy and Grandma could wrestle from the parent-proof packaging. Seriously, why are they trying to keep us out of there so badly?

Elissa also got her very first Patriots jersey thanks to 'Auntie' Kate, who gets huge points in my book.  Now we've got a miniature Tom Brady fan on our hands.  I'm just jealous that I don't have my own jersey to coordinate on game day!

And of course, Ellie's first rocking horse (from Uncle Derek) was a big hit.  My little princess just can't get enough of this toy... I'm not looking forward to the Christmas when she asks for a real pony...

 Ellie also got her very first purse (it's a learning toy, okay?) from Santa, an adorable Cabbage Patch doll from Aunt Sammi (her new travel companion on all car trips), her first Build-a-Bear, lots of loud music-making toys, and a gigantic teddy bear that will be bigger than her until she reaches the second grade, at least.  And that's only about 1/5 of the list!

Thanks to EVERYONE for making Elissa's first Christmas such a big success, and a day that we'll look back on for years to come.  I already can't wait for next year!