parenting · writing

Seasons Of Writing

Life is seasonal, and my writing life is no different.

I’m really proud of myself because I’ve been posting on playful + peaceful consistently (twice weekly) ever since March 2018.  This is a big deal for me. I’m great at starting new projects, but it’s hard for me to do the ongoing maintenance that a side hustle requires – and I did it. I’m still doing it. That is awesome.

HOWEVER.

There are seasons of life that offer more time and space for writing, and there are seasons that offer less.  I was prepared as the fall approached that September and October would be busier – I was starting a new job, adjusting to a new schedule, and I figured that I wouldn’t have as much time to write as I had this summer.

And then, in early September – we grew from a family of three to a family of four. Our hearts exploded with joy. And my life got way busier.

This may seem backwards, but adding a child to our family doesn’t make me want to take a break from writing. It makes me want to write more. It makes me want to ensure that writing is an area that is and always will be a priority.  Having kids has inspired me to become intensely committed to my creative goals, because I want my children to look at me and see someone who went after her dreams with all her heart.

That being said, finding the time to write is challenging at the moment, for the simple reason that I am tired. So tired. Our little one is four weeks old and eats every three hours, and that means no one is getting a full night’s sleep ever.

I’ve been daydreaming about what writing project to tackle next, and I’m starting to adjust to only having five hours of sleep each night. I’ve been keeping up with blog posts, and I’m contemplating the next fiction project I want to tackle. This is all okay – this is a season of my writing life. I am enjoying this moment, when the wheels of my mind are spinning, churning. And I’m excited for the next moment, when I’ll dive into something new.

parenting · simplifying

Infant Care 101

When we arrived at the hospital to meet our new adoptive son, the hospital staff we met would do this thing.

They would start to tell us something about infant care – diapers, circumcision care, feeding, burping – and then they’d stop themselves. “Oh, you already have a child?” they’d say, remembering that we already had a two-year-old at home. “So you know all this already.”

At which point, I would politely encourage them to continue. Because in my head I was screaming, That was two years ago! I remember nothing! Please do not send me home without some reminders if not some sort of infant care graduate level course.

It really is strange, when you think about it. I have to be recertified in CPR every two years, and I have to take 40 hours of training every two years to maintain my social work license. But to take care of an infant – which many would say is one of the most important, challenging, and serious jobs in the world – I can walk out of the hospital after a quick chat with the doctor. (Oh, and after watching about 45 minutes of infant care videos, which Tamara and I watched absent-mindedly while also excitedly texting family and friends with the good news that our family had a new adorable member.)

And now, we’re home, and we’ve been “home” with our new son for two weeks today. And you know what? It is easier this time around. We know how to do the basics – changing diapers, making formula, cleaning baby bottles. When our first son, Edgar, came home, I was terrified of making formula. It sounded complex, like it would require concentration and precision, neither of which I had much of as a brand-new mom.

This was a myth, one I created all by myself, because making formula is more like mixing some Crystal Light iced tea that anything else. And this time around, I knew that already. Though I maintain that calling it “formula” makes it sound way more complex and intimidating than it needs to be.

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I’m off from work for six weeks, and we’re starting to settle into a nice routine during our days. There is something about newborn care that really helps me to be mindful and present. There is a simple rhythm to my days with J.J. – he eats, I change his diaper, he plays, he sleeps. While he sleeps, I wash bottles, make new bottles, straighten up around the house, try to tackle some simple acts of self-care. (REAL simple. Like, I might take a shower today.) When Edgar gets home from school, either Tamara or I take him outside to play. There are simple things that need to get done, and there’s not much time to do it all – so only the most basic and most important things get done.

I love this rhythm. I would love to carry it with me as J.J. grows and as our lives move back into more of a regular day-to-day routine. For now, I am thankful for the simplicity, rhythm, and joy that come with this sweet and special time of life.

 

books + reading · parenting

Edgar’s Faves (Best Books List For 22-Months-Olds)

I love these books posts, but I am mostly writing this one today because there’s a lot going on and I want to keep the blog consistent! Keep it simple – that’s one of my mantras this week.

Edgar had a sleepover at his cousins’ house recently, and we sent some of his current favorite books with him as a comfort. I love that – the fact that books are a comfort. They certainly are for me. We had a last-minute overnight trip recently and I packed ten books. TEN! And I needed every single one of them.

Recommended reading from 22-month-old Edgar:

Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. Edgar loves the silly monkeys who mimic the cap seller in this book. It’s a winner with me, too.

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell. Edgar loved this book, eventually, but it started out as an obsession of mine. I purchased it as a gift for many of the toddlers I know, and reading it is such fun. Plus you get to give lots of hugs while you tell the story!

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood. Oh, my goodness – cutest book ever! We first read this at Tamara’s parents’ house. This might be one of my absolute favorites. It has an adorable plot, but Edgar loved it even before he understood the plot. (Honestly? He still might not get it. Go read it – it’s kinda meta!)

Baby Present by Rachel Neumann. I can’t remember how we stumbled upon this book. It actually reads like a short meditation. The text starts like this: “Breathe in, baby. Breathe out. You are perfect just as you are, sitting in the here and now.” When I read it to Edgar, I feel like I am taking a moment for myself, a moment of meditation and quiet mind. Those moments are few and far between when you’re caught up in the chaos of parenting young children, so I have appreciated this book oh-so-much.

Bringing The Outside In by Mary McKenna Siddals. A nature lover’s dream book!  So sweet and lyrical. It follows a group of kids playing outside throughout the seasons, and uses rhyme and repetition beautifully.

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff. A classic! I love this book and its counterparts, If You Give A Pig A Pancake and If You Give A Moose A Muffin. 

Hairs by Sandra Cisneros. A children’s book by the author of The House On Mango Street! This is a beautiful and poetic book. I was actually surprised when Edgar started to love it so much! There are few trucks. The moon doesn’t make an appearance. For some reason, he just loved it.

Edgar and I hope you enjoy!

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books + reading · parenting

Edgar’s Faves (Best Books List For 18-Month-Olds)

Edgar’s new favorite thing to do at bedtime is ask about what he’s going to dream about that night.

I know. It’s too cute.

I’m not even sure how it started. But now, his routine is three books, a song, and his dream telling. Whenever I mention bedtime, he says “Dream!” Then we talk about what he’s going to dream about – usually something connected to his day – and then I lay him down to sleep.

These posts about Edgar’s books fall into a different category than most of my other blog posts. They are sort of becoming a scrapbook of little moments and memories from Edgar’s babyhood and toddlerhood, and I think blogs are great for that. They can be a way to capture these little magical moments in time. And for a non-scrapbooking mom like me, that is extremely valuable.

Recommended reading from 18-month-old Edgar:

Good Night Good Night Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker. Really, anything and everything trucks worked for 18-month-old Edgar.

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems. HOW CUTE IS THIS BOOK? I love it. If we’re going to read a plot-based children’s book, I want the plot the be simple and sweet. This one is. Edgar loves it so much.

All The World by Liz Garton Scanlon. Tamara is really good at finding awesome children’s books by just browsing around a bookstore. She found this one at Main Street Books in Davidson, NC. We didn’t buy it there, just glanced through it and then requested it from the library, then bought it online later when we realized how much we loved it. (Now that I’m reflecting, I really wished we’d bought it at Main Street Books!)

Corduroy by Don Freeman. This was one of the first plot-based books that Edgar liked. I loved it at this age because it had a plot, but wasn’t really long and verbose, so it suited his attention span well.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Edgar’s favorite part – and mine – is when the show drops on Peter’s head, PLOP!

From Head To Toe by Eric Carle. It is so cute how much Edgar likes this book. It prompts kids, asking them to raise their shoulders, bend their neck, kick their legs, stomp their feet. I only wish I liked it, even a little bit. To this day, I will agree to read this book exactly one time before referring Edgar to his other mother for a second or third or twentieth reading.

Edgar and I hope you enjoy!  🙂

 

 

 

books + reading · parenting

Edgar’s Faves (Best Books List For 12-Month-Olds)

Edgar loves books. This morning, as soon as I’d lifted him from his crib and set him on the floor of his bedroom, he wandered over to the pile of books on his nightstand. He selected A Traffic Jam Of Trucks (a long-time favorite), and asked “Read?” in his tiny toddler voice. Then he plopped down in my lap and we read the book together.

It doesn’t surprise me much that Edgar loves to read. I think kids often end up loving what their parents love, and I am definitely a reader. Tamara is, too, though she has a lot less time to read during the farming season. (Which is about 75% of the calendar year, at least!)

Sometimes, Edgar will occupy himself, playing with cars or a guitar or his dollhouse, and I’ll be able to steal some time reading a novel on the couch nearby. And sometimes – THIS IS MY FAVORITE – Edgar will bring two children’s books over to me, and he’ll hand one to me and then sit down to look at the other one all by himself. Once I have him trained to bring me a novel instead of Corduroy, we will be all set.

Here are some of Edgar’s favorites from when he was around a year old. Enjoy!

Recommended reading from 12-month-old Edgar:

Quick As A Cricket by Audrey Wood. I first read this book at Tamara’s parents’ home in North Carolina. I think of children’s books as either lyrical or plot-based. This one is lyrical and is so sweet and lullaby-ish.

City Block by Christopher Franceschelli. This is a fold-out book about New York, featuring lots of transportation (an Edgar fave) and lots of city sights (a Kerriann fave).

Cars And Trucks From A To Z by Richard Scarry. This tiny book full of cars and trucks (duh) and is really cute.

Mr. Brown Can Moo, How About You? by Dr. Seuss. We first heard about this book from a friend, and Tamara loved it. It’s super fun.

Where Is The Green Sheep? by Mem Fox. I really like Mem Fox’s books a lot. We’ve read a bunch and they have all been well-received by Edgar.

Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr. ALL TODD PARR BOOKS. I have no idea why kids love them so much. Edgar has loved every single one. Maybe the bright colors? Maybe the simple words? In this particular book, there’s a page with a bookmobile on it, so Edgar would eagerly turn the pages until we arrived at the bus of books, the ultimate payoff.

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books + reading · parenting

Edgar’s Faves (Best Books List For Nine-Months-Olds)

The most mindful moments of my day are the times when I am reading to Edgar. He will find one of his favorite books and he’ll bring it over to me and Tamara, and he’ll ask, “Read?” in his tiny, adorable toddler voice.

Today I’m thinking about the books he loved most when he was nine months old. Edgar’s love of trucks and buses started at around this time, so pretty much any book with a vehicle in it was a winner for him.

Recommended reading from 9-month-old Teddy:

Subway by Christoph Niemann. I loved this one because it was all about a family exploring the New York City subway system; Edgar loved it because there’s a bus on page seven. So this one was always a win-win.

Mommy, Mama, and Me by Leslea Newman. Tamara gave me this book for Christmas eighteen months before Edgar came home. When he started to request it, my heart melted.

A Traffic Jam Of Trucks. This kid loves trucks.

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Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle.  Edgar loved this book because of the big yellow dump truck, basically the antagonist of the story. However, it is super-cute – a combo of rhythmic and lullabyish but with some semblance of a plot.

Sheep In A Jeep by Nancy Shaw. This may be my overtired mom taste talking, but I really like all of Nancy Shaw’s sheep books. The sheep go to a shop – they go out to eat – they go for a hike. They’re everywhere! In this book, they ride in a jeep (no surprise why this is an Edgar favorite) and it crashes in the mud (ALSO AN EDGAR FAVORITE).

What Will I Be? by Dawn Allette. Tamara bought this book at a little shop in Hampden before there was an Edgar. It’s so cute – just a little girl daydreaming about what job she’ll have someday. It’s lyrical and colorful and fun. Edgar loves.

Happy Adoption Day by John McCutcheon. On the day Edgar’s adoption was finalized, we bought him this book at Barnes and Noble.  It’s based an a folk song by the same author.  The day he started asking to read it regularly, my heart melted and I was so grateful – for him, for his adoption, and for the world of books that helps us to give language to everything our kids experience.

Edgar hopes that you (and your little one) enjoy!

 

books + reading · parenting

Edgar’s Faves (Best Books List For Six-Months-Olds)

One day when Edgar was just a few months old, I looked up to find Tamara reading him Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning.

Now, when you’re reading to a very young baby, it’s more about the sound of your voice than the subject matter of the book. So Tamara and I took advantage of that stage and just read our own books out loud to Edgar until he was older.

However, I found that Man’s Search For Meaning – which is a beautiful and inspiring book about a man who survived the Holocaust – was a step too far. TOO INTENSE FOR A BABY. And, to keep that from happening to others, I decided to make a list of the books Edgar has loved the most throughout his first two years. Edgar has had specific favorites from the time he was four months old, so this list will be produced in segments according to age.

Recommended reading from 6-month-old Edgar:

Peek-a-Who? by Nina Laden. Sweet, simple, and (spoiler alert) a little mirror in the back so our narcissistic babies can gurgle at themselves on the book’s last page.

Some Bugs by Angela Diterlizzi. Tamara is SO GOOD at wandering around bookstores and picking out children’s books. She found this one, which is really colorful, rhythmic, and sweet. When Edgar was crying in the car, I would read this book out loud (from memory, of course) to help him calm down.

The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin by Sonali Fry and Peter Rabbit’s Halloween by Beatrix Potter. I don’t know if this is a foreshadowing, but tiny baby Edgar loved Halloween. He was always drawn to books with pumpkins and Halloween costumes. Toddler Edgar is pretty skeptical of actual Halloween so far; he tends to look around at all the school-aged kids in costumes like WHAT IS THIS MADNESS.

Sherlock Holmes: A Sounds Primer by Jennifer Adams. It was easy to understand why Edgar loved this one – it was all spooky noises, and what babe doesn’t love that?

First Farm Words. Edgar loved books with really clear pictures labelled with their name. “Tractor. Corn. Farmer. Harvesting.” They are scintillating to read, let me tell you.

Today Is Monday by Eric Carle. Every year when my mom’s kindergarten class graduated, they would sing the song “Today Is Monday” at their celebration. I’d always sing this book to Edgar, and the singable books were big hits at this age.

Edgar hopes that you (and your baby) enjoy!