Yes, I’m a grumpy person lately. Just wrote a post, lost it, am not going to write another. Hope you all have a good night.

I think I’ve posted multiple times already about how adorable she is. So one more time won’t hurt!
When she’s eating something she likes, she says “umm, numm, nummm.”
She screams when she’s happy!
She spent about half an hour tonight playing on the bed with her new stuffed dog. She’d bounce the dog, chew the dog, throw the dog, roll on the dog, and giggle every time. Giggle!
She points!
She loves birds! Any time she spots a bird she instantly fixates. If I catch her staring in any direction, especially up, it’s probably a bird (or a flock of birds).
She’s learning what “no” means! I tell her “no” when she’s eating things she shouldn’t, and she seems to get it and SOMETIMES listens.
She now rolls all around the bed, over and over, and generally winds up horizontal (feet to me, head to M). Or she’ll roll over and cuddle into M to sleep.
Foods she loves: steamed greens, blueberries, frozen apricots, mushrooms, carbs (bread, pasta) veggie burger patties. We were giving her bits of a veggie patty and she reached out and grabbed a whole half and shoved it in her mouth. Go girl!
She can scoot! One leg bent, the other straight, she can get around. We play “Come and get it!” where I build a tower of blocks and she scoots over and knocks it down. Tonight she crawled into the base of her high chair and was playing in there.
She also loves standing, with our help or holding onto chairs, tables, etc. When holding on she’ll sometimes look back, smile a shaytoon grin, and push off backwards. Good thing we’re standing there!

She’s still nursing well, eating more and taking fewer bottles, getting more independent but still loves her mom and dad and family and friends. She’s the best baby – I’m so lucky.

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Over the past few months I’ve begun to percolate with ideas. I’m bursting with energy to make and create. Starting with crafts: I HAD to make headbands for my girl (4 of them – none really worked – who cares??) and have some new fabric to make 2 more. Then a purse: I’ve had the fabric forever, grey wool outside, funky white cotton with flowers inside, strap, fold-over flap … and then a diaper bag, for sure. Possibly a bag for work. Oh, and I want to modify our cooler bag to fit in the diaper bag and hold bottles better. Oh, and then one of those holders for the back of the passenger’s car seat. And a skirt, a light summer skirt, how hard could that be?

And writing. Aside from a constant urge to post to this blog, my mind keeps generating new ideas for writing projects. A series for a regional magazine. Revisions to papers I’ve written. A new blog (coming soon). Most recently a children’s book.

Where does this urge come from? My friends and write a lot about creativity and motherhood – the challenges and the inspiration. For me I wonder if having had such little time to myself since baby came has made me treasure even the possibility of creating, which is the ultimate expression of my individuality. Or if the amazingly creative act of bringing a child to this world and interacting with her constantly is inspiring me.

Whatever the source, I’m eager and excited to start to move more of the inspiration into reality. As I start phasing into work within a few weeks, this is going to require both discipline and creativity, to find the time, to prioritize creating over cleaning, and to book in chunks of time with childcare (i.e., grandma) to let me get to some of this. However it happens, baby will still be a number one priority. Creating, however, also needs to be, even if the time it gets won’t be as great. That’s okay. Just start – it will happen.

We had our second “discussion gathering thingie” this afternoon at our friends’ home on the theme of “balance.” Balance for me is a reminder to take care of everything I need to take care of, not just those things that are easy or convenient. And as a mother, or perhaps as a woman who now has the responsibilities of being a mother, this seems particularly important.

For me, getting little things done is quite easy. When it comes to the details of life I make a list and tick items off one by one. “Change sheets, pay Mastercard, sort baby clothes, cook dinner, submit rebate, purchase obscure so and so, bla the bla bla, and on ad infinitum. Truly infinitum when I consider the number of pages of lists I’ve gone through in my life! Some of this keeps the house running and my life on track, and I appreciate that. A full fridge, updated ID, taxes taken care of, bottles washed and TP stocked mean avoiding many every-day annoyances. In terms of mothering I think they can provide a stable, (reasonably) well-maintained home that’s a place of security and predictability.

However, for me, doing these things always comes first. And as mentioned above, these things can run to infinity. In other words: if it’s not a thing and do-able in a listy way, I may never get to it, even if it is important. Thus is exercise introduced as an example. I know I need more exercise. My body is reasonably recovered from birth, but it is not where I want it to be. It’s not just extra weight, though I wouldn’t mind losing a bit more of that just so my body feels more like me. It’s being limber, strong, energetic that I miss. Not hobbling when I stand up because my feet hurt and my leg muscles are tight. Being able to do a cartwheel with ease. All of this translates into being there meaningfully for my daughter as she grows into the indefinite future so we can have adventures together, be athletic together, enjoy time together. And since exercise is the one silver bullet for a long healthy life, it’s the best insurance I have as an older mother that I’ll be around for her for as long as possible: reintroducing predictability and stability.

Thus, if I want to live long and well, I need to not put first what always comes first. I need more balance. I need to put more of these important things in my life much more consistently. Or, looking back and long-term, I will be seriously disappointed with my life choices.

Not to mention that exercise, at least the type that I enjoy (bouldering, dancing, hiking) energizes me and brings joy into the rest of my life. So doing the cleaning, tasking and being with family are done much better than otherwise.

Balance for me, then, means identifying the components I need in my life and learning to put all of them first when they need to be first, while making sure there’s a bit of time for every part. Sometimes some parts will be overdone, sometimes underdone, but always at least partly done. And sometimes one part will seemingly take over from the rest for a while – but just a little bit – not for long – and not as much as it has been lately. In fact, I would say that I am starting to think that every day should include a good portion of most parts of life: exercise, meditation, connecting with people, being of service, taking care of what needs doing, and quality family time. Not to mention enough good rest. A day without a bit of everything sets me up for weeks and months of missing out on those parts. Though I can imagine some days going well with only the SMALLEST portion of taking care of business.

Balance. Here goes.

First tooth! She bit me yesterday – a gum bite as she latched on – and was kind of looking at me to see what I thought. I reacted with an “Ow!” and “No. Don’t bite mommy.” She seemed okay with this and latched again to nurse. And today I thought I saw a flash of white on her upper gums … and then started seeing white on the lower ones! Upper still unconfirmed, lower right tooth tip confirmed! Hard to catch a glimpse of, and she won’t take our fingers into her mouth unless SHE wants them.

She really hasn’t been taking many bottles!! Only 2 today, I think. I’m noticing my let-downs a lot more, and she’s eating more solids … but it’s also probably the warmer weather and teething.

Speaking of warm weather, I started dressing her more lightly for bed the last couple of nights, just in a diaper last night, and she slept MUCH better with only 1 wake-up that I can recall (okay, 1 wake-up after she finally went down :)). what a relief – I can deal with 1 or 2 wake-ups a night. Of course, I can deal with 6 or 7, as I’ve seen, but 1 or 2 leaves me in a better mood and more rested.

Her babbling (started last week) is adorable! “Buh … bwuuh … muh … bbbbbbuh” popeye looking sweetiepie!

okay, enough for now. Am tired, going to watch movie with M. She finally went to bed (though tired she never likes going to sleep at night, fidgeting and crying even though she’s tired) – I lay behind her, cuddling her, and bobbed her foot up and down on the bed. The motion seemed to calm her and wear off her fidgets, and she was asleep within minutes. Must remember!

I’ve thought for a while that I’m pretty good with my finances. I watch my spending, balance my credit card statements and pay it off in full every month, have been paying down my student loans, keep track of our spending on the computer and live within my means. Part-way through Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s Debt-Free Forever (picked up at the library yesterday) I realized that I have some major financial blind spots: things I thought I knew, thought I did, but suddenly realize I don’t do at all. Here are some I’m planning to do.
1. Actually save money. I “save” – don’t spend – but that money still doesn’t go anywhere to grow for the future. I’m going to start regular RRSP contributions and set up an RESP for baby with regular contributions.
2. Make our wills. It’s on my list – now I’ll do it.
3. Actually watch the pennies and dollars. And put them towards something: investments or debt reduction.
4. Make a budget – don’t just track where the money’s gone. Honestly, I’m still not sure if this will happen. I run a rough budget in my head. But since we really don’t spend a lot on fun or variable expenses (or so I think!) my main plan of attack is just don’t buy unless it’s essential. But that brings me to two others:
5. Have a shopping list. And stick with it. Strictly. Hmm. Interesting idea.
6. Watch the big purchases! That seems to be where our spending gets wonky. These purchases include a flat-screen tv (second hand – so we could watch Netflix and relax and avoid renting movies or going to the movies – sadly we can’t get it to work BUT that was the idea); a king-size mattress (also second hand – don’t cringe – with sheets, and totally worth it, significantly improved our quality of life); a sofa/fold-out bed for the back room (yes, second-hand, $50, M bought it and I like it) and the upcoming planned purchase of a camera (you guessed it; second-hand, mainly for me, and yes I view it as essential because we want good pictures of baby and our camera doesn’t take quality pics. And I miss photography). Throw these into a monthly budget regularly and our expenses jump up. For instance, with the new/old piano, we want to tune it and recover the keys (the white part is gone from about 15-20 of them). Legitimate expense, but it’s just one more expense and we need to decide if that is what we want to do with our money.

I’m also planning to look at our spending again and see what we can chop; to make a table of all regular withdrawals from our bank and deposits so we can track flow; and finally, the big one, the one that drives me crazy but that we as a family can’t seem to get together to do: MAKE A PAYMENT ON THE B***** HOUSE LOAN!!! The money we save to pay off that loan is useless if we DON’T MAKE A PAYMENT!!! In the same way that my restricted spending is meaningless if I don’t convert the actual dollars saved into a long-term savings vehicle like and RESP, TFSA, RRSP or other investment.

Debt-free: we want to be there. We just need some more hard work to make it happen. It’s a lifestyle choice for us, for baby, for family.

We are not self-sufficient. Definitely not frontiers-people. However, I have been noticing some of the things we do ourselves that are definitely lifestyle choices we make. Sometimes it’s cheaper to do it ourselves; sometimes healthier; sometimes tastier; sometimes we do it just because. Some of the things we’ve been making/doing around here:
Growing veggies
Starting some from seed (tomatoes and basil) rather than buying plants
Saving seeds year to year (so far mainly cilantro, basil, arugula & tomatoes; next year, hopefully more! I’d love to cut down on new seed purchases, though I do love to support heritage seed growers).
Sprouting (mainly alfalfa)
Baking bread
Granola
home-made tomato paste (at the end of last summer with extra tomatoes – lots of boiling)
Hummus
Salad dressing
Deodorant – and it works so much better than anything else I’ve ever purchased!
Facial scrub
Budget worksheet 🙂 – I do love creating systems!

I’m sure there will be more as we learn and develop as a family.

Though I love doing these, I sometimes really notice the work involved, especially with a baby around. I sometimes wonder why we bother. I sometimes feel tied up in the kitchen or house the whole day – the work can be endless. And though most of these are pretty quick to make, the cumulative effect can appear pretty quickly. But it’s wonderful to be able to create these simple things ourselves, in our own home; to be able to trust the quality of the products and know what goes into them; to have them here on hand instead of having to go out and get them; to save the cost of factory-made products. When I’m back at work some of these may be harder; we may have to trade money for time. I hope not, though. The quality of do-it-ourselves brings me a lot of satisfaction and makes our home a place I’d rather be.

It’s amazing watching the mind of our baby unfold. My mom just taught her how to make sounds when mom taps her hand over her mouth. And smarty-smart baby figured out a day later how to use her own hand to do the same thing.

I love love having a piano in the house. I don’t remember practicing much as a kid but this time round I am enjoying it so much, the little bits of time that I have. It’s painful to have to turn away to work! I’ve been working on Moonlight Sonata and it is a feeling of flow that I haven’t had in a while as I immerse myself in it, feel my fingers and feet doing what the music needs.

I had lunch today in a house in my neighbourhood that inspired me with its minimalism. No clutter, just furniture, useful objects, some art, and space. It was so peaceful and beautiful I was inspired to come home and get rid of half our stuff from the front room. Sadly, inertia and attachment overcame me once I was home – I parted with a couple of items but couldn’t make significant headway. I wonder what might move me forward? On the plus side, I’ve been getting rid of one or a few objects every day. Slow but steady progress. And I’m starting to read through my book stash: the books I picked up to read when I didn’t have anything else to read but don’t plan to keep.

Speaking of books, I’ve identified my one major block with minimalism: I want a library. Yes, I have attachments to other objects but can usually talk myself into a moral argument to do without. But a library: that is a moral object in and of itself! I remember as a kid going regularly to my family’s bookshelves – in one of our last homes we had two big ones almost 5 feet wide and ceiling high, stuffed with books – scouring the contents and pulling out a stack to read, curling up on a couch or bed to revel in the riches. That is something I want for me; for my children; for friends and guests. I want, not just the memories of the books but the actual objects themselves so I can share them with others and they too can be transported or transformed by the encounter. That vision is probably a big reason why I struggle to whittle my collection down (including children’s books I’ve guesstimated it at maybe 1000 books ).

Had a frustrating call with the credit card company tonight in relation to my name change. Taking M’s last name has occasionally been exhilarating but also emotionally and practically challenging. Though I don’t love my original last name, it’s mine. I feel a bit like I’m betraying the feminist cause by taking a man’s name. Yet he was more than willing to take mine … I’m the one who decided I liked his more. And since we both want a shared family name, this seemed the route to take. Actually doing it, though, takes a bit more than you might think. Anyhow, the phone call was about my written request for a new credit card in my married name. I’m keeping my original signature (why? Why not? And when I went to get my driver’s licence, my first new id in this name, I hadn’t developed a “new” signature yet, and didn’t want to just make one up – signatures need to evolve over time and practice – so I went with my original. I know it, I do it, it’s me). And so my original signature is on my driver’s licence ($75). And on my passport ($130 approx. + pictures + TIME). However, the credit card company tells me that I need to use my new last name in the signature because if they don’t match, “that is credit card fraud.” In all fairness, they may have said “that is considered credit card fraud.” So after much back and forth and consulting with supervisors I said, fine, I’ll send in a new request with a new signature. And then I checked my documents, and oops, my d.l. and passport have the original signature. So it’s a no-win situation. I need a credit card in my new name because they often ask for photo ID and those are now all in my new name. However, the new picture IDs all have my old signature – but my card “should” have my new signature. So either the names don’t match or the signatures don’t match. Or I get new other documents at a cost of over $200. Or just submit the new signature to the company but sign the card in the old signature … but if something goes wrong, that’s not what they’ll have on file.
Anyhow – M’s reaction when I told him about the situation really was perfect. He was all “Of course! Can you believe those credit card companies?” and “But a signature can be anything you want – it doesn’t need to have anything to do with your name.” And then sympathy: I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this – I’m sorry it’s so challenging. And appreciation: I appreciate you doing all this work; I know it’s hard for you to change your name. Supportive and connected. Nice.

Am exhausted. Up at 5 with A. Will go to bed now.

I have recently begun to notice (possibly it’s been there for a while) a frustrating synthesis of anxiety and guilt when I’m looking after my daughter. Not always. But sometimes I get the feeling that there is more I should be doing with her. That I should be stimulating her brain more, paying closer attention to her, and being more responsive and interactive. And sometimes when she’s playing happily by herself, even sometimes when she’s on my lap and amusing herself, I start to worry about what I should be doing with her. I’m not sure what it is – but this SOMETHING that I SHOULD be focusing my time on. Because just babbling, chewing and laughing are not enough. So I feel anxious, full of nervous energy; and I feel guilty for my actions or lack of them.

These and many other feelings are reasons why I know I should meditate daily. And yet: I don’t. I hope to start soon, as I would like to find some tool to let go of bad feelings, so I can enjoy her fully, and she can be around a mom who is a relaxed rather than anxious caregiver.

Now that she’s bigger, my cutie pie is starting to inflict some bigger impacts, if you will, on her mama. Pinching and scratching while nursing for one – yes I try to stop her, and no it doesn’t work. Chomping down on my nipple is also sometimes popular, though she seems to get that she shouldn’t do that (I pull her off with a “no”). Hair grabbing just gets more and more fun for her. And the latest, as she wiggles around the bed, is to kick and punch me – completely innocently, of course – with every waking-up wiggly opportunity.

Oh well – i love her!