A poem for my water bottle

When Peeper was born, the folks at the hospital gave me a giant double insulated water jug. I reveled in its 28 ounce capacity and brought it everywhere. I drank water like it was my job because, for a breastfeeding mama, it was my job!

Then one bad no good horrible day, I left the jug on top of the car and drove away. The jug was smashed. My heart was smashed. I missed that hunk of plastic for months.

I told this story to the nurses at the hospital where I delivered Kiwi. Not only did they gift me a new one, they gave me two.

Maybe they were angling to get Kiwi named after them.

Well played, nurses.

Anyway, the other night I was trying to keep myself awake and amused as Kiwi nursed, so I composed a little ditty in honor of my favorite drinking receptacle. (What, isn’t that what everyone does?) I give you:

My Giant Water Jug

You’re my beautiful big water jug
Night and day you allow me to chug a lug
I fill you with ice
Splash in water so nice
And continue to breastfeed my little bug

Now I’ll just wait for the poetry contracts to roll in.

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Welcome to the world, Kiwi!

Baby Kiwi is born! Ten Thousand Hour MamaWe are beyond thrilled that our sweet, darling Kiwi has joined us!

Maxine Elizabeth Griffin Gregory was born Sunday, July 19, though it took us until minutes before discharge before settling on her name.

“Kiwi is a beautiful name!” the pediatrician on the floor reassured us. “You could always stick with Kiwi.”

I spent most of my labor at home, using HypnoBirthing breathing techniques, baking cookies (but leaving plenty of raw dough to eat after delivery!) and trying to sleep. My mom arrived to watch Peeper at the perfect time—just when I knew we needed to head to the hospital. We were a few minutes away from Labor and Delivery when they told us they were on divert, so we turned around and drove across town to another one.

Thank goodness we went on a Sunday and there was no traffic, because Kiwi was born an hour later.

Meeting the new baby - Ten Thousand Hour MamaShe and I are both healthy, and we were fortunate to avoid complications and interventions. We have been spending the last few days getting to know each other as a new family of four!

Peeper is very excited to be a big sister. She wants to help with diaper changes, watch Kiwi breastfeed and bring toys—though she’s having a hard time sharing some things (e.g. Mom’s lap and the Moses basket, of all things).

Thank you for all your support, encouragement and kind words over the last 40 weeks. I feel so very lucky to bring Kiwi into a world where love, compassion, empathy and love are the rule.

Mama baby skin to skin

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Bonding with the baby

Peeper brings toys to the baby then asks to read a book with her.“Want to open that baby!” Peeper will say, lifting up my shirt or, more awkwardly, my dress.

She puts her hands on my round bump and leans in close, her nose almost touching my belly button.

And she smiles.

Peeper has already begun to bond with her little sister. She asks to see her, brings her toys, asks me to sing her a song, puts the spout of her sippy cup on my belly and gives her hugs. Sometimes she’ll shyly wave.

Some mornings when I lift her out of the crib, her first request is, “Wanna see the baby.” She’ll stand in her jammies with her halo of curls mussed every which way and place her hands on my bump. Her dimples are never as precious as when she shares a smile with her unborn sister. Continue reading

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Pregnancy whiplash

Toddler baby bump snugglesPregnancy is weird: It swings you from one extreme to the other fast enough to give you whiplash.

Take yesterday. I had just put Peeper down for a nap when I was overcome with energy and inspiration—a rare combo for this nearly 40-week-pregnant lady. I took the surge out on our Forester and cleaned the bejesus out of it. All of Peeper’s 87 books went into a bag; the car toys went into another bag; random things that accumulated but didn’t belong there (several sippy cups, silverware and—um—a ukulele) journeyed inside. And—get this—I vacuumed the eff out of that sucker. I had no idea how much dog hair, bunny crackers and sand (oh the sand!) had coated every surface.

Then I lay down in bed and ate cherries and read Amy Poehler’s Yes Please for a very long time while Peeper graciously continued to nap.

Another example: I’ll be so hungry that I can literally feel my body breaking down muscles and tissues and important organs to feed itself. Then I’ll look at a sandwich and want to cry because I’m suddenly so full that my stomach is crowding my lungs and I can’t breathe.

The swings can be a little overwhelming, even for onlookers. But somehow I’ve learned to ride the ins and outs like waves. Continue reading

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Painting birthday party: Making a group easel [tutorial!]

DIY painting easel for kids - Ten Thousand Hour MamaPeeper loves to create, so when it came to planning her second birthday party, I knew I wanted to incorporate art. Thanks to getting almost no sleep and leaving most of the party prep till the morning of, I had to scale back some of our painting plans, but one activity made the cut: the group easel.

Peeper and her friends got to paint alongside each other in our front yard, and each kiddo took home a piece of art (or several!). Peeper’s painting is now hanging on our wall above the dining table.

The setup was surprisingly easy—and cheap—and we’ve left it up in our yard for now. Peeper continues to use it, and when we do decide to take it down, we’ll recycle or reuse all the pieces for projects later!

DIY painting easel for kids - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

DIY painting easel for kids - Ten Thousand Hour MamaHere’s how to make an easy group easel for your kids to paint their own outdoor masterpieces.  Continue reading

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2 years: Growing a funny bone

Happy birthday! Ten Thousand Hour MamaOur daughter, who just the other day entered our world yelling (or so it seems), is now two whole big enormous years old.

Just writing “two years” instead of “24 months” is a mental shift. It’s like the point when I stopped measuring her age in weeks and switched to months.

We talked a lot about her birthday, and we threw her a party over the weekend with family and a few friends. Peeper still wants to wear her Hello Kitty party hats and keeps asking when her friends are coming over. She’s also asking to open more presents, so maybe we’ll just box up some old things and let her go at it all over again!

Hello Kitty party hat

Happy birthday! from Catherine Ryan Gregory on Vimeo.

Peeper has become a comedian in the last month. She thinks poop is hilarious (and she’s right, of course). She actually makes jokes, at least her own version of them. And she makes up silly words to get us to laugh.

It is remarkable to witness someone developing a sense of humor.

Toddler sprinklerOf course toddler comedy brings the house down (except when it doesn’t, like when she’s avoiding a diaper change or bed time). I imagine her funny bone will continue to grow with the rest of her.

Milestones like turning two make me think ahead and wonder what the coming months and years will bring.

Making a wishPeeper’s second year will be full of changes. She’ll become a big sister—a transition she talks about constantly. I’m starting a new job that will have me working a lot more, though it will be from home. We’ll eventually hire a part-time nanny, which will mean adjusting to a new caregiver.

And who knows what other changes life has in store for our little family!

If I know my daughter, she’ll handle these adjustments well—and with a little humor. We’re sure to deal with some frustration as we all adjust—along with the regular changes that come with being two—but we’re ready.

Bite that duck! Ten Thousand Hour MamaSo far, I haven’t met Peeper’s transition from one to two with dismay: I’m pretty sure no one has heard me bemoan losing my baby. (After all, I still catch myself calling her a baby! Ack!)

That’s at least partly because I love the stage she’s at. She is so full of fun, curiosity, energy and imagination. I wouldn’t trade these days of painting, playing with action figures, throwing rocks, peeking into drains, reading, snuggling, jumping off futons, swinging, swimming, bathing toys and make-believing for anything.

Throwing rocks into the Willamette River

Water the garden toddlerHappy, happy birthday, my sweets. We love you more than you can ever know.

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Ups, downs and change: Our weekend recap

Swimming in the Clackamas RiverWhen I worked at College Possible Portland, a nonprofit that helped low-income high schoolers get into and graduate from college, we often ended the week reviewing the ups, downs and what we’d change. Allow me to steal the format for today’s blog!

Ups

Swimming in the Clackamas River

Peeper isn’t hitting me; she’s getting the baby wet!

Swimming It’s still blazing-hot hereabouts, so we went swimming in the Clackamas River at Milo McIver State Park (yes, still one of our favorite places to be!). Peeper is her happiest in water, and I’m carrying a 38-week-old furnace, so splashing in the river was pretty much the best.

Peeper’s birthday party We didn’t throw a party for Peeper’s first birthday and I knew I wanted to do a little something this year. I considered canceling it (see the downs below) but am so glad I didn’t. Peeper and her friends had a wonderful time painting and playing in the water, and we got to properly break in our newly fenced front yard! More about the party in a later post.

Seeing family Much of my side of the family came in for Peeper’s birthday party, and I’m always grateful when the Ryans are around! After the party we watched the U.S. women’s soccer team beat Japan (in style!), eat pizza and play video games. As we drove away from my brother’s house, I was overwhelmed with the wish that we’d all live near each other permanently. My brother recently moved to Portland, so that leaves only two more siblings to get down here!

This up was a little bittersweet, though, because Eric’s parents were meant to have arrived this weekend, too. They had to delay their trip out to deal with some health stuff (good thoughts/prayers/internet love to my mother-in-law much appreciated!), which is important and necessary, but we still missed them. In fact we re-sang Happy Birthday to Peeper so we could record it and send it to them! Peeper didn’t mind. ;)

Downs

Cornhole

Uncle Sean asks for Peeper’s help to win Cornhole at a 4th of July BBQ.

Fireworks Ah, the holiday my noise-phobic toddler and high-anxiety dog love the most! Happy 4th of July! Call me a grump, but I hoped every single boom was the last. We will not be spending Independence Day in town next year. You can find us running away to the mountains somewhere fireworks are illegal.

No sleep Ironically, Peeper slept a few hours through the fireworks and woke up shortly they were finished—and wouldn’t go back to sleep. It was horrible. She hasn’t had a night like that in… oh, a year and a half? We finally left her to cry herself to sleep and she passed out around 5:30, a half-hour before I’d set my alarm to prepare for her party.

Eating struggles I should apologize to all my friends who have to hear the latest tale about how Peeper just doesn’t eat. Not that she’s picky in a I’ll-only-eat-chicken-nuggets kind of way, but in the sense she’s completely uninterested in food. It was worse than usual on Saturday, which led to my redefinition of a meal on Sunday because hey, at least Ritz peanut butter sandwiches and ice cream are calories!

Change

Here’s where I mess up the format. I wouldn’t change anything (except maybe the fact I got 2 hours of sleep on Saturday). Every experience, both good and bad, shapes me as a person and a mother. I learn from some of it (leaving town on the 4th!) and revel in the rest (treasuring the memory of Peeper “getting the baby wet” in the river).

How about you? How was your holiday weekend?

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