We have a gate at the bottom of our stairs, but every once in a while I totally gap and forget to close it, and sure enough I find Gwen halfway up the first flight. It's always a forehead-smacking moment (for me, not her). Speaking of head-smacking, though, I've seen her take some fantastic headers while cruising the couch, even landing face-first so dramatically that I was *sure* there would be blood when I picked her up. (There wasn't, though.) And sometimes this makes her scream like a banshee and other times she just shakes it off as if she barely noticed the sudden transition from vertical to horizontal. My point is, I don't know why I bother trying to protect her from the stairs when she does such a terrific job of destroying herself on solid ground.
Things are going well these days. In fact, I would say the past few weeks have been the best since this whole motherhood adventure began. Gwen is sleeping well, which, let's face it, is the key factor in any assessment of life satisfaction. We have found a real groove with our days, heading out to one baby-related activity every weekday, which instead of making me feel rushed makes me feel appropriately non-bored (and Gwen the same, methinks). If I don't get out of the house and have a face-to-face conversation with someone I'm *not* related to at least every second day, I get a little irritable.
As such, we've been going to Strong Start a couple of days a week, and man, I really don't know why I waited so long to check this program out. It's made of everything wonderful: it's free, it's any age from birth to 5 years, it's fairly unstructured, it's every weekday, and best of all it's drop in. Come when you're ready, leave when you're done. Absolutely beautiful, and Gwen loves it. A gigantic classroom full of appropriate and stimulating toys, as well as a group of older kids to follow around and adore? PERFECT.
We also go to our Mother Goose classes on Wednesdays, and on Tuesdays Gwen hangs out with her Gramma and I get out on my own. Last week I took my laptop to an Internet cafe and did a few hours' worth of work for the volunteer organization I am a part of. It was bliss (not the work itself, but the aspect of it being uninterrupted).
Other than that, I've got a solid group of friends that I can call and/or contact on Facebook to arrange walks, playdates, and so on. It's a very good groove, and I am loving it.
That said, Gwen has had a cold the past week or so, and fear of spreading the germs around to our friends has kept me home from many activities, which I'm not enjoying. On the plus side, Gwen has been - for the most part - the most cheerful sick baby I've ever seen, not getting any more cranky for the nasty cough or the streams of mucous hastily exiting her nose. Woe betide you if you try to wipe it, though, for she will scream and weep as if being beaten.
Speaking of Facebook - and my awesome friends - one of them has started an Adequate Moms Group. It turns out there was a study done on the quality of parenting and the effect on the child's development. There is a significant difference in development between children who have negligent parents and those who have adequate parents - which is what you'd expect. However, the surprise is that there is NOT a big difference in development between those who have adequate parents and those who have excellent parents (whatever that means). So, with a sigh of relief, we can all embrace our adequacy. I'm writing a creed for the group: "I am an adequate mom. I have fed my child a Cheerio that she threw on the floor. I have fed my child a Cheerio that she threw on the floor the day before. When my child is playing in the next room and I hear a thump, sometimes I wait to see if there are tears before I go investigate." You get the idea. How freeing to be adequate!
Gwen's nap schedule has been weird lately. It almost seems like she's shifting from two naps to one - on Monday I put her down shortly after 10, and she didn't get up until 1:20 - nearly 3 hours!! Which left no time at all for an afternoon nap, because I wasn't about to have her nap from 4:30 - 6:30 and then be up until 10, thank you very much. So we got her to bed at 6:30 and she was SO ready. It's hard to predict from one day to the next where she will be at, and her being sick makes me want to just stay flexible and resist trying to squish her into a routine right now, because I know when I'm sick I need a little more downtime. So, once she gets better we'll work on the structure again. On the other hand, while the timing is unpredictable, the naps themselves are happening beautifully. At both naptime and bedtime she is putting herself to sleep in her crib after a diaper change, a bottle, a story, and a lullaby. It's absolutely heavenly to know that "getting Gwen to sleep" only requires 5-10 minutes of parental involvement.
I'm heading out on an ambitious trip next month. I owe my sister a visit (said visit was cancelled due to snow conditions in December) and I thought I'd make a week of it, visiting some folks in Vancouver and Powell River in a circle tour (since I missed out on seeing those folks due to the same damn snow). I plan to leave Nanaimo on the afternoon of Wednesday March 4th; spend two days/nights on the Lower Mainland; travel to the Sunshine Coast and spend the weekend with my sister and her family; then travel to Powell River and spend 3 days/2 nights there before heading back to the Island. One last hurrah before heading back to work. It will be so fun to show Gwen off to all the folks who haven't seen her in a while. Dude, she'll be walking by then! (maybe.)
Oh, and another thing. I think the combination of weaning Gwen + making some progress on her sleep (meaning *I* am getting more sleep) + losing nearly 20 pounds has just made me feel like my body is becoming mine again. I dug out some of my work clothes and even bought myself a gorgeous non-nursing bra, and I've been doing my hair and just taking a bit more care with my appearance. This has had a real effect on my self-esteem. Those women's magazines know what they are talking about. Also, certain activities that we thought would never happen again have actually begun to happen. And they are far more pleasant than I remember them being. Isn't that awesome?
Gwen is developing at a mad pace these days. She spends nearly all her time standing or cruising. She can cruise really quickly, and I kind of think that once she learns to walk she will progress to running and never look back. On Saturday, her grandpa saw her standing on her own for a couple of seconds: she pulled up using their sliding glass door, then pulled her hands away and just stood there for a moment. I haven't seen her do that on her own, but since I missed the original incident and was intensely curious to see if she could do it, I have stood her up myself a couple of times and then taken my hands away. She can, in fact, balance for 2-3 seconds. It's not much, but it's a start. Oh, and she has also mastered the pincer grasp (using her thumb and finger to grab something, instead of palming it) which should make self-feeding immeasurably easier. I'll try to get some video of her doing these things soon, because they are both awesome to watch.
I could easily write more, but wow, this post got really long. They call me wordygirl for a reason.