I don’t feel like I’m honest enough about how hard being a parent to a toddler is on a day-to-day basis. I post pretty pictures on Facebook and Instagram, and tweet cute or funny things that Eloise says or does. The reality is I love my baby girl with every ounce of my being – but some days are just. so. incredibly. hard. Physically exhausting. Mentally draining. Emotionally destroying. The good days and bad days mix with no rhyme or reason, and just when you think you’ve got everything under control and you’re in the clear, whammo, another bad day floors you to your knees.
I’m prefacing my post with this because Mother’s Day was one of those days. Alec went above and beyond to organise the perfect weekend for me. A cupcake from my favourite bakery. A surprise massage. Home-cooked lunch, and a surprise dinner at a vegan restaurant I’ve been dying to try. And then Eloise’s two-year molars started to come in – at least, that’s what we’re guessing is going on. Now we’re back to a whingy, not-sleeping, screaming bundle of toddler.
My Mother’s Day was filled with the humbling reminder that my enjoyment of life is – for the moment at least – highly dependant on the happiness of my child. Sad baby = no-one enjoys the day.
We still tried to make the most out of it. Got out in the sun, went to a few parks, had a wonderful dinner together after Eloise went to bed. It was not the Mother’s Day I would have wanted, but, then again, that’s not the toddler I was given.
So here are my carefully edited photos that tell a different story about my Mother’s Day.
20 takes later, this was the best shot. Notice she’s trying to escape?
Bounce up and down like an idiot, and eventually you’ll get a cranky toddler to smile
The other way to get an angry toddler to smile – let them do what they want. “Walk, walk walk!” You got it, baby!
Blizzard Nemo (ha!) hit New York yesterday. It was pretty crazy being out in it – like icicles prickling my face. Today the blizzard had passed and the city was covered in a glorious foot of snow. Yay! We head over to Fort Greene park to give Eloise her first real taste of snow. She really loved it – she couldn’t get enough of sitting on the ground and trying to grab it in her little mits.
Go, baby, go!
Loving the snow.
Stroller did NOT work well in snow.
For our little girl’s first birthday, we threw a party at Jane’s Carousel, Dumbo. We were blessed with a gorgeous day, with everything coming together beautifully for our little baby’s big day.
Sugar cookies in the shape of ballet slippers from SugarFairies, Etsy. Photos of Eloise taken each month and assembled in a row.
With birthday buddy, Clementine.
Lunch was bagels from Mocha Bagels, Brooklyn.
Cutting the cake.
Cupcake face plant.
Happy birthday to our dearest love. We love you more and more every day, little Cheese.
Birthday number 33! I can’t believe it. Alec was so great and made a huge effort to give me a wonderful birthday. Unfortunately, both he and Eloise were suffering with a stomach virus, so it ended up being a low key day.
We started with my fave sandwiches and ice tea from Via Quadronne, followed by a stroll through Central Park. We dropped into the Plaza Hotel, and then went shopping at Tiffany & Co.
Hi Eloise! The Plaza Hotel.
A week later Alec and I were able to go out for dinner, to A Voce in Columbus Circle. It was delicious! I had an amazing pasta dish, cocktail and wine, and a delish dessert. Add into that wonderful company, and it was a really great night out.
My dear friend Alexis was super lovely and took me to lunch at Gramercy Park Hotel for a birthday lunch too. The babies caused havoc, but we had a wonderful lunch just the same.
Our little girl is growing up so fast. She’s becoming more and more like a toddler, and less like a baby every day. I’m so proud of her growth and development, but also a little wistful already for the baby we don’t have for much longer. I’m so happy to see such great qualities in Eloise already. She’s fearless, curious and generous.
We’ve been out and about a lot this month! Cousin Sara came to visit, so we’ve been siteseeing all over the city – such as the Empire State Building, Alice’s Tea Cup, Central Park, FAO. We also went to fun things with Alec while he was on paternity leave, like the Bronx Botanical Gardens. We finished up the end of the month with two stroller tours, of the Guggenheim and Whitney.
- Standing with confidence now! Lets go of surfaces and balances on her feet.
- Cruising around the room using furniture to balance on.
- Dismounts easily from standing onto her cushy rear.
- Takes steps on the walker or if we’re holding her hands.
- Pulls herself up on our legs, the appliances, furniture, everything.
- Dancing! Bops to music.
- Nods her head for yes and shakes it for no.
- New words: “up” and “yeah”.
- Reaches to be picked up on command.
- Understands “no”.
- Comes when she’s called.
- Hand-eye co-ordination getting really good. Can pick up things like single peas with her thumb and forefinger and put them in her mouth.
- Very chatty. Doesn’t make any sense yet, but is very serious about telling us things and nodding her head vigorously.
- Managed to get a block shape into the correct hole in the box.
- Teething, but no teeth broken through yet.
- Much more affectionate. Lots of hugs.
- Eating really well. Three solid meals a day, plus snacks in between. Prefers large chunks that she can hold and gnaw on. Typical meal for the day: Breakfast: plain, full-fat yoghurt, half a banana. Snack: Half a banana. Lunch: Usually when we’re out, so a puree pack of baby food, plus bits of whatever I’m eating. Snack: rock melon, watermelon, cheese. Dinner: Leftovers from food I’ve cooked for myself and Alec, like pasta, steamed vegetables, baked vegetables, veggie burger patty.
- Getting much better at drinking water from a cup and water bottle.
- We completed sleep training with success. Eloise started sleeping from 7pm – 6:30-7:30am. AMAZING. We had a few nights where she woke at 6am, or at 10:30pm, but for the most part, it seems like our sleep issues have been solved.
- Naps: Down to two naps a day. One at around 8:30-9am for anywhere from 1 – 2 hours, and 12:30pm for about 45mins to an hour a half.
Empire State Building.
A lot happening this month! Eloise’s first Father’s Day, a few trips to Governor’s Island, lunch at Balthazar, first trip to Prada Soho, and lots of music classes.
On the less fun side, we had our first trip to the ER this month. We’d been at Governor’s Island during the day and Eloise was playing in the grass. Later on that evening, she wouldn’t feed at 6:30pm, and at 10:30pm. She would latch on, then pull off and cry. We tried to get her to drink water, expressed milk, you name it. At 3am when she still wouldn’t feed I was so worried I called the emergency room at the hospital and they said to bring her in. Two hours later they examined her and found A LEAF stuck in her top palate that was stopping her sucking. Poor baby! I had thought she was doing funny things with her mouth the night before and had had Alec get a torch so we could look in her mouth but I couldn’t see anything. I’m watching her like a hawk now. No more leaves, that’s for sure.
- Started giving us proper hugs!
- Outgrew her baby bath and started taking baths in the big bath.
- Purposefully saying “mum”
- Answers to her name, responds to being told “no”.
- Turning pages of books for us when we read to her.
- Pointing at things she wants. Which is everything – pointing non stop at people on the street, objects, animals, and at her parents.
- Really noticing objects when they’re gone. Will look for toys or items we take away or that she’s dropped. Looks for me at night when she wakes up and I’m not there, calling “mama”.
- Super fast crawling! All over the house. Follows us around from room to room.
- New words this month: “hi, “baby”
- Babbling a lot more, trying to communicate.
- Hand-eye co-ordination really improved a lot – after trying for a week to pick up a small block and getting frustrated when she knocked it over instead, able to use the pincer gasp to pick up small blocks and manipulate them – usually trying to put them in her mouth, but also starting to notice the shaped holes in the box and trying to put the blocks in the holes.
- Two more teeth! The lateral incisors.
- Standing up! Started pulling herself up on the coffee table, then on the couch, kitchen table, bath. Wants so stand everywhere. Trying out balance by lifting one leg at a time. Cruising by taking a few small steps while holding onto the coffee table. Leaning on the coffee table and using her hands to play with toys or grab things.
- Giving kisses – big slobbery open mouth kisses.
- Loves the bead maze – can move single beads at a time and likes moving the gear and lever.
- Getting really vocal, particularly when being told she can’t do something, or when being restrained and she wants to crawl.
- Eloise is eating pretty much everything we offer her. Bagels, entire tubs of yoghurt, fruit like rockmelon, goats cheese, hummus, bread, muffins with vegemite, omelette, scrambled eggs …
- She’s enjoying feeding herself, and loves holding onto big chunks of things like a grilled cheese sandwich and uses her teeth to bite off tiny bits.
- Eloise’s finer motor skills are developing well. She uses one hand to pick up small items like a rice puff, and uses the otehr hadn to grab her wrist and guide it into her mouth.
- Usually Eloise will let us feed her by spoon, but sometimes grabs the spoon or our fingers with her hands and examples whatever it is carefully before allowing us to put it in her mouth.
After several weeks of up and down sleep, with anything from one wake up a night (a five hour stretch!) to three, we are starting to sleep train Eloise. We started with letting her cry for 10 minutes, with the time period going up by 5 mins each time. If she hasn’t been able to put herself to sleep after that period I go in, feed her, but pull her off the breast before she’s put herself to sleep, laying her down awake. Sometimes she is able to then put herself to sleep, sometimes not. No results after night one, but night two was much better, with her able to put herself back to sleep at 10pm and 4am.
Eloise at Governor’s Island – around the time she got the leaf stuck in her mouth.
We had a low key first proper father’s day for Alec this year, spending it with some friends who were in town.
We’d had an epically bad night the evening before (we ended up in the local ER at 4am when Eloise wouldn’t feed for over 12 hours – and found a leaf wedged in her upper palate) but luckily had planned a really chilled out day as per Alec’s favourite things to do.
After Eloise had a massive midday nap, we had lunch at Landmarc at Columbus Circle. It was, as per the reviews I had read, solid food. Nothing fancy or special, but decent, tasty food. What I really liked the most was how baby friendly they were. Amazing how things change!
Lunch with Daddy!
We then took a stroll through Central Park. It was too late in the day to sit down and relax on the grass unfortunately, but it was still beautiful to just take a walk.
Our little family!
We also dropped by FAO Schwarz. Eloise loves dogs now – real life ones as well as stuffed ones.
“I want THIS ONE!”
Eloise is so blessed to have such a wonderful father as Alec. Happy father’s day my love! We both love you so very much.
I have to admit I was insanely excited about my first mother’s day this year. Alec was so amazing and planned a gorgeous day out for us. We started with lunch at Cafe Blossom in the West Village, followed by a shopping trip to my fave store, Anthropologie, and then a walk home via the waterfront. Dinner, pizza and wine. Total bliss.
It also feels like a good day to reflect on how my life has changed since becoming a mother. Apart from the obvious (ummmm, I have a baby attached to me 24/7), I’ve been thinking a lot this week on how having a baby has changed me in more permanent ways. Hopefully for the better.
Three lessons I’ve learned from my 8mth baby girl:
1. Acceptance – everything happens when it happens. Or not. The amount of times I’ve missed things, been late, etc, because of a sleeping/needing to feed/needing to sleep but won’t sleep baby I just can’t count. I’m getting better at accepting that things are either meant to be or not, and to not get as hung up on my plans coming to fruition as I had wanted.
2. Unconditional love. I thought I had known this before Eloise came along, but I was wrong. The love I feel for this baby is all consuming. Pre baby – I didn’t want to give up my life/career/goals for a baby. Post baby – I’d do anything for her, don’t want to go back to work incase I miss a minute of her life, and have shelved all my goals in favour of the sole dream to see Eloise grow up and achieve her dreams.
3. Finding joy in the small things. Nothing makes Eloise laugh like playing silly games with her, and nothing makes me happier than hearing her tiny little laugh.
Mother’s day, 2012.
With the weather warming up, we finally got up to Central Park for a gorgeous afternoon. Picking up lunch at nearby Whole Foods, we picnicked on the grass and had a relaxing sunny day.
Love the arches in the park.
We’ve had a big month! The weather warmed up and I felt brave enough to start taking Eloise on bigger outings. This month we visited several galleries and restaurants.
- Jewish Museum – Eloise’s first museum! We went to see a photography exhibit.
- Whitney Museum to see the Biennial
- MoMA to see Cindy Sherman
- Brooklyn Museum to see Keith Haring
- Carlyle for drinks
- Pierre Hotel high tea
- Moo Burgers
- Momofuku Milk Bar
We also visited Alec at work, at Twitter NY HQ, and watched members of the Isadora Dance Company perform some basic moves at a reading for the launch of a graphic novel based on Isadora Duncan at the kids’ book store Books of Wonder. This month was also Alec’s birthday and Eloise’s first Easter. We also started baby & me yoga classes. Unlike our classes we tried when E was 6-12 wks old, this time she was happy the entire time just sitting at the end of my mat, playing with toys. It was amazing!
- Scooting around the room on her bottom.
- Rolling both ways easily.
- Moving from sit to her hands and feet, rocking, and moving to her stomach
- Trying hard to crawl – gets up on her hands and feet and pushes on feet
- Trying to pull herself up on her highchair
- Her hair is coming in – very blonde and curly.
- Started reaching for us, really watching where we are going, if we leave a room she wants to follow.
- Scratching fingernails across surfaces to feel the texture.
- Making “o” noises, a sound that sounded a lot like “mama” and laughing a lot. Her laugh sounds just like mine.
- Awake for much longer periods. Can easily be awake for 4, even 5 hours at a time, particularly if we are out and about.
- Playing with her hands, clenching and unclenching her fist. Looks like she’s waving to herself.
- Notices when objects are not in her sight anymore and looks for them, such as her toys, or people.
- Playing with her tongue and sticking it out. Looks pretty special.
- Really social. Loves being outside, smiles at everyone on the street.
- Getting into EVERYTHING. After a bad moment where she spilt balsamic vinegar all over herself, me and the floor at Alec’s work, she has been non-stop grabbing everything in reach. This makes eating out particularly challenging and a high chair or her stroller are now a must.
- Board books.
- Being in the stroller outside and will fall asleep in it.
- The bath. Will happily sit in the bath slashing and playing with her toys till the water goes cold.
- Swinging in the swings.
- After a few bad days where Eloise would roll onto her stomach in her crib, not be able to roll back and scream, she finally figured out how to roll both ways. She then started sleeping on her stomach and side in her crib and as a result, sleep more soundly. We had some fantastic nights with only one night waking (an almost 6 hour stretch of sleep for me!), but also a sleep regression possibly caused by the top teeth coming down – one has almost broken through.
- During the day she goes to sleep pretty easily on her own by just putting her down in the crib. Night time is different – we can’t get her to sleep on her own, or back to sleep during the night.
- The long day naps are gone! It’s all about 30 – 45 min naps tops, with longer awake periods of up to 4/5 hours.
- Our schedule is breastfeed 9am, 2pm, 6:30pm, 10:30pm (dream feed) and any night wakings.
- Solids – 7am, 12pm, 5-5:30pm. She’s eating a lot of food now – trying finger foods like toast, bread, rice puffs (loves to feed herself them), melon, baked vegetables, cheese. She’s a really good eater and will try most things. She loves food from our plates, such as omelette, goats cheese, ricotta and spinach.
- Getting the hang of drinking water from a sippy cup and cup with a straw. She won’t drink milk from a bottle or cup, but enjoys the water.
- We started putting Eloise in the high chair this month and she really likes it, particularly since I put food on the tray for her to pick up and feed herself. She also likes to bend over and try to pick things up with her mouth.