Friday, February 8, 2013

A Day in the Life of Ellie

Ellie and I have really gotten our days down to a pretty standard routine in the past month or so. Thinking about our new predictability led me to remember months ago, when our days were on only a very rough "please, Lord, let her nap!" schedule and I just never really knew what the day would hold. I spent a lot of time bouncing a refusing-to-sleep Ellie on that exercise ball, walking up and down the Hoboken waterfront, or sitting with her for hours when she would finally sleep in my bed, curled up against me, as I ate food I had stashed on the nightstand lest I end up trapped and hungry. At the time it was repetitively chaotic, if that makes sense, and I wish I had taken the time to periodically write down what a "typical" day was like for us. Now when I think back I can remember snippets vividly, but as far as our "routine" (or lack thereof), I wish I had a better record to compare to the predictability of now.

But better late than never, right? So I figured I would record our days now, to show you what a typical day is like for Ellie and me.

First, overnight: for the past few months, Ellie has been waking up several times at night. This was a very cruel regression after she started sleeping through the night after only 4-6 weeks. She got us spoiled, and then just up and stopped that gloriousness at probably six months or so. As of late she generally wakes up about three times each night, at which point I go in to her room, nurse her for a few minutes and lay her back down. It's easy to get her back to sleep, which is why we haven't really done much to try to break this habit, but it does mean lots of up and down for me with rarely more than three hours of consecutive sleep. (Although, last night, she did sleep through the night for the first time in MONTHS! 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m., wake to nurse, then back down till 8:00 a.m.! Praise be! Naturally, though, I was up at 5:15 a.m. worrying about why I hadn't heard her. Because motherhood is nothing if not a big ol' mind game, am I right?)

Because I am usually up with Ellie throughout the night, Eric very generously gets up with her when we first hear her stirring in the morning, usually between 7:30-8:00 a.m. While I relax in bed for about another half hour, Eric goes to Ellie's room, where they play "the glasses game" in her crib for a bit before he changes her and takes her to the living room to play.

Happy to see her daddy in the morning!

Daddy's glasses are super fun!

Daddy's iPhone is also super fun.


When I get up and join them in the living room, I am greeted with the World's Happiest Face. If that isn't a great way to start your day, I'm not sure what is.

Ellie sees me coming!

Good morning, baby!

Then, Ellie usually crawls into my lap and sucks her thumb for a bit.

A little Mommy time in the morning

After hanging out for a bit, it's breakfast time - usually around 8:30 a.m. Ellie loves to eat so this is another happy moment for her. For breakfast, these days she usually has yogurt with fruit and oatmeal and a piece of toast. I feed her the spoon-requiring stuff and then she munches on her toast while I eat my own breakfast.

Toast is delicious.

She always puts her feet up on her tray! So casual.

By this point, usually either Eric or my dad or both have left for work, so it's just us girls (and Achilles). If we can, we usually try to catch one or both of them leaving so Ellie can watch them pass by the window. She loves the window.

Bye, Grandpa!

Aside from Window Time, after breakfast it is play time. We usually play for about 45 minutes, and these days playing usually involves some time spent on her walker, looking for Achilles under the chairs, lots of putting things into tupperware containers, and LOTS of handing Mama books to read.

Playing on her walker

Left: Here, Mama, read this one!  Right: Happy to hear another story!

Putting Little People into plastic containers

Silly smile!

When Ellie gets bored of her books and toys in the living room, she starts to branch out a bit. Her first stop is usually the end table by the front door, where we keep keys, sunglasses, mail, etc. She usually picks up my keys or sunglasses to bring with her on her journey throughout the house. Ultimately we end up in the family room, where she likes to pull up on the end table to look for remotes. The girl loves a good remote.

Yay! Mama's sunglasses!

Here, Mom, hold this.

Around 10:00 she starts to get sleepy, so we begin to wind things down a bit. I change her diaper and then nurse her.

Sweet baby feet on my lap

Even though she's pretty tired by this point, nursing gives her a shot of life and she is usually super happy immediately after. So, we play a little more before I pick her up and walk her slowly around the house to look out the windows. That's our new nap preparation ritual, and she loves it.

Then it's into Ellie's room for naptime. I put her into her sleep sack while singing "Be Near Me, Lord Jesus" (last verse of "Away in a Manger") to her. I start up her fan and her Sleep Sheep, then lay her down and wish her sweet dreams. She's usually in bed by 10:30 and asleep by 11:00, if not before. If she doesn't fall asleep immediately, she usually just chats to herself and plays quietly until she dozes off. It's a far cry (and very, very welcome change) from her days of refusing to nap and screaming her head off!

While she naps, I take some time to do some of my old morning routines: check my email, blog, start some laundry, shower, etc. It's my first batch of "me time" of the day and I usually spend it in a pretty relaxing way. If I get motivated, I'll start some cleaning if something needs to be done, too.

Ellie usually wakes up from her first nap around noon. I go in to get her, and she's always very happy to see me. Even more so, she watches behind me for Achilles to follow me into her room, and as soon as she sees him she squeals and grins and laughs and points at him. Achilles is good entertainment these days, it seems.

Awake after a nice nap!

I know, she doesn't look so happy here. But she's crying because she was SO happy that she bounced up and down and banged her mouth on the crib rail! Poor baby happy-ed herself into an injury.

When I get her out of her crib, I change her diaper and get her dressed for the day. Then it's back to the high chair for lunch, which, as usual, she's very excited about. For lunch, these days she usually has cottage cheese with fruit, hard boiled egg yolk and some diced steamed veggies like carrots or broccoli. Once again, I feed her the cottage cheese but then eat my own lunch while she eats the egg yolk and veggies. If I can squeeze it in, I also try to do any dishes that may need to be done while she happily eats.

So excited for lunch!

Mmmm, egg.

Hey, she gets into it.

After lunch, we do some more playing and sometimes Skype with my mom for a little bit. Otherwise, it's more of the same: we turn on some music (so sometimes there is some dancing involved), read a lot of books, dig through the toy box for long-lost treasures and torment Achilles whenever possible. When that gets boring, we go back to the end table by the front door to check out the cute baby who lives in the grandfather clock, and then we explore the rest of the house.

More books!

Adorable baby in the clock!

Happy girl making her way around the house

Left: Looking for a little more advanced reading, I suppose.  Right: Playing in her rocking chair

Around 2:00, we begin the wind-down ritual again: diaper change, nurse, another brief play session, lap around the house to look out the windows, sleep sack, singing, fan, Sleep Sheep, sweet dreams! She's usually down for her second nap of the day by about 2:30 p.m., and asleep by 3:00. I use this nap time to take care of things that need to be done: cleaning, projects, phone calls, emails, etc.

Ellie usually wakes up again between 4:00-4:30. At that point, we have snack time. Her snack is usually some sort of diced fruit (peaches, pears, strawberries, etc.) and maybe some Mum Mum crackers. As evidence of how much this girl loves to eat, she has started keeping an eye on the cracker package as I hand her crackers. When I stop, she grabs the wrapper and hands it to me, as if asking me to please produce more crackers. When I do not, a short temper tantrum generally follows. That girl is serious about her crackers.

Sometimes, by that point, Eric is getting home from work. Ellie is always very happy to see him.


Reunited after a long day of work

Play time with the kids!

If Eric gets home then, we usually then run out to do some errands or something fun for a bit. However, if Eric has to close and won't be home until later, Ellie and I go out for a walk at this point. We usually just walk around the neighborhood, which is actually a nice path that includes a walk around a small lake with lots of water birds to look at. The sun is usually setting, too, giving us a beautiful Florida sky to admire.

Walking around the lake

Heron on our path

 Left: Pretty evening sky.  Right: Happy girl, out and about!

When we get back from our outing, it's dinner time. Dinner for Ellie usually includes some sort of mixed vegetable puree (sometimes with meat), pasta with shredded cheese, and some banana for dessert. The girl goes crazy for her bananas.

After dinner, we usually do a bit more playing before starting the bedtime routine.

Reading books with Daddy

At bedtime, assuming Eric is home, he takes Ellie in to her room first to change her and dress her in her pajamas and sleep sack. I follow shortly thereafter to nurse her and put her in her crib. She nurses for about 10 minutes before she's ready to lay down, and usually gives me a big smile as I take her to her crib. When I put her in, she immediately rolls onto her side and sucks her thumb. She is usually in bed between 7:30-8:00 and asleep very shortly thereafter.

And so, that is a day in the life of Ellie. It's very predictable, as you may have noticed. I have to admit, I have had a much harder time adjusting to being a stay-at-home mom now here in Florida than I ever did back in the city, and that is primarily because I don't have a car. In Hoboken, I didn't need a car. If I had errands to run, I did so on foot. The grocery store was right downstairs, the post office was just a couple of blocks away, and it was just over a mile walk to Target and the mall. I was able to be involved in play groups and support groups without needing transportation to get there. Even if I was just out wandering around, the walk along the waterfront was the greatest scenery one could ever want, and Ellie and I would often walk up and down the walkway, sometimes stopping for some banana ice cream from a food truck and then sitting in the park for a while. And, if Hoboken bored me, I could hop on the train and be in the city in under 15 minutes. And even if we did nothing else with our day, we could always walk to meet Eric at the train station when he got home from work in the evenings.

Here, however, a car is a necessity. Both Eric's and my dad's schedules have been so crazy lately that it has been hard to coordinate for me to have a car to use during the day, although now things are settling down a bit so I can try to be more proactive about that. But still, it's an adjustment. I feel like if I'm going to go to the trouble of driving someone to work so I can have the car, I need to have a plan. I can't just see how the day goes and what mood strikes us before deciding what to do. Even without a car, I try to get out every day for our little walks, but walking around the neighborhood can quickly get tiresome. My days have often felt very repetitive and very isolating. Ellie has been an absolute delight, so this is no reflection on her, and I love playing with her all day long. But, sometimes you just want a change of scenery or a person to talk to who will talk back in syllable combinations that you can understand. So it has been a little bit trying.

But, I was very encouraged last week when Eric and I did some figuring and realized that by taking back roads on foot, it is only about 1.4 miles to walk to the library and the playground next to it. Halleluia, I felt so victorious when I figured that out. 1.4 miles? That's nothing. That's what I used to walk to the mall on a regular basis. And at the end of our time in the city, when the Hoboken train station was still out of order thanks to Hurricane Sandy, that's what we would walk to get to the next nearest train station, before starting our full outing, and then we'd walk that back again afterwards. So 1.4 miles is a piece of cake, and now Ellie and I can walk with purpose! We'll have a destination! We can check out books! We can swing on swings! We can GO SOMEWHERE!

So, it has been an adjustment, but as I mentioned (and as you can tell from the smiles in these pictures), Ellie is just amazing lately. She's so happy and so playful and interactive, and I love our time together. As repetitive as it may be, I do like our predictable schedule and the nice little routine we've established.  I may describe it as repetitive, but in a way, it's nice to go into each day knowing what it will hold. I know that it is only a matter of time before she switches everything up on me again, because that is a baby's sole purpose in life (I'm sure of it), but for now, we're at this great calm and comfortable place and I feel like I just might be rocking this mom thing after all.

Life with 10-month-old Ellie is a really pretty awesome time, and I'm so lucky I get to be a part of it.


Lauren said...

Looks like a pretty awesome day to day with your sweet girl. Lovr her stroller! :-)

Becky said...

I loved this blog and reading about her day! Sometimes a little routine is a good thing. You guys are the best!