Fiona's First Day

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Dear Fiona, 

Today is your first day of school. I sent you off into a new world to create a life in which I am not front and center. You will build close relationships with your teachers and new friends. You are joyful and carefree and ready for new adventures. You ran ahead of me through the hall and I walked behind you and watched. When Daddy, Elsa and I arrived in your classroom, you had already put on your apron and started shaping dough into balls. Your class will have the rolls for snack this morning. I came in and knelt next to you and asked you some questions then helped you wash your hands and get your hat on to go join the other kids outside. You were so ready for your school day to begin, but didn't rush me out. I think, in your wise, young heart, you knew your Mama needed to linger a bit. 

Since your birth, you have been my constant companion and my partner in life. We have spent most of our time together doing everyday kinds of things. Taking walks, getting coffee, preparing and eating meals, straightening the house, talking and playing. We will still do all of that together, but not quite as much. You are branching out and your world is getting larger. While I know this is a natural and beautiful part of life, it is still hard. There is a part of me that wants you to never leave my side. A part of me that mourns your babyhood when you were in my arms more hours than not. A part of me that knows that I can only revisit those times in my own mind, because while that experience lives through you in your joy and confidence, the memories will fade for you. You will grow up and make new memories and new relationships. You will build a life, and one day build a family of your own.  But for me, being a Mama to you and your brother and sister will continue to be the single greatest joy of my life and the greatest gift I've ever been given. Becoming a mother, in so many ways, is when my life began.

You won't read this until you are much older and you may not fully understand it until you have your own children. My sincerest wish is that we give you the love and support you need to build a joyful life that fulfills you deeply. I hope to keep you close while not holding on too tight. Just know that I am here. I will always be here, cheering you on with pride, joy and a little bit of an ache in my heart. You are everything to me Fiona. I love you so very much. I hope you have fun at school today.

Love,

Mama

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now

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My husband calls me the ruminator. He's right. I like to tell myself that my over thinking habit has it's benefits, but it's probably part of the reason I'm not always so good at just being in the moment.

This has been one (of the many) great unexpected gifts of motherhood, the ability to be truly present. Every time I look at Fiona, I'm reminded that my time with this two year old doesn't last forever. This spirited, sweet, loving, curious and cute (really, really cute) two year old.

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I'm mindful that Elijah won't always be a little boy. He is on the cusp. Six is such a transitional age. I remember being six. Before we know it, Elijah will have cooler things to do than frolic on the beach with his little sister. He'll always be sweet, I'm sure. But this sweet?

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And I know she'll always be sweet. But this sweet?

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So I pay attention to now. And appreciate now. Cause, god, now is so good.

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a new stage

What's so special about this moment, you may ask? Well, this is Fiona sleeping (which is remarkable on its own, really) on her own mattress, right at the foot of our bed. We have shared our bed with Fiona since her birth. Nights are a challenge, but cosleeping has made it easier on all of us. We try to look past the difficulty of the (many) nightwakings to the importance of providing Fiona with consistency and security no matter the time of day or night. That isn't to say I don't get frustrated. I have quite literally hid in the bathroom and screamed into pillows, but the frustration of these times is far outweighed by the beauty of waking to a giggling, cozy little babe each morning who knows that her family is always there for her, even at 11 pm... and 1 am... and 3 am...

About a month ago it became evident that this cozy little babe needed her own space, at least sometimes. She still spends plenty of the night in our bed and plenty of her naps in my arms, but sometimes she sleeps on her own. Because she is growing up. I feel pride and sadness as we pass though each stage.

In the spirit of trying something new, I thought I'd sew my very first quilt for Fiona's very first bed of her own. I am thinking of doing a larger version of this one from Whip Up Mini Quilts...

Wish me luck. With the quilting and the sleeping. ;)

together

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Before I had Fiona, or even the idea of Fiona, I noticed that some moms held their babies in slings. It struck me as so beautiful and powerful. These mothers seemed confident and capable, going about their lives with their babies held close. I knew that one day, I wanted to hold my baby like that.

For the first months of Fiona's life, she cried and cried, for hours and hours, day after day. I wore her in a sling for more hours than not. For reasons I don't expect to ever understand, some babies have a very hard time adjusting to this world. Fiona was one of those babies. She would bury her face in my chest and we would walk for miles. Aside from nursing, this was the only way to keep her from crying.

Slowly, she started lifting her head from my chest to look around. From the safety of her sling, she started noticing things around her. Over time, she got to know our routine. When she saw me take out the sling she would wiggle excitedly. Every morning we would walk to the coffee shop, walk along the water, stop by some local shops, and in the early days, she would fall asleep on our way back home. Now, She doesn't wait for me to initiate our morning walk. She just marches right over to me, with the baby carrier in hand, and says, "back!"

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Everyday, Fiona and I explore the world together. I point things out to her, "Look, Fiona, boats!" and she points things out to me, "Bird!" We run into friends. She gives people high fives and waves goodbye. She insists we buy strawberries and once we've bought them, she reaches into my bag and tries to get them out.

I am aware that one day, instead of wearing Fiona on my back, she'll be walking next to me. And then one day, she'll want to explore the world on her own. I cherish every moment that right next to Mama is where she wants to be.

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Me and my girl.

a little doll made by mama

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Yesterday was the last day of our Waldorf Parent & Child class. I hope to integrate a lot of what we learned into our everyday rhythm at home.

Waldorf really emphasizes that children should see their parents doing important and thoughtful work including cooking, cleaning and sewing projects like these cute finger puppets. Work like this shouldn't only be saved for after bedtime, but made into a part of a child's home life. Though, I admit, after 9pm is when I do most of my sewing...

I love Waldorf-style dolls and this one was so simple to make! If you are interested in making one, there is a great tutorial in the book Creative Play for your Baby.

Fiona has just started really getting into doll play and "taking care of her babies," by touching them gently and giving them kisses. So sweet.

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cloth everything!

I began my cloth diapering journey about a year ago. I went back and forth between gDiapers, cloth diapers and disposables for many months. I was having a bit of a diapering identity crisis, if you will. I think part of it was I felt pressure to make it all myself. I have a crafting blog, for heaven's sake. But I just couldn't find the time or motivation to sit down and make all those prefolds, wipes and diaper bags that are required for full-time cloth diapering. So, a couple months ago, I bit the bullet. I just went out and BOUGHT everything I needed, and it's been smooth sailing since.

I bought cloth wipes and made a wipe solution I found in Soulemama's book, Handmade Home (Just thinking of the book makes me feel guilty all over again for not just making the wipes myself...).

I bought a diaper bag to hang next to the changing table (Again with the guilt about not making it myself!).

I'm also planning to phase out the use of paper towels, so I cut up some beat up clothes into rags for cleaning. The fabric below used to be Juicy Pants. And yes, I paid full price for them. A bit symbolic, don't you think? It made me reflect a bit about how my priorities have changed over the years. This simple family life I lead now is infinitely richer than my old life that somehow justified $88 sweatpants. Wow. Talk about the Granolafication of Miranda.

baking bread

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Fiona and I are taking a Parent & Child Class at the Waldorf School. Each morning, the teacher, parents and chldren all work together to bake bread and cut up fruit salad. I want to bring some of these traditions home with us, so yesterday, we made bread! Bread is on the long list of things I haven't made yet. I am not very experienced in the kitchen!

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Fiona stood in her Learning Tower and helped (also blogged about here)! Here are our funny little baguettes:

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Another part of the ritual in class is, before eating, the teacher leads us in a short blessing:

Blessing on the blossom,
Blessing on the root,
Blessing on the leaf and stem,
Blessing on the fruit.

Another meal blessing that I found in my Waldorf Education book goes like this:

Mother Earth, Mother Earth,
Take thy seed and give it birth,
Father Sun, gleam and glow,
Until the root begins to grow,
Sister Rain, sister Rain,
Shed thy tear to swell thy grain.

I've always loved the idea of rituals, but growing up in a very non-religious home (Athiest, actually...), I've never really found a set of rituals that I connected to personally. So, when I discovered Waldorf Education and the way it incorporates rituals into every day in a way that made sense to me, I was attracted to it immediately. Celebrating the regular rhythm of life--the seasons, food preparation, the family meal, household chores and birthdays--in a way that connects us to eachother, nature and the greater world is something that I have welcomed enthusiastically into my home. It hasn't become second nature at all to me yet, but I hope that over time my family can incorporate some of these traditions and celebrations into our lives in a meaningful way that makes us stop and think about how lucky we are to be here. L'Chaim!

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The bread actually turned out quite well. Good enough to eat!