There are so many blog posts that I want to write. I will try to cram as much as possible into this post, but I'll start with an 11-month Penny update. We went down to Florida for Thanksgiving and stayed for 10 days (Josh for 6). It was so nice to escape the gloominess that had settled over Omaha and bask in some Florida sunshine. It was 75-80 degrees every day and only rained once. Gigi watched Penny a lot, which gave me and Josh some time to be together and also gave me some relaxation time. I got a pedicure and a massage. Amazing! When we got back to Omaha, everything was covered in snow, and I couldn't believe how gorgeous it all is. We live in an old neighborhood with lots of huge, beautiful trees, and I never knew winter could be so pretty.
Penny turned 11 months old on our last day there, and I can't believe her birthday is looming so close on the horizon. She started walking more than crawling right around her 10-month birthday. When do you consider them officially walkers? It seemed sort of gradual to me, over the course of about a month because her first step was the week she turned 9 months. At any rate, she is an expert walker at this point and even sort of runs. She walks around like she owns the place, which I guess is pretty much the case. She definitely doesn't get this athleticism/strength from me.
What she does probably get from me is her loquaciousness! She has 7 words already, which is super exciting for the speech therapist in me (as well as the mom in me obv). Her first word was "hi", followed by "dada", "Gigi" (kind of a /d/ sound for the "G" affricate), "Oda" (Gigi's hubs), "boo" (peekaboo), "mama", and "uh-oh", in that order. She's also signed water a few times and sometimes puts together "hi" + someone's name (i.e. "hi, Gigi") I was a little offended that she said so many people's names before mama, but I think she thinks we're the same person. She still doesn't say mama all that often. It's always "dada...dada...dada", all day long. She definitely has a preference for the /d/ sound, as most of her words contain that sound. She loves to wave at everybody and anybody. She's like a politician or Miss America when we walk through the grocery store, just waving and waving. She also understands things like "clap your hands", "give daddy a hug", "get your water bottle", and "come here". She's actually been clapping her hands along to "When You're Happy and you Know It" for at least 6 weeks. When the phone rings, she says "hi" and waves, and she loves to wave when she hears someone on the speaker phone.
Penny is also developing quite the little stinker personality. She loves to get into things she knows she isn't supposed to have, and as soon as she hears "Penny, no!", she smiles and looks at me and then happily sets her mind determinedly on continuing to do whatever it is she isn't supposed to do. Last night, Josh took her from me and she started screaming bloody murder. He took her into the playroom and tried to get her to play with him, and she just kept carrying on, screaming and crying. After a couple minutes, he brought her back to me. She practically jumped into my arms, and then she turned to him and started laughing and waving at him. Not cool. I don't know how you're supposed to react to that, but I'm pretty sure our laughter was NOT the appropriate response. Oh well, I'm sure we have decades of parenting mistakes ahead of us. She is freakin' adorable. The problem is that she knows it. She definitely gets this from her dad. She is pretty much his spitting image, physically and personality-wise. I have a feeling I am in for it with these two.
Since I still have 20 minutes, I will write a little about my identity crisis/return to work exploration. I've been interviewing for some part-time speech pathology work, and I have a lot of mixed feelings about the whole thing. I pretty much feel like I should go back to work. Having a year off with Penny has been such a blessing, but I feel guilty taking more time. I know that being home with her is incredibly valuable work, but it just doesn't feel as valued as earning money. Does anyone else feel that way? I also worked my ass off to get my degree, and we could definitely use a little extra income, but I'm terrified of being away from Penny for long stretches of time and leaving her with someone. Daycare is basically out because she hates any kind of nursery setting we've tried, and I don't want to have to worry about her being miserable on top of my going-back-to-work stress. She's done really well with babysitters in our home, so we will get a nanny for her. By the time we pay the nanny, after taxes, I'll be making about what the nanny makes. Is it really worth this for 15 hours/week? I don't know. I've also been exploring the possibility of becoming a childbirth educator. After my birth experience, I felt drawn to this field and sharing what I'd learned. Bradley and Brio are the two education courses I am interested in, but I guess Brio is only taking experienced teachers/doulas/midwives/etc. Although Bradley worked for me, I do think it's a bit dated and in desperate need of a makeover. I'm interested in being a doula also, but logistically it is a little more difficult in terms of being on call and having sporadic childcare needs. There is a doula conference in Omaha in April, so I may attend that to give me more direction. I'm also interested in providing breastfeeding support after my crazy breastfeeding journey, but I haven't looked into that as much. I think becoming an LC is, like, a ton of work and probably more of a full-time commitment than I want to make. Part of the appeal of teaching childbirth preparation is that it isn't a huge time commitment and can be easily done in conjunction with being a SAHM. I'm sort of lacking direction right now.
Sorry this is all so raw. I just don't have time to do any real editing here and wanted to at least get some of these thoughts out.
A cute holiday photo from shopping at Target with Gigi for Toys for Tots: