January is such a gift after the busyness of December. Everyone seems a little burnt out from the festivities, travel, and celebration and we all just hunker down and breathe a little. We have had lots of togetherness this month, lots of time as a family and that is my absolute favorite. Lots of train building by the fire, lots of weekend morning pancakes, lots of playing Henry’s favorite game, which is “load all sorts of random thing into suitcases and haul them around the house while pretending to ride every form of public and private transport en route to visit grandma.” Also lots of time cloistered in our home while we potty trained over a long weekend, which was less fun togetherness, but also had some really special moments. Family dynamics and routines with young children are constantly changing, but Etta is now old enough that it feels like we can take a deep breathe and settle into a routine for the next long stretch (until the drop to 1 nap which I am PUMPED ABOUT ALREADY and will probably try to force earlier than necessary). Most notably, January has been defined by calmer Sundays. After 7 months of going back and forth between service times, nap-plans, etc, we finally have a Sunday routine that doesn’t end in everyone crying on the way home for church. We also moved the Etta out of our room this month. I was so nervous about having the two of them in the same room. Would they wake each other up? Would Henry throw things in her crib? Would we never sleep again because we had to be nocturnal referees? But I cannot emphasize enough how awesome it has been. They don’t wake each other up during the night, Etta falls asleep with Henry loudly playing in his crib (sometimes yelling out updates on how Etta is positioned… very helpful), and I absolutely love slipping in before they fall asleep and seeing my two babes together. I try to actively cultivate closeness between them by getting out of their way, not automatically taking Etta’s side because she is the baby, and leaving space for their own relationship even as it kills me to not hover as she often gets knocked down in Henry’s zeal. They both started sleeping better and longer as soon as they were together, and while that might be coincidence or age or sound machine decibel or a lull in winter colds – I love it. I want us to always be better together. It also means that our room is *mostly* (she still naps in there) our own again which is nothing short of life-giving. James and I have resolved to wake up earlier and that is a whole lot easier when you can roll over and turn on a lamp, instead of tiptoeing out and trying not to wake a sleeping baby. We also resolved to restart healthy eating this month and have been loving another round of the Whole30 (as always, I’m all about the lazy version). I’ve been really into this sheet pan salmon, this method for sheet pan pork (I switch out a different marinade), these pulled Hawaiian chicken wraps, Crockpot Dijon chicken legs, and if you aren’t making Kendra’s Change Your Life Chicken at least once a week… what even are you doing with your kitchen? I also remembered that it has been years since I made this crazy easy/cheap/tasty collard green chicken situation and it was so tasty. And in case you were curious, I think I have made about every paleo chocolate chip cookie recipe on the internet (yes I know that isn’t Whole30 allowed… but remember how I potty trained a toddler? GIVE ME THIS.), and these are the definitive winner. I added a dash of coconut flour and a bunch of flax seeds because I am fun like that. We had our first snow recently, a solid 24 hours of falling white that left us with a thick blanket. Henry was ecstatic and he and James went out every couple hours to shovel while Etta and I stayed snuggled inside. I looked out and kept rolling the same thought over and over in my mind:
I am beyond blessed that these are my people, that this is my life.
January gives us that, the profound realization of the steady things in our lives that we wouldn’t change, even in the midst of all our self-actualization, goal-planning, and resolution-drawing. I’ve had moments to take stock on so many cramped, cabin-fever filled, dreary days and been able to say, yes, I would want to choose this if it was a choice. When we were locked up potty training, per this book’s approach, I had to actually engage with Henry for several straight days, rather than my normal MO of trying to get him engaged in independent play and then slipping off to Do All The Things. It was the most exhausting couple days of parenting… and yet, it also gave me such a quiet and special glimpse into how he plays, all day, every day. When Etta woke early from a nap last week and I really wanted to just be off the clock, but I had to rock her instead, I found myself mesmerized anew by her tiny curled fists and plump cheeks, holding her for over an hour. When James and I have the coziest evenings tag-teaming bedtime and cleanup before being able to cozy up in front of the fire, I find myself thinking that maybe this apartment really is big enough, perfect enough, for longer. When we aren’t easily lured outside our home, the inside both drives me insane, and gives me such appreciation for all it holds.
So January- thank you for slowing us down, for holding us in, for making us seek warmth, together.