A Busy Fortnight (Including Gerda’s First Dancing in a Ball and a Visit to Ikea)

The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy for us. For one, we have managed to completely rearrange two rooms in the house; what we used to call our ‘Room of Requirement’ (because of loads of storage taking up all the place) is now an almost decent living room!

As two kayaks are now hanging on the wall, we decided to decorate the room in a nautical fashion. In the search for inspiration we visited the new Ikea for the first time. Gerda got to sit in a shopping cart for babies, which she rather enjoyed, feeling very important in her high throne.

We usually don’t spend a lot of time in shopping centers, but it was impossible to leave Ikea without looking at the cosily designed rooms and dreaming of all the possibilities to improve our living area!

The second important event for us was a concert on Valentine’s Day; it was organised as a ball – the mixed choir ‘Sōla’ performed popular Latvian songs, and the audience were encouraged to dance by the stage.

Gerda’s dad had written arrangements for three of those songs, specially for this event. Naturally, we wanted to hear them, so that’s how we spent this Valentine’s Day.

Gerda behaved amazingly well, she would listen to the concert with interest, without us having to go outside for the whole hour and a half! Her dad took her for a dance near the stage, which raised a positive attention from the public. They even got shortly interviewed by the host of the evening, and we read some comments on facebook afterwards about how cute their daddy – daughter dance was πŸ™‚ . There were other families with kids, but apparently Gerda was the youngest dancer.

It’s nice that there are such events we can attend all three of us, and such places where families can spend time comfortably together.

~ Gerda’s mom

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Exposure to Music

Being born in a family of musicians in many generations, it’s inevitable for Gerda to be exposed to music on everyday basis, through various means and styles.

She got to hear a lot of classical piano music during the prenatal period already; in fact, she was just 11 weeks old in my belly, while first performing on the stage with me. (Interesting that Gerda’s slightly-younger cousin was also participating in the same concert, with her mom playing the piano, too). πŸ™‚

A bit later on, I got to accompany children from music school in several concerts during our visit in Finland. Gerda especially loved our playing with the cello, I could tell she was excited by her active punching!

Soon after being born, Gerda got to hear Latvian National Guard choir in a concert with her dad singing patriotic Latvian songs. Besides singing, Gerda’s dad also plays guitar to her regularly, and sometimes improvises on the piano.

Both of her granddads are also making an investment in Gerda’s musical education, by offering her to play different keyboards, electric and bass guitar, mandolin and even a recorder. So far, she has tried to chew all of those, so it’s hard to tell which one is her favorite.

As for grandmothers, they both prefer singing and introducing traditional lullabies to their little (and, for now, only) grandchild.

Even though I don’t consider myself a good singer, singing Gerda to sleep is something I really love doing. Mostly, I choose to sing her Latvian folksongs that have wise meaning to pass on; I feel like it’s a beautiful way to keep alive the world view of our ancestors.

On other evenings, I tell fairytales while rocking Gerda to sleep (sitting on a yoga ball). She also likes audiobooks like Winnie the Pooh, or some Latvian fairytale recordings, especially a CD voiced by vocal group ‘Cosmos’, where they tell stories written by children.

It’s not like we would constantly listen to music; I actually prefer a peaceful silence when doing something around the house, but it helps to put some CD on if I want Gerda to play by herself for a bit. That way she doesn’t feel lonely while I take some time to make dinner.

Our favorite music for now is mostly Baroque and Classical composers – Handel’s concerti grossi, concerts by Bach and Vivaldi, Haydn’s string quartets, etc. Seems like Gerda prefers string ensembles and vocal music, but maybe that just depends on the mood πŸ™‚ . There are so many composers yet to show her, and I hope Gerda will love their music as much as we do, if not even more!

People have been already asking (jokingly) if we’ll try to make a musician out of Gerda, too. I think the most important task is to teach our child the love for music, so that there is much more beauty in her life; and then, of course, we can support her if she decides to follow this wonderful (yet hard) career path of a musician.

~ Gerda’s mom

Saying No to the Crib?

There are many different methods of child raising nowadays, but when it comes to sleeping arrangements, a crib is still considered to be the best (safest) place for babies.

As responsible parents, whe had bought a beautiful crib for Gerda to sleep in, and arranged it next to our bedside. Scarcely could I imagine it would turn out to be an unnecessary purchase!

Perhaps, it was due to my lack of enthusiasm for ‘training’ the baby to sleep by herself, or because I was too soft to let her ‘cry it out’, but Gerda has never slept in her crib to this day.

I’ve given up trying, and for now we sleep together on a floor mattress. Co-sleeping allows me to get as much as 9 to 10 hours of sleep (with some short breastfeeding breaks during the night), which is incredible for a new parent!

At first Gerda slept in our bed with us, but we transitioned to the floor when she started moving more actively (and, I have to admit, actually managed to roll off the bed, giving us a great fright).

I had tried to introduce the crib to her several times, letting her play in it during the daytime, or trying to put her in it when soundly asleep, but nothing worked. As soon as I did that, Gerda woke up and started crying every time. Or, if left to play in the crib, she constantly got an arm or a leg stuck between rails, or was hitting her head at the bedside, which made me question the supposed safety of a crib.

So, for now sleeping on the floor is what works for us, and, as it’s in line with Montessori method, I guess we’ll have to settle with it. Montessori nurseries look very appealing, indeed! I guess, Gerda has already chosen a philosophy for her to be raised in πŸ™‚

~ Gerda’s mom

Getting Cold

As it’s getting cold outside, winter being in progress, we ourselves have to watch out of getting a cold. The flu season has started, which, for us, means avoiding crowded places, such as supermarkets and concerts, like our pediatrician warned, and keeping Gerda away from sneezing people.

But what to do when I get a sore throat? Luckily, our doctor eased my fears by telling that the baby should be safe, while she’s getting the protecting antibodies from my milk. To my surprise, breastfeeding while sick appears to be the best prevention of baby getting ill.

I just have to try not giving her kisses for now (not so easy, as I’ve fallen in a habit of doing that automatically), and it’s best to use a facemask (which makes me feel like Meredith Grey).

Hopefully, it won’t last long. Let’s enjoy winter and stay healthy!

~ Gerda’s mom

Winter Walks

I find winter especially beautiful this year; the weather being surprisingly nice – not too cold, nor too damp, the landscape covered in white glitter…

Big snowflakes were falling all day today, but, as the air felt quite mild, the snow didn’t stop Gerda and me from our everyday walk (well, almost-everyday, to be precise. I must admit, there are days when I get just too lazy to leave home).

Gerda just turned 7 months, so we went after some small cake to the local store. Our walks mostly consist of me buying a chocolate bar or other snack for myself, and then going away from the city centre, along the riverside. Gerda usually falls asleep during the walk, but she loves looking around at first, and she will not tolerate if we stand on one place for too long. So, our stroll has to be entertaining πŸ™‚ .

I like to go out when Gerda is not yet too sleepy, that way we can have a longer nap together at home. Walking in the fresh air requires some sleeptime afterwards!

Also, I’m starting to feel the benefits of everyday stroll to our health, physical as well as emotional. Never have I had such an opportunity as now, during my maternity leave, to enjoy so throughoutly the variety of a year, changing through four different seasons, following the great circle of life. How refreshing it is, not having to spin in a wheel of never-ending duties, being able instead to explore the world surrounding us with my dear little one!

Last year, a friend of mine actually took a vacation from work to observe the coming of the spring. Perhaps, loving the nature is a trait we’ve gained at school, being raised by Steiner’s philosophy. Not that I’m an anthroposophist, but there are definitely many good ideas in Waldorf education πŸ™‚ . The more kids will be taught to esteem the beauty of nature, the more they’ll feel responsible for its well-being.

Hopefully, our little walks, simple as they might seem, will help Gerda to grow into a person who cares about our planet deeply!

~ Gerda’s mom

Starting New Year With a Smile

Every morning, when Gerda wakes up, she greets me with a wide smile. She is so happy, simply because a new day has dawned and her loved ones are near! If I would have to think of a New Year’s resolution, that’s what I’d choose – to start every day with a smile, appreciating everything we have.

The past year has brought a small wonder in our lives, and the New Year is expected to be full of adventures – Gerda’s first real words, first steps and other achievements yet to reach.

Having our happiness already at home, celebrating New Year’s Eve didn’t seem as important as in some of the previous years (you know, like when the night feels almost magical, filling the air with romance and promises of new opportunities)… This time, we actually overslept the New Year a bit, waking up only a few minutes after midnight from the loud fireworks going off in our neighbourhood. (One could say it doesn’t sound very festive of us, but getting some extra sleep is already a feast for new parents).

Anyways, we drank some non-alcoholic champagne, Gerda was wondering about the fireworks for a while, and then we went back to sleep. We had visited so many relatives and friends during holidays, that we felt like taking it easy on the New Year’s Eve.

Well, at least we did have a very merry Christmas – eating more than in any other time of the year, lighting the candles in our Christmas tree and singing a lot of Christmas songs (a tradition you can’t ignore, having so many musicians in family).

Gerda loved being in the centre of attention as the youngest family member, getting smiles and hugs from her aunts and grandparents. She likes travelling and having action around her, so it’s quite easy for us to visit other people. Gerda even spent some time alone with my mom, so that we could go ice skating with her dad, alone for the first time in six months πŸ™‚ .

Nevertheless, it was nice to rest after all the celebrations, and spend a relaxed New Year’s Eve in our little family of three.

Wishing all of you a happy New Year,

~ Gerda’s mom

What does Gerda want for Christmas?

As Gerda isn’t familiar with the concept of Christmas yet, this question is mostly being addressed to me. What can I say? For now, what she wants is our attention, care and love; even the prettiest toys don’t get her approval in comparison with my hair, or nose, or literally anything she can grab of me πŸ™‚ .

The real question is, how do we not spoil this innocence of hers? Why do we teach the kids to ‘want’ something for Christmas? I would so much prefer celebrating the season of love and hope, instead of this commercial holiday Christmas has become!

There’s a part in one of my favorite books, ‘Little Women’, that always gets me into true Christmas spirit – when the four girls spend all of their money, little as they have, to get a Christmas present for their mother, and afterwards bring their own Christmas dinner to another poor family in the neighbourhood.

As cheesy as it sounds, I think the joy of giving is a lot greater than that of receiving. I wish to find a way of showing that to Gerda, so that when she’s older, Christmas would mean more to her than just waiting for Santa Claus to arrive in town.

This year, my mom proposed a thought that we could send some gifts as a charity, instead of buying presents to each other. All of our relatives agreed to that, so we decided to participate in a project called ‘Angel’s mail’, where you have to send presents for elderly people in nursing homes. I think it makes a lot more sense than trying to find a gift for someone who can buy everything he needs for himself. I hope others will think so, too, and it could become a family tradition of ours.

Of course, there will still be gifts for children under our Christmas tree, but hopefully they’ll learn by our example to find happiness also by giving to others.

Merry Christmas!

~ Gerda’s mom