bloggingtorememberI wanted to take a minute today to share that Lindsey (You Are The Roots) is using her voice to raise money and awareness for pregnancy, infant and child loss. She will be blogging for 24 hours on Blogging to Remember.  Several incredible sponsors have provided giveaways to help Lindsey get the word out for Compassionate Friends (a non-profit aiding families facing this great loss). Lindsey is also writing several posts related to the topic of loss – posts that are helpful whether you are facing such loss or walking alongside someone you love who is facing that loss. You can find out more on Blogging to Remember.

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  • Lindsay - Thank you SO much, Ashley! <3

I bribed my boys to go shopping with me yesterday. It was in the middle of day so most of the shoppers were moms with babies and toddlers. Standing in that aisle, watching my guys discuss legos, dart guns and who is stronger, it seemed surreal. Wasn’t I just that new mom with a baby in the shopping cart? I didn’t actually meet a young mom yesterday, but as I followed my boys through the store I couldn’t help but think about when I was her. There is a lot I would have wanted to tell her back then….if I bumped into the old me, it might have gone something like this:

I saw a young mom at the store yesterday. She looked tired. There was a wee baby in a carseat in the shopping basket. A toddler sat in the front seat entertained with random objects from a diaper bag. Hanging onto the edge of the cart was another toddler, this one just a bit bigger than the one sitting. The mom was dancing. Not the kind of dancing you see on tv with heels and a flowing dress. There was no music and you had to really look to see the dance. This mom’s dance consisted of keeping the cart moving to lull the baby to sleep, staying on her toes to keep the toddler distracted to avoid a meltdown and engaging the preschooler in a way that he didn’t decided to touch everything on the shelves. In the middle of her dance, she was checking items off a list and tucking them into any remaining openings in the cart.

Our eyes met. I smiled a knowing smile. Her eyes said, “Please show me grace. Please understand that he missed nap time and I am doing my best.”

I only smiled back and began telling her she was doing a great job. A fantastic job. Though it may seem like she’s barely making it, she’s dancing. I saw her dance. Sure, running shoes replaced her heels and her jeans didn’t twirl, but she was dancing. I told her it might feel like all she does all day long is meet needs and redirect behaviors, but she is doing so much more than that. Every little need she meets, she is building trust in those sweet babies of hers. Those behaviors she is correcting will pay off later. All those little lessons that she wonders if they actually hear and understand – they do. She’ll see that one day. I shared with her how a friend recently told me that I am doing far better than I think I am. With a understanding grin, I told her the same. Between all those fires she is putting out, between all that juggling, between all that often thankless work – she is doing far better than she thinks she is. Though it probably doesn’t feel like it, she is dancing…and her babies see that.

I introduced her to my three boys. I told her I bribed them with a non-coffee drink at Starbucks if they would come shopping with me. I explained how these days it is more fun to go shopping with them than without them and how I am usually asking for their help more than they ask for mine. I told her when we get home they’d unload the groceries and put it all away. I shared with her that I’m not so tired anymore, but the days are still very full in a different way. This time she smiled back with a little hope in her eyes. The baby started fussing, so she needed to get moving again. We said goodbye. As I watched her go, my boys were cutting up with each other, telling jokes I think only elementary aged boys really find funny. There I was left standing in an aisle with three young men – my three young men. My guys.

11.14boys
11.14boys-211.14boys-3I thought about those early days of motherhood a lot yesterday. What a gift the passage of time is. I’m thankful for that season when my guys were all so tiny, but I’m thankful they didn’t stay babies. Elementary aged boys are baffling in the most wonderful way. They are funny, active, and oh so sweet to their mom. These days I am tired from breaking up all the wrestling matches instead of being up in the wee hours of the morning with them. Sure, there are still so many challenges; the dance is different now. But…shopping with my boys – it’s pretty fun.

If you are a mom with a shopping cart full of babies and toddlers – one day you just might be bribing them to go shopping with you. Today, you are dancing. It may not feel like it, but you are doing far better than you think you are.

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  • Jolene - What a great post! My oldest just turned 12 and my “baby” just turned 3. It definitely makes a difference when you have older children to help out! Your boys look like fine young men :)

  • Iza - Ashley, this is most touching post I read for a long, long time… You are incredibly talented, including writing! Mom of 4 (13 oldest) :-)

  • Jennifer - God bless you for posting this Ashley. I have two boys under two and try hard to encourage brand new mamas but fins less encouragement for me now that I am considered and “experienced mama”. But it has been a really hard week. My 22 month old can be the sweetest kd with a great servant’s heart but in between he can be so rough with only me. He threw a toy car at my head earlier this week so hard it broke the head and I was wearing. And he’ll try and climb over his baby brother while I nurse and scratch me accidentally while doing it. And the screams and tantrums…he’s not even two yet so I feel like we’re in the thick of it for the next few years now. And while I want more kids someday I worry about having two toddlers at once. So the dance, oh I know it well. Thank you for reminding me the dance changes and discipline sinks in over time and God is with us.

  • Alisa - You have such a way with words. Thank you for bringing me sweet tears at 6:30 in the morning. It was good for my soul.

  • dana - TRUER words were never spoken! The dance is always evolving and changing. New seasons are always on the horizon. My youngest got his driver’s license this week…i used to dream of the day when i wouldn’t have to spend half of my day in the car transporting kids all over the city. And in the blink of an eye this day is here…i’m not nearly as happy as i had envisioned. I will miss those times in the car and the spontaneous conversations. I miss ALL of my BABIES…but I thankfully enjoy the precious company of my 5 young adults! Sometimes they still allow me the pleasure of breaking up wrestling matches!! You are DEFINITELY doing better that you think!!

  • AndreaB - Oh Ashley, thank you. I’m that mom right now but with only one baby. Still, my days constantly feel like one blurred dance after the other! Reading this brought a tear to my eye. Treasuring these moments while I still have them.

  • maria - thank you, thank you, thank you! I so needed to read this today! I’m that young mom, with a two-year-old and a four month old baby, and I’m exhausted, and frustrated, and feel like all I’m doing is meeting needs (other than my own) and redircting behaviour. I love my sons so much, but I won’t miss these hard days! Your post was so encouraging and so beautiful to me!
    thank you!

  • Tessa - Wow – I love how you translated juggling little ones into a dance! I have 4 kids – 14, 13, 2, and almost 6 months. Our story is unique – we had our first baby and he was an only child for 10 years. We desperately wanted more kids, so we adopted our daughter at the age of 10, when our son was 11. Two months later, I found I was pregnant and then again 2 years later. So, we added 3 kids to our family in 4 years. As you can imagine, this has been quite an adjustment for me. I have the perspective of how fast time goes because my oldest is quickly approaching 15 years old (ahhh!) … but I also have 2 little ones who keep me dancing quite a bit. I JUST recently took them to Target for the first time by myself … that is how apprehensive i was about it. So, this post is what i needed to hear … and I am sure it will ring loudly in my ears anytime I am doing the dance. I want to embrace this sweet period in my life with open arms, because I know it will be gone oh so quickly. And yet, I have to admit I dream of the day when they all go to bed with relatively no effort and we get to sleep through the night! :)

  • Jan - Thank you so much for the reminder that all seasons are wonderful. I totally agree with you yet I am not looking forward to our next season when my oldest son goes to college. You have reminded me that I do not want him to remain a senior forever and a wonderful new season is right around the corner. You are a younger mom than me yet I learn from you – thank you!

  • Jess Z. - Thank you for this. I’m expecting my third in February, and I dance all the time. This post made me teary again…just like the last couple. It must be the hormones ;)

  • Ingrid - Beautifully written. Words I needed to hear today, and I’m sure so many others did as well.

  • Nelle - Thank you for this. Your words often ring true for me, but this post had me in tears. My oldest is 3, little brother 19 months behind, and little sister arrives in February. Chalk it up to hormones, but I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed lately, that even my best efforts aren’t enough. Thank you for this encouragement, and the reminder that the chaos that sometimes seems to swallow me isn’t forever.

  • lauren - Just what I needed to read today. I have a toddler and a baby on the way, but this pregnancy has been difficult. I have a lot of guilt that I’m not a great mother to my boy right now. Thanks for sharing this.

  • michelle hill - My goodness, this was such a beautiful post. You really have a beautiful way of writing and more times than not, ends with me in tears. But good tears! You are a huge inspiration and I hope I can see the joys, trials and tribulations of motherhood as you do…when the time comes.
    My best friend has a one month old and I am pretty sure she is “dancing” without even realizing it…I am going to send her this blog post to remind her what an amazing job she is doing.
    Thank you for always inviting us into pieces of your life.
    Your three boys are so funny and look like a lot of fun!!

  • Renata - Aw, I love this post. I have two big guys (eleven & seven), and a new baby girl (seven months), so this time around, when I’m shopping (and dancing) or at home trying to get things done, I have the perspective to slow down because I know how fast it all changes, and the big secret is that everything is going to be okay.

  • Sarah - thank you.

  • Jessica R - This was beautiful. Thank you. My two are 3 years and 6 months. My three year old is sweet but headstrong, and sometimes I wonder if I’m making any headway with her. So thank you for the encouragement :) My pastor says: ages 1-5 discipline, 6-12 training, 13-18 coaching, 18+ friendship. I have that taped to my bathroom wall when I feel like all I do is correct and redirect and weed out behaviors! :) Happy Friday!

  • Erica - So good to hear that this morning of all mornings. :) Bless you Ashley.

  • Lindsey p - Alright you have me crying. I *only* have one but it is so hard. I think you really got me because this will be me tomorrow- keeping the cart moving while checking the list against my coupons- and I’m dreading it. This feels like such a long long dance. It’s like the polka at a wedding (do they only do that in Wisconsin?) Well thank you for your words of encouragement. Some days you say just what i need to hear.

  • Susan - Ashley,
    That is one of the most thoughtful, beautiful posts I have ever read. You seem to be in a reflective mood of late and it is wonderful to read your reaction to the changes in your children. You are entering a new season with the kids as they are becoming more independent; I most enjoyed mine at that stage.
    May God continually bless you and yours through the seasons of your lives.
    Susan

  • Chelsea in MO - Tears and a full heart from your post. That’s what you gave me with this post. Thank you for sharing this beautiful perspective. As we move through the stages of motherhood with our little ones becoming big ones, it’s important to appreciate those moments and acknowledge all we’ve felt along the way. Thank you…with love to you and your family : )

  • Amanda H - I am that mama, shopping with a baby, toddler, and preschooler. Thank you for the encouragement today. It brought tears, and was much needed. Thank you!

  • Kari - I have a 4 year old girl and a 4 month old boy. I feel like I’m barely holding it together. Not only did your post give me hope the comments gave me peace. I don’t feel so alone anymore. I can see that this is normal and that I am, in fact, not going crazy.

  • Debbie C - Thank you for this Ashley. :) I am so that mom right now, just barely holding it together between a one-year-old and a preschooler. Sometimes we just stay home so mamma can avoid doing the shopping cart dance. They are adorable now…but ahhh…I’m looking forward to the days when taking them out is fun!

  • erica - I just wanted to let you know how this completely touched and encouraged me today. I have 2 young boys, they are 8 months apart, and both under the age of 1. I resigned a few months ago to stay at home with them. This week has been one of the most difficult weeks, as both are really needing my everything. So thankful to read your blog today. Tearfully, thank you.

  • Jeannine - Thank you. I needed that.

  • Loan - Thank you. I needed to hear that today. I am trying to balance my work and family life and still have time for myself. It’s hard. Some days are better than others. And I hope I’m doing better than I think…

  • AnnMarie - This is beautiful and uplifting. I don’t have any littles running around yet, but I hope someday I will, and that I’ll remember this.

  • emily - I love this. In the past two weeks, I have been brought to choking back tears mid toddler meltdown in target twice, the first time by a woman who glared at me and shot me mean looks over and over again, and the second time by a sweet a woman who chose to approach me and tell me I was doing a good job. She saw ME in the midst of the toddler screaming, struggling to do my best for my child but also aware and apologetic to the discomfort we were causing others and she made a huge impact in me that day, one that I desperately needed right then. The first woman didn’t see me, she was looking right at me but I felt invisible, hidden behind the inconvenience I was to her. It was an exhausting experience and one that I still am emotional about because it taught me how I want to treat others, even when my girls are grown and toddler meltdowns are a thing of the past. Love your perspective.

  • Janine - Thank you for this. I needed to read this today.

  • Carin - That is very beautiful!

  • Diana - Such a nice reassurance! I only have one (20 months) but still can be a challenge. I try to enjoy every moment because I know he won’t be my baby forever. I sent this onto my sister too, she has 4 young ones.

  • Natalie - I saw a young mom with three small children all under 2 yesterday and I was going to try to encourage her…and she said “OH, these aren’t mine…none of them are. I am a nanny.” Why she chose to spend time nannying at Target is beyond me!

  • Moriah - Love love love this! I am one who is hitting those elementary years and wow what a difference. Sometimes I feel like the dance is now with a referee uniform on. :-) Oh boys, gotta love em.

  • Lea - You have NO idea just how much I needed to read this post today. It IS a dance. And it does feel like most of what I am doing isn’t getting thru to my 2 and 3 year old. You have encouraged me to tears. Thank you.

  • Kerry - Thanks for reassuring me that I’m not the worst mom in the world even though I feel like I am. As a 40 year old mom with five babes ages 14 down to 1 – well I’m fried needless to say. But moreso from extenuating circumstances that are taking over my last strands of sanity. I feel like I can do no right in anyone’s eyes lately. Especially my own. Your post was a sigh of relief for me and I know I’m not alone!

  • Megan - Wow — it’s like you saw my life today and wrote this specifically for me!! I was literally at Target with my 5, 3 1/2 and 1 year old and your post was so beautiful and powerful! Thanks so much — I feel like I need to thank you for it since it was so clearly written with just me in mind. :)

  • Rachel S - I am one of those moms, and as sickness has spread through our house and currently landed on me, I really feel blessed to read your words today. Thank you. Through my tears, thank you.

  • Kathy - Such a delightful post! I enjoy reading about your children,
    your experiences as a mother, and how you nurture and develop your talents and your children’s talents.
    My boys are now 21, 17, and 13, with a 19 year old daughter in the mix, and I smiled as I read about your love of shopping with your boys now. Shopping with the kids becomes a joy –
    especially when your eldest son has a job and needs help picking out work clothes and/or on trend clothes for dating purposes, and he asks his mother and sister along to give fashion advice. :) So much coming down the road for you to cherish! Treasure each day — I know you do.

  • Tina - Just this evening I was asking my kids to let me have just a few minutes of quiet time… the house seemed so loud. Not in a bad way but in an overwhelming way. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything but seeing this post was a great reminder that the “little kid busyness” won’t last. And it reminded me that a kind look or smile to a busy mom goes a long way. Thank you for yet another fantastic post.

  • Maria - I am sitting on the sofa, reading this, and crying.

    At the moment, I am that young mom. Most days feel like work, in a very tiresome and repetitive way. When I go shopping, I, too, have a toddler in the front of a shopping trolley and a baby strapped into her car seat inside the trolley, and sometimes when I get to the check-out, I mentally ask fellow shoppers for grace, for most of them probably have children of their own and they know what it’s like.

  • Rachel S - I am that tired mom with 3 boys–a preschooler, a toddler, and another who will make his debut just before Christmas. It’s work. It’s hard. It’s tiresome, but oh does it help to have a pep talk that it will pay off! During those hard days, I find I must cling to the reality that it is my privilege to teach them, mold them, and most of all share who Jesus is with them.
    It’s been one of those hard days (in fact, it’s been a hard season lately). I needed this. Thanks! :)
    And thank you for all you do as a mother too! God bless!

  • Leah - Thank you.

  • Caitlin E - That Mom you’re describing was quite literally me a couple days ago. Thanks for this. I need this reminder today, when all three are screaming and crying, and I’m sure I’m failing… It’s good to know that help is coming, and it’s coming from within my own home :)

  • Kristin - This is so good to hear! The other day some of my friends and I were talking about how so many people judge us young moms when we are out, or offer advice that is not at all helpful in a stressful moment. i.e. the kid is crying because I told him to stop hitting his sister not because he is tired or hungry, so please don’t sympathize with him or offer him candy….. And wouldn’t it be great if lift each other up with words and looks of encouragement instead of annoyance. We decided then and there to all go and buy a starbucks giftcard and have it at the ready for a struggling mom, because we’ve all been there, and we all need encouragement. So I love that you posted this reminder, that it does get easier, and to offer encouragement.

  • Betsy - Thank you for the way you mentor your readers! I’m sure you have no idea how very far your reach is. Thank you, too, for showing how fun it is to be a mom of boys. That is what first drew me to your blog over four years ago. I have three boys now — age 5, age 4, and age 8 weeks. :) I grew up with just a younger sister and always imagined myself with daughters, so I just want you to know how inspired I have been by reading your blog and watching how much you enjoy your sons. My boys are so much sweeter and more wonderful than I ever could have imagined — God knows what He’s doing.

A cup of water and a slice of blueberry bread. Super soft blueberry bread. And a big person fork.

11.14eating-0111.14eating-0211.14eating-0311.14eating-0511.14eating-06Two years ago she was a year and a half old and had just joined our family. She was still eating only out of a bottle, but we figured we’d introduce soft foods, then solids and she’d be enjoying Taco Tuesday with us pretty quickly. Eating issues are not always just a matter of a kid not wanting to eat something. For many kids, it goes much deeper. Not everyone gets that. Most don’t. I didn’t. Two years and lots of therapy later, she has yet to try something solid (as in requires chewing). We’ve read the books. Met with the experts. Tried what feels like a million things. And yet her steps forward come about once a year. And, that is totally fine. I remember a year ago telling myself, “she won’t be only eating soft foods when she’s 16.” It was like my self-pep talk on hard days of mashing anything and everything. A year later, I am still mashing things but no longer needing those self-pep talks because it really just doesn’t matter. Maybe next year she will be joining us for Taco Tuesday. Or maybe it will be 5 years from now. Or maybe she won’t – ever. Whatever happens, I’ve good with it as long as she is good with it. The girl has spunk, sass, and is healthy….you don’t need tacos for those things to happen.

We’ll keep trying. We’ll keep explaining to teachers why she won’t eat the graham cracker snack and we’ll continue packing food when we head out. It used to feel like a big deal, but now it just feels normal. In the meantime, we’ll keep laughing each time she bravely tries something new. There will be lots of high fives and celebrations.

And when we least expect it, she’ll keep surprising us. The bread may be soft and mashable, but that is a fork and a fork was scary last week.

 

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  • becky d. - Triumphs come in all shapes and sizes…this week a fork…next week, the world!

  • celine - PTL!! Thanks for sharing her progress. Been reading your blog for eon years. And following her story …. So happy for her and you! ;) xoxo

  • Kelleyn - Baby steps ! We have been there. but not because of a cleft palate but she just would not eat. A year of therapy and one day out of the blue everything just changed and she started eating food.

  • Jelena - I’d say as long as they eat healthy, it doesn’t matter in which form it enters their mouth. Congrats on the fork!

  • Erica Baker - Good Job Sweet Girl! I can imagine how this part of the journey could be frustrating at time for both of you, but you keeping fighting for her to heal completely. The Lord is on your side.

  • Kelley - Yay Little One!! Great job!! She looks so happy and excited!! I absolutely LOVE seeing updates in her story! She is a special girl with SO many people praying for her!!

  • Katherine - Way to go little one!! I’m smiling ear to ear reading this!

  • Nini~ - She is a lucky little girl.

  • Tanya - This post made me smile! Good for her! And you. Good job. :-)

  • Sarah - Thank you for sharing her triumphs so we can celebrate with her and you!

    And thank you for the reminder, that in the season each kid is in that this to shall pass and it’s not for forever and it doesn’t define them. I really needed that reminder this morning.

  • Kimberly Oyler - bread!! that’s so great little one!!

  • Alycia Quiltygirl - You have such a good attitude – and with a little smile like that – you are doing it all right ;-) Kudos!!

  • Michelle Hill - I’ve been a “side line cheerleader” for little one for as long as you have been so generously sharing her feeding journey with us. She has come so far already. And with the enthusiasm and encouragement and support of her family, the sky is the limit. You are right, as long as she is happy and healthy, does it really matter that she eats tacos, or a smoothie or oatmeal?
    she’s awesome!

  • Meliss - She’s come so far, so proud of her and you guys. She has her “own schedule” and look how great she is at holding that dainty tea cup!

  • Jennifer - I love this. Your perspective is so sweet, encouraging, and a gift from the Lord. I tell my real-life friends all the time, you and I will be best friends in heaven. :)

  • Angie - Way to go Little One! One fork at a time.. you’ll get there when YOU are ready! (kisses)

  • Jenni - So many life lessons in this post. About patience and hope. I’ll be thinking about this all day!

  • Seamingly Sarah - Your acceptance of this issue and your love for her is so beautiful and makes me happy as I think about the fear of dark, nose blowing, bed wetting issues we face. Every kid has their thing and to accept it as their parent, accept them and love them just as they are is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Christin - Thats awesome Little One! So Brave!

  • Julie - I love your thought process, so wise and open to being flexible to what God has in store for you all. What a darling girl. Thank you for letting us share in your family’s lives.

  • Laura J - Who knew a story about a fork could make me cry? You rock Little One! You have people that you don’t even know that love you and cheer you on just because your Mom writes awesome stories. Love is a crazy thing.

  • kris saia - you are a wonderful writer. That’s all there is to it.

  • Jenny - You are such a good Momma! :)

  • amber - She is precious. And I love her jacket. And, eating soft, tasty bread with a fork for every meal? Would not be overrated in my book:). Way to go Little One!

  • Jacque - Thank you for sharing her journey with us and letting us join in celebrating her triumphs! I would love to learn more about the hurdles she (and several of my friends’ adopted children) face with food – do you have any links or resources that would give a background understanding that you could share?

  • Angela - Yay for forks!

  • Amy L. - Her smile says it all. I LOVE THIS!!

  • Kristin - Huge life lessons here. I really can’t express how meaningful these posts are for me, even though the specifics don’t relate to my life in any way. But the overall lessons…yes! Thank you for sharing!

  • Melanie - No one can imagine what this little girl has gone through in her first year. So high five for her beeing so brave!

    Hugs from Germany,
    Melanie

  • Diana - Wow!! That’s so awesome!

  • Sophia - I love your comment that you no longer need to give yourself a pep talk about it. Change is hard, but it’s not hard forever, not necessarily because the task changes, but because your attitude about it changes. Burdens are most often lifted through our evolving perspectives. You’ve gotten used to accommodating her needs and because you don’t lament it, it’s not so hard. I have six children under age 8 and people often ask how I do it. Of course it’s hard to do what sometimes seems like everything for everyone, but because I’ve had difficult times I know that they always end and there are always more good times to be had, too.

  • Christina - Look at that beautiful girl. Good job Little One!

  • Kerry - She is precious – I just want to give her a big hug! Your kids need to come have a play date with my 5 : )

  • Clare - Oh well done little one!
    Your smiles are so extraordinary – they light up your whole face and are so contagious – and that is just through a photo. It’s such a blessing that you all found each other. xCx

  • christina larsen - This post makes me smile.

  • Kate S. - The third picture (on the left) immediately reminded me of a scene from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

    I was thinking, with that big cheesy grin, so excited to have her photo taken while eating something new, she’s going to think eating is always a cause for celebration. Maybe one day she’ll be sending you pictures like this lady in the movie:

    http://37.media.tumblr.com/57d2277e92b59ecffd99203bc9b29cd2/tumblr_mw80s4BAHp1r72ouro4_500.gif

  • may - This is so sweet and your girl is so lovely. Thank you for sharing.

  • Andrea - Our China doll just turned 3 and celebrated 1 year with our family!! She is learning to talk and next we tackle the potty training :) I agree with you that these milestones are so amazingly exciting yet need to be done in their own time. It is such a blessing to see what a difference a year and the love of a family makes. Great job Mom, she is lucky to have you!

  • Rikki - Bless your heart mama.

  • Lisa - Little One, you are SO BRAVE! And so is your mama. I am learning with my little guy too, celebrate the milestones, remind each other of his courage, look back at how far we’ve come. Thanks for the sweet reminder. She is such a treasure.

  • Katie - Bless you and your sweet family! I love that you always see the joy in everything:)

  • Sydney O. - Thank you for sharing your daughter’s journey! We are still in the pep talk phase. My daughter is 16months and still has an unrepaired cleft palate. She never learned how to suck or swallow, so we feed her through a g-tube. But SOMEDAY we won’t. SOMEDAY she’ll order her own food and enjoy eating it. SOMEDAY I won’t worry that I forgot to pack the tube supplies or a bottle of formula. Someday could be never, but that won’t stop me from letting her try anything at her own pace. :)