Friday, April 24, 2015

around here

A great shot captured by our babysitter this week
I wish I could say we've been up to really exciting things over the past ten days, but we've mostly been living life as normal with an adventure or two thrown in. We have a few trips coming up in the next couple of months, so we won't be spending quiiiite as much time at home.

On dreary days at home, we entertain ourselves by riding around the house in diaper boxes.
Last week, we had Claire's 9-month appointment. She's our strong, healthy girl who continues to have a slightly above-average weight, slightly below-average height, with an extremely large head (to contain her giant brain, of course). This was a shot-free appointment, thank everything, but she'll need a whole bunch the next time we visit the pediatrician in July.

On Saturday, we drove the two hours to Ypsilanti to visit B, S, and baby L. Despite choosing not to sleep in the car, Claire remained pleasant and powered through the afternoon on only a thirty minute stroller nap. Both babies were extremely chill and well-behaved, so we enjoyed some Mexican food + margaritas for lunch, followed by chocolate malts. It was a beautiful day of mid-70s and sunshine.

For our latest family photo, Claire decided to throw down some gang signs
The rest of the week was full of work (and SNOW), but Brian decided to take yesterday and today off, so we're enjoying a long weekend of family fun.

Wandering the aisles at Buy, Buy, Baby, where we loitered in the reclining chair section for a while
the Ada covered bridge--Claire is pumped
Working extremely hard to remove her shoe, as usual
"Dad, I really want you to have this piece of sweet potato I just removed from my mouth."

Next up: Bloomington, Indiana, on Thursday. We can't wait!

Monday, April 13, 2015

9 months old

Somehow, Claire is nine months old today!

It's safe to say that when you have your first baby, you 100% have no idea what to expect. Even if you think you do. Even if you have spent lots and lots of time with other people's babies. Even if you have read all the books. Your own baby is different from all those other babies, plus it's a 24/7 job. There were many, MANY moments in the early days when Brian and I wondered when the real parents were going to show up and take over. We felt like we had no clue what we were doing.

That's all to's so much easier now. It isn't EASY, don't get me wrong, but we've hit our stride. I know it won't be this way forever---life with a kid means everything, good and bad, is a phase---but we're enjoying it as long as it lasts.

Shoe in one hand, attempted sock removal in the other.

A little rundown of our lives:


Everyone's favorite baby topic. We generally put Claire to bed between 6:30 and 7, and she gets up around 6:30 or 7. Some mornings she's up at 6:15 (like today). Other times, she likes to snooze until 7:30. We try to adjust her naps accordingly, and it usually works out fine. She sleeps all the way through the night about 2-3 times a week right now, and wakes up once between 2 and 5 on the other nights. I'm still nursing, so I'll usually just feed her, and she'll go right back to sleep.

She naps twice a day, once at about 9 and again at about 1, but that's pretty flexible. Naps are anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, but she seems to like the 80 minute mark the most.


She still nurses anywhere from 5-7 times a day, but I really don't keep track or have much of a schedule. When I'm at work, she'll take 2-3 bottles over the course of 9 hours. This is steadily decreasing as she eats more solid food.

Going to town on a slice of apple
She LOVES food. This is surprising to no one, I'm sure, since Brian and I are both fans of food ourselves. We do a mixture of fruit/veggie purees and pieces of whatever we have around. She's a big fan of the pumpkin + whole milk yogurt combo, and she loves those baby puff things. Otherwise, there's not much she refuses to eat. We put cooked beans on her highchair tray, and that keeps her occupied for a while. That study recently came out about the benefits of early peanut exposure, so I've given her squares of peanut butter toast (a hit!). Also pieces of scrambled egg. We had an unfortunate puking incident after I gave her some avocado last week, but, other than that, things have mostly sat well with her.


Crawling is exhausting!
She is really, really close to crawling, which I've been saying for a month now, but now it seems like she's TRULY days away. She gets up on her hands and knees and rocks back and forth. Even still, she manages to get around just fine by rolling or pulling herself across the floor. I've seen her get herself up into a sitting position on her own once, but she hasn't done it again. She loves to stand and does a pretty good job maintaining her balance near the furniture even when we let go.

Hanging on to the couch
She's a pretty quiet baby overall. She's babbled only a few times, and tends to spend most of her days watching the world, particularly when she's around people she doesn't know very well. I'm trying not to stress too much about this---her non-verbal communication skills seem solid to me, and she both understands us and expresses herself quite well. We'll see what the pediatrician has to say at her appointment this week, but I'm going to trust that she'll start talking to us when she's ready.

Other fun stuff:

-As previously mentioned, "so big" is one of our favorite activities
-giving kisses
-laughing--she's adorably ticklish, but what she'll actually laugh at changes by the day (yesterday, Grace the cat was hilarious)

Her favorite face these days?
watching/petting the cats, splashing in the tub, trying to escape her post-bath diaper change, the itsy bitsy spider, walks in the stroller

getting her face wiped off after eating (OMG the torture!), getting dressed or undressed, not being held when she wants to be held, Mommy or Daddy walking out of sight

Also loves sucking her thumb
Claire is our sweet, joyful girl. She makes us laugh with her spunky, observant personality, and we are thrilled to have such an enthusiastic third member of our trio.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

parenthood and inadequacy

Unrelated photo, but, hey, isn't our kid cute?

I read (yet another) article this morning on dealing with guilt as a working mom. The primary lesson was that we all need to do what we all need to do to stay sane. As in, don't obsess about the laundry and burn yourself out. Watch TV in the evenings with a glass of wine and ride out the crazy because this, too, shall pass.

I get that completely. Adding kids to the mix tends to amplify the hamster wheel of life---making sure everybody is fed, rested, bathed, and has gone to the bathroom an appropriate number of times, in addition to the laundry, dishes, groceries, and gas in the car (and on and on) gets to be a relentless, never-ending cycle of exhaustion. It doesn't stop. There is no break, unless you make one for yourself and let it all go for a little while.

I have been struggling with all this since Claire was born. I took an eight-week (unpaid) maternity leave. That was by choice. My employer is wonderful and would have given me more time off had I asked for it, but I only work part time, and I figured by the time my baby was eight weeks old, I'd be ready for one day a week of compensation and adult conversation. I was right---getting out of the house, putting on professional clothes, and using my brain were all important to my mental health. And they still are.

I ultimately transitioned to two full days of work per week, which is both really great and really hard. My job is, for the most part, enjoyable. My coworkers are wonderful, the work itself is different every day, and our agency is extremely beneficial for the community. I love that it affords me the flexibility to spend time at home with Claire during this developmentally important time of her life.

On the other hand, I feel weirdly caught between two worlds. I'm not a stay-at-home parent, and I'm not a full-time working mom. I am both and neither, and it is challenging to feel good at any one thing while you're trying to balance it all. This is the plight of parents, I understand. I'm not alone in this feeling, and, in fact, the impossibility of the "work-life balance" seems to be the prevailing narrative in our culture right now. The truth is, it's hard to feel good at your job when you've been up half the night with a hungry baby. It's hard to feel like a good parent when the only time you get to spend with your kid is that one hour period in the evening between when you get home from work and she goes to bed (this is also the time when she is the fussiest, I'd say).

I love spending time with her. Watching her grow is the greatest joy of my life, and I spend many days feeling so fortunate to have this beautiful, bright child as part of our family. This makes me feel guilty when I say that sometimes our days at home together are mind-numbingly boring. We try to get out of the house as much as we can. We read books, sing songs, eat Cheerios, roll around on the floor, pet the cats, look out the window, etc. etc. I talk to her all day long, narrating our lives. This is all great! But there are hard days, when she is cranky because her teeth hurt, because she is tired, because she is hungry or wet, when she just wants to be held all the time, when she cries because I step out of the room. She's a baby. This is what babies do. She is my little companion and best friend, and she is almost always up for whatever adventure I take her on. For all that, I am grateful. By the time Tuesday morning rolls around, though, I'm ready for work. And by the time Wednesday afternoon arrives, I'm ready to snuggle my girl.

Even still, I try not to get lost in a sea of motherhood, forgetting who I am and all that stuff I used to do pre-baby. But I spend many days feeling like our house should be cleaner and better decorated, our dinners healthier, our scrapbooks up-to-date (or, um, existent), our laundry folded, our fridge well-stocked. If I'm the one at home, isn't it my responsibility to make sure all this is taken care of? Am I even allowed to take time for myself if this stuff isn't done?

I don't have anything close to an answer to all this. I don't know how many kids we'll have or where my career is headed. There is no master plan to work full time when our kid(s) is/are in school. We're just fumbling along and figuring it out as we go. I'm not sure what the right balance is or if we'll ever find it.

I find this attitude to be the most helpful. Our current arrangement isn't forever. We don't have to make childcare decisions that will last for the next five years, and we're allowed to change our minds. In the meantime, the "balance" can be both brutal and perfect, depending on the day or the hour. For now, I'm grateful we have options.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Weekend

You never know what Easter in early April is going to be like, but the weather is finally taking a turn for the better around here. There were a few flurries floating around when I went grocery shopping on Saturday (gaaaaah, Michigan!), but the sun was out for Easter Sunday, and we were able to enjoy some blue skies and temps in the sixties. Hurray!

On Saturday, the three of us went out for breakfast, one of our favorite traditions now that we have a little person who likes to wake up early. C enjoys sitting in her high chair at the table with us, although we do have to be sure she has some food in her hand at all times. Baby Mum Mums are a favorite, and she got a few bites of egg of our plates.

All we do all day is kiss her cheeks

The rest of Saturday was kind of a bust. We had hoped to get out and walk around or go to a park, but it was cold and windy, so we ended up playing on the floor at home. Everyone is going a liiiiittle stir crazy after a long winter in our tiny apartment, so we're all looking forward to some consistently decent weather. This all corresponds nicely to Claire's burgeoning mobility, though, and we're excited to be able to run around outside when the time comes.

After Claire went to bed, Brian turned on the MSU/Duke game, which quickly turned into a completely disaster. We ended up turning it off and watching the last few episodes of Mad Men on Netflix instead. Much better, in my opinion. ;)

On Sunday, we woke up at 6:45ish and realized that Claire had slept THE ENTIRE NIGHT. As in, over twelve hours straight. This magic has not repeated itself, but it's nice to know at least it's possible at this point.

The Easter bunny decided to visit Grammy and Papa's house instead of ours (hmmm...that bunny better step up his game), so we had a quiet morning at home. We practiced "so big!" with Claire (see Facebook video for adorable proof), and then put her down for a nap.

Her decision to start sleeping on her stomach has made a world of difference at our house. Also, sleeping babies are the cutest ever.

I hated having to wake her up, but we needed to get going. When I walked in her room and turned off her white noise machine, she started to stir...and then hysterically cry. Poor baby! She rallied, thankfully, and we headed down to Kalamazoo. Her preferred car activity these days is to take off her shoes and socks and hold them in her hands/chew on them.

We celebrated Easter with egg strata, a few face licks from the dogs, and, at last, that sweet basket of goodies.
No chocolate this year

I realized recently how very few pictures I have of my girl and me, since I am generally the photographer around here, so I was grateful to get a few family shots. 

Claire slept in the car on the way home (again holding her shoes in her hands), and we fed her some veggie purees, then got her ready for bed. We are a little compulsive about bedtime around here, but those precious few hours in the evening keep everybody sane and happy.

All in all, a really nice weekend. Have I mentioned how much better life is when it's not horrifyingly cold and snowy all the time? We are big fans of spring.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

38 weeks

Claire will be nine months old next Monday, making her 38 weeks old as of today.

38 weeks pregnant, last June 22. This was also the last weekly photo I took because I was apparently over it? Alas, she would not arrive for three more weeks.
And here she is now:
Breakfast at Marie's, eating a Mum Mum and staring at everyone as they walked by.

At 38 weeks old, Claire is a gem. Brian and I have both remarked on fun she is at this age. Not that we haven't LOVED EVERY MOMENT (um...), but babyhood is a lot more challenging when all your baby does is eat, sleep, poop, and cry. She still does all of those things, but she's so much more interactive. She picks up Cheerios off her highchair tray, she laughs, she rolls around while we try to get her dressed. This week, she's started giving kisses, and just this morning she raised her hands in the air when we asked her how big she is ("so big!").

Right now we seem to be in the magical sweet spot in which she is really great when we go out, largely because she is content to sit and watch the world. This also works at home. While she's not crawling yet, she's mastered the directional roll. Even still, she'll sit and play with her toys for a long while without trying to get into anything. Mostly. The other day we did discover her playing in the cats' water dishes, so we apparently need to actually, you know, WATCH her now. In any case, we'll take it as long as it lasts, as I know soon she'll be much more interested in running all over the place.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

welcome, welcome

Well, after years and years of Brian saying “you should start a blog,” I think I’m going to give this a whirl. As each month turns into the next, I’m realizing how quickly the time is going (HOW is it April already??). I have to believe this sentiment is magnified when you have a child whom you are watching develop and who is literally different every single day. The “days are long, but the years are short” and all that.

In any case, I think it would be beneficial for all of us to keep some record of this time. Soon my beautiful baby will be a kindergartener, a teenager, a college student (a doctor? a PhD candidate? a pianist? perhaps all or none of the above), and we won’t be able to remember the sleepless nights, the spit-up covered footie pajamas, or the food on the floor.

So…here we go. I can’t promise anything especially exciting in this space, but if the past decade has taught me anything it’s that an unexciting life is a happy life.