Monday, May 25, 2015

New York!

I was talking to my brother on the phone after returning from Indiana and filling him in on what was going on in our lives. When I told him about our upcoming trip to New York, he asked, incredulously, "you're traveling AGAIN?!" Yes, a mere five days after we returned home from Bloomington, we hopped on a plane and headed for the big city. This time, Claire stayed with Brian's parents in Kalamazoo, which of course changed the entire nature of the trip. It was the first time I had been away from her overnight, and while I was lonesome for her, it was wonderful to have a mental break and know that she was in good hands.

Brian and his twin brother Jeff turned 30 on May 13th. Months ago, Jeff's girlfriend Lauren contacted me about coordinating something special for their birthday, and we ultimately decided that Brian and I would fly out to NYC to surprise Jeff with a weekend of fun (our presence is the best present! ;)). This was originally a surprise for Brian, too, but I ended up telling him what the plan was a few weeks beforehand after he started asking a million questions.

The weekend was a whirlwind. We got in on Friday evening, sat on Jeff and Lauren's beautiful deck for a while, then went out to dinner at, like, 9. In this season of lameness, Brian and I are usually in BED by 9, so it was exciting to experience the world at that hour. We got back, hung out for a while and enjoyed some cupcakes, then went to bed after midnight. In the best news of all, Brian and I slept until 9 am, a full three hours later than normal, and were able to hang out in our PJs, drinking coffee, without anyone meowing in our faces or trying to shove things into the electrical outlets.

Blurry birthday candles

Water taxi-ing
The rest of the day was full of food (enormous stuffed French toast and, later, a root beer float made with Speculoos ice cream), a lot of walking, and a ride in a water taxi. Lauren was kind enough to get us a room at the Archer Hotel, where the manager sent a bottle of champagne up to us in celebration of the twins' birthday (weirdly, he was originally from Kalamazoo and knew some friends of Brian and Jeff's). After we headed our separate ways to shower and change, we hung out on the rooftop bar for a bit before making our way to our murder mystery dinner. So fun! Brian and I were reminded of the time went to Tony and Tina's Wedding back in Vegas in 2007.

Awaiting the taxi
The show was mostly funny and occasionally dramatic with a twist at the end. We headed back to the hotel, popped open the bottle of champagne, and relaxed for a couple hours until Brian and I decided to call it a night. I spent my first Mother's Day eating bagels at Laguardia, then flying on airplanes all day before at last arriving back in Grand Rapids around 4. We were so, so excited to be reunited with our girl, who, thankfully, had a great weekend with Grammy and Papa.

Pre-dinner with their "Playkill"

Check out that sweet photobomb between our heads

Slightly blurry, but cute!

Fancy drinks on the roof
the boys looking snazzy

Miss Thing, clearly not missing us at all!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

10 months old

And yet again, another month has passed and our girl is TEN MONTHS OLD. We are quickly rounding the bend to one, which is really crazy. Is this all parents do? I feel like I have spent the past ten months wondering where all the time has gone, which is so cliche and so very parent-like.

Claire is now proudly sporting four teeth--two on top and two on bottom. She's also developed an especially cheesy grin that displays those beautiful teeth. This month has brought a sharp increase in mobility. She's now officially crawling, although she prefers to army crawl, and she looooves to look for things she isn't supposed to get into (the drawers of the TV stand, electrical outlets, any type of wire or cord, the cats' dishes). We seriously need to baby proof.

Evidence of said cheesy grin

Here's the summary of life with our little/big ten-month-old:


She is really, truly sleeping through the night now, every night. This generally means 6:30-6:30. We may need to invest in some blackout curtains, as this is trending earlier with the sunrise, but, hey, twelve hours is pretty great. After months and months of feeling like I was never going to get a full night's sleep again, being able to put her to bed and know that she'll snooze peacefully until the next morning is a game-changer.

Her naps are also generally pretty good, and usually last about 90 minutes twice per day. We're fairly regimented about the nap schedule. I know some parents are pretty go-with-the-flow about it, but we have a much happier baby when she gets enough sleep. The downside is that it ties us to the house for large chunks of the day. This can be a pain sometimes, especially if we're out somewhere or are in the middle of something, but it gives everybody a chance for a little downtime.


Dad was eating Cheerios, so Claire had to have some, too.

She now nurses four times per day, almost like clockwork. In the beginning, when I felt like she nursed literally all day long, I thought we would never reach this milestone, so it honestly feels pretty liberating to be here. She's also becoming less and less interested in nursing and would much rather look around the room, try to pet the cats, or put her finger up my nose (soooo fun). From what I've read, most babies go through this stage. I'm not sure if it'll pass or if she's just reaching the end of the breastfeeding relationship. Either way, we'll go with it. I don't plan on continuing to nurse much past a year, so we'll figure it out as we go along. Her doctor said we could begin mixing cow's milk into her bottles at the eleven-month mark (a little at a time), so I'm assuming that will ease the transition for everybody.

As far as solid foods, she now eats three meals a day. We still do a mix of purees and finger foods, and she's definitely getting more adept at picking things up with her thumb and pointer. A lot of food still ends up on the floor, but I imagine that will be part of our life for a while. ;) We're going to take advantage of her willingness to eat pretty much anything as long as it lasts. The biggest hit this week is Grammy's banana bread, which she managed to scarf down in record time.


As I mentioned before, she's now crawling for real and just generally not at all interested in sitting in one place for anything length of time. She also sits up on her own and is attempting to pull up on furniture/laundry baskets/boxes but isn't quite there yet. She tends to have a cautious personality, so I think this will come quickly as she gains the confidence to go for it.

She's making a ton of sounds, but is still not doing any of the repetitive consonants that they like to see at this stage. We have an evaluation with Early On in a few weeks, so we'll see what they have to say (or maybe she'll start randomly babbling before then? let's hope). Nonetheless, she's very communicative and responsive. I can tell she understands what we're saying, and she'll give kisses, clap her hands, or throw her hands up in the air if we ask her to do so, even without us demonstrating first. We're not terribly worried or stressed about it at this point, but it'll be nice to get a professional opinion.

Sack of potatoes! She loves this game.

Many of the same ones from last month. Books, animal noises, Grace and Theo.

Also many of the same from last month. Riding in the car. Removing something from her hands (eg the TV remote or our phones, both of which she is obsessed with).

A belated Mother's Day shot. We had the big camera out this day, so that's why she's wearing the same outfit in every photo. :)
This is a really great stage. She is fun, happy, and easily entertained, without any of the mischievousness that I'm sure we'll start to see in the next six months or so. There is truly nothing better than watching her personality emerge and develop.

Monday, May 11, 2015

beautiful Bloomington

Last weekend, we took Claire on her first ever extended road trip to Bloomington, Indiana.

Riding in the car is so fun! (This face lasted approximately three seconds...)

Brian and I moved to Bloomington in August of 2009 so that I could start law school there and he could begin work at the business school. It was the place where we first lived together after two years of being in a long distance relationship (ie a huge leap of faith--glad that one worked out for us!), where we ultimately got married, and where we made many good friends. Most of them have moved away at this point, but our close friends Fred and Angie have thankfully stuck around.

We have deep nostalgia for Bloomington (well, I do...Brian doesn't really get nostalgic about much, although he does love it there), and we hadn't been back in two years, so it was a lot of fun to drive around town. Everything has changed! There are a million new apartment buildings, the campus has undergone some serious renovations, and our trusty old Kroger has been extremely fancified (no pictures of that, but there is a FOOD COURT along with a schedule of live music).

Brian and I used to love hiking out at Brown County State Park, which is about 30 minutes outside of Bloomington. It's a beautiful place with sprawling vistas and many (many) rolling hills. We took a little trip out there on Saturday, and Brian carried Claire in a borrowed hiking backpack. It was a fairly short and flat hike, but it's not easy to schlep a 20 pound kid on your back. They were both troopers.

Hiking is serious business

May 2015 (the sun was bright and C was over getting her picture taken)

the same-ish picture, from 2009

That night, we were able to escape for a little while to grab dinner at Upland with Fred and Angie. Upland has ALSO undergone a renovation, so it was fun to see the bigger space and enjoy a lovely evening dining al fresco.

We hadn't been out for dinner without our kid in...many months
The drive home was magically shorter than we anticipated, which was a pleasant surprise. Claire wasn't crazy about riding in her car seat all weekend, so she was DONE by the time we pulled into our apartment complex. Nonetheless, it's nice to know these trips are possible and also fun. Of course, traveling with a kid is a whole new ball game, and we spent a lot of brain space concerning ourselves with where and when she would sleep and eat, how far we could push her schedule, and if she was getting overstimulated. It all worked out fine, though. It's good for all of us to get out of our normal routine for a few days, and trips to visit friends and family are a major part of our life, so we all better get used to it.

A hard-fought nap that thankfully lasted close to two hours