Tuesday, December 30, 2008

reflections and random thoughts

When I look back on this past year, and think back to when 2008 began, it is slightly mindboggling to think of how much everything has changed. We were living entirely different lives, and in many ways I feel like a completely different person than who I was 12 months ago. We have since moved across an ocean, but even more life-altering, was Donovan's birth. Motherhood has consumed me in a way I could never have dreamed, has changed every aspect of my life and so much of who I am. I can't think of another life event that would have such a huge impact as becoming a parent has had.

I still have fleeting moments where I feel overwhelmed by the weight of responsibility that comes with caring for a child, knowing that this is a lifelong commitment that is impossible to break, even more binding than marriage. Moments of "Oh, God, am I really up for this?" But much more often these days I look to him and melt. We're staying at my mom's house this week, and D is sleeping in a crib in the same room as us. I'll listen to him breathing as he sleeps and feel the urge to sweep him up and just hold him. He might frustrate me like no one else at times, but he also brings me more joy, and on a more regular basis, than anyone else. I realize that means putting him above Zach, which seems strange. I guess I now understand what they mean when mothers say they love their husbands completely, but even that love can't quite compare to what they feel for their children. Zach is my rock, my companion, my support, my partner in crime, and I cannot imagine my life without him. Donovan makes me laugh every day, makes my heart leap with joy when he accomplishes or discovers something new, or just when he looks at me and smiles. I have never before felt that catch in my throat like I do when I'm flying with Donovan, or crossing a bridge, or anything else that could be remotely dangerous that I just never even thought about before. There are times when I'll walk into a room after he's been playing with others, and he'll see me and smile and start pumping his arms and legs from being so excited and happy to see me, and I don't think I could ever describe in words how incredible that feels.

I remember in the first few months when I'd feel so down from being stressed out about Donovan, or feeling shackled to a baby that had to nurse constantly, feeling like I'd never have a life of my own again. Cognitively I knew it was just a matter of time, but I stil felt like things would stay that way forever. It's just so hard to get out of that state of mind and look into the future. It's funny how I already feel those melancholy memories slipping. It feels so good for everything to feel so different now. It also feels good to feel like we're at the end of the tunnel, coming out and entering a new phase of parenthood, one where D won't be quite so dependent on me. Over the past 11 months, wherever Donovan went I automatically had to follow. I'm just starting to wrap my head around the idea of that not always having to be the case, and soon enough I'll be able to be away for hours or even a day or overnight. That is utterly amazing to me. And I wonder how different it really will be, day to day, if it's naive of me to think that once he's no longer needing to breastfeed every 2-3 hours things will feel so different, but I think having that possibility, and being able to split that responsibility more on weekends and other time off, will make a difference. It's funny how Zach has a much easier time letting others take over with D when we're with family than I do, and part of that comes from the fact that there's certain things that only I, Mother, can do for him while the things that Zach does can also be done by others. It's a dynamic that's been set by this first year of parenthood, and it shall be interesting to see how that changes as this year comes to a close. Last night Zach and I went to Waterloo Records to spend a gift card, and we both kinda wandered around the store feeling lost for a while as we had no idea where to start looking for new music. It seemed like a perfect example of how in many ways parenthood has consumed us so entirely, that it's like we've buried our heads in the sand as far as anything outside our family unit goes, and we can end up feeling so out of touch. I think this is even more true for me than for Zach. My life revolves so entirely around being a mother, and there's the hope (again, perhaps naive) that after this first, super-intense year, I'll be able to expand out and come back into my own a bit, feeling less consumed by motherhood and more free to explore other interests.

As the title implies, this post is pretty random and fairly stream-of-consciousness (even more so than my usual ones). I fear that some of what I've written might come off as negative, though I don't mean it to-- I'm just reminiscing about this whole experience of the past year looking back, with a warm feeling. There's a reason I chose the name I did for this blog, almost 5 years ago when I started it. I wanted it to serve as a reminder, and an expression of gratitude, at the same time. As I look back on the past year this comes to mind once again. Life is good. I am blessed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008, pt2 (christmas day)

Jakki and Andrew

Rolling the tin around on the floor.

Donovan, fascinated by oranges.

So many toys... but he liked dad's keys the best.

Ryan trying out her new bike-- look, ma, no training wheels!

Friday, December 26, 2008


The other day I received an email from a friend saying that BorrowLenses.com, a camera equipment rental site, was having a holiday special of extending any rentals by one week. I immediately jumped at the chance, and after looking through a few lens options (many of which were already all rented out) I figured I'd rent a flash. I hardly ever need flash at home, but here while visiting family we spend much more time indoors, in less-well-lit houses, so what better time to experiment with using extra lighting, right? BTW I must say I'm really impressed by the service so far-- I put in my order late afternoon on the 23rd, and chose 2-day shipping. Knowing they'd be closed on the 24th and 25th I didn't expect the flash to ship out till the day after christmas. To my surprise, I got a shipping confirmation email just a few hours later, and the flash arrived today. Woot!

Knowing next to nothing about properly using one of these things, I got mixed results over at my dad's this evening. Afterwards I started doing a bit of homework, though, reading some good tips online and testing out different settings. And after watching this video, I'm kinda psyched about making a bounce card and testing that out tomorrow.

Unfortunately it is now 11:30pm, and I desperately need to get to bed as tomorrow will be a bit of a big day. And there's no telling how D's sleep will be tonight... that one night of 10 solid hours of sleep was apparently a big fluke, possibly caused by the lack of sleep the night before since we'd flown in so late, and since then he's been waking at least once which wouldn't be so bad if he didn't somehow manage to time it so my sleep is still broken up into increments of no more than about 4 hours. I know, I know, much better than 2 or 3, but can't a tired mom dream?

Christmas 2008, pt1

An assortment of photos, revolving of course around little D. These go up through Christmas Eve:

This has become a routine part of mealtime lately-- D will push himself away from the table just enough so he can prop his feet up on the edge. It would be gross, except his baby feet are just so damn adorable.

This was Philip and Kevan's joint birthday party. I know this photo is somewhat terrible, technically-- the color's off and it's blurry, etc. But there's something about it that I just love, regardless. I think maybe it's that the blurryness helps capture the delightful hectiness that are birthday parties in our family. (after all, check out how big of a "simple" party it was...)

Future pianist? When do the suzuki classes begin?

Singing carols with Mom and Philip on christmas eve.

Love this photo, and how D's hair is blowing in the wind. =P

We let D play in the sand volleyball court at the park. I wasn't sure he'd like the sand, but he took to it right away.

Walking back and forth on the sidewalk with my dad. He and Zach's dad took turns doing this. Afterwards, D took a 1.5hr nap. I think he was pooped. (hmm perhaps we should make him walk more often...)

Christmas Eve service. I've always loved how the church looks when lit by all the candles.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

so this is christmas

I haven't looked at today's pictures yet, but yesterday alone I took about 250 of them (of which about 100 are uploading onto flickr right now). The weather's been pretty cold and crappy, so when we saw sun outside yesterday morning we tried to take advantage of it as much as possible-- we hung out in the front yard at Zach's parents' for a while, then spent part of the afternoon at the park where we even got to introduce D to sand (let him play in the big sand volleyball courts). Every year my family goes to the candlelight service on christmas eve, and I was looking forward to bringing D with us this year. He behaved really well in church, and I was able to sneak off and attempt a few pictures of the candle light part of the ceremony (everyone lights candles and sings Silent Night). It's long been one of my favorite moments of the entire christmas season so I'm glad to have it documented, even if poorly so.

This morning we started out at Zach's parents', had a big breakfast with them and Andrew and Jakki and then opened a few gifts. A little before noon we headed over to my parents' for our "second christmas." D was so cute, playing with his toys (and Daddy's keys) while the rest of us opened gifts. Among a few other things, he got a little set of mini bongos (they look baby-sized, though apparently they're legitimate instruments) and his own set of smaller drum sticks. And oh man, you shoulda seen his face light up when he saw the sticks! He loved them! Quite the music man, I tell ya. ;) D even opened up some of his own presents, too, pulling out tissue paper and tearing the giftwrap.

D spent the entire day in his special christmas pj's, and we just hung out and enjoyed our new stuff most of the day. Tomorrow my older sister will drive down again with her new hubby and we'll do our "third christmas" with Daddy in the afternoon.

Mom and Philip gave me a bit of "photography money," which I'm thinking of using to open up a Zenfolio.com account. I've heard lots of great things about the site, it seems to have pretty neat features, and it could potentially replace both snapfish and imagekind. It would come at a not-insignificant price, but then again sometimes you get what you pay for, right? I just recently found out that Snapfish requires you to make a purchase at least once a year or else they'll delete all your photos, something that I swear I checked on a few years ago and must've changed since then, and makes me question how much longer I want to use them (since I don't buy prints from them hardly ever anymore).

I'm waiting for the flickr upload to finish, but it's only 20% done and claims it might take a while longer to finish, and I need to get to bed as I feel a bit of a cold coming on, so pictures may need to wait till tomorrow to be posted.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

He's his grandmother's grandson

My mom has been involved in the church choir for ages, and I think it was sometime during my high school or college years that she and my step-dad started up a more contemporary music group for the less formal church services. She mostly sang at first, but then at some point she got involved with playing the drums a bit, and found a late calling in life. She got her own drumset that sits in her bedroom, and she plays it often both for personal enjoyment and for stress relief (it appears drumming is great for getting out some pent-up aggression). She's played piano for as long as I can remember (I attribute my love for the sound of the piano to hearing her play it constantly at home while I was growing up) so she's always been musically talented, but the love of percussion was a pleasant surprise for all of us.

Now we have little Donovan around, and on a few occasions we've introduced him to that drumset and boy oh boy does he love it. It's calmed him down when he's upset, and just plain ole entertained him greatly as he bangs on the drums and symbals with his hands, drumsticks, whatever he wishes. Some of you may also recall how he immediately took to Mom's small set of bongos last month, too. Donovan may have found early in life a passion that his grandma found late, but I think she gets more than a little kick out of sharing this with her grandson. And the rest of us? We just think it's cute as heck.

Last night we had a joint birthday party for my step-dad and step-sister's birthdays (the 19th and 24th of Dec, respectively). We had a big crowd (don't we always) and had a good time. D's been having fun playing with his fan club grandparents, uncles, and aunts, and they've just been eating him up (figuratively, of course). Zach and I are beginning the usual process of trying to fit in time with local friends, and still try to relax a bit and enjoy downtime while we have so many volunteers to take care of the kiddo. I think it's tougher for me to just let others take care of D than it is for Zach, I think I just feel more needed by him and feel bad about not being around, but I also need to take advantage of this break.

Zach and his dad are sitting next to me at the dining table, watching football online. Gotta love the holidays and family time. =)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

running out of generic blog titles to use for first texas travel update posts

So we're here in Texas, the flight went well enough and we're settled in at my in-laws for the week. All grandparents are ecstatic about being around the little guy again, and D is seeming more comfortable and relaxed than he did even at Thanksgiving. I guess he must remember the people and places. It's almost striking to note, how in November he seemed to need me as a safety net a lot more and this time even on the first day he was much more ok and independent. My how they grow, eh?

I've got a whole arsenal of sippy cups that we're trying with him (it's amusingly ironic how much money I've spent on baby bottles and sippy cups, compared to how much actual use we've gotten from them). He's actually taken an ounce or 2 of formula here and there. It's pretty sporadic, but progress nonetheless, right? Also last night he slept for TEN HOURS STRAIGHT, which might be a first ever. Of course it happened on the night that both Zach and I stayed up past midnight picking Jenny up at the airport, but whatevs. Here's hoping it happens again.

More updates to come soon, we only just tonight got the internet set up on our laptop here and so I wanted to do some quick catching up but also want to get to bed early-ish tonight. Only four days till Christmas!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Beginning of the end, pt2

D and I had a quick visit with his pediatrician this morning. I'd intended to just write her an email, but the website wasn't having any of that, so then I called the advice nurse line and asked them to have the doctor call me back, but then they happened to have an appointment for right then and I figured, "What the heck?" I'm all packed basically and the office is just down the road, so on down we went. I figured if I'm seriously thinking of weaning my child in the next couple weeks, or at least starting the process, it seems a good idea to consult his doctor first. I told her about my concerns about my milk supply and D's diminishing wet diapers, and she agreed that it's time to turn to formula. She suggested a few different types of sippy cups that he might have an easier time with, and gave me some more tips, then agreed to see us again in another month or so to check how things are going.

Right now the plan is to offer D formula in a cup/bottle/whatever he'll possibly take before every feeding, then I'll nurse him after (at least till he's taking a reasonable amount of formula). This morning he actually drank about 1-1.5oz, but that was with me following him as he played and offering him the sippy cup every 10 seconds or so, he'd take a couple sips and then turn his head and on like that we went for about 10 minutes. (Jenny suggested the problem is we need a better name for the cups, like a "gulp cup." That calling it a "sippy" cup is confusing the poor child =P). I'm hoping he might be more willing to take the formula from someone other than me, and that we can go from there. If needed there's always the option of mom just, um, disappearing for a day or 2 while little D gets acclimated to using a cup/bottle/whatever, but I'm gonna try to avoid that situation if possible. I'm not sure it'd be D so much who'd get traumatized there, as whichever grandparents he was left with. (BTW I will still keep up a morning and nighttime nursing session for as long as my supply lasts)

I'm also working to get better at keeping snacks with me to offer him throughout the day, just to get more calories in him overall. I need to get in that habit of always having some food and water for him when we go anywhere, which requires forward planning, which is not exactly my forte, but needs to be done.

D is currently having a great time playing with our tupperware in the kitchen. Zach should be coming home in the next hour or so, later this afternoon we're leaving for Texas again for the holidays. Looking forward to a good break, friends, family, seeing Daddy again after his trip to Chile, christmas fun, and going through our usual family traditions except with Donovan added to the mix this year. I'm quite excited to watch him play with discarded wrapping paper on christmas morn. Zach and I haven't actually gotten him any christmas presents (is that awful of us?). I'm thinking of getting him a baby walker once we get back... Though I do also have a feeling that between 5 grandparents, 2 great-grandparents, 11 uncles and aunts, and one cousin, D might not need worry about any lack of gifts.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another Political Post: A rant about birth control

A few days ago I posted about the new toy safety regulations that will go into effect in a few months, which would effectively drive small businesses that hand-make their toys, out of business. The good news is that due to public outcry it seems Washington, DC, is already working to change this.

Unfortunately, today I come to you with another important issue at hand. I normally keep abortion talk out of this blog-- I am strongly pro-choice and not ashamed to publicly say so, but I also recognize that issue as an extremely personal and volatile one and haven't felt the need to bring it, or the controversy that always follows, here. However today I heard of a new rule just passed by President Bush that allows "anti-choice medical staff [to] withhold information about abortion, birth control, and sex education from their patients. Facilities that receive family planning funding, like Planned Parenthood, will have to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control. For example, a doctor who opposes pre-marital sex could refuse to provide a prescription or even information about emergency contraception to an unmarried woman."(text is from an email from Planned Parenthood)

Let's throw the abortion part of this out the window. I'm willing to take a wild guess and assume that the vast majority of my readers support a woman's right to have access to birth control, whether she is married or not. I have been very fortunate in that birth control has always been cheap for me thanks to good insurance, but I know many, many women out there have to pay the $40-$50 PER MONTH for a pack of pills, out of pocket (don't get me started on how ridiculous it is for insurance companies to not cover contraception, when the cost of prenatal care, childbirth, and pediatric visits is astronomical by comparison). Many women and families depend on places like Planned Parenthood for affordable birth control and basic health care, because they cannot afford it elsewhere. If such a trusted facility is allowed to have staff that purposely choose NOT to provide this basic yet vital information to someone who needs it, someone who depends on you for it, well, that seems very, very wrong to me. And when that information could be about emergency birth control, where it could actually PREVENT an unintended pregnancy, potentially eliminating the need for there to even be a discussion about abortion, well, it seems outright malicious.

Many women and families depend on places like Planned Parenthood to get affordable birth control, with little or no other options.

To be completely honest, I don't understand how someone can be allowed to omit such important information to a patient. Your own morals and beliefs should not enter into the equation, at least not if your chosen profession is a medical field. If you're allergic to cats you don't go get a job in a vet's office. If you don't believe in proper preventative health care for women and families, then don't become a doctor (or nurse, or pharmacist) that has to deal with that field.

If you're as appalled by this as I am, please go here to ask the Obama administration to reverse this new rule. All you have to do is type in your name and address, and you're done. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the beginning of the end?

As I've mentioned here before, I've started thinking lately about weaning D off the boob, but I haven't meant to start that until after his first birthday. However I'm starting to wonder if my boobs have other plans...

I've been wondering about my supply for the past couple months, feeling like I'm producing less than I used to, but it hasn't seem noticeable and there's no real way to quantify how much he takes in anyway, so I haven't thought much of it. At D's well-check last week his pediatrician suggested I start drinking Mother's Milk tea, wondering if low supply might be part of why he's not gaining weight. I've started having some twice a day, and then the other night decided to try pumping a couple hours after D went to bed to see how much I could get. Even a couple months ago I'd get 4 ounces, combined, which seemed decent knowing that he was most likely getting more than that at each feeding. But this last time even with the tea I barely got 2oz combined.

His feedings have gotten shorter, so I've been timing him the past two days, and he spends between 1-2 minutes actively drinking on each side. I don't know how normal that is, or whether it's reasonable for a 10 month old to be able to take down a decent amount of milk in that short a time.

According to Kellymom, if baby's producing 4-5 wet diapers a day, they're probably getting enough milk. The past few days D's been hitting that 4 diaper minimum, but while I used to never get dry diapers before (changing him every 2 hrs during the day) he now sometimes goes up to 3 hours totally dry. (This seems to have started in the past couple weeks, which is also when we started limiting night feedings... which could very well be affecting my supply.)

He seems otherwise happy and active and is hitting developmental milestones, so he must be doing ok... but do I want to wait for him to start getting hurt by it before I do anything? I don't know how much to worry about this. We've started offering him formula in a sippy cup at meals sometimes, and he'll drink a little, but not more than maybe a couple oz in a day (about as much as he'll take of anything in a sippy cup). I'm wondering if maybe we should take advantage of grandparent help over the holidays to try to get him to drink more from his cups.

I don't want to go back to feeding him every 3 hours at night. I don't know if I'm ready to wean him (honestly, part of me would feel relieved to do so, but it also feels like "giving up"... which is kinda silly, isn't it?). But I also want to make sure he's getting the nutrition he needs. I could go all-out trying to get my supply back up, but if I was gonna start weaning him in 6weeks anyway...

I'm feeling kinda lost on this. It's also difficult to get much information from online sources, as most breastfeeding sites are so pro-breastfeeding that their answer will always be to keep it up if possible, and besides D has been such a particular case (or at least it feels that way) that generic answers rarely fit. So I'm seeking advice from you real, live moms who've hopefully been here and have some wise words to share.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

blogger templates

I've had some variation of this same template for the past almost-five years that I've had this blogspot blog, and every so often I'll struggle with changing it. I've grown kind of attached to the blue and green dots, but at the same time I sometimes want something new. Unfortunately blogger's own templates leave a bit to be desired, and past searches for third-party templates haven't been too fruitful. Recently I found Our Blogger Templates, though and was kinda blown away. Unlike most other blogger templates that require you to go into the HTML or XML to change colors or fonts, etc, the templates over there allow you to change almost all the colors and fonts using blogspot's own fonts and colors tools. How easy is that. So you just need to find a template with the right number of columns of the approximate right dimensions, and everything else (colors, fonts, header picture) can be customized to your liking. I'm still debating on changing this blog's template, but D's has been bugging me for a while so during one of his naps today I gave his blog a makeover. I think I like it. =)

I also later found Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates, with its whole array of friggin gorgeous free templates. I've been wanting to go with my own photo header, but honestly there's about 10 different templates at Simply Fabulous that I want to use b/c they're so beautiful and cute and funky.

Anyway, so for you other blogger users out there, if you've shared my frustration over trying to find non-blah templates for your blog, hopefully you'll appreciate these 2 sites.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Save Handmade Children's Toys

I'm amazed and kind of appalled that I haven't heard of this before, and am now trying to spread the word as best I can. Here's the deal:

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public's trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small part, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China. (We knew this already)

The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number. (Sounds good, right?)

All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and update their molds to include batch labels.

For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers, however, the costs of mandatory testing will likely drive them out of business.

For all that we hear in politics about trying to protect small business owners, I'm surprised there hasn't been more talk about this. While very well-intended, this new set of regulations will put thousands if not millions of small toy-makers (many of them home-based, like the many etsy shops that sell handmade children's toys. And, ironically, toymakers based in the US, Canada, and Europe, who already comply with strict standards like the EU's regulations, and who have not caused any problems with toxic toys, will be hit hard, while the companies that will be left are all big enough so they make their toys in CHINA, you know, the one place that's been putting poison in our childrens toys this whole time. We all know how well regulations over there have been working...

To learn more about the CPSIA, what it means for toy makers (and for the selection of toys available for you to buy your children), and how to help, visit The Handmade Toy Alliance. They've crafted a letter template you can use to write to your senator or state representative, or to send directly to the CPSC. You can also sign their online petition. We of course want to still ensure that handmade toys remain safe and reliable, so the Handmade Toy Alliance has put together a proposal for how to do so, without putting independent toy makers out of business.

Many other websites are getting involved, such as Cool Mom Picks which has made up a section of their site to be an information center on the CPSIA and made up a cute little button you can add to your blog to help bring more attention to this issue. An activist website called National Backruptcy Day has a page where you can automatically send a letter to all of your legislators, just type in your address and make any changes you wish to the editable section of the letter.

The CPSIA will go into effect on Feb 10, 2009. Unless changes are made, that will be the day that all but the largest toy makers selling in the US will go out of business. Some European toy makers have already declared that they will stop selling their toys in the US after the new year, not being able to afford the extra cost.

Quite frankly, I think this is HUGE. Please help spread the word, and use the links above to contact your legislators.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

nothing like the thrill of a sale

Recently I've started to feel... not dissappointed exactly, but... blah... about my etsy shop. I've out a lot of time, effort, and money into making the cards and getting the proper materials together, and while it's pretty great recieving the compliments I've gotten from people about my cards and photos, I've also only made 2 sales to non-immediate-family members. I've tried to get the word out about my little shop, but I just don't seem to have the time to truly get my name out there. Especially as we look at our own finances and are deciding to tighten our belts a bit in hopes of saving enough for a house down payment in a few years, I also don't want to continue putting time and money into something that doesn't pay back at least a little. So I'd kinda decided to let it sit for a while, posting a link occasionaly to try to draw people to it but not bother creating new items or investing in advertising.

Then today I made another sale. To a non-family member. Not only that, they bought the print I'd put up as a test to see if anyone would be interested in buying my photography for its own sake. It's pretty darn exciting. Unfortunately in my newbie-ness I posted a 3:4 photo (which would end up as an 8x12 proportions-wise) to sell as an 8x10 print. So I think I'll crop it and send them that version by email to approve before printing. BUT to get back to the point, this re-inspires me, and makes me think about listing more prints for sale. And perhaps after the holidays I will still make that swiss village card set I've been thinking of making. Meanwhile I'm wrapping a lot of my already-printed cards to give as stocking stuffers, hoping that getting them out in circulation will get them a bit of attention.

BTW I am still holding my holiday sale: Buy any 3 single cards and get a fourth card for free! The sale ends Thursday, as we will be flying to Texas on friday and won't be back till after New Year's. So if you want to take advantage, do so soon! ; )

six word sunday: Would've stopped, but it was freezing.

Would've stopped, but it was freezing.
six word sunday challenge

We caught sight of this sunset as we started driving back from the city yesterday. We thought about stopping and getting out to enjoy it a bit, but we knew it was freezing cold and very windy and so settled for watching it from inside our toasty car as we drove past.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

sunny san francisco

Saturday in SF
Zach, D, and I headed into San Francisco today to go see Jenny's new pad, and just hang out in the city a bit. The day was a bit cold, and we started getting sprinkled on at one point, but for the most part we had sun and so it was nice enough (though Zach and I did get in a discussion on the way up about how awesome it would be to have a city like SF, but in, say, southern cali so the weather was actually decent). We introduced D to hippie culture down on Haight, had incredibly delicious crepes at a place off Cole whose name I don't even remember, then walked around Golden Gate park a bit. This being our first trek into SF with the kiddo I just brought my small camera, but next time I'll have to bring the slr... hopefully there will be such gorgeous sun again then.

I didn't take too many pictures, but here they are for those who are interested.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Adventures in Baby Feeding

sunday breakfast
D is now almost exclusively on finger foods (as opposed to purees, he still nurses frequently). At least when we're home, he almost always refuses any food I try to feed him, either with a spoon or by hand. If we're out somewhere else he's more tolerant, but for the most part he's got to be able to pick it up himself in order for him to get any significant quantities of the food. It's fun being able to feed him off my same plate now, but there's also many times I wish feeding him were as easy as opening up a jar of pureed sweet potatoes. Now that he's getting not only 3 meals a day but 2-3 snacks in, too, I'm having to be a bit more creative about what I present him with, which is tough-- how many foods are small and soft enough for him to be able to chew/not choke on, yet still big/sturdy enough to pick up with small and less-than-coordinated fingers? I figure I'm not the only mom struggling with this, so thought I'd share some things I've discovered recently that have been working for us. I'd love to hear other ideas, too.

Cheerios have been a pretty big staple, along with bread and pasta. I've been trying to figure out how to make sticky/slippery foods like banana easier to pick up. I've seen suggestions to grind up cheerios and use the powder to coat the pieces, but when I tried that it seemed I'd need to grind up a heckuva lot of cheerios to get enough powder. Then the other day it dawned on me that we have baby cereal that's fairly fine and that he never eats anymore anyway, so I poured a bit of that in a bowl and rolled banana pieces in it and D ate them all up. Woot! He loes apples but I never think ahead to steam pieces for him, but our pediatrician recommended using a cheese grater so I tried it. He ate at least half a small apple that way... though the cleanup was pretty messy (both him, and the grater I'd forgotten to rinse off...).

Frozen veggies, like peas and carrots, have been a hit, too. I squish the peas just enough to break the skin and then they're easy to mush. Same with blueberries, which he loves. Thankfully he's over the dairy allergy, so I've also started giving him pieces of mozzarella, which is brilliant b/c it's so soft. Today I gave him Keebler Club crackers and cheddar as a snack. The crackers are nice as they basically melt in your mouth (and are super yummy), though looking at the nutritional label they are a bit high in sodium and have high fructose corn syrup so not sure if I'll use those that often. Meat, for some reason, he still will accept when I give it to him by hand, and has seemed to really like chicken and turkey. And today he finally seemed to like avocado-- we've tried it 3-4 times before and he'd always refuse it after the first bite, but today he took 5-6 spoonfuls of it, which makes me super excited as it's such a good, high-fat food.

I'm starting a mental list of places that have good food options for D for lunch. Wahoo's is great-- their chicken is always super tender (so easy to chew), and D loves the rice and beans. We may be instituting a weekly Wahoo's lunch date. ; )

I'm trying to give him foods that are healthy, but also have decent fat and calorie counts. He's definitely active and seems happy enough so I know he's ok, but I still want to make sure he's getting all the calories he needs. It's funny, I think part of why D looks so much more like a "grown kid" to me than a baby, is that he's skinny and so doesn't have all that baby chub you usually see.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

seventh schmeaven

Anyone remember that show "Seventh Heaven," the uber-cheesy one about the preacher and his wife who had 7 kids? I watched one episode once where the mom mentioned how she learned one new skill, like playing piano or learning a language, for each child when they were born.


Not that that show was exactly the mark of realistic television (Ruthie, the youngest, had much darker hair and skin color than all her older siblings... suspicious much?). And I realize they're fictional characters. But still, c'mon. I only have one kid and I hardly have time to read more than 2 pages of a book at a time. You're REALLY gonna pretend you spend the insane number of hours it takes to master a new language while also taking care of a bunch of kids? Seriously?

I've got these long to-do lists, projects I want to do, that sit around for months with little or no progress. I need to finish backing up our music, and finish organizing the files which basically means finish moving them over to the terabyte and then clearing most off the laptop. There's pictures I've been meaning to print for D's room, and now that I've got Lightroom I also want to figure out a decent organizational structure for photos and get to tagging them, a task that will take enormous amounts of time(I manage to take tons of pictures, now I need the time to figure out what to do with them...). Yet days go by, and things don't get done. In the words of my aunt, "Did you ever imagine you'd be so busy without feeling like you got anything done?" I know, taking care of my little guy is a huge accomplishment, and his development and care is more important than most of these other little things. At the same time, it's also nice to have a bit of time to devote to hobbies every once in a while.

In a week we'll be going back to Texas for christmas break, and I do plan on making the most of eager grandparents. Hopefully I'll then be able to accomplish a few things. For now, I'll finish throwing this blog post together and finish uploading thanksgiving pictures to Snapfish (which should've been uploaded a week or 2 ago), all while scolding myself for not being in bed yet. Goodnight, everyone.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Cyrus lent me his macro lens the other day, and I've been having some fun playing with it. I took lots of pictures of the purple callas we got on sunday, but then I also tried taking pictures of Sierra and I must say I'm surprised I got any that turned out as she is not the most steady or still of subjects. And, of course, I had to try taking a few shots of Donovan, and I got a couple good ones (I think I got some more today) but he's tough as he's now able to actually go after the camera when he sees it so getting up close with him doesn't work too well...

Anyway, here's some of the photos I took, there's some more over here.
purple calla
those eyes...


D had his 10 month check-up today. He weighs the same as he did a month ago (he did grow a bit taller) so while we're not too concerned, the pediatrician did recommend trying to offer him as much to eat as possible. He's already getting 3 meals a day, so now I'll add in 2-3 snacks inbetween, and will make sure he nurses often throughout the day (while giving us her blessing to go 7-10hrs at night without eating).

All three of us got our flu shots today, something I've been meaning to do for a while but haven't gotten around to it. D will still have to go in for his 2nd dose next month. Zach and I also got boosters for the Tdap (tetanus-diptheria-pertussis) vaccine. We were both about due for a tetanus booster anyway, I've been hearing a lot lately about pertussis (whooping cough)-- how bad it can be for infants, how often it's the mother who seems to pass it to her kids, and how the vaccine wears off after 5-10 years, so I've been meaning to get that one, too. They were actually surprised that it wasn't on my record, as I guess in the US (or at least at Kaiser Permanente) they give all mothers the Tdap vaccine before leaving the hospital, after giving birth. Not to open abig ole can of worms, but as you can see I haven't bought into the anti-vaccine hooplah. Or at least I feel that any potential negatives of vaccines are outweighed by the potential positives of getting them.

Unfortunately, now my shoulders are sore (got a shot in each). I guess it helps to be reminded of what the little guy goes through when he gets his.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


in your face
D and I set out to run some errands this morning-- needed to return a stack of library books and send some packages off in the mail (like a stack of home appliance user manuals that got packed up with our stuff but should've stayed at the house in Switzerland...). Luckily both of these could be accomplished on foot, so we took off in the stroller and took advantage of the sunny, if chilly, day.

Afterwards D seemed to be in good spirits, to we headed over to a nearby coffee shop where I got a hot chocolate and bagel. It wasn't till I took the first bite of my freshly-toasted-and-cream-cheesed bagel that I realized how long it's been since I've had one, and just how much I love them. As I sat there enjoying my hot chocolate and sharing my bagel with D, it hit me how great my life is, and how happy I am to get to spend my days with this little guy. There were times in the first months where I wondered if I was really cut out for being a stay-at-home mom. And while it certainly isn't all fun and games, I also really do love it. It can be so frustrating when he's being super-whiny, or when he won't eat, etc... but most of the time he is such a joy to be around. I spend a decent amount of my days just watching him as he plays, watching all the various expressions that cross his face as he explores a toy or book, just in total awe of him. I'm not trying to make any statements about whether mothers should or shouldn't stay home with their kids-- the right situation there varies by family and life situation, and I make no judgements about what others do and decide works best for their families. But I realize how lucky I am to be able to make this decision to begin with, and while for the most part I've always known this was the right thing to do for us, after all the turmoil of the past 10 months and adjusting to motherhood, it feels so good to really feel settled in this. To really KNOW that this is where I am meant to be and what I am meant to be doing, and that I would rather be here and doing this than anything else. (at least most if the time, anyway... ; )

Monday, December 08, 2008

morning routines?

While in Switzerland we had this nice morning routine where Zach went to work a bit on the later side, and so most mornings would watch D to give me time to take a shower, get dressed, and have a quick breakfast before heading out the door.

Since moving back to California, Zach's adopted a different work schedule where he leaves the house around 6:45am every morning and then comes home by 5-5:30pm. D tends to wake up sometime between 5:30-7:30am, but it varies daily, so even if I had it in me to wake up earlier than absolutely necessary so I could shower and get dressed before D wakes, I can't plan for when that should be (would hate to wake up at 5am only to have him sleep till 7am, and I know once I'm up I won't try to sleep any longer). I guess that's what nap times are for, and I will then get ready while he's taking his morning nap, but he doesn't exactly take long naps and there's always so much to do with the teensy bits of free time I do get. I guess I need to try things like letting him play in his crib with some toys while I shower every morning, and just hope he stays happy long enough for me to do so. Anyone have tips or advice on dealing with the mornings?

Speaking of free time, or my lack thereof, I am woefully behind on my magazines, and I haven't even started getting Parents yet. I've also got a stack of books I'm wanting to get through. I guess I'll have christmas break back at home in two weeks, where I'll get more free time...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

six word sunday: Enjoying the care-free days of childhood.

Enjoying the care-free days of childhood.
six word sunday challenge

Dry Baby Skin?

Had our housewarming party today, seemed to be a success. It's fun to see everyone, even if the large gathering makes it difficult to talk to anyone for too long (especially when you're also watching a wee one, who's grown quite attached to mommy in recent weeks). It was also a great motivator for cleaning up our place, and the living room finally looks as open and clear as we've been meaning for it to be since moving in. Hopefully it stays that way.

I have a question for the mommies: D's skin is starting to feel really dry (particularly his arms). I've been using California Baby everyday lotion every night after his bath, but it doesn't seem to be cutting it. Can anyone recommend a good, thick baby lotion for these dry winter months?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

in da crib

in da crib
After several months of D sleeping in a pack-n-play while "in transit," Zach and I made the executive decision to just get a crib. I loved the floor bed idea and it worked really well for the 4 months we used it, but since the move it just hasn't been working. I wonder if the same problems would have arisen if we hadn't been on the move for 6 weeks, possibly so, but he's just too interested in everything else to sleep.

So I went to Ikea yesterday and got the Leksvik crib (now he has a whole matching set of furniture for his room, through no actual planning on our part) and Zach set it up this morning. He's taken one nap in it, and he just went down for the night about 15 minutes ago. He seems to be taking to it well.

My one biggest apprehension with using a crib is how everyone I know seems to have a story about their kid one day climbing over the rail and falling to the floor. It's insane to me that this is viewed as "normal" and not a shockingly dangerous aspect of crib sleeping. I made a point to choose a crib that's as low to the ground as possible, and am seriously considering buying a mattress or pillow or something to put on the floor in front of the crib, in preparation for that day when he might decide to hop on over the rail.

Friday, December 05, 2008


vintage toy
I remembered this wooden teether recently, something my mother-in-law had given me years ago. It was in a christmas tin along with some ornaments and other random things. The teether had belonged to Zach as a baby. The ornaments, had been made by him over the years. We've got a few other assorted items that used to be Zach's-- a wooden car that D loves to play with, blue corduroy overalls, other shirts in larger sizes including Zach's old Little League shirt, the yellow high chair we used in Texas. I love that we have these hand me downs that D gets to use/wear now, that were worn nearly 3 decades ago by his daddy.

Somewhere I have a stuffed rabbit that I think I've had since I was 2 or 3, but other than that I don't think I have anything saved from when I was little... not surprising considering that we moved intercontinentally with just a few suitcases to carry all our things. After going through two international moves, I have a whole new level of awe of my mom, having moved with 4 kids and no company to help set things up, no boat shipment for all those valuables that don't fit in a suitcase. I wonder if anyone in Chile has any of our old things still, or if it's all long gone.

Jen's coming down for the weekend tomorrow, we actually haven't seen her in about a month, I think, she's been so busy with film festivals and such. Zach and I are both convinced that D's gone through a growth spurt in the past week or so, I'm waiting to see her reaction when she sees him again. As great as it was being in Texas last week, it felt like something was missing with both Jenny back here and Daddy in Chile. It'll be so cool to have them both be around for Christmas.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thanksgiving Pictures Pt 2

Visiting my Grammy and Grampa.
Donovan stare-down. (in all seriousness, it was so heartwarming seeing how enamored Grammy and Grampa were with their great-grandchild. =)
The lovely Ryan.
See, when you take hundreds of pictures in rapid succession, you get rewarded with photos like this one. =P
Cousins. =)
D seems obsessed with our faces, particularly our mouths.
Baby's First Thanksgiving. He often makes this weird face upin his first tasting of food, even if it's something he knows and likes well. (btw that's the high chair used by Zach as a baby)
Uncle Andrew is silly.
So's Grampa.
Yee Haw!
Baby tail gating-- never too young.

Sleep and my Oddball Baby

One of my biggest frustrations in parenting has been reading baby books, being told that the vast majority of all babies will do/act/respond in a certain way, and then after much trial and error finding that D actually does NOT do/act/respond in that way. This has often made me feel frustrated and confused, but then a trip to a parenting message board (or blog post) later I'll often find that there's many other moms and babies just like us, and that we apparently comprise of a secret group of totally normal, but different and weird, babies.

One of the biggest prevailing wisdoms for babies and sleep is that full tummies will make babies sleep better and longer. I've read and been told this over and over and over again, even up through this past week in Texas when well-meaning family told me that they thought him eating a big dinner or breastfeeding right before bed would help him sleep longer. Many moms "dream feed" their babies, giving them a bottle at about 9-10pm, before mom herself goes to bed, in hopes of baby sleeping a longer stretch and giving mom some more sleep. Seems like it makes sense, right?

I remember starting cereal with D at 6 months and thinking, "Yay! Maybe this will help him sleep better at night!" But if anything, his sleep got worse. I have never dream-fed him, as I just haven't wanted to take the risk of waking him and then not going back to sleep, but the nights when he's woken up at about 9-10pm and fed, tend to be nights when he'll continue to wake every few hours all night long. I have never noticed any connection between more food and better sleep for him, and believe me I have looked.

In fact, I almost suspect that it goes backwards for him. I think eating more at night keeps him hungrier, or at least makes him wake up more, for whatever reason. I was surprised when we first started trying to eliminate some of his night feedings a few months ago-- we decided not to feed him if he woke before 2am, letting Zach go in to comfort him and using the Ferber/progressive waiting approach-- and once he went back to sleep after the first waking he often would sleep a MUCH longer stretch of sleep than he previously had been. We successfully got him down to I think one night feeding at the time, which lasted for a bit till he started waking more often again at a time when I was freaked about his weight gain and so fed him every chance I got, which has led to him waking 2-3+ times a night for the past few months and sleeping about 2-4 hours at a time. This has left me sleep deprived to the point where I feel like my mind is in a fog most of the time and can't think straight, and, really, enough is enough and I need my sleep. And so does D.

Last night we put him to bed at about 7pm. He woke and I fed him at 9:30pm, and then as Zach and I got ready for bed we decided to start implementing the same strategy as before to try to reduce night wakings. Sure enough D woke again at 11:15pm, and cried for about 45 minutes. It sucked, I hated it, I asked myself over and over why we were doing this... but I knew it was necessary. It also proved to be the right thing to do when, after finally falling asleep at midnight, he slept for FIVE AND A HALF HOURS. That's better than he's done in MONTHS. Then he ate at 5:30 and went back to sleep.

I hate the thought of making him go to sleep while hungry, but the fact that he then slept over 5 hours when he normally has been sleeping 2-3 at a time tells me that hunger is not the issue here not only that but that feeding him might be actively disrupting his sleep. And who knows, maybe tonight will go completely differently... but last night showed a pattern I've seen with him before, and that I suspect will continue. I'm writing this post partially for myself, for my own records and remembering, but also for anyone else out there who has one of these oddball babies that doesn't follow the conventional logic or "rules"-- I know there's more of you out there. I like to think of it as them not succumbing to baby peer pressure. They're individuals, not afraid to be different. ; )

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


D turned 10 months old today. I watch him crawl and explore and laugh and learn, and I'm astounded at how different he is from the tiny baby he was at birth. I've felt pangs of nostalgia at times, like when I realized that he no longer fell into a deep sleep coma on my shoulder after feedings like he did in the first month or two, something I didn't realize just how much I loved until it stopped. For the most part, though, I suspect I may be one of those moms who appreciate her kids better when they're a bit older and able to do more.

But then I read this blog post today and I felt her same ache as I read her words. Part of it is about missing the past-- pregnancy, D as a tiny newborn, etc. Part of it is also the anticipation of all the changes that are to come. These days D is very cuddly, but very squirmy-ly so constantly moving and shifting. I think of when he will no longer come to me for snuggles several times a day, when instead of laughing and smiling when I dive-bomb his chubby cheeks, he'll pull away in annoyance. Before I know it he'll be one, and then 2, 5, 10, 15, 18, and then all grown up... It boggles my mind to know that he'll one day be a "big kid," and then a teen, and then an adult.

So what do I do? I shoot a bazillion pictures. And take hours of video. And I sit and stare at him in wonder and amazement as he plays, trying to take it all in. I know I don't appreciate every minute, as sometimes I'm too tired or frustrated to do so. But I hope that as time goes by I'll be able to look back and feel like I enjoyed it all to the best of my ability. Which I guess also means trying not to focus or worry too much about the future and what's to come...


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