Thursday, June 26, 2008

Over the Moon

Donovan continues to be absolutely adorable and absolutely adored. The other day we took him to visit his great-grandparents, and they were overjoyed to get to meet their great-grandson (especially as he was wearing s UT shirt in their honor =P ). D really has been in such a great mood this week, it's awesome, shooting smiles off here and there. He did get a bit whiney yesterday afternoon, but I suspect his gums might be bugging him again... and Grampa Hank said he thought he could feel something hard on his bottom gum, so perhaps he might be getting close to cutting his first tooth? Would be a fun milestone to have with his family here. =)

As D is seeming to become more comfortable with all these new people in his life, he's spending more time in their arms and I may soon attempt a shopping trip or 2 while leaving him with grandparents and aunts, etc, for an hour or 2.

We're currently waiting for D to wake up and for my mom to get back, and then we may take him down to the pool for his first swim!! I hope he likes the water. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures of him in his little swim trunks and straw cowboy hat. =P

Then tomorrow we're off to East Texas for the weekend for a family reunion, where D will meet the rest of his aunts and uncles (yes, kiddo, there's EVEN MORE of them).

I am in such a wonderful place right now. It's so wonderful and fun being here with my family, and sharing little D with them, and seeing how in love they are with him. Yesterday 4 of D's 5 grandparents were hanging out here with him, and they were all remembering and singing songs from their youth and Captain Kangaroo tv shows, and it was just such a neat moment. And even though those first few nights after arriving I don't think I got more than 4-5 hours of sleep, combined (I refused to actually tally them up), I still felt pretty good, just loving being here. We had a great night last night, though, he slept for 9 hours straight and then let me slept in an extra hour or 2 after that. I guess we're tiring him out or something. ; )

It's funny, I think those difficult moments and days may serve other purposes, as well, as while obviously I still love him to bits even when he's screaming at me all day long, during these times when he's happy and sweet and wonderful I find myself just gazing at him in wonder and being in total awe of him and his beauty.

Monday, June 23, 2008

No Place Like Home... even including the severe jet lag

So we're here. We made it. The trip was long, but D was SO GREAT the whole way. I think the flight crew of our Paris-Atlanta flight may be putting together a We Love Donovan Fan Club. The moment of the "great reveal", whereupon I wheeled D's stroller backwards, so they wouldn't get a peek at D until the dramatic moment when I whipped it around right in front of the huge crowd of our families waiting, and the gasps, joyful cries, and misty eyes that followed, were all priceless.

And even now D's been doing great considering how confused his little body must feel, and that he didn't really get much of a "night" of sleeping last night, though right now he's been asleep for I think 1.5 hours and I may need to wake him up soon so he can he can hopefully sleep ok tonight. But he's been a trooper, or maybe he's just a ham, all the attention he was getting at the airport, with about 10 people standing all around him oohing and aahing? Oh, he just ate it right up. LOVED it.

My dad came over today and gave D some gifts he'd gotten him from his recent trip to Chile and Argentina. Included in the loot was a shirt that reads, "Si tus papis dicen no... 0800-Abuelo" (if your parents say no, 1-800-Grampa), and a book titled Soy un Hermano Mayor (I'm a Big Brother). Nice hint, huh? I think it's safe to say he's reveling in his role as Abuelito.

We all went to Central Market today to have lunch, and then as we shopped for groceries Daddy wheeled D around in his stroller to help him fall asleep. It was all quite cute. Tonight one of Zach's old friends from childhood is coming over with his wife and toddler son. The difference in age between D and their son is almost exactly the same as between Zach and his friend. Perhaps they'll one day play little league together.

It is almost 6pm here, so 1am in CH? I'm exhausted. But I got some basic shopping items done (Zach is thrilled that I picked up a bottle of 500 aspirin tablets for $4, can't wait to show this incredible bargain off at the Geneva office), and will hope that tonight D sleeps well, and thus lets us do the same. I'll try to write a more thorough re-cap of the flights, etc, later... sometime.

Friday, June 20, 2008


It is 5:45 in the morning. D went to sleep at 8:15pm last night, and slept all the way through till 4:30 today. After feeding him I put him back down, thinking he'd go back to sleep for another couple hours, only to find his eyes wide open, and he then smiled and started kicking his legs as if to say, "Mornin', mom!! So! What's on tap for today?"

So we came downstairs to play. And I had to laugh when I set him down on his playmat and he started again kicking his legs so furiously with excitement. I got myself some breakfast and sat down at the table to check email, figuring he was in a pretty good mood and possibly able to play by himself for a bit. I looked back over my shoulder at him and noticed him playing with his toys-- I've been wondering when he'd realy start reaching out to try to grab things, as till recently he's been way too busy chewing on his hands still to really do much else with them. Occasionally I've seen him reach out and grab the purple elephant hanging from the playmat gym thingie, but just now he had both arms straight out, almost zombie-like, batting at 2 toys hanging right above and in front of him, occasionally closing his hands on them to grasp them. He then would pull his legs up and grab onto his toes, another new trick.

It's funny how such small gestures can render me so proud. =)

And now, he's dozed off to sleep. Amazing, I know. I laid next to him on the floor as he played a bit, and then watched as his body seemed to kinda relax, and then his eyes get droopy, and then just drift off to sleep.

He is so, so beautiful. I keep thinking that over and over lately, amazed at what an amazing creature he is. And I can't wait to share him with all the people I love back home, and see that same look in their eyes as I have, when we look upon him with wonder and awe.

It seems so... un-Swiss

Ok, I know I've been double-blogging a lot lately, but Zach just came home from a trip to the grocery store with a story that I HAVE to share. But first, some background set-up:

We were both kinda shocked, or at least raised an eyebrow or 2, when we first went to a farmer's market here. In California it seemed like most stands were pretty conscious about germs and things, and there would often be a single person handling money, and others would be dealing with the food, and thus wouldn't cross-contaminate. Here, it seemed the guy working the booth would choose and bag your apples, take your money, and blow his nose, all with no gloves on his hands, and well, whatever, right?

Today Zach wanted to pick up some fish for dinner tonight, as we have our neighbors coming over. Normally we just choose the pre-packaged stuff, but this time he actually went to the butcher counter. The lady working it was at least wearing gloves, but he said she came out holding a couple (raw) steaks, set them down, then helped Zach pick out his fish, packaged it, sealing it carefully, and then handed it to Zach with a, "Bonne journee!"

Without ever stopping to her hands.

And the best part? Zach was just kinda like, "Eh," and went off to go pick out some fruit.

Because it couldn't possibly have been that simple

After talking to a few people recently who strongly suggested I call Air France to confirm their travel restrictions/allowances, even though I had scanned and read and re-read the page on their website about travel with infants, I decided to go ahead ad call just to be safe... and good thing, too. I had been planning on bringing our stroller with the snap-in car seat, use that (and the Snugli carrier) for porting Donovan around in the airports, and just gate-checking them for the actual flights.

I found out that the car seat, if brought, would need to be regular-checked with our baggage (D does not have his own seat to hook it into on the plane). So if we bring the stroller, it needs to be with its proper seat if we want D to sit in it. And that while we can gate-check it, we may or may not actually see it again once we get off the plane-- that often big strollers like this one (as opposed to the umbrella variety) get put in the underbelly of the plane and don't come back out till you get your bags at your final destination.

Hm. Bummer. Kinda throws a wrench into our plans.

The closest thing I have to a cover bag for the car seat is a plastic bag. Which probably won't hold up too well in transit. So right now we're trying to coordinate having people take us to and from the airport on this side, using our car seat(s) here (kinda glad we have 2 of them now, for more flexibility) so we don't have to illegally hold D in a car to get to and from the airport, and then we could use my step-sister's old car seat once we get to the US. Although as of this morning I'm also thinking about how to install it, will it be easily changeable from one car to the other, etc. As I researched car seats while pregnant I kept hearing all these horror stories of how it would take people hours of poring through detailed and complex instructions to install their car seats, and even then a whopping 80% of US car seats are estimated to not be installed properly (which is why I was a bit shocked when we bought ours here, and it was a 5 second seatbelt installation). This car seat is 5 years old, I have no idea if the instruction manual is still around. As far as the stroller, I figure we'll still take it, as it would be nice to have during lay-overs, but if we don't get it back till the end of our trip it won't be the end of the world, I guess.

Zach's been trying to help me not freak out about all this stuff. I guess he has a point, that there's only so much we have control over and the biggest wild card of this whole trip will be D's mood, and that will determine, more than anything, whether it's an "easy" (hah) trip, or not so much. But man am I glad I called as I'd much rather find this stuff out now than when we arrive at the airport Sunday morning.


This was one of the many (many, many) gifts that D's Auntie Jenny and Abuelito brought for him at Christmas, and it is possibly one of my favorites. The shirt's actually sized 12 months, and you can kinda see it in the shoulders-- they hunch up to make him look like a football player. But it mostly fits, and I'm planning on getting as much wear out of this shirt as I possibly can b/c I love it so much. I'm bringing it with us (along with some of his also-too-big UT stuff) b/c I figure he HAS to wear it while in Austin. And before you remind me that it's currently summer and therefore probably 90-100F-plus outside in Texas, well, I'm also bringing him a couple sweaters b/c if it's scorchingly hot outdoors, you know it's going to be arctic-ice-cold indoors, and he'll need long sleeves and a hat and possibly a goose down parka to keep him warm enough when we go inside any building with air conditioning.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Nursery

Almost 4.5 months after being born, I finally feel like we have his room all set up. Most of the furniture has been in place for a month or more, since he moved in to the room, but I've been meaning to do something to decorate the walls a bit but had a hard time figuring out how, seeing as at least one of them is made of stone and so impenetrable. Then the other day I found these removable wall decals of farm animals, and they seemed pretty perfect. Especially since putting them up, and taking them back down when the time comes, were/will be a cinch.

Luckily D was in an exceptionally good mood yesterday morning, and played happily while I put up the stickers and then took some photos:

D's room

D's room
Please ignore the clutter on the table... I've been setting aside clothes to pack for him for our trip.
D's room
The map on the wall is a map of Switzerland, which Zach put up when this room was still the office/tv/other room, and he insisted we keep it up for D. I guess it's never too early for some geography lessons.
D's room
The cat pictures are from a Cats in the Sun calendar from a year or 2 ago. I've been meaning to frame the pictures and put them up somewhere... and it never really happened. Then I figured I could just tack them onto the wall here. D seems to like looking at them. =)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Making lemonade

I woke up this morning feeling pretty sorry for myself. It's been a tough week, sleep-wise. Last night D slept 3 hours at a time, and then each feeding lasted a good 30-45 minutes. I think I might have almost fallen asleep once or twice while nursing him. The other nights this week he's been waking up every 1-4 hours. I keep finding myself thinking, "He's FOUR MONTHS OLD, shouldn't he be able to sleep better than this???"

And maybe that's true. But that doesn't really matter, does it? I read a couple blog posts this morning that inspired me to think differently. I get into a bad habit of going over and over in my head how crappy I feel, how much X or Y sucks, and just throwing myself a big fat pity party. And all that accomplishes is to keep me in a crappy mood (or make a bad mood even worse), and keep me from enjoying my son.

So I am trying to focus more on the positives, and how lucky I am. I have a beautiful, healthy, wonderful baby boy. Many women would kill to have that. And as much as his crying can break my heart (and/or make me want to tear my hair out), his smiles and giggles are among the best things I have encountered in life. Yes, he may be getting up several times a night to feed, but he has yet to keep me up for hours in the middle of the night wanting to play, or worse, crying. As much as I sometimes fantasize about how nice it would be to fast-forward through some of these difficult times, I also know that one day, probably sooner than I realize, I will miss this, I will miss this age, and will want to know that I enjoyed it as much as I could have while it lasted.

I have a husband who supports, respects, and greatly appreciates what I do with D every day. Who does his best to help out and try to give me a break when I need it, and picks up the slack on household chores. Who has a job that allows me to stay at home with D every day. And while I sometimes question whether I'm really cut out for this, I also can't imagine having to work and only see D for an hour or 2 in the mornings and evenings.

I have family that have been able to come out for extended trips to help us out, and who are at the edges of their seats waiting to get to see us in just a few days when we fly home for 2 weeks. That's actually one of the things that's been helping me a lot this week, knowing that soon there will be so many other people who can't wait to see D, to hold him, play with him... and allow me to take a nap as they do so. ; ) And that by the time we come back, after adjusting to time changes again, there's a good chance his sleep patterns will have yet again changed, and perhaps be better. Who knows, maybe he'll actually start sleeping an hour or longer at naps.

I hear people often say that things get better after 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, etc. I keep waiting for that magical change when things get better all of a sudden. I'm starting to wonder, though, if it's not so much that the difficult parts get less difficult, but instead that the fun parts get to be more fun, and you just learn to deal with the other stuff better.

Here's to the power of positive thinking.


I have often heard (and repeated) the sentiment that any decent entrepreneur could make such a killing coming to Geneva and selling a whole slew of items that are otherwise impossible to find here, for no good reason.

I remember a friend here who was starting yoga classes, and she asked where she could buy some yoga clothes for the class. She was told that no one in Geneva sells yoga clothes. Seriously. Another friend, a fellow mom, and I were recently talking about the sad dearth of decent nursing bra options in the local stores. There's, like, one brand that you can find, and it's been around since my friend's mom was shopping for these things.

The latest one to completely baffle me was D's reflux medicine. He's on one type of medication to help with overall digestion, and this stuff is easy enough to administer-- a few drops on a spoon, and give by mouth. Cool. The other stuff, the stuff that more specifically treats acid reflux, comes in pill form.

A pill. For babies.

When our pediatrician was telling us about it, he sounded exasperated yet defeated, as if to say, "I know, it's ridiculous that this is the only medication of its type that's available here, but what are you gonna do?" So I have to take this pill and cut it in half (the pharmacy provided me with a handy-dandy pill-cutting contraption for $8), and then dissolve it in a syringe with 2ml of water. The pill dissolves into these tiny beads which are the active ingredient. Unfortunately there's something about these little beads that causes D to gag and cough every.single.time I give it to him, which thankfully is only once a day. But yeah, I kinda hate giving him this stuff. We're under instructions to stop it 1 week before his 5 month check-up, so we can see how he does without it, and then assess if he needs to continue taking it or not. So we have about 2 more weeks of doing this and then get a break.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mom gets a night to play...

I wrote out this post almost 2 weeks ago and saved it, meaning to post it within the next day or 2... and then totally forgot. But I promised Hillary it would go up, so here it is, pics of me having ALCOHOL at the Sex and The City Girls Night Out:

I used to always drink one red bull & vodka when going out. I normally am not affected by caffeine hardly at all, but I noticed that having that one drink tended to help me not get all sleepy towards the end of the night. This was my first time to have more than a half glass of wine at one sitting in a good year, and I was actually genuinely worried that between the sleep deprivation and even a tiny amount of alcohol I might be too tired to drive home safely at the end of the night...

I have a couple more pics from Tuesday up on flickr, and Hillary has some there as well.

Bouncing Baby Boy

I can't remember if I've blogged about this yet or not, but a week or 2 ago I bought D one of those baby jumper contraptions, the kind that you hook onto a doorway and have a harness attached so baby can hop and jump and flail their legs and body to their little hearts' content. I've usually been kinda weary of those things, as they seem to me to be kinda made to let baby smack right into the doorway, but alas I was looking for something new and fun for him, and something he could do upright, and at $80 this was a much better option than the sorry-looking death-trap walkers that were selling for $200+. He also recently developed the ability to hold his own weight up on his legs if I "stand him up" and it's something he finds WAY COOL and laughs and smiles when I let him do it, so I figured something that allowed him to practice using his legs like this might be a hit.

The verdict? AWESOME. Ok, so he's only really interested in it for about 10 minutes before he starts fussing, but for those 10 minutes.. holy crap, it's utterly hilarious. He kicks and flails his legs around, causing him to jump and dance like something straight out of a Backstreet Boys video, and the smiles and laughs that result (both his and mine) are just priceless.



Monday, June 16, 2008

Rain, Rain, GO AWAY, come back when we've moved.

Zach let me sleep in an extra hour or 2 this morning after D woke up. It was very nice. I didn't get much of a break the rest of the day.

The morning did not go too well. Mr Grumpy Pants seemed to be back, in full force. I did get him to take a good nap (just under an hour) but it took 30 minutes of rocking/bouncing/singing and then I gave up and put him in his bouncy chair, all wrapped up, and rocked the chair with my foot and he slept.... with me needing to rock him the entire time.

And I had the feeling that if we stayed at home all day I'd go nuts. So despite the return of this crappy June rain (WHERE IS MY SUMMER WEATHER??), I packed him up in the car and drove out to the mall up the highway. He was pretty calm in the stroller for most of the time, only starting to cry towards the end when I was close to being done with the things I'd wanted to do there anyway (I was actually in the midst of trying on some Birkenstock sandals, perhaps it was him expressing his opinion of them?). I could tell he was just tired, and sure enough by the time I was heading back to the car he'd passed the fussing stage and gone into the quiet, drowsy, can-barely-keep-my-eyes-open stage, and so I was tempted to stick around and do some more window shopping, but also didn't want to risk it and it's so nice when he just sleeps in the car so I headed back home.

We had some good moments in the afternoon, but he was pretty grumpy a lot of the time... and he was spitting up a lot again. Which has been happening more in the past few days. I didn't get a chance to do so today, but tomorrow I'll try to call the pediatrician and ask him about the dosage for his reflux meds, if they need to be upped (he told us to call if we continued having problems). Unfortunately I've also noticed his skin looking a bit splotchy and red in places, and the other day he had a small rash on his jaw, which can be one of the signs for a food allergy, and I'm wondering if he's having a reaction to something else now and that might also be causing some of the spitting up (and the grumpy moods). Maybe the sheep's milk yogurt doesn't agree with him after all, or it could be any of the other commonly allergenic foods like eggs or nuts (had some almonds the other day), or wheat (PLEASE GOD DON'T LET IT BE WHEAT I don't think I could give up my other main food group that tends to be the base of my entire diet). Boo. I am not even going to mention chocolate, as he is not allowed to be allergic to chocolate. If I can't have Swiss ice cream I NEED to have my Swiss dark chocolate. Seriously, it's become a compulsion. I have a couple bars of chocolate in the kitchen and at least a couple times a day I go and break off a little square of it and snack. I've tried to stop myself. It's not possible. It's my one indulgence since so many other yummy snacky sweets are off-limits to me now.

D went to bed about 15 minutes ago. Which means I need to get to bed soon, too, as who knows what tonight will bring? Sleep? Oh, one can only hope....

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rhyme or Reason? No, Thanks.

You know all that talk in Parenting Land about babies sleeping through the night? And how if parents do x, y, or z it will cause their babies to sleep through the night/develop horrible sleep habits so they never sleep well?

Yeah, I'm starting to think it's all a load of crap.

Sure, there are things parents can do to help or hinder their children's sleep. However, I'm also becoming convinced that a lot of it is completely random. At least from our perspective (it may all make perfect sense in their little baby brains).

Wednesday night D slept 8 hours in a row. Thursday he woke 4 times, sleeping only 1-4 hrs at a time. Friday he woke 3 times. Last night he went to bed at 8pm, and slept a whole NINE HOURS before waking at 5am.

I do not entertain illusions that he'll sleep well again tonight. And I'm kinda over trying to analyze the previous day's events to try to see if there's something I might have done differently to help cause the good/bad sleep (I remember the comment my mom made once about how babies will get their parents to do ridiculous stuff through conditioning with their behavior, "I swear he's happier when I stand on my left leg and hop three times instead of just two!").

So I will continue to try my best to enjoy the good nights, and on the bad ones, repeat to myself that most useful of parenting affirmations, "This, too, shall pass..."

Bathtime Improvements

I think I discovered a new, simpler way to bathe D today.

It all started this morning. He was sitting in his bumbo chair, quite happily. Then he started fussing. And when I picked him up I realized he had a poop explosion. It was... impressive. Especially once I started getting him cleaned up and saw that there was hardly any poop IN his diaper. Nice.

So I got him changed and cleaned off with relative ease, but I still wanted to give his a rinse-off just for good measure. Not wanting to wait till the bathtub filled with water (which can take forever, and I have yet to figure out how to make the temperature quite right-- always seems either too hot or too cold, and yes I even have a kiddies water temp thermometer), I set him in his little bath chair naked and grabbed the detachable shower head that's on our bathtub and sprayed him down with it. He seems to enjoy the shower head, or at least that's what I read his bewildered expression to mean. Anyway, so I hosed him down, then soaped him up, and then rinsed him off, and lo and behold we were done in, like, 5 minutes. He even was happy for a few glorious extra seconds once I got him out and was toweling him off before beginning his customary post-bath scream-fest.

So I think that's what I'll be doing now for his bath. Faster, less prep-time, much more eco-friendly (considering how much less water is used). Yay.

In other news, someone has apparently decided to go on a napping strike. Other than one single "normal" nap yesterday and today, he has napped either on us or in the stroller, and for maybe 20 mins at a time. Boo.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dun dun duuuuuunnnnnnn...

Several nights this past week Donovan slept 6+ hours in a row at night, including Wednesday night when he went to bed at 7pm and didn't wake up till 3am.

Then last night, after going to bed at 7pm, he decided it'd be fun to wake up at 8pm. And again at 11pm. And at 3:30am. And 6am. And then he was finally up for the day at about 7:30am. Then during the day he napped twice, for 30-40 minutes each time, along with 1-2 other catnaps of 20 mins or less. (He normally takes 5+ naps of 30-45 mins each day) Ironically, his stretches of sleeping through the night seem to be getting shorter as he gets older, rather than longer...

Could this be the dreaded "4 month wakeful period" beginning? Or perhaps a growth spurt (he seemed genuinely hungry each time he woke overnight)? Or maybe, hopefully, a random fluke?

All day today he seemed perfectly content waiting 3 hours between meals, when normally it can be a struggle to hold off till 2.5 hours. If he does it again tonight, should I just let him be tomorrow if he wants to wait to eat again, or try to feed him more often during the day (when spacing out feedings has been my goal over the past week)? At least he was in a pretty good mood most of the day despite all the lost sleep.

Eek. I guess I should wait and see what tonight brings before getting all worked up. Though it's not boding quite so well, after the poor napping today and then going to bed at 7pm and waking up again at 8pm, hungry.

At least Zach's home now, and stayed home from work today to help out, he was in France Tuesday through late last night (right now he's next door at the restaurant watching France vs the Netherlands in the Eurocup).

Nine more days till we go to Texas... I have a small notebook that I'm filling with lists (Packing: for Donovan, for us, carry-on items; Shopping lists for D and for us; etc) to try to keep my brain somewhat organized. But hey, if we happen to forget anything, even though we'll arrive at, like, 11pm, we can just go to Walmart if we need to buy stuff BECAUSE IT WILL BE OPEN. ALL. NIGHT.

(D's getting pumped for his trip to Texas. Can y'all tell?)


Thursday, June 12, 2008


One of the hardest parts of this whole motherhood gig is this feeling of utter cluelessness. Yes, there are many days where I feel on top of things, like I know exactly what I'm doing, like D and I are this great team, and that things are fabulous.

Then there are days when I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.

I think this was one of my biggest surprises about parenting, too. I've worked with kids and babies for years. I've read a bazillion books. Sure, I knew there'd be a steep learning curve, but I figured I had a good background in babyhood and a decent knowledge base and that I'd be able to figure a lot of it out.

And then reality hit. And you realize that, you know that book that says to do X? Well, this other one says to do Y. And they both have avid success stories. Not to mention that they're mutually exclusive (Babies should eat and sleep on demand! No, they need schedules! Babies need to sleep in a crib in their own room! No, they need the security and attachment of the family bed! Let your baby "cry it out"! Letting baby cry it out will turn them into psychotic serial killers WHO HATE THEIR MOTHERS!). So which is it? And then you realize why there's a bazillion baby books, that it's because there's a bazillion ways for babies to behave. And so I laugh now when I read things about how "most babies do this..." and I have to wonder to myself, "Really? And what's the standard deviation on that? Because my baby sure isn't doing that, and I know of other babies that don't either..."

But then that still doesn't help you figure out what to do. So say you try doing X. Ok, and it works. Great! Was it b/c you did X, or was it random baby luck? Say X doesn't work. Was it b/c X isn't right for your child? Or maybe you didn't do it right, and if you'd done this one little thing differently then it all would've fallen into place? Or then again X is a load of crap and that's why it didn't work...

And I know I shouldn't listen to The Books. I'm trying to trust my instincts more and follow D's lead, however difficult each of those is to find. I'm sure I have and will continue to make all sorts of mistakes with D over time. But I'll revel in the statistics that say that it's not what specific things you do, but more the person you are that influences how your children will turn out. That, and both my parents and Zach's parents did a pretty darn good job raising their kids, and some of that has got to rub off on us, right?

Happy Birthday, Dad!

dad rocks
Love, Donovan

11 days and counting...

We leave for the US next Sunday. WOOT!!!!! It'll be D's first trip to the US, ever, and my first time back in 9 months. It doesn't quite seem real yet, and honestly when I do start thinking about the trip I then start kinda freaking out about flying internationally with a 4 month old. But then again I kinda figure that even if it's 14 hours of pure hell, well, then it'll be over after that, and we'll be in Texas with all our family, many of whom get to meet D for the very first time, and that's super super super exciting. =)

I have a feeling that by the time we come back from our 2 week visit D's gonna be totally spoiled, not having hardly ever touched the floor or been out of someone's arms. ; ) I think my mom's already planning to be practically attached to him the entire time. I know I keep saying this and probably am starting to sound like a broken record, but my god whenever I think about walking out of the terminal at the airport and having the entourage that I'm sure will be there get to see him, and seeing the looks on the faces of D's grandparents and aunts and uncles, and spending two weeks watching them play with him, and watch in wonder, as I do, when he does things like stick a toy in his mouth or grab his feet (a first yesterday!!), and see them fall even more in love with him than they already are... well it just fills my heart with joy and my eyes with tears. And maybe future trips won't be quite as special as this very first one, but it makes me want to do this more than just a couple times a year. I imagine once we move back, that D and I will be quite regular passengers on that California-Texas flight path. (D, I hope you like flying...)

As for the flight itself... I imagine I'll be bringing lots of toys, nursing him lots, and hoping he flashes that grin and adorable dimple at other passengers and wins them over that way. ; )

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm gonna miss that 3am call

I know it sounds crazy, but I'm realizing that I actually kinda like that middle-of-the-night feeding, and will miss it one day when it's gone. Now, it helps that D's gone from 2-3 wake ups to only once lately. That's been really really nice. It also helps that he's never been one to want to be awake much at night-- he'll eat and be back to sleep within half an hour at most. And sure, it'd be nice to get 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night... But I'm not sure I'm in much of a hurry to get rid of that last nighttime feeding.

The thing is, it feels really nice to nurse him to sleep. It's a satisfying feeling, and he looks so sweet nursing with his eyes closed. And then when he's done and he pulls away, still asleep, well I think that's my favorite moment of all, a look I wish I could capture with a camera but will have to settle with engraving it to memory. He'll have his jaw kinda clenched, bottom lip sticking out a bit in almost a pout, all of this making his cheeks and double chin puff out to their most round. Then his face relaxes, and his mouth will sometimes gape open just a little, and he looks just so adorable, peaceful, hilarious, and sweet, all at once.

I've been working on establishing predictable routines for nap and bedtime, and haven't incorporated nursing into them partially b/c I don't want to have to be the only one to ever put him down to sleep. And so, one of the only times when I get to nurse him to sleep is when he wakes at 3am. It's one very nice reward for stumbling down the stairs in a sleepy haze in those wee hours of the morning.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Le Combat des Reines

Soon after moving to Switzerland last year I was thumbing through my new copy of The Know-It-All Passport for Geneva, checking out local annual events that might be fun to go to. There were concerts and festivals, markets, etc, all pretty standard stuff.

Then I came across an event that I had to read over a few times to actually believe it: cow fights. Cow fights? Seriously, cow fights.

Apparently this is a Swiss tradition, dating back to the beginning of the century, that has become quite the spectator sport. There is a local cow bree called Herens that are naturally some what aggressive, and have a social hierarchy much like dogs do where the re is one dominant female in the herd (la reine, or queen). Each summer the herd travel up to higher pastures in the mountains and many herds will come together, and thus the queens will have to fight amongst themselves to establish who is the new dominant cow. The "fights" are fairly tame, really, they basically butt heads until one of the cows turns away, signifying defeat (equivalent to a dog showing its neck), and the cows are not hurt in any way. This happens mainly in the Valais canton of Switzerland, and at the end of the season there's a festival at which the top reines fight and one single Reine des Reines is established.

I told Zach about this, and it was decided that we HAD to see one of these cow fights while here in Switzerland. Unfortunately we had a hard time finding info online on when and where the fights took place, and basically out of poor planning and laziness we never got around to seeing one last summer. Then we had Donovan, and we kinda had given up on the idea of driving the 2-3 hours out to the Valais to see one.

Which is why we were BEYOND PSYCHED when we got a flyer in the mail a couple weeks ago announcing a festival in our village to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the little chapel down the road, and what would be the highlight of the festival? A COW FIGHT! We couldn't go to the cows, the cows instead came to us.

The weather's been crappy and rainy here the past week or 2 so we were kinda worried about how that would go. Luckily the rain held off, even if it was still cloudy and slightly chilly. We took the kid down the road with us and first enjoyed some of the food and wine being served as part of the festivities, listened to some Swiss Alpine horn playing, and talked with some of our local friends/acquaintances. D started getting tired so I brought him back to the house for a quick nap, then at around 3pm (when the fights were to commence) I took him back down to meet Zach and watch the fighting.

Cow Fight
Cow Fight
Cow Fight

There were 13 cows in all, each with a number painted on the side. Each cow was sponsored by someone in the village. The first round (which I missed) consisted of having all the cows in the round pen they'd made using metal gates, and pitting 2 cows at a time up against each other. Some fights were very quick-- a short scuffle, then one gave way pretty easily. Others are longer, taking several minutes before one of the cows gave up. Other times the cows seemed completely uninterested in each other and scratched at the dirt.

Cow Fight
Cow Fight
Cow Fight

The top cows from the first round went on to the 2nd round, and then 4 were selected for the final championship round. The entire thing took a little over an hour to complete. The sponsor of the winning cow (along with a lucky spectator who correctly guessed the top 3 winners) won a special commemorative cowbell and collar. Zach said the first round was pretty tame, though there was some good fighting in the 2nd round. At one point one of the cows jumped over the (waist-high) fence into the crowd-- no one was hurt. However I noticed later that the cow (who had been disqualified for the jump) was hanging out on the side of the pasture, with nothing restraining it or keeping it away from the crowd. Another time or 2 a pair of fighting cows knocked into one of the fences and either knocked it down or pushed 2 linked fences open and passed through. Again, no one seemed to get hurt, though the organizers finally decided it might be a good idea to have the crowds stand a good several feet away from the fenced area...

Cow Fight

Although D did not seem too impressed by it all, Zach and I were most definitely not disappointed. I'm really, really glad we got to see this-- it was pretty darn cool. One of Zach's coworkers told him a while back about a friend who makes the giant cowbells and can have them engraved for you, and we're now more convinced that ever that, if we're going to make one big purchase of a souvenir to represent our stay here in Switzerland, it should be a giant engraved cowbell. ; )

(See the rest of the cowfight pics here and a short video here)

six word sunday: That dimple will break hearts someday.

That dimple will break hearts someday.

six word sunday challenge

The internet: friend or foe?

The internet has become such a fabulous tool. A quick search on google will bring you more info than you could ever want, much faster and easier than going to a library and having to look stuff up in books. I laugh sometimes about what it'll be like one day telling D (or his kids) about way back in the day when we wrote with pencils and paper and looked stuff up in libraries, and "Mommy, what's a 'dewey decimal system'??"

At the same time, it can be pretty infuriating sometimes to try to get good info from the internet.

I've been trying to do research on dairy allergies. Our pediatrician recommended trying goat's and sheep's milk for me as good alternatives to cow's milk. I've found some sources that support this, but found plenty others who claim that often kids have reactions to ALL those kinds of milk (but does that mean if they had the milk directly, or passed on through breastmilk?). I keep finding sites that have the same initial vague information, but little more detail. And although I've found several places that suggest that most babies will outgrow this allergy by 6-12 months, I've also found many others that site 3-5 years of age to be when many outgrow it. I honestly haven't been that concerned, assuming he'd outgrow this by the time he's eating regular foods, but then to think of having to keep him off dairy till he's 3+ years old... that's depressing. That would basically mean no processed foods at all, ever (or at least very select few, as just about everything under the sun is made with milk or milk derivatives, or soy), until we're sure he's fine. I think I'll just continue not thinking about that possibility for a while.

And then there's the question of it I try to reintroduce milk slowly in a month or 2 (as some sites suggest), as it would be really really nice to be able to have it if he does seem ok with even small amounts after a time, but then there's also the risk that extra exposure would only make the allergy worse or make it stick around longer which I DON'T want. So I guess the thing to do there is to just stay away till I wean him. Which sucks (when pregnant Zach once offered to give up alcohol along with me, do you think it'd be fair to ask him to give up ice-cream?). But I guess that's just part of this whole parenting deal.

In other news, we may have hit a pretty big breakthrough with sleep recently. I don't want to say much about it as, of course, if I write about it then it'll stop. But if this keeps working I think it'll make all 3 of our lives much happier and easier, so here's hoping.

And in cute-Donovan-behavior news, our screen saver right now is slide show of pictures of D. Yesterday I was holding him near where the computer is and noticed him watching the slide show. He looked at the pictures of himself for a good 10+ minutes. Then later on Zach was watching some videos I've taken of D, and D started watching those, too! And then video D was making noises and real-life D started vocalizing, too, and it was as if he were talking to himself. It was adorable. =P Speaking of which, there's some new videos up on youtube, like this super incredibly adorable one of Zach dancing with D, and a couple of D in his new baby bouncer. Enjoy. =)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Baby Moods

It's seemed to me, although it's hard to tell objectively about these things, that D goes through a change around each new monthly birthday. Something about his sleeping/eating habits, or just his moods and overall demeanor, or even something less tangible, will change around that time. It was soon after his 3 month birthday that he started becoming more difficult, not quite as happy and having more trouble sleeping.

And now, perhaps I'm jinxing us as I write this, but now as a 4 month old he seems to be doing better.

He seems happier. He's been having an easier time falling asleep, even in the stroller while we're out. And he's been able to spent time just hanging out with his toys on the floor. He still has his cranky moments, of course, and tends to get grumpier as the day goes on, but I think the both of us are having an easier time of it overall. I'm not sure what it's attributed to-- feeling better since having discovered the milk allergy and reflux, age, random baby timing, magic-- and I'm not sure how long it'll last, but we'll just take things one day at a time.

I'm finding suitable alternatives to supplement all the dairy that's missing in my diet-- and I am a milk, yogurt, and ice-cream fiend, so that's quite a void I'm trying to fill. For as long as I can remember my breakfast of choice has been cold cereal with milk. Simple, easy, satisfying. I think that was one of the first things I though about when I decided to cut milk-- what the heck am I gonna have for breakfast now??? But we've found some rice milk at Coop that's quite good (at least with cereal-- I think it'd be too sweet to drink alone). I've also heard that some of the bio/health food stores in town have almond milk, so I may try to get my hands on some of that as well. And then today, at the suggestion of a friend, we found yogurt made from sheep's milk. I got one of each brand to test them out, and the one I had already today didn't taste all that different from regular yogurt. The ice-cream, I don't think I can even attempt to replace. Maybe in a month or 2 I can experiment with having tiny amounts and seeing how D does with that.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Leaving the compound

After about a month of being scared to go even on a walk with D without some help/backup b/c of his, um, volatile moods, I decided that today would be the day we'd try it again. After being pretty cranky all weekend long, D's been back to being pretty happy and content the past couple days, so I had hope.

Our bus route got some new trams recently, so I was excited to see that we got to ride in one of them today. =) The nicest part about them is that there's only 1 step up from the street level, as opposed to 2 or 3. People are really good here about helping carry strollers on and off the buses, but you don't always have the help and this makes it MUCH easier. D seemed pretty happy on the ride into town.. or well, maybe not happy, he was looking around kinda suspiciously (see pic) but I never had to take him out of the stroller and he even fell asleep for part of the ride. Woot!

We went to the baby talk group and he did great there, too, a little fussing here and there and when it was time to eat I think there was just too much going on so he didn't eat very well, but oh well. Everyone loved seeing him, too, commenting on how big he's gotten. Afterwards he was still in a pretty good mood so we stopped by H&M to do some shopping for him. I also looked at bathing suits, but found nothing. Big surprise. The Geneva Housewives had a cafe meet-up today, but it was cloudy so I think they were at the back-up location which I hadn't looked up beforehand so I didn't stop by. Perhaps next week... D got upset on the way back home on the bus, I think b/c he was tired and couldn't get himself to sleep. But there weren't many people on the bus, and the older woman sitting across the aisle from us seemed to feel bad for us more than anything, so I wasn't too worried about annoying people with a screaming baby so I just did what I could to try to soothe him and then I got him down to sleep once we got home. A pretty successful trip, really, and makes me think I should attempt these trips more often.


By the way, I forgot to mention this earlier and I just thought it was the cutest thing so feel I must document it. After the girl's night on Tuesday, I went to feed D when he got up for one of his nighttime feedings. He's usually kind of in a daze during these, too tired and hungry to really notice much, so as he started nursing everything was as usual, but then as he was nearing the end of the feeding he opened his eyes up to me and at first looked kinda confused, and then kinda smiled and gave me a look as if to say, "WHOA, hey, mom! Where've you been?" =)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Four Months and GNO

D had his 4-month check-up yesterday afternoon (can you believe he's 4 months old?). The dr told us that his blood had shown some levels of these certain kinds of antibodies that tend to be present when there's an allergic reaction, which gives a bit of evidence for a dairy allergy, so we're continuing on with that course. D got 2 shots, and really the numbing patches they gave us to put on his legs seemed to do diddly squat so we probably won't bother with them next time.

After the appointment I figured it might be fun to go use a gift certificate we have to a local baby store to buy D a fun Happy-4-Month-Birthday-Sorry-for-the-Vaccines gift or 2. I was worried about how he'd do, but I figured worst case scenario, we rushed back home. He cried in the car on the way to the store, then fell asleep, stayed asleep almost the whole time that I was in the store, woke up as I was paying, with a big smile on his face, whimpered a bit on the drive home but was mostly quiet (asleep again?), and once at home I put some of his new toys in front of him and didn't even have to take him out of the car-seat b/c he was so happy in there (if he's happy, don't move 'im). I think he stayed there for a good 20+ minutes.

He stayed relatively happy the rest of the afternoon with me, even permitting me to get my makeup done ahead of time as I waited for Zach to get home from work. He came it a little before 6pm, I quickly fed and put D down for a nap, got dressed, and was out the door a little before 6:30. Woot! Unfortunately D's mood seemed to have ended there, he woke up about 10 mins after I left and cried for 2 hours before going to bed at 8:30, having refused any bottles again. But then after those 2 horrid hours the kid stayed asleep so all in all Zach kinda got off easy. ; )

I arrived at the Alhambar a little before 7pm, and most everyone was there already-- all 20-something of them. The Geneva Housewives group really has exploded recently. I had fun chatting with the girls, catching up, sipping cocktails (Hillary documented me drinking, I expect to see the pictures shortly =P). We then headed down the block for the movie, set to start at about 8:30pm. I think there were maybe 3 guys in the theatre.

I don't want to say much about it as I know I hate when a movie gets talked up to the sky and then by the time I go see it my expectations are so high that there's no way it can measure up. But as a huge fan of Sex and the City and all things Carrie Bradshaw (and, really, all things Sarah Jessica Parker... You had me at " ...and I love to dance"), this movie did not disappoint. I'm sure there will be sequels, as long as they can get the girls to all agree to it again (I'm sure the execs would want to milk this for all its worth, seeing as SATC is such a huge brand name by now), and I'll be eager to see what they come up with next. This may be one of those movies that I can watch over and over again and still adore every time.

I got home at a little after midnight, and luckily the kid went easy on me-- after a 2:30am wakeup, he let me sleep until 6:30 before waking up again. And today went fairly smoothly. The other thing we discussed at the pediatrician's yesterday is that he thinks I'm feeding D too often, esp with having reflux he says it's better for him to get some time between meals where his tummy is empty, so he should be going at least 2, if not 3-4, hours between feedings. There have been days lately where it's been more like every 1-1.5hrs, partially b/c I've resorted to using the boob as a pacifier when he's upset). So while I'm not sure I'm looking forward to the process of extending his between-feeding times, it actually is kind of a relief to have someone tell me, "This is what you should do," and work towards it, rather than second-guessing myself constantly, and it would be nice to have him not have to eat so often during the day as it would give me a bit more freedom. Anyway, so today I made sure we went 2 hours at least, and then I'll be trying to extend the times out by 10-15 minutes increments each day over a week or so and see how it goes.

I think tomorrow I'll attempt going into town for the baby talk group, I haven't gone in about a month. It might depend on the weather... if it's pouring I may not want to bother, but we'll see. It be nice to get the 2 of us out of the house.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

so worth it

P+R parking for 6 hours: $7
Tram ticket to movie theatre: $5
Two pre-movie cocktails: $32
Movie ticket: $13
Potential hours of sleep lost: 4

Getting a night to get dressed up, hang out with the girls, see a fabulous movie, and in general feel like my old self again: PRICELESS.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Reasons Why

We had some friends over for dinner last night, we hadn't seen them in a while so it was fun to catch up a bit. They brought to my attention that I'd announced on here our move back at the end of this year, but never really talked about the reasons for that move or the timing for it. Thinking about it, I guess Zach and I talked about this issue so much that I must've assumed I already blogged about it, too.

There had always been a tentative move-back date of around the end of 2008, but before D was born we'd also always left open the possibility of trying to extend that out further. We're in a pretty great situation, living in a beautiful place, with a healthy expat package, and well, why wouldn't we want to try to take advantage of that as much as possible?

Then a few things happened. Once D was born and we had some of the grandparents come out to see him, it became clear how much all of us would love to have us all live closer together. Pictures and videos online and even instant messaging and cheap long distance phone calls don't make up for the ability to decide last-minute to hop on a plane and have a quick weekend visit, either they coming to us or us to them.

Also, it became clear that Zach's work position here in Geneva was going to require lots of travel- up to 40% or so. This year has been better than last year, as the travel has been shorter trips within Europe as opposed to 1-2 week benders in California, but the trial period of the past couple months of him traveling almost every other week has confirmed that this was not a situation we wanted to live with.

Lastly, we're kinda feeling ready to go back. Maybe me more so than Zach-- he's ready to go to a different position at his company so that he doesn't have to do the travel, but I think he still also struggles with the idea of leaving this place. I do, too, and I'm sure I'll miss so many things about it once we leave, but I've also found myself growing more frustrated with little things about living here that would be easier back in the states.

So for now, the tentative move-back date is set for November 1st, as that's what makes the most sense as far as timing of work projects that Zach's currently involved in and wanting to finish through. There's a possibility that it could be moved earlier as his company is looking to cut a few costs and expat packages is an easy one to make, but it's nearly impossible to tell yet what will happen with that. We have a vacation already set up with my mom and step-dad (and possibly my brother, too) in September so we're hoping to still stay here till the fall.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Needing several spoonfuls of sugar...

Donovan's current daily medications:

-Eye drops, 1 in each eye, 3x a day, for one week (though the goop is already cleared up quite a bit)
-Acid reflux medicine #1, given once a day. Astonishingly, the one type of medicine available for this actually comes in a pill form, which I have to cut in half and then let dissolve in water inside a syringe and then squirt into his mouth.
-Acid reflux meds #2 (also to help with digestion in general, I think), 9 drops given by mouth 3x a day.
-Vitamin D, 4 drops given by mouth once a day (this one's started from 1 week old and shall be given till we move to sunny California and don't need it anymore, I imagine).

Results from doping the poor kid up with all these meds: we've had NO blood in the poop since Thursday or Friday, and nothing more than teensy spots that I only noticed b/c I inspected every dirty diaper (the joys of motherhood, y'all!), since Tuesday. Yay!

However, he's been very very unhappy ever since Friday morning, after we started giving acid reflux med #2. I don't know if it's related, but one has to wonder. Friday was kind of the worst, I think, since then it's been more of a constant high-pitched whining as opposed to outright screaming, but he's been needing to be held and entertained about 95% of his awake time lately. He did spend a good 20-30 minutes playing quite happily at his playmat earlier this evening that was VERY encouraging. But, yeah, it's been kinda rough. We're going in for his 4-month check-up on Tuesday and I'll ask them about this. He's been more difficult the past few weeks, and he's had days like this, but it's only been about one day a week before, and we've now had 3 in a row. I'm kind of dreading how tomorrow will go, when I won't have Zach to help out.

In other news... I bought a new sling today. I'm pretty excited about it. I've kinda wanted to try a ring sling but felt silly buying one since we already have 2 pouch slings and a wrap. But then I kept hearing about these solarveil mesh slings, that can be worn in the water with your baby, and, well, it sounds like a good thing to have esp for our upcoming trip to TX. So I get to try out the ring style, as well as have a more secure way to hold Donovan when going swimming and wanting to take him into the pool with me, and it should also be a cooler version to use in the Texas heat anyway.

Well, the kiddo appears to be asleep and thus I should get to bed, too. G'night.

six word sunday: Baby Fingers- the other white meat.

Baby fingers: the other white meat.

six word sunday challenge

ps- Can I tell you how hard it is to keep those teensy little talons fingernails short? I try to clip them, think I've done a good job, then when I look at them again 20 minutes later will see all sorts of ragged and sharp edges still. And then I'll notice a big scratch mark on his face, or lately they've been actual scabs-- one on the top of his head (has figured out how to reach up there and grab his hair), and he now has one on his cheek that looks like a tribute to Enrique Iglesias's old mole.


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