Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Park Photo Dump

Warm enough for the park today and we're both worn out!

(Manual mode shooting today - hooray! No post-processing at all though. If I waited for that, these photos would never go up, so here's what I took.)

She still loves the swings. She wants to go on the big kid ones but falls off pretty much immediately.


She's perturbed by her ponytail touching the top of the tube.

Over it. What a big kid!

"Okay Mom, stop taking photos and come help me get out of this thing."

Escaping the playground.
"See ya."

"And what's around this bend?"

Very upset, despondent even, that we couldn't get closer to the fountain.

My "big kid" still crawls up stairs. Thank goodness for remnants of babyhood.

And then she runs off and reminds me how big she is again.

Taking a break to tell me, "FA FA FA FA FA!"

Are we racing, JJ? The toddler vs the preggo? They're lining up to watch that.

I have no idea what's going on here.

And.... we're done.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Stay At Home Mom Linkup

I'm not usually big on this type of thing, but another one of my favorite blogs is prompting this post.

What Being A SAHM Means To Me (sounds like "What I Did Over My Summer Vacation")


R and I both come from families with a SAHM, so that was the model we both grew up with. When we envisioned having children, I think we both subconsciously modeled our future family after our families of origin. And, while there were parts of my job I enjoyed, it was not a good fit for me, at the time, so it was not a huge sacrifice for me to quit the workforce for awhile. Me staying at home was sort of our default, and there was no compelling reason to do otherwise when I got pregnant.

And now that I'm at home with Julia, I truly believe she benefits from having a parent as her primary caregiver during these first few years of her life. I see how different she is with Robert - differences which have become more subtle as she's gotten older, but I see them nonetheless, and it makes me realize how secure she is when she's with me. I'm happy I can provide her with a "go-to" person, and as exhausting as it can be to be that person all the time, I can actually feel her relax when she's with me. Being a rather anxious person myself, I think that's important for her well-being. Plus, I'm busting my butt to give her the best growing-up environment possible: no tv, lots of books, puzzles, one-on-one playtime, fresh air, outings, and exploration.

I obviously can't compare her experience to the daycare one, and I'm not trying to here. I'm just saying that I'm confident I'm doing a good job of helping her grow mentally and emotionally, which is our family's priority right now. With #2 on the way on the heels of #1, it becomes an even more efficient decision - I'm raising all the children in our family the way we would like them to be raised.

I don't intend to stay home perpetually. At some point the girls' needs will change and I hope and plan to be able to meet them as they grow while starting up my own life again.

Not So Objectively:

While I didn't love my actual job, I derived a lot of my identity and personal sense of worth from the intellectual environment I was in every day. I was doing big, fancy-pants lawyer work at a big, fancy-pants firm, and I gotta say, it's been humbling to say the least to trade that in for diapers and spit-up and sitting around in a circle with other toddlers singing patty-cake. I'm sure this reflects my own feelings more than that of those around me, but I feel like being a SAHM is like wearing a sign that says, "I'm Stupid." I find myself saying, "I stay at home with Julia now but I used to be a lawyer," as if to toss in a quick "I'm smarter than I look, I swear." By my own personal standards, I've gone from being a productive member of society - something which was always strangely important to me - to being an underpaid babysitter.

Because, even as frequently as I wish I could just drop Julia off at daycare and go to work where I can use the bathroom by myself, I know that the job I'm doing now is easier than the job I was doing before. In a different way, of course. Now I'm on duty 24/7, and giving up not only my privacy, identity, personal growth, intellectual growth, and ego, but literally giving up my body for these children. And that's exhausting in it's own way. But, I also get to go shopping, go to the park, go to the zoo, read on the floor, and fill up our days with other things that would have sounded delightful to an overworked, over-berated young attorney.

And it's hard for me not to believe, in my heart of hearts, that I took the easy way out. And I'm afraid everyone I meet knows this.

(Edited to clarify:) What I'm saying is, my life is really nice right now. Compared to being a lawyer, it's validating, satisfying, and relatively low-stress. Which, makes me, the overachiever best-under-pressure never-good-enough type person I've always been, feel like I should be doing more. I've always felt that, if I'm not almost drowning, I'm not doing enough. And this SAHM thing, I'm actually keeping afloat for the most part. (Hah - we'll see how I feel once Baby #2 gets here!) So I'm not saying that SAHMs take the easy way out, or that they have it easier than those who work, because I really believe there's absolutely no point to having that debate; it's like trying to compare grief - you just can't do it.

What I am saying is that this is a pretty good gig, and I judge myself and wonder whether I should be doing more. I.e., working. Despite the fact that I believe it's best for the kiddos if I stay home, I constantly wonder if I shouldn't be "doing it all" instead.


I don't have much of one - like all of life, staying home is messy and my feelings about it are ever-evolving. It's been about a year and a half since I quit the workforce, and I've gradually come to peace with my our decision, mostly because I've adjusted my perspective and gotten a bit more mature about things.

The grass is always greener, and I know there are so many working moms out there who would kill to be in my position but can't. And I know in the long run, I'll never regret taking a few years off to stay at home with my children. It's cliche, but true - I can always go back to work but I can never get back these early years.

And it's my life, and my family's life, and what anyone else thinks of it really doesn't matter one flipping bit. We're happy. Julia's happy, despite my misgivings I'm way happier than I was when I was working, and I'm pretty sure R is happier too (or at least so he tells me). Like I said earlier, we're doing what we think is best for our family and best in line with our family's priorities. If that means I have to be insecure sometimes and take the hit to my ego, so be it.

Cause this little family? Kind of worth it. :)

Not the most amazing photo of us all, but we're all there!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday photos

Not feeling the blogging thing lately, but I did take a few pics of Julia so I'm putting those up for family.

(Shot almost 200 photos in full-on manual mode today, and these are the only ones that are decent. I hear you get worse before you get better, so I'm hoping that holds true for me, because I'm definitely getting worse. It's tough when your subject is moving a mile a minute, but I guess that's just making me get shutter speed down pat.)

Okay so it's a terrible photo but her expression just cracks me up. This is after she tried to eat Play-Doh for the seventeenth time.

Filling up at the Magic House.

Who goes down slides all by herself now?

Mom I got this. I know how playgrounds work.

And just watching the big kids...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Only Monday?

I wouldn't say it doesn't feel like a Friday, but I'd swear it feels like a Thursday. At the very least, a Wednesday. But the calendar tells me it's only Monday, and Blogger tells me it's been many moons since I was last around here. I've got a quiet night so it's about high time I caught up.

The kitchen is coming along. At this point, we're just waiting for the countertops to be fabricated and installed - all the tear-out is done and the lighting is finished. I hear through the grapevine that the countertops will be in on Thursday, but last week it was supposed to be tomorrow, so I'm not hanging all my hopes on that. While I still don't have a working kitchen, at least I no longer have workmen in my house until Countertop Day.


Julia is evening out a little bit. Her sleeping has gotten a bit better and the "tantrums" are calming down.

I have to put "tantrums" in quotes because they're truly just about 30 seconds of screaming and crying - not bad by toddler tantrum standards. I'm responding by getting physically accessible to her (getting down on her level, holding her, etc.), using very very short sentences to empathize with her ("Play with stove! I know! Fun stove buttons!"), then waiting for her to calm down a little and redirecting with an explanation as appropriate ("No stove. Stove hot - ow! Look! Phone buttons!"). It's roughly based on the Happiest Toddler On The Block book, and thus far it seems to be working alright. I like that I take the time to empathize and be emotionally available for her without compromising my position or authority. Do I have any idea if this is more effective than any other approach? Nope. Do I have the patience to do this every time she doesn't get her way? Absolutely not. My other tactic is to ignore her, which I do when I feel like screaming right back at her. But I'm trying. I'm also getting better at seeing a conflict before it happens and heading it off.

She's also been doing some adorable things lately:

  • When she sees that I'm making her a bottle, she'll run to her room and lay down on her floor where we usually feed and change her. From a child who used to hate laying down, this is hilarious.
  • She'll pick up her play phone and make this big fake laugh into it. "HAH HAH HAH!" Is that what I sound like? Yikes.
  • When my phone rings, she always goes, "Dada!" because R is my most frequent caller and his picture pops up when he calls. 
  • When we go somewhere in the car, I give her a book and she sits in her carseat and reads her book to me. I can often tell what she's looking at based on the sounds she makes, but it's looking back and seeing her reading quietly on her own that really warms my heart.
  • Still very little in the way of actual talking, but she makes signs for food, water, basement, butterfly, gorilla, frog, help, please, airplane, cat, and cold. She knows a few more when I make them and she's understanding more each day, but between the signs she knows, and pointing and shaking her head "no," she can communicate pretty well.
  • She still loves Scrappy. LOVES Scrappy. Loves to pat her, scratch her, hug her, kiss her, and bring her toys to play with. (Scrappy is a dear, patient dog who doesn't get enough credit in our house.)

Guess who was here first and who decided to join?

Being pregnant sucks right now. I'm pretty pissed off about it. I'm happy about New Baby but the thought of being pregnant for ANOTHER FOURTEEN FIFTEEN WEEKS makes me cry inside. Nothing's physically wrong, and I remain grateful for that, but mentally this one has been tougher on me than Julia's, for a variety of mundane reasons.

And those are my major updates. More details, probably on all of those subjects, later this week.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baby Bump #2

I was about to write out an actual post but the baby monitor just started making noise... So much for nap time today!

But I do have a photo for ya'll - proof that I'm actually pregnant. I wasn't planning on doing this but then I realized I have ZERO bump photos this time around, and that's just not fair to #2. So, here we are:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yes, I'm alive

This isn't a "catching up" post, just a "yes, I'm still alive" post.

We decided to go full-steam ahead with the kitchen remodel so I've been immersed in that. One of the reasons we chose to do it now is because the contractors are slow, which means they've been able to move very quickly on this job. Great, of course, but it means my days have been a whirlwind of tile, light fixtures, countertops, and other major, permanent house decorating decisions that I feel very ill-equipped to make. But I'm plowing through (golf claps) and hopefully things calm down in a few days.

On the Julia front, briefly: she's learned "no" and started throwing mini-tantrums when she doesn't get her way. And she's stopped sleeping through the night, so she's exhausting me.

Today, we were playing in the family room. She was throwing a fit because she didn't fit inside a little toy car the size of her foot, when a workman walked through the room on his way out the front door. She immediately stopped crying, gave him a big grin, and blew him kisses as he left. That pretty much epitomizes life around here lately.

But, Robert and I have started taking night shifts again, and sleeping in the guest room on our nights "off." Last night was a pretty good night for her, and I'm off tonight, so two decent nights' sleep in a row ought to do me some good. I'll be back to blogging on a somewhat regular basis (hopefully with some kitchen update pics!) in a few days. Maybe a week.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

....with a few words because it's my blog and I do what I like. :)

Last nice day for awhile so we hit the park again. Everyone else cleared out within ten minutes of us getting there, which felt awkward but meant we had the place to ourselves. 

I'm hoping the crummy weather tomorrow will at least bring us some snow so we can try out the sled.

Julia's a little sick. Nothing too bad, just a head cold, but I'm also hoping she gets over it without much more incident. And there should be a rule that allows pregnant women to get out of cleaning up toddler snot because I could have sworn I was past the nausea stage but I found my trigger today.

Also had an OB appointment - all is good with #2. It was one of those pointless appointments. I can feel her kick so I know she's alive, and I feel fine, so it was a lot of waiting around for a five minute convo with the OB. But, I know I'm lucky to have such an uneventful pregnancy so I'm not complaining - much better this than the opposite. So funny how laid-back I am this second time around compared to the first.

Anyways. Enough words. There's a new Modern Family tonight that's calling my name.

I know it's noisy and underexposed but I love this picture anyways.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Several things Tuesday

Meant to do a "Six Things Saturday" post... then a "Six Things Sunday" post... obviously it never happened.

Here's the quick update/rundown:

1. Bad news - I think we might be replacing the countertops in our kitchen. We need to do it before we sell this house (maybe 4-5 years down the line), and I certainly do not want to be doing it with a newborn and a toddler, and we don't really want to do it right before we sell - would be nice to enjoy it for awhile - so it looks like now is the time. I'm getting bids and getting overwhelmed with the thought of not having a kitchen or dishwasher for three weeks. We're also considering biting the bullet and getting the rest of the house painted at the same time since we're planning to paint New Baby's nursery soon (indoor - we've painted about half of it ourselves but the other half is still the beige it was when we moved in). If the place is going to be unlivable for a few weeks, maybe we should just go all-out. Again - overwhelmed.

2. Good news - I think we've settled on a name for New Baby! Finally. We're not monograming anything yet but for the first time I'm actually happy with her name. It actually makes her feel more real, which is a pleasant bonus.

3. Bad news - Also overwhelming is the search for a preschool or Mother's Day Out program for this fall. We're doing perfectly fine now, but I know Julia is going to want more stimulation that I'm probably going to be able to provide for her with an infant in the house. So we're looking at options ranging from once-a-week for-a-few-hours care to all-out preschool. I have no idea what's going to be the best option for her so I'm looking at everything, basically. The worst part is how crazy expensive it all is! Holy cow people - you're just watching toddlers... I know that's insulting to all early childhood educators but what on earth are you doing with all that money that could possibly make a difference to a 2-year-old? She's just as happy playing with rocks as with your fancy wooden organic free-range Montessori-approved-and-accredited toys. Just keep her safe and happy for a few hours for me, and don't charge a fortune, k?

4. Good news - Julia's rash has been doing so well that we're back into cloth diapers about half the time. I'm gradually easing us through the transition, watching for signs of reoccurrence but none so far. It's awesome to have a rash-free baby. She's happy, I'm happy, woohoo! She's also twice used her little potty successfully in the last couple days. I'm not crazy and trying to potty train her now, but she always pees when she gets in the tub, and she loves sitting on her potty in the bathroom anyways, so we put her on it before her bath. So far we're at about 50% getting her to go in the potty vs the tub. She knows what's going on so I figure it can't hurt to get her used to the idea.

5. Bad news - I read book one of the Hunger Games this past weekend. I was pretty much obsessed with it for the waking hours between when I started it and finished it. I desperately want to get the next two books but I'm afraid of getting sucked in for another weekend. (S - have you started yours yet? You have to!)

6. Good news - The weather has been relatively nice here lately so we squeezed in another nice park session today before the sun went down. I can't convey how thankful I am that we've had such a mild winter so far. It gets me so depressed anyways, the cold and the indoors and the dark and the longing for lazy, hot, long summer days, that it's been just amazing to be able to get out as much as we have been lately.

So, without further news, here are the pics:

Surveying the new playground.

Quickly became obsessed with the gravel.

Concentrating on staring at other children.

Both my kiddos. <3
(You wanted a belly shot? There's a belly shot.)

More socially-inappropriate wistful staring at other children.

Finally - she figured out how to go down a slide without hurting herself!
Yeah we need a close-up on that grin.

And, my favorite photo of the bunch. My view for most of the day - Little J disappearing around a corner.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Five Things Friday!

1. Beautiful weather again today! We went to the park, and it was JAMMED. I tried to get some photos but I was too busy keeping Julia safe from the older kids or chasing her after she ran off after doggies. And interacting with her, of course. :)

2. I'm looking at preschools for Little J for this fall. It's a little daunting - the sheer number of schools to consider, and the prices of many of them. I'm also bumbling through this process because the fact is, I have no idea what I'm doing. Thank goodness for the internet. What did people do before Google?!

3. Julia recognizes butterflies, ladybugs, snails, frogs, and airplanes in her book. They all have associated hand gestures and she'll do them as soon as she sees the photo or I ask her something like, "What does a butterfly do?" It's cool because her receptive language skills are noticeably increasing and it's reassuring. Because today after her nap, when I went to go get her out of her crib, she looked up at me, gave me the biggest, sweetest smile, and went, "Dada!"

4. My back hurts. 

5. I signed up for an online photography class. It starts next week and I'm pretty excited about it. I tried several times to sign up for something in person but I could never coordinate a schedule with the baby, so when I came across this, I decided to give it a shot. I also desperately need help in post-processing. Photoshop scares and confuses me, so I never edit any of my photos, but I think I need to learn. So I'm starting with iPhoto (lol) and below is my first attempt. How does it look? Overdone? Too much effect-ness? Completely adorable and heart-warming? Yep.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

State of the Family Update

Alright, well no bump pictures (I look pregnant.) but I feel like doing a little family update.


The diaper rash is, knock on wood, resolved for the moment. It cleared up with Desitin after our last pediatrician visit and it hasn't come back. I expect it to recur at some point down the line but for now, her skin is clear and I'm very very very happy about it. I'm even feeling confident enough about it to cautiously put my toe back in the cloth diaper pool sometime in the next few days.

She's still on one nap a day, but hasn't settled into a good rhythm yet. She does best when she catnaps in the car in the morning - too long a morning snooze and she won't take an afternoon nap, but no morning snooze and she's a weepy mess by noon. Her nighttime sleep is starting to get a little better; I'm shooting for at least a 7:30-6:30 night stretch and starting to get it more often than not.

She's still taking two bottles a day, but all milk, no formula (hooray!). No effort has been made at all to get her off of them, and I'm getting to the point where I don't really care. She will happily drink milk out of a cup when it's mixed with chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast, and she loves her drinkable yogurt, but not in the quantities she needs to to replace the bottles. Plus she likes them as part of her naptime and bedtime routine and I'm loathe to mess with that. (She's still nursing in the mornings like we have been, nothing new on that front. She loves it still and I can't give up the extra 20 minutes in the dark warm bed.)

You're not going to believe what you're about to read...

Julia is also going through a tough period right now, mentally or emotionally or something. She's clingy and whiney and needy and incredibly difficult to keep happy. It's just a phase, I know, she seems to get this way every two months or so, but it's wearing on me. Ironically, she's just fine with other people, like the special behavior gets reserved for me. I'm doing my best to keep my patience but I'm ready to have my chill, flexible, good-natured little buddy back.

Still doing lots of walking, running, and climbing, and virtually no talking. She says "Dada" pretty reliably, and she barks and growls and makes "brmm brmm" noises, but that's about it. She did pick up the sign for "please" pretty quickly when she realized that gets her what she wants a lot more effectively than screaming at me, so she's capable of communicating when it suits her. It just doesn't seem to suit her yet.

Baby #2:

She's good! I feel her moving around in there multiple times a day, and we're almost at fetal viability (24 weeks). She still doesn't have a name or a place to sleep when she gets here, but we're working on it.

Robert and I:

We're good. Compared to Julia, we don't change too much. My main complaints are tiredness and backaches, neither of which are big deals in the grand scheme of things so I'm happy.

We're debating doing a small kitchen remodel, replacing our backsplash and countertops. Not because we really really want to right now, but because we know there's no way it'll happen once we have two babies. I'm also looking into preschools for Julia for this fall, so our schedule these next few months is starting to fill up pretty quickly.


The weather here was beautiful today so we headed out to my favorite local park. We started out at the playground, naturally, but Julia quickly chased some doggies and we promptly ended up on the walking path. This kiddo walked at least 1/4 of a mile, maybe 1/3, just strolling along like it was no big thing and we go walking all the time. A few doggies kept her interested here and there, but mostly she acted like she was just enjoying the chance to stretch her legs. Strange. But I'm really really looking forward to springtime and the chance to get outside more often.

Adorbs, am I right?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year! (catching up part III)

It's cliche, I know, but it's so hard for me to believe that it's 2012. I'm not much one for NY resolutions or big retrospections, but I do like the fresh start that a new year brings. My resolutions this year are:

1. Give birth to a baby.
2. Keep everyone in my immediate family alive, all year.
3. Get a haircut.

I like them. Do-able. 

I also registered for a new email address and signed up for a few daily emails - inspirations, quotes, photography tips, recipes, stuff like that. No pressure to do anything with them, but hopefully something good will rub off on me.

We didn't do too much to celebrate. We had dinner with R's family, then came home, put the baby to bed, and R and I rented a movie. Actually, that's a pretty big deal for us - I haven't seen a movie since before Julia was born. (We got Bridesmaids and were pretty pleased.) I think we were both asleep by 10:30. It's been really nice having R home for the three-day weekend though. We didn't get near enough done but it hasn't been too bad having a lazy couple of days. 

(On the other hand, I've been putting off so much stuff until "after the holidays" that it's all hitting me now. I'm going to have a BABY in less than four months and we have a LOT (A LOT) to do before that happens. The freak-out is starting to melt my brain already.)

Anyways, no photos from NYE itself, but a few from the weekend. Julia and Scrappy were big fans of the unseasonably warm weather:

Scrappy isn't biting Julia...
Julia is trying to feed Scrappy a stick, and Scraps is being incredibly good-natured about it.

One of Julia's latest tricks - jumping. She gets such a big start but never gets off the ground.

See? A jump!

And follow-through.
(Looks like Scrappy has only one photo-face today.)

Doesn't J look so old here?! (I have one of these "so old already?!" photos in every set, it seems.)

This expression cracks me up. R is putting on her shoes.