Friday, December 11, 2009

Beach Vacations

So, remember when ilya was terrified of being anywhere near water when we signed her up for those swim lessons about a year ago? Remember how worried I was that she would grow up hating the water and never learn to swim? Apparently all she needed was a tropical sun and a pool that was designed specifically with her in mind complete with a shallow end consisting of about 1 foot of water that occupied half the pool. She was in heaven. She apparently doesn't remember her fear of swimming because she jumped right into the water like she was born to be there.

This love of water, however, does not extend to the ocean. Ilya is convinced that the ocean is some sort of monster that will certainly gobble her up if she is anywhere within a 30 foot radius of the thing. This fear extends to family members, which is really quite sweet if you think about it. Every time I would jump into the ocean, she would cry and cry until I came back out (alive, surprisingly). She did enjoy building sand castles and being buried in the sand.

Ilya also loved running around bear foot and saying "hola" to everyone she passed. She did NOT enjoy the plane ride. Neither did the people sitting next to us, now that I think about it. We did everything we could to entertain her, including offering to let her watch "Blues Clues" TV for the first time EVER, but there is only so much that can be done in a 3 foot by 3 foot area. Just in case you were wondering, the TV managed to entertain her for approximately 5 minutes!

Other, non-Ilya related details: Adam and I took a day off, courtesy of Grandma Mel, to go on the "Bora Bora" while Ilya stayed behind with Grandma to play on the beach. The tour consisted of waiting a very long time in the rain (yes, it does rain in Puerto Vallarta) to board a ship with very loud spanish music blaring constantly. We had wanted to go on this tour because it was billed as a "snorkeling adventure." The "snorkeling adventure consisted of 10 minutes of watching three fish eat left-over fruit with 50 other people, many of whom were kicking you in the face the entire time. There was a spanish DJ whose job it was to entertain the passengers. I wouldn't know as he only spoke spanish, and the one time I did venture downstairs, I was confronted with a half naked 50 year old, overweight Mexican man doing a strip tease. I am not making this shit up. There just isn't enough alcohol in the world to make that entertaining.

The rest of the trip was lovely complete with tropical sunsets, sunbathing, excellent food and more sun than rain. They kept playing holiday music, which really weirded me out as it was about 80 degrees outside, but I guess Christmas happens on December 25th no matter where you are in the world.

I read Julie/Julia on the beach and got inspired to spend a year cooking a an entire recipe book while blogging about it. Then I got uninspired when I realized that the indulgences that I had already partaken in thus far on the trip had increased my waistline far more than I would like to admit and cooking french food with all that butter would do nothing to help this problem. I did agree to reconsider the idea if Adam could find a cookbook that was a chicken and sea food only dairy-free cookbook. Anyone out there have any good suggestions?

My skin, has once again, stubbornly refused to turn any colors other than red or white. I, however, having learned from previous mistakes (Thailand) decided to maintain my chalky white color rather than the oh-so-attractive red color that seams to be all the fashion this season. I love the holiday season, but I must draw the line somewhere.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I don't remember the first time I met Gwynne, but I do remember that she was not like anyone I had ever met before. For one thing, her house was a mess. There was always butter on the counter and dirt everywhere. One time, she even mailed her son, Matt, a care package that contained - among other things - cat poop. She drank wine and told me that Kivas were used to sacrifice shrimp to the aliens. Gwynne was not like other mothers, and I loved her for that.

I loved that she made no apologies for the way she lived. She was full of ideas and stories and was never afraid to pursue them. She treasured her family and her animals and devoted her time and energy to them instead of her floors. I'd never met someone so committed to her ideals. She believed in the power of stories. I always felt comfortable and accepted when I was at her house, and as I grew older, she made the effort to stay in touch with me. She even sent my daughter her only copy of "Goodnight Moon" - a favorite in our house.

When I found out that she died, I cried, but I also reminded myself that there are more important things in this world than a clean kitchen and a dinner on the table at 6pm. I was reminded of all the stories that I want to share with my daughter and the adventures that I want to have. Remembering her life, helped bring a little bit of peace to my life.

I will miss you, Gwynne, but I will continue to be inspired by you.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Letter for my Daughter

Dearest Ilya,

I wanted to write this so that when you are older and you look back through these posts to see what you were like as a toddler, you might understand how incredibly special you are. Most parents think that their children are amazing and talented and brilliant. Most parents thrill in the accomplishments that their children achieve and tell anyone and everyone how amazing their child is. Most parents delight in the day to day wonder that their child brings. Adam and I are no different from most parents, but you are very different from most children. 

When you walk into a room, people can't take their eyes off you. Other children gravitate towards you and want to know you. Adults are in awe of your abilities and your charming disposition. Everyone who meets you loves you. 

You have the vocabulary of a three year old. You smile all the time. When you meet new friends (and every child you meet between the age of 1 and 12 is a new friend) you create joy and fun with screeches and giggles and games that involve running in circles. You delight in things like water drains and lady bugs. You sing the A, B, C's and count to three and spell your name. You stir pots when we cook and pour water from cup to cup until you get bored and empty it all on the floor. 

I don't know what I did to deserve such an amazingly wonderful daughter, but I do know that you are special. And Loved.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Ilya has learned to count - except for "one". 

She sounds like this: "two, three!" in a really high pitched voice which I think is what she thinks Adam and I sound like when we are trying to get her to say something.

Maybe we should all just get rid of "one". I mean, really, how many things in life would be so much better if there was more than one. Brownies, kittens, best friends...I'm sure there are others, but I'm blanking. 

She can also say her "A, B, C's"...kinda. It sounds like this: "A, B, C, L, M, N, O, P," and sometimes she adds "Z" just to finish it off. 


Monday, August 24, 2009

I think we're going to move to Germany!

Some very dear friends of ours have been traveling the country/world for the last year and have decided to settle in Germany for a while. Being the spontaneous, travel-lusting people that we are, Adam and I have decided to meet them there and spend a year living in Germany. This, of course depends on our ability to get a visa, and, seeing how neither one of us will actually be working in Germany, this might be troublesome. I think that it is all going work out, though. Don't know why, I just do. 

So, yesterday, we hoped on craigslist and sold a bunch of stuff that has been cluttering our home for years. We have a long way to go, and the thought of finding a home for all our stuff is quite overwhelming, but, again, I'm not too worried about it. It will all work out. 

Where is this zen attitude coming from, you might ask? Why so calm in the face of such an overwhelming list of things to do? I don't know. Maybe my life is going where it should. 

I've been trying to learn German on for the past few weeks. I can now, with some confidence, call someone fat and poor in German. You gotta love these on-line language learning tools :) 

We would be moving to a small town about an hour east of Berlin named Magdeburg. Housing is really cheap and our goal would be to become fluent in German by the end of the year. 

In other, adorable baby news: Ilya can now get dressed by herself...kinda...

First, she puts the dress on over her feet (please ignore the mess...I was going to give some lame excuse for why it is so messy, but, lets face it, its always this bad)
Next, she pulls the dress up...

And, she's done! She then proceeds to walk around the house with both feet in the arm hole of the dress, which, in case you were wondering, DOES inhibit her ability to walk. Sometimes she adds pearls to her ensemble. 

Monday, August 10, 2009

What to do? What to do?

I give up. I am at a crossroads in my life where I can literally do anything, and I have no idea what I should do. As I am a fan of lists and bullet points, here are some of my thoughts in a nice orderly bullet pointed list:

* go back to teaching - 
Pros: I love the day to day interactions with students, love teaching, summers off, same hours as Ilya when she is in school. 
Cons: bad pay, no respect, angry parents who assume I am giving their child an F because I harbor some deep seeded desire for their child to be a failure rather than because their child doesn't actually understand the material, long hours.

* be an astronomer - 
Pros: love astronomy, love math and physics, want to learn more about our universe, respect. 
Cons: very hard to get a job, lots of school.

* be a computer programer - 
Pros: work from home, flexible hours, great pay, respect, solving logic problems. 
Cons: tedious, isolating, not sure I'm going to like it

* develop my tutoring company - 
Pros: great pay, interesting work, already have a client base
Cons: working more hours than get paid for, unreliable

These are the major options that I've been thinking about. I would love to know what you, my faithful readers, think. Any other ideas. 

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My new favorite trick

Alice has always grunted like an old, constipated man while she poops. SDN and I think this is hilarious. Apparently Alice does too. Her new trick is telling you what sounds the animals make: Dog = bark, bark. Cat = meow. Cow = mooooo. Duck = quack, quack. If you ask her what sound poop makes, she looks at you and gives a low, long grunt: uhhhhhhhhhhhh, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Breaking Records

Seattle is experiencing a heat wave unlike any it has seen before. Temperatures are supposed to get into the 100's today (which has only happened once before, ever). Alice and I have been trying to keep cool by hitting all the kiddy pools in the area, spending time in air conditioned book stores, and going to the Children's Museum (also air conditioned). This works well for the day, but sleeping at night when the LOW is 71 degrees is quite a challenge. Last night was the worst. At 10pm, I went into Alice's room to check on her and discovered that someone has replaced the upstairs with a Sauna. Poor girl was burning up and she had the only fan in the house positioned direction on her. So, we gathered baby, pac 'n play, and pillows and headed downstairs to the office where we all slept together in the slightly cooler bottom floor room. Even though it was not the best night's sleep I've ever gotten, I loved being surrounded by my husband and baby all night long.

The heat has also made it difficult for me to keep up with my training. For the past few months, I've been training to run a 5K (a goal I considered ridiculous and completely unattainable when I first started), but, much to my surprise, I have managed to work my up to running (aka jogging VERY slowly) one and even two mile stretches at a time. I had no idea I was capable of this kind of exercise. I've become somewhat of an exercise junkie. I feel down when I miss a workout, and I feel great when I'm pushing myself. I have fantasies of someday running a half marathon. Me! Running a half marathon. Up until a month ago, I had never run more than 1 mile at a time. The heat, however, has made this very challenging. Yesterday, I took Alice to the trail near our house for a 2.6 mile run/walk to the bookstore. When we arrived, I looked like I had just taken a shower with my clothes on. I was half afraid that someone would have to call an ambulance to revive me half way there, but I did it. I'm feeling really good about myself right now. 

On an unrelated note, I think my daughter is gifted. I know parents joke about this sort of thing a lot, but I am dead serious. She not only has a vocabulary in excess of 100 words, but she can identify shapes and colors! This child is 14 months old. I guess I'll have to send her to expensive schools and send her to summer camps that half the time swimming and half the time deconstructing the mysteries of the universe. Its very exciting, but, honestly, I would probably think she was brilliant and amazing if all she did was drool and poop. She has got me wrapped around her finger. 

I think that is everything for now. I've been taking some really cute pictures that I am too lazy to upload to my computer right now, so you will have to wait until I work up the motivation to spend an hour learning how my new computer uploads images before you can see the cuteness that is my daughter. Until then, do what all your middle school friends told you to do in your yearbook - "stay cool"

Friday, June 19, 2009

new steps

My amazing daughter is learning and doing so much everyday that it is hard to keep up with her. I realize that I haven't posted about her in quite some time, and I intend to remedy this oversight. So, I apologize to those of you who are looking for an interesting post rather than a list of my daughter's accomplishments, but it is the right of every mother to brag about her child - especially on the internet :)

As of today, Alice is saying: hot, hat, dog, down, up, cat, mama, dada, duck, help, more, milk, hiding, chicken, and any other word that your repeat slowly for her. 

She is walking and sometimes even jogging (usually when she is trying to catch herself after a stumble). 

She can take her shoes off all by herself and does a really good attempt at putting them back on. She puts her toys away when she is finished playing, and can follow simple command like, "bring mama the toy," or "put your clothes in the dirty clothes basket." 

She points to her nose and the noses of every character in her books and goes down the slides all by herself. 

She is so brilliant, I'm sure that I am forgetting somethings. 

On a slightly unrelated note, I start school next week and am a bit nervous - both about the classes themselves (gosh I feel old) and about leaving my wonderful child for three days a week. I know that she will be fine, but every time I think about it I want to cry. I can tell that life is going to be a series of events designed to help me let her go. If I could, I would hug her all day and night forever.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Battling Depression

I am depressed.

I don't know why I've been so hesitant to tell people that I've been sad. Maybe its because I feel like I have no right to be sad. I'm still amazed that this incredible little person is my baby and that I won the husband lottery by marrying the most kind, fun, and understanding man in the world. I have everything that ever matters in life, yet I still cry everyday.  I have to force myself to get up and take care of the growing list of things that need to be done.

I understand why it is called battling depression. It really is a battle. It would be so much easier to just curl up in a ball, throw the covers over my head and give into this sadness that has claimed my life, but I tried that, and it just made it worse. I've decided that it is time to fight. 

Here are my three rules for battling depression:
1) exercise every day - I joined a gym and have been faithfully going about  5 days a week. When I don't go, I make sure that I walk or do something else active. This has so many benefits: I get to model healthy behavior for my daughter. I feel better. I lose weight - which makes me feel better.

2) say yes to every opportunity that comes my way - within reason :) So, invite me out, ask me to go skydiving with you, hike a mountain - I am required to say yes. 

3) keep track of what makes me happy - Alice and SDN dominate this category, but there are so many things that I love right now. The sun shining on my arm as I write this post. The quiet that has settled over the house as Alice sleeps soundly upstairs. The baby bird hoping along the fence post. 

I have also decided to take classes this summer at the UW. It will be nice to have a break and to be working towards bettering myself. I don't know what I'm going to do about tutoring. I'm just too good at my job - all my students want me to work with them extra hours over the summer (and here I thought I was going to get a break)...we'll see. 

So, now you all know my dirty little secret. I don't want you to feel sorry for me or even act any different than you normally do around me - life is about challenges and its not realistic to avoid anything that might set me off. Really, I am telling you this for selfish reasons. If I talk about it, maybe I can think of a way to fix it - a way to not feel so alone and so broken.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


We took Alice on her first camping trip this last weekend with several of our very best friends. They must really like us because they still like us even after a night in the woods with Alice waking up every half hour.

We went to Camano Island (which we pronounce Camino and is not really an island, but it is on the Puget Sound, so its close enough). Alice loved the outdoors. She played with everything and put everything in her, bugs, sticks, rocks. Here she is trying to steel some soda when our backs were turned.
I think I mentioned that she woke up every half hour, but let me reiterate...SHE WOKE UP EVERY HALF HOUR!!!! Here is daddy in the morning. You see that haze on the picture? That is a thin layer of ice covering the lens. It was that cold.
We were not the only ones who suffered. Look how tired poor Aiden is the next morning, and David looks like he could fall asleep any moment.We had so much fun, though. Alice loved the tent, although she was not such a fan of the multitude of layers that I forced her to wear for fear that she would catch cold and die. I think that there were over 7 layers covering her chest alone.We spent all day Saturday playing games on the beach with our friends. Who knew Alice was such a sports fanatic?All of our fun really tired us out. Here is Alice and Daddy the day after we got back.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Babies make the world a better place

I realize that my daughter is charming. That her smile can melt ice, and her laugh can part clouds. I realize that she is beyond cute, but I also realize that I am her mother and genetically predisposed to believe these things about my baby girl. I take no offense if others don't see her the way I do. In fact, I expect that I probably think much more highly of her than the average Joe on the street, which is why it never ceases to amaze me when total strangers stop in their tracks to oogle over my child. Her eyes are beautiful, what a charming smile, such a happy kid...

Alice and I were walking yesterday trying to absorb the brief rays of sun that poked their heads through the cloud cover when I heard two very loud, angry male voices dead ahead. We do not live in the nicest neighborhood. Its not bad, but there was a murder just two blocks away from our front door a few months ago. I couldn't see where these voices were coming from so we cautiously pushed forward.

Turning the corner right in front of us, the voices emerged. Two young men (youth! ack!) about 17 years old with their clothes hanging from them like vines in a jungle. They were shouting at each other in a way that clearly communicated, "I want to f*** you up!" but their body language conveyed their obvious friendship.

I kept my eyes focused dead ahead. Show no fear. Don't make eye contact. My heart was pounding, and I kept thinking of little Alice out in front of me in the stroller - exposed. The young men stared at us as we passed and just when I was about to breath a sigh of relief, one of them shouted back, "hey!"

Oh god, I'm gonna die! Show no fear...


"You got a cute baby!" What? I mean I know that she is cute, but I was not expecting this.

"Thank you..."

"She's almost as cute as me."

I couldn't help it. I started laughing. They were laughing. Alice was laughing.

OK, so I was stereotyping these boys, but I may never have realized the error of my ways if Alice hadn't been there to show me how silly I was to be afraid. She indiscriminately smiles at everyone and almost every single person smiles back. It makes me realize (as corny as this sounds) that this world really is a good place.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Seattle Sun!

Seattle is finally emerging from its winter shell and transforming into the reason why I live here. Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, sun is shining. I wouldn't be surprised if a harp were playing off in the distance and Disney characters started singing. It is that beautiful.

Because I can't stand to be cooped up when it is this nice, I've been dragging my family all over Seattle to absorb our vitamin D in different locations. Alice thinks that animals - all animals - are hilarious, so pretty much any park offers a would of laughter. Ha ha ha. Look at those funny ducks. Ha ha - that dog is so silly. Hee he he - this beetle is crawling up my arm...maybe I'll eat it.

I've given up trying to keep dirt, wood chips, bugs, and old shoes out of her mouth. Besides I read somewhere that exposing children to the bacteria found in these various objects as babies only makes them stronger as adults. If this is true then Alice will practically be a superhero by the time she is 12.

To celebrate this wonderful season, I've dyed my hair red (see below). I'm not sure I like it, but the amount of effort I've invested in my personal appearence over the past year has been so minimal that, I figure, this is a step in the right direction.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The issues of "more"

Alice is thrilled with her new-found communication. She is an expert at creating the sign for "more" and "all done" but I'm beginning to have my doubts that she actually understands what these signs mean.

When she is eating, she uses these signs as one might expect. She can ask for more food and tell me when she is all done. In fact, these signs have been so effective at communicating what she desires that she has begun to use them all the time.

For example, yesterday she was trying to reach a book that was on top of the table. After a few minutes of grunting, she looked at me and made the sign for "more." Not exactly the correct usage, but I understood what she wanted and gave her the book. Later, I was cooking dinner while she followed me around on the floor trying to snag my leg so I would pick her up. After a few failed attempts, she shrieked and made the sign for "more" once again.

My brilliant little daughter has decided that the sign for "more" means simply "give me what I want. Now." "More" toys in the bath. "More" pick-me-up. "More" grabbing the cat.

One down side of this trick is that I am completely powerless to stop her when she looks at me with those beautiful blue eyes and politely asks for more. I am wrapped around her finger.
The other down side is that she has decided that all other signs are useless. If "more" will get her what she wants, why bother learning things like "milk", "tired", and "book." I faithfully make the sign for "milk" every time I nurse her, and she responds with "more." Clever kid.

Update: I am feeding Alice lunch and she demonstrated her latest difficulty with the "more" sign. Lunch consisted of peas and TJ's O's. The peas were scattered all over her tray and I was feeding her the O's faithfully as she requested them with the more sign. After a while she started to turn her head away from me as I tried to feed her the O's. A clear sign that she does not want anymore. As soon as I took the spoon away, she made the "more" sign. I tried to give her more with the same result. She looked at me frustrated making the more sign. I pointed to the peas on her tray and offered the O's once again. Then she stated shrieking and making the more sign. "What do you want more of?" Her little hands kept beting together for more. Then inspiration struck. She stuck her hands in the air and smiled while making the sign for all done. All these different signs can be confusing.

Monday, April 13, 2009

rainy seattle

Do you want to know WHY it is raining? Because last week I bought two beautiful, healthy tomato plants. Do you know what tomato plants need to stay beautiful and healthy? SUN. Not rain. SUN. Sigh. I named them - Sue and Bob. I'm feeling maternal and I will be devastated if they die. I am seriously contemplating purchasing a tanning bed so that they can get the UV lights they need.

The rain in Seattle means that Alice and I have had to get both creative and tough regarding our daily activities. We went to the Zoo Saturday, and I managed to keep her mostly dry while I emerged drenched to the bone. Mostly, we've been taking lots of baths (which is a good thing because Alice's new favorite food is blueberries and I'm beginning to wonder if the blue stains will ever come off of her fingers and face - not to mention her clothes). We bathe every evening and, recently, she has been showering with me again in the morning. There is nothing quite like taking a nice hot shower when it is cold and wet outside.

Caution: the following pictures may contain baby nudity!

Cutest tush EVER!

Bath time is a busy time.

The girl loves her bubbles - I couldn't be more proud!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Every moment is precious

I am trying to hold myself back from running upstairs and just holding Alice in my arms. Every moment that I have with that child is means more to me than anything else in this entire world. She has brought so much to my life, the thought of losing her is terrifying. Its worse than terrifying...if anything happened to her, I wouldn't make it. She is my life.

I'm sitting here crying as I write this post because somewhere in California a mother and a father just lost their little girl. I didn't know these people aside from reading about their lives here and here, but I watched their little girl grow up in their pictures, and I related to their struggles as a new parent. The loss of their child is so devastating. It reminds me that every single second that I have with Alice is precious.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I am officially nuts

Today is one of those days that remind me why I love Seattle. The sun was shining - the sky was perfectly blue - and the temperature was at the perfect balance of not too hot yet warm enough that you don't even need a sweater. Perfect. I would be derelict in my mothering duties if I allowed a day like this to go by without exposing little Alice to some vitamin D, so we walked to the mall (following the path that has the maximum number of dogs along the way so that they could bark at her and she could point and laugh - ah my daughter has a sense of humor!)

Once inside the mall, I bought a diet coke to reward myself for walking all the way to the mall and I got Alice a cup of water. We passed annoying teen sales lady manning her kiosk. I make it a rule never to make eye contact with these people as they take any sort of glance in their direction as an invitation to suck you into an hour long presentation pointing out how dry your skin is or how wrinkly your clothes are and how much better your life would be with their remarkably inexpensive product - which they are always willing to discount if you hem and haw enough.

"Excuse me, miss?" I hadn't even looked in her direction, and there she was using the word "miss" in hopes that I would be flattered enough to stop and listen to her sales pitch.

"yes?" I responded automatically - her clever tactics worked.

"What do you do with your hair?" she asked reaching out to me. My hair? You mean this rats nest on top of my head that I paid someone $5 to cut because she promised she would go fast and Alice only has so much patience. This same hair that I then dyed bright red in hopes that it would draw the eye away from the awful hack job or at least make people think that I obviously have some fashion statement to make that they are just too uncultured to understand.

"Not a lot," I replied as I continued walking. This must not have been an answer that she was expecting because in the time it took her to try to find a way to weave my words into something that resembled interest in her product, I was halfway across the mall.

Alice and I sat down to enjoy our drink. Me drinking my soda while Alice poured her water down her chest, blew bubbles, and splashed her fingers in it. I periodically asked her if she wanted more while making the sign for more by putting my fingers together and she inevitably responded with her monkey grunts (an affirmative). At one point, I got distracted watching the pre-teens wearing more make-up than most porn stars and when I glanced at Alice, I noticed that she was putting her hands together clearly fursturated that I was delayed in giving her the "more" water that she was requesting. I was so excited that I nearly jumped up and down claping (completely forgetting to actually give the poor girl more water). The painted girls glanced away from me as if acting that embarrassing in public were contagious while the old man at the next table quietly chuckeled.

I remember a time when I acted like a sane person in public. Where I didn't go out with baby goop spread all over my clothes and I never raised my voice above an accecptable "indoor voice." I remember a time when I had time to get a decent hair cut and taking a break did not consist of a tug-of-war over a full glass of water. When I think about that time I realize just how boring my life was before Alice came along.

Thank you so much, little girl, for making my life infinately more interesting.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Crud

Alice is sick. It started yesterday when she was acting a bit sluggish. I noticed that she felt hot but her temperature was never hotter than 98 degrees. By the evening the only thing she wanted to do was be held and walked back and forth.

Today was worse. Her temperature got as high as 102 degrees and my day consisted of walking her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth while she whimpered against my chest. Sometimes she dozed and I was able to sit and give my back a much needed rest, but it never lasted long.

Logically I know that this is all perfectly normal. That babies get sick and fevers are part of the healing process, but it hurts my heart to see her so miserable. It scares me to death to think that something could happen to her.

Monday, March 16, 2009


As my dashboard kindly informs me, it has been a week since I updated my blog and I am feeling a bit guilty. I have about 100 new pictures that are so cute they will literally make you want to throw up complete with videos that show the cutest baby in the world doing the cutest things in the world. Lucky for you, they are still firmly embedded in my camera. I'm not have technical difficulties or anything like that - nope. I'm just too lazy to plug the camera into my computer. It would probably take me 10 seconds, but I'm really just not feeling cute pictures. No adorable videos that make you feel as if your life finally has meaning. I'll get to it soon...if I feel like it...

Here are some written updates to keep you satisfied until then. Alice is almost 10 months old and she is standing, crawling, pulling, pushing, saying "mama", waving good-bye/hell0/hey there's a car, and (my favorite) sleeping from 8pm until 5am almost every night. She has decided that cool babies don't sleep in the afternoon, so she takes one nap from 10-12:30 and is awake the rest of the day.

Her schedule is finally getting regular (I shouldn't have said that - every time I say that, she changes it up on me and never for the better).

She is the perfect baby (I know, I'm acting like one of those annoying mothers who gushes about their baby...but, in this case, it is all true). She cuddles with me, yet she is ready to explore. She isn't afraid of new people, but she always comes right back to me as if to say, "mama, I love you, even though I'm going to play with this other person now, I'll be back soon," It kills me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Letting Go

I had a day. A day that reminded me that, despite my best efforts, I cannot control everything. I'm not delusional. I know that I can't control everything, but ever since Alice was born, I have been in control of everything about her - from what she eats to when she goes down for her sleep.

Being a parent is such a whirlwind - your life gets thrown around, the only thing you have control over is how you respond to this new being in your world.

Today I learned to give up some of that control.

Incident 1:
This morning, while I was holding Alice, she reached for the crock pot that was cooking a soup. Before I could move us away, her finger brushed the side of the container (why do they even make crock pots with such hot exteriors? That's a lawsuit waiting to happen, if you ask me). Baby skin is so sensitive that it instantly blistered.

Incident 2:
We had our music class this morning. Alice LOVES her music class. She loves the teacher and all the singing and dancing. We were reminded today that now is the time to register for the next session - something we can't do due to our current financial situation.

Incident 3:
A friend of ours took Alice out for a walk and gave her a bit of cookie on the way. We have never given her sweets and have been so careful about what we do give her that I was crushed.

By the end of the day, I felt awful. What kind of a mother was I that I allowed my child to get hurt? That I couldn't give her everything that I wanted to? That I couldn't protect her from one of my worst addictions - sugar?

I cried a bit, and then I realized that I won't always be able to protect Alice from harm. She will fall down. She will get hurt, and she needs to in order to grow and learn. I realized that I won't always be able to give her everything she wants, and that is OK. Life is not about always getting what you want. I realized that one little cookie is not going to kill her. She needs to learn to eat foods like sugar in moderation.

I let go a little bit today, but I have a feeling that this is only the first in a long series of learning to let go.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Alice and the bad day

Alice woke up (early) this morning cranky, and things went downhill from there. Every time I tried to put her down for her nap, she would wake up screaming. Every time I put her down to play, she would scream. By 10:45, she collapsed in my arms and slept for a whopping 15 minutes against my chest. Poor thing was so tired, she could hardly hold her head up, but she refused to fall asleep. She has some sort of bug - snot flows from her nose. Look at the bags under her eyes.
I am ready for this day to be over.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

cracking the system

I might have mentioned: I have absolutely no control over my daughter's sleep. She sleeps when she wants for how ever long she wants, and that is only if I make sure that she is clean, fed, sung to, and snuggled in her bed. God forbid, we should be out and about when she decides it is time to sleep. She'll either sleep for five minutes in the car and refuse to take a nap for the rest of the day - or she will fuss until I manage to drop everything, rush home, and put her down.

I have, however, figured out a sure-fire way to get her to sleep for a long period of time. It's simple, really. I don't know why I didn't think of it before. All I have to do to ensure that Alice sleeps for longer than 2 hours, is: MAKE PLANS! That's it. She could have been consistently sleeping from 10am-11am all week, but the moment I make plans to get lunch at noon, she sleeps until 1pm. If we have a doctor's appointment at 1pm, she won't take a morning nap just so that she can go to sleep at 12:30.

My child is some sort of genius. She is slowly training me to give up any semblance of a life that I have to cater to her every whim. The funny part about all this is - I don't mind. She flashes me her gummy smile - gives me a little "mommy giggle" (the giggle she saves just for me when I get home from work), and I'd do anything that she wants.

I know this will be problematic when she gets older and needs things like - limits, rules...etc... - but right now, I'm perfectly content making plans that sound something like, "I'd love to get lunch. Why don't I call you between 10:30am and 3pm when Alice wakes up from her morning nap, and we'll rush out to the nearest restaurant to eat before she decides its time for her afternoon nap."

This might be the reason I'm losing touch with all my childless friends.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Alice 1, Mommy 0

Dearest Alice,

You win. I admit it. I don't know what I was thinking trying to spend time with friends after your bedtime at Alissa's house. I thought you would go right to sleep in the nice bed that I had brought with me. I thought you would enjoy the attention of all my childless friends, and I thought you would have no problem driving home after midnight and falling asleep in your own bed. I really was out of my mind.

I should have realized that this was never going to work when you fell asleep in the car at 6:30 on the way there. Of course you had no desire to go to sleep at your normal bedtime after that nap, so right away we were off to a bad start. When I finally did decide to put you down, you let me know - in no uncertain terms - that you were not happy about going to sleep in this strange place at this strange time.

Waking you up at midnight was probably not the smartest thing to do either, but we had to go home at some point - I'm pretty sure Alissa wanted her room back. You had every right to cry all the way home. If someone woke me up in the middle of the night and drove me around for half an hour, I would cry too.

I don't blame you for taking a long time to fall asleep when we got home, but did you need to wake up three hours later and stay awake until I nursed you (even though you couldn't possibly have been hungry after only three hours of sleep)? Did you really need to nurse for two and a half hours? I know you have the remarkable ability to nurse and sleep, but mommy is not equipped with this option.

I understand now. Your naps and night sleep are precarious at best. I vow to honor your variable sleep. I will not take you over to my friend's house late at night. I will strive to always be home and ready to put you down for your nap whenever you decide it is time. I will give up a semblance of my own life to cater to your sleep, and all I ask in return is that you give me 5 hours of sleep in a row at night. Please...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A letter to the love of my life on Valentines Day

I know that over the past 8 months I've spent most of my time and energy focused on Alice. I know that I haven't always told you how wonderful I think you are, or how much I appreciate the love and devotion you have for our family. And I know that Valentines Day is a day designed to boost the restaurant and greeting card industries, but that is OK with me, because it is also a day to remind me to tell those people that mean so much to me just how much I love them.

My life could not work without you. I know you work so hard so that you can spend time with us, and I love that about you. I love that you drop everything to make Alice laugh, that you sing and dance in public. I love that your nose is crooked and that you add peanut butter and BBQ sauce to almost everything. I love that you play with me and are willing to talk whenever I need it. That you listen to me without judgment and that you are always up for trying something new.

There are too many things that I love about you to list, and I'm sorry for the cheesy note and that I don't tell you enough. You are an amazing person, and I feel lucky to be a part of your life.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Alice's first love

I have what is probably the sweetest, most easy-going cat in the world. His name is Thor and he loves attention more than breathing. Literally. He would allow himself to be smothered if it meant that he could get a little love. Luckily for him, Alice LOVES him. If its a choice between her parents and Thor, she'll run to Thor every time.

Thor can't decide if he wants Alice to get close to him or not. On the one hand, he loves the attention, but, on the other hand, the attention that she gives him is slightly...painful. This indecision on his part results in a dance around the house that looks something like this:

First Alice approaches Thor (she has gotten so good at crawling).
He sees her and thinks, "oh, she's coming over her to give me some love!" so he stays put.Then she goes for the tail - because, lets be honest, it is the most interesting part of a cat. It moves so quickly and it is so soft.Thor thinks to himself, "This is annoying, but I do so love any attention that I can get, so I think I'll hang out and see what happens." This is when the baby attack occurs.
So Thor gives up and runs away. But he doesn't run far away. He wants the pain to stop, but he wants to stay close by in case more love is on the way. The baby gate has provided him with a small measure of safety. This makes Alice sad and slightly surprised.
Fear not little one. Thor loves you too and quickly returns for more.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bumps and teeth

Sometimes Alice does things that are so sweet it makes me want to cry. Like the hugs she gives me in the morning when I pick her up, or the way she buries her head in my neck when she is sleepy. Recently, she had two major milestones that she handled with the grace and courage of a baby twice her age.

Yesterday, Alice pulled herself up to a standing position without any help from me at all! It was so exciting. I took lots of pictures and got this great series of photos where she is standing and then falling down. Unfortunately, my computer ate them so the only way to see these photos is to visit my husband's blog. He stole my photos and posted them as if HE were the one to catch this momentous occasion on film! Now you know the truth.

This standing thing was so exciting, but she really doesn't quite have the hang of it yet. She tends to try to stand with her feet really far away from the object that she is pulling herself up with.

This stance causes her to place all of her weight on her hands which means that if her hands slip, she ends up with a face plant on the object that she is leaning against. This is not a problem if the object is something like a couch, but it becomes more dangerous when the object is our very sharp, awful coffee table (I never though I could have such negative feelings towards a coffee table). Alice was pulling herself up against said table and face planted directly into the edge of it. A huge welt rose on her perfect little cheek, but the part that made me really want to cry was that she only cried for a minute and then was ready to try again. Its so sweet and courageous, it breaks my heart.

If it were me, I would pout for hours and constantly point to the offended area looking for sympathy anyway I could get it. My daughter is officially braver than I am.

No sooner did she learn to stand then she was on to climbing. Nothing is safe.

As if this painful experience wasn't enough, Alice has had the unfortunate experience of cutting her first tooth. Now, when other babies get teeth, they scream and cry and moan all day and night. Not Alice. This tooth grew in without so much as a peep. Yesterday she was all gums and this morning, there was a little jagged edge on the front bottom right of her mouth.

This is a picutre of her tounge.

Here is another picture of her tounge.

I am posting these so you realize that I tried desperately to take a pictue of the little guy, but I think he's camera shy, so I am posting picures of her mouth instead. I took about 30 picutres of tounge and lips before I gave up.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Reading memories

Books are very important in our family. I try to read out loud to SDN every night and I always to Alice before I put her down to sleep. One of the reasons I do this is because it is what a "good" parent does, but the more important reason is that I truly love books and reading.

Ever since I was a little kid, I've loved to lose myself in a story. My father used to call me on his way home from work and ask me what Baby-Sitters Club book or Sweet Valley High book I needed next in the series so that he could pick it up for me.

One of my favorite memories of my grandmother centers around a book. I think I was in 5th grade and, I had managed to tear all the skin off booth my shins in a weird somersault over a brick wall sort of thing. It was the worst injury that I could remember having, and my parents were appropriately sympathetic. My wounds were dressed and I was bundled up on the couch. My grand-mother came over and sat all day long by my side reading some chapter book from beginning to end. It was the first time I had had the sheer pleasure of listening to an entire book. Her voice must have been hurting, but she never stopped reading, and I got to lose myself in this wonderful story with her.

I want Alice to experience that feeling. I want to read her books when she is sick and travel with her to places only she can imagine.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

An act of desperation

I sound like a broken record (do those even exist anymore?): Last night was the worst night yet. It started out grand. Alice went down easily and slept soundly...until I crawled into bed. From that moment on, she woke up every 10 minutes demanding to be fed (which I obediently obliged). By 4am, I was in tears and recommended that SDN head downstairs so that he could get some sleep. At 6am, she was still waking up every 10 or 15 minutes, and I could feel myself about to have a psychotic episode. I thought about heading downstairs as well and leaving Alice to cry it out in our bed, but then I realized that that was silly.

So, as light was streaming through my window, (here is my act of desperation) I carried Alice into her bedroom and put her in her crib. I was expecting wild-eyed tears, fear of this unknown environment, pleading for me to take her back.

This is not what happened.

Alice almost instantly fell asleep...until 9am!

How could I have been so stupid. Everyone said that she is waking up because she is smelling my milk, to which I replied "it doesn't matter, I love cuddling with my baby girl." I didn't really believe them, but it was all true.

Despite how tired I am right now, I cannot wait for tonight. I'm hoping that Alice sleeps well in her crib like she did last night.

Besides, how can I be grumpy when I have this face to greet me in the morning?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

making it work

SDN and I have decided that in order to spend the most time with Alice and with each other we are going to try to make ends meet by finding freelance work. The downside is that not knowing when and where your next paycheck is going to come from is extremely stressful - especially when everyday it seams like the more and more disaster is striking the economy. SDN has struggled to find enough work to pay the bills, so I decided that I would get more serious about tutoring.

That was last week.

This week, instead of my one client that I met with three times a week, I now have 5. I am amazed at how easily this fell into my lap - maybe the universe is trying to tell me that this is the way to go. My most recent client litterily walked up to me in the middle of one of my tutoring sessions and asked me to work with his daughter. Things are working out really great! I'm never gone more than 4 hours at a time so I still get to spend plenty of time with SDN and Alice, yet I'm making almost as much as I was teaching full time.

Alice is sleeping so well during the day (two two hour naps) and she is always so full of smiles. It has taken me 8 months to figure out how to live with this amazing new person in my life, but I'm finally beginning to feel like everything is going to work.

Of course, if I've learned anything it is that everything changes, so I should say "right now, I feel like everything is going to work."
Cutest baby ever (sorry the picture isn't better - she has hit the mobile phase of life and it is almost impossible to get a picture of her that is not blurry).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

a lot can happen in two days

Yesterday, Alice's 8 month birthday marked a mobile milestone for our little one. She officially crawled two paces before collapsing. It was huge, and joyous, and involved lots of cheering and singing led by SDN and myself to which Alice looked at us like we were a little crazy - but that's what she gets having two dorks for parents.

Her method for crawling is a shall I put this...inefficient. First she gets up on all fours and rocks back and forth. Then she slides her feet under her keens so that she is in something like a downward facing dog - although one her left leg is always straighter than her right leg so this maneuver invariably leads to a collapse on her right side, but not before those inches of coveted movement occur. Once she lands on her right side she wiggles her but around until she is in a seated position and then looks at me like, "WTF, how did I get seated on my butt. I was trying to move did this didn't you?" Then, in a fit of despair, she collapses on her stomach and repeats the process. Its so wonderfully jiggly with so little progress being made that it makes me tired just looking at her - so I figure, watching Alice crawl actually fullfills MY quota of exercise for the day. I love having a baby.

Today was a day about new beginnings. You would have to be dead or living as a hermit with no access to TV, radio, newspaper, or skywriters to not know that today Obama was swarn in as the 44th president. To honor this occasion, Alice and I watched his speach on TV. This is huge. Alice does not watch TV. In her entire life, I think she has watched TV for a total of 5 minutes prior to today, and I was gleefully amused to notice that she really couldn't have cared less about the moving talking pictures on the screen. She is obviously gifted and realizes that TV is beneath her. I guess the important thing, though, is that she can say, "I saw Obama get swarn in when I was just a baby." She can have the same status as all my friends who claim that they saw the original Star Wars in the movie theatre when they were infants.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I hate teeth

I hate teeth. I really do. With the invention of the blender, why do we even need them anymore anyways - sure you might miss out of some texture, but think of all the wonderful food combinations you could make with the press of a button. Eating would take a tenth of the time it does now and those evil white bones would stop making my poor baby cry.

Poor Alice is least I think she is - I've been saying that she's teething for so long, but this time I really think she is. Her gums are swollen and can't sleep longer than an hour before waking up in pain. I feel so bad for her - she's tired and in pain, but she still smiles at me when I burble her tummy. It makes me want to reach into her mouth and rip out those pesky teeth - which would be bad because then she would be in more pain than she is now...and she wouldn't have any teeth.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

the blues

Do you ever get the feeling that the world is not such a good place? I mean, aside from all the murder, corruption, and general violence, do you ever feel like everyone is just slightly off from the way you think and even though people love you and are trying to be helpful you just can't understand why they say or do the things they do which makes you feel like there might be something wrong with you? Probably not. I'm probably the only one.

I'm just feeling down today. The thought of having to work again, at some point, in the future, is depressing. The thought of being away from Alice for any length of time is depressing. Oh god, am I going to be one of those mothers who constantly hovers over their child and never lets her experience anything because I'm being too over-protective? I hope not....but right now, in this moment, I don't want to let her out of my sight. I'll probably feel completely different tomorrow. Maybe this is post-pregnancy hormones kicking in - swinging my mood back and forth.

On the upside, my lame, generic, new year's resolution to lose this baby weight is going well. I've lost 7 pounds since Jan 2nd. I'm still not ready for the swimsuit shopping which is to commence this afternoon, but at least I'm in a better place than I was a couple of weeks ago.

What a rambling, bummer of a post. Here are some cute pictures to make up for it.

OK, so this isn't the happiest baby picture ever, but doesn't this face just break your heart and make you want to reach out and hold her (which, coincidentally, is exactly what I did, completely soaking myself in the process). She was not a fan of her first swim lesson.

Here is my precious little one just about to go to sleep.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I am an adult

SDN and I went out...just the two of us...alone...without adults. I almost didn't know how to act when there wasn't a cute little neck to burble or a bouncing baby to grab every object within a one mile radius.

We saw a concert at my favorite venue, the Triple Door, and had alcoholic beverages and ate slowly and cuddled and I didn't have to expose my boobs even one time. It was so relaxing and dignified. We arrived just before the show began so we got seated in the rear of the theatre allowing us to view not only the performers but all the other patrons as well. Towards the front row there was a family (obviously huge Lenka fans - did I mention we were seeing Lenka...we were) consisting of a mother, father, little boy and little girl. The little girl couldn't have been more than 7 and, in the spirit of being 7, she continuously jumpped up and waved at the performers. It was so cute I wanted to cry.

Alice would have loved it but SDN wouldnt' let me take her. "its too loud," he complained. "You're turning into an old man," I retorted. "If I was old, I wouldn't think that it was too loud because I wouldn't be able to hear," he responded. "Yea, well...old people think things are too loud and you think things are too loud so you must be there...and your beard is too long." I showed him. Really put him in his place.

Friday, January 9, 2009

To santa or not to santa

Being a parent is hard work. It seams like every day there is a new decision to make that could alter the course of my baby's development...forever...

Do we let her play with the toy that is proven to raise her IQ but contains large wooden balls that could possibly detach and choke her? Do we use cloth diapers at night, which would be more environmentally friendly but tends to the morning? Do we vaccinate? Do we need to apply for pre-school now in order to get her into the "good" ones? Do we use baby sign language? I could go on forever.

Of all these questions, though, none seams more debated than "The Santa Question." Before having Alice, I vowed that I would never lie to her. No matter what she wanted to know, I would tell her the truth, but what about Santa? Who am I to deny her these childhood fantasies?

Luckily, I don't have to decide yet. Alice doesn't care about "The Santa Question." She only cares about getting to eat all that pretty paper that is covering all that junk.