Friday, July 8, 2016

A BYE-BYE THAT SOUNDS MORE LIKE HELLO




"Say bye-bye to the bunny," I urged.

"Bye-bye," she whispered in the sweetest voice as she stretched out her little arm and clasped and unclasped her hand towards Mr. Maisy, the same way we had been showing her for months.

Funny how her goodbye sounded more like a hello to a whole new chapter.

But this wasn't her first word.  I'm counting it as her second.  Her first word will go down in the baby book as Mama.  Actually, it's more like Mamamamama.  But still.  Close enough.  It happened on Father's Day.  As Wade kept telling her to say Dada, she started (and kept saying) Mamamamamama.  Sweetest words to this tired mama's ears.

And now she's scurrying after us as we walk around the house, pulling herself up on my leg, and clapping at herself after she mimics the gestures to "Itsy Bitsy Spider" while I sing.  She's my little shadow....who has quite a mind of her own.

How did we get here?  She's 10 months old today?  I've only posted her 1-6 month photos, so surely we can't have jumped ahead in time this far.

But alas.  Here we are.  Halfway through the summer and more than halfway through this little one's first year.

Tonight I'll take her 9 month photos, because I've gotten into a bad habit where I take her monthly photos on the last day of her technically being in that month.  And I just realized I already missed it by a day.  Close enough.  I'm going to have to up my timing, though, and take the 10 month ones in a few weeks.  That will get me back on track.

Now there's a first birthday to think about and also push out of my mind.  It's too soon.  I have so much more to document.  It makes me wish I would have kept the momentum up in this space, to have written down more in the moment, but then I was either busy enjoying the moment...or sleeping.

We've taken Everly on three road trips so far: to Chicago to surprise my sister for her birthday (the big 4-0), to Iowa for a reunion with my family (man, it was so wonderful to see everyone in one place), and back again to Iowa to see Wade's family (in our new van--the most comfortable ride there is).  Each trip we think she'll like the car more, but each time she proves that she hates being confined for more than 15 minutes.

I think about this space often.  I think about how hard I worked to cultivate it into something I felt proud of.  At times I feel ok letting it go, but there are other times when the thought of not having this outlet feels like a failure.  Like I'd be letting go of a piece of my pre-mother self that I'm not ready to do.  Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but sometimes it feels that way.

I have a few drafts of posts with pictures from moments that have gone by.  I overthink what I should say.  If it's thoughtful enough, funny enough, worthwhile enough.

Enough with enough.

It's not time for bye-bye quite yet.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

THE OTHER SIDE OF 40 WEEKS




















When I was pregnant, 40 weeks was my finish line.  My end goal that drove me through each nausea-filled day.  I was simultaneously impatiently rushing head first to last September, while also dragging my feet as the clock pulled me along with each passing minute.

On the one hand, I couldn't wait for the 40 weeks to be over: I'd feel like me again, get to eat/drink whatever I wanted, and most importantly, I'd get to meet my little girl.

But on the other hand, life as I knew it was changing.  Forever.  There were no take backsies or redoes.  This change was permanent.  What an amazing reason for my world to change, but still, I fretted each day as to how I would handle this wonderful and imminent disruption.

Just shy of 40 weeks, I wasn't left to wonder anymore.  I dug my heels in harder as the pangs of labor began to intensify.  But as I pushed Everly into the world, I realized I was also pushing myself to assume this new role.  My mom told me the next day that she saw me become a mother as I held Everly for the first time.  That sweet observation from someone whose opinion I value so highly has remained with me.  Sometimes you need others to believe in you so much that you begin to believe in yourself.  To let the confidence work its way from the outside in.

And all of a sudden, it seems, another 40 weeks has passed.

But this side of 40 weeks looks so much different.

These 40 weeks weren't spent anticipating, they were spent experiencing.  I wasn't focused on an end date, I was focused on each day, each moment within these 40 weeks.  I spent these 40 weeks memorizing a face, figuring out how to make a new little human feel happy and safe, how to make my current self feel happy and safe, how to be more patient, that it's ok to feel like crying, that it's ok to cry.

These first 40 weeks of Everly's life were the best 40 weeks of my life. 

And you know what's funny?  Now I find myself digging in my heels all over again.  Not because I'm scared this time, but because I want to stay in these moments a while longer.  I can feel the passage of time pulling us forward.  It's causing Everly to grow soft strands of hair that barely cover her bald head, to grow a little (sassy) personality, to grow up. 

I was surprised to see the app on my phone tell me Everly was now a whopping 40 weeks.  I hadn't counted anything in weeks for a while.  No more how many weeks pregnant are you or how many weeks old is she.  Instead of it being a day marked with fanfare, it passed just like any other wonderfully ordinary day.  It did make me stop for a moment, though, and think back on how far we both had come and how much there is to look forward to....with no end goal in mind.





Saturday, May 21, 2016

FIRST MOTHER'S DAY




Ah, Mother's Day.  That one day a year where moms everywhere get to sleep in as late as they please and leisurely go about their day, right?  Right??

Alas, the bubble I had been living in the weeks leading up to Mother's Day quickly burst when Wade and I found ourselves spending multiple hours (ack!!) trying to get Everly to take an afternoon nap....so we could take naps.  The day had started out fairly close to my expectations...

Wake up leisurely to the smell of breakfast in bed.  Ok.  I still had to get up early to feed Everly, but she did nod off again for a little bit, which was nice.  And there were pancakes.  Good ol' Mickey D's hotcakes, which were delicious.

Arrive at church early enough to give my mom her special flower.  I had envisioned arriving early to church to give my mom her lily for her to wear, but characteristic for us, we were 10 minutes late.  This lily corsage is a tradition my grandpa started many years ago.  I'm not even sure exactly when it began, but I have memories of the doorbell ringing each Mother's Day before church and then my mom walking back into the kitchen with a beautiful smile and a beautiful flower pinned to her shirt.  It was a quick delivery on his way to his own church service, but it started the day with such love.  The first Mother's Day after my grandpa passed away, I noticed there wasn't a lily pinned to her sweater as in years past.  It was another raw reminder of the void he had left.  The next year, I went to the store a few days before Mother's Day and picked out a lily corsage for my mom.  I've been doing it every year since.  This year I even picked up one for myself:)

So while I didn't get it to her early, at least we were able to be twinsies for a few pictures.

Enjoy a picnic lunch of KFC.  If mom isn't supposed to be burdened with cooking, what do you do?  Cook ourselves?  No way.  Grab some KFC and eat outside is the best idea.  It was raining, though, so we enjoyed our KFC inside.  Everly was pretty fussy, and I complained to my mom how I had started to realize how moms don't really get a break, even on Mother's Day....while she was busy clearing the dishes herself and getting me more water.  The irony wasn't lost on me:)

We used to sneak into my parent's room and pilfer through my mom's drawers and then wrap up her old scarves and jewelry as her Mother's Day "gift".  She always acted surprised, but I'm sure it just added another thing to her to do list: put away all the crap my kids took out of my drawers.

I have to say that Everly is already proving to be a good little gift giver.  She (and Wade) gave me this awesome jogging stroller!  Now I'm going to be able to run everywhere with my little babe by my side and all that baby weight will come melting off, right?  Right??  Or is that another motherhood delusion?



The day before we went to see my little niece shake her booty in her first dance recital.  She was A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E.  We went back to my brother's house afterwards for a pre-Mother's Day celebration and also to see their new tree house.  This is far from the one we had as kids, though.  It's got a roof, patio that multiple adults can stand on, two levels, a slide, and POWER!  Yep, they should rent that thing out through Airbnb.

Yep, we're both wearing golden pineapples.  If being a twinkie with your baby is wrong, I don't want to be right:)

Seeing the love between Everly and her cousins melts my heart.  I remember when these little tykes were babies and now they're playing with my baby.  It's very surreal and wonderful.

I'm so lucky.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

EVERLY RAE: 4 - 5 - 6 MONTHS OLD


I'm still playing catch up with Everly's monthly posts.  Typically, the day before she turns one month older I scramble for the camera, put a sticker on her and pat myself on the back that at least I captured her in the rocking chair, with her kangaroo, while she was legitimately in that age category.  While she was 6 months old, I scribbled notes here and there about what she had been doing during months 4 and 5, certain that I would get caught up.  But....then the 8th of the month rolled around again and surprise, surprise I still hadn't posted them.

I think about these posts all the time, but never make them a top priority.  When you're in it, you think you'll never be able to forget how her hot milk breath smells against your cheek as she falls asleep, but then suddenly you lose track of the time and other precious memories start clouding the previous ones that had been front and center. (By the way, they need to make a scratch 'n sniff sticker with that scent--baby milk breath (TM)--moms would go nutso for it.  Yep, I just trademarked it so don't get any ideas:)

So it's time to get stuff done.  And today's the day!  After a bunch of flip flopping, I've decided to combine months 4, 5, and 6 into one post.  One long, but manageable post so that once it's done I'll be able to stop fretting about my lack of record keeping and can get back to giving Everly zerbert kisses that make her squeal in delight.

4 MONTHS

Poor Everly.  We have been those parents who equate cutting our baby's fingernails with some terribly difficult and potentially traumatizing act.  Her fingers are SO tiny, though!  How are we supposed to trim them when nurses don't even want to take it on?  So we let them grow and grow...and grow.  We shouldn't have been surprised when they turned into little talons, only getting sharper every time she dug her nails into our skin, secured her grip, and clawed us.  Every night after nursing her, my chest would look I had gotten in a skirmish with a cat, except that skirmish was really just Everly exploring her world through her claws, oh I'm sorry, I mean hands:)  She even drew blood when she scratched my mom and dad's hands.  I'm not proud of it, but it did provide us the wake up call to trim her nails.  We ended up clipping one of her little fingers, but she didn't seem to notice.  It was more of an emotional drain on us.  If anyone has a better way to clip baby nails, I'm all ears.

After her 4 month check up, the doctor said we could start her on solids.  I over analyzed this whole process.  We had just figured out a smooth routine for her milk intake and now things had to change again.  After a lot of questions and help from friends (thanks Devon!!), we took the plunge....and then quickly retreated.  We started with the standard rice cereal.  A very very thin consistency the first night, which went ok.  But then we made it thicker the next day and that's when everything went downhill.  Our normally awesome sleeper would just start screaming when we put her in her crib.  We decided to switch to sweet potatoes the next day, which went a little better.  But then came the green beans.  Whoo!  I realized it was a terrible idea when I laid her down that night.  Poor little thing had an awful tummy ache.  So we decided to stop the solids for a few more weeks.  It just didn't feel right when she got so upset at night, and I viewed it as her little system needing a bit more time to develop.  (We did start solids up again when she was closer to 6 months old and now she can't get enough of everything!)




4 month old Everly started rolling from her tummy to her back!  That's how much she hates tummy time and now has a way of showing us that she's in control:)

Everly started sweating to the oldies and is jumping in her little swing.  At first, she just kind of pushed herself around on her tippy toes, but she's starting to get some air now.

Whoever said babies have it easy apparently didn't think about how hard they have to work to get their milk.  I love how rosy Everly's cheeks get after she nurses.  My sweet rosy-cheeked little girl.


5 MONTHS
I love Everly's expressions in these photos.  As I'm doing my most ridiculous faces to get her to smile, she's just not having it.  Instead of crying, she just stared me down with this smirk that implied, "Really Mom?  You're making that face again?  Have a little dignity."  What she doesn't yet realize, though, is that I will never ever stop trying to make her smile, no matter how cuckoo I seem.

Spring came a little early to our neck of the woods, and we took advantage of it.  Lots of evening walks around the neighborhood and a few fun firsts, such as...her first time in a park swing and her first time at a bar.  Now before you gasp and quote the line from Sweet Home Alabama ("you brought a baby...to a bar?"), it's important to realize that this was more of an outdoor beer garden with TONS of other kids running around.  It apparently is the place for parents to bring their little ones when they want to prove to themselves that they're still hip.  It's also right along a bike trail that would be fun to explore this summer.

The best part about this age is how much she giggles!  All you have to do is start chuckling and that will set her off.  She's such a happy girl!


6 MONTHS

A LOT happened this month.  It seemed like one day I was worried about her not hitting certain milestones yet and then the next day she just started sitting up and rolling from her back to her tummy like it was no big deal.  It was a great lesson for me to take a chill pill and not worry about what the books say since she'll figure things out on her own time.

For her 6 month birthday, I wanted pictures of her on the actual day.  So I rushed home over my lunch break and started ranting to Wade how we need to take pictures of her RIGHT THIS MINUTE.  He protested a bit at first, but soon realized how strongly I felt and snapped these adorably sweet photos in about 10 minutes.  I love how they capture her at this stage.
Everly took her first road trip in March to surprise my sister for her birthday!  She slept the first hour, and my mom made a comment about how it was going to be such an easy drive.  Literally a minute after she said this, Everly woke up, screamed, and continued crying the majority of the way to Chicago.  Not exactly the relaxing trip we were hoping for.  But on the whole the trip was awesome and Everly had the best time hanging out with her cousins.  I've got a whole slew of pictures that will make their way into their own post eventually.

On our trip, Everly had her first dip in the pool.  She appeared a bit ambivalent about it and didn't convey much expression.  At least she didn't hate it.  I bet the next time we take her, she'll love it even more.

Like I mentioned above, Everly is now sitting up all by herself and loves playing with her toys on the floor.  We have hardwoods throughout the house, so got a rug for the sunroom that is quickly becoming her domain.  She's loving her new view.

She's also rolling over from her back to her tummy.  It seemed like she figured it out overnight.  She still cried when she got to her tummy (she still hates tummy time at this point) since she didn't realize she holds all the power now and can flip over any time she wants.

Everly is becoming even more aware of her surroundings.  When we eat dinner, we put her in her little jumper (which she can't get enough of).  She watches our mouths so closely and sometimes even opens and closes her mouth like she's chewing, too.  We've gotten into a routine for feeding her solids now and have been increasing the amount she gets every week.  Right now, she's eating a fruit or vegetable around lunch time (1/2 an avocado, sweet potatoes, bananas, etc.) and then some oatmeal or whole grain cereal at night.  She's really getting into her meals and makes this cute grunting noise if we aren't feeding her fast enough.

She's gotten even more ticklish as the weeks go on.  She giggles when I tickle under her arms and her chubby thighs, but really gets going when I kiss her all over her tummy.  She loves it!

She's been doing pretty well playing independently for short amounts of time.  The other week I plopped her down in front of her toys, put on a record, and sat down at my desk to craft.  That was a solid 10 minutes of sheer enjoyment--getting to craft some items for my shop while watching my sweet babe play with her toy moose.  In my mind, it doesn't get much better than that.