Catching Up

Hear that? It’s blog crickets. Things have been nuts these days. With work, dissertating, the job hunt, and parenting, much of the other areas of our lives have shifted to survival mode. Just enough to get by while keeping our sanity and some semblance of a routine.

29 Weeks

Things are good, though. We have had time to have fun and the occasional rare opportunity to relax.

30 Weeks

Em keeps us on our toes, though! She is more and more fun every day. But long gone are the days of extended naps or laying on the floor in one spot for any amount of time! Our little girl is rolling, scooting around, and sitting up. So close to crawling, but she can’t seem to get out of reverse!

31 Weeks

Even though I sometimes reminisce about the fast pace with which I could get things done in the past, I love that Em forces us to slow down. To take time to bask in the present moment. To notice the details in the subtle changes of every day. To stop and play!

32 Weeks

I used to think that she made finding balance more difficult, but the reality? Baby girl brings balance to our lives in a way I didn’t know we needed!

Blessings bring surprises all their own, huh?

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28 Week Photos

I have been working on a manuscript for work all week, so any extra writing doesn’t seem very appealing right now. Just some adorable pictures from Em’s 28-week photo shoot!

 

Off to attempt to fill the day with both mommy-things like making baby food and a Halloween costume AND researcher-things, enjoy your Friday!

27 Weeks

We are officially into the second half of Little’s first year of life! She is changing so fast and I find myself having to constantly adjust. It seems that just when we find a new normal, she switches things up on us! For example, the introduction of “solid” foods…

An increasing interest in toys. . .

And in Newton…

Her personality is really starting to show and we can tell she will definitely be keeping us on our toes as she gets older! Our girl is wild and fearless and so, so loving.

And Baby Girl is going to take off and crawl any day now!

(Those eyelashes…I can’t even stand it!)

I am particularly in love with this week’s photos, even the outtakes…

And Em’s official 27-week photo!…

Here’s to you, Little Miss Personality!

Half-a-Year in Weekly Photos

In the midst of a crazy work week, Thursday marked Em’s half-birthday! That means we have done 26 weekly photo shoots. It is crazy to look back and see how much she has changed in such a short period of time.  Revel in the cuteness with me while I reminisce over the past six months, will you?…

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Week 15

Week 16

Week 17

Week 18

Week 19

Week 20

Week 21

Week 22

Week 23

Week 24

Week 25

Week 26!

The Mama Machine (And 24-Week Photo Shoot)

There are some amazing forces in the world, forces that can completely change a person in unintentional and unexpected ways. Don’t underestimate the power of the Mama Machine as one of these forces.

It sneaks up on you, slowly changing the way you see the world and your role in it over (an often agonizingly slow) 40 weeks. Then a quick change, over the course of a few hours or, in my case, a few days, you emerge on the other side of the Mama Machine with a little part of your heart now living outside of your body.

The changes are both dramatic and subtle. A fierce new protectiveness and a quiet caring, you are ready to take down all of those threats lurking in the corner while at the same time murmuring softly that “you can spit up on me if it will make you feel better”.

The Mama Machine changes the way you see the world. Things are scary that were benign before; things are beautiful that you may have overlooked or even rolled your eyes at.

It’s not an easy change – you deserve some credit. Simple decisions or problems might seem insurmountable when you haven’t slept more than a few hours at a time. Everything takes longer. Stress builds quickly.

But you grow and you know the dark circles under your eyes and the dark stripes across your hips and belly are battle scars and guess what? You came out of that battle with a major victory.

Joy Breeds Joy (22 and 23 Weeks)

I caved…

I’m still holding out that I don’t have *that* many obnoxious baby items, but I just couldn’t resist. Em loves to be upright and is a very active little girl, so I just knew she would LOVE a bouncer. And, oh man, that girl does love it…

She teaches me so much and this week’s lesson was that joy seriously breeds joy. I have always been one of those people who can’t wait for others to open their presents on Christmas and I usually end up giving Nate his birthday present days in advance. I don’t know if it qualifies as generosity but rather I love seeing joy in others. I need it in my life. I make an effort to surround myself with joyful people. Take your snarky wit and biting sarcasm, I will take unabashed enthusiasm any day. But seeing something I do result in joy on that little girl’s face? Totally priceless.

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I am a little behind on posting weekly pictures, so this post is a two-in-one. First, Emmy’s 22 week photo shoot was on location in Minnesota and so features what is really the only logical background…

Official 22 week photo!

And 23 weeks!  The blanket in this background is extra special because it was a Christmas gift for Em from dear friends of ours.  There is something extra special about gifts given before she made her official entrance into the world, knowing that our family and friends were as excited to greet our Little as we were.  Amy and Beth: we love you.  🙂

Hoping you all are finding your joy in life this week!

Emmy Grows Up North

Last Thursday Em and I packed up, loaded on to a plane, and headed up to Minnesota for a week with Gramma and Grampa! We were lucky to have a relatively short, direct flight and Em did great. We didn’t luck out with a 2 1/2 hour nap or a convenient changing table on the plane, nor did the Little decide to just “hold it” until we landed, but we managed and arrived safe, sound, and not overly stressed at our destination!

Nothing beats a Minnesota summer. Everything seems almost blindingly green compared to our dry desert.

We have had a great time getting Emmy reacquainted with family members and meeting new ones!

And lots of time enjoying the beautiful outdoors…

I even got a few (rare) pictures of the two of us together!

It was so cool to be able to return to my childhood home with my daughter.

But we cannot wait to return home to Nate/Daddy!!! I will be back soon with a weekly picture update, but in the meantime, wish me luck for a safe and smooth return flight!

 

(P.S. We even did the whole trip in cloth diapers – I think I earn some extra parent points!)

Five Months

As of 1:17am this morning, Emmy is five months old!

Five months since I looked like this…

Five months since I finally saw the face of the Little I had gotten to know for many months prior…

Five months since watching my husband become a daddy…

I know it is cliche, but I cannot believe how quickly time has gone by. We find ourselves saying things like “when she was little” at least once a day (as though she’s not little anymore – ha) and then having to correct it with “I mean REALLY little”. I can easily say it has been the most challenging five months of my life and the most transforming in a really wonderful way. Five months seems like a lifetime ago, but really, it was someone’s lifetime!  I find myself getting nostalgic about little things, like packing up teeny newborn clothes or (and I know this sounds totally nuts) being just a little bit happy when my little girl, who sleeps reliably through the night, occasionally wakes up in the dark and needs some snuggles from her mom.  She is changing so much every day and precious moments slip away through a sieve of time, but I am excited for every milestone and the potential that every new day brings!

And of course, we document everything, including this week’s photo shoot.  We have now done 21 of these photoshoots and it is so fun to look back through them and see the remarkable pace with which our Little is growing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep up the good work, Baby Girl!  I cannot wait to see what the next five months bring!

Thumb sucking, vaccinations, and other not-so-controversial topics

As it would turn out, you find yourself under a fair bit of criticism as a mom. Having a baby out with you invites a lot of opinions and ideas and many people aren’t afraid to voice these! Thankfully, most of the criticism I have received are pretty noncontroversial (and even a little silly). Here are some of my favorite (and the most common):

Thumb sucking. Yes, my girl has a particular fondness for her thumb. No, this does not mean she will inevitably suck her thumb until she is 14 and have horrendous teeth. At nearly 5 months old, thumb sucking is a convenient way for her to calm herself down. I love the idea that she is developing an ability to recognize her emotional states and respond in an effective way. I will deem this stage of thumbsucking as emotional intelligence and will leave any issues that may arise in the future where they belong.

Vaccinations. The first anti-vaccination comment I received was actually a little shocking, but I understand that different people have different perspectives. As a researcher, though, the arguments often get under my skin. I don’t feel the need to defend this position, but suffice it to say that the little bandaids on my girl’s thighs provide me with an immense sense of relief. Rather than crying when she gets her shots, I feel like celebrating the awesome role of science in my Little’s life (and how she won’t get polio)!

Headbands. Yeah, this is just odd. I was chastised for not getting my daughter used to wearing headbands. By a medical professional… Conversely, I have also been chastised for putting hair accessories on her, so…go figure, I guess? For the record, I have no strong stance on accessorizing babies as long as those accessories don’t involve those creepy fake teeth.  🙂

Not owning [insert specific piece of baby equipment here]. Before Emmy was born I decided that I wanted to do my best not to let my home get overrun with baby equipment and to take as much of a minimalist approach as possible.  Honestly, I don’t really feel like I succeeded at this (we have a lot of baby junk, I will admit) but there always seems to be something that we are told we must run out and buy.  For example, I fought against the pressures of the foam baby chairs for four months.  But this week, I finally caved and she seems to dig it (just not for very long).  Yay for Craig’s List!

I still try to keep the baby gear mostly limited to smaller things that can be put away and, thankfully, the Little seems to be happiest either when held or rolling around on the floor with her furry siblings.

Her things never remain “hers” for long anyway…

Being too attached/Taking too many pictures/Not spending enough time away from my baby. To this I say “too bad”. Look at that face, how could we not be in love?? 🙂

(An aside: This isn’t meant to be a rant, just a recollection.  Most of the comments we get are loving at best and mild teasing at worst!)

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And of course Friday meant our weekly photo shoot!  Em was not really feeling it today, but we managed to get some cute outtakes.  We did not manage, however, to get her hands out of her mouth long enough to get a smile!:

And Emmy’s official 20 week photo:

We love you, baby girl, even when you refuse to smile!

Choices, Balance, and Lessons (and 19-Week Photos)

(A letter to my daughter after a challenging day, sprinkled with pictures from our 19-week photo shoot.  Feel free to just skip to the pictures!)

Dear Baby Girl,
Today was a difficult day. I am in the midst of growing pains as I learn to balance the different roles in my life. I am your mama but I love my work, so rather than making sacrifices I choose to fully embrace both.

There are those that provide awesome encouragement and reassurance that I really can “have it all”, but sometimes I feel like I do both – work and family – a little less fully than I would if I chose one or the other. And you know what? I am okay with that. Not to say that I don’t give my all to both or that the quality of either suffers, but instead I acknowledge and accept that my work may take a little longer than it used to and my time with you may require a little more planning and intentionality. It doesn’t make either poor quality or less important.

There are those that remind me that “it could be worse” and I agree. However, that doesn’t make the difficult moments any easier when you are in the midst of them. It just makes you feel guilty for your honest emotions. Use others’ experiences to give you perspective but not to lessen your own.

So instead I choose to balance, to juggle, and to make an effort to integrate the different spheres of my life because, really, they aren’t separate – they are inextricable parts of one, single life.  No matter how hard I might try to divide and conquer, it just makes more sense to me to integrate.  I bring you to work, I type standing up and bouncing you in your sling, I try to get you to take a nap by softly explaining what correlations are and how to test for mediated effects.  I run out of diapers and forget my thumb drive and lose your socks and get my skirt twisted up in the wheels of my desk chair.  I get frustrated and discouraged.

And then I realize that you are learning.  You are learning what possibilities are out there for a woman and you are learning that you don’t have to choose between a family and professional accomplishments.  You are learning to pursue what makes you happy and gives you meaning even if it is sometimes a hard path.  I hope you remember these early lessons and that they foster strength in you.  I hope you learn to balance but also to not feel guilt for the learning process that accompanies change.  I hope I remember that little girls have big ears and that the way I approach my challenges may shape how you approach yours.

Em’s official 19-week picture!