Thursday, May 31, 2012

a kid and his uncle

When I was a kid, I had an Uncle Mikey. I call him Uncle Mike now, or just Mike, because it feels weird to be an adult and call another adult Uncle Mikey. Also, Mike his is name - not Mikey. So I think we're doing everyone a favor by just putting the whole Mikey thing to rest.

But anyway, he's only 13 years older than me, which made him THE COOLEST PERSON ON THE PLANET when I was a little girl. He'd run around my grandmother's yard with me on his shoulders and make up funny songs and jokes that only a seven-year-old would find funny. And to this day, I don't think I know another person who makes me laugh as hard as he does. But he's also talented and interesting and deeply thoughtful and all of those things make me admire him just as much as I did 20 years ago, but for different reasons.

And my little brother is his clone.

Which basically means that Jack is one lucky kid.

When Tyler came to visit last week, Jack smiled at him like he'd seen him every day for his entire little life. And it was like that every time Tyler caught his eye for the rest of the weekend.

I think he knows that he has a built-in buddy. This friend who will try to impart his love of baseball and music. And maybe at the same time, help him think through the big, confusing things that might plague his little mind.

And this is the part where I feel insanely thankful for my family. Our family. Jack's family. It's good stuff, y'all.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

my boyfriend's back

And that should explain the silence!

Andrew pulled in early Friday morning, just in time for the long weekend. I always miss him when he's away, but I've never been so glad to see that man. The last few weeks have been a bit on the stressful side and I was ready to have my partner back, you know?

We spent the days telling stories and catching up, marveling over how good we are at making cute babies, being outside and enjoying it now that the spring is finally here, and just reminding ourselves what it feels like to be a family of three.

It feels good.

He's home for the summer now which means our project list and Summer Bucket List is growing, growing, growing. There are many adventures to be had and memories to be made.

I can't wait.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

thoughts on flying with a baby

When I decided to fly solo with a six-month-old, you must know that I was scared. Real scared.

But I'm happy to say that it went better than I could have ever expected. And while I'd like to attribute that to my awesome planning and preparation, I think the reality is that I just have a cool kid. Dear future babies, please be as easy-going as your big brother.

I asked other mamas for tips and got some great feedback, which made me feel less overwhelmed by the whole thing. And I figured that if mine was the kid who screamed for the duration of the flight? Oh well. We'd all get over it and live to tell the tale.

Nonetheless, here are some things that made it easier on this mama:

1. An umbrella stroller. Most of the time, he was in the Ergo. It was just easier to get around the airport/through security that way. And I was planning on only bringing that, but strapped the stroller to my suitcase at the last minute. That ended up being a lifesaver - something set off an alarm when they swabbed my hands at security and I had to have all my bags searched + get the private pat down. I was able to put him down in the stroller for all of that, which made that whole ordeal a little easier. And it was especially handy when I needed to go to the bathroom. Hooray for not having to put your baby on the airport's bathroom floor! 

2. The magic milk. Everyone told me to nurse on ascent and descent to keep his little ears from popping, but it also worked like a charm in putting him right to sleep. He slept about an hour each way and since he rarely stays asleep while being held, I enjoyed the snuggles. He was awake the rest of the time and the only hard part about that was trying to keep him from pulling the pen out of our sleeping neighbor's pocket.

3. The good toys. Someone told me that she hid away her son's favorite toys and books for a few weeks leading up to their flight and then brought them out one by one on the plane. GENIUS. He was mesmerized every time I pulled something out my bag.

4. A window seat. I prefer the window seats myself, but I thought the view might also offer a distraction for him. And it did. What is this magical place?! It also helped when nursing to have my own little wall to squish against - that way I didn't feel like I was all up in someone else's elbow room. He did manage to stick his little feet in that sleeping man's side, but he didn't seem to mind.

5. iPhone apps. Crazy, right? I found a couple of little apps that kept him occupied when he was getting antsy toward the end of the flight. One was called "Old McDonald's Farm" and it's just a tractor rolling across your screen until you tap it - then the tractor arrives at a farm with all kinds of animals. I say boring, but Jack says THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER.

And now I'll leave you with this, my favorite picture from the entire trip. It was right after he looked out the window for the first time when we were in the air. He looked up at me with such wonder in his eyes, looked back out the window and cracked a little smile.

He is just the sweetest.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

our surprise trip to NC

I can't believe it's been two weeks since this trip. TWO WEEKS. Bad blogger.

In case you didn't already know, Andrew's been gone this month. About a week before he left, I was thinking (read: feeling sorry for myself) about spending my first Mother's Day alone, with no one around to make a big deal about it. Wah, wah, wah. For most of my life, Mother's Days were spent in Black Mountain with my grandmother and the rest of my family. It's always a lovely weekend full of funny conversation and good food, all shared around the table in the back yard. And when I thought about my first Mother's Day, that's where I wanted to be.

So I hatched a plan to surprise my Nanny.

Because I could never violate the Grandparent Code and come home without letting Jack see his Nonni and Grandpa, I was able to sneak a night in with Andrew's parents. We even go to see Jack's Great Grandmother and her new husband! The time with my in-laws, though short, was sweet as always. I had a few things in mind: Chick-fil-a and a break from being the only adult around to care for a certain baby. They delivered on both. In fact, I'm not ashamed at all to admit that less than 24 hours after landing in North Carolina, I'd consumed Chick-fil-a twice. And I don't have to tell you whether or not they took some of the Jack-cuddling responsibility off of my plate. I'm sure you can figure that one out.

 Then it was time for the big surprise!

Jack and I walked into Nanny's kitchen unexpectedly and I watched her eyes flash with the realization that her first great-grandchild was right in front of her. That memory will be locked away and treasured for a while. She squealed and jumped up and down and shouted "Hallelujah!" in honest, genuine praise that we were there. Cutest thing ever.

The weekend was just what I'd hoped it would be. There was the perfect amount of family and home cooking and quality time. My love language tank was full, y'all. I don't have a ton of pictures to prove it, but trust me. It was just what I needed.

And (bonus!) we got to stay with Aunt Rita and Tom in Charlotte before flying back out, where we got to enjoy their new covered porch. It was raining, which thoroughly fascinated Jack. Are we outside or inside? Outside or inside?!

Seriously, is there anything better than watching the people you care so much about love on your kid? I submit that there is not.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

jack: seven months

Little boy. Seven months? How can that be?! Every month I think, "This. This is my favorite age." And then you go and do something cuter than the day before and I have a new favorite. You keep me with a constant smile on my face, that's for sure.

You are happy all the time and I just love that about you. I always wonder what you're thinking about that gives you that kind of joy. Although, I bet it's pretty exciting to be discovering something new every second, have all your needs met the moment you need them and have people fussing over you all day long.

You know no stranger and that might be my favorite thing about you. You were the life of the party in the garden center at Lowes the other day. You were just flashing that flirty little smile and making all the ladies forget what they came for. I watched one sweet old man hobble over to his bride as fast as he could just to point you out to her. No one is safe from your charm.

This world of sitting up is your new favorite, I think. You love to be able to see what's going on and reach for anything in sight. One of these days, I expect to find you half way across the room in pursuit of something forbidden like the remote control or my potted dahlias. You reach and reach and reach until you're almost face-down. If only you could figure out how to move those chubby little legs!

You can roll around, but don't really prefer to do so unless you're in your crib. I find you all twisted and turned, just jabbering away when I come to get you in the morning.

Speaking of sleep, I hereby declare you the World's Best Sleeper. You're always asleep by 7pm, sometimes 6:30pm and it's rare that you wake up before 8am. The tradeoff, of course, is that you only take one decent nap during the day, but I like being able to sleep in so I'm not complaining. It's not uncommon for you to wake up around 5am for a snack, although lately you've been skipping that. I'd be lying if I said I didn't like to come visit you in those early morning hours. I know it won't be long before you'll have more important things to do than cuddle with your mama, so I'll take that opportunity to sniff your head as long as you're willing.

At your recent doctor's appointment, you weighed in at 18lbs, 3oz and are 29 inches long. You little chunk, you. And you handled your shots like a champ.

You have two little teeth coming in and other than the drool and your desire to chew on everything, they don't seem to bother you. But when you chomp down on my finger, it bothers me a little. Just sayin'.

You love avocado, sweet potatoes, being in the stroller, splashing in the bath tub, watching seagulls at the park and Rudy. Oh, how you love Rudy. And he doesn't mind you either, even when I found you chewing on his ear the other day.

And I just sat here for several minutes trying to think of things that you don't like, but I couldn't come up with anything other than the normal stuff like having your nose wiped. I told you were the best baby.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

to my boy, a few days after mother's day

My sweet Jack,

You are 7 months old today! I didn't take your official picture or figure out your weight or write down all the things that you're doing right now that I love so much, because there have been other things on my list. Like dealing with a basement that flooded for the second time in just a few days. Your special post will come, but in the meantime, your mama needs a break from the things from today.

And you are my break.

My first Mother's Day was an adventure. We surprised GG (my Nanny) in Black Mountain for the weekend. We spent days enjoying each other and enjoying you. I loved being surrounded by the most amazing women I know on Mother's Day - I couldn't think of a better way to spend that day than with some of the women who have been and are still teaching me how to be a mama.

Later that day, when I was nursing you before bed and you put your hand on my cheek, I couldn't help but cry a little. What a gift you've given me, little boy. This love and this joy. It's unspeakable and I feel so thankful.

When I hugged your Nana goodbye, she was in tears because she misses me and didn't want me to leave. I used to think that sort of thing was crazy. People come and go, you know? But that day, I knew exactly where those tears came from. They well up inside of you from a place that you didn't know existed until that baby puts his hand on your cheek. It's an ache. I get it now, mama. Now I know what it's like to see your heart on the outside.

Jack, you are a gem. And I don't know what I'd do without you, especially this week. You've flashed that smile and laid your head on my shoulder at all the right times.

Here's to you, precious boy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

please hold

There is much to share with you folks.

Like how my first mother's day was spent in North Carolina as part of a surprise trip down South.

And how Jack went on a plane for the first time.

And how he cut his first tooth over the weekend.

But all of that will come at a time when I have my wits about me. Because after hours of travel and dealing with a baby who didn't sleep while we were gone (read: first tooth), I came home to a flooded basement.

And dealing with that just took all my words.

So how about you say a prayer for my sanity and I'll be back soon. K?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

jack overload (in pictures)

I just dumped all the photos from my phone for the first time in a while and there were so many cute pictures, I just couldn't keep them all to myself. Consider this your Thursday gift.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

adventures in baby food

Who doesn't love a baby with a little avocado on his lip?

Jack will be 7 months old next week (waaaaah!) which means we've been playing around with real food for almost a month. I thought I'd share a little bit about that for all you curious minds out there.

First of all, we made the decision to wait on introducing solids until he was at least six months old. He is and always has been a great nurser and I know that he's getting exactly what he needs from that, so I've been in no hurry to change things up. My plan has been to continue nursing as much as I have been and anything in between will just be a bonus. Honestly, it's taken so much of the pressure off to take that attitude. When he gagged at me the first time we tried real food, I didn't freak out because I was thinking "food is just for fun." So there's that.

The first thing we tried was banana. And like I said, he made a major gag face. He was NOT interested. I waited a few days and tried avocado. Same reaction. For about a week, I'd try at least once a day with either bananas, applesauce or avocado and he just wasn't feeling it. I figured it would just take him a while to get used to the idea, but I wasn't going to rush it.

One evening while I was cooking dinner, I was carrying him around the kitchen because he was being Mr. Cranky Pants and he started reaching for the avocado I was preparing for a salad. I put a little on my finger to give him and he almost took my hand off trying to eat it. He ate half of an avocado out of my hand that night and we haven't turned back since. The kid loves to eat. He does a little happy dance after every bite and gets quite impatient while waiting for the next one. I actually love how excited he gets about eating. It reminds me of another boy I live with...

I kind of think it was the spoon that was giving him the heebies. He made the yucky face when I tried avocado with a spoon the next day, but when I gave it to him with my finger he didn't mind it at all. Slowly, he warmed up to the spoon and now I think he'd stick it down his throat if I let him. Anything to just GET THE FOOD IN FASTER.

Things on the menu:
  • Banana
  • Applesauce
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potato
  • Carrots
  • Oatmeal (ground into a powder and mixed with applesauce or banana)
Coming soon:
  • Zucchini
  • Green beans
  • Brown rice
  • Peaches
  • Blueberries
I tried to start with bland, easy-to-prepare foods, but other than that there's no real rhyme or reason to those lists. I'm just trying to pick things that a) don't pose any allergy threats and b) pack a punch as far as nutrition is concerned.

I've also been making my own baby food because it's cheap and easy. And I know exactly what's going into it. To give you an idea, I spent $15 at the grocery store on food and after an hour one afternoon, ended up with 75+ servings. That's $0.20/serving! I just steam it, blend it, pour it into ice cube trays and then store the frozen cubes in ziplock bags. Easy peasy.

Here are a few of our favorite food-related items (all of which you can find on Amazon, by the way):

1. Baby Mum-Mums. Ridiculous name, I know. They're rice rusks, which essentially turn to rice cereal when they get gnawed on. I think he likes them for teething and they're a good distraction when I'm trying to get his food ready and he's antsy. This is the only rice cereal he gets because that stuff will stop him up like whoa. But the amount he actually gets when nomming on those is so small, that I don't worry about it. Rudy gets more than Jack does just by hanging out under the high chair.

2. mOmma Developmental Drink Set. This was a gift from Andrew's great aunt and it's supposed to guide them along to drinking out of a cup. First it's a bottle, then it's a sippy cup with two handles, then it's a cup with one handle and a straw. He still hasn't gotten the memo that he has to lean his head back to get anything out, but he's good at holding it. For now, he just gets a little bit of water every time he eats. 

3. Joovy Nook high chair. Dude. The high chair decision was TOUGH. There are so many options and they can be really expensive. I finally decided that I just wanted something that was sturdy, would fold up easily and wasn't $300. I landed on this one and I love it. It folds up with the pull of a handle and is slim enough to slide behind a door. And it's easy to move around from room to room, so he likes to hang out there while I'm cooking dinner or in the sunroom while we're having coffee on the weekends.

4. Silicone ice cube trays. Great for freezing baby food - they just pop right out and are the perfect little 1oz servings. 

5. Waterproof bibs with pockets. No one ever said this wouldn't be messy and I appreciate the little pocket that catches everything, so I don't have to change his clothes after every meal. Although, Jack thinks that the bib produces food since so much ends up there. As soon as I put the bib on him he starts trying to eat the pocket. We're working on that.

6. Baby food maker. Andrew's parents found this on sale the weekend Jack was born and brought it to us. It's a Kalorik and so far, I'm really happy with it. It's great for fresh vegetables that need to be cut up before they're steamed, because it's also a food processor. But if I get bags of frozen vegetables (i.e. carrots) I just use the steamer insert on my big stock pot since it holds more and then I just puree it all in the blender. But for anything fresh, it saves dicing time by tossing it in the Kalorik.

There you have it, folks. Our (short) adventure in baby food. Now if you'll excuse me, the master himself has awakened and there's a bowl of bananas with his name on it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

scenes from connecticut: sawyer's lobsters

I'm learning to always keep my camera with me up here. Sometimes the New England-ness of this place catches me by surprise and I can't believe how quaint it all is. The South has an unmistakable charm that I've certainly missed, but this place has a special charm of its own. And I have to admit, it's kind of growing on me.

A few weeks ago, we were wandering around and came upon this little lobster shack. It was quietly tucked away on the river and there wasn't much to it - just a shack and all the things one needs when catching lobster. I enjoyed running around the dock snapping these pictures while Andrew played with Rudy and Jack took a late-afternoon snooze. Those are the moments I just eat up, you know?







If I ever get up the nerve to cook a lobster myself, now I know where to get the little critters.

Friday, May 4, 2012

ten random things (v8)

1. Andrew is gone again. Boo hiss. It's actually been easier this time around than any of the others. Maybe I'm getting used to it? Maybe I have more to keep me busy? I don't know, but I hope it continues. And he did make an unexpected port call last night, so I got to talk to him for a little while. That's never happened before and was a definitely pick-me-up.

2. Speaking of pick-me-ups. This kid. I come close to death by cuteness at least seven times a day. I feel like he's growing up so quickly and turning into such a little person. I love seeing more and more of his personality.


3. I could really go for some sunshine. It's been rainy and dreary every day this week and I would like to kindly request that the sun come back. It makes me feel so gloomy when the weather is like this, not to mention the fact that it zaps my productivity. Jack goes down for a nap and suddenly I feel like joining him is the best idea I've had in months.

4. Marvelous Prints is making a come-back. Now that we're finally settled here, I've been working on unpacking my "studio" and have even come up with some new designs. In the meantime, I put together some new address cards for my aunt. I can't show you the front because, hello, how creepy would it be for me to plaster their contact info all over my blog? But this cutie little silhouette of the Seattle skyline was used and they were pretty adorable, if I do say so myself.


5. We have a sitter! Not a babysitter (although we do have one of those). Jack is sitting up now, completely unsupported. I think he likes this new trick because he's all smiles when he can sit up and explore whatever is in front of him. He can sit in a shopping cart now, too and he's taking that opportunity to squeal and laugh at anyone who looks his way. He's the life of the party at Target.


6. Mr. Roger's Neighborhood by Jason Mraz. No further explanation needed.


7. New York! New York! My mom is coming to visit in July and she's giving Andrew and me a night out on the town! We're going to go into NYC for a night and try to see a show, then head back home after lunch the next day. I know I'll miss my little friend, but it will be such a fun time with my other boy. My first boy. My most important boy. And I know Jack's in good hands. Camp Nana is the best!

8. We all scream for ice cream. When Andrew leaves, I go a little haywire in the sweets department. In my freezer at this moment you will find three kinds of ice cream and a bag of Reese's Pieces. Don't judge.

9. I'm thinking of getting a tattoo. Totally kidding. But I bet I can name at least three people whose mouths just dropped open :) I have nothing against tattoos, but seeing as how I get the shakes before getting my flu shot, I just don't think a tattoo is in the cards for me.

10. Guess who's about to go to bed before 10pm? On a Friday. This girl! After I have my ice cream, of course...
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