Nine Months In; Nine Months Out

Forty-one weeks ago, Miss P made her long-awaited debut- all 7 pounds, 1 ounce, and 20.5 inches of her.

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Introducing Little Miss P

She didn’t emerge with gusto, the way some babies do. Instead, she was limp and silent.

We were transferred from a free-standing birth center to the hospital in the final stages of labor. Before Miss P’s entrance, a nurse explained that there was meconium in the amniotic fluid. Though this didn’t necessarily signify a problem – it actually wasn’t too uncommon – a team from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit would be standing by incase of complications.

The moment Miss P was born, time was suspended like the lingering pause between a bolt of lightening slashing the night sky and an angry crack of thunder in the distance.

“Meconium. It’s the meconium,” I heard someone say.

The doctor rushed to cut the umbilical cord, swaddled a languid Miss P in a receiving blanket, and placed her in my arms for a fleeting moment – a moment in which someone snapped our first family photo. I barely had the chance to look down at her before she was taken from me, whisked away to the NICU.

Suddenly, there was so much going on around me: bright lights, loud voices, medical staff shuffling back and forth. I could hear the incessant chatter and laughter of nurses seated at a desk in the hallway and the bleeps from equipment in neighboring rooms. A nurse scolded me- something about bending the IV – an IV I wasn’t even supposed to have – as I gripped my cell phone and tried to focus on the 2″ by 3″ photo of my baby girl the student midwife from the birth center had sent me before she left the hospital.

The whole thing was so far from the peaceful private entrance I’d been fantasizing about since we switched to midwifery care and found a supportive doula.

Then for the first time in forty-one weeks, I was completely and utterly alone.

Miss P had what we like to call a rough start, but less than halfway through the day, she was breathing unassisted, alert, and nursing like a pro. Even so, the first 48 hours of her life were spent in the NICU under observation. During this time, Tim and I were allowed to stay with her. We were allowed to hold her and care for her, though not quite in the same ways we would have had the situation presented itself differently.

I find myself often wondering what it would’ve been like had my baby not been pulled from my arms moments after her birth- to have experienced the “Golden Hour” they often referred to in our childbirth classes in all its sanctity: no weighing and measuring, no bath to compromise the precious vernix, no generic blanket and cap to mimic the warmth of that initial skin-to-skin contact with the mother.

I wonder what it would’ve been like to hold my baby close without a tangle of cords hooked up to various monitors intruding between us, to know the sound of her breath without the drone of equipment – equipment that in our case was completely unnecessary. I also wonder how I would’ve felt had I not had to watch a nurse push the empty plastic bassinet from my room, its wheels squeaking across the tile floor.

I don’t often recount the first days of our lives as a family of three, but when I do, most of my listeners tell me to move on. After all, I was fine. Miss P was fine. It was just a rough start. We live under the guise that a healthy mom and a healthy baby are the only things that matter when they are not. And, by the way, the term healthy isn’t limited to outright physical vigor. We can’t know for certain the repercussions – regardless of how delayed or seemingly unrelated they may be – of separating a newborn baby from its mother. I’m not sure I’ll ever emotionally heal from Miss P being taken away from me, even if it was only for a few hours, even though we both ended up being outwardly “fine”.

As much as I daydream about it, I can’t go back in time and make Miss P’s entrance a peaceful one. I can’t change the fact that she spent her first hours in a stark bassinet  instead of in the arms of her mother and father. I can’t change that she spent her first two days adorned with tubes and wires. I can’t alter the past, but I can move forward consciously and with intention.

I think this is one of the reasons I’ve really resonated with many aspects of attachment parenting. I didn’t set out to be an attachment parent; I didn’t read books on the subject or watch documentaries, I just started doing what, to me, felt natural, and I’ll continue to do what feels natural- to utilize the mother’s instinct that was born with my daughter. I don’t want my sweet baby to succumb to fear or loneliness. I want her to know I’m here for her, now and always.

So, here I sit, forty-one weeks later, with Miss P napping beside me. The room is dimly lit, piano music is playing softly in the background, and the scents of lemongrass and cedarwood tangle in the air as they escape the diffuser. This has become our evening ritual- a nightly Golden Hour of sorts, albeit delayed.

I can’t alter the past, but I can move forward consciously and with intention.

As I sit here this evening watching Miss P sleep, I’m trying to wrap my head around the significance of this extraordinary milestone we’ve just achieved as a family: nine months in; nine months out. Or, in our case, forty-one weeks in; forty-one weeks out.

It’s no secret that human infants are nearly helpless at the time of their birth. Though a full-term baby is born around the nine month mark, its gestation period most definitely continues outside the womb, and in many ways, the nine month milestone, with its bold determination and mobility, seems to bring this external gestation full-circle.

I think back to the night we brought Miss P home from the hospital. Those first few weeks were visceral. They were full of laughter, tears, ambivalence, joy, and utter mental and physical exhaustion.

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Relaxing during our first week home

Everything was methodical, and there were so many calculations to keep track of: last nursing session, which side it took place on and for how many minutes, wet and soiled diaper output, frequency and duration of naps, and duration of nighttime sleep.

What was her temperature? Did she burp after she nursed? Did she burp twice? Was she too hot or too cold? There was also the uncertainty about how much milk she was actually consuming- a figure that I now know wasn’t something I needed to worry about, yet I spent our first month together agonizing over this lack of information and intermittently texting my midwife for reassurance.

And don’t even get me started on the fit of anxiety that stems from clipping those itty bitty fingernails, keeping her floppy slippery body upright during baths, and pulling her head and delicate limbs through the tiny openings of her sleepers and onesies.

Now Miss P tries to climb right out of her bathtub, and she pulls her shirts up over her head to undress herself. She creeps and crawls and cruises along the walls and furniture. She points when something catches her interest, bounces when she hears a song she likes, and she clears out the kitchen cabinets at least five times a day.

She calls for our cat, Oliver, with me- says, la la, pssst psssst – and wobbles with excitement as he trots over to us. She buzzes and hums and clicks her tongue, and she never tires of smiling at her reflection in the mirror or probing her finger along the owl wind chime that hangs in our living room if you hold her up beside it.

She’s full of spunk and a touch of sass, and she has so much energy that all of our latest pictures are blurry because I can never get her to stay still for more than a moment.

Our baby girl has now grown outside the womb for more or less the same amount of time she spent developing within, and although her exit was turbulent, every day thereafter has been filled with peace and love and a surprising amount of clarity.

Sure, there’s clutter, and chaos, and exhaustion sprinkled in as well. There are often dirty dishes piled in the sink, and baskets of clean laundry that take far too long to get put away, and there are days here and there that end before I’ve even had a chance to shower, but there’s a certain element of beauty in imperfection, and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

I’m constantly astounded by this little person who now consumes me. I don’t know how I existed before her, and then I remember I didn’t exist; I was born alongside of her forty-one weeks ago. And oh, how we’ve both grown!

9 months Chalkboard

Happy 4th of July. Miss P is 9 months old!

41 In 41 Out

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Nursing Necklace Giveaway

Our Etsy shop, The Tiny Acorn By J Lee is very excited have teamed up with Here for you reviews to bring you an exciting giveaway!

Giveaway Square- Lagoon

Around three months of age, Miss P began getting distracted during nursing sessions. Every sound and sensation was new to her, and she’d often yank my hair, tug at my clothes, kick her legs, scratch her nails across whatever surface we were seated on, etc. I started making these necklaces to keep her busy little body occupied while nursing, and for us, they’ve become a dependable solution. Miss P also enjoys holding on to these necklaces while being worn in a sling.

Nursing necklaces stimulate the senses and allow little ones to expel energy without losing sight of the task at hand- nursing! They also provide a source of security and comfort for baby and an opportunity for mom to accessorize with an item made from safe and durable materials. (And don’t let the name fool you; these necklaces aren’t just for nursing mamas!)

Simply click the link below and follow the instructions for your chance to win a sweet and cozy handmade nursing necklace from The Tiny Acorn By J Lee in Lagoon.

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, Dear Readers!

8 Months

8 Months Chalkboard

Tomorrow marks nine months for Miss P.

NINE MONTHS. I can’t get over it.

But, first, here are some eight month updates. (Better late than never.) 8 Months 1

8 Months 2

8 Months 3

June – Miss P’s eighth month – was a month of ups and downs around here: Miss P’s first airplane ride, adventures in Upstate New York, visiting family in the breathtaking rolling mountains of Pennsylvania, and let’s not forget the latest developmental milestone P’s been tackling- STANDING up and FALLING down, a new trick that leaves me rife with anxiety and hovering over her at all times. {Hello, porcelain tile floor!}

Miss P’s newly acquired mobility coupled with several projects I’ve been juggling over the past two months have kept me from this space. Gone are the days of spending hours at the computer while occasionally glancing up from the keyboard to admire my peacefully sleeping little one. Oh yes, long gone.

As the fog of being a new Mama lifts, I realize there are many things I’ve surrendered since Miss P’s arrival (some temporarily, some for good) such as: sitting down to a hot meal (actually, make that sitting down at all), the vast majority of my favorite tops and dresses as they don’t offer sufficient boob access, make-up (most days), the hair dryer and curling iron, running errands just because, doing anything – besides showering -quickly, napping because I’m tired or not feeling well, meeting a friend for an impromptu lunch or happy hour, etc.

Late nights out have been traded for late nights in, sky-high heels have been exchanged for flats, red wine replaced with tepid herbal tea, and reading time has dwindled from hours a day spent thoroughly engrossed in a quality novel to minutes here and there spent scanning poorly written articles – many of which condemn my parenting choices – shared over social media.

I scroll through said articles while standing at the kitchen counter and gently swaying from side to side as Miss P peacefully naps in our woven wrap or while nursing her to sleep at night in the glider or while patiently waiting for her to wake in the morning, pausing every couple of sentences to look over at her snuggled beside me in bed.

These articles often tackle controversial topics and cross into territories where the author, let’s call her Sally Sassypants, has no jurisdiction: Sleep training, anyone? No thanks, Sally. If my baby cries, I will pick her up, even if that means I’m “doomed” to comfort her throughout the night until she’s a teenager, which, by the way, is a major aspect of the whole parental role- you know, actually being there for your kids.

These articles often promote rigid schedules- schedules that don’t support the baby’s needs, and encourage incomprehensible ideas like letting your baby self-soothe, which we all know is just a euphemism for cry himself/herself to sleep, and I’m thinking, “Damn, we’re a little off,” because I’m not even out of bed yet, and I’ve already broken seven of Sally’s rules.

{Hey, Sally, how about you parent your way, and I’ll parent mine, mmmmkay? And here’s a tidbit for you, compliments of a breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing Mama: Do us a favor, and run a grammar check on your articles before you publish them, because there are always, always grammatical errors, and that really compromises your credibility; just my humble opinion, of course.}

I know, I know, I really need to just stop reading this rubbish. I’ve been watching Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar collect dust on my coffee table for months now, a fate that, for me, is right up there with preparing my favorite meal only to gaze longingly at it, thinking how wonderful it would be if I were to devour it. (Maybe I’ll move The Bell Jar from the coffee table to the nightstand so I can partake in some real reading time in the fleeting moments that allow for it.)

So the fog – that haze made up of bliss, hunger, exhaustion, and, at times, the harsh realization that nearly every aspect of your being has been altered – has lifted, and I’m starting to realize that being a Mama can get awfully political if you buy into that sort of thing. I’ve also realized it’s not advice or reassurance I want or need because, at the end of the day, there are only two people it concerns if I choose to nurse Miss P to sleep each night, and I don’t have it in me to let either of us down.

Ah yes, so I’ve traded some things in, but look what I got in return:

P3

 P4

P1

P5

And really, I didn’t give any of these thing up. I’ve heard my share of moms boast that they’re “still the same person” after the arrival of their little ones. {Sally is one of those moms.}

I am not.

When I think of the former me, the “me” before P – and the place she has gone – the hauntingly beautiful description of visual memory Vladimir Nabokov provides in the opening pages of Lolita comes to mind. Nabokov asserts that, “there are two kinds of visual memory…” The me before P is best described as the second of these two: “(the kind) you instantly evoke, with shut eyes, on the dark innerside of your eyelids, the objective absolutely optical replica of a beloved face, a little ghost in natural colors.”

It’s actually the former version of myself that I’ve traded in; the me before P now exists only in photographs and on the dark innerside of my eyelids. She’s ethereal.

And as for the new me? I’m living more consciously than I ever have before because there’s a tiny person who depends on me, and my heart is so full of love and gratitude for her. As an added bonus, my floor is so clean you could eat off of it, and, I suppose, I can temporarily succumb to shoddy reading material and tepid tea.

On a lighter note, I leave you with some pictures from our recent trip to New York and Pennsylvania. {Oh, how I want to go back!}

plane

Miss P’s first plane ride. (She handled it much better than Daddy.)

NY1

I was so happy to see a lilac bush, even if it was a tad past its prime.

Miss P does the zoo

Exploring the Safari Bus at the zoo.

Miss P in Oswego

Miss P “strolling” down Bridge Street in Oswego, New York.

car ride to PA

Miss P’s first road trip! En route to Pennsylvania.

Welcome to PA

Oh, the beauty. Welcome to Pennsylvania.

View from the hotel

A view from the top.

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This place was seriously so gorgeous!

gorge landscape3

gorge landscape2
gorge landscape1

Meatless Monday Ciabatta Bread Veggie Pizza

This Meatless Monday, I’d like to share our typical Friday-night dinner – Ciabatta Bread Veggie Pizza – because, well, it’s one of our favorites. [In fact, it’s so good that sometimes we break down and make a second batch by mid-week.]

For us, Friday nights used to be a time to get dressed up and head to a local bar for drinks and a few hands of Texas hold ’em, but since Miss P’s arrival, that routine has been replaced with a new one: Our Friday evenings now entail a trip to the grocery store to stock up on necessities for the coming week, lots of playtime for Miss P and homemade vegan pizza for dinner.

[And if you’re currently thinking, “That sounds like a terribly dull way to spend a Friday night,” you’ve obviously never run errands with an infant in tow and you definitely haven’t attempted to prepare and consume longly stare at a meal until it’s ice cold in the company of said infant.]

This week was no exception! [And, in case you’re wondering, yes, the pizza is even delicious cold.]

Daddy & Miss P

Tim sporting Miss P! (I cannot believe how BIG she’s getting!)

Tim’s also sporting one of our handmade nursing necklaces – which Miss P absolutely loves – from our Etsy shop, The Tiny Acorn by J Lee. (We’d be honored if you’d drop by for a visit.)

Now, down to business: Tim’s been experimenting with vegan pizza for some time now, and he’s finally come up with a simple recipe we’re completely satisfied with. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Ciabatta Bread Veggie Pizza:

veggie pizza6

Move over, Delivery. Seriously.

Ciabatta bread bakes to a satisfyingly toasty yet toothsome pizza crust, and provides a hearty foundation for robust tomato sauce and all of your favorite toppings! Keep yours simple or get as inventive as you’d like. This meal is so quick – and easy – to throw together, making it an excellent choice for Meatless Monday.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • oregano (to taste)
  • basil (to taste)
  • garlic powder (to taste)
  • 15 oz. jar pizza sauce (We like Organicville.)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (We use Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds. It’s dairy-free and melts wonderfully, but you can use any brand you’d like.) 
  • 1/2 cup (or desired amount) red bell pepper, diced*
  • 1/4 cup (or desired amount) red onion, diced*

* We kept it simple and used red bell pepper and red onion, but the fresh veggie combos are unlimited, so feel free to experiment!

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the loaf of ciabatta bread in half, then cut each half lengthwise so you have four pieces. Drizzle each piece with olive oil (we use about 1 tbsp per slice). Spread sauce evenly over each slice (we use about 1/2 cup per slice), then dust with oregano, basil, and garlic powder, to taste. Next, generously sprinkle shredded cheese over sauce (again, we use about 1/2 cup per slice). Now you’re ready for your veggies, or other toppings. Add as many as you like; have fun experimenting here! (One of these weeks I’m also going to try fresh basil and sliced Roma tomatoes, yum!)

veggie pizza1

Olive oil

veggie pizza2

& sauce,

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“cheese” & veggies, oh my!

Bake pizza at 400 degrees until bread becomes nice and toasty and “cheese” melts, approximately 16 minutes. Due to differences in ovens, keep an eye on your pizzas; they can go from cooked to perfection to charred in a matter of minutes, trust us. 😉 This pizza was definitely cooked to perfection!

veggie pizza5

Behold! Vegan-cheesy goodness!

Much tastier than takeout and healthier as well!

7 Months

 

7 Month Board

Happy 7 Months to Miss P! Seven. Months. How is that even possible? Seriously. 

Since her half-birthday, Miss P’s tasted her first solid foods. [Let’s hear it for avocados and sweet potatoes!] She’s become a pro sitter-upper, an exuberant hand-clapper and [wait for it, wait for it] a curious crawler; the last of which the cat and dog don’t seem overly impressed with. She’s also charmed our pants off – over and over again – with her well-placed declarations and whispers of Mama and Dada.

Yes, it’s certainly been a triumphant month for Miss P.

[Trumpets blare in the distance]

Miss P's First Itty-Bitty Pony-Tail

Miss P’s First Itty-Bitty Pony-Tail

One of the things Tim and I had been (apprehensively) looking forward to this month was dabbling in the introduction of solid foods. Although we were given the go-ahead to begin Miss P on rice cereal [gag] at four months, [Seriously, pediatricians, WHY are you STILL recommending this?] we knew from the beginning that we wouldn’t be offering her solids until she passed the six-month mark. And we certainly wouldn’t be beginning with rice cereal because you don’t have to do much digging to learn that, despite what that good ol’ ped tells you, rice cereal (or oatmeal or any other grain) is an extremely poor food choice for an infant.

First, rice cereal has little nutritional value. Second, in order to digest said grain(s), the body must utilize an enzyme called amylase. That sounds simple enough, I know, but the trouble is, babies don’t produce this enzyme in a large enough quantity to properly digest grains until sometime after the one-year mark. (Babies actually don’t produce amylase at all until sometime around 6 months.)

Armed with this information, Tim and I decided Miss P’s first foods would be two of Mama’s favorites: avocado (which is rich in healthy fats), followed by sweet potatoes (a decent source of iron). We also decided to skip the purées and begin with finger foods, a decision that initially left me all, wait, can you DO that? As it turns out, you can; It’s called baby led weaning (blw), and it’s something I recently learned about (and something I’ll speak much more about in a later entry). I do want to quickly clarify that in this instance, “weaning” is meant in the sense of beginning to incorporate solids, NOT terminating a nursing relationship.

At 6 1/2 months, we were ready to begin blw!

How did this seemingly zany method of introducing solids turn out? Was it a success? I suppose to answer, you’d have to decide on a personal definition for the word “success.” Our goal has always been for Miss P’s main source of calories and nutrition to come from breastmilk for the duration of her first year. That being said, we’re viewing these early encounters with solids purely as sensory experiences as opposed to meal replacements. We don’t always offer solids each day, and when we do, they quickly become squishy messy playthings.

Most of the food that reaches her mouth does so inadvertently, but that’s okay. She seems perplexed and amazed with these new textures and sensations, and we can’t get enough of her priceless responses to them.

Miss P’s verdict on the small amount of  food that’s actually been ingested: Avocados, NAY; Sweet potatoes, YAY!

7 Months Food Collage

Behold! Squishy things! I shall look confused for a moment, then proceed to mash these items up and transfer them to my lap!

As for this business with the crawling, I’m going to have to elect to skip over that and remain in denial for at least a few more weeks. I hope that’s okay.

[Emotional breakdown averted]

Now, on to our photo shoot, which proves more eventful each month:

7 months chair 3

7 months chair 2

7 months chair 1

7 months chair 4

She’s been checking out the books on the shelf behind her chair for months now, but this is the first time she’s ever plucked one from the ledge and pulled it into her lap mouth. [Note: It occurs to me now that we’re a bit backwards here with the whole food in the lap and book in the mouth bit.] We took a break from our photo shoot to read a book about Eeyore the Donkey. Alright, I had to take one picture of our story-time; it was just too sweet not to.

When she grew tired of the book and the chair, this happened:

7 months chair 5

Slow down, Miss P! Mama is not ready for this just yet. This is also one of the few pictures where I see some of myself in her; she’s usually all Daddy.

And sometimes in the midst of all this hustle and bustle, I’m able to capture a moment of serenity; these moments feel as if the whole world is taking a deep breath.

[Inhale] 

Black and White Garden

Miss P communing with nature.

Pensive playtime

Pensive playtime

Kangaroo

An after-lunch nap for Miss P

Black and White Sleeping

Sweet dreams our Dearest Miss P. Mommy and Daddy love you.

 [Exhale]

Spring Fever

woodsSpring is in the air around here. Okay, okay, I must admit, spring in South Florida is just a lump of hot days where I wait, dreading the humidity’s impending return. I guess what I should’ve said was, spring is on my mind.  Yes, that feels a bit more accurate.

This is my eighth spring in South Florida. I thought the first few were pretty spectacular, what with not having to wait for the snow to melt and all. In fact, I decided to move to Florida as an undergrad at SUNY Oswego when I roused one late-April morning, and looked out my window only to see two inches of snow had settled on my car while I was asleep. I decided to blow off my classes and go back to bed; there was no way I was pulling a snow brush out that late in the year. I’d spent two-and-a-half decades in Upstate New York- enough was enough.

[Next stop, South Florida]

Year round warm hot weather turned out to be a novelty that I quickly grew bored with. My year used to be marked by four seasons. Sure, some unpleasant weather popped up from time to time, but these seasons worked in harmony with one another and gave my life a sense of time and balance. In the absence of traditional seasons, I feel disconnected; I’m living in a vacuum.

This year Miss P is with us, and I’m realizing that if we stay in South Florida, she’ll never know the crisp pungent air and blazing leaves of fall – the season she came to us. She won’t wipe the fog of her warm breath away from the window as she peers out at snowflakes gathering on front lawns and mighty pines or feel a stir of anticipation as the inclement weather slowly gives way to the rebirth of spring. She won’t dance in the sunshine, inhaling the sweetness of lilacs and fresh cut grass as the first signs of summer reluctantly creep up, or run barefoot though the velvety lawn collecting crab apples and lady bugs.

lilac bush

The delicate blooms of a lilac bush. (Very special thanks to Jasmin Efing in New York for allowing me to share her photo.)

In South Florida, I’m forced to experience the beloved seasons I speak of mentally rather than physically. I keep scented candles and trinkets representing each one stuffed in a bureau drawer – a sandwich bag full of colorful fabric leaves, a snow globe that lights up and sends glitter swirling onto the encased landscape, a pine cone I picked up off a dirt path in Vermont – and I draw upon these collections throughout the year as a means of triggering my mind to take me back. Still, there is a hollowness and palpable longing.

These treasures will never evoke the seasons for Miss P; not as I know them. They won’t coax vivid images onto the back of her eyelids or fill her nostrils with scents that aren’t really there, yet are so powerful, at times, they seem to take over the room. They won’t leave her reeling with a visceral longing to hop in the car and head north until she’s home, because she is home, and here she will know her own seasons. Non-seasons. Seasons that fall out of balance with my own.

These are some of the things I’ve spent the last few months pondering, but life doesn’t slow down while I dwell on its implications, so I must continue to move forward. We’re already busy around here creating our own spring traditions- hybrids of the way spring is meant to be experienced and how it presents itself in the subtropics.

I’ve been making floral crowns for Miss P and taking her for leisurely strolls around our neighborhood. We recently learned the Poppins Hip Carry in our new woven wrap, and it’s become one of our favorite carries for walks because it allows Miss P greater freedom to look around at the world while still providing an opportunity for her to turn into me and nap when she’s had enough.

These days we’ve been enjoying every moment of fresh air we can, because soon it will be so hot outside that the candle residing on a tabletop on our patio will turn to a pool of wax in the blistering afternoon sun.

Spring Fever

My little flower child

crown

Most would call this sudden urge to be outside, this urge to commune with nature – to honor it with time and flowers and feelings of gratitude – spring fever. For me, “spring fever” has become a seasonal symptom of another psychological malady called homesickness.

For Miss P – this world where lilacs don’t bloom, and Robins don’t lay their speckled eggs the color of the June sky, this world where leaves don’t turn luminous with hues of gold and red and burnt orange in fall, and snowflakes don’t blanket the forest in February, this world of year round mosquitoes and greenery, this world where the air has only two settings: hot and hot and humid – this world of suspension is home.

I can’t wait to take her home with me.

I’ll leave you with a handful of photos from our spring shoot.

And what spring photo would be complete without a Beatrix Potter book? My sister and I adored Potter’s books – and the furry creatures that run wild throughout them – when we were kids.

Spring Photo Shoot Book 3Spring Photo Shoot Book 1Spring Photo Shoot Book 2

Miss P looking like a magical fairy in the frilly dress her Grandmom sent:

Spring Photo Shoot 1Spring Photo Shoot Tinkerbell

Future Perfect

The longer I live in Florida, the more I miss the traditional four seasons and the changes each one brings along with it. When I hear people complaining about cold weather and countless inches of snow on the ground- and, believe me, I used to be one of those people- I can’t help but feel a pang of anger and a tinge of jealousy. It’s halfway through February, the “coldest” time of year around here, and the South Florida sun is still so hot that I can’t even open my blinds and allow daylight into my house. It’s like we live in a cave.

I’ve been longing to return to the Northeast since we found out we were expecting Miss P, and it’s been very difficult for me to accept that Tim doesn’t want to move. While I’ll never give up on the idea, I’ve decided I need to make the most of our time here. That means instead of staying cooped up inside the house all day, Miss P and I need to get out more, and, I have to say, we’ve really been living up to this goal. In fact, last week was full of fun and firsts.

Speaking of firsts, we got our first woven wrap last weekend. So exciting! We began using a stretchy wrap when Miss P was a newborn, and it worked very well for us (once we finally figured out how the heck the thing worked, that is). Since the fabric is, well, stretchy, we started running into problems as she got heavier (around the three-month-mark). It says on the package that it can be used until your child is 35 pounds, and while it may be true that the fabric is strong enough to accomplish this, by the time Miss P was approaching 14 pounds, the wrap became terribly unsupportive and, as a result, uncomfortable. We’ve been using a soft-structured carrier over the past month, and while it’s easy to use and extremely supportive, she’s still a bit too small for it. So far our woven wrap is perfect for us.

Miss P also had her first trip to the beach last weekend. By the time we arrived I was starving, so we stopped at a Subway along the boardwalk. Veggie Delight, anyone? Of course Miss P was so cozy in our new wrap she was asleep by the time we finished eating, and she slept through the rest of our excursion. This was a bit disappointing because I really wanted her to get to see the ocean. Looks like we’ll be making another trip soon.

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Miss P’s First Trip to the Beach, and Mommy’s First Wrap-Job- February 9, 2014

Miss P’s not the only one around here experiencing firsts. Our dog, Brooklyn, and our cat, Oliver, have never had the pleasure of knowing a baby before, and it often seems like they’re not quite sure what to think of this whole ordeal.

From time to time, Oliver is fascinated by Miss P. He likes to relax along the edge of her play mat. He sprawls and preens and watches every little move she makes, which is wise because Miss P’s quickly becoming an expert at reaching for and grabbing objects, and said “objects” often include Brooklyn’s tail and Oliver’s fur.

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“It’s a fine day to enjoy the sunshine,” thinks Oliver.

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“Whoa. Why is that tiny human getting so close to me?”

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“Okay, enough. I just know she’s going to pull my fur.”

Miss P seems to be quite fond of Brooklyn and Oliver. Her eyes widen and she smiles each time they pass by. Sometimes she kicks Brooklyn- on accident, of course- as he prances across her activity center. You’d think he’d learn to walk around it, but no. Miss P startles as he lets out a meek yelp, then she smiles.

The other day I managed to retrieve a sizable clump of dog hair from her hand as it was en route to her mouth. It was a close call.

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tummy time1

In addition to her sudden interest in the family pets, Miss P has discovered her thumb! According to the manuals, I’m supposed to be horrified, but I must confess, I think it’s quite cute. She seems positively thrilled with this new toy. Just look at that smile:

MisterX 1thumb

She’s also found her feet. She constantly reaches for her toes and tries to roll over while holding tightly to them. The other evening she kept grabbing her foot and bringing it up to her face while she was nursing. She became so infatuated with her foot that she stopped eating so she could shove it into her mouth. After a few seconds, she let out a growling sound that told me she was still hungry and wasn’t having much luck getting any milk from this exciting new object.

As far as outings go, Miss P’s been on the move. Last week we had a lovely picnic at the park with a friend and her daughter.  We’ve also met up with a local babywearing group a couple of times, and, I have to say, It’s been wonderful getting out of the house and meeting some new Mamas! These occasions aren’t just fun for me; the more alert and observant Miss P grows to be, the more she seems to enjoy the change in scenery as well. (That is when she’s not sleeping.)

meetups

If all this excitement wasn’t enough, Miss P just celebrated her first Valentine’s Day. We spent the morning conducting an impromptu photo shoot, because, seriously, I can never seem to take enough pictures of this little woman. She was so eager to show off her tummy-time skills and that sweet little smile. I used a clip art kiss because no Valentine’s Day picture would be complete without one, but I just couldn’t bring myself to smudge lipstick on my baby’s face.

vday kiss

After our photo shoot, we took a walk to the mailbox where Miss P’s first official Valentine was waiting. It was from Grandma and Grandpa Bob. (She’s since gotten a couple more.)

vday card

That evening, on the phone, my mom told me that she and my dad chose that particular card because of the bow (which is actually a detachable barrette). Legend has it, when I was a child, all of the little girls I drew- and there were many- each had a bow, just like the one on the card. My mom and dad thought it was cute and ironic and couldn’t resist this card because of it.

As for me, I don’t remember the bows. I vaguely remember the little girls. I clearly remember adding eyes and a smile to every sun and tree I drew throughout the entirety of my childhood. Thinking back, it seems that a smiling sun and tree were featured in nearly every drawing I created.

Sometimes the tree branches boasted bright green puffs- my rudimentary attempt at leaves. Other times, they were adorned with red, orange, and gold swirls. If it was a tree I drew on Valentine’s Day, the branches would likely be bare, in reflection of winter. Regardless of the season, I guarantee there was a smiling sun peeking out from the top left corner. Isn’t it funny what our minds choose to cling to?

I can’t wait to share the story behind Miss P’s first Valentine with her when she’s a bit older. She’ll wear her red bow as I tell her that I, her Mommy, drew a bow just like it on all of my little girls when I was her age.

I wonder what characteristics Miss P’s future drawings will feature. One thing is certain: I will have made it my mission for her to grow up in a place that allows her trees to change throughout the year.

Clean Dishes and Momsicles

I want to share a picture of the cleanest dishes ever:

dishwasherThese dishes have been through the wash four times. How does this happen?

Yesterday morning I realized someone accidentally added a couple of dirty dishes to an otherwise clean bunch, so I decided to run them all through the wash a second time. The dishwasher ran its cycle and shut off, but I forgot to unload the dishes.

Later that night, I was nursing Miss P to sleep on the couch (yes, despite the advice of nearly every book, article and person, I nurse Poet to sleep every night) when I realized the dishwasher was running again. I didn’t want to disturb her by yelling upstairs to Tim, who was already in bed at this point, so I decided to try to ignore it, even though it was making me crazy knowing that these dishes where on their third whirl.

It was still bothering me about 20 minutes later, when Tim came downstairs for a drink.

“Why is the dishwasher on?” I asked.

He was still half-asleep and misunderstood me. I suppose he thought I was telling him that the dishwasher wasn’t shutting off, that it was just running and running. Thinking he was remedying the problem, he twisted the dial around to OFF before the dishes were finished.

“There, it’s fixed.”

“Are you serious?” I asked. “Why would you do that?

I explained that I asked why the dishwasher was running because the dishes in it were already clean, not because it was broken and not shutting off on its own. Since the dishes had not yet finished rinsing, I asked him to turn the dial back to where it was before he’d touched it. He did, and went back to bed.

A few minutes later, I got up to put Miss P in her crib when I realized he’d, once again, started the wash cycle from the beginning, and I totally went to bed without shutting it off.

Hence the cleanest dishes ever.

***

We’ve been playing a new game around here, which is one of the reasons I forgot to unload the dishwasher in the first place. The game goes like this:

  • Lay Poet on her back.
  • Poet rolls over.
  • Poet looks around at the wonderful things she couldn’t see before.
  • Poet is tired of being on her belly, but doesn’t know how to roll the other way.
  • Poet screams.
  • Flip Poet over.
  • Poet rolls over.

It goes on like this until I pick her up. Over and over and over. I’ve been trying to teach her how to roll from her belly to her back with no success. I think it’s just something she’ll learn on her own in time.

Miss P’s Grandma and Grandpa found the cutest crawl mat at the flea market, so her play area got a serious expansion this week.

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I don’t know what it is about this mat, but she gets so happy every time she’s on it. She seems to get a kick out of rubbing her hands over its surface to feel the texture and scratching at it with her nails. (She also does this with the couch, blankets, her toys, basically anything she can get her hands on.)

Miss P loves to be naked, so, we’ve been giving her five minutes or so of naked play-time on her mat every night before her bath. In this time, she kicks her legs, rolls over and squeals with delight. One night, she peed.

Whew! You’d think all this excitement would wear her out, but she actually seems to be on a napping strike right now. (That’s what I get for mentioning naptime in my last post.) It’s like she’s afraid to close her eyes for fear of missing something really fantastic. I tell her she’s the most interesting thing going on in this house these days and that when she sleeps, I just sit next to her and write about all of the wonderful things she does when she’s awake, but I don’t think she believes me, because boy is she afraid to close her eyes.

Here’s my solution:

Ergo Nap

This thing has magical powers. Seriously. As soon as she starts showing sleepy cues (usually rubbing her eyes and/or yawning), into the Ergo she goes. Within minutes she’s peacefully snoozing, and my hands are free to write, clean, do laundry, unload the dishwash– wait, maybe I don’t have an excuse as to why those dishes went through the wash four times after all. Darn. Don’t tell Tim.

***

Lately, we’ve been on a mission to get Miss P to take a bottle. Tim used to try to give her a bottle every night after her bath as part of her bedtime routine, but she’s never consistently taken it. We’ve tried several different types of bottles and various feeding positions with little success. Since these attempts often ended with Miss P crying and Tim frazzled, we eventually gave up. I guess it just seemed like more trouble than it was worth.

Now she refuses the bottle altogether.

I keep telling myself it’s not that big of a deal that she won’t drink from a bottle, and it hasn’t been yet, but there’s a peace of mind in knowing that if, for some reason, we were separated, she’d be able to eat. It would also be nice to get to use the 45984 bags of pumped milk that are crowding our freezer.

While scouring the Internet for suggestions on how we might get Poet to take a bottle, I stumbled across what I thought was a fun idea: Momsicles! Momiscles are “popsicles” made from breastmilk. Who comes up with this stuff? I liked the idea of freezing breastmilk and offering it as a treat so much that I had to try it. (Hello logical and enjoyable precursor for solid foods!) It also seems like a great natural alternative to using ointments and such to alleviate teething discomfort.

I pumped while Miss P was napping, poured the milk into a popsicle mold, popped it into the freezer, and Viola! Momsicle in the making! I couldn’t wait for Tim to get home from work so we could try it.

The results:

Momsicle1

Momsicle2

She, obviously, didn’t chomp the whole thing down, but she was definitely interested. It was a bit messy, and it would probably take her two weeks to eat the whole thing, but it was fun. I will definitely be keeping these on hand when teething is in full-effect. Hopefully by then, she will be able to hold them by herself.

We still haven’t come up with a solution for the bottle. I don’t think we’re going to.

What’s Miss P’s opinion on this whole ordeal?

Just this:

bottleAnd there you have it.