Friday, January 30, 2009

Henry in motion

Last night, Henry grew weary of his view of the ceiling and, a little closer, the activity mat stuffed animals that dangled over his head. So he turned on his side. He'll be rolling over soon.
Earlier this week Jim said, "look! He's used his hands to pick up the towel, bring it to his mouth, and gnaw on it. That's huge!"
All of this autonomy means our little guy isn't a newborn any more.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stuff on our heads #3

Uh... Willa? Pardon me, Princess Willa? You've got a little something on your head there...

Yesterday's backseat complaint

"Da suunnnn.... is too bright. My EYYYEEESSSSS hurt."
Poor kid's forgotten what a sunny day is like. So trudges on winter in Michigan.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Full ears, full house

Our house sounds like a blend of pet shop and playground.
Willa sings! Runs! Skips! Laughs because, "[I] like to laugh!" Everything she is doing is with enthusiasm, hence the !. A simple request for milk turns into a musical with singing and dancing and sometimes the splits. The cranky times are just as much a production.
Henry has found and is amused by his vocal cords. Last night he was in his exersaucer and yelling for 20 minutes. He was not upset, there were no tears. He was grinning and screeching at the same time. He sounds much like a parrot: similar sounds over and over.
Right now our house is a loud mess. The kitchen is getting closer to being done, we're preparing for my office to move home and getting used to baby gear - all over - all over again. It is loud and messy and completely full of life.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stuff on our heads, #2

Pride and its difficulty to swallow when laughing

I am not ashamed to admit that I am very proud of our kids.
Henry is adorable and strong, and a project that is coming along nicely.
Willa is also adorable and strong-willed and creative and bright.
She can tell you she lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Genius, I know.
With last week's hoopla and headlines, we taught her that our country has a new boss and his name is President Obama. The information weaved itself in her head, and when asked who the president is she would say, "Oh, bama."
I beamed.
We were at my parent's house this weekend for Bill and Jackie's baby shower (my mom did a GREAT job). When we came downstairs on Saturday morning, Willa noticed a gift sitting on the fireplace bricks.
"Lurk* mama! Present Oh bama!"

*She does not say "look" hence, we do a lot of "lurking" at the Sinki clubhouse.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

70's in review

This begins the "stuff on our heads" collection. More to follow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Small, small world.

Facebook is magic. I am now convinced. An old college friend looked me up. He asked if I had a sister named Erin. After 2 more messages we figured out that my cousin Erin babysat his daughters twice a week last year. Facebook + an unusual last name means connecting with a lot of folks from slightly faded photos.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dear kids,

I wish I could fully encapsulate the anticipation your mom - and a lot of your country - is feeling right now. This very minute we're awaiting the announcement of the president elect for his swearing in.
Knowing that behind all of this pomp and circumstance is hope in a man who was elected through grass roots efforts, someone who was noticed by character and acts before a big party machine could officially adopt him as theirs to offer up to voters has warmed this politically cynical soul.
I am listening to Yo Yo Ma and his contemporaries play right now, and the music is fresh and uplifting. Like today's sky: brilliantly bright, no clouds, blue...
I am stuck by how alone I am while looking at images of millions of people gathered in DC. I am in an office by myself, pumping milk for Henry.
And though those images remind me of how big this country is, how many opinions and interests and hopes are represented by few elected leaders, I am feeling very integral in this process. I ask myself: how has my life and what I've done with it lead this country to this point? I have had the opportunity to formally serve our country as an Americorps member and have assisted individuals, families and communities beyond that committment. I have assisted in building houses and educating young people and cleaning up parks and environmentally protected areas. I vote like my life depends on it (because I believe it does). I am outspoken about equal rights and believe in our Constitution.
I am one. And those millions are made of many, many ones. And if we all worked together in the spirit that the world has caught in it's throat today...
Just last night Willa and I talked about Martin Luther King Jr. I told her he worked to make sure that people were treated the same - no matter how they looked. I told her there are many people who are doing that work still today. I like to think that her parents are among those people working for the rights of, and to improve the lives of people with physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities.
I am hoping to lead you, Willa and Henry, into lives that benefit others somehow - not just by making shareholders of a company a little wealthier.
I voted for this President. That's something I can proudly declare for the first time in 8 years.
Kids, it's a proud moment for this country. How special that you're alive at this moment. How amazing that someday you'll take it for granted.
Until and beyond that day, I dedicate myself, and will continue to challenge myself, your dad, you both, and everyone I know to help this country (in every little pocket we find ourselves in) become a more actualized version of the ideals of truth, justice, equality and promise.
Right now our new leader is speaking, and it's time for us to listen. And directly afterwards, act.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dear Henry,

Well, here we are on our first day apart.
I'm back at work, surrounded by files and bare walls; a result of having prepared to move into a home office before we knew the technology would delay it.
You are experiencing your first day at day care. I have been thinking about you all day.
Are you napping now? On your back? Are you giving your teacher an easy time of that?
Are you enjoying new faces and sounds? Willa met Seth on her first day there. 2 and half years later, they're best friends. I hope you've found a little buddy.
Are you taking your bottles all right? How much have you eaten? I need to know how much to stress about only pumping 13 ounces today.
Has Willa been in to visit you? Did you give her your full grin? Was she happy to see you at "her" school?
I am wondering if babies have the ability to miss people.
Because I am counting the minutes until I can scoop you up, bury my nose in your wispy hair and smell your sweet baby breath. I am excited about feeding you, and hugging you, and even changing your diaper.
26 minutes until I leave. Tick, tick, tick...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sun sets on a great chapter and other mixed metaphors

T-minus 13 hours, 15 minutes of maternity leave left. Jim asked today if I was all right with going back. Sure, I said. 'Cause, really? Not being all right isn't going to change much.

I'm thinking back over the last three months with a sense of accomplishment, tenderness, and empowerment.

In the past 3 months I've:
- had a baby come out of my body
- fed, bathed, diapered, and clothed said baby
- fed a healthy child entirely from my body

- fallen completely in love with our son
- started and completed Christmas shopping
- spent a lot of quality time with extended family through visits to Jim's parent's, my parents, visits from mom to GR, many phone calls with siblings...
- spent not enough time with friends via email, phone calls and personal visits
- made dozens and dozens of fantastic Christmas cookies
- made pies, breads, caramel corn, and great dinners (and a few not so great)
- spent more time with Willa, after my body and mind were ready for her to spend only 2 days at school.
- done numerous projects with said Willa including melted crayon "stained glass", ice bird feeders/luminaries, foam Christmas decorations
- developed and recovered from a tv crush on the Bonnie Hunt show
- scoffed at Kathie Lee and Hoda's 4th hour of the Today show
- learned to function on 4 hours of broken sleep and 2 cups of coffee for weeks
- developed gratitude for sleeping a solid 4 hours

- grown closer to my partner, friend and true love. I'm feeling more interwoven and in love with Jim than ever before. Friends, my husband is da bomb.

- cut about 10 inches off of my hair to donate to women with cancer

- lost pounds that were there even before pregnancy

- followed the election and resulting transition. George W., the Obamas, America, and I are both going through big changes this week.

- assisted with our kitchen remodel (photos to come soon!) by painting or wrangling kids while Jim laid tile in relative peace

- learned that Greta and Arlo want nothing more than a kind word, a few minutes of scratching and maybe a piece of cheese every so often.

- affirmed that being a mom is a tough, tough gig. And I'm pretty darn good at it.

Back to the grindstone tomorrow. My home office isn't fully ready yet (the phone and computer lines aren't ready), so I'm back in an office that is fully packed. We'll see how this week goes there.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

the horrors...

It's too bad Locks of Love won't accept a zip lock bag full of hair. Henry and I are both doing the 3 month shed. Ew.

What's neat

When Willa was a (cranky) baby, I made up lyrics to accompany the music on her crib mobile. It was a survival technique: if I could control what was coming out of my mouth, I wouldn't concentrate on the wails coming out of hers. There were many times that I would cuddle her ear to my mouth, hoping that my calm voice would settle her down. It worked sometimes. We still occasionally sing the song to her, and now Henry (who is infinitely less cranky than she was, and Willa was fairly easy).
Last week, after reading her bedtime stories, Willa snuggled into me and started singing:
"Daddy loves you
and Willa loves you
and Henry loves you
and the dogs love you
and we're so happy that you are here with us
oh, my beautiful mommy."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

silver lining

5 reasons to be glad about the opportunity to work from home:*
- unless I have meetings, I won't need to even consider nylons.
- not needing to use a public restroom
- I won't have to worry about the public coming into the office while I'm pumping breast milk.
- I won't have to worry about the window washers descending while I'm pumping breast milk **
- during lunch hours: walking dogs around the block, weeding garden, starting dinner, grocery shopping, laundry, newspaper on the front porch***....

*trying to be optimistic about this
** this happened when Willa was a baby
*** when it's not, you know, 2 degrees outside

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thanks to us, Kleenex will never need a governmental bailout

"I wish you'd stop acting like you invented being sick with a cold."
"I didn't invent it - I'm just perfecting it."

Friday, January 09, 2009

Knut, Knut...

Willa and I are watching baby animal videos on You Tube.
Take a peek at this one, and don't smile - I dare you.
I think I'll learn this song and put Henry's name in there.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Funny kids

On the way home today, in the car:
"Willa, are you kind of sleepy?"
"A little bit."
"You had a big day, eh?"
"No... I a little girl. I have a little day."

Willa's fears continue to be influenced by Christmas and child -oriented tv specials. Bill and Jackie (and "Otis da puppy") gave her the box set of retro Christmas special dvds. She's watched Frosty the Snowman a few times already. The past 2 mornings, she's greeted me with, "good morning momma. I not melt like Frosty today, otay?"

Henry cracks us up too. He's easy to amuse: even in the saddest of crying jags (his, not mine) all you have to do to get him to laugh is to stick out your tongue.

These things help when a winter hater like me has endured Western Michigan's 2nd snowiest December and has started receiving seed and bulb catalogs in the mail. Jim is not keen on a move to somewhere (anywhere!) in zones 8-10. And I suppose the rational side of me agrees that family is more important than the ability to grow calla lilies outdoors year round.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

how do i dress now?

Yesterday Henry had his belated (thanks to the holidays) 2 month check up. At 11 weeks old, dude weighs 16 pounds, 4 ounces, placing him squarely in the giant end of the spectrum. He is a healthy boy and the only thing we are slightly concerned about is getting him to look to the left more. So, I'm switching up resting on shoulders, and lying him down in different directions.

After the appointment, and before picking Willa up from school, I decided to do a little shopping. I have $13 left on a Kohls gift card and my pocket felt like it was on fire. 90 minutes after walking in the door, I walked out with nothing.

Except a little anxiety.

On the 19th, I go back to work. This maternity leave has been lovely. I am bonded with my new baby. Jim and I got to spend a lot of time together. Willa and I have done many art projects, snuggled during movies, and baked dozens of Christmas cookies. I've had nice visits with my extended family, and have made mental "to-do" lists that have largely been left untouched due to a 16 pounder who is both charming and demanding. Here's the algebra on that one: 16 lbs(charm+demands) = 0 done.

Anyhow, back to work. When I go back, I don't have far to go. Due to staffing and budget changes, my office is now in my home (or, it will be soon). And there are some positives to this, I know... dinner started and laundry on my lunch hour... but there are a lot of negatives too. I like people, and with the exception of my post partum hermitude (new word there), I like maintaining relationships and seeing people. There will not be a lot of folks going through my basement on business.

This combined with the weirdness of my post pregnancy 2 body (I'm 18 pounds less than prepregnancy which is a win, but no jeans in the history of pants fit me) left me uncertain of a purchase at Kohls. And none of the socks were calling my name.

I'm at a crossroads right now, and looking forward to seeing how this all pans out.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

When you have a 2 year old and a 2 month old...

Jim has been on vacation for 2 weeks now. Spending this much time together over the holidays has been a fun treat. We've spent a lot of time doing errands and getting the house in shape. We had hoped this would entail more time on the kitchen project and less time shadowing Willa who has recently picked up the habit of leaving a trail of stuffed animals behind her. In the event that she gets lost between her bedroom and the living room, she'll be able to find her way back.

It is 2 in the morning as I type this. Willa is upstairs asleep. Henry is in his crib (!!!!! He's sleeping! In his crib!). Jim is in the kitchen painting the walls a shade of green that makes something inside me feel more vibrantly alive. This is the only time that we can get anything done. This sacred time when our offspring with her curious hands and his multitude of needs are - blessedly - asleep. We paint, we pick up, we sometimes watch tv like zombies who don't have control of the bulk of their day. I am breathing deeply and enjoying being able to hear Jim's brush on the wall. Lately Willa has been living life like a musical and singing everything. Today after an all too brief nap, she sat in the car behind me singing, "I don't like.... anything" over and over. The whisp-whisp of the brush is nearly zen.

And now Jim has finished and it's time to brush our teeth and get some sleep before Henry wakes for his 4 am feeding.