Monday, May 23, 2011

If You're Happy and You Know It...


Elyse started clapping on Saturday - and not how I expected. I expected a clap we'd get excited about, but she wouldn't know how to do it again so we wouldn't see it again for a while.  Not at all how it went down. She just started clapping - Bill was in the room too and we gave her quite the cheering in response. I'm sure the level of excitement helped because Elyse hasn't stopped doing it ever since. She claps at the dog and cat, for dinner, bathtime and even when she wakes up.

The video is cute, but I'd recommend muting it so you don't have to hear ridiculous-me excitedly cheering her on. And by the way, Dad doesn't really like me calling her "The Clapper". Honey - baby as the Clapper is different from the "clap". Boys are so weird! But, I digress.


This reminded me of John and Sherry, bloggers from Young House Love, who had a super funny moment where they were being filmed by a local TV crew for a segment when their daughter clapped for the first time. Glad to know we're not the only parents around who get so excited about these firsts. Good times.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Random Thoughts

Prepare yourself for the randomness that is me. Here we go!

I've really been blessed in unexpected ways in the last month. I was given two huge gifts last month that I was asked to keep a secret. Not money gifts or anything - just really nice gestures. I was feeling so blessed and then Bill and I had a very fun surprise when someone at a restaurant paid for our $67.00 meal telling the waitress she likes to "pay it forward". What?!! I LOVE that. We are still planning our own way to pass along our blessings to a stranger ourselves.

* * *

We were the first to move into our brand new neighborhood almost four years ago. We'd sit on our back porch and look out over the empty lots. We cherished that time because now we see either houses or bulldozers prepping lots for more houses. The quiet is gone, but it is replaced with some truly wonderful neighbors. I am meeting more of them everyday. Bill and I laugh because we often pack a bottle on a walk around the neighborhood "just in case" we get to chatting too long!

* * *

I have a crush on Winco. It is clean, has a great bulk section and nice produce. And, the PRICES! Oh my gosh. The store does make me giddy.

* * *

The cuter I dress my daughter, the worse I tend to look. Work days I try to look my best, what has happened to the weekend? Hoodies and jeans or Adidas workout pants is my new weekend staple. Mama needs to work on this.

* * *

I don't deal well with people who don't support who I am as a person. This may sound like a basic requirement, but it can be difficult and complicated.

* * *

I am still making baby food purees. We're trying new flavors. I added cinnamon and nutmeg to carrots and it was a huge hit. Garlic powder in the broccoli - ummm, not so much. I might have added a little too much. First bite was followed by a gag and second bite she literally shuddered. Funny thing is, she kept eating it. But, I won't do that again. Is it mean that this makes me giggle just thinking about it?

* * *

I'm a cheapskate about a lot of things, but I do use nice skincare and hair products. They make a huge difference. Plus, my hairdresser totally yells at me when I stray - and yes, she always knows!

* * *

Speaking of - this is my new favorite lipgloss. I even tossed all my other brands - even Lancome. Because those all have the same problem - they are sticky and little strands of hair stick in the gloss. I hate that. Not this lipgloss. It has nice coverage, not sticky and lasts. Love it. (These rules do not apply to chapstick. It does not need to be fancy to be good).

* * *

I really, really like this book - Mamarazzi: Every Mom's Guide to Photographing Kids. So much good information. So much to learn!

* * *

The last episode of Private Practice (5/12/11) is still haunting me. Did you see it? I've watched the show since it began, but it is now deleted from my DVR. I really wish I hadn't watched that whole episode.

* * *

Our baby group at the local library ended on Mondays. So, a gal and I started up on our own . Live local and have a baby and want to join us at 10:30 a.m. on Mondays? Or know someone else who may be interested? Contact me.

* * *

I love Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes. I almost love it more than the actual show. I'm fascinated with how the show is put together and of course, by Oprah herself. I'm not looking forward to May 25. Sad day.

* * *

Rounded collars on baby clothes are so not cute anymore. Please don't hate me for saying that.

* * *

I can't stop thinking about how my friend Andrea stood in my kitchen recently and told me me how proud she is of me and how proud my Mom would be. Something so simple, yet it is still making me feel good a week later.

* * *

We just got our first electronic toothbrushes. We got the Philips Sonicare using the coupon at Costco. Bill's dentist recommended he use one about two years ago, but we held out. And now? Oh my gosh, you should have seen us talking about it. We were like two kids with a new toy! Needless to say, we're about 15 years behind the times, but we are all about the power of this toothbrush.

* * *

Suddenly, I'm all about coffee. I'm using a french press at work. It's decaf, but hey - this is big for me.

OK, that was enough randomness for now. I'm done now. Have a good week.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

EIGHT Months

Dearest Elyse,

I know I keep saying it, but EIGHT months! Wow, time does fly by when you have a baby. You are growing so fast. Now, be prepared for lots of pictures as always. I know I'm definitely "that Mom" who takes a ton of pictures of their child, but I don't care! Taking pictures of my favorite little gal is such a fun way to explore my own interests in photography while getting to capture all of your changes. I do not think you can take too many pictures of your babies. I even excitedly just ordered the book Mamarazzi: Every Mom's Guide to Photographing Kids. If I have any regrets, it is actually that I wish I'd been with it enough to take more pictures of you when you were a newborn. But, that was a pretty intense time, so I'm making up for it now!

Libby is so good with you. Actually, both the cat and the dog are. You were playing with your toys and eating a Baby Mum Mum and Libby just sat their patiently. I'd given her the command "leave it" so she knew not to snatch anything from you. But, if you dropped it... well, it was then up for grabs.

We got the coolest bathtub from the neighbor girls. It allows you to safely sit up, feel the water all around you and reach all your toys. It has made bathtime so MUCH fun for you! Thanks, Morgan and Brooke!

One day I came home from work and your Daddy met me at the garage door saying, "Shhhh..." Seems you'd fallen asleep in your high chair. It was too late for naptime, so we just let you snooze their for a while. Sweet girl.

You LOVE your swing. You have one at Grandma and Grandpa Ds and they gave us a spare for you to have at home. Plus, we also go swing next door with the neighbor girls. You LOVE it. We always get big smiles and shrieks of delight.

We had a photographer come to the house and she gave me the best advice. She said this window seat was the best light in our house for photographs. She said I could take photos of you here for the rest of your life and not be disappointed. I had to try it out - she wasn't kidding.

See that curled left foot? You do that constantly and always when I'm trying to put shoes on you. What would normally be frustrating instead makes me laugh. You do it almost as a reflex and I've had to try all my tricks to get you to unflex that foot so I can buckle your shoe!

I don't know what is more precious - those cheeks or that bottom lip. Good thing I don't have to choose just one.

Sweet baby girl.

I adore this expression. And I'm getting prouder of my photography skills. All those nights with my nose in camera books is slowly starting to pay off! Turning off that flash and shooting in manual mode has opened up my world!

Your two little teeth. You can see them well these days!

Yes, babe - you are growing so fast.

Mama is still making all of your food. Sweet potatoes are still your favorite. I bought a box at Costco and it made LOTS. Good thing you love it.

I think this might be my favorite picture right now. You can't help, but smile. What a look!

And this one. How can such a messy baby still look so precious? You had really enjoyed this dinner. Finely grated cheese and steamed peas you'd chase all around the tray and would end up flying for Libby who'd happily gobble them up mid-air.

Morning at the Farmer's Market with Mama and Daddy = Happy Baby.

And this one is to prove to you - yes, she is not ALWAYS happy!

Your eyes. Everyone thought for sure you'd have brown eyes. However, they are blue, but sometimes look hazel and we're still waiting to see if they will keep changing. It seems every photo I take they look different. Definitely beautiful - just like you!

One morning before work, we somehow ended up ahead of schedule. Gave us some time to play a bit and sneak in a few pictures.

You love holding my lens cap for me. Such a helper. And, yes, you caught another cold. Pardon the drippy nose. Part of life as a baby.

Still loving Sophie. Poor little giraffe. She gets contorted every which way.

Yep, those little teeth are just too cute.

As you grow, more and more of your personality shines through. I would definitely say you are independent. And, yes, I love that.

You are very inquisitive. You will often turn a toy or object around and around inspecting everything about it. You are a very curious girl.

Since it is only a mere four months away, your Aunt Marcie and I have already started thinking of ideas for your first birthday party. Yes, we are crazy party planners. We know we want to do cupcakes, but want to get that gourmet frosting like you get at the specialty bakeries. We did a test batch. This frosting was super yummy, but the color and texture weren't quite right (Grandma Jo thought I brought her deviled eggs). We'll get it perfected by September, I'm sure.

We spent Mother's Day as a family in Tacoma. We took you to the zoo. I brought my zoom lens and everything and was so sad when I discovered I didn't bring a memory card. That's OK - we had a great day and I'll have plenty of opportunities to take pictures of you at the zoo in the future. You loved looking at everything and taking it all in. Here's what I did capture of you on my phone. You were so tired afterward.

Phones have been a great invention in terms of being a parent. From staying in touch with text messages to sharing pictures and videos, it sure has helped me stay connected to you. Gram-E sends a few pics/videos a day and Daddy and I always swap pictures on our days when one of us is with you and one is at work. Here is one we sent Daddy to show him how much you enjoyed your breakfast!

I got a great tip (thanks, Kim) for how to keep a bow in your hair. A bit of gel and then twisting the hair before putting the bow in - voila! A bow that stays in all day! You have quite a bit of hair, but it is incredibly fine and I hadn't had much luck before.

You definitely like to discover with all of your senses - including using your mouth. Yes, sweet pea. You taste everything. I thought grocery cart covers were so silly and a waste of money until you tried to lick the cart at Costco - yuck! Yes, I forked over the $15. Well worth it. You love to suck on drawstings on hooded sweatshirts and jackets and if there is a zipper in your sight - it will most definitely end up in your mouth!

You've been a vocal girl since you were very young. You say, "hi" and "hey" now as well as "Dada Dada Dada". Right now, you love "O" sounds.

You have been fighting off a cold all week. At first, it didn't seem to cause you any discomfort - you just had a runny nose and cough. Monday night it came to a head and you were up much of the night. I stayed home Tuesday and we spent much of the day like this. You just want to be held and even took naps this way. The last couple of nights you have been so upset Daddy and I have taken turns sleeping with you in the spare room. You snuggle up - wanting to be as close as possible. You'd cry so hard the cries would turn to soft moans that would slowly get slower and quieter as you'd snuggle in deeper. Poor baby girl.

This is a cell phone shot taken by me - I just wanted to capture your not-feeling-well-sweetness.

We found out Wednesday that not only do you have a cold causing all that congestion, but you also have an ear infection. Poor baby. Baby Tylenol and antibiotics will help you feel better real soon. 

Here's to another month of changes. We love you angel!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Tell me there aren't days where you wouldn't want to be a cat? To get to snuggle underneath the covers all day if you want to.

Even if the bed is neatly made, he will paw his way up underneath the comforter. Ahhhhh.... The life of Mr. Wilson.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mama Day: PART TWO

I can't tell you what today means to me. I always knew I wanted to be a parent. I hadn't thought much about one child, two children - I just knew I wanted to be a mother. Losing my own Mom only made that feeling stronger. I'd try to protect myself though, as I had a secret worry that I might not be able to get pregnant. I think a lot of this circles back to the death of my own mother. Losing someone close to you is a lesson in the precious gift of life. I knew that finding out I was expecting was no guarantee for a healthy pregnancy or baby. Week 11, I heard the baby's heartbeat. Oh, what a glorious sound - I was overjoyed! Week 19, I found out our "Baby D" was a girl! I had completely convinced myself our little one was a boy and this completely caught me off guard. I was ecstatic and for the first time a small part of my heart began to heal. The thought of having a daughter of my own and regaining that mother/daughter relationship I'd lost three years prior was just an overwhelming gift.

Pregnancy wasn't easy. I had horrible morning sickness that lasted well beyond the first twelve weeks and even reared it's ugly head unexpectedly during the second and third trimesters. Week 31, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Week 34, swelling began and I sat near my shoe rack wanting to cry because I had not one pair of shoes to wear to work the next day. Changes in the workplace were pushing me to seek new employment, so I was lugging myself to informational interviews trying to market my leadership skills and downplay the big belly loudly announcing my need for some upcoming time off. The last two months brought such discomfort from ligament pain that working long days (and nights) didn't help to improve. My doctor suggested walking and in time it did help, but at first just getting around the block was so uncomfortable it didn't feel like my own body.

But, guess what? Diabetes went away immediately after my daughter's birth. The swelling diminished after a couple of weeks (and I can still wear all of my shoes) and I even got a new job! Labor wasn't easy and even scary at times, but Elyse and I were both fine postpartum. I was elated that she was healthy. I felt so fortunate.

It is hard to even attempt to describe the love I have for my daughter. I'd like to say we fell in love the moment she was laid on my chest. Believe me, that was amazing and unforgettable, but that wasn't exactly it. Elyse was born at 2:49 a.m. on Sunday. We were in our postpartum room before 6 a.m. and the first thing the nurses urged is to, "Get some sleep." Yeah right. We had visitors all day long. It wasn't that I minded. It was exciting and I wanted everyone to meet our sweet girl. I was so proud and happy.

That night, everyone was gone. Bill curled up on his creaky, uncomfortable bed and Elyse was swaddled in her bassinet. Lights were out in the room, but I was still hooked up to monitors that cast a green glow in the room and buzzers would chime through from other nursing calls. Sleep? Are you kidding me? I would close my eyes and think about sleeping, but know I'd need to wake soon anyway to feed baby once again. I could hear Bill snoozing away and I'd just lay there. And then I'd HEAR HER. She was making little noises. Squeaking. Moving. Getting a little louder. Fussing. Just a bit. This baby - MY BABY. I couldn't handle it. We weren't supposed to hold our babies in bed with us if we thought we might fall asleep. The hospital had a horrible experience just months earlier when a father accidentally dropped his baby after they'd both fallen asleep. Baby fell on the hard tile and experienced a serious head injury (but thankfully survived). The nurses were ADAMANT about this and if they came in at night and saw one of us cuddled with baby we'd have to quickly announce, "We're awake! We're awake!" I risked scolding from the nurse and reached toward the foot of my bed to scoop my my tightly, swaddled baby out of her bassinet. I laid down on my side and put her down right next to me. She instantly quieted. I was astonished by this, but it was apparent she was quickly comforted. She was used to being close to me as we'd been together for so many months. She knew the sound of my heartbeat and the feeling of my warm body. I realized that I was comforted too - having her next to me again as we'd been all these months. Every job interview, every work discussion, every moment - this baby had been with me at all times. Yet, I felt as if Elyse knew me better than I knew her. She knew my voice, my smell. I thought about how that morning when she was born, from the moment she was laid on my chest her eyes had locked on mine. It was one of the most unforgettable moments of my life. These huge eyes taking me in as if to say, "So that's what you look like, Mama!" We laid there together for minutes to hours in the dim light of the hospital room with me rubbing her belly, kissing her cheeks and whispering in her ear. I told her how I loved her. She was my sweet baby girl and how I would always be her Mama. There were many tears - gloriously happy tears. This was our first time together to quietly bond as mother and daughter. There was no going back - I had fallen in love with this sweet little child.

To this day, I love my time with Elyse as she is going to sleep. I love that transition where she starts to get tired and wants to be comforted and snuggled. I softly sing in her ear and stroke her hair and cheeks. We don't nurse anymore and honestly, I do miss that - particularly at night. But, we still get time for closeness. She varies between wiggling to get just that right comfortable spot and looking up at me to touch my cheek or hair. I breathe in her hair and her skin and pepper her with kisses. I know she won't be my baby forever and I treasure these tender moments together.

Don't worry - it isn't real. Just a little fun with Picnik to play a joke on Daddy!

My baby girl - thank you for making this our most special Mother's Day. I love you, dear daughter. Thanks for making our family complete.

Courtesy Amanda May Portrait Art - April 2011.

Mama Day: PART ONE

My own Mom had a GREAT sense of humor. I snapped a pic of this sign at a cider mill near our house last week. Mom would have thought that was so funny!

My Mom was one of the best. Being a Mom was so natural for her. She got pregnant at 18. She'd always been the "good girl" and she got caught in a dumb mistake. She was mortified, scared and overwhelmed. It was a one-time thing and she had to find this guy and tell him she was pregnant knowing he probably wouldn't believe that the baby could be his. How hard must that have been? She was bombarded with people pushing her to have an abortion. She did think about it, but knew she could never follow through with it. Although teen pregnancy isn't looked highly upon today, it was much worse in the 70s. She'd tell me stories like going to the drive-through at one of our local burger joints at about eight months pregnant and the girl behind the counter handing her food to her looking away and plugging her nose.

Mom and me. 1975.

She carried me to full-term and ended up with eclampsia during labor, convulsing violently during my birth. When the doctor came out to the hallway to notify my grandmother of my arrival he only said, "The baby is fine. Mom is holding her own." Mom was unconscious for days and when she awoke she was temporarily blind, but comforted immediately by her doctor who had fallen asleep in her room with his feet propped up on her bed. She went on to raise me on her own, living in an incredibly small house with her younger brother. She was on welfare my first six months to help her get on her feet. Gifts for my first Christmas were from the local Salvation Army. Soon, she met my Dad (who later adopted me) and they created a life together.

How did she do it? How could she be so mature and handle so many grown-up decisions on her own? I will never know. I don't mean to say that my Mom was perfect. I think we do this sometimes when people pass away. Let's be honest. Mom was a terrible housekeeper. She wouldn't ever say the "F" word, but she could cuss like a sailor and liked to string together as many "bad" words together as she could into their own unique combinations. She didn't like to cook and we grew up eating a lot of TV dinners and boxed macaroni and cheese. I don't really remember her spanking me (but I know it happened), but when I was in trouble she would lecture me until my stomach hurt so bad from the guilt I wanted to throw up.

Mom, Grandma and me. From a scrapbook I made her in 1994.

I don't see all of those things as necessarily negative. They just are part of my history and have molded me into the person I am today. I liked to clean and grew up cleaning the house a lot. I loved experimenting with cooking and trying new recipes. Mom loved that I enjoyed it and always encouraged me. She never missed a choir concert, soccer game or school conference. She would always run into the bathroom if we were sick and hold a cool, wet washcloth on our heads. She wasn't a fan of sarcasm and would never think of speaking badly toward my brother or me. She bought a van when we were in middle school and early high school because she loved driving us around with our friends. We lived in single-wide mobile home in a trailer park and I'm amazed to this day how many of our friends chose our house to hang out. She was honest with me at a young age about my biological father, but was always respectful about him. She sent care packages to my friends going to college on the East coast whose families weren't as supportive. She loved my brother and I so much and we were her proudest accomplishments. Her office was always plastered with pictures of us and I know her past co-workers know more about me and my brother than they'd ever want to know.

Another scrapbook page. Yes, I used colored pencil to tint her shirt and give her makeup. I liked that quote because we missed each other so much when I was away at college. How profound it is today.

I have 32 years of memories. 32 years of learning - whether as a specific lesson or just by her actions. I look at my own daughter and pray I serve her well as her mother. I have read, and firmly believe, our same-sex parent is the most influential person in our life. This is definitely true for me. My Mom was so good about telling us she loved us - from when we were tiny to adulthood. That is something Bill and I have talked about and we do with Elyse. We have promised each other we will tell her even when she might find it embarassing or as an adult and think it is uncomfortable. It is important. And no matter what happens, I will always know my Mom loved me. Her death cannot change that. Of course, much of this is because of all the things she did for me. But, it is also always because she told me. Often. I want Elyse to feel the same way. We aren't going to be perfect parents. But, no doubt. That girl will be loved.

Mom, Sue and me. Tolmie State Park - 1992.

It is my first Mother's Day as a parent myself. It is also the first in several years where I don't have to focus on being sad about the loss of my own mother. Bill and I are going to celebrate together on our own today with Elyse - just our precious little family. Today I will be thankful for the Mom that was there for me and the Mom I can now be for my own daughter. Happy Mother's Day. Kiss your babies (young and old). Tell them you love them. Say it. Often. You won't regret it.


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