Saturday, August 20, 2011

The BIG Milestone: We are Walking

Baby's First Steps. It sounds so exciting, right? Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to minimize things - it is just complicated. To a working parent, it can come with many mixed emotions. We have really been looking forward to Elyse's first steps, but also dreading we'd miss it. Fortunately, like every baby milestone - it just doesn't happen in one day. Deep down I knew that, but our Mama/Daddy guilt sometimes really can get in the way. Walking - like rolling over, sitting up, crawling, etc. is really a process.

I do feel like it was an answer to prayer that my week off in CA coincided with her big build-up to walking. Bill and I saw the progression before we left - standing on her own and becoming more and more confident in her creeping and cruising. During my trip, I saw her take a couple steps, but it was more an unassisted step or to from the couch to another chair, for instance. They were steps, and definitely exciting, but I wasn't ready to define it was walking. Particularly, when we were away from home (and Bill). There was no way I was going to call and tell him. I returned home on my birthday, Saturday, August 6 and I would say over those next few days and week is when the real "walking" evolved. It couldn't have happened more perfectly. It was fun to watch the progression with my girlfriends, but I got to be home with my husband and watch as our daughter's tentative steps turned into real walking. She was an official walker about a week before her eleventh month. Big girl!

My most significant memory in terms of her walking was Tuesday, August 9. I had a horrendous day back to work. I came home after the long day and when my sweet girl saw me she lit up with the brightest smile and walked straight toward me. It was the first time she had ever done that. Everything that had happened that day just melted away in that single moment.
This video was shot a couple of days ago. She had been "helping" Daddy water the plants (equating to stomping and sitting in the puddles and pulling the leaves off the plants). She was happily showing off her walking skills. She was soaking wet, but enjoying every minute. I apologize the video is a little shaky - I think something is wrong my with Flip video camera!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Like a Needle in My Eye

Traveling with a baby isn't a huge deal, but it does take planning and a bit of patience. We have a trip to Hawaii planned in November, so when Carin suggested a girls gathering in CA I figured it would be a good test run. Only problem? Elyse's first flight would be with me - by myself. I've conquered some pretty big tasks, but I was a little worried about this one. Thankfully, in the end we had two safe flights and a happy ending.

Details: Tuesday, August 2. Flight from Seatac to Sacramento. Passengers: 10 month old girl, 36 (almost 37) year old neurotic mother.

Arrived at Seatac airport. We parked so Bill could help me with the baby gear. We never park, so this in and of itself was odd. I check in at the Alaska Air kiosk. Stand in line to check suitcase and carseat. Long lines, but no problems. Kissed Bill goodbye and off through security check-in. Elyse is in stroller, diaper bag is on my shoulder and backpack with camera bag and changes of clothes is looped on the stroller handler. We're doing good - baby is happy.

Stand in long line and finally get up to desk - show ticket and ID and man tells me ticket doesn't say anything about an infant riding on my lap. I tell man that I entered the information on the kiosk - it even asked that I enter her name. He says, "Sorry, you need to return to counter... but tell the gal over there so you can come back through the 'premium line' and don't have to stand in line again." I sigh deeply and upon returning to Alaska, the lines seem to have doubled. I find an Alaska employee standing at a podium with a phone to her ear and apparently on hold. I step toward her and she barks, "This line isn't open." Grrrrr... I survey the lines again and see another woman at the "Group Check-In" counter. She looks friendlier. I approach her and she actually gives me eye contact. I tell her my situation and she says, "I need to check in a huge group of Japanese tourists, but I know exactly what happened - let me help you". The woman kindly explains this happens when you check into an exit row and it is a problem the airline is aware of. She prints me a new ticket and sends me on my way.

I return to the premium line and the woman checking tickets doesn't seem to remember me from just ten minutes ago, but still waves me through. I proudly show my ticket marked "infant" to the security agent and I proceed to the security check-in. I remove my shoes and Elyse's. I get all of our things in the bins and one of the employees tells me Elyse needs to come out of the stroller and I can carry her through. I cannot get the stroller to collapse. Three security employees stand around me saying to each other, "Those are the hard strollers." Balancing a baby on my hip and trying to rush folding up a stroller - I'm definitely sweating now. I  finally get it onto the conveyor belt and we breeze through the x-ray. A very nice security employee helps me get the stroller off the conveyor and we struggle together getting it to snap in place. I get us all situated and Elyse refuses to go back into the stroller screaming and clutching at my shirt each time I set her down. Her Sophie toy and one of her shoes fall on the ground and a woman walks by with two small children and says, "It is so hard doing it alone, isn't it?" We load up (stuff in the stroller - Elyse in my arms) and ride three elevators and two trams before we get to our gate. Wow, you forget what a large airport this really is.

Our gate is jam-packed. Not one place to sit. I see Starbucks and head that way. I order an iced latte, banana bread, apple juice and a bottle of water. I walk over to wait for the coffee and a woman says, "Ma'am, you left your wallet!" Oh my - I need to get it together! We get our order and I am relieved when Elyse agrees to get back into the stroller. We head to the gate area. Still no seats, so I sit on the floor fill the sippy cups with water and one with half water/half apple juice. Elyse is fussing, she wants out of the stroller again. I take a sip of the iced latte when the announcer says, "We will now begin pre-boarding First Class and Families with Young Children." What?! Where has the time gone? I toss the coffee and we head toward check-in. They let me push Elyse in the stroller until we get onto the plane and a nice man says, "Don't worry - just leave it. I will collapse it for you." Thank you!

We find our seat. I try to balance Elyse on the seat without her falling while I put my backpack in the overhead bin. I move too quickly to get back into my seat and slam my forehead into the overhead compartment. I'm now not only sweaty, but my head is spinning. Elyse is super testy now. I realize I'd never changed her diaper. I decide to go ahead and do it quickly on my lap since there were hardly any passengers around me. At this point, I really didn't care. She actually enjoyed laying on my lap. I sat her up and the fussing returned.

I start digging for her toys and pray for our seatmates. We are in the middle seat. The first man arrives and his seat is to our left. He is a Grandpa and as he sits down he gives us a pained look. I apologize and hope for the best. Elyse will settle for a moment, but then cry, shriek and yes, even scream. I find the melatonin. It is natural and I just hope it keeps her a little calmer. I give her a 1/4 of a tablet. It is peppermint and chewable - she likes it. We look at books. Play with Sophie. Hold the dolly, but man she is TICKED. The seat to our right is still free and the only thing keeping her happy is if I let her stand on the seat. She grips onto the headrest making faces at the people in front of us. Fortunately, they are incredibly sweet and as Elyse is shrieking in their ear they tell me, "Don't worry about us. We love babies." Next thing I know I get a new seatmate to my left. The man says to me. That was my Dad. Sitting next to a baby is like a needle in his eye. I'm a teacher. Don't worry about me. I'm good with it. Ugh...

Still no one to my left! Could we be this lucky? Nope, here comes the lady. She is a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant. She tells me not to worry. Phew - at least we have nice people around us. I proudly pull out the apple juice for take-off hoping her sucking on her sippy cup will help with take-off. She's had apple juice with others, but we never give it to her so I'm thinking I'm being so smart. She takes two sips and throws it on the ground, refusing to drink from it again. I worry - I'd read so much about the pressure hurting baby's ears and I didn't know how it would affect her.

Fortunately, she did fine with take-off - the pressure didn't seem to bother her at all. Heck, she was already fussy. About fifteen minutes in she fell asleep after constant fighting and fidgeting. Thank goodness for that thumb. She sucked away and finally drifted off. I was shouting "Hallelujah!" in my mind! My right arm fell asleep and my nose itched, but I didn't move an inch. Attendants came by offering snacks and drinks, but I declined - nothing was worth waking the babe. Half an hour later a baby shrieked and her eyes popped open and she sat straight up. We were back on.

More toys came out, snacks, milk - she was not a happy girl. She did not want to be held. She wanted DOWN. The man next to us made faces at her and the woman in front played peek-a-boo. This would appease her for five minutes at a time and then the crying would resume. Finally - a blessed hour and a half later, we landed. We got off the plane, found our stroller, hauled it over to baggage claim and there was Carin. We loaded our stuff into the car and as I unwrapped the carseat from the plastic I noticed I'd gotten black grease all over the front of my white t-shirt. Perfect... But, somehow I didn't care.

Details: Saturday, August 6 (my birthday). Flight from Sacramento to Seatac. Passengers: 10 month old girl, 37 year old mother - praying for a better flight.

As we leave Alyson's she says, "This has the tendency of being the best birthday ever - or the worst!"

Check in at Sacramento. No kiosk. Live body. No problems. One elevator, no trams. Security check-in was a breeze and I easily folded and unfolded the stroller. Elyse happily went back into the stroller. We didn't drop a toy or a shoe. We went to Starbucks and I bypassed the coffee, but ordered a water and banana bread. We sat in a SEAT at the gate and she shared the bread with me while I filled the sippy cups. She stared and laughed at the children and babies around her. I gave her HALF a tablet of melatonin and she happily sucked it down.

They called for early boarding and I put her in my Ergo Carrier and she was HAPPY. I was happy I had free hands. I easily folded down the stroller as we boarded the plane. I found my seat and rejoiced we were next to a window this time. I managed to get into my seat without whacking my head. We played with some toys and my cell phone and she didn't cry or scream even once. Two nice men sat next to us and didn't appear to cringe when they saw a baby. I gave her a sippy cup for take-off which she refused, but stared out the window taking it all in. And then... she fell asleep. My arm didn't fall asleep. I bypassed by the snacks and drinks, but didn't mind at all.

We touched down in Seattle - it was a big bump and it startled her awake, but she laid back down - quietly until we got to the gate. Upon exiting the plane, I put her back in the Ergo and easily gathered our things. I found our stroller, loaded up and we met Bill at baggage claim. The best birthday gift ever.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Dearest Baby Girl,
Here we go. Almost there. It has almost been one whole year since you made me a Mama - for real. I can honestly say, you've changed my life for the better.

I remember taking this picture. You rarely fall asleep in our arms anymore at bedtime and when you do it is almost always with me. This particular evening, you crawled up to Daddy and snuggled in.

Yes, I'm pretty confident you were successful at melting his heart. I think he might have held you all night if he could.

 You are very curious. Your head often whips around when you hear a noise you recognize (the cat's meow) or one you don't (bulldozer next door).

You're very independent yet like to know we are paying attention. You are busy-busy-busy, but come up to our laps for love periodically, and then you're off again.

You get fascinated by the smallest things. This was a piece of thread you pulled off some fabric. This literally kept you entertained for 45 minutes - chewing it, carrying it and swinging it.

You've got so many teeth now. Four on top and on bottom.

You often spread your right palm wide when you are cuddling and drinking milk - or even just hanging out.

You have the sweetest smile. Just thinking about it when I'm away from you makes my heart gallop.

Did I mention you are a busy girl? You get super excited when we open the pantry door. You love to hop to it and help Mama organize. Below you are chewing on a bottle brush. I keep it in that pink organizer for when we are traveling. It is one of your favorites to pull out.

Speaking of travel. You got to attend the ALS Doubledaybike ride with us in late July. Daddy rides every year in memory of your Grandma Kathy.

You loved seeing all of the bicycles. This is a 90 mile bike ride over two days. Daddy did so well - we were so proud!

You love pointing now. We laugh watching you chat away and shake your finger at us. Here it appears you're telling someone to "Shhhhh".

We really creeped into your morning naptime, but you dealt with it like a trooper. You are such a good baby girl.

Grandpa Brad and Grandma Deanie came this year. It was so fun and special to get to spend time with them and have them join us in honoring Grandma Kathy.

You went on your first airplane ride the first week of August to come with me to see Mama's good friends Carin, Alyson and OJ. You didn't like the flight there so much (that's a whole other story), but you did super great on the way home!

We were in Lake Taho a couple of nights. We stayed at an amazing place called Sunnyside Lodge. They had this great deck that wraps around the lodge with tons of seating for their restaurant. You can walk out on the dock while you're waiting for your table or down to the beach - which is what we did so you could dip your toes in the water!

You were so funny stepping on the rocky beach. You didn't know what to think of that!

(PS: See that bow in your hair? I haven't given up on that even though your favorite thing is feeling your head to see if one is there, ripping it out and sticking it in your mouth. Your hair is getting so long, soon we will have to secure it back, so I'm doing my best to get you used to it!)

You love your baby. She often came out with us to dinner. You give the baby love snuggling her, putting her on your shoulder and even give her kisses (pardon the poor cell phone pic).

Auntie Carin and Al love playing with you!

You think Al is super fun (who doesn't?).

After Tahoe, we stayed at Alyson's parents' house in Sacramento (they were out of town). You loved that there were so many things there for Alyson's niece, Presley, who is just a few months younger than you. You just had to try out all her stuff.

There's that heart shaped mouth I just adore.

Somehow, you hadn't been in a pool yet. We had the fortune of hanging out in the pool each day in Sacramento. I wouldn't say you loved it. I'm not sure how to describe it. You were very fascinated, interested, and pretty much in awe, but it took a bit of work to keep you liking it. This day, Carin was out of the pool and you'd have enough, want to go to Carin to get out, change your mind ten minutes later, and so on and so on.

OJ had a lot of fun playing with you!

I'm pretty sure I can hear you through this pic saying, "Ooooooh!"

They had a big glass coffee table, which you'd spend your time walking round and round. One day, Auntie Carin gave you a Nutrigrain bar which ended up being a cereal bar smear around the entire perimeter of the table.

Auntie OJ shared her yogurt with you. You really liked it (blueberry, of course).

We haven't ever turned on a TV show for you. You do watch Muppet Show on our phone or computer, but that is a PowerPoint and super short and somehow seems different for us. I don't know how strict we'll adhere to the "No TV Before 2", but we definitely don't set you in front of it. However, the girls were watching Marmaduke and you were fascinated by all the animals. You crept over to Auntie Al, cuddled up with her and watched about 15 minutes of it. I have never seen you have that kind of interest in TV before. It was so cute and hey, we were on vacation!

The girls celebrated Mommy's birthday. We went swimming and came home to a fun balloon! You REALLY liked it!

We went out for birthday desserts to a place called Rick's Dessert Diner. It was AH-MAZ-ING! It was an old fashioned diner-style dessert hangout. They had really incredible desserts: pie, cake, tortes, cheesecake, cookies - you name it! We got three different things and shared - you even had a few bites although the blueberries and string cheese I brought along kept you pretty satisfied!

You were fascinated with my birthday candle. Next month will be so fun!

You and I both got fun gifts from Auntie Carin. Here she made you a new onesie - we just love it! She is so creative!

The ballon was weighted by a sucker.  You never did get that thing open - we were making sure of that!

Next thing you know, it was time to leave. Auntie Carin really wanted pictures with you. She wants her son, Isaiah, to see you and have a connection with you. Hopefully, our next trip we can all hang out together!

We needed pictures with Al too - silly girl.

We love your Auntie Carin so much. It was so good spending time with her, but always hard saying goodbye!

As I said, you did so great on the airplane ride home. It was the best birthday present ever. You were really helpful when we got home helping me unpack!

You're getting quite coordinated these days. Your favorite game recently is climbing in and over the barstool chairs. It is quite funny seeing you fling yourself over the rails. Hard to explain, I'll have to shoot a video soon. You are always exploring and repeating your new favorite phrase: "Go-Go-Go!"

You're still the prettiest, sweetest, funniest girl I know. You make your Daddy and Mama so happy, Baby Girl! We love you more than ever!

PS: YOU'RE WALKING!!! Video coming soon!


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