Tuesday, September 29, 2015

31




My peeps gave me the sweetest birthday surprise when I came home last night. As you can tell from my grin, it is altogether impossible to contain the giddiness that comes from birthday candles in a pizza, a baby in a party hat, and a husband who signs a card on behalf of the whole family, cats included. When I showed a friend these photos this morning, she said, "He is so sweet! We got good husbands. They're not all made like that. You know that, right?" I sure do, and I count my lucky stars.

I was bombed with love all day by phone. Presley and I FaceTimed with dear friends so they could get our live reactions to their baby gender reveal video. I opened presents from my family while the Packer game played in the background. When you're surrounded by so much joy and humor, it is easy to love a birthday on a Monday.

Thanks to all for the birthday wishes!


REMINDER: Get your entries in for the giveaway before it closes tomorrow night!

Monday, September 28, 2015

How Pregnancy Ruined My Vision & a Birthday Giveaway!


Hey! How are you? I'm 31 years old today. Cheers!

I wish I could say that the last three days of 30 were a blast, but truth be told, Presley and I were at odds this weekend. I had some lofty goals about her sleeping well, playing with her toys quietly as she has many times before, and being her usual smiley self. She didn't like those plans. She has been so frustrated, because she stands but can't walk yet, and it is pissing... her... off. We argued and tangled, as much as an adult and a baby can. In the end, I proposed that we make a pact to be friends and be nice to each other, forever and always. She's still thinking it over, I think.

As if that wasn't bad enough, did I tell you that she ruined my vision too? OK, OK. I'm kidding. I better take it back before she comes after me for slander. It was pregnancy that ruined my vision.

During my last trimester, I could tell that my vision had changed, though I wasn't sure by how much. My prescription hadn't changed in seven years, but suddenly, street signs were blurry. At my annual check-up, I bombed my vision test somewhere around the third line, I believe. It was that bad. After I felt the need to apologize for my terrible vision and ask how it could have changed so quickly, my optometrist explained that pregnancy did it.

It was a physical change I didn't anticipate. He gave me a good ol' edu-ma-cation about how fluid retention changed the shape of my cornea and then told me that it wouldn't go back to normal until I was done breastfeeding. I laughed and told him I planned to nurse for at least a year, so he adjusted my prescription knowing that next year we may or may not be in the same boat.

I wore glasses more than contact lenses during pregnancy, because my eyes were sensitive -- and I was hiding the monstrous bags under my eyes. Ha! Those reasons aside, I love wearing glasses. I like the look of them, and they can be fun accessories. (And yes, I'm still hiding those "new mommy" bags under my eyes.)

Since we're talking about birthdays and vision, guess what? One of you can win a free pair of glasses from Firmoo! Yep. My birthday = a present for one of you. Tell me you don't love that. I've ordered four pairs of glasses from Firmoo over the years. (My fave were last year's sunglasses.)


Here are the rules:

Giveaway closes 10/1 at 12:00 AM.
Open to entrants with a U.S. mailing address only.
Entries must be made using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Winner will pick one pair of glasses from Firmoo's blogger collection.
Standard 1.50 index single vision lenses. (Upgraded lenses and add-ons for an added fee.)

GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CONGRATULATIONS TO JAMI! YOU ARE THE WINNER! Check your e-mail!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sweet P: 7 Months


Presley grew, changed, and learned a lot in her seventh month of life!

Sitting Up: At the end of August, she was pushing herself up to a sitting position and moving around on her belly. Before then, we would still stay close to her while she was sitting on her own, because she wasn't fully stable. Within a week or two, she was completely fine on her own.

Standing: She pulled herself up to standing position for the first time on September 6. It caught us by surprise. Strong girl! She pulls on the couch, her walker, and me (which OUCH, because baby nails are like razors).


Crawling: She worked on it for about ten days and then officially started crawling on September 16. Her movement is even and rhythmic -- almost robotic. She seemed to start crawling almost overnight! I had been anticipating the cute "army crawl" phase, but... it never happened. She got her knees under herself, and boom -- she was crawling. We haven't been able to stop her since! Sitting up, standing, and crawling have given her a lot of independence which means she can entertain herself for up to an hour or so. Hooray for that!


Food: She has tried blueberries, grapes, avocado, applesauce, raw broccoli, raw carrot, banana, and pear. Pear is her favorite! I wouldn't say we're doing full-fledged baby led weaning, but we like the concept and are encouraging her to feed herself and letting her try food in safely sized pieces for her instead of pureeing all of her food. She is still nursing as well which I am very happy about. (I don't love pumping, but I'm glad we can still share our nursing time together.)


Sleep: Since August 31, she has slept through the night in her room four times. Three of those nights were within one week, and we really thought we were onto something, but then seven month sleep regression reminded us that just when we think we've figured out some aspect of parenting... we haven't. ;) For the last week, she has been waking every 2-3 hours. I read in an article that sleep regression happens at the time that babies acquire new skills, and it's very true for Presley! A baby with new skills was compared to an adult coming home from a wedding or big party; it is hard to settle down and get to sleep, and even when awake again, the excitement takes over again. Presley has been waking up in the middle of night to talk, play, and crawl, and then she struggggggles to go back to sleep. For example, last night she went to bed at 8:45 PM. She woke up at 10:15, 12:55, 3:00, and 4:45, and then she was up for the day at 7:40.


Sounds/"Talking": She hasn't made any ba-ba or da-da babbles yet, but we know her language. She scream-talks for fun, screech-talks when she's getting upset with us (usually for not picking her up), laughs with vocal fry, sighs "ahhhhhh" when she is happy (the way people "ahhhhhh" after a delicious swig of soda), scrunches up her nose and breathes heavily when she's frustrated (see next photo), and fake-cries in the crib to get attention.


Other little tid-bits:
  • She helps when we dress her by sitting still and putting her arms through her shirts. She knows the drill.
  • We call her our Luna Lovegood flower child. She is happy, sweet, observant, curious, and pretty easy-going. We hope she always marches to the beat of her own drum.
  • She likes The Furchester Hotel which is a Sesame Street UK show. We've watched a few episodes on my laptop. Our favorite is The Veggietones episode! So cute!
  • She smiles when I "fly" her over my head, swing her around in a blanket, spin around while holding her, throw her in the air, and blow puffs of air in her face. Basically, she is a thrill-seeker in the making. Oops!
  • Occasionally, she leans back and smacks her lips while nursing. It makes us laugh every time.
  • I'm obsessed with clothes for her. I never thought I'd be that into her outfits until she was older, but I went out on Sunday to pick up the most adorable cat-face shoes for her and accidentally spent an hour talking myself out of buying the whole store for her. I also internet "window shop" for headbands all the time. Somebody stop me!


We are so proud of you, Presley! 
You bring us joy that continues to multiply every day!


* No official measurements until her next pediatrician appointment in November. She is probably about 17 lbs.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library (and My Childhood Frustration with Reading)


I never considered myself a good reader. I loved writing assignments that allowed me to write my own story, but I hated the thought of reading for school. I knew that if we read something, we would be asked questions about what we read (or even worse, quizzed on it). I always feared that I was a slow reader and that I had poor reading comprehension. I didn't like doing things that I wasn't great at.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is struggling with a homework assignment one afternoon at home.  I was in Mrs. Baity's fifth grade class, and we would frequently receive a "newspaper" that included articles, quizzes, and puzzles. I think it was made and distributed by Scholastic. (Who remembers Scholastic books and book fairs?!) That day, we were required to read the newspaper and answer, complete the quiz on page 4, and answer five questions that the teacher wrote on the board. Whatever was not completed would be that night's homework.

I didn't finish. Not even close. I hit a road block and, for the life of me, couldn't figure out how to answer the first question on the board without re-writing the whole article. Instead of moving on and then going back to it later, I sat there... staring at the question... re-reading the article... staring at the question again. I saw a few kids turn in the assignment and pack up their backpacks, ready for the bell to ring. Meanwhile, I felt paralyzed by the reading assignment.

By the time I got home that afternoon, I felt so frustrated and hopeless after having stewed over it on the bus ride home. My mom called me to the top of the stairs to remind me what time we had to leave the house for dance class. I asked,

"Have you ever had one of those days where you couldn't do anything right? That's me today." It sounds so melodramatic, but it felt so real!

As it turns out, I was actually pretty smart. I was a GATE student (Gift and Talented Education), having tested higher than my grade level in math, reading, and spelling. However, I didn't know that, and it didn't change the fact that I struggled. I overthought reading comprehension activities and tried to write novels when the teacher was simply looking for a one-sentence response. If an answered seemed to came to me too easily, I assumed I missed something or didn't understand the question. It wasn't until high school that I enjoyed reading and until college that I started reading for pleasure.


Even before Presley was here, I thought books were great toys. Growing up, I had quite a collection of books that I loved (and loved even more because they weren't required reading for school). For Presley's baby shower, my sister and I considered asking for books with handwritten dedications to Presley inside in lieu of cards, but it would have been pretty expensive to ship back to Memphis (or too heavy to pack in luggage).

But baby girl is not short on books. Have you heard of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library? I registered Presley after she was born, and now she is going to receive one age-appropriate book per month until she is five years old. She received her first book in April which means she will receive 58 books for free! The monthly delivery keeps Presley's collection fresh and interesting.

I hope that Presley does enjoy reading from an early age, but more than that, I'm going to try to celebrate the things she is good at and to remind her that it is OK to not be (or feel) great at everything.


** Dolly Parton and Imagination Library have no idea who I am. I think this is an amazing program that everyone should know about!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Motherhood Initiation

I always knew it would happen at some point. I had been warned several times by many, including my parents, that I would be faced with the evils of baby fecal matter. I was told that over the course of the first few years, I would collect poop stories like baseball cards. I've heard every variation of baby poop stories from diaper blow-outs to being pooped on in public to finding a baby smearing poop all over the crib after nap time. (Okay, ewww.)

Well, today was our day!

After we brought Presley into our room this morning, she played by herself while we continued to half sleep, half appease her. She babbled, whined, played with a burp rag, leaned on S, climbed on top of me, and did everything in her power to get our attention. My alarm clock sounded at 6:43 AM (because I usually set the clock on odd times). I hit snooze and then rolled back over, barely peeking my eyes open to rub Presley's back. As my hair grazed my shoulder blade, I felt something wet. I thought, Awww, man. There's spit-up in my hair. Like most new moms, that didn't faze me. I closed my eyes and hoped for just a few more minutes of quiet.

When my alarm went off again five minutes later, it was time to really get up. I turned off the alarm, and then propped myself up on my elbow to greet Presley. She shrugged her shoulders and grinned from ear to ear like an excited kid visiting Disneyland for the first time. It made me feel so special! I grabbed my hair to find the spit-up I felt earlier. I pinched a few strands of my hair, slid my fingers to the ends, and then wiped the evidence on a burp rag.

But surprise. The evidence was brown, not white. It didn't take me long to figure out what happened. After a bath for her and showers for us, I hustled to get ready for work. We cracked several jokes throughout the morning. While I pumped, I posted on Facebook:

Happy Tuesday! I just sent the following text to a co-worker: 
"Going to be a little late, because parenthood is super glamorous, 
and we woke up to a smiling Presley Noel with poop all over our bed. 
It may or may not be in my hair. (emojis: baby face, poop, hair flip)"
So there's that.

I finally had a reason to use the poop emoji. It didn't take long for a friend to point out that it was Wednesday, not Tuesday. I replied, "So you know exactly what kind of morning it's been!"

 I've learned that this motherhood initiation process is going to be life-long, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Maui with Mom















Going to Maui with my mom was something that neither of us had planned. In the original plan, she was going to fly out to Memphis to take care of Presley, but when S and I made the decision that he would hang back, he encouraged me to invite my mom to Maui instead.

It was mother/daughter time that I'll never forget and always cherish. As the middle child, I have never been the only child at home. My sister had the first four years to herself, and ever since I moved out of the house in 2006, my brother has been the only child living at home. I can truly say that this one-on-one trip with my mom was probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I am so, so grateful that the unexpected change gave me that time with her.

I hadn't seen her since Presley was born, so I was excited that the last legs of our trips to Maui (hers from San Diego, mine from Memphis) matched up from Honolulu to Maui. I had imagined a slow-motion run and embrace at the airport like you see in the movies, but the funny truth is that I got to the gate before her and then went to the restroom, because I desperately needed to pump. (#breastfeeding #donottravelwithamanualpump) From inside a stall, I replied to her text message to let her know where I was, and so... our hello after six months was through the crack of a stall door in an airport bathroom without air conditioning. Oh, what a greeting!

We flew out of Maui on the same day, just two hours apart. I hugged her, kissed her, and told her I'd see her again soon, though we didn't (and still don't) know when that will be. Both of our first flights were to San Francisco. Before I boarded my flight, she texted to say that her flight was delayed. Further messages noted more delays. When I landed in San Francisco, her flight was boarding, and I thought, I might be able to get one more hug! I ran past my next gate, all the way to Gate 29 only to find that they had just finished boarding. I was so bummed. So close, and yet, so far! I watched her flight take off before the walk back to my gate which was about five minutes longer than my initial sprint.

The trip may have revolved around a wedding, but we were sure to have our time too. Walking around Lahaina. Grabbing coffee in the morning. Going to Baby Beach. Dinner and drinks at Lahaina Grill and Cool Cat Cafe. We shared a lot of things -- coffee, gummy worms, photos, earrings.

Living away from family has never caused me to hesitate in trying something new or following the crazy path that life drags me along, but as I get older, I more deeply understand time and distance, family and life. I'm happy with where life has taken me, but of course, I miss my family.

Thanks for coming with me, Mom. I know you were looking forward to taking care of my baby girl, but I am really glad you took a trip with yours instead. :) I love you!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Worth Fighting For

Photo on the right captured by my mom from across the room.
Credit: Dmitri & Sandra Photography

Once upon a time in 1997, my friend Jen had a sleepover for her 13th birthday. Somewhere between the afternoon drop-off and midnight, the eighth grade powers that be (ahem... drama, teasing, gossip, and the like) cast a spell over the evening and left one guest standing. Me. We can no longer remember the specifics, but we recall that Jen ended up crying in the bathroom and then told her parents that she wanted "everyone to go home except Lindsay." We spent that night watching TV, dancing, and talking. (It is possible we prank called a cute boy or two, too. I wouldn't put it past us.)

That night has carried a lot of meaning for us during the last 18 years. We've laughed about it, told the story to others about a million times, and kind of worn it as a badge of honor about our friendship. In the years since then, we've experienced a lot.

We navigated the scary waters of middle school.
We sang in choir together.
We thought we were going to die when we realized we were going to different high schools.
We talked about all the hot Eastlake boys who lived in her neighborhood but went to my school.
We had "photo shoots" at my house.
We cried and hugged after her mom passed away.
We did it again when my boyfriend passed away four months later.
We broke rules.
We went off to college.
We struggled to figure out who we were in our own ways which pulled us apart, and then together, and then apart and together again. (This happened again over about seven years.)
We jammed out to Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne.
We went out for coffee and tea a lot.
We gabbed about girly fiction.
We let ourselves drift apart for a little while (subconsciously but purposefully, I think).
We grew and changed.
We made our way back to our old friendship as our new selves and worked on it.
We celebrated life changes and successes.
We keep it really real with each other (and laugh a lot).

Flash forward to last month. I was by her side in Maui as she prepared to get married. We don't get to see each other that often anymore, so our sarcastic silliness was in overdrive, and it was so much fun. Had we taken a minute to look around the room every once in awhile, we probably would have noticed funny looks and bugged out eyes -- and maybe plugged ears, because girls will be girls and #shuttheheckup. ;)

After the rehearsal dinner, her then-fiancé told her that he loved me, because he had never seen anyone put her in her place before. The last time he saw me was at a large gathering back in December 2013, so he hadn't truly seen me one-on-one with Jen until the rehearsal dinner. And, man, was he in for a treat. Jen may be outgoing and constantly yankin' everyone's chain, but this sister can dish it too! 20 years of friendship will do that to you. We're not afraid to tease each other, call each other out, and rap the bridge in Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody" (my favorite music video my freshman year of high school, in case you needed to know).

He's right. I'm not afraid to put her in her place, and she's not afraid to put me in mine. We have worked really hard to rebuild trust that was broken, and we've shared forgiveness in a way that can move mountains. In 20 years, we have fought really hard, but we love even harder. Generally speaking, I'm OK with friends that drift. There is something to learn from all friendships, lasting and temporary. But when there is a friendship worth grasping and mending, you put in the work.

Cheers to another 20, 40, 60 years of impromptu photo shoots, emoji/hashtag conversations, putting each other in our places, and being the silly 11-year-olds that met in 1995. May everyone know how wonderful it is to have a friendship worth fighting for.

________________________

A quotable wedding day moment:

Jen started getting emotional about all the wedding excitement and family and missing her mom and being in love. She didn't want to mess up her make-up, so she turned to me and said, 

"Quick! Say something mean." 

"You're an asshole."

I've got your back, girl.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Beauty and the Slow Blink


I never considered postpartum hair loss until a friend mentioned it to me on Instagram five months ago. I said I liked some new hair products I tried, and she said,

"Let's see how it does with your postpartum falling out/ baby hairs. They are awful." 

I chuckled in the way that smug people pat others on the head and thought, Oh, please. Everyone said my hair would change while I was pregnant, too, and that never happened. Lies! She warned that it wouldn't start until 3-6 months postpartum. I shrugged. At only four weeks postpartum, my ego was still slightly inflated from delivering naturally. 

Postpartum hair loss? Pshhh. Please. I just pushed a baby out sans drugs, muthalovuh! The rules of mere mortals no longer apply. 

Oh, how humbling parenting can be. The day Press turned four months old, my hair started falling out. By "falling out," I mean shedding like a homeless cat mid-day in August in Texas. I was in the shower combing conditioner through my hair with my fingers when I realized my hands were full of my own hair. (Did Cousin It have hands? If he did, that's what they would have looked like.) I was used to some shedding, but I started to wonder if I was going to have bald spots. To keep it all from clogging up the drain, I've always been in the habit of putting my hair on the shower wall and then wiping it off and throwing it away afterward. Do you do that too?

For the last two months, my hair has been everywhere. Like, everywhere. On the floor of every room of the house, the seat of my car, my office desk, my purse, the hair tie around my wrist, the sink, my clothes. I told S that I was losing my hair, and he said, 

"I know. I threw away the wig I found in the shower yesterday." (Oops!) These are the romantic one-liners we exchange these days. Despite losing what seems to be a third of my hair, it is still as thick, wavy, and frizzy as ever, so... RIDDLE ME THIS. I'm so confused.

* * * * *

As if losing all of my hair (and none of it at the same time) wasn't bad enough, my child gave me a little taste of her future pre-teen self. Zip-a-dee-do-da! 

Presley is very alert and follows the conversation when S and I are talking. Her eyes bounce back and forth between us like a tennis ball. Her eyes stare very intensely, and her lifted chin exposes her precious little neck which is usually hidden beneath that scrumptious baby fat. Recently, she decided that she wanted to join the conversation. With much determination, she let out that dreaded scream-talk I mentioned yesterday. With a low, soft voice, I said, 

"Presley. Please do not do that. Nobody likes that. It hurts Mama's ears." She slowly turned her head from S to me, held her stoic glance for three seconds, and then blinked her eyes. My child slow-blinked me. I was utterly taken aback. Before I could even react, S was practically wheezing with laughter. I gasped.

"Excuse me? Did you just slow-blink your mama?" Then I started laughing. And then Presley started laughing. 

It was so well executed that I wanted to slow clap her slow blink.