Friday, August 31, 2007

Growing up before my eyes

Again with the heartstrings - today we had the fourteen year old from across the street come over today to spend a couple hours taking care of Sofie so I could clean up the house for the party this weekend. The girl asked if it would be okay if she took Sofie back over to her house. I was mentally beflummoxed -- there wasn't really any good reason to say no. Her mother and her would both be watching over Sofie, and she's old enough to take care of her this way and knows all about choking hazards and not to let her fall off a bed or go up and down stairs. But still, part of me wanted to clutch Sofie to my chest and say, "No! You can't take her away!"

But instead I took a deep breath and said, "Is your mom home?" And "You know not let her put small things in her mouth, right?" And then finally "Okay."

And my little anxiety-prone, don't-let-Mommy-get-more-than-three-feet-away sweetie -- did she panic or cry or lose it when Ellie picked her up and walked out the front door with her?

No she did not. She waved a perfunctory bye to me, calm as could be, and went over to play with the neighbor's toys for a whole two hours, like it was nothing unusual. Cool as a cucumber, this one.

Me, I worried the whole time she was gone. What if their moppet of a dog bit her? What if she found an outlet? What if she fell? None of these things happened of course. And she was delighted to see me when she got home.

"Did she cry?" I asked the babysitter.

"Nope, not once."

Harumph.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The last few days of year one

I keep finding myself thinking, every day this week, of how these are the last few days of Sofie's first year. A year ago today I was home waiting for her to arrive, swaddling stuffed animals for practice, reading odd selections of horror fiction, and wondering if I was ever going to have this baby.

A year later, I'm driving around doing errands while my 11 months and 27 day old daughter practices singing in the back seat, warbling along to traffic sounds for ten, fifteen twenty minutes at a time. "What a beautiful singing voice you have!" I keep telling her, even though she sounds like an injured puppy right now. She'll get the hang of it eventually. And maybe it's the mom thing, but I don't think I've ever heard anything sweeter than her little croaky songs.

How did we go from here:



to here so fast?



Must stop torturing myself about how she's no longer a baby as of Sunday. Of course she's still a baby. But kidhood is fast approaching.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Table runner

Unfinished table runner quilt top I made today - in my mind, these are garden colors - tomato, eggplant, green basil, and carrot. I like it; it seems right for this harvest time of year.




This now gets added to the ever-growing pile of tops I've made which have not been sandwiched and quilted. Which seems to be my thing right now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Green Sheep

Sofie and I went to see The Green Sheep, a play specifically for one- to four-year-olds, today at the Seattle Children's Museum. I wasn't sure what to expect; Sofie has the typical ten minute attention span of most kids her age, but to my surprise and delight she was transfixed by the whole endeavor. It was perfectly directed at little kids - all puppets, basic wordplay, interesting music and big, big gestures that were easy to follow.

Because my friend Kate already described it better than I'm going to here, I'm going to shamelessly quote her here:

The audience is led into a room with a "sheep pen". We sat in the middle and the actors were on the outside of the pen using puppets and music to tell the "story" of different sheep. So the Wind Sheep was flying a kite and the Bath Sheep was scrubbing in the bath and the Brave Sheep was diving off the high dive! Both Molly and Sofie were entranced the entire time. I thought they'd be really wiggly and want to try and get out of the "sheep pen" but their attention was rivited.


After, we met up with their buddy Hazel and her mom to explore the Children's Museum. I've never been there before, having assumed it was mainly for older kids, but there was a whole section reserved for birth to age three children and it was really entertaining for them all. We could easily have played for hours there. We may have to get a membership - for a mere $40, I could get a years' admission for Sofie and me. That pays for itself if we go just three times a year.

Between this place, the zoo/aquarium membership we already have, and some of the fantastic community center playrooms we've been visiting lately, we might just be dropping our pricey Gymboree membership after it expires in a few months.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Quick note from Sofie

Just a quick note from guest blogger Sofie B - hey folks. Just wanted to let my baby friends out there know about an amazing new discovery I've made. Did you know -- I know, this is pretty exciting isn't it! Anyway did you know -- Your Finger. Is exactly the right size to fit in your nose

Let me repeat that one more time. In. Your. Nose.

I know! Just when you think it can't get any better, right?

Signing off - I've got more exploring to do up there.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fun toy

Here's a fun little doodad - go here to spell anything with pictures from Flickr. Like, for instance, this:

S O F I Neon Graveyard

Am I dreaming?

So I went a little nuts yesterday and signed up for a 5K at the end of October, the local Pumpkin Push 5K. Seemed like a good idea at the time -- I was buoyed by Monday's workout, one of those great runs that seems easier than it ever used to, and by the fact that I'm actually making progress. But then the cold hard reality hit that this leaves me about eight weeks to double the distance I can currently run. Is that possible? For normal people, probably, but for someone like me who's just broken a continuous mile outside for the first time in, oh, forever?

Seriously, if anyone has advice please comment.

And then I read up on some folks who ran it last year and found out that there's a killer hill in the last third of the route. Yikes.

I'll do it one way or the other. It's not like I couldn't walk some of it. But I'd like to run it. We'll see.

Today's a rest day, even though normally it'd be a running day - I did a jumprope workout yesterday while Sofie was napping and my leg muscles are REALLY tired. We'll take a walk instead and run tomorrow.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Virgos

Let's be honest - my husband is no neatnik and neither am I. I try hard to keep the house clean, but even on my best weeks I spend hours doing work that keeps it barely functional, and end up shaking my head in wonder at people we know whose houses are spotlessly perfect nearly all the time. Honestly, I blame the cats. You just can't achieve certain levels of neatness with four furry creatures with bad habits living underfoot.

I can deal with that. Just barely.


However, we're both hoping that Sofie's Virgo nature -- meticulous, craving order, and diligent -- will show itself in a sincere love of vacuuming. Because how great would that be? Of course we won't force her to clean the house, but if she really really WANTS to, how can we say no?


So you can imagine how pleased I was the other day when Sofie reached down to pick up a stray piece of tissue in the bathroom and completely on her own, never having been taught or urged to do so by me, deposited it matter-of-factly in the trash.

Go Sofie, go.

Whining about the weather

It's twenty degrees cooler today than it was at this time last year, and twelve degrees cooler than it is on average in mid-August. And it's raining. And we're stuck inside while my tomatoes rot in the cold and damp. Bleah.

If we had to have a very cold August, why couldn't it have been last year when I was pregnant, as big as a house, and dying of heat stroke? I swear it was like 100 degrees the last two weeks before she was born.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Games we play

I read in a book I got out of the library called "Your One Year Old" something along the lines of how your one year old might have a slight sense of humor but probably not much of one yet. Um, what?? Sofie has been making jokes and cracking herself and us up for months now. I'm guessing this book might be a little outdated.

Here are a few examples of the laugh riot that is Sofie these days:

  • Sofie's newest game is to roar on command when you ask her, "Sofie, can you roar like a lion?" She puts her whole heart into it. ROOOOOOAR! So funny. She picked this up from a page in one of her books where there's a lion - I roar when we get to that page and she started to do it back after she heard me. But it's cool that she does it on command now.
  • She also thinks it's just hysterical if you stick your tongue out and then move it from side to side of your mouth. She practically doubles over laughing. This is something she has not yet figured out how to do. Ah, the ease with which one can amuse (and amaze!) a baby.
  • Every morning, she takes Franklin (her beanbag moose) and shoves him bodily behind our bed's headboard. My job, which she will then wait pointedly for, is to then pull him back out between the slats, and make him pop his head up and say, "Heeeeey! Quit it!" She then dissolves into laughter, only to grab him and shove him back there again. Repeat about 200 times and you have the first 30 minutes of my day.
  • She's also taken to waving hello at me while she's breastfeeding, with an impish little grin on her face. Hi Mommy. Just letting you know I'm still here.

No sense of humor yet, my foot.

Our perfect day

Well day one alone was an absolutely lovely day. I decided that the way to keep things from feeling overwhelming was to just keep things simple and also have some special adventures that we don't do every day. So we did! She had a playdate with a neighbor girl for two hours while I tidied up the house to my liking, we played silly games and laughed half the day, Sofie took two great naps including the first one she's taken in her crib in a week, we visited with Grandma and Grandpa on their porch, we went shopping for new pans, and (best of all) we ate dinner outside on a gorgeous summer night at a great little cafe nearby. This was our special adventure part - just us two girls having a little night out.

And it was fantastic! Mama got to enjoy a small glass of wine and some wonderful seared scallops, and Sofie really seemed to love the idea of having her dinner (two jars of organic baby food) outdoors. It helped, of course, that she was a PERFECT LITTLE ANGEL. And that she spent half of dinner finding new tables full of people to wave at and get to wave back. And that she looked just adorable in her little denim overalls and new shoes. And then we shared one tiny scoop of ice cream and headed home to an early bedtime that actually worked!

This eating out thing may be the answer to how to handle the baby alone. I must say, coming home after dinner and having a) no dishes to wash, b) no high chair to hose down from Sofie's dinner and c) no kitchen to clean was pretty freaking awesome. The only jobs I had to do were get her into her jammies and into bed.

I think we might just eat out tomorrow too. Budget schmudget.

Single parenting

Trying to spare Brett a bad case of end-of-summer-and-I-never-went-camping blues, I've given him a parenting furlough this weekend so that he can escape to eastern Washington for some man time. Scratching, belching, and reading conspiracy literature around a campfire are all on the agenda. Just to show that he hasn't lost his whimsy, though, he took Herschel with him.

Sofie and I are having our first weekend alone. I'm about 96% fine with being a lone parent for a weekend and 4% nervous, which is a fair enough equation. As long as she sleeps, we'll be just fine.

And the sleep, thankfully, has been improving a little of late. For several days she utterly refused to nap this week, but it's sorting itself out and she's been sleeping well at night throughout. Brett's developed some newfangled way to get her back to sleep in the middle of the night that involves just pushing her back down onto the mattress when she starts to sit up. Sounds awkward, but apparently she accepts the suggestion just fine and rolls over to go back to sleep. I'm going to have to try that tonight.

I'm also going to use these three days to try to back her bedtime up a little earlier. She used to stay up almost until nine; recently this has moved up a lot to about 7:45. Now I'd like to get that backed up to around 7:00 or 7:30, little by little. From some things I've read recently, one of the primary causes of bad napping during the day is a too late bedtime, which that book defined as anything later than 8:00. Yikes. So we're working on that.

Updates to come.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Week 7 of running

I complained a few weeks ago about how I'd been running for a month and only lost one pound. Well, I'm happy to report that I'm now halfway through week seven and I've now lost ten! Woo hoo. I pick up one of my ten pound dumbbells every once in a while to remind myself how much that is.

We've still got a ways to go. But hey, progress! I've got about six more pounds to lose to get to the weight I was at when I got pregnant, and then about ten or so more to get back to a reasonable weight for me.

Couple of things that are helping:
  • I've switched up how I'm eating quite a bit - no more cereal for breakfast, and much less bread and sugar with other meals and snacks. Most days I make an egg white omelette with tomatoes and cheese for breakfast - takes a bit longer but it tastes great and keeps me full until lunch. And with eggwhites coming in those little milk-carton containers, it's quite easy. Lots of veges and fruit. Handfuls of almonds and walnuts. Very little added sugar. Oh, and coffee. Sweet, sweet coffee. I must have a vice.
  • I'm starting to go a little farther when I run. Now, I usually run about twenty blocks without stopping, including some hills, then turn around and do at least every other block running on the way home. Quite often I run more than half of the way back. This probably doesn't seem like a lot, but as someone who's never been able to do more than a continuous mile outside, breaking that barrier is really exciting for me. Every day I'm doing a little bit more.

I've also discovered in the last few days that it's a lot easier to run up a hill if you speed up. That seems kind of counter-intuitive, but it works, and it's crucial since we live on a BIG huge hill and there's no running route here I can find that doesn't involve quite a bit of uphill work. Today I ran up several pretty big hills without dying from a lack of oxygen, using this method. I did have to stop and bend over after the last of them, but it was freaking huge and I'd already run about a mile and a half. I also stole my kid's sippy cup to drink some water. So shoot me.

I'm not sure if it's some kind of physics thing -- like going around curves is easier in a car if you go faster -- or if it's just that having your focus on trying to sprint up the hill takes your mind off how incredibly freaking painful it is to run up a hill to begin with. Distraction can be your friend.

Sofie seems to enjoy our runs - she naps better on the mornings when we go out to run. (Every other day, right now, plus one extra on the weekend. My shins can't take much more than that.) And most days, we stop in our little neighborhood pocket park on the way back and I lay in the grass and stretch while she stands around next to her stroller and yells at the birds. "GAWP!" she shrieks at them, and they oblige her by shrieking back. Before we leave, I pick her up by the armpits and spin around so she gets to fly like an airplane. She laughs and laughs and we both leave feeling satisfied that our day is off to a good start.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

First shoes!

Yesterday afternoon, Kate and I took Sofie and Molly down to the downtown Nordstroms to get them fitted for shoes. Sofie's on the verge of really walking, and Molly's breaking infant records for rock climbing at the local zoomazium, so we both figured it's time for them to have some protective footgear. And everyone has told us that Nordstrom is the place to go for that first fitting -- so off we went.

It turned out to be a really fun adventure. Boy, do the people at Nordstrom really do their best to make that first shoe-buying experience memorable. They break out a polaroid when you decide to buy a pair and take a picture of your little one in their new shoes, give you a little "My First Shoes" frame to put the picture in, and they give the kids a fuzzy toy. Clearly they're trying to turn a first shoe visit into creating a loyal Nordstrom kids-shoe purchaser for life. Smart.

Store polaroid:


Sofie and Molly had a great time crawling around looking in the shoe mirrors and shaking various displays -- which thankfully were sturdy -- and they didn't seem to mind the shoe-trying-on part of it either. Sofie came home with an adorable pair of StrideRite walkers (blue! not pink!) and Molly got a pair of prewalker shoes from See Kai Run. I doubt we'll buy many shoes there over the course of her childhood - they were pricey and don't last long. But for this first time, it was an experience to remember.

As we left the store, both girls were sitting in their strollers with their new shoes up on the handlebar, examining them with great interest while clutching their new fuzzy white Nordstrom dolls, more interested in manuevering their new shoes into their mouths than walking on them. But Sofie seemed to like hers and wore them without complaint for most of the day. I'm calling it a success.

Visit from Aunt Marilyn

Sofie's Aunt Marilyn (not to be confused with my Aunt Marilyn - hi Aunt Marilyn!) was here for this past weekend, and Sofie took to her like she was her long lost best friend. They hadn't seen each other since October, and Sofie's no longer in the newborn fog that she was back then - Marilyn seemed delighted to find an almost-toddler who she could run around and play with.

It was really touching watching my girl, who normally has such terrible separation anxiety that not even Daddy can always pick her up, happily crawl into her aunt's lap and ask for cuddles:


or play with someone else for hours on end:


I even got to the leave the room whenever I wanted without Sofie dissolving into tears, as long as Marilyn was there with her. Wow!

Since Marilyn left, I've been showing Sofie pictures of the weekend and she gets a huge grin on her face when she looks at them, making me think she remembers for now her new favorite person. How long does a baby remember someone they haven't seen in a while?

With Daddy and Marilyn at the park:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sofie walked!

Sofie took her first couple of steps today, unaided! She walked two or three steps from me to her Aunt Marilyn, and then did it a few more times just for practice. We were so excited! She's been crawling for almost seven months now, and standing up without holding on to anything for probably three months. For the last month or two she's been pushing chairs all over the house and walking behind them, but until today she's never attempted to just take a step or two.

She's not certain about what she's doing, and I think it will take her a while to really master it, but it was so great to see her take this first big leap.

Just in time to enjoy the push and pull toys I've gotten her for her birthday.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Garden notes

Just a quick post to note how much I'm loving my little Fairytale Eggplant that's planted out front. I've always avoided trying to grow eggplants because I mentally classified them as things that can't really be grown in Seattle's semi-cool summer season. But this plant, with its short maturity date of 50 days, has done just great. I've now picked and enjoyed about nine eggplants off it and there are at least that many left to come.

Next year, I'm going to put in several of them.

I don't think I've ever had a fresh-picked eggplant before this -- and wow, what a revelation that is. They're so SWEET! So unbitter. So tender. I'm in love.

I've been bemoaning the tomato season lately -- as I mentioned yesterday, it's been chilly and un-Augusty here lately, and it's hurting the tomatoes, I'm sure of it. This is August, a time when Seattle usually goes into its desert phase of 90- to 100-degree days and no rain or clouds for the next three months. Instead, it's about 62 most of the time at the peak of the afternoon, and in the fifties at night. That's pleasant enough for people like me who hate it hot, but the tomatoes, they like it warmer than this. They're supposed to be baking in the sun right now, growing plump and fat and warm and red. And that isn't happening.

The same varieties that last year grew to eight feet tall have maxed out this year at around five feet. In my yard, anyhow. My friend Erica has giants of the same varieties, bought the same day in the same place -- so who knows. She used more fertilizer than me, and I used a weird soil mix that might have been a mistake. Next year, I'm not using the soilbuilder.

All that said, though, I'm getting lots of tomatoes, so I guess I shouldn't complain. I went out tonight to pick some sungolds and found that just about all of the other plants also had ripe tomatoes. There were literally more to pick than we could have eaten tonight, so I left about half for the next day or two. We've now had at least a few fruits from everything except the Brandywine (should be a couple more weeks), the Taxi (and it's close! just days away) and the Principe Borghese.

Today we had the very first of the Jaune Flamme, the Isis Candy, the Green Zebra, and the Black Prince. All were lovely. The only disappointment so far in the taste department are the Grushovka -- it's mushy and mealy -- and the Silvery Fir, a favorite of years' past that's just doing nothing for me this year except excelling in the mushy/mealy department too.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What a lack of sleep will do

Email exchange between Brett and I this morning. It's been unusually cold at night lately so we've taken to putting Sofie in the long sleeved footed pajamas again at night.

Me: You put Sofie's pajamas on backwards last night.

Brett: No wonder she was crying. I'm so used to the snaps being in the front. Weird.

Me: "Daddy! My feets! My feets have nowhere to go!"

Brett: 4:00 A.M. Sofia wakes up. "Shoot. I need some milk. But the dork put my PJs on backwards while he was wide awake. I don't want him messin' with me while he's sleepwalking. I can't imagine what he'd do next. Diaper on my head?"

Me: Yet, she did sleep through the night for the first time in a month.

Brett: "Damn. I'll just go back to sleep and wait for him to go to work."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Introducing... the fifth Beatle

So I decided the other day that Sofie's long, shaggy bangs were just getting out of hand. How hard could it be to cut a baby's bangs yourself?

Answer: harder than you might think.

Now, I've done this a few times before - trimmed her bangs, that is. However, this was before the highly-mobile stage that she's in now, or the I-love-to-mess-with-mom stage, or her grab-everything-out-of-my-hands stage.

I popped her in the bathtub the other night, got her wet, and tried to do a simple gather-twist-snip operation like I do on my own bangs. No go. What resulted was a toddler cyclone of energy, twisting this way and that, knocking the scissors out of my hands and into the bathwater, resulting in only half of her bangs being cut at all. Which then led to the always iffy operation of "just trying to straighten things out a little."

Which, of course, led to more feints and twists that resulted in certain pieces being shorter than others, which led to "just a little more trying to straighten it out" -- until I saw the light of reason and just gave up.

As a result, my daughter now looks like the fifth Beatle.



It's a little better when the top is pinned over - it's almost an Audrey Hepburn/Roman Holiday gamine thing. Except crooked.


Sofie says: "Haircuts would go better if you'd USE the comb instead of letting me eat it."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Swinging

Is there anything as great as swinging?



Sofie's answer: NO THERE IS NOT!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Milkiness

I was a remarkably calm new mother, in retrospect, with one big exception - breastfeeding freaked me the heck out. I used up all the energy I didn't spend holding a mirror under the baby's nostrils in the middle of the night by obsessively worrying about milk. Was she getting enough? Was she gaining weight? Good god, was it supposed to hurt this much?


To be fair, though, breastfeeding and me, we got off to a rough start. I ended up with a caesarian birth, and between the normal effect of surgery drugs and the fact that I might have been a little trigger-happy before, during, and after labor with the morphine clicker they gave me, my milk was exceedingly slow to come in. Poor little Sofie didn't get hardly anything for the first four days, and then things started working. But in the meantime I developed quite a complex about how this was going to ever work.

I never did make enough milk; Sofie always had to have a little formula too. For months I felt horrible about that. I tried everything in the book to fix it, including a punishing regimen of 22 nutritional or herbal supplements a day mixed with endless pumping, but it never changed one lick.

Finally, though, I just relaxed. Sure it would've been nice if formula never touched her lips, but that just wasn't the case. At worst she had half milk, half formula. These days, now that solid food has taken the place of several milk feedings, she has almost no formula. Things have evened out. It's hard to remember now why I was so uptight about it, or so scared that she was going to starve, or why I let it affect how I felt about myself. Like I wasn't a real mother if I couldn't provide all the milk my little girl needed.

Here's two things no one told me which would have made a big difference -
  • Your baby will most definitely survive being given a little formula. There are many wonderful lactation consultants out there doing everything they can to make breastfeeding more widely accepted and easier for new moms to figure out, but there are also a lot of scary lactivists who make you feel like crap if you use formula. Don't listen to, read, or even make eye contact with them.
  • They tell you in childbirth class that breastfeeding will hurt a little, but they don't really prepare you for how utterly excruciating it can be if your little one isn't real skilled in the whole latch-on arena. Oh. My. God. While it would have terrified me to get the straight poop from someone about what this might really be like, it also would've helped to know this is normal. Instead, I kept reading things from La Leche about how "breastfeeding only hurts if you're doing it wrong!" Oy. Shame. Guilt.

All that stuff about how wonderful breastfeeding is for you and the baby is certainly true -- but for most women, it won't feel wonderful or blissful for at least four to eight weeks after you start. (There are exceptions to this, including my good friend K, who had a lovely time right from the start with her first baby.) In the new mother's group I was a part of at the beginning, all of us were agonizing about breastfeeding at the six week point. When, when, when was it going to get better? Was it EVER going to get better? Every single one of us.

Shortly thereafter, it did get better. Almost overnight.

I sit here now, on the eve of Sofie's eleven month birthday, amazed to realise that my sort of half-assed milk supply has quietly trucked along for almost a whole entire year, and that the pain and agonizing has been over so long that I can hardly even remember when nursing was a source of anxiety for me.


Now it's such a peaceful, loving part of our day that when she suddenly stopped nursing for a couple days this week, I was incredibly sad that she might be weaning herself. I'm not quite ready for this to be over. I know that a lot of babies, especially girls, lost interest somewhere not long after their first birthday and end up weaning, but eleven months seemed too early to me. But after two days of a nursing strike, she started back up this morning like nothing had ever been wrong. (Teething? Tummy ache? Who knows.) And I breathed a secret sigh of relief for however many more weeks we get to continue.

Our nursing days are numbered now, in that the rest of this baby period will zoom by with the ferocious speed that has already taken away her tiny baby grogginess and her goofy, toothless smiles and her first efforts to roll over. One day I'm going to lay down to sleep and wake up with a toddler who wants to do everything herself and who will be pushing away from mommy rather than holding so, so close. And that's natural and normal and fine.

But a few more months of babyness and milkiness would be nice. I love feeding and comforting her. She scrunches up close to me and I stroke her head while she drinks and her skull feels like an eggshell nestled in my palm. It's fitting and perfect that this is the first and last moment of each day, us together in this quiet embrace.

I love that we've made it this far and are still going. We're actually going to make it to the twelve-month mark, when at first I didn't think we'd make it six weeks. But here we are. And that's good.

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