Thursday, July 31, 2008

On Her Own Two Feet

Here it is.

This picture was taken about 3 hours ago.

She needed a little help getting up there, but she stood like that for a good 2-3 minutes without help.

Oh my. The Dancing Days are here!

Pavlov’s Conditioning in Practice

One of the best parenting decisions that I’ve made so far was to have Grace fall asleep to the sound of rain.

It was a simple choice really. Her Sleep Sheep plays heartbeat, rain, ocean waves and whale noises. Who in their right mind wants to listen to whale noises? It sounds like the creatures are dying. Heartbeat? Don't worry folks, she's stable. I don't think so. Rain all the way.

Personally, I’ve always loved the sound of rain. On any long car trip, Matt knows that if it starts raining I am out cold. Plus, I’ve seen way to many children freaked out by loud noises and thunderstorms. I figured that if she went to sleep to rain every night, thunderstorms would be soothing instead of scary.

It has worked. She’s slept through the many fire and brimstone storms we’ve had this year.

Last night, on the way home she was tired but fighting her nap. Grace’s new technique for putting herself to sleep is to moan.

It is really odd. It is a constant AaaaaRaaaaaMmmmAaaaaaa noise, kind of like a weed-wacker, for about 10-15 minutes then bang. Sound Asleep.


Yesterday the moans went longer than normal, but then it started to rain. A freak little cloudburst that washed us with big fat drops. Thanks to her conditioning to fall asleep to rain, she almost instantly fell asleep. I was so proud. Chalk one up to Mama.

The rain only lasted about 10 minutes though. Light bulb came back on and the eyes fluttered open shortly after the last drop fell. Still, that short little nap gave us a happy little girl until bedtime.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Baby Yoga

Yoga. Well, baby yoga at least.

I know every kid must do it, but in her quest to crawl Grace is doing some interesting baby yoga. She wants to move to you, so she gets on her hands and 1 knee. The other leg just balances out behind her, hindering the crawl.

Much like this:

A few more days and it will be all over. She is so close to crawling and has the ability to stand without the parental hand now for close to 30 seconds before buckling. I guess we should start installing outlet covers and rolling up blind cords this weekend.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Grasping at Air

Grace keeps getting stronger day by day. I can see in her eyes that she wants to jump up and run around the room shouting, "Look at me, look at me! I'm not a baby anymore!" For now she is still my baby, but is making strides to that day.

Today, in between butt scoots across the floor, we practiced standing. I think it is the cognitive ability to figure out balance that is standing in her way. Her legs hold her. She can stand with her hands on the couch, the majority of her weight on her legs, and just a parental hand under her butt for help with the balance.

We let her ease down when the legs give out. She gets mad. Really mad. Immediately screeching for assistance in standing up again. Which we oblige of course.

I get weekly updates from about her. I signed up for emails while pregnant to keep up with the developments going on inside me that I couldn't see. It is amazing to know when finger nails and eye lashes are being formed.

The emails kept coming for post-natal development too. She is now 9 months 3 weeks. At 12 months she stops being categorized as an infant. The emails will keep coming, giving development generalizations and age appropriate games to play, but they will no longer be "baby games."

I know the best games are yet to come. Ones where she can solve problems and make choices, but I am so infatuated with the baby stages that I don't want it to end.

I guess I will just hope that in the last moments of the day, when the sun meets the earth, she will always lean into me with all her weight truly needing me like she does now.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Smear of Navy and Orange

Are you a football fan? Do you remember the ill fated February 4, 2007 Chicago Bears v. Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl XLI game?

We Do. It was a sad day in our house. 29-17 Colts. Bears just gave it away. Booooo.

So in their drunken sorrow, the boys starting coming up with actions to reaffirm the Athletic Glory of Chicago.

Hence, the Age of the Triathlon was born. Under the heat lamp of 3 cases of beer, an egg cracked and a little monster poked its head out of the shell.

I figured it would be put outside in the snow and freeze to death within a few weeks.


A year and a half later it has claws, teeth and a big ole’ tail to wack things with.

Matt has done several triathlons since the conception of this beast.

It started May 2007 with a sprint triathlon (0.5 mile swim, 14.3 mile bike, 3.5 mile run) on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He just repeated the event this year with a 34 minute improvement in his time.

He did his first Olympic distance triathlon (0.9 mile swim, 25.5 mile bike, 6.2 mile run) in May 2008.

Shortly after this he signed up for a Marathon (26.2 mile run) in October 2008 and the Eagleman triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) June 2009.

He swears after the Eagleman, he wants to do one Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) in 2010 or 2011 and then hang up his bike shoes. Yeah right. Well- except for fun sprints, and maybe the occasional special occasions challenge. Uh huh.

So now, (completely ignoring how great it is health wise that he is getting into such great shape,) on top of loosing massive amounts of weight (which I seem to be gaining) and spending good portions of time training for these events, he likes to preach at everyone he meets about triathlons. Sometimes I think he should have a mobile pulpit.

Well, the people that he currently works with have bought into the gospel according to Matt. They have drank the Kool-Aid and are doing a sprint distance tri with him this weekend.

All I have to say is, Damn You Chicago Bears! On so many levels, and for so many things! Oh, but you know as a Chicago girl I will welcome you back with open arms in a few short months.

And now, the Theme Song.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Splish, Splash

Have you ever heard of the Dugger family?

They’re nut jobs with a Discovery Channel reality show because they have 17, going on 18 kids. While I have to disagree with some of their choices, like popping out babies like tic-tac’s because God tells them to and then naming them all “J” names. -Yeah, I've watched the show.- I heard the mother say something about childbirth once that struck a cord. “Labor isn’t called labor because it’s supposed to be easy. It is hard work!”

Well, on that note, I know that work is called work for a reason. It’s not supposed to be fun. It’s work.

I want some fun at work though! I want a career. I want a job where I’m not checking my watch every 10 minutes. I want to WANT to come to work!

My department is “reorganizing.” In my world, that means that production is at a crawl and you can’t fire people, so let’s just shuffle them up like we’re playing Go Fish. Sometimes I feel like a big tuna, most of the time though I am swimming with the guppies.

I hate feeling like I’m not in control of my future. My bosses, bosses, boss includes me in emails about his upcoming meetings and schedules (tuna country,) but my immediate supervisor forgets to CC me on the most mundane topics (guppy land.) I am the go-to person for my team (tuna country,) but I am told I am still in training by management when discussing promotions and bonuses (guppy land.)

What am I supposed to do? I’m not sure, so I am flailing. Flopping around in the water trying to make big splashes. I figure, if I splash enough someone will get wet and notice that I am capable of doing so much more.

We will see.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Only Suckers Volunteer

The daycare Grace is in has a new Director, Tasha. Apparently, the previous two directors left on less than amicable terms. In fact, the last one was essentially removed/fired by the parents.

Given this, Tasha seems to be working in overdrive to make nice with the parents. She is branding herself as: Tasha, the Director Who Cares. She sent out memos about herself before her start date, held office hours to introduce herself personally, stressed that she has an open door policy to any comments or concerns and is trying to schedule events and activities.

As you can tell by their ability to have people fired, the parents here are very organized. We have a Yahoo list serve that instantly connects to the personal email accounts of the majority of the parents (I assume the majority anyway.) When something happens, we all know about it within minutes. You should have seen the flurry of emails when the daycare announced the rates were rising.

Last week an email went out from Tasha, via the moderator, requesting a 1-2 parents to act as liaison, again stressing community and open communication.

This is where I come in. I’m thinking to myself, “Hey self, you should be more involved. Volunteer! How hard can it be? You’ll just have to decide what variety of apple they will serve at lunch and maybe buy a new fish when one croaks.”

Apparently I was WRONG!!

First, she wants us to poll the parents to see if anyone has any good ideas for possible activities and in-house “field trips.”

OK, more work than I was expecting, but I can handle that.

Then comes the bomb. She wants to organize a Saturday afternoon Family Fun Day.

Not sold, but I’m listening.

She wants it to have face painting, arts & crafts, a Tumblebus (?? what is that??), food, games- all for a minimal charge.

Ahhhh …. Well see, I kinda like to sit on my butt during the weekends ….

Now we get to the good part.

Tasha then says, “I would like for you all to determine interest, fee per family/participant (i.e. child, adult, etc.), event date and time. I am also looking for assistance in planning and executing the event as well.”

Damn. Isn't that her job?

You see Grace is happy playing with cardboard boxes – literally, her favorite toys are the collection of empty Kleenex boxes I’ve amassed – and here I am planning a carnival.

I thought I had a few more years before I joined the PTA and was following in my mother’s footsteps in the organization of massive school events. Not that I would mind the effort, but there is no reward for me in this. My kid doesn’t know the difference. Sure, she might have a good time, but she also has a good time going for walks around the block. A lot less work on my part.

Oh well. It’s for Grace, it’s for Grace.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chomp, Chomp, Chomp

I’m judgmental. I’ll admit it. I believe that generally speaking people are good, but I also tend to make snap decisions about folks. I often never change my mind, no matter what happens. I’ve always chalked this up to good character judgment, but I know it’s a character flaw.

I don’t forgive and harbor resentment for perceived wrongs while I may smile convincingly at the person in question. This is most likely because a million cutting phrases that would love to escape my mouth swirl around the back of my head like piranha, but get stuck in the frontal lobes, rendering me tongue tied. Given this, I avoid confrontation like a plague.

A while ago I was introduced to a friend of a friend. Not quite a moon in my orbit, but a large mountain on one of my moons. (Does that analogy make any sense? And how conceited is it for me to think of my self as a planet?)

I don’t like this person. He makes biting comments every time I see him. I don’t think it’s always malicious, just this person’s flaw. This ability/desire to say whatever comes to mind with no regard to its targets feelings.

I’ve seen him do it to others, but this past week I got hit with his verbal shrapnel. He popped something that I've been holding close to my heart. It hurt. More than I want to admit, but I guess the sheer fact that I am writing this right now is somewhat of a clue. This has been swimming around in my head all weekend. A vehicle for my little passive-aggressive piranha to take a nibble.

Vague as this entry is, I feel better. Ahhh.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bike Ride Anyone?

Even before Matt decided to do triathlons (these blogs will come soon enough) and go on 70 mile bike rides, I still followed the Tour de France. How can you not? I, by no means, sat in front of the TV watching footage on the Outdoor Channel, but I would check the standings every couple of days. Especially in this age of steroid rumors and drug testing disqualifications. It’s fascinating.

Plus I have a little bit of home town connection to it. I went to high school with the guy who is currently in 3rd place of the whole (choose your own explicative) thing, Christian Vandeveld. Well, kind of … his sister Marissa was in my class and his brother Ian was in my brother’s class. He is actually 2 years older (to the day,) but we knew each other from the “band geek” circle and went to some of the same parties.

Convoluted knowledge of someone who probably doesn’t even come close to remembering me aside, isn’t that kind of cool?

Thousands of small towns across the country can lay claim to their children growing up and doing something notable, either in sports or business. How many of them can claim to have raised the best of the best? I get tired walking up a big hill. This guy is climbing some of the steepest mountain ranges in the world at a breakneck pace.

Fame is relative. Does the majority of America even really care about a guy who can ride a bike? Probably not – unless they are caught up in the afore mentioned drug scandals. I think it is cool though.

If you don’t have a favorite racer yet (ha), you now have someone to cheer for. Go Christian! Work Those Glutes! – or whatever you yell to inspire men in the middle of a 3 week, 2,500 mile race.

I guess the Lemont well water isn’t so bad after all.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two's Company, Three's a Crowd

It's official! Gracie now has a crowded mouth. All the crying in the last week has paid off. She now has a 3rd tooth, center upper right, to join her two center bottom teeth. And we thought getting chomped with 2 razor sharp teeth was bad.

Look out world, here she comes!

Professional Party Planning

Time goes by so quickly. Grace is only 9 months old, but I started to put her 1st Birthday party plans together yesterday.

I’ve always read that the etiquette for a child’s birthday party is to invite 1 plus the child’s age. This would equal 2. That does not work. I can see that number being practical when she is 10 and wants to invite the entire 5th grade. Sorry honey, 11 is the magic number- you need to narrow down your list.

We are not talking about 9 years from now though. We are talking about 3 months from now with a lot of family planning to travel out from Chicago. It is going to be her Baptism, the duce.

Family: 8, Friends: 12, Neighbors: 17 = 37 people for a 1 year old birthday party. Wow. And that’s with leaving off a couple of question mark friends because their kids are older than Grace.

We’ve got a lot of work to do.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

And Kisses Too!

This should have been part of “Hugs for Everyone,” but I guess I got too focused on my story. Grace has figured out kisses. They are not on command like hugs, but kisses non-the-less. They are big, sloppy, drooley, open mouthed baby kisses. While they are infinitely sweet (once you figure out what she is doing,) and they are also (to be completely honest) really gross.

She usually saves them for later in the day, but this morning she planted one on me right after finishing her bottle. A gesture of her gratitude for the warm milk I suppose. It was a warm, slimy kiss that encompassed the center of my mouth from just below my nose to right above my chin. She stayed there for only a few seconds, but the drool and remaining morsels of milk made their mark. All over my freshly applied makeup.

Over the past few days, she often incorporates snot into the kisses too. Sometimes she just misses your mouth and plants the kiss on your chin. This would be great if she hasn’t had the daycare cold for two weeks now. While your chin gets to experience the joy of a kiss, your lips are now coated with baby boogers.

I do love the kisses though and Matt already fears the day when she will want to share a kiss with a man that isn’t related by blood.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Those Are Fightin' Words

Matt and I had a big fight today. Full of F-bombs. It's eight hours later now, and I can't even begin to tell you what it was about. Except that it was about love and two different perspectives.

Let me give you a little bit of background information.

I am diabetic. Type I. Shhh... It's my secret. I don't usually tell people. I'm sure there are a few people reading this that have know me for quite some time, and don't know this about me. I tell very few people that I work with, and the majority of my friends tend to forget. Which is fine with me.

Diabetes is one of those diseases that people, who have no idea what they are talking about, love to talk about. Every story begins with a lecture on what you should or should not be eating (with no real understanding of carbohydrates,) and morphs into some horror story about Uncle Joe and how he went blind or lost a foot.

Every story also comes from a Type II perspective, where someone has eaten themselves into the disease. I have very little patience for these stories. While, yes, I could definitely stand to loose more than a couple of pounds, I did not do this to myself. I was 8 years old when diagnosed. It is genetic/autoimmune and there is no prevention. I have been dealing with this for over 20 years now. I am fine. My Ac1's are the same as a non-diabetic. I know what I am doing.

Matt and I met in college and moved in together shortly after we started dating. In the time between those two events, I had a roommate who could have cared less about me. It was mutual. So one day, Matt kept calling and calling, but I wasn't answering. When he came over, he found my roommate sitting on the couch watching TV. She hadn't seen me all day. Matt went into my room to find me near coma my blood sugar was so low. With coaching from my mom via the phone, he fed me little bits of honey on a spoon for about an hour until I was coherent again. If he hadn't come over and found me I would have died.

From that moment on I vowed to never let anything like that happen again. Don't get me wrong, I've been low since then. But nothing that would ever hold a candle to that day. It was that day though that I knew I had found the man I would marry.

So today I was exhausted, and laid down at 10 am to take a quick nap.

At 2pm I woke to Grace crying in her crib. I was groggy from the 4 hour nap and upset that I had slept through so much of the day. I had 4 or 5 chores that now weren't going to be accomplished and thought that Grace hadn't been fed since I did it at 8am.

Matt on the other hand, was upset because he's now realizing that it is 2pm and I hadn't eaten all day. He is viewing my grogginess as low blood sugar.

So that was the fight. I totally don't remember in the slightest what was said, just the hindsight knowledge of the love involved in the harsh words.

My love for my daughter (who was indeed fed before Matt put to down for a nap at 11:30,) and my expressions of love for Matt in the wifely completion of chores. In contrast to Matt's love for me and my health, with the fear of that day almost 10 years ago always floating in the back of his head.

Now looking back on what I've written, I guess Matt was right. My worries about gocery shopping and home repair don't even come close to his concerns.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Baby Steps

It's coming. Any day now. Like a big hairy monster lumbering towards us. Mobility. Grand in theory, scary in practice.

This morning Grace is all too happy to show you how close she is to crawling. In addition to her across-the-floor-upright-butt-scoot and Three Stooges like circle on her stomach (nuck, nuck, nuck, nuck,) she is now going from sitting position to belly. Great.

While I was never under the illusion that sitting your child on the couch to play with toys was smart, it made it easier for me to make dinner. She was up high enough for me to see her while I worked. It was a great system. Well not any more. One forward belly lunge and she will land face first on the hardwood floor.

I am thrilled about this great step towards mobility though. At daycare, babies that are 2 weeks older and 2 months younger than her have mastered crawling and are cruising already. I am annoyed by the fact that mobility is the one baby milestone that is unpredictable. I like schedules. I need schedules.

As I write this though, I am watching her run circles around her Around We Go activity center. She has made two loops in the last 5 minutes. Sure, it's backwards and supported by the walker, but her feet are flat on the floor and it is under her own power. Run baby run! Or is it crawl baby crawl!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Washington Traffic

Matt is about to change jobs again. I think. If the position is offered to him and why wouldn’t it be offered to him? Matt is a shooting star for Uncle Sam. He is intelligent, proactive, personable and generally loved by all. To have all these qualities and still work for the U.S. Government is quite unusual.

I am a little jealous of this opportunity though. Not for the career advancement or pay raise. It is for the great reduction in work day commute. Right now his commute is 1.5 hours each way on a good day, compared to my 45 minute commute. 45 minutes doesn’t sound so bad when you have a direct comparison that is double the distance.

This new job though has a stellar 30 minute- IN RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC- commute. I am pissed. He will be able to wake up with us, help get our daughter ready for daycare, assist with our 6 am departure, work out for 45 minutes, eat a real breakfast, watch TV and STILL work a full day and get home before us.

We should find out by the end of this week if it is offered to him. Here's hoping!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hugs for Everyone

Grace will be 9 months old this weekend. She is a stage where everyday there is a new development and discovery. It is amazing to watch the look of accomplishment on her face when she scoots her butt across the floor to grab a toy. It is amazing to watch the look of amusement on her face while playing games with her. It is amazing to watch her motor skills and comprehension of language develop.

My favorite development has been her understand and response to the word "hug." Matt and I can spend all day saying, "Gracie, I need a hug." In response to this simple request, she now leans forward with her arms open and puts her head on your shoulder. It doesn't matter if it is the first request of the day or the 100th, it is so endearing my heart swells each time.

My favorite hug, and definitely my favorite memory thus far, was on my 1st Mother's Day.

That night, in the moments between when she finished nursing and being snuggled into her crib, she gave me the best gift I would ever imagine. She grabbed my cheeks with both hands, looked directly into my eyes and pressed her nose against mine. She then put her forehead against my nose so her eyelashes brushed against my lips and fell asleep in my arms. I sat perfectly still, tears of joy running down my cheeks, trying to hold onto the moment for as long as I could.

While I am overjoyed at her new ability to give hugs on command, this was the first hug from Grace.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Making Time For Love

Hmmm ... blogging. I'm not quite sure that I'm ready for this new frontier. The idea of keeping an e-diary for the world to see, if it so chooses, is scary.

The other day my good friend NES linked to an article about how blogging is a wonderful kind of therapy. Everyone should do it. So why not me? Don't I deserve a place for my mind to spew out all the day to day activities that will soon be forgotten if not written down?

Hence the title of my blog - Make Time For Love. No, it's not dirty people. Well, maybe it is, as it's the brain child of my husband. Even if it is, I still love it. It fits us so perfectly. We both come from families where love was always implied, but rarely said out loud. We make it a point to say it out loud on a daily basis.

To delve into the title on even more of a philosophical level, since the birth of our daughter in October 2007, it seems like the day to day moments of love seem to blend into each other and are quickly forgotten. I don't want to forget them though. I want to be able to look back on these entries with her in the years to come to giggle and tear over the day to day love.

So from now on, I will Make Time For Love and blog about the moments I never want to forget.