Archive for November, 2013

We had a joy-filled Thanksgiving, complete with a quiet morning at home, an afternoon walk in the perfect fall weather, and a belly-bursting evening  meal at Jack and La Verne’s.  My plate literally overflowed with blessings.  We have so much to be thankful for, in our home, our friendships, our family, and our sweet little babe.  Juliette somehow got wind of my previous blog rant and has been making amends the past couple of days, with smiles and long naps and a generally sunny disposition; she was a trooper as we made the meet-the-baby rounds at my office and Shane’s office on Tuesday and was great company when I lugged her to Costco and Trader Joe’s for pie fixin’s on Wednesday.  Today we laid on the floor together and chatted for over an hour, Juliette responding to my nonsense rambling with sweet oohs and ahhs and mmms until our eyelids began to grow heavy and we both fell asleep, her serene little face just inches from mine.  Best nap ever.  I’m so indescribably thankful for this girl, for the ways she’s taught me to give and love and hang tight through the tough stuff.  I’m thankful for Shane, who fills in the gaps when I’m short on patience or sleep, who is unabashedly silly for the sake of making Jules (and me) smile.  I’m thankful for this blessed up and down and up, up, up life we live.

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Ten days ago, I was writing Juliette’s two-month entry in her baby book, gushing about how happy she was, how well she’d been sleeping, how she had rounded a corner with her car seat aversion.

And then Friday happened.  Major car seat meltdown.  There and back.

And then Saturday happened.  Hour-long inconsolable wail-fest while I was at the movies with some friends.  Poor Shane was wild-eyed and exhausted by the time I got home (you know it’s a bad scene when I walk in the door and he’s wearing his noise-canceling headphones while holding the baby).

And then Sunday morning happened.  Juliette decided at 3:15 a.m. that 7 hours of sleep was really enough and that she was ready to start her day.  Shane and I took turns rocking and bouncing and shushing her for two hours, while she just gazed up at us with her wide open eyes, as if we were engaged in the cruelest staring contest of all time.

I try to take these bumps in stride, knowing that she can’t cry forever, that she’ll eventually fall asleep, that our sweet, smiling girl is in there somewhere, but man, sometimes it’s tough to roll with the punches.  Life is so unpredictable these days.  I go to bed each night not knowing if I’ll need to wake up in two hours or six hours.  We have eaten many a cold meal, miscalculating bedtime and leaving our dinner to sit on the counter while we try to get the baby to sleep.  Every time we get in the car, I feel this little pulse of anxiety, wondering if we’re in for a pleasant family drive or a white-knuckled race to our destination.  I knew that parenting would require me to relinquish control of our quiet, self-indulgent lifestyle, but gaaaah!  This crazy-haired little girl is really going head-to-head with my inner control freak.  And guess who’s winning?

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Parenthood has made me so much more aware of the passage of time.  Thirty seconds at a stoplight can feel like an eternity with a crying baby in the backseat, but then she calms down and time flies and before you know it, your little girl is two months old and weighing in at a hefty twelve and a half pounds…  It’s bittersweet to see Juliette growing and changing so quickly, but definitely more sweet than bitter.  The highlights:

Her highlights!  Her soft brown and blonde locks are getting longer and more out of control.  They often lay nice and flat in the front and stick straight up in the back – we’ve shared some good laughs over her morning bed head.  And I’ve logged some precious hours running my fingers through this hair while she nurses.

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Bathtime!  Now that Shane is back at work and I don’t have an extra set of hands around in the morning, we’ve traded showers for evening baths.  Juliette loves the tub and often flashes some of her best smiles when I’m shampooing her hair.  And no more post-bathing meltdowns!  She’s mellowed out a bit in her old age.

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She continues to eat like a champ and is packin’ on the pounds – I feel like I discover a new crease in her chubby little legs every time I change her.

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She is rockin’ her tummy time these days, holding her head up like a pro and rolling over almost every day now – here she is, makin’ a break for it:

She’s got lots of nicknames – I thought we’d call her Jules most often, but we’ve come up with a number of other terms of endearment that get a lot more use:  Flock of Seagulls (that 80’s hair!); Bag of Books (because she’s heavy, and because this is what came out of Shane’s mouth when he drew a blank on the phrase “sack of potatoes”); Stinkpot (have you ever gotten a whiff of spit up that has crusted itself in a baby’s neck creases and gone sour?  oooof.); and a smattering of Sweetheart’s and Hon’s, for good measure.

Finally, she’s just lots and lots of fun right now.  After a few weeks of feeling like we were constantly trying to get her to stop crying or to sleep, she’s taken a turn and now loves to just stretch out on the floor and babble and smile and kick those chubby little legs.  And praise the Lord, she’s sleeping more!  On her best days, she naps for a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the afternoon.  On her OK days, I settle for one nap or the other.  And then there was yesterday, when she celebrated her two-month birthday by refusing to take a nap at all.  But dang it, she kept making these sweet little faces, so I forgave her…

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Happy two months, Stinkpot.  It’s an honor to watch you grow.

On Saturday morning we loaded up our car with an ungodly amount of baby gear and headed south to Portland – Juliette’s first road trip!  Given her distaste for her car seat, we had our qualms about this little getaway; I considered calling Mitch late Friday night and telling him we simply weren’t ready to wreak that kind of havoc on our eardrums.  But I summoned my “adventurous” spirit and we pressed on with our plans, hitting the road right at naptime on Saturday and praying that Jules would fall asleep with little fuss.  And I’ll be danged, it actually worked.  She wailed for about 10 minutes around Tukwila (10 miles south of Seattle), but just as I started to cry along with her, longing to scoop her up into my arms and assure her we weren’t intentionally neglecting her, she conked out and hardly stirred the rest of the way to Portland – we made it to Mitch and Kathryn’s in record time, sanity still intact.

We spent most of the weekend just lazing around the house, enjoying Morgan and Elise as they enjoyed Juliette – it was a veritable cousin love-fest.  Morgan has adored her baby dolls for as long as I can remember, carrying them with her to bed and to the store and to the dining room table.  So you can imagine her enthusiasm over the chance to play with a real, live baby doll – she was immediately smitten with Juliette and had great fun tucking her in with her favorite blankie and her stuffed bunny, helping me with diaper changes and jammie time, tagging along when I went to get Juliette up from her naps.

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Goodness, I can’t believe how much Morgan has changed in the four months since I’ve seen her.  Her hair is longer, her legs have lost that precious baby chub, and her will is stronger than ever.  She’s stubborn and sensitive and incredibly sweet (when she wants to be).

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Elise also doted on Jules, with serenades on the guitar and cuddle sessions on the couch, but seeing as how she’s five, she’s very much into her big-girl stuff as well.  She started kindergarten this year and loves to play school; it turns out she is the strictest teacher on the planet, and Shane spent much of Saturday afternoon in time out for his refusal to properly follow directions.  She’s a chatterbox and a total riot – sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.  Mitch and I were discussing Christmas plans on Sunday when Elise announced that she wanted a “diarrhea”.  I raised my eyebrows at Mitch as he shrugged his shoulders and asked for clarification.

“What was that, Elise?”

“I want a diarrhea book.”

I bowed my head and stifled a giggle as Mitch delved deeper:  “You want a book about diarrhea?”

“Noooooo, Daddy, I want a diarrhea.  To write stuff in.  Karma has one.”

“Oh, you mean a diary?”

“Yeah, a diarrhea.”

By this point, I was breathless and red-faced with the effort of not laughing out loud.  Kids do say the darnedest things.

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Shane and I sighed with relief and gratitude as we pulled back into our driveway on Monday afternoon – the weekend had been a smashing success.  Juliette traveled well, slept great, and soaked in some serious love from the Jarrell clan.  She’ll never have a big sister, but I suspect that these two will be pretty good surrogates.

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Yesterday was the last day of Shane’s paternity leave – say it ain’t so!  I have loved having him home these last few weeks – not just because he takes the 6 am feeding shift, but because the three of us have such a good time hangin’ out together.  We made the most of his last week off, getting out (nearly) every day with Juliette for afternoon strolls at our favorite parks or lunch dates at our favorite restaurants.

A new walking trail just opened up in the greenbelt across the street from our house, so we headed out during a sunbreak last Tuesday to do some exploring.  It’s beautiful in there – thickly wooded and so quiet, save for the chirp of birds above or leaves crunching underfoot.

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Despite gray skies and a forecast of rain, we drove over to Kubota Gardens on Wednesday, knowing it would be one of our last chances to take in the park’s fall colors.  We walked along the meandering paths, stopping every so often to snap a photo or give Juliette a close-up view of the bright red maples.  It sprinkled on us a bit, but we paid it no mind – we considered it Juliette’s crash course in Pacific Northwest living.

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Shane’s mom arrived in Seattle on Friday morning, and after a quick snuggle session with her newest granddaughter, the four of us headed over to the 8 oz. Burger Bar for lunch, followed by a walk around Jefferson Park to burn off those truffled french fries.  Juliette snoozed through most of the outing – she wouldn’t open her eyes for a family photo, but somehow knew to wave to the camera!

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We took advantage of Sunday’s sunshine for a walk along the water at Lincoln Park and then lunched at Geraldine’s Counter.  Again, Juliette snoozed…  Car seat crying was minimal this week, knock on wood!

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We laid low the rest of the day on Sunday, hanging out at home and doting on this happy girl.  Juliette certainly sprouted her little devil horns from time to time this weekend, but for the most part, she was good to her grandma, cooing and smiling and wrapping yet another family member around her little finger.

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Shane’s mom left for Minnesota yesterday morning, and Shane headed out the door promptly at 7:30 this morning to return to work. So it’s just me and Jules today, flyin’ solo…  Wish us luck!