Archive for February, 2014

In addition to my annual list of resolutions, I like to choose a word to dwell on throughout the year.  Last year I prayed that I would make myself vulnerable to a deep, fervent hope; this year I’m looking outward a little more, feeling called to be more fully present for the people in my life.  I’ve mentioned before how easily I can get sucked into my task list vortex, where the measure of a good day is based more on productivity than on quality time with friends or family.  The arrival of Juliette has clearly brought to light the necessity of recalibrating my priorities, putting my nearest and dearest above my to-do’s.  That baby of ours needs (and deserves) all kinds of attention.  And while she’s not shy about letting me know when she’s hungry or poopy or just wants to be held, what about those other times, when she’s sweetly content to just lay on the floor and suck on her fingers?  Is that my cue to rush downstairs to throw in a load of laundry, then hustle around the kitchen to get dinner ready?  Or is it my cue to pause, to throw a couple of pillows down and lay right next to her, to chat with her and tickle her toes while she coos and babbles?  Some mornings, when she’s especially easy-going, I find myself just shuffling her from room to room as I go about my own routine, propping her up in her chair in the bathroom while I blow-dry my hair, dropping her in her bouncer in the kitchen while I unload the dishwasher and make breakfast, putting her down on her playmat while I eat and check email.  Before I know it, it’s time for her first nap and I’ve entirely missed my morning window for snuggle sessions and playtime.

I threw out the sleep training guidelines the other day and let Juliette nap in my arms after she nursed.  As I laid my hand on her belly and gazed at her peaceful face, rosy-cheeked where she had been nuzzled in the crook of my arm, she grabbed my finger in her chubby little fist and gripped it tight as she slept.  It felt like she was asking me to stay awhile, reminding me that our quiet moments together are precious and so quickly fleeting.  And the time I spend with her, singing silly songs and smothering her with head-to-toe kisses, it matters.  It matters that I’m present for her.  It matters that she knows she’s more important than housework or blog posts or emails.  It matters that I daily speak words of affirmation and positivity over her.  And when she responds to my undivided attention with a happy giggle or an extra-close cuddle, it’s apparent how much those dirty dishes in the sink and those crumbs on the floor really don’t matter.

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So I’m being more there for Juliette and she’s flashing me her winning smiles and I’m making good progress on this resolution, but I fear there’s another member of our family that’s a little short on lovin’.  Remember Shane, who used to stand front and center in my weekend updates and my travel posts, who used to by the object of all my gushing?  There was a time when I couldn’t wait to get home to him after a long day at work, to enjoy one of his extra-special bear hugs and dish on the day’s ups and downs.  Don’t get me wrong – I still can’t wait to see him in the evenings (my daily 5:00 “when r u coming home?” text message is evidence of that), but it’s usually so that I can toss the baby in his direction and enjoy a little space to myself, because I am beat.  I’ll take a breather and watch from the sidelines while the two of them play, then summon the last of my reserves for bathtime, bedtime, and dinnertime.  By 8:00, I am physically and emotionally zapped, wanting nothing more than to zone out in my own corner of the couch with my laptop or my knitting while Shane queues up House of Cards.  It’s hardly what you would call “quality time” for the two of us.  So I’m working on digging deeper, asking real questions rather than muttering an obligatory “How was your day?”.  I’m taking him up on his offer when he pushes himself against the back of the couch so that I can stretch out alongside him while we talk or read or watch Parenthood.  I’m reminding myself that although it takes effort, although it goes against my natural inclination to hole up and turn in, the restorative power of intimacy ultimately lands us in a much happier place.

These two have brought me such great, heaping boatloads of joy.  May I be a wife and mom that daily returns the favor.

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Juliette hit the five month mark on Friday – these days I often catch myself looking at her and wondering what happened to the helpless newborn I cradled in my arms last fall.  Every day she’s a little heavier, her hair’s a little longer, she looks up at me with a new facial expression I haven’t seen before, and I keep falling for her over and over and over.  Those eyes!

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Girl’s also got some serious legs.  She’s really into standing right now, with just a little assistance from me or Shane.  Her head wobbles a little as she struggles to find her balance, and then she stabilizes and smiles her big “look at me!” smile.

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Agh!  That chub!  My love for her squishy thighs knows no bounds.

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Her abs are pretty impressive as well – she’s constantly trying to pull herself up into a sitting position, like some form of baby pilates.  She does these in her crib in the morning and keeps it up all day long.  I should join her and work on my post-pregnancy tummy, but just watching her makes me tired.

She sucks and slobbers on just about anything within arm’s reach, but her chew toy of choice (other than her dad’s pinky finger) is that silly Sophie the Giraffe that I initially thought was so over-played and over-priced.  Each of Sophie’s four legs, her face, her ears, her neck – they’ve all fallen prey to Juliette’s toothless chomp.  And when Jules starts to tire from all the sucking, she holds Sophie close and they grab a few Z’s together.

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I’m using pigtails more and more to tame her unruly hair – she’s pretty irresistible with those two sweet little tufts of reddish-brown crowning her head.  Plus, post-pigtails hair is kind of awesome!

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She’s using her voice a lot more, expressing joy and anger and boredom with a series of ahhhs and ohhhs and a very wet ppppffff.  This squealy little cough is her funny attempt at laughter – she’s workin’ on it!

Gracious, this girl adores her daddy.  One of the best parts of my day is watching them both light up when Shane gets home from work in the evening.  He excitedly yells “Baby!” and reaches for her as she beams in response, so eager to be in his arms.  They’re a match made in heaven, those two.

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More and more, Juliette is showing interest in her little buddies.  Our Tuesday get-togethers with my mama’s group and our Wednesdays at the Beacon Hill story time have become the highlights of her week.  It’s extra-special to see her and baby Chen together – La Verne and I prayed and cried and hoped together for so long in our journey toward motherhood, and seeing N and J sitting side-by-side…well, it’s enough to start those tears flowing again.

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Ok, I know there are an obscene amount of baby photos on this blog, but indulge me for just one more minute…

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Happy 5 months, little Jules.  This mama thing just keeps getting better and better.

Juliette has been making good progress in the art of napping well, which has left me with some decent chunks of time to fill in the morning and afternoon.  These longer naps are well-timed (as if there’s a bad time for longer naps), since I’ve recently been feeling the itch to start making stuff again, to pick up my knitting needles and think about my next print project and flex my creative muscles.  Knowing that Juliette’s sleep schedule can turn on a dime, that she might decide tomorrow that 35-minute naps are back in fashion, I decided to start with something small.  I printed out the pattern for this cute stuffed bunny and cranked it out in a couple of hours, just in time to gift it to the baby for Valentines Day.

His head is a little misshapen, and one arm is a little higher than the other, but he’s still pretty cute, and Juliette has been happily cuddling (errrr…devouring) him all weekend.

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Next up: time to finish the scarf I’ve had on my knitting needles since 2012!

Shane and I usually use Valentine’s Day as a great excuse to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner, a night out on the town with wine and ultra-rich food and maybe even a bouquet of roses.  Last year I had to pass on the wine, as I was ten weeks pregnant.  This year we had to pass on the fancy meal altogether, as Juliette hasn’t yet learned the art of fine dining.  And at first I told myself I really didn’t care, that Valentine’s Day has become a silly Hallmark holiday anyway, but the truth is that I felt a little pang of disappointment when I realized that we were facing another day of the same old, same old, that I wouldn’t be getting all dressed up or having creme brulee for dessert.  The days of lingering over a two and a half hour meal feel so long gone.  Then again, parenthood has not necessarily relegated us to complete hermit-dom, so we were able to get a little creative, to make the most of the fact that Shane had the day off and celebrate a family-friendly v-day.

We started the morning at Benaroya Hall for the Symphony for Tots program – we were joined by Juliette’s little buddies and loved watching their wide-eyed wonder as the women on stage led them on a “musical safari”.

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We stayed close to home that afternoon, lounging about and playing a rousing round of 90’s “name that tune” via Spotify while Jules nestled comfortably into papa’s lap.  First the symphony, then Ace of Base – this kid made great strides in her musical education yesterday!

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We were joined by the Rust crew for dinner at Tutta Bella.  It was a far cry from a four-course French meal, but I welcomed the chance to take a break from cooking and catch up with friends.  G and Z (who isn’t pictured below, as he would rather hop in puddles than pose for a photo!) made us a couple of very sweet valentines, and when G asked Shane if we had valentines for them, Shane responded with a very convincing, “Oh no!  We left them at home!”.  G took him at his word, so Shane and I are doing a little crafting this morning to make up for his fib and will be making a special delivery to the Rust boys later today.

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After we tucked Jules into bed last night, Shane and I cuddled up on the couch to watch a bit of the Olympics and a movie.  I asked him if he missed the romance, if he thought we had lost that lovin’ feeling.  It had been a fun day, but I couldn’t shake this longing for times past.  Memories of our life before kids flitted through my head as I yawned, looked at the clock, and realized it was only 8 pm.

“Remember the days when we could stay up late on a Friday night, knowing that we could sleep in until 10 am on Saturday if we wanted to?”  

“Remember when we ordered our first bottle of wine at that nice restaurant in Morro Bay on Valentines Day of 2003?”  

“Remember when we used to travel???”


“Remember that time earlier tonight when Juliette giggled like crazy as I wiggled and sang?”

Lord knows I’m a sucker for champagne and chocolate and sleep-ins, but damn it if that silly girl doesn’t win every single time.

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I wandered down a mom blog rabbit hole yesterday during Juliette’s afternoon nap and stumbled upon a bit of sunshine’s ten on ten photo project.  The challenge is to take a photo an hour for ten consecutive hours on the tenth of each month.  My photography skills can always use some practice, and I like the idea of capturing the little details that make up life as I know it right now, so here’s February’s ten on ten (which is actually nine on the eleventh – wow, I’m off to a roaring start!):

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 morning snuggles


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daily dose


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so happy to see mama after a good morning nap


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will she love shoes like i do?


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peek-a-boo with juliette’s little buddy


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sophie the giraffe gets to ride shotgun while jules is stuck in the back seat


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picking up my knitting needles for the first time in almost a year


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chewin’ on stuff while we wait for dad to get home


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ahhhhh, these two.  so blessed.

When Shane looked out the window on Saturday evening and exclaimed that it was snowing, I kept my enthusiasm to a minimum, as many of Seattle’s snowfalls don’t amount to much more than a bunch of dirty slush.  But those fluffy flakes fell faster and faster, and by the time we went to bed that night the neighborhood was blanketed in a thick coating of pristine, white snow, set against a dark purply-orange sky.

It was fun to wake up yesterday morning to a winter wonderland.  Despite the fact that there wasn’t anywhere we really had to be anyway, I was still swept up in that giddy sense of freedom that comes with a snow day.  When Juliette awoke, I brought her into our bed and the three of us snuggled together in our warm nest of blankets and looked through the window at the bright white world, reveling in the promise of a lazy day at home.  If ever there was a day when it would be acceptable for me to stay in my pajamas until 2 pm and drink copious amounts of tea and coffee and hot chocolate, this would be the day.  A day dedicated to a whole lot of glorious nothing.  But then Juliette needed her diaper changed and then Shane decided he wanted to go outside and my hopes of spending the morning in bed were shot to hell.  Those ten minutes of quiet hibernation were nice while they lasted…

And so I rallied, obliging Shane’s request that we go for a walk through the greenbelt across the street and grumbling just a little as I changed out of my flannel pj’s and bundled up the baby in her warmest duds.  Although I looked longingly at my french press on the counter and the twisted pile of blankets on the couch as I pulled on my boots, I’m going to concede that Shane was right in urging us outside.  It was beautiful out there.  Frosted trees and untrodden trails and a perfect stillness, save for the crunch of snow under our boots.  Juliette happily chattered as we walked, her face wide-eyed and rosy-cheeked.  It’s fun to think that next winter she’ll be toddling around, ready for snow angels and snowmen.

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We spent the rest of the day snuggled up inside with books and blankets and mugs of hot tea.  Jules took a monster nap after lunch, which allowed Shane and I to snooze as well, so I kinda ended up getting my lazy wish after all.  Sunday afternoons are heretofore dedicated to family nap time (are you reading this, baby?).

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I woke this morning to the sound of pouring rain; the only remnants of our snow day are a couple of small patches of slush and a half-loaf of the pumpkin bread I baked yesterday.  Maybe that’s part of the magic of these Seattle snowfalls – one day you’re walking through woods cloaked in white, and the next day, poof!  It’s gone, gone, gone…

Shane’s parents left yesterday after a week-long visit, and I must say, Miss Juliette is one lucky, well-loved little girl.  Yes, she greeted our visitors last Saturday with her signature lip-quiver (she’s in the thick of her “stranger danger” phase), but she warmed up to them within a day and spent part of the Superbowl contentedly nestled into Grandma’s lap.  It was pretty special to watch these three together, to hear Denny coo “Grandpa loves you” over and over, to see the joy on Pat’s face when her and Juliette locked eyes.  Obviously, Shane and I think our kid is the bee’s knees, but to be in the company of other people that think every little smile, every silly babble, even every spit-spraying sneeze is the sweetest thing ever?  Man, that feels good.  One of my greatest hopes for our daughter is that she’ll always feel treasured and beautiful and unique, and seeing her with Shane’s parents is like watching my wish come true.

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Although much of the week was spent cozied up indoors, doting on the baby during her waking hours and waiting for her to get up during her sleeping hours, we did manage a few brief outings to our favorite Seattle spots:

A jaunt around Jefferson Park to soak in some of that freezing cold sunshine…

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A walk along the waterfront, and then a seafood feast at the Crab Pot (crab legs and mussels and prawns, oh my!)…

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Storytime at the Beacon Hill Library with dad, grandma, and that hilarious duck puppet…

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Breakfast at Both Ways to grub on perfect buttermilk biscuits…

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And a short stroll along Alki Beach yesterday, which had even the Minnesotans shivering in their boots!  We took refuge from the cold in a nearby Starbucks, and hot coffee has never tasted so good…

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Shane took his parents to the airport last night for their red-eye flight, and I found myself crying a little while watching Denny and Pat give Juliette a round of tearful good-bye hugs.  Those Schnells sure are a generous, tender bunch.  Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for loving the heck out of our little girl.

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