Archive for April, 2014

The Jarrell clan made the trek from Portland to Seattle this weekend and we packed in some serious park-playing, baby-doting, and wine-drinking during their 24 hours here.  Fifteen minutes after they arrived, I was out the door with them to hit the playground at Jefferson Park so that the girls could burn off the energy they’d pent up during the three-hour car ride.  A few minutes on the swings, a dozen rounds on the zip line, and about 90 trips down the slide – these kids can go.

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Jules (sort of) napped while we were at the park and was eager to meet her cousins when we got back.  Morgan’s motherly instincts kicked into overdrive right away and she couldn’t wait to get that baby in her lap.

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Poor Juliette came down with a cold yesterday afternoon and was in a pretty sad funk through the rest of the day, so we stayed close to home, picking up takeout for dinner and cracking open a couple bottles of wine after all the kiddos were tucked into bed.  We lounged in our pajamas this morning, drinking coffee while the girls cozied up on the couch.

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Shane stayed home with our sleepy baby this afternoon while the rest of us went downtown for lunch.  These girls!  I realized this weekend how much I’ve missed really being an aunt since I’ve taken on the role of mama.

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Donuts from the market and a stop Target for sunglasses, and then it was time for the Jarrells to hit the road.  I felt especially blue saying good-bye this time around – this visit felt so short and Jules wasn’t the happy, giggling niece and cousin I’d hoped she’d be.  I’m still figuring out how to roll with the parenthood punches, I guess.  But I’m warmed by the memory of Morgan’s sweet rendition of The Itsy Bitsy Spider, by Elise’s boldness on the playground zip line, by the thought that there will be more visits, more chances for Jules to warm up to her extended family.  So come back soon, Jarrells, you hear?

Our big little baby turned seven months old on Monday!  Seven months old, and smarter/stronger/sillier/sweeter than ever…

We’re adding new foods to Juliette’s menu every week and have had a lot of fun watching her enjoy eating with such gusto.  Favorites include sweet potatoes, zucchini, and any kind of fruit.  Peas and avocados will be consumed with some coaxing, but mixed with pears they’re a hit.

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She’ll eat most food as quickly as I can shovel it into her mouth and is left looking for more once her bowl is empty.  But occasionally she decides for herself when she’s done, showering me in sweet potato spray halfway through the meal.  It’s nights like these I wish I had also worn a bib.

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This mesh feeder was a baby shower gift and has become kind of essential.  I put frozen pears in it and she’ll happily chomp away on this thing for 15-30 minutes, sucking the fruit down to nothing but pulp.  Her first week at daycare, her teachers asked us each evening to bring more pears in the following day, since this thing is such an expert soother.  “Mayday, Mayday, more PEARS!”

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We still go on lots of walks together and make it to Jefferson Park at least once a week.  I huffed and puffed around this loop dozens of times when I was pregnant – I wonder if Jules was smiling like this in utero?

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These days our walks almost always include a detour to the playground – Juliette loves the swings, and it’s a fun way to interact with her on our outings now that she’s facing away from me while in the stroller.  I grab her toes or kiss her cheeks each time she swings toward me and she smiles like it’s the greatest game ever played.

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Shane took her down the slide last weekend and she seemed a little perplexed by the whole ordeal, like the ride was over before she knew what had happened.

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Now that Jules is too big to be diapered and jammied on the bathroom counter after her bath, we wrap her in her towel and bring her up to the living room for pajama time.  Turns out that she enjoys having a few minutes to “air dry” before we dress her, to roll and squirm and grab her toes to flash us her squishy, dimpled bottom.

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We’re still total suckers for that sweet baby giggle, and papa is increasingly hilarious these days.  Tossing a ball behind his back, nuzzling her belly while chanting “bless you!”, pretend-munching on her toes – these have become fan favorites.

I admit, I boasted a bit about our super-advanced baby, rolling over at just two months old.  And then, between months three and six, not a single flip-flop, despite her dad’s daily regimen of tummy time boot camp.  Hmmph.  But as of a couple weeks ago, she’s back on the move!  I can no longer rest with the assurance that she’ll stay right where I leave her if I dart downstairs to grab the laundry or go to the bathroom – I’ll turn my back just for a minute and find her on the other side of the living room rug.

She’s also rolling over in her crib a lot, which either results in her yelling at us to come flip her back over, or her falling asleep on her belly.  She’s hard to resist when she looks directly into the monitor’s camera, like she’s saying “Come get me!”  But we usually let her be and she’s been quickly settling to sleep on her stomach.

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Bonus: these new sleeping positions make for a pretty adorable case of bedhead.

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She’s talking up  a storm these days, and I love, love, love the sound of her voice.  “B” is the letter of the week.  Funny how she can carry on an entire conversation with just one syllable.

She’s been on the verge of sitting on her own for a few weeks now, holding her balance for several seconds at a time before falling back into my lap, or, if I’m not watching, face-planting on the carpet.  I went to visit her at daycare during my lunch hour yesterday and remarked how well her 6-month old little buddy, baby M, was sitting up on her own.  Apparently Jules was not to be outdone, because when we brought her home last night and set her down on the floor for her daily sitting “practice”, she put her hands on her chubby thighs, held her head high, and sat.  And sat!  She was on her own for a good five minutes before tumbling onto her back.

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Happy seven months, silly girl.  Mama loves you.

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More and more, our weeks are developing a natural rhythm: Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday are busy-busy-busy with work and daycare and lots of rushing about; Thursday is my treasured me-and-Jules day; Friday I squeeze in a little work from home before getting together with my mama friends and their babies; Saturday Shane and I often pull “shifts” and take turns hanging out with the baby while the other person gets out to run or shop or spend time with friends; and finally there’s Sunday, on which we cap off the week with lots of quality together time and a little Schnell family adventure.  Sunday is our fun day.

Last Sunday we headed east to check out Juanita Bay Park in Kirkland.  Shane had read that the park is a great place to spot wildlife, teeming with birds and beavers and turtles, and that guy loves him some turtles.

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The woods were damp and mossy and bright yellow-green, on the verge of fully bursting with new growth.

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Juliette dug it.

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And so did Shane, thrilled to find a band of turtles sunning themselves on a log…  Although I’m sure Jules had no idea what she was looking at, it was pretty fun to watch her papa excitedly point and say “look, baby!” twenty times over.  When I think about all this girl has yet to discover, all the new experiences we’ll bear witness to, my heart swells with anticipation.

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Today was downright balmy with temps approaching 70, so we packed a bag full of snacks and set out for Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island for some serious sun-gazing.  We staked out a spot on a perfect patch of shade-dappled grass and watched the boats go by.

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This is the face of a girl that was born at the start of Seattle’s rainy season and has just discovered that warmer, brighter skies exist.

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We walked out on the dock and then hit the playground for a quick spin on the swings.  Far too soon, it was time to head home for naps – we’re adding this park to our list of good-weather favorites.

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Sunday, Sunday, SUNday.  So good.

Time for another ten on ten!

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Now that Jules is eating more solid food, I’m loving the fact that we can have a meal together.  But I’m seeing now that her carrots with oatmeal look a little sad next to my tea, eggs, brussel sprouts, and yogurt…  At least she doesn’t know what she’s missing yet?


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Morning stories.


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Naptime (for both of us)!


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Post-nap walk in the sun.  So thankful when the stars align and we get weather like this on my days off.


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Favorite walking buddy.


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Playtime at the park – we spread out a blanket and I unpacked my bag full of books and toys, but Jules was much more interested in watching the big kids run wild on the lawn.


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Coffee, cookies, and Colbert during nap #2.  I’ve really missed this extra me-time since returning to work.


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Had a boba craving and was excited to discover that Ambrosia opened a store just one lightrail stop away from us.  We shot out the door on a milk tea mission the minute Jules woke from her nap.  I sent La Verne a “boba?” text and she and Nico were also there in a flash.


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On our walk home from Ambrosia – the way these dandelions glowed in the evening light made me feel like we’re on the cusp of summer (I know, I’m foolishly getting my hopes up).


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The joyous nightly reunion.

We’ve weathered another big change – week one of daycare is in the books and I am so, so glad to have that initial transition behind us.  Juliette was an absolute rock star and has wowed us with her adaptability.  Shane and I, on the other hand, haven’t exactly been a glowing example of cool, calm, and collected…

As I was working my way through Juliette’s daycare supply list last Sunday, labeling her bottles and packing her bag, Shane sighed a deep sigh of resignation and forlornly gazed at Jules as she happily chomped on her stuffed bunny.  You’d think we were about to send our little girl off to college on the east coast from the look on his face.  “I can’t believe we’re just going to hand her off to a bunch of strangers.  She’s going to freak out.”  Ever the shining optimist, that husband of mine.  But he wasn’t saying anything that wasn’t already on my mind.  I mean, really, who were these daycare people?  We’d met them once and we were going to trust them with our daughter all day?  Our daughter, who cries when anyone unfamiliar even stands too close to her?  I faltered for a moment, wondering if I should just call in sick the next day and keep her at home with me.  But that would just be delaying the inevitable.  Ready or not, we had promised ourselves we would give this a go.

We were up extra-early on Monday morning to get ourselves out the door on time, and as I proudly zipped Juliette into her jacket at 7:15 on the dot, I looked up to find a teary-eyed Shane at our side.  Whoa.  I don’t know that I’ve seen him cry since the day we brought Juliette home from the hospital (I, on the other hand, feel like a faucet without an off knob these days).  He took a deep breath and pursed his lips, trying to keep it together but finally letting the tears flow as he murmured about how hard this was, how worried he was about her, how he wasn’t ready to let her go.  I hugged him and did my best to reassure him while spilling a few tears of my own, and then we quickly composed ourselves and headed out the door, stuffing our pockets with Kleenex on the way.  This could get ugly.

We walked into her classroom that morning as another couple was saying goodbye to their infant son.  The mom, who happened to be another architect that I’ve crossed paths with before, sensed our first-day apprehension and kindly assured us, “She’s in good hands here!  This place is the best!”  I looked at her son, who seemed relatively happy in the arms of his teacher.  No head wounds or contagious-looking rashes to speak of.  This might work out, after all.  We sat with Juliette on the floor for a few minutes, surrounding her with toys and making overly enthusiastic statements like “Look how cool this place is!” as our eyes watered and chins quivered.  Eventually, it was time to say our much-dreaded good-byes – I quickly kissed her on the head, ran my fingers through her soft brown hair, told her I loved her.  We barely made it out the door before dissolving into a couple of weeping wrecks.  It’s hard to even put into words how tightly that baby girl holds our vulnerable hearts in her sweet little hands.  And walking away that day, it felt like I was leaving a piece of myself in that classroom.  It was emotional amputation.  And the wound, though invisible, hurt like hell.  I spent the whole morning at work wondering about her, missing her, praying that she’d somehow understand that we hadn’t abandoned her.

I walked/ran the two blocks to daycare at lunchtime, my chest tight with anxiety and excitement as I peered into her classroom.  And wouldn’t you know it, she was fine.  Content, even, as she sat in the lap of one of the teachers.  She smiled when she saw me and it felt unbelievably good to scoop her up and feel her nuzzle into me.  I got the full report and she’d had an ok morning – some tears, but she’d taken a nap and spent plenty of time just sitting back and observing her new environment, eyeing the other babies with lots of curiosity.  She’d taken her bottles on schedule and seemed to be more comfortable with each passing hour.  Ahhhhh, sweet relief!  I played with Juliette for about 15 minutes and then headed back to the office, feeling my anxiety slowly melt away.  Shane picked her up that evening and said she seemed a bit dazed by all the activity and changes, but she was in great spirits when we got home and slept well that night.  We had survived day one!

Tuesday’s drop-off was much less emotional and by Wednesday we were really getting into the swing of things.  I took her out for lunch on Wednesday and we met up with Shane at our favorite Thai restaurant.  It was fun, having a mid-week family date.  Though it seems that Juliette is warming up to her teachers and classmates, it’s pretty clear that papa and I are her all-time favorite companions.

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And then it was Thursday, which is quickly becoming my favorite day of the week, chock-full of snuggles and smiles and a trip to the swings.  This letting-go stuff is painful and scary and generally just…sad, but the hanging-on times?  They’re better than ever…

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