Archive for June, 2014

It’s been an unpredictable few days, weather-wise – warm and sunny one minute, gray and rainy the next.  We should have learned by now that Seattle’s skies always open up and pour on you the minute you think summer has finally, officially arrived…  But we’re making the most of the sunbreaks, hopping from park to park with picnic lunches and floppy hats in tow.  Volunteer Park, Greenlake, Jefferson Park, Seward Park, and Alki Beach in the past four days – whew!

The three of us spent yesterday afternoon at Jefferson Park, celebrating the first birthday of Juliette’s buddy W.  The fountains were on at the spray park and Jules got a kick out of swiping her hand through the water.  I’m looking forward to bringing Miss Muffet (that silly hat!) up here in her swimsuit once temps really warm up.

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Shane had a bike fitting appointment this afternoon, so Juliette and I set out for Alki Beach for a long walk and a mama-daughter picnic lunch.  We spread out a blanket on the grass and ate watermelon together and watched dogs and ferry boats and fluffy white clouds pass us by.

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I know, she can’t walk or talk and she tends to poop the minute we leave the house, but gosh, this girl and I have a lot of fun together.

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I see a string of 75 degrees+ days in the forecast – I’m working on our next tour de parks itinerary now!

Juliette hit the big three-quarters of a year mark on Saturday!  I think I say this every month, but these past few weeks have been my favorite thus far (the terror of last Friday night excepted)…

Little missy is really on the move these days.  It started with a slow, grunt-filled trek across the living room floor to grab whatever toy we’d placed just out of reach.

A couple of weeks later, she had the army crawl down pat.  She’s really motoring now and is rarely content to sit in one spot.  Her teachers at daycare say that she spends much of the day just zig-zagging from one side of the room to the other – once she grabs hold of the toy or book she’s after, she drops it and sets off in search of something new.

Speaking of toys, I think I’m done buying them for her!  Did you notice how she flung her fox out of the way and chose to go for the shoebox instead?  And a couple of weeks ago I set her down on the living room floor with a new pop-up toy only to find that she was much more taken with the tag on the leggings I’d just pulled off of her (she loooooves anything with a tag – I’m regretting the fact that I unknowingly cut the tags off of most of her stuffed animals!).  She also loves tearing apart magazines, pretending to drink from a big plastic cup, and rifling through the diaper bag.  I’ll be “shopping” for toys in our closets and kitchen cupboards from now on.

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Mealtimes are more and more fun, especially as she’s learned how to feed herself small finger foods, like cut up fruit and scrambled eggs and cereal.  She recently discovered that blueberries do this very cool squishy thing when she squeezes them too hard.  When she’s not keen on eating, she turns her highchair tray into a berry massacre.  Whatever keeps her entertained, I guess…

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And…the obligatory goofball shot (that blueberry never stood a chance)!

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Her two top front teeth are coming in and they’ve been a bit of bother.  Drool, drool, drool and she’s had a couple of pretty fussy days.  She’s not talking yet, but unfortunately her teething whine sounds something like mama.  Or, more accurately, mmmmmaaaaaammmmmaaaaaaaaaaaaa!  I’m so looking forward to the first time she looks at me and says mama! with a smile on her face.  You can see those chompers poking through here (her gesture says it all – No pictures, please!  I’m working on a tooth, lady!).

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Thursdays continue to be pretty fabulous.  Lots of morning cuddles before heading out in the afternoon to play with friends.  A couple of weeks ago we met up with Emily and baby O for some quality park time.  I love this picture – O is so (aggressively) friendly, while Jules looks up at Emily like, uhhhh…are you going to do something about your son?

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And then we had lunch with some friends from work and sweet little A – she and Jules hadn’t seen each other for six months and had lots of catching up to do.

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And so many bakery dates!  It’s often just the two of us, but it’s extra-fun when we catch La Verne and N there.

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And we had our first trip to the zoo last week!  It was a cloudy morning turned sunny afternoon and Jules and I jumped at the chance to get outside with some of her buddies.

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La Verne and I got there first and felt a little silly as we walked through the African Savanna, pointing excitedly at the giraffes and zebras and hippos while our unimpressed babies looked everywhere except the direction we were pointing.  But then we found the penguins, where the kiddos could get up close to the action.  Juliette loved it, waving excitedly to these funny birds as they swam past her.

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Miss S is eighteen months older than Jules and plays the part of the cool (very sweet) big sister well.

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When she’s not waving at the penguins, Jules is waving at Shane or I, or at strangers on lightrail, or at Grandma and Grandpa on our video chats.  It’s her go-to-gesture when she wants food or attention or just to say hello.  And it’s usually accompanied by the same ahh-AHH-ahh-AHH-ahh sound.  So friendly, that girl!

She weighs in at almost 20 pounds now and was looking a little squished in her infant car seat, so we upgraded her last week to a big-kids seat.  I was kind of sad to see her outgrow the Britax we brought her home from the hospital in, but she seems much happier now that her shoulders and legs have a little room to move.

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And…sleep!  She’s doing it so well these days (again, last Friday excepted).  Last week, before she came down with her cold, she slept 11 straight hours, three nights in a row.  She’s still a little unpredictable, as she slept from 7:30 pm to 7:00 am Monday night and woke up at 1:00 and 4:00 Wednesday night, but we’re on the right track.  And I think she’s starting to love naps almost as much as I do, snoozing for a solid 1.5 to 2 hours twice a day.

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Finally, one last smile:

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Ok, three last smiles:

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Happy nine months, baby!

We’ve stayed pretty close to home these last few months – I was telling La Verne last week that I can’t remember the last time we weren’t home for Juliette’s two naps and bedtime.  That means we haven’t left the house for more than 4-5 hours since…Christmas in Portland?  Is that possible?  We were due for a getaway.  So when my aunt told us she’d be visiting Portland from Baltimore for a few days, we took that as our cue to get out of town for the weekend and catch up with family.  We headed out on Friday morning, fingers crossed that Jules would take a solid nap on the road, spend the afternoon at Mitch’s charming the family with her babbling and smiles, and sleep like a rock during her first night in a hotel.  The best-laid plans…

The ride down went alright, save for the last thirty minutes, at which point Jules had decided she was done being in the car.  We tried singing songs, giving her snacks, stopping for a breather, cranking up the radio, turning down the radio, playing peek-a-boo, and praying, but ultimately just had to push through.  We made it to Edgefield for lunch, a little worse for the wear, but with sanity mostly in-tact.  And it was so good to see Grandma!

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We spent the afternoon at Mitch’s house, laying low.  Jules woke up from her nap feeling a little warm.  Not good.  And then two gooey streams of snot shot out of her nose when she sneezed.  Really not good.  She came down with a cold last time Mitch and his family visited and spent much of the weekend fussing.  Could her timing really be this bad?  Hang with us, baby!  We gave her some ibuprofen and hoped for the best.  She perked up a little at dinner and seemed to enjoy hanging out with Morgan, who read her books and offered her toys and sang her six rounds of The Itsy Bitsy Spider.

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The Jarrell Inn was full for the night, so we headed out after dinner to check into our room at a nearby hotel.  We did bathtime, pajamas, and Pack N Play setup in record time and had Jules tucked in just past her regular bedtime.  Whew!  Shane and I tucked ourselves into bed with the iPad to watch an episode of The Americans, tired but pretty satisfied with how well we’d fared for the day.  And then, at 8:30, Juliette started to fuss.  I opened the door to the living room (we were in a suite) and rubbed her back until she settled down, figuring she was probably confused by this strange crib in this strange room.  She quickly went back to sleep and I hopped back into bed.  Crisis averted!  And then, at 8:45, she really started wailing.  Not just a whimper, but an all out plea to Come get me, NOW!  I nursed her until she dropped back off to sleep, hoping we’d seen the last of each other for the night.  But she woke again at 9:15.  And 9:45.  And 10:00.  I could hear her cold getting worse, as she snorted through her stuffy nose.  I finally just pulled her into bed with us and tried propping her up with a pillow so she could breathe easier.  But she was squirmy.  And hot.  I took her sleep sack off.  I put it back on.  I laid her on my chest, Shane tried nuzzling her in the crook of his arm, I nursed her, Shane sang to her, but she just wouldn’t settle.  I pulled the Pack N Play next to our bed and put her in it, my arm draped awkwardly over the side of the bed so that I could rub her back while she drifted off to sleep.  Time was all a blur at this point, but I think this lasted about an hour, and then she somehow ended up back in the bed, and then she was back in the Pack N Play in the living room for a couple of hours while I hopped up every 20 minutes to soothe her.  Shane headed out at 6 am to pick up some baby Tylenol, and after we gave her a dose she slept for two whole hours.  I haven’t been so thrilled by two hours of sleep since she was four days old!

We were up and at ’em around 8:30, bleary-eyed and a little bit cranky.  This might be one of the most deceptive photos of all time – I pulled out the camera just to memorialize Juliette’s first night in a hotel, figuring I’d catch her fussing, but she flashed Shane a pretty great grin as I leaned over to snap a picture.  I’ll take it.  We’ll call it her We survived! smile.

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In the morning so she looked so small in that king-sized bed.  In the middle of the night, she felt like a a 900-pound restless gorilla.

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We went to Mitch and Kathryn’s for breakfast, thinking we’d ride the wave of Juliette’s morning dose of Tylenol until naptime, at which point we’d head home.  We ate and then walked over to the girls’ favorite park for swings and slides and basketball.  The fresh air did us all good.

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Cousins! (That’s the neighbor girl on the right, honorary Jarrell for the day.)

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Juliette seems to be getting more comfortable with being the center of attention!

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The ride home was, well…

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But we made it back to Seattle with only two stops and Juliette started to rebound that evening – she’s on the mend now, fever-free and sleeping much, much better.  Although the weekend didn’t quite live up to my idealized visions (they never do!), we’re still glad we made the trip, glad my Aunt Ruthie got to meet Juliette, if only for a few hours.  And maybe it’s good to regress every once in awhile, so that we can appreciate how far we’ve come in these last nine months.  Yeah, I’ll go with that…

Happy Father’s Day to the two most important guys in my life!

To Shane, who wows me time and again with the tender, silly, completely selfless way he loves our little girl.  Watching him welcome a kiss from her, even when her face is covered in drool; watching him read her the same books over and over and over, each time pretending that it’s a complete surprise that the very hungry caterpillar turns into a butterfly; watching him elicit sweet baby giggles as he jumps and dances and dramatically bonks his head with a cereal box or toy block…these are my greatest joys.  We pass this little playground every time we walk to the neighborhood bakery and Shane likes to take a spin with Jules around the basketball courts.  He gives her a good push and she’s off, probably wondering who the heck is in control of the stroller if papa is running alongside her and mama is laughing from the sidelines.  She’s mildly amused, but that goofy, excited grin on Shane’s face as she rolls right into his arms gets me every time.  He’s so good at play, so sweet in his funny little shenanigans.

And to my own dad, who’s a model of tender-loving fun.  I still remember how he’d come home from work in the evenings and “play the piano” on my belly while I laughed hysterically, I remember that day on Dean Drive that he gave me a push on my first real bike, that stylish pink and green Huffy.  I remember him cheering me on at swim meets and graduations, always wanting me to feel supported and valued and affirmed.

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How did Juliette and I get so incredibly lucky?

I used to keep a list of Seattle’s must-visit bars and restaurants and pull it out when we were looking for something to do on a Saturday night.  And then we had Juliette and accepted our fate as regulars at the neighborhood bakery and pizza joint.  These days, we’re making our way through a different kind of list, spending our weekends hopping from park to playground with baby in tow.

Last weekend we met up with the Brenners at Cougar Mountain and embarked on our first family hike.  We borrowed a baby backpack, strapped in Juliette, and we were off!  It was a 30-minute trek to Coal Creek Falls, where we stopped to have a snack and let the dads rest their shoulders.   Looking back, I’m realizing that it was less of a hike and more of a leisurely stroll in the woods, but that suits me just fine.

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Jules and Wes were happy little troopers, babbling back and forth along the trail.

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Thanks, Jon, for the group pic!

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On Saturday we met up with Rust clan in West Seattle for an impromptu picnic at Camp Long.  We spread out a blanket on the grass and the guys tossed the frisbee around while Nance and I kicked off our shoes and caught up with one another.  This was my best attempt at corralling the troops for a photo (that’s Isaiah lurking in the distance – the kid is decidedly not a fan of the camera!).

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Juliette was extra-friendly that day and was so content to snuggle with Jason and Nance.

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I love this picture – Shane hanging out kind of awkwardly in the back, Gryff’s super-angelic expression, and Juliette’s apparent confusion – “Wait…you’re not my family…”

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Yesterday was perfect lakeside weather, so the three of us crossed I-90 and staked out a spot on the lawn at Newport Beach Park in Bellevue.  Juliette and I chowed down on strawberries and then went down to the beach to squish the sand between our toes.  Summer’s in the air, folks!

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And then there are our tried-and-true favorites:  Jefferson, Seward, and, most recently, Dearborn Park.  This sweet little park is a 10-minute walk from our house – there’s always a swing available and the wide-open lawn is perfect for whiling away that hour before bedtime.

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I know, there are no hand-crafted cocktails to be had at Dearborn Park, no creme brulee on the menu at Cougar Mountain.  But hey, we’re still gettin’ out.  And it’s pretty spectacular.

Someone get my girl a cap and gown – she (and I) have made it through her second full month at daycare!  Though I miss being at home with Jules seven days a week, we have settled into our new normal, with its share of ups and downs.

The downs:

Holy germs, batman!  In her first month at daycare, Juliette came down with three colds, one stomach bug, and one nasty ear infection.  You know those commercials where cold and flu germs are played by the green blobby guys with scary bulbous eyes?  Those guys flash before my eyes every time I set Juliette down on her classroom floor in the morning.  It’s not that her classroom is unclean, per se, it’s just that she and her eight little buddies are all in that phase where they explore the world with their mouths, leaving a trail of saliva in their wake as they make their way from one pile of toys to the next.  One kid catches a cold, all kids catch a cold.  I’m clinging to the hope that exposing her to these bugs now will build up her immunity in the long term, so this snot isn’t all for naught.

Giving Juliette my undivided attention is harder than it used to be.  I work Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday and try to leave the office as close to 5:00 as possible on those days so that I can spend a couple of hours with Jules before bedtime.  These limited hours in the office limit the amount of stuff I can accomplish, which means I bring work home with me, firing up the laptop after Jules goes to bed or during her naps on my days “off”.  Boundary-setting is an ongoing battle – even on the weeks I manage to stick to the 30 hours of work I’ve committed to, I still feel like I’ve spent an additional 10-12 hours thinking about work as that nagging to-do list whirls through my head.  “Just put it away” has become my 5:00 mantra.

And dang it, I’m tired these days.  It feels like we’re go-go-going from 6 am on Monday till 8 pm on Wednesday – most Wednesday nights I crash out on the couch around 8:30, totally spent by the baby-work-baby-work cycle.

But it’s not all sickness and stress and fatigue – I promise, there are upsides!

Like, Juliette is rocking the commute.  We were a little nervous about how she’d handle being shuttled back and forth on Lightrail every day, but she’s a champ on the train.  Most days she just hangs out in her stroller and is content to watch people get on and off.  Some days I can’t resist the urge to hold her, so she sits on my lap and we read a book or have a good chat on the way in.  So proud of our urban baby!

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The smile on her face when I go visit her at lunch or pick her up at the end of the day is enough to nearly make my heart explode.  I often head over to daycare around noon to hang out for a bit or take her out for a walk along the waterfront – I peek into her classroom and usually find her contentedly hanging out in the bouncer or passing a slobbery toy back and forth with one of her friends.  Then she looks up and sees me and starts excitedly flapping her arms until I scoop her up, at which point she buries her face in my chest, pulls her head back to flash me her best two-toothed grin, and nuzzles me once more.  In those moments, I feel so exceedingly special – I know she enjoys her teachers and the other kids and that bucket full of plastic cars, but I’m mama.  Those extra-bright smiles and extra-close cuddles are mine and mine alone.

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Thursdays!  Ohhhh, I love Thursdays, when I get to cuddle with Jules for as long as she’ll let me in the morning, then take her to the bakery for yogurt (hers) and a latte (mine).  Time with her feels like such a treat after three days apart.  We go for long walks and hang out at the park and I try my damnedest not to think about my to-do list and live fully into my most important job.  My favorite job, loving this girl.

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I still occasionally wonder if we’re doing the right thing, if our family would be better off if I had decided to stay home with Juliette.  It’s really, really hard, being the architect and the mom and the wife I want to be.  But I like the way all those hats look on me, even stacked a little precariously one on top of the other.  So we’ll just keep swimming.  And savoring those moments when we come up for air and pat ourselves on the back for making it work.