Archive for August, 2014

There are really only a few things I miss about our pre-kid days – Saturday morning sleep-ins top that list, but travel is a close second.  If we were braver, more easy-going parents we would just jet-set with baby in tow, but the thought of the packing and the plane ride and the early bedtime-imposed curfew has deterred us from venturing any farther than Portland…until now!  On Sunday we boarded a plane bound for San Francisco – Shane had registered for a work-related conference and Jules and I decided to test our travel mojo and tag along.

We left our house at 8 am sharp, proud of ourselves for packing lightly enough that we were able to wrangle everything onto lightrail without much fuss.  We had timed our flight during Juliette’s morning naptime, hoping she would fall asleep during takeoff and snooze for most of the trip, but pssshhhh.  How could she sleep when she had Mom and Dad at her beck and call, ready and willing to pump her full of snacks and read her every one of the three books we had packed 15 times over?  She knew she had us over a barrel and wasn’t going to do anything she didn’t want to.  But it was fine – we settled for a 20-minute doze and let it go at that, as she was generally pretty happy (and quiet!).

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We took a cab to the hotel from the airport and have never been so relieved to hear those four magic words:  “Your room is ready”.  After six hours of being strapped in her stroller and held in our laps, Juliette was on the verge of going bonkers – we walked in the door and set her loose.  She flew around the room like a tornado, tipping over the garbage can, throwing the bedside magazines on the floor, testing out the swivel of the desk chair, and then pausing just for a moment to take in the view from the 24th floor.

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After a pretty impressive struggle, she finally crashed for a two-hour nap and woke up ready to take on the town.  The three of us walked through the evening bustle of Chinatown and landed at Tacolicious in North Beach for dinner.  Shane loved the chorizo tacos and I went a little nuts over the churros and chocolate.  Jules might have overdone it on the made-to-order guacamole.

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We took our time walking back to the hotel, enjoying the warm glow of the city as the sun set on SF.

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We stayed out until 7:45 (!) and then headed back for bathtime, books, and bed.  We’ve still been squeezing Juliette into her blue plastic tub at home, thinking she needed the stability, but it turns out she’s ready to bathe like a big kid!

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By 8:15 the baby was asleep and we were officially in for the night.  Thank goodness for a view, at least…

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Shane and I climbed under the covers and plugged our headphones into the laptop to watch an episode of West Wing – it was kind of nice, actually, turning in so early.  I guess sleep trumps cocktails these days.

Jules and I walked with Shane over the Moscone Center on Monday morning and said goodbye to him as he headed into his all-day conference.  My stomach flipped just a little as he walked away – baby and I were on our own in a city I really don’t know all that well.  What would we do with ourselves?  Coffee and pastries seemed like a good place to start, so we grabbed a latte, an almond croissant and some yogurt and sat on the patio at La Boulange.

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We walked around for awhile and then went back to our room for a mid-morning nap – Juliette had come down with a fever in the middle of the night (this girl’s colds have the WORST timing!) and she desperately needed some rest.  Oh, my poor baby…

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She seemed to be on the upswing when she woke up and we were both a little stir-crazy, so I buckled her into her stroller and we set out for Sue Bierman playground, near the waterfront.  I did my best to sanitize both Jules and the swing she sat in and we spent awhile taking part in her favorite pastime.

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When she (okay, I) tired of the swings, we staked out a spot on the grass to eat blueberries and watch some kids play soccer.

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The Ferry Building was right across the street from the park, so we walked over there to browse the shops offering artisan cheeses and hand-crafted ceramics.  I bought some ice cream at Humphrey Slocombe and the two of us sat on a bench facing the water to watch the ferries go by.  My cayenne cantaloupe sorbet was perfection, paired with a scoop of horchata which Jules was more than happy to help me finish off.

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We both took a short afternoon snooze back at the hotel and then met up with Shane for an early dinner during a break between his sessions.  Juliette and I popped into a couple of stores on our way back to the hotel, and then it was time once again to start the bath-books-bed routine.  Shane made it back in time to tuck her in, and I tucked myself in shortly thereafter.  Juliette’s fever had bummed me out a bit, and I was still cursing the slammed hallway door that woke her from her afternoon nap, but hey, we were rolling with the punches.  San Francisco had come through in a clutch with swing sets, ice cream, and sunshine!

Happy 11 months, Jules!  Ooooohhhhh, 11 months – I can feel that first birthday looming on the horizon!  But we won’t go there yet – instead, let’s talk about about my sweet little, little, baby, mmmm k?

I mentioned in month 10 that Juliette was becoming increasingly strong-willed and determined – she continues to keep us on our toes.  Her daily written reports from daycare often include adjectives like “vocal” and “expressive” and, my favorite, “spicy”.  We’re rolling with the occasional hissy-fits, though, because for the most part it’s a blast to see our girl’s personality really shine through.  Mealtime has become The Juliette Schnell Variety Hour, as Shane and I are constantly chuckling over her myriad of facial expressions and hand gestures and exclamations.

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She’s a fast little bugger now, zipping all over the house on her hands and knees.  We installed a baby gate upstairs so she’s free to wander between her room and ours while I’m getting dressed or putting laundry away.  She loves hide and go seek – I’ll call to her from the other room and then listen for that sweet clomp-clomping sound of her top-speed crawl.  She grins when she rounds that corner and sees me crouched by the bed, arms open.  Then she’ll climb right into my lap, give me a good three-second snuggle, and she’s off again!

She’s pulling herself up to standing now on any available table/chair/couch/drawer.  And she’s standing up in her crib nearly every time I go in to get her after naptime, looking very regal with her sleepsack draped around her feet.  We shall call her Queen Jules.

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Juliette has become quite the little water bug, thrilled with any opportunity we give her to splash and swim and eat sand.  She got a kick out of being sprinkled at the Pratt spray park a couple of weeks ago.

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And now that Lake Washington has warmed up a bit, she loves sitting on the beach at Madrona or Seward and feeling the waves wash over her legs.

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We headed over to Seward Park on Monday for an evening dip to beat the 90+ temps – Jules was thankful for a respite from the heat.

And on Saturday we hit the pool – Jules happily cruised around in her little floaty for 45 minutes.  When I first blew up that dinky raft, I couldn’t believe I’d spent $15 dollars on.  Turns out it was totally worth it.

I feel like we’re daily watching our words and our actions and our rituals make a little more sense to her.  Her plastic comb has always been one of her favorite things to chew on, but a couple of weeks ago she actually used it to comb her hair.  Yesterday we watched her pick my sock up off the floor and try to put it on her foot.  Pretty soon I’ll be sending her into the kitchen to make her own dang dinner!

She’s become very resourceful, too, often making use of her mouth as a third hand so that she can hang onto her favorite toy while still crawling about!

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And then there are the sweet little remnants of babyhood that still bring us so much joy, like her signature snort and squishy face.

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And the way she’ll often fall asleep in my arms while nursing, and then snooze with her head against my shoulder before I lay her down in her crib.

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And the chub!  Those rolls are the stuff of a mama’s dreams.

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Those baby blues are as blue as ever…

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Swing-time shenanigans!

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And my word, she’s still so beautiful.  Happy almost-year, baby.

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Another ten on ten (which is actually nine on ten this month, as I came up one photo short!):

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Breakfast at our favorite neighborhood joint.


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Followed by swinging and teeter-tottering at the playground.


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Shane’s training for a 100-mile bike ride and spent the morning giving his Trek some extra love.


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Beach baby.


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The water was warm today! (photo by Shane)


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Back porch lounging during afternoon nap.


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Evening trek to Jefferson Park.


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Sun going down on a perfect day.

It’s been a great week.  I had a productive three days at work, Jules and I reveled in nearly every sun-shiny minute of our mama-daughter time on Thursday and Friday, we’ve hit the lake and the playground and the neighborhood diner as a family this weekend, we’ve hung out on the back porch and eaten burgers and corn on the cob and grilled peaches with fresh whipped cream – life is pretty grand these days.

And yet…in the midst of all this good stuff I’ve felt this intense, nagging sense of anxiety bubbling right under the surface.  Like I could cry at any moment, like I can’t fully catch my breath.  It started on Sunday night, when I went to the fridge to label and pack up Juliette’s bottles for the next day and realized just how little milk I’d pumped over the prior three days – I sighed as I dug into our freezer stock, feeling discouraged by my quickly-decreasing supply.  And then I teetered on the edge of a meltdown on Wednesday when I went to visit Jules at lunch and said good-bye to her favorite teacher, who has taken a job elsewhere – Jules and I have both become so attached to her over the past few months.  My stomach flip-flopped when I got an email from daycare on Friday afternoon that said they thought Juliette was ready to move up into the next classroom, that come September 2nd she’ll be leaving the nursery and hanging out with the waddlers all day.  She’ll be sitting at a table for meals and feeding herself and taking one nap a day, at the same time as all the other kids.  Shane came home that evening and hadn’t even set his bag down before I looked up at him and burst into tears.  “They’re moving her up!  No more bottles and no more highchairs and no more napping whenever she wants!  She’s not reeeeaaaaaady!”  Shane agreed – the thought of our little girl, our baby, sitting at a table seems absurd.  But…she is pulling herself up to standing every chance she gets, starting to test her balance on her wobbly legs.  And she is doing more and more self-feeding, preferring bits of meat of veggies and cheese to her purees.  And in this new classroom she’ll get the chance to go out for walks to the playground a couple of times a day, which certainly beats staying indoors.  So…is she really not ready?  Or am I not ready?  Probably the latter.  Mostly.

My baby’s gettin’ all growed up.  And it’s making me incredibly sad.

There’s a long list of things I decidedly don’t miss about her newborn days – the rivers of spit-up, the 2 am marathon bouncing sessions, the swaddling and re-swaddling and re-re-swaddling as she wiggled out of her blanket, that pang of anxiety I felt every time we left the house.  But then there are those precious memories that have already become fuzzy around the edges, like the way she’d sprawl across my chest and completely crash after a long feeding, or the way she’d sleep with her arms stretched straight out in front of her, like she was conducting an orchestra in her dreams.  I miss draping her over my shoulder, carrying her with her head nuzzled into the side of my neck.  I might be talking crazy here, but I even miss the overwhelming newness of parenthood, those first few months of getting to know our daughter, when every new sound or facial expression sent us over the moon.  I talked to my mom and dad last night about my melancholy longing for days gone by, and they reminded me that parenthood is a lifelong process of letting go – they recalled how hard it was to say good-bye to me once they’d settled me into my new dorm at college, how it felt to watch me board a plane to France for my year abroad.  Sooooo, I thought, I’m facing decades more of this?!  That was hardly comforting.  But they also said how wonderful it is that Juliette is thriving, that it’s a sign that Shane and I are doing something right.  Our helpless little seven-pound babe has tripled her weight and mastered that goofy rockstar grin and learned how to crawl because we have fed her and lavished love upon her and cheered her on at every bend in the road.  And to be honest, the cheering is awfully fun (particularly now that she mimics our claps and often cheers with us, smiling a silly Yay Me! smile when she does something new).  We spent this afternoon at Seward Park, and as I watched Juliette happily cruise around the water in the float toy that a sweet little girl let us borrow, I found such joy in seeing her kick her chubby legs and experience something new.  I saw flash-forwards of teaching her how to swim and read and ride a bike, and I felt a surprising rush of excitement for all that lies ahead.

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And then she started to bob toward the shore and I grabbed her and brought her close to me, because gosh, I’m not ready to let go.  I still really really miss our baby.

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We’ve made it an annual tradition to get out of town with our community group for a weekend every summer.  We’ve done camping trips galore, we’ve rented a floating house on the Willamette River, we’ve spent a weekend hanging out on the porch of a beautiful house on Vashon Island.  This year Adrienne scored us a booking at a huge house in Stevens Pass, big enough for 13 adults and 6 kiddos.  We were thrilled to be keeping tradition alive, even with all these babies in the mix.  Thrilled, and…a little bit anxious.  We were having dinner with Jack and La Verne a week before the trip, and there was a moment when one of us asked, “do you think next weekend is going to be a total disaster?”  We were all silent as we pictured the worst.  What if the walls of the house were really thin and one of the babies didn’t sleep well (meaning none of us would sleep well)?  What if the place wasn’t as big as it looked in the photos, and we spent much of the weekend just looking for a spot to sit down while mayhem swirled around us?  What if Juliette was sick or cranky or just a general buzzkill?

But we hopped in the car on Friday afternoon and hoped for the best.  And the minute we stepped in the front door and looked out the huge windows over the porch to the mountains and the river and the fire pit below, we were so glad we’d made the trip.

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And then there was the sweet sight of Jules playing on the floor with her best little buddies – we pushed some of the furniture together to create a little kiddie corral where these three could happily crawl and play and pass their slobbery toys back and forth.  La Verne termed it the “village daycare”.

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The house’s porch was incredible – we ate most of our meals out there.  This girl loves her some outdoor dining, chowing down on her scrambled eggs and zucchini/pear puree for dinner on Friday.

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And then breakfasting with Nico al fresco on Saturday morning.

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During naptime, I sat back in one of the porch’s lounge chairs with my sunglasses and a book and took in the view.  Shane, ever the introvert, found a quiet spot to relax on a rock down in the river.

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I removed myself from said chair for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon to check out a little swimming hole down the road.  Jason played mountain goat / dare devil and scaled a nearby rock wall before taking a giant leap.

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I was happy to hang out on a blanket in the sun, occasionally dipping my toes in the icy water.

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We headed back to the house for afternoon naptime – the grown-ups played a rousing game of Uno while the kiddos slept.

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As is always the case when we get together with this gang, we ate and we ate well.  The look on Juliette’s face after chowing down on Nicole’s homemade spaghetti sauce says it all…I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!

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And s’mores for dessert for the older kids (sorry, Jules!  blueberries for you!).

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Those mallows left Gryffin and Isaiah with some energy to burn.  Shane was quick to volunteer as playmate.

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Juliette cheered from the sidelines.

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And was pretty dang stoked when she got in on the action.  We’re buying this girl her own soccer ball!

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We snapped a few group pics before putting the little ones to bed.

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And then the kids were tucked in, the wine was brought out, and it was time really kick back.

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Adrienne got a raging inferno going in the firepit and we circled up to talk and laugh and roast marshmallows.  Every year brings a new s’more creation – this year, mallows were topped with potato chips, “hand crumbled to activate the saturated fats” a la Jack.

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Jon disappeared for a few minutes and I assumed he’d headed inside to check on the kids – turns out he was setting up his camera and tripod to snap a photo of the group.  Guy’s got serious skills:

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We ate our breakfast sandwiches on the porch Sunday morning, and then it was time to pack up and hit the road.  The house, the view, Juliette’s mood, and the time with friends had wildly exceeded my expectations.  And those s’mores!  Oh, those s’mores…

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