Monday, April 30, 2012

Toes and Things

I painted my toenails this past weekend, for the first time since Audrey was born.  That's how I know that warm weather has arrived.  (You know, that and being able to check the weather...)

Sometimes I get curious about who stumbles upon this blog and how, and I look at my analytics.   Oddly enough, one of the most used search terms to find my blog is "webbed toes."  Even though I'm sure I only mentioned it about once, 3 years ago.  Yes, I have webbed toes!  No, it's not a big deal.  When I was a kid it felt like a big deal.  I thought I was some kind of weirdo and was totally ashamed of them.  They caused me so much anxiety that my mom took me to a podiatrist to see about having them separated, but we were told that it could cause nerve damage so we decided to leave it alone.  And when I was a senior in high school, I realized that I could show them off, and most people thought they were pretty neat.  (Well, one kid acted like they were disgusting, but I just taunted him with them.  That's what you have to do with your mutations!)  As an adult, I love my toes.  Most people don't even notice what I'm talking about until I point them out: the second and third toes are slightly webbed.  No big deal.  NO, I AM NOT A GOOD SWIMMER.  (That's the #1 question that people ask, seriously.)

I thought there was pretty much no chance of me passing on the toes -- the only other person I'm aware of in my family who has them is my mom's second cousin.  But Audrey did end up getting a bit of webbing!  Just on her right foot, and it's barely noticeable.  I was so happy to hear that when she was born.  She's definitely my little duckling.  And when she gets older, if it bothers her, I'm glad that she'll have me to look up to, as a full-fledged toe weirdo. 

This type of webbed toe situation is SO SO common.  As a child with webbed toes, I was very aware of what everyone else's toes looked like, and I came to realize that these aren't so odd.  A guy in my 9th grade history class had the same toes.  I never talked to him about it, but I thought it was brave of him to wear sandals.  I met a baby at a church once who had the same toes.  Do a google search...  Check out this awesome tattoo idea.

So, any other fellow webbies out there?  (Robert calls me Webby because of my toes!)  Who are you mysterious people who are searching for webbed toes?  Do you think they're cute?  Do you think they're weird?  I think they're awfully neat, and nothing to be ashamed of.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Catching Up

Just popping in for a quick hello!  Where did this week go?  Time is flying around here.  [Insert mom talk about how fast the baby is growing up.]  But for real.  FOR REAL.  Audrey's new favorite trick is getting up on her hands and knees and rocking back and forth.  Uh oh.  I need to focus on the babyproofing that I never really did.

I'm entering the above photo into the Paper Mama's "multicolored" photo challenge!  It was just a quick snapshot, but I was so happy to see that I finally caught Audrey being STILL and you can see her sweet little hands.  Usually the details are blurred.  And it's colorful, right?

The Paper Mama Photo Challenge

I also wanted to thank Lauren for giving me a Liebster Award on her blog!  Such a sweet thing to do. 

'Liebster' means 'favorite' or 'dearest' in German. This award, which originated in Germany, recognizes up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. In accepting the award, the recipient agrees to: Thank the person that gave the award and link back to their blog, copy and paste the award to your blog, and reveal the 5 blogs you have chosen to award and let them know by commenting on their blog!

I'm going to pass the award along to:

Robert -  We're married.  No big deal!
Stephanie -  She manages to make jewelry, be a librarian, and a government auditor!
Rebecca -  Who makes really lovely things and effortlessly channels minimalism!
Lauren - Click over to see some of the cutest little boys around.. her family is adorable!
Emily - Someone I know from real life who is pretty cool! 

So all of you, feel free to take the award and pass it along as you see fit.  And a big THANK YOU to everyone who happens to read my blog!  The internet is my favorite place and it's where I've met most of my favorite people. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Audrey Meets Some Goats

Is this okay?!

Yesterday marked Audrey's 5th month birthday, and her first REAL adventure.  We went out to Noble Springs Dairy to see some goats!  It was my first time back in several months.  I was helping out in the cheese room last year while I was pregnant with Audrey.  (In fact, I was there when a PBS crew came out last spring to film some stuff!  You might catch a glimpse of me for half a second here in a hairnet and jumpsuit...)  Anyway, it was a beautiful but chilly day and we had a lot of fun! 

We let Audrey pet a goat and it licked her hand... She was skeptical of this activity and quickly lost interest.  I was hovering with a wipe, ready to clean her up!!  In fact, I barely touched the goats at all because I wanted to keep my hands baby friendly.  I miss cuddling up to baby goats!  I'll have to go back on my own some time soon.

Family barn picture.

If you've never met a baby goat, you definitely should!  They're the friendliest little creatures.  Here is a link to our first visit, back in 2009.  I had no idea back then that we'd become such good friends with Justyne and Dustin.  I'm so glad to have goat cheese buddies!  They're real sweethearts.  And here are some more baby goat pictures from a couple of years ago.  Ahhh, baby goats!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

High on Thrifting Thursday

I haven't done a ton of thrifting since Audrey was born -- at least, not just for fun.  Early on I made a couple of frantic runs to the thrift store near our house in a quick search for cheap, comfy clothes that would fit me and be fine for lazing around the house with a messy baby.  But only recently have I gotten back into my habit of going every once in a while just to look around and see what I can see!  A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to do just that, and these are the things I found...

For Audrey
This little embroidered smock is just adorable... I have no idea if it will actually fit Audrey, but honestly I don't think we'll ever find out.  She's at the height of her spitting up and drooling phase, so everything is pretty messy right now and I don't exactly want to put her in fancy clothes!  But I couldn't pass this up, and I think it would look lovely on a vintage hanger in a nursery.  The pants are just cute, and will fit her in a few months.


For me
I found two dresses for myself.  I'm trying to find more comfortable dresses that are easy to wear.  In my past life, I had a lot of frilly things that were completely unsuitable for hanging out with babies.  Those have been pushed to the back of the closet, just in case I ever need fancy clothes.  I've already had some fun wearing this red dress and layering it with cardigans and tights!  And the other dress....


 This is the first maxi dress I've ever owned.  (Wait, scratch that- I had a neat Gunne Sax prairie-style maxi dress back in high school.  But we're not counting that as real life.)  It is RIDICULOUS and so so comfortable.  I have to be honest.. I tried it on at the thrift store, but I was in a room without mirrors and I was a little too nervous to step out into the common area in this and check it out.  But it was cheap and fun so it came home with me.  And it looks amazing.  I'll probably never wear it out of the house, but it's pretty exciting for the weekends and comfy times [i.e. every day].

And for Robert!
Every time I go somewhere without Robert, he asks me, "What did you bring me?" when I get home.  So I was happy to report that I actually DID get something for him this time.  Just a cheap shirt that he can wear to work.  But it's got stripes, I like it, and it fits him.  That's about the best I can ask for when it comes to clothes for Robert.  He doesn't give a care about fashion!  I've sort of had fun picking things out for him in the last few months.  I've decided that if he doesn't care about what he wears, I'm at least going to try to have an influence on it...

All of these items totaled $17.85.  The cheapster in me thinks I could have done better, but I know that all of these things at full price would have been a lot more, and they're all as good as new!  This is my first time to link up to Mandy's blog for High on Thrifting Thursday!  Can't wait to participate again.  :)  Go visit her and see what everyone else has scored recently at thrift shops!

Monday, April 16, 2012

feeding a baby: the cuteness and the struggles

Audrey isn't quite 5 months old yet, but we've already been doing a number of experiments with "real" food.  Our pediatrician said it was no big deal to begin introducing some foods, since she is already showing the signs of being ready.  She can sit up pretty well with minimal support and she's REALLY interested in everything we eat.  She's even getting a tooth, which seems crazy to me.  We've been giving her little tastes of fruit and vegetable purees.  She is a big fan of zucchini and pears, hates applesauce, and may or may not be into peaches (adding cinnamon seemed to pique her interest).

Putting her in her high chair and trying to spoon feed her has now become my favorite hobby... It's just so much fun to see how she's going to react to food!  And so messy too, but that's okay.  If she's about to have a bath, we really let her go wild.

We're not trying to rush into solid foods, but I won't pretend that I'm not looking forward to the day when she doesn't subsist wholly on bottles!  ...even though it is pretty sweet to snuggle up to her while she's drinking her bottle.  I don't want to delve too deeply into the topic here, but I'm sure most people have noticed (or not?) that Audrey is a bottle baby.  Any mom who goes the formula route probably feels a certain amount of guilt when all the experts go on and on about how breast is best.  I fully intended to breast feed Audrey before she was born, and I did for the first 3 weeks.  I feel like she got a good start.  And I'm sure I could have continued, but it was taking a big toll on me, physically and mentally. 

I just wasn't prepared for what a huge commitment it would be, to be the baby's sole source of nutrition.  Newborns eat about 12 times a day, and at first it took about 45 minutes each time I breastfed her.  I was going crazy.  There was a huge sleep deprivation issue... I couldn't handle being the one who had to wake up every time Audrey needed to eat in the night.  I couldn't take care of myself and hadn't prepared a safety net of supportive people.  I wasn't eating enough or drinking enough water, and started having these AWFUL headaches -- I even tried taking the Percocet they gave me at the hospital, but the headaches persisted.  I couldn't sleep when I had the headaches, I couldn't sleep when the baby was awake, I couldn't sleep when the baby was asleep (what if she woke up and needed me?!), I couldn't sleep at all.  I had nightmares about starving babies... I may have hallucinated a little.  I started resenting Audrey every time I had to feed her (which was often).  She has a small jaw and I think that made latching difficult -- nursing was always incredibly messy and we always both smelled like sour milk.  Life was looking dark.  I couldn't imagine our future, and I wasn't excited at all about my new life and role as a mother and milk machine... I wanted my body back.

I'm sure it would have gotten easier if I'd stuck with it.  But like I said, I was starting to resent my child.  And that is something that NO new mother should feel.  I knew something needed to change, as soon as possible.  We weren't going to survive.  So... I started trying new things.  I was so very frustrated with the nursing process that I just stopped one day.  I decided I would NEVER breastfeed again.  At first I was going to just pump my milk and bottle feed Audrey (so Robert could at least help with that).  After a whole day of constantly trying to keep up with the demanding baby, having to clean both the breast pump and the bottles... I knew it just wasn't going to work for me, at least not in that state of mind.  Looking back, I wish I had supplemented with formula and at least kept pumping a little so I could keep up SOME supply of breastmilk to give Audrey... but I was so out of it mentally that I just wanted to make a concrete choice and stick with it.  So we switched her completely to formula.

There was an IMMEDIATE improvement in my life.  The baby no longer depended on my body.  I could sleep again.  And things were just all around easier.  Of course... we found out a couple of weeks later that she was intolerant of cow's milk formula.  So there was a bit of a fiasco while we struggled to find something that would nourish our baby and not make her sick.  That took a whole month, probably.  It felt like 5 years.  (Every day with a newborn felt like a century to me, sort of.)  But she is a full on soy baby now!  A soy baby who likes to try new foods.  We've come so far in just a few months.  And everyone is so much HAPPIER now!!!  Life is awesome.

Oh my.  I said I wasn't going to delve into the issue, but I think that got pretty personal.  I have a lot of admiration for ladies who breastfeed and keep it up for a year or more!  But I think formula is a perfectly fine choice to make for your child.  Sometimes, it's just necessary.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

what are you into right now?


-having fun playing with PicMonkey.  So much fun!  I don't have a clue when it comes to photo editing.  I usually just try to get things right with the actual photo, but there's not much time these days for perfect lighting and people who know how to sit still.  Sooo... this is a fun and easy way to make my crummy photos look a bit fancier, or just plain ridiculous.

-enjoying this series of interviews on the AV Club with Paul Feig about Freaks and Geeks.  There are two more to go (it's a 5 parter, with a new one each day) and we've really  been enjoying reading each one in the morning with breakfast!  I will never EVER get enough Freaks and Geeks, even though it only lasted 18 episodes.  Best series ever made, hands down.  (Yes, even more perfect than Arrested Development!)  Paul Feig is a heartbreak.  If you've seen F&G and love the cringe-worthy humor about adolescence, you should read his book Kick Me.  Everything embarrassing in that show happened to him in real life, except usually in a much worse way.

-SO IN LOVE WITH SWEET POTATOES.  I can't even begin to tell you.

-really looking forward to reading this book, Hungry Monkey.  Robert stumbled onto the author's blog, I was hooked by the sample, and we're already ordered a copy!  It's about a food writer figuring out how to feed his baby good stuff.  It looks hilarious, adorable, and informative!  Menu planning and cooking are pretty much the main activities in this house, so we're psyched to involve Audrey in the near future...  

What's everyone else into these days?

Monday, April 9, 2012

my, what a fancy hat you have

This is what our Easter looked like, for about 15 minutes.  I think Audrey could be mistaken for a hobbit... 

Not pictured: thinking we'd be clever and go buy discounted Easter candy at Target, only to get there and realize it was CLOSED.  We made the same mistake last year.  I told my sister about it, and it turns out she and her husband did the same exact thing (yesterday AND last year).  Must run in the family.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Audrey's Birth: Robert's Version

Time for an extra special guest post by Robert!!  Please comment and give him a pat on the back if you feel so inclined!   And now, Audrey's birth story... as retold by Robert Chatham.

I thought I was ready because I went to childbirth classes and skimmed a couple of books. At the very worst: a middle-of-the-night dash to the hospital, a rush to the room, a few minutes of pushing, and then: baby!
There's a lot that They leave out.
For one, the baby was fashionably late. Even though every time we went in for an ultrasound, the technician told us Audrey was ahead of schedule. It looked as if she'd come early, right up until the due date, the week before Thanksgiving. In the end, we scheduled an induction.

We had to show up at the hospital early. Very Early. We capped a sleepless night by getting up at 4 A.M.. It was impossible to sleep. I kept thinking about the videos they showed at our birthing class; most of the women had not gone through an epidural, and they screamed and squatted uncomfortably before a bloody human burst from their nether regions. Things were about to get Real.

We ended up getting to the hospital earlier than scheduled. The lobby was filled, even though it was five-thirty, that special time of morning when No One Wants to Be Awake. Rebecca signed in and then we waited to get the appropriate paperwork; it was something like half an hour before they took us upstairs to a big, anonymous hospital room. They told us to settle in (easier said than done), and then the nurses disappeared.

So we waited. We were used to it.

Eventually, they hooked Rebecca up to an IV drip and started pumping in Pitocin. I didn’t feel fantastic about it. Rebecca had told me that it could cause intense contractions, and that was about all I knew. Neither of us were comfortable. I’d overpacked, bringing a sack of snack food and a Kindle loaded with books. Only I didn’t feel hungry and I didn’t feel like reading. And there was no place to go. So I sat in the gross chair in the corner of the room, wondering how many other first-time dads had slept in the same seat. I wondered how (or if) they sanitized it.
Once the nurses showed up, things started to move quickly. They came in every half an hour to check on Rebecca. At this point, I realized that the instructor lied to us in the childbirth class. I wasn’t a coach; I was the Ambassador. I was the one who got to answer questions and joke with the doctors and nurses, because I wasn’t going to be pushing a baby out of me later on. Before I knew it, it was already ten o'clock, and the nurse told us that they were going to break Rebecca’s water. And then a few minutes later, Rebecca said she wanted an epidural, because things were getting too intense.

That meant I got to stand by while they inserted a little wire into her back. I did not feel like I was being a very helpful member of the team. Everyone waited as the epidural did its thing, and I nervously tried to eat some tasteless trail mix, and the nurse said that she was going to increase the Pitocin. The obstetrician might, at some point in the near future, be alerted. Until then, the nurses would start without her. Why not. They asked Rebecca to start pushing.

Childbirth is not a beautiful thing. It's a lot like watching someone try to poop for a really long time. I stood by nervously while the nurses asked Rebecca to push and count to ten, and then everyone took a mini-break and watched contractions on the monitor. This went on. And on. And on. And on. For two hours. Pushing and grunting and sweating, counting to ten, taking a breather. I think I made the appropriate small talk with the nurses, but I have no idea what I said. Rebecca was a REAL champ throughout all of this; even though I could tell that she was exhausted from pushing for such a long time (especially without any visible progress), she kept going.

The doctor showed up an hour into the process. The baby's head descended. From the outside, it looked like it was the size of a tiny softball. It was alarming, because I expected it to be much bigger. The doctor explained that I was just seeing the very top of the head, something I didn't grasp until later. At that point, understanding was not possible. I was in panic mode.
All at once and too quickly, the doctor pulled this enormous gray, chalky thing out of Rebecca, and everyone sounded very excited. For a half-second, I was horrified, because it looked so wrong, and then it uncurled and cried, and it suddenly changed from a piece of meat to a human being: Audrey Harper.   

They cleaned Audrey, weighed her, and put a band on her arm. Finally, they told me I could carry her to Rebecca. Adrenaline was leaving my system, and I felt exhausted and a little emotional. She was tiny and helpless. I handed her to Rebecca, who looked remarkably composed for someone who'd just pushed eight and a half pounds of human from her body. She seemed more in control than I felt; I wanted to collapse. And still, we weren't alone. I wanted it to be just the three of us; just our new family.

Most of the nurses left the room and Rebecca nursed Audrey for the first time. Our parents were in the waiting room, and when I texted them, they wanted to come in immediately. We wanted to be alone with Audrey for just a little while. I sent them pictures, only none of them could figure out how to see the pictures on their phones, so I ran out to show them. Then they wanted more pictures, so I took a few more and ran back out. I was back to playing Ambassador. 
That first night was one of the hardest of my life. We'd been up since four in the morning. We’d gone through an incredibly emotional experience and then spent a couple of hours with excitable parents. We were in a strange hospital room, and we had to wake up every two hours to feed Audrey. Worse:the nurses came in to look at vital signs every couple of hours, and none of the visits coincided with Audrey's feedings. It was this terrible sleep deprivation experiment, and I felt like I was failing. That's what I remember most about Audrey's birth - how exhausted I felt the entire time, and how we were never alone. It was like a little taste of the month ahead; four weeks of Hard Times.

ABOUT ROBERT: He is my best friend, my husband, and my baby's daddy.  He enjoys jigsaw puzzles, bicycling, and rum.  He blogs over here, and I won't be held accountable for anything ridiculous that you read there! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

this crazy 4 month old

Here I am, wasting valuable time during one of Audrey's long naps, looking at baby pictures.  I find myself doing this a lot...  I am super crazy in love with this baby.  I believe she's made out of marshmallows, and I want to kiss her all day long.  4 months is definitely a very good age!! 

We're in the middle of some strange transitions.  Audrey is a BIG baby.  Not overweight, just seriously tall and a little hefty.  Last week at her 4-month checkup we got the official stats -- she's 25.5 inches long and about 14.5 pounds.   That means that since she was born, she's already grown 4 inches.  I wonder if growing so fast hurts.  This baby can pack away food like nobody's business.  She drinks so much formula in a day that she really needs to be eating some solids.  It's really somewhat alarming... We had one recent day where she ate 45 ounces.  That is BONKERS.  So, since she's already very interested in real food and the doctor said it's okay, we've been working on trying some purees.  Sometimes she's a champ at eating, and other times she is incredibly disinterested.  She tried some applesauce earlier and kept politely gagging and coughing, as if I was feeding her dog food but she didn't want to hurt my feelings.  She is hilarious.  I know she'll eventually get good at this... it's a learning process for all of us!

We're also still struggling with sleep, somewhat.  Audrey is now an expert on going to sleep - she needs her pacifier and a little stuffed animal to hold, then she rolls onto her side and goes right down.  But she takes FIVE naps a day.  Technically there's nothing wrong with that, but I believe most little babies stick to 2 or 3 long naps instead of 5 short ones.  So we're working on that.  Sometimes if I leave her in her crib after she wakes up (and she's content to be there, of course!), she will go back to sleep for another hour.  Night time is another story.  We KNOW she can sleep all night.  We've had 8, 9, 10, and even 11 straight hours of sleep!  Yet most nights she still wakes up two or three times.  Usually she just needs her pacifier back (oh I dread the day when we decide to take that thing away), but she also usually gets a bottle in the middle of the night.  She is a sweet little piglet!

She's growing so fast and I can't believe how quickly this year is already passing.  It's April?!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

feeling fancy

Last Friday was pretty festive for us.  I have two friends with the same birthday, so I went to lunch with one and we had the other over for dinner! 


Robert made an amaaazing chocolate cake.  It was so moist that it kept falling apart when I was trying to ice it!  I had to use extra icing to make sure it wasn't too uneven looking, and to hide the hole in the middle where the cake stuck to the pan!  What a shame.  Sometimes we're a baking team -- he makes things delicious, and I make them pretty.

Sweater: H&M (thrifted), Dress: Target (thrifted, ha!), Print: The Black Apple

Oh look!  Outfit photo.  I was feeling fancy.  I really like this ruffly dress because it's good at hiding my little post-baby-belly. 

Ruffles and icing can cover so many flaws!

P.S. Thank you all for the sweet comments on the birth story.  I assure you, I was not looking so hot the day after!  Robert has agreed to be a guest blogger here occasionally and share his experiences as a new dad.  I'll be posting his version of the birth story soon!