Monday, November 22, 2010

It is the first snow of the year, finally! More notably, however, it is Natalie's first real snow - the first that she noticed there were little white flakes falling from the sky. So, of course, in proper childish fashion, we bundled up at 10pm to go play in the snow! She loved it! A fairy princess, or rather a pink marshmallow, Natalie was so beautiful standing in the snow, in the light from the house, flakes falling gently around her. At first, she was apprehensive, she didn't know what it was. After a few handfuls thrown her way, however, she started to get the idea! She truly is my snow-baby! I can't believe it's already Christmas time again - though Thanksgiving is this Thursday, that is close enough for me! I put up the tree, garland, some lights and our stockings (which I claim to be because that wall was so bare I couldn't stand it anymore, but we all know that isn't true!) I am ready to start baking and wrapping more presents, and showing all of my favorite Christmas movies to Natalie. I'm ready to indoctrinate her with the happiness of Christmas as a child, and hoping to re-gain some of the joy for myself as well. This will be our third Christmas without Charlotte and while I'm still saddened by that, it finally feels like we are ready to truly celebrate again. Natalie has brought more joy into this house than she will ever fully realize and it's only at Christmas time that I can even begin to match that joy for her! So, I say, let it begin! Let the joy from the Christmas spirit reach out to all of us and guide us through the rest of this year and into the next. Let the faith of the masses show us that no matter what we believe, that is all we must do: Believe. Let the beauty of childhood remind us that we are all still children at heart - that there is nothing more precious than the innocence of a child. Let us all know that there is good in the world, far more than the bad and even greater than we imagine. And most of all, let us simply do what we were born to do: Love. Natalie sure is good at teaching me to be more thankful!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Birthday Photos

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Happy Birthday, Lovey!

Red roseWow, a year already… It seems like time flies by faster with each moment, I am almost afraid to sleep, worried that tomorrow Natalie will be 18 and moving out of the house.  She amazes me and humbles me in so many ways!  Tonight, we were having dinner with some friends she hadn’t met before and she was so in love with them!  Of course, they were in love with her, too, but it was amazing to see how she can tell which people are good souls and which ones aren’t.  There have been people she has met along the way who she wants nothing to do with, while others are her favorite people instantly! 

She walks like a mad-woman now, scurrying along past tables, chairs, the dog… she knows how to go up and down a single stair (since we only have one in our house…) and when she falls down, she knows to pick herself back up and walk some more! 

Today, when I left the house, my darling girl gave me puckered kisses and said “bah bah” as I walked out the door.  It broke my heart with joy to hear her as she learns to talk.  I swear, the other day she even said “I love you”  She knows what she wants and how to get it now, even knows how to pull off her pajama bottoms so we can change her diaper!  She is a clever little monkey and climbs on EVERYTHING!!!  I think we will have to put locks on the top cabinets, she will be able to reach them magically soon enough!

I love you so much, my sweet Natalie Rose… I hope that every birthday is as special as this first one was – and that every year brings more joy to your life as you have already done for us!Birthday cake

Friday, October 15, 2010

Birthdays and Belly Buttons


Natalie is finally 1 year old! This previous Sunday, a group of us gathered to celebrate the life that exists in this beautiful creature who, only a short while ago, did not exist. Her beauty, strength, intelligence and sense of humor only grow exponentially with each day and as we sat around watching her interact with the people around her, we noticed that she really is just a tiny human being.

Last year, she did nothing but eat, sleep, poop... now, she eats solid foods, sleeps through the night and tells us when her diaper is full. She plays peek-a-boo with blankets, or by holding her hands over her eyes. She loves to hold on to a blanket or stuffed animal. She gives kisses, hugs, smiles. She is even beginning to walk. The tiny person we thought was so fragile this time a year ago is now a strong, opinionated little girl with a beautiful personality and the brains to make us feel like maybe we won't be smart enough for her. She learns so fast, we had no idea. She is even learning parts of her body. She can point to her nose and, she can lift her shirt to show us her belly button! She has no idea that one year ago, her belly button still had bits of umbilical cord attached to it. She doesn't know yet that that cord is with her older sister, binding them through love they could not even begin to imagine. As my world gets more complicated with school and a toddler, it gets more amazing with every new step she takes, every new set of words, even the expressions on her face.

My little girl is starting to hold on conversations and, while we don't hear clear words, we are starting to hear the beginnings of words: "puhpuh" for puppy, "dada" for dad, "mama" for mom, "see" for sleep, and as her "l" sounds get more pronounced, we are just waiting for the first time she says "I love you." She certainly hears it often enough, it would be a likely first phrase.

Her party was a huge success, like everything she has tackled so far! She loves to eat pickles, bananas, lemons and even jalapeno cheddar bratwurst. When she falls down, she laughs and gets back up. She problem solves and finds solutions to things we didn't even think of. Not only is she learning new things every day, but so are we! It's hard to realize that this is only the first small step in the wonder that is Natalie. We've been through so much the past 2 years that it's impossible to imagine what the world would be like without her. We are so blessed, so loved and so excited to see what is next!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New milestones, new challenges

As Natalie gets older, it gets harder and harder to figure out a daily routine that doesn't involve constant and diligent surveillance. She crawls, pulls herself up and walks around the coffee table. She moves the things that block her from danger - the stroller that blocks the kitchen, the jumperoo that blocks the plug. She loves to unplug the television set. Natalie climbs on Yuki like she is a staircase. She pulls clothes out of the hamper and throws them across the room and toys are constantly in and out of the basket. In short, life is not the same as it was before. While this sounds like a bittersweet concept, it is, in fact, wonderful! She makes me wake up early and go to bed before midnight and she reminds me why I struggle through work and classes every year. I do it because I love her and she makes me want to be a stronger person than I even thought possible. Natalie is my wonderful, amazing, beautiful daughter and as she stands before me, chewing on the coffee table, or the occasional biting of my big toe with her two new teeth, she reminds me that even though there are things in life that present challenges to us, we must welcome them with grace and honor. Natalie does this when she falls on the ground, when she bumps her head, when she has to wait just a little while longer for a clean diaper or lunch because we are driving the 20 minutes home from daycare. Natalie makes friends so easily right now and I hope it stays that way for her forever. Young kids love her and older kids want to protect and teach her and she greets them with the funniest, enormous almost-toothless grin! She loves spaghetti and olives, but I think of all the things she loves, her Daddy is at the top of her list. I have to say, she's got pretty good radar about who she can and cannot trust... and I'm so glad to see that her Daddy is so good with her as well. He is so strong and patient with her, the new things she presents to us are greeted with a welcoming smile and a hearty laugh. We know we can count on him to make her laugh in any situation...though she's so good natured, she's usually a step ahead of us!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

So begins the insanity!


Natalie can now pull herself up and crawl... we discovered how bad this actually can be the other day when she decided that her favorite thing to do is crawl over and play with the dog's water. She gets bigger and stronger and more beautiful every day, but along with that, more mischevious. She knows EXACTLY what she wants and what she has to do to get it. We are in for trouble, that's for sure!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Themes...




I'm going to steal an idea from some other blogs and start incorporating themes... Today we'll start with Wordless Wednesday!


Is this really my baby?!

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8 months old next week and eager as ever to be a "big girl," Natalie is growing faster than I could have ever imagined! She can reach into her toy box for specific toys. She is trying like crazy to pull herself up on the coffee table... she is trying to CRAWL!!! What in the world happened to that tiny little baby who couldn't hold her own bottle, didn't know how to roll over, had to have me do everything for her? She's growing up. Independence is one of Natalie's strongest characteristics. She loves to cuddle sometimes, but for the most part, she wants to do things herself. She enjoys sitting on the floor and playing with her toys. She talks to herself and the dog. As I write, she pulls the toy basket across the floor so she can better access the steering wheel toy that she's been trying to get to for 5 minutes. She figured it out. We're entering the stage of toys being pulled out simply because she CAN. Even the basket is a toy, perhaps it is the best one of all! I am amazed at the softness of her skin and the brightness of her eyes, the intelligence she's displaying at every turn. The thought processes she's so obviously using now apparent in her actions - my little girl is not so little anymore. She has big dreams, even if for right now that limits her to trying to EAT the toy basket. For now, I'm satisfied with that as her goals.
I love watching her try to figure out the basket and how its movements are caused by what she does... she pulls it forward and the handle bumps her head!
My thoughts are scattered now, as it has been a long time since I've written anything - more hours at work and much more time needing to keep a close watch on my darling Natalie lead to exhaustion and I find that that my mind is a bit muddled... All I know for certain is that the love I have for her grows exponentially every day. I wonder if my heart can grow large enough to handle it!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

@what.com?

I've spent the past few hours wandering the Web 2.0 and trying to figure out a few of the tools that are being extended to today's youth. My favorite so far is www.magnoto.com where I have a site now that I can link to my blog, twitter, facebook, etc. etc. There is no way now that people can lose track of me. I can tweet updates about me, Natalie, life, anything I can cram into 140 characters, which is very cool AND very terrifying. Do I really want the world to know this much about me? Well, I DO have a blog or two...(www.womanrunningwithwolves.blogspot.com) I wonder how different things are going to be for Natalie as she grows up. Will I be able to keep up with all these changes? I discovered yesterday that the search engine Google is even cooler than I realized, but for now, I'm perfectly content to have Natalie playing with toys that she can stick in her mouth and not have to worry about frying the hard drive or drooling on the motherboard. There are no circuits in a teething ring or a play mat. I like the simplicity of motherhood right now, but I figured I probably better be familiar with the new web before I am so far behind I hardly know anything at all! So, back to work, there's homework to be done and tweets to tweet before bedtime!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Childhood Memories


I sit on the couch on this Easter Sunday with my beautiful baby girl beside me sleeping peacefully. She fought this nap, much like every other, so I decided to make use of the laptop and YouTube. I searched for a song which has meant the world to me for many years, so much that I walked down the aisle as it played. Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D Major.
When I was in second grade, they employed a method called Silent Sustained Reading (SSR) in order to encourage us to read more. My teacher always turned down the lights and played Pachelbel's Canon. This song always calmed down our class no matter how energetic we wre that day. Peaceful, beautiful, serene, awe-inspiring. Much like my beautiful daughter sleeping in her pillow, not a care in the world. This sweet serenity reminds me of the hope and joy that comes from music. As a second song, I found Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, which holds more bittersweet memories for me. I first heard it when I was in fifth grade, as I waited with my Aunt Kathy and my mom in the lobby of the Hospice where my Grandma lived, only days before she passed away. I can still see my aunt sitting in front of that black Grand Piano, so much emotion and beauty in her playing, as we all recognized that this would be one of the last times we would ever see my Grandma, a woman who's name has been passed down to Natalie. Rose. I even sometimes want to call Natalie "Rosie" because she resembles my beautiful Grandmother in so many ways. She has the same reddish hair, the same unfortunate jowels that have been passed down through my mother and me, the same love of life and addictive giggle. A woman who showed me early on that it was okay to be different, it was okay to be sick AND happy, a woman who should by all medical reasoning have died twenty years sooner than she did, my Grandma lives on in my mother, my daughter and me...
And finally, a search for lullabies led me to one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard. Andrea Bocelli. "Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye)" is one of my favorite love songs of all time, sung in beautiful Italian by a man who cannot see, but has decided that life is too wonderful to pity oneself and instead has had an illustrious career that is not over. The song I found, however, was from Sesame Street. Andrea Bocelli and Elmo's Lullaby. In a strangely angelic adaptation, Elmo is refusing to go to bed, while Bocelli sings "Time to Say Goodnight." I highly recommend searching for this video.
While Pachelbel's Canon was ultimately what put my dear angel to sleep, I was thankful to have a few moments to enjoy the other songs as well. My sweet, wonderful, bewitching daughter steals my heart every time she looks at me and smiles, every time she sleeps, every time she breathes. It was nice to remember some of the things that got me to where I am today, and know that these things will get her through as well.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

That's Pink?!


Whoever it was that coined the term "pink eye" apparently never had it. Pink isn't even an option past the first 24 hours. More like icky, red, swollen gooeyness of doom. That makes a lot more sense to me. Thanks to this Gook of Death, I've had a tiny taste of what it may have been like to be a single mother. Although, most single mothers do not have a sweet, loving husband lying pathetically on the couch whining about how miserable his eyes are and how he hates not being able to help with the baby. That part is significantly different!
For now, Natalie and I still have blue eyes instead of pink ones, but who knows how that will turn out. My dear sweet husband suffers instead, alone in his Gookyness while Natalie and I look on, wishing we could do something to help. My solution for the time being has included picking up twice as many shifts at work to make up for the 2 days of work he's missing, while trying to maintain the good grades I've had all semester. So far it is working, but the fact that my own eyelids are drooping on the floor from exhaustion may cause the weekend to be less of a catch-up-on-sleep and more of an "OHMYGODI'MSOTIREDICAN'TSEEANYMORE!"
Natalie is sleeping soundly now, which is wonderful considering that it is only 9:30 and she woke me up at 5:00 this morning for some breakfast. I better join her in slumber-land so that when she wakes up at 5:00 again, I'll be ready for her! And tomorrow, I think I may just rearrange my closet to hide anything that resembles the color pink. Yeah, that should do it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A walk in the park

Natalie and I took our first spring walk today! It was 43 degrees and sunny outside, but the wind was blowing a little bit, so we bundled up and headed out the door. We went to the park in our neighborhood and as we approached, I watched another few families playing with their children at the playground. I was so excited for Natalie's first trip to the park! She seemed to really like the trees and had a smile on her face the whole walk. We went over to the swings and Natalie had her first experience with a "big girl" swing! Back and forth, back and forth, we bonded over a breezy swing, which was a totally different experience than our usual swing time. The $100 swing at home that we purchased specifically for her enjoyment seems to be more like a punishment at times. She will enjoy it for a little while, but she would rather be less restricted. Perhaps that is why she enjoyed the big swing, even though she was strapped to my chest! We had more mobility and she could make eye contact without having to strain her neck! We had a fantastic afternoon and now I have to rescue her from this jungle swing. She has grown bored with the indoor swinging!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This!


I am sitting here on a Sunday morning, the time has changed for Daylight Savings and it's supposed to be earlier than it actually is by an hour and I am dreading getting up for work tomorrow morning. But all that aside, sitting next to me is my wonderful husband with a beautiful sleeping baby in his arms. Milk runs down her chin because she fell asleep while eating. The shimmering goo on her face makes me smile - it reminds me that there are few things in life as precious as this exact moment. It doesn't matter what time it is - it doesn't matter what I'll be doing tomorrow or next week or next year. What matters is this beautiful creature with us right now. She is learning more and more every day. She starts to scoot backwards and is lifting her knees toward her chest more easily. I think she will crawl soon, but I'm enjoying the little things she's doing now! She grabs toys more easily, she's able to maniplate her hands to get things into her mouth now (which scares me, too!) and she is only 5 months old and wearing 12 month tops! All of these things change and grow daily and it is so exciting! I am so lucky to be her mom!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Natalie's Pony

One night, when Natalie was only a few weeks old, I went to put her to bed while she was too awake to settle down. So, I started telling her a story to put her to sleep. This is that story:
Natalie’s Pony

Once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl named Natalie. She was sweet and wonderful and her parents loved her very much. But there was something she wanted that she didn’t have. Natalie wanted a pony.

So one day, Natalie decided to go on an adventure and find herself a pony. She left home in search of the perfect companion. Along the way, Natalie met a squirrel. The squirrel was trying to reach a nut in a hole in the ground, but his little arms weren’t long enough. Natalie helped the squirrel get the nut. She told him that she was searching for a pony and he was excited.

“I’m all alone here and have nobody to help me. I see that you don’t have anyone either. If you will take me on your journey with you, I will gather all the food we need.”

Natalie thought this was a great idea, so they continued on the adventure together.

Soon, Natalie and the squirrel came upon a rabbit, who was trying to get out of his burrow. Embarrassed, the rabbit told them that he’d had too much for dinner and couldn’t fit through the door to his own home. He had made enough food for a feast, but nobody came over to eat with him, so he ate it all himself.

Natalie and the squirrel pulled the rabbit out of the hole and told him that they were searching for a pony.

“I’m all alone here, as you can see, if you will take me on your journey with you, I will cook all the meals we need.”

They decided that one more friend was a good thing, so they all set off together.

Soon, Natalie, the rabbit and the squirrel came to a river. They were sad because they didn’t know how to swim. A turtle overheard them talking and came to help.

“I’m all alone here and have nobody to talk to. If you will take me on your journey with you, I will swim across the river with you on my back.”

They all agreed that this sounded good, so off they went together.

After a while, Natalie, the turtle, the rabbit and the squirrel came to a mountain, too high for any of them to climb. They stood around, saddened that they could not go any further, when an owl flew by and stopped to listen.

“I have flown all around and know exactly what you need. If you will take me on your journey with you, I will fly above the mountain carrying you.”

This sounded wonderful, so off they went together.

When they landed on the other side of the mountain, Natalie was excited at what she saw. Standing before them was a whole herd of unicorns! One of the unicorns came up to Natalie and spoke to her.

“Welcome, Natalie! I have been waiting for you.”

“You have?” Natalie exclaimed.

“Yes. I have been expecting a beautiful young girl to come and take me away from my family to protect her.”

Natalie smiled, and then was sad.

“What is wrong?” asked the unicorn.

“I have a whole family already now. I have the squirrel, the rabbit, the turtle, the owl and my parents. I don’t know if I can take you away from yours.”

The unicorn smiled at her, “Natalie, it has always been my destiny to be yours. I was waiting to join your family, but you had to come get me so that you would meet these other friends along the way. Nobody should be lonely and you all needed each other.”

Natalie hugged the unicorn. Then, the squirrel, the rabbit, the turtle, the owl and Natalie climbed on the back of the unicorn and headed home together.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Laughing at a crying baby...

Yesterday offered up a bit of a challenge for us. Natalie can't go back to daycare until next week, since she had RSV, so we have had to maneuver our schedules around each other so that one of us has her at all times. Normally he has Tuesdays off, but because of some schedule changes last week, he had to cover a shift this week. I have class Tuesday afternoons. So, Natalie had her first college experience. She seemed enthralled by the teacher! She was polite, listened intently and, I swear, if she could have taken notes, she would have! Luckily for us, the class only consists of two students, a professor and occasionally a guest speaker (the professor's son.)
By the end of class, Natalie was tired and refusing to eat. We headed home and I snapped the carseat into the stroller for storage inside, like I usually do (to keep the cat out...) and went to use the restroom before taking care of the slightly upset doll in front of me. When I returned, she was making fussy sounds that were new to me... She took a deep breath, hummed/whined and blew raspberries with her lips, drool flowing gently onto her already disgusting bib. She looked at me with teary eyes. I laughed at her.
The sounds were almost like she was pretending to cry to see what result she would get. I didn't think she was that old yet! I knew she was hungry, wet and tired, so I prepared the bottle and returned with the video camera! I wonder, does that make me a bad mommy? I don't think so, she only fussed for a few minutes, but it was the most precious thing I've seen in a while! I talked to her so she didn't think I was ignoring her except for this weird buzzing machine in her face. I told her she was a pretty girl... and she smiled! Now I was certain she was manipulating me! I put the camera away and went to settle in on the couch with her and her newly changed bottom and fresh, warm bottle.
We had a cozy evening, though I was starving by this point. I realized again how scared I really am to love her, though. Especially since I have no control over it! I love her more than life itself and would do anything for her... including laughing while she cries!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Volume Control


We all know the parents who take kids to the restaurant only to prevent other patrons from enjoying their dinners, right? Yes, you know the ones. Their child shrieks like a banshee for an hour and a half while they order drinks, appetizers, entrees and desserts. Sometimes they apologize to the waitress, sometimes they ignore the issue altogether. And then there are the parents who shyly sit in the corner eating their dinner, trying to no avail to calm their banshee-child, obviously embarrassed, but not enough to ask for a to-go box. Those are the parents one just feels bad for. "Oh, poor Mr and Mrs Smith, their baby must be SOOOOoooooo difficult!" "Oh my, they don't know how to control that child, do they!?"
But sometimes, the simple fact is that there isn't anything TO do about the screaming child. Are we supposed to bury our heads in the sand and pretend we don't exist until they turn 18 and move away from home? Perhaps. But it is much easier to endure the occasional night on the town with a shrieking infant whose only problem is that she has not yet discovered volume control along with everything else she is learning. New pitches, new volumes, new length of time. The fact that she has an opinion and is able to share it is fascinating to her and who am I to stifle that developmental milestone? I don't want my child to lose her individuality because I shushed her at a restaurant! Ninety percent of the time anyway the ambient sounds at a restaurant are so stifling to conversation that the shriek and squeal of the infant, no matter how pleasant or angry these sounds might be, will become a dull buzzing in the background. Other patrons may notice this specific noise, but for the most part, the cheering over the football game, or the loud reminiscing of the previous quarter's business over drinks and hot wings take control of the surroundings.
So, why do I still feel bad when my little girl decides to share with the world that she wants to laugh at her Daddy? Why is it that we feel embarrassed by the natural developmental noises our children make before they know that it is rude to be so loud in public, but the dinner we have with our boisterous boss isn't even on our radar? Has society continued to preach that parenthood is an inconvenience?
Remember the days when a woman wasn't "knocked up" or even "pregnant," but "with child" and hidden away for the next nine months? No? Well, I wasn't alive then either, but those days did exist. It was improper to speak of reproduction and childbearing. Children were to be seen and not heard even into the end of the last millennium. Even I was a victim of that sentiment and I am not yet 30.
The revolution has begun, however, with the renewed interest in what is natural - breastfeeding, talking children, "baby wearing" and public exhibition of pregnant bodies.
The time has come to embrace the beauty that is motherhood, fatherhood, womanhood, parenthood. My inner woman, my wild-woman, longs to reach out to others and scream "I have a baby, I have given birth to another life that grew inside mine!" I have stretch marks in places and directions I never thought possible. I think I have a road map from South Dakota to Detroit on my stomach, but what it really says is "I am a WOMAN. I am a MOTHER. I am BEAUTIFUL." My baby girl who talked through dinner and screamed from exhaustion tonight is symbolic of all things I love most about my womanhood - she is a testament to the love and faith and hope that life brings from day to day.
Snuggled up in her father's arms, finally sleeping, I realize I am grateful that she doesn't understand volume control. I am grateful that she is learning who she is and how to communicate. Some day, she will stand tall and proclaim "I am a WOMAN. I am a MOTHER. I. AM. BEAUTIFUL!" She might as well start now.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

RAWR- anger at dumb parents...

So... the other day Natalie spent 12 hours at daycare so that she would be away from me and my ucky flu-ness. When she got home, I snuggled her for about five minutes and handed her right back to her Daddy. The next morning, the daycare lady called to let me know that the previous day, Natalie was exposed to RSV by some kids who were coughing all day long... gee... thanks. I want to send their parents the bill for my day... if she was going to get exposed to nasties anyway, at least I could have saved some money!
I'm still not feeling well and am quite disappointed lately in the lack of substance or wit to my writing. Perhaps the flu sucked it out of me. Perhaps lack of sleep, too much homework, or just plain laziness has done it. Maybe I'll be back to my normal self soon!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Missing my Lady-bug!




My sweet Natalie is at daycare today - all day - and I haven't spent much time with her since Saturday afternoon. To celebrate our anniversary (a little late) we went to Deadwood on Saturday night. After a long evening of gambling and having a good-ol' time, we came home Sunday morning. I wasn't feeling well and thought it was just from being up too late, so I went to take a nap. When I woke up, it was even worse... I had the flu.
So, my baby girl spent the night in the living room with her Daddy while I tried to combat the ever growing fever and prevent this horrid beast from taking hold on my little girl, too. So, of course, she couldn't spend the day with me today while Daddy went to work - I couldn't give her the attention she needs without risking the flu-transfer! So, they left for daycare at 9:00 this morning and won't be home until almost 9:00 tonight! All I want to do is HOLD MY BABY GIRL!!!!! But for now, she's still healthy and I'll sacrifice my cuddle time so that she stays that way...
Last night, however, she gave me the most horrible "why won't you hold me, Mommy?" look... and I keep seeing that in my mind... Poor thing probably thinks daycare is her new home. But, she'll be here soon, and Daddy doesn't work tomorrow, so at least I'll get to see her!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Love



This afternoon I watched an interview from NBC's "Today Show" with Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar and their family. They were discussing the health of their youngest daughter, Josie. Born 3.5 months early, she was 2 oz. heavier than our Charlotte. It was one of those moments where my heart absolutely breaks for the Duggars that they are going through this rough ordeal, while at the same time I was horribly jealous that their little girl is alive. I wouldn't wish the pain of the loss of a child on anyone, not even my worst enemy.
Looking at pictures of little Josie, I can't help but think how absolutely precious she is. She is beautiful in a way most babies never have to be. She is truly a miracle. And then I look at my sweet Natalie. Probably close to 15 pounds now, she is like 10 of baby Josie. And I love her as though she was a million babies.
Every second of the day that I am away from her is harder than the one before. I know I have to go to work and school - it is part of life and part of the healing process. My family deserves the best version of me possible. Thanks to Charlotte, I'm working on finishing my degree in English/Secondary Education. If I hadn't been pregnant with her, I would be working at a bank or fast food, with no promise of anything better. Now, for Natalie and my husband and our future children, I have hope that I can finish what I started almost 10 years ago and I am so grateful for Charlotte. She showed me how to love myself enough to tackle the hard things in life. She taught me how precious life is and gave Natalie the gift of parents who truly understand how fragile she is. I'm terrified every moment that something will change and Natalie won't be here, but when I wake up in the morning, there she is, tossing and turning, sleeping like a beautiful angel.
Last night I dreamt that I lost Natalie - she just disappeared. But there is a circle of friends who are here to support us and she is always with her father, me, or at the daycare I've spent almost two years hanging out at anyway. Everyone loves her and it reminds me that there is a whole extended family to protect her...
Almost like the Duggars. 19 kids and every one of them there to support each other when things get tough. Their sweet Josie has no idea how lucky she is just to have that family - so much love and prayers and hope being directed toward her every day. I like to think that Natalie gets that much love and hope and faith directed toward her from her family, too, even though we are significantly smaller in number. The thing is, love knows no boundaries.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Oh, how they change!




I never thought I'd be encouraging my 3 month old baby to be driving so early! I love the way she looks sitting up, though, and the best toy for her age just happens to be a steering-wheel with all the bells and whistles! I can't believe how grown-up she looks already! I am sad that she is no longer a "newborn," but excited for every new step along the way! I'm so proud of her!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Like, Oh Em Gee...

I never thought I'd appreciate the quirks and challenges that come with an infant so much until I spent the afternoon shopping with a couple of 8 year olds. First, let me say that they are both wonderful girls and quite typical for their age. Second, let me say, can mine PLEASE skip that age?!

It's amazing what 8 year old girls think is funny and appropriate. It's incredible how at that age pointing and staring and loudly commenting on other people's appearances is not a red-flag of wrong-ness! But, alas, they are still children.

I had my first experience in the mall with children who were not in a car-seat/stroller today and actually learned a lot about the independence of an 8 year old (which is proven by the fact that she will correct me and say that she is 8 AND 1/2). Almost capable of going off to find the restroom without the assistance of an adult, they are uniquely able to disappear into the myriad racks of clothing and miraculously re-appear moments later from an entirely different part of the store, all WITHOUT destroying the place or shrieking like a banshee. This is amazing to me, as I'm used to hanging out with infants and toddlers, whose vocabulary consists mostly of wimpers and horrific screams.

And I was sadly reminded of how horrible (and I mean HORRIBLE) an 8 year old's sense of fashion can be. It doesn't help that the fashion now is reverting to the neon/spandex/hightop days of the 1980's, which I had desperately hoped had disappeared forever. So there is this odd combination of the desire to repeat the fashion blunders of the past, while combining with the unexplainable never-ending fashion disaster that is the goth movement. I miss the days when wearing solid black all of the time was reserved for widows in mourning and priests. The white face-paint of mimes has been butchered into a hideos death-like mask for people wishing to "express their individuality" meanwhile spending time in crowds of equally terrifying death-obsessed people who all seem to look like mild variations of the same human.

Of course, the 8 year olds think goth is cool now... Stores like "Hot Topic" don't help this fad... in fact, they only serve to perpetuate this odd combination of goth and skater that seems to be permeating the masses... and it makes me SO greatful that my darling daughter is still in size 6 months... (even though she's only 3 months old). For now, and hopefully years to come, I can choose what Natalie wears. Pretty pink dresses, pants that fit properly and shirts that cover her belly (not to mention skirts that go past her knees) are all that will live in her wardrobe.

I love the expression that 8 year olds think they have. I love that they seem to believe that their tastes make them unique or "cool" when they really are a part of the pop culture movement of the time. I remember being 8 years old and my New Kids on the Block belt was the cool accessory to go with my leggings, too long shirt (with a shirt clip, of course) and my Punky Brewster high-top sneakers... O.M.G. I was so cool!
And now I'm even more terrified for Natalie to grow up!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Belly buttons


One of the first games I played with Natalie was telling her what the different parts of her body are: The baby's nose, baby ears, baby toes and the BELLY BUTTON!!! It was something we could both get excited about. She loves when I tap her nose, tickle her feet and wiggle her ears. Mostly, though, she gives me the biggest grin when I exclaim "here's your BELLY BUTTON!!" Tonight I finally realized why it is that every time I change her clothes or diaper I feel this overwhelming desire to kiss her belly button.

It is what allowed me to give her life. It is what connected her body to mine. It is what fed her for nine months while she was being formed into the amazing creature who now occupies one hand while I type with the other.

I then realize that my belly button is what connected me to my mother and her to hers all the way through the beginning of time. This silly sounding body part that no longer serves any function beyond games and lint collection is the link to life. It is what nourishes us in our beginning, then is forgotten as we get older - as soon as the umbilical stump finally falls off in the first days of life.

There are many things in our lives that we take for granted - we poke holes in them not thinking what they mean to us, we forget how we got here in the first place. As I sit here, still feeling residual pains from my remarkably easy and beautiful labor, I am reminded of the miracle that is this perfect daughter beside me. There is nothing I love more about her than her belly button - it is the physical link between the two of us that led to the spiritual link I hope we develop throughout our relationship. As I tell her every day, I will love her more and more and more every single minute of every single day for the rest of my life. And for that, I thank her belly button.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

To sling or not to sling...

My darling Natalie does not like to be carried around in the Infantino front carrier that we bought for her. She seems to prefer to just be held, but my poor arms cannot handle the steadily increasing weight of this beautiful little girl. As a solution, we now have a ring-sling. It's the most simple, clever design. It's purple linen and easily maneuvered to contain the small, yet growing body of my baby girl. So far, she seems to love it. Or perhaps she loves watching her father and me try like morons to figure out this one piece of cloth with two rings at the end of it. It hooks like those old belts that have the two rings on one end and the belt hangs from them both and, woven through them neatly the belt holds your pants up... well, it seems that this funny little thing does the same, just with a baby instead! So tonight we tried about 15 minutes of holding her in it, just to see how she liked it. At first, she loved being able to see Daddy and me at the same time... then, she seemed to get a bit tired of it... then, she spit up on me. So who knows if she really likes it yet or not! We'll keep trying it, after all, I cannot go to the chiropractor every week and carrying her around the way I have been made my arms go numb. So here's to hoping that this stubborn little creature decides to get along with my idea of easy transportation so I don't have to lug around the 600 pound car seat every time I go in a store. Or maybe she'll decide that it's funny when Mommy can't feel her arms!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Duh... Mom-Brain

My grandmother has a theory: for every child a woman has, she loses 25% of her brain. That means that as of now, I am operating at 50%. I seriously feel for the people who have had 4 or more children! How in the world do they function with more than one child in the house, and with 0% or less of their mental capacity in tact!
The worst brain-dysfunction I've had lately only caused me to have to wash an extra load of laundry...
Natalie went to bed at 12am the other night. She didn't wake up until 8am, but of course, I was up really late because I'm stupid and after 3 months haven't realized that I should go to bed as soon as she does. When I went to get her from her crib, I filled a new bottle for her and brought her to our bed, where I fell back to sleep with her in my arms. For some reason (that has nothing to do with the late nights and insane build up of exhaustion) I didn't wake up again until almost noon. Natalie was a perfect angel and didn't wake me up. She must have known how badly I needed the sleep. However, about this time she started to fuss...
I reached over to grab her and hand her to her Daddy so he could change her and just as I picked her up, she peed ALL over the bed and me!! When I brought her to our room at 8am, I forgot to change her diaper! Not only had her diaper not been changed for 12 hours, making me feel like a horrible mother, but she was wearing size 1, when she really is pushing out of them into a 2! It was a series of cosmic events which led to the culminating event of my morning, uh, shower...
So here we are, a new day, and I still put the 1s on her for now because diapers are too danged expensive to waste, though I think tomorrow I will donate what I have left to an expecting mother. I put her to bed an hour and a half ago, went to take a shower and when she was fussing a little bit, immediately went to change the diaper.
This morning when we woke up (I'm starting to enjoy co-sleeping in the morning...) I was feeding her and as I lifted her up to burp her, was greeted by yet another shower in the form of EVERYTHING she'd eaten coming up on my pajamas. I had a burp cloth and was being careful about how I moved her, but apparently, mornings are not my thing... or maybe it's the Mom-Brain finally kicking in. Gee, I hope it gets better!