Monday, September 29, 2014

This is my life. I talk about poop. Feel free to unfriend me.

This morning I stood by the coffee maker, talking about my son's bowel movements with a co-worker. Mainly I was trying to give validity to my complete exhaustion by explaining Ryder's new habit of having a major diaper blowout at around four o'clock each morning. It took me a while to realize that poop is not suitable water cooler conversation. Alas, this is my life now, so sometimes it's all I have to talk about.
 
 
When I pick Ryder up from the sitter, we discuss how many dirty diapers he had that day like it's the most normal, interesting topic in the world. "Good job!" I exclaim to my son, like his bodily functions are the most exciting things I've heard about all day. (And they are).
 
The other day Stewart and I found ourselves in Ryder's nursery, bent over his dresser, staring intently into a diaper full of poop. Our faces were inches from the foulness as we contemplated the color, texture, consistency. (There was a tiny bit of blood in his diaper, and we were wondering if we should call the doctor).
 
Is this my new normal?

I spent the first five years of our relationship pretending that I didn't poop. Now this is what our marriage has been reduced to. Conversations about poop.
 
Seriously though, have you ever heard an infant produce a fart so loud it sounds like it came from a grown man? Stewart and I could sit around and laugh all day at Ryder and the noises he produces. (But that's it. I said fart on my blog. This has really gone too far).
 
I think I need a poop intervention.
 
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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Book Club: Her Fearful Symmetry

One of the great things about returning to work has been the commute.
 
Not that I love spending 30 minutes on crowded public transportation each morning, but I do enjoy the quiet time to myself. Time where I can zone out, drink coffee, look at social media, listen to music, or my favorite: READ.
 
For months, the only subjects I read about were labor, delivery, and early childhood development. Though incredibly important, it definitely did not satisfy my book nerd yearnings for fiction... something I could completely lose myself in for no other reason than my own selfish enjoyment.
 
So I decided that when I went back to work, I was going to treat myself.
 
When I went to meet Baby Charlie in Boston two years ago, my dear friend Cailin thrust Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger into my hands, with assurances that I would absolutely love it. I tucked it into my carry on and proceeded to sleep for the entire flight home. Then I carefully put the book on my shelf for later.
 
When I borrow something from someone, it nags at me until I can properly return it, so this book has been beckoning me for quite some time. Therefore, my return to work was the perfect opportunity to dust it off and crack it open. I'm so glad I did!
 
This novel is about 20-year-old twin sisters with an intense attachment to each other. Their English aunt dies of cancer and leaves them her apartment in London, with the condition of the inheritance being that they live in the flat for one year before selling it, and that their parents never set foot in it. The girls' aunt is also their mother's twin. The twins relocate from the Chicago suburbs to the London flat, which borders an ancient cemetery. They become involved with their neighbors, as well as their aunt, because although she has died, she is not gone altogether.
 
I absolutely loved Niffenegger's first novel, The Time Traveler's Wife, so I had high expectations for this book. I was fascinated by the twins, and loved the complications of love, identity, and sibling rivalry. I also really enjoyed how the twins became entwined in the lives of their eccentric and incredibly interesting neighbors. However, this is essentially a ghost story in which the twins' aunt haunts the apartment and the girls, and I found that to be a bit far-fetched and silly. The story concludes with a twist at the end, which I frankly found to be disappointing, but that's just my humble opinion.
 
Overall though, this novel was a fun and quick read, and a great first choice for me post-maternity leave.
 
And now I can finally return it to its rightful owner!
  
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Sometimes I Cry

Having a baby is the hardest thing I've ever done.

Well, not exactly.

Actually having him was pretty traumatic, but in hindsight it wasn't too terrible, and honestly the nitty gritty details of it have already begun to fade from my memory. But it's time to admit that adjusting to the life change of having a tiny human at home has been a bit difficult.

I am the ultimate planner and control freak, so growing, birthing, and raising a human being is by far the most out-of-control thing I've ever done. I did everything I possibly could to prepare for Ryder's arrival -- took classes, read books, consulted trusted friends and experts, and did an entire nesting overhaul on my house in advance of his birth. I told myself that I was prepared for anything, and was completely confident in my ability to care for my newborn son.

I was not prepared.

I was not prepared at all.

Many people warned me, but now I know that you can't understand how difficult being a new parent can be until you experience it for yourself. I spent so much time preparing for labor and delivery that I forgot to mentally prepare myself for life afterwards.

The addition of Ryder to our family has brought more joy, wonder and delight than I ever thought possible. It has also brought changes -- some anticipated and others completely unexpected. Even though I considered myself to be pretty well-informed, I was still taken aback at the huge impact this tiny human has had on our lives. Stew and I have learned to cope with feeding and sleeping schedules, unexplained crying, diapering, bathing, swaddling, burping, bottles, rocking, soothing, lullaby-singing. But each newly acquired skill has come with perplexing questions and overwhelming emotions, and the experience has had a profound effect on our relationship.

You think you know... but you have no idea.

I knew things would be hard, and that my life would change, but I never imagined I would feel this way... like the rug was pulled out from under me, and I've been scrambling to find my footing ever since. The intense, unending, constant-ness of being a mother sometimes overwhelms me to the point where all I want to do is climb into my bed, put the pillow over my head, and sob. But I can't, because my baby boy is screaming in the other room, dinner is burning on the stove, the laundry needs to be put in the dryer, my phone is ringing, and I haven't washed my hair in six days. And I'm the Mamma, so it's my job to pull it together and do it all with a smile on my face.

My relationship with my husband is suffering, partly because we take out our anger and frustration on each other, but mostly because I'm just so damn tired. I know that billions of parents before us have experienced the same difficulties, but sometimes I just feel so alone. I wish someone could teach me the secret to daily happiness, but the reality is that a lot of days are going to be hard. So as we've struggled through the early days, weeks and months, we've learned to modify our expectations. And through it all, the one thing that gets us through is Ryder's perfect face... his giggle, his grin.

And I know it won't be like this forever.

Someday I will look back and curse myself for not cherishing these early moments more. But right now I'm tired. I'm just so tired.

And I don't even know myself anymore.

I talk about poopy diapers, spit up, and breast milk. I research sleep schedules, introducing solid foods, and rectal thermometers. And every once in a while I step out of myself and look back and wonder what happened to me. I feel like somehow, without my knowing it, my identity was stolen. I can hardly comprehend that I'm supposed to be the Mamma... a real grownup, the one who has all the answers, the person who can make it all better. Is this who I am now? Is this who I want to be?

Some days it's hard.

I recently read a post on Scary Mommy that summed it up far better than I ever could:

"Sometimes I cry because in the process of gaining you, I gave up a version of me, and though I wouldn't change that even if I could, sometimes I miss me desperately."

But then I stare at the face of my perfect angel baby, and I know there's no place else I'd rather be.


 
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ryder's Four Month Photo Shoot

I wanted to have some family photos taken before Ryder got much older, but didn't really want to pay an arm and a leg for them. That's when I realized...
 
It pays to have talented friends.
 
Our good friend Matt offered to come over one afternoon to do a little photo shoot, and I'm so happy with how it turned out!
 
Therefore, I shall share the results with you here.
 
Enjoy!
 
 





  
 
 
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Rematch

Oh, how I love football season.
It's really the only reason I look forward to the end of summer.
 
I had to miss this season's home opener because it was my first day back at work and I didn't want to miss Ryder's bedtime, so yesterdays Superbowl rematch was especially exciting for me.
 
And once again, my world champion Seahawks pulled out a W against the Broncos. Sorry, Peyton.
 
Last year, I was pregnant for the entire NFL season. I puked my way through tailgates while feigning hangovers, stretched my jersey over my swelling belly and marched my way into the stadium for every home game, and waddled my way through downtown for the Seahawks Superbowl Victory Parade. And Ryder was with me all the way, my little baby 12th Man.
 
So needless to say, I was pretty excited to return this year as a fully active member of the Hawkwagon Tailgater Association. Even though I'm still breastfeeding, which meant I was only allowed three light beers and had to spend part of the tailgate pumping in the back of our car. My mom was nice enough to come up for the day to watch Ryder while Stew and I went to the game.
 
And it felt so good to be back...
 
I'll admit I wasn't really prepared for such a nail-biter. Sometime during the third quarter I literally thought that Stew's head was going to spin off his shoulders, but the boys came through for us and luckily we don't have to start the week hanging our heads in shame like the Bronco fans. Tee hee. 
 
 
 


 

 
We had such an awesome day, but I missed my little Baby Seahawk! He had a wonderful day at home watching the game with Nana, but I hate that I spent so much time away from him. It's good for Stew and I to get a break together every once in a while, though.
 
We do think that we might try to take him to at least one game this season, though. He endured so much when I was still pregnant with him, after all. All that jumping and yelling... Poor guy will probably feel right at home once he's back at the stadium, cheering on the Hawks. We just need to get him some ear muffs so the 12th Man won't damage his hearing.
 
 
Go Hawks!
 
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Wedding in the Woods

My absolutely darling friend Amanda got married last weekend, and of course nothing really happens until I post about it here, so it's time for the highlights of this amazing night!
 
I remember four years ago when Amanda first told me about meeting Kevin. They had found each other on Match.com and she then proceeded to meet him (alone) at an ale house and then get into his truck and let him take her to a secluded park. I told her she was extremely lucky that Kevin turned out to be her one true love and not a serial killer.
 
That was the beginning for those two love birds, and now four years later they've finally tied the knot.
 
I absolutely love Amanda and Kevin! They are two of the nicest people I know, and they are going to be so incredibly happy together. And lucky for us they are on the baby track, so hopefully soon enough they will have a little Mini around for Ryder to play with. But let's not get to ahead of ourselves...
 
The Wedding!

 

The wedding took place in the woods at Camp Kalsman, a Jewish summer camp that used to be a hippie commune. Amanda is a bit of a hippie herself, so that made the location choice no surprise. It was a beautiful spot, and luckily we had some great late summer weather to accompany the ceremony, which was in the trees next to a lake. Due to various complications, Stew and I showed up just as Amanda began to walk down the aisle. But since we were in the back, I got to hear her adorable exclamation: "This is my wedding!" She could hardly believe that her special day had finally come, and my happiness for her brought tears to my eyes. She has always been such a fun, loving, and supportive friend, and she deserves happiness more than many people I know.




Amanda and I met during our freshman year of college, when we shared a dorm suite. We remained in touch while she lived in CA and NV for quite a few years, and became incredibly close again when she moved back to WA. She was the very first person to guess my pregnancy news while we were at Priest Lake last summer!

College roomies reunited! Weddings are always a great place to catch up with old friends.


Stew and I were fortunate, because my parents were once again willing to watch Ryder while we attended another wedding. I think this is the third time they've watched him while our friends got married this summer. We're so lucky that they love spending time with Ryder, because it means that we got to enjoy a night out together, all dressed up. PS - I absolutely have to start taking my nice camera to weddings. These iPhone photos are horrible!

So there you have it. Now that it's on the blog, you can consider Amanda and Kevin officially hitched.
 
And I couldn't be happier for those two love birds.
 
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Back to Life, Back to Reality

 
Following Ryder's birth, I had the luxury of taking four months maternity leave, which also happened to coincide with one of Seattle's most amazing summers on record. Stewart was also able to take almost ten weeks paternity leave, so needless to say, it was a pretty magical time in our lives.
 
Adjusting to life with an infant was intense and overwhelming at times, but there was a lot of laughter in between the tears and each day with Ryder got better and better as we all got to know one another.
 
But always, looming in the distance, was that predetermined date in September when I was scheduled to return to work full time. The clock ticked down slowly but surely, and now here I am -- back to the daily grind.
 
It's been a difficult adjustment.
 
If you ask me how I'm doing, the first thing that comes to mind is I'M TIRED. I think I'm even more exhausted than I was during those first few blurry postpartum weeks. I wake at the crack of dawn to get myself and Ryder ready for the day. Then I commute an hour into the city, spend nine hours at the office, and then do the commute in reverse before arriving home in time to spend an hour, two at most, with Ryder before he goes to bed. Then I spend a few hours on dinner, household chores, and time with the hubby before inevitably passing out two pages into a book or ten minutes into a television show. Ryder subsequently proceeds to wake up every three hours throughout the night, which means I'm up for about 30 minutes each time to nurse and rock him back to sleep.
 
Lather, rinse, repeat.
 
The first full week of this almost killed me.
 
But just like everything else, we're figuring it out.
 
Daddy Day Care is going great, except for the fact that I'm so jealous I can't even see straight because Stew and Ryder get to spend their days playing together. They text me photos, and we do Facetime throughout the day, but it's obviously not the same. I'm a distracted mess at work, and I seem to have lost my ability to multitask at all. I have to leave my desk every 2.5 hours to sit in a dark little room and pump breast milk for the hungry babe waiting at home. Once the queen of overtime, I'm often late to work and march out at 5:00 each day without looking back.

And there's guilt.

I feel guilty that I can't stay at home and raise my child myself. And I feel guilty that I don't want to. I never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, and there were days this summer that completely validated my decision. In some ways work is my refuge, a place to recharge my brain by interacting with adults and discussing subjects other than poopy diapers and spit up.

But I miss my little boy!

It's rough, but I'll get through it. This phase won't last forever, and someday I'll sleep through the night again. Plus, the time I do have with my angel baby is just that much more precious and appreciated. It makes my heart hurt, how much I love him.

 
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Let's talk about blogging.


Blogging. It's a lifestyle.

As a blogger, I'm always "on." My blog is always in the back of my mind... my next post, new topics, a dozen half finished posts and a notebook full of ideas. I can get inspired at any time, in any place. I'll be engaged in a conversation, smiling and nodding, but in my head I'm already using the topic to create a mental outline for a blog post. Sometimes I'll realize I've essentially missed out on enjoying an entire event or activity because I was too busy taking photographs to make it blog-worthy. And I'm always trying to figure out when and where I'll find the time to finish and publish all the brilliant posts I'm constantly writing in my head. It's borderline obsessive.

I like to look at it as a carefully developed, productive habit.

I love it ... and I hate it. 

life·style (noun) 1. “the way in which a person or group lives.”

If it’s done in all places and at all time, then it truly is the way you live. I've integrated the activity of blogging into my daily existence. I write when I can, where I can. My friends ask, "Is this blogworthy?" whenever we're together, and I've definitely said, "If it's not on the blog, it didn't happen" (and was only partially joking).
 
My blog is both a reflection and an extension of my life, and I've worked incredibly hard for almost ten years now to create what it is today. Millions of blogs exist worldwide, and I'm not trying to say there's anything particularly special about mine. But I've poured my heart and soul into this little corner of the interwebs, and I'm pretty proud of what I've accomplished. I treasure this space, and value it as a detailed record of the person who I was, am, and will become.
 
Before Ryder was born at the beginning of May, I really felt like I had hit my stride with blogging. I posted consistently about varied topics. I worked with fellow bloggers to create a moderately successful weekly link up. I sponsored some of my favorite bloggers and even thought about offering sponsorship spots of my own. Companies began to ask me to write about them in exchange for free products. My posts sometimes received dozens of comments, and my stats were through the roof compared to just a year before. I felt like I was on the verge of "making it" as a blogger -- at least according to my own terms.
 
Then I gave birth to a miraculous tiny human, and everything changed.
 
  I went from posting five times a week to just five times a month. And even those blogs were a struggle -- they definitely aren't a reflection of my best writing, and are essentially photo dumps of family trips and daily life with an infant.
 
My blog has become glorified Facebook.
 
 I've felt a little bit of guilt about this, but I haven't let it consume me. I took the summer off work to spend with my son, so we could get to know each other. And blogging isn't the only thing I neglected. I fell out of touch with friends and co-workers, let my email inbox fill with hundreds of messages, maxed out my DVR, didn't read a single book, ignored social media in general and purposefully pretty much detached myself from the world. Stewart and Ryder were my only priority.
 
Sorry... but I'm not sorry.
 
I've missed writing in any sort of creative capacity, but in general I was able to put everything aside for four months and focus all of my attention on my husband and son. It's time that I'll never be able to re-create, and I'm so glad that I was able to maximize every precious moment with my family.
 
I can't say for certain where this blog will go from here. But I'm definitely not giving up blogging, and hope that my readers will stick with me, although I can't promise that Life As Always will continue to have the same content you're used to. Such is life.
 
For those of you who've followed along on my journey, thank you for your incredibly heartfelt and thoughtful comments. I'm so glad you're here, and whether you read every post or just stop by once in a while to see if I'm still alive, thanks for sticking around.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dear Ryder... Four Months



Dear Ryder,

It was just a little more than a year ago today when I first found out that you existed. Now it's been four whole months since we welcomed you to Earth, and I can honestly say that I've never been happier. Or more exhausted. But let's focus on the fun stuff, shall we?

We had an incredibly busy month of August!

It started off by taking a family trip to Hawaii to celebrate Uncle AJ's college graduation. You were such a good boy, traveling on an airplane for the first time, and we had an amazing vacation that provided us with memories for a lifetime. Daddy is still talking about how he can't wait to take you back when you are a little bit bigger, so he can play with you in the ocean waves.


We also took you on your first camping trip to Mayfield Lake. Daddy and I have been camping together since we first met, and it was so fun to go on our first trip as a family. We're not really into hardcore camping in the mountains or anything... just state campgrounds near water so we can spend time at the beach and on the boat. This time Nana and Grandpa came along with their motor home, so we were nice and comfy. You loved being outside, going for walks, sitting on shore, and didn't seem to mind your very first boat ride (thanks Brett & Haley!) one bit! Daddy probably would have taken you out on the surf board had I let him, but Mommy's a little too paranoid for that just yet.


At the end of the month we drove over to Idaho to spend a week at the Alway Family Lakehouse. Spending time there is one of our very favorite things... it is such a relaxing, peaceful place. And I was so happy that you finally got to spend some quality time with your Alway relatives!


So now you are four months old and you can already check four different states off your bucket list! Well done, my little traveler. Besides refusing to nap on any of the trips, you have been an absolute angel, and we've really become comfortable traveling as a family and can't wait to do more of it!

I wanted to spend the last days of summer really soaking up our time together, because our new big adjustment is the fact that I have gone back to work full time. This was always our plan, but that didn't make it any easier when the time finally came. We were so lucky to get to spend the entire summer playing together, but now it's time to return to reality and the daily grind. Luckily, you will spend most days at home with Daddy, except for when he's on shift, and on those days you will go next door to our neighbor, Julia. She has three young children of her own to play with and they are such a great family -- I know you will be happy and safe there, even though we will miss you like crazy!

Here is a little photo dump of what else we've been up to this month...


You and I spent quite a bit of time in the backyard in the evenings, watering the grass for Daddy while he was at work and just relaxing and enjoying the warm summer evenings.

Sometimes we'd go out in the middle of the day and lay in the grass but we had to be careful to stay in the shade.

We went down to visit Cailin and Charlie, who just loves to hold you and cuddle you.

We did some fashion photo shoots of outfits you received before you were born. This froggy one came from Cousin Brooke...

And this adorable number came from Jamie at You Gotta Have Hart. Mommy has the best blog friends!

We spent a fair amount of time just lounging around the house.

And of course Nana came to visit as often as she could. She just loves to make you giggle and smile!

You love it when Daddy lifts you up in the air.

And Daddy Day Care seems to be going really well. He sent me this shot on my first day back at work, and at first I thought he had taken you for a walk with a beer in the stroller's cup holder.

Daddy's little football player.

A selfie together after my first full day back at work. I missed you so much, we just cuddled for the entire evening when I got home.

As for your developments this month, there have been a lot of them!

You have started to roll over (although infrequently) from both front to back and back to front. And you discovered your feet, which is absolutely adorable. You lay on your back like a stranded turtle just grabbing for them and laughing; it's one of the cuter things I've ever seen. 




You have also started to reach for and grab at toys. Your favorites include an infant Very Hungry Caterpillar book, Sophie the Giraffe, and colorful burp cloths that Aunt Nichole made. Of course everything goes directly into your mouth.





You're quite a needy child, requiring constant entertainment. You don't like to be left alone for long, although you'll tolerate your swing and Jumperoo for brief periods of time. You sit in your balance chair quite a bit, because we can move it around and essentially take you with us while we do errands around the house. We always put it on the dining room table when we sit down to eat so you can join us and you really seem to like sitting at the table with Mommy and Daddy. You seem to like that chair a lot more than your Bumbo seat, although you'll sit in that one for short periods of time, too. If you're not in one of those contraptions, you enjoy lying on the floor as long as someone is playing with you or you're underneath your activity gym. You've gotten used to Tummy Time and we swear you are really wanting to crawl, but can't quite figure it out yet... we think the time is coming soon when you'll be on the move!


We've caught you sucking your thumb a few times, and are starting to wonder if it's going to become a habit.

You drool constantly, which means several outfit changes each day no matter how many bibs we try to keep in place.

You went through a major sleep regression toward the end of the month, and instead of waking up just once during the night to eat you began waking every two hours demanding to be fed. This was a little bit of a shock to Mommy, because I was used to getting a much better night's sleep. It was also not convenient for you to start this right before I went back to work. However, we think it may have just been a growth spurt, because now you seem to (hopefully) be returning to your regular sleep patterns. That being said, you are still generally refusing to nap. You will sometimes sleep during the day for 20 or 30 minutes, and about once a week you'll take a three or four hour nap, but other than that you seem to absolutely hate sleeping. Even at bedtime, which tends to be around 7pm because you're so exhausted from the day, you fight sleep and we usually end up rocking and crying for quite a while until you finally succumb and close your eyes. Just sleep, my angel!!

Luckily, you're still willing to sleep in your crib at night in between feedings, so we've moved your bassinet out of our room permanently. It's the end of an era!

Every once in a while you'll nap in your Pack and Play downstairs, but it's a pretty rare occurrence.

You love to express yourself through smiles, laughs, gurgles, and coos -- we absolutely love to tickle you and make you squeal! You are so much more alert and fun to play with. Your eyes still haven't started to changed and remain beautiful, bright blue. We're starting to wonder if they may stay that way.

At your four month checkup you clocked in at 26 inches and a whopping 15 pounds, 11 ounces -- almost twice your birth weight! You're definitely getting heavy and Mommy is going to have killer arms as a natural side effect.


One of the most exciting things that happened this month was the start of football season! You attended every single Seattle Seahawks game with us while I was still pregnant, and we're so excited for you to experience your first real season this year. We are HUGE football fans in this family, and we can't wait to teach you all about the game... 

It's going to be an exciting fall!



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