Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fun New Games

Hi. My name is Drake and I'm really good at coming up with great new games to play with Mommy! This is an example of the Toilet Paper Forts I like to build for her:

I'm also a big fan of Find A New Home. That's where I take important objects and find a new place for them to live. Mom's car keys belong in the vent hole in the floor. My binkie belongs in the flower pot. Mom still can't find my awesome new home for the Orajel.

Another good game is called Giggle and Crawl. This is wear I put my  head down and crawl away as fast as my chubby legs will carry me any time I hear Mom calling my name or coming after me. I like to laugh like a crazy baby when I play this game. It makes me cuter.

My most recent game I discovered tonight during my bath time. I call it: Pretend It's a Rope. I mean, I know I can't actually grab onto running water. Let me show you how you play:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Good news!

My son must have heard my cry.

I put him in his bed this morning at 6 am after the usual night of 'up every two,' determined to get another hour or two of sleep. I later found myself waking up lazily - dreamily, even - to sunshine peaking through the curtains and.... silence. No screaming boy.
And then I heard it. The sounds of play. Drake was talking to himself and playing in his bed. I have no idea how long he had been awake but, miraculously, he didn't need me this morning. I checked the time. 10:04 TEN O'CLOCK PEOPLE!! That means I got four hours of continuous sleep this morning! It's not the 'sleep through the night' rest I've been dreaming of, but I'll take it!
Who wants to do a happy dance with me?
This morning, this momma is feeling like she will survive.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Someone help me

I need sleep. Badly.
I need my son to sleep. Desperately.

I've really hit a wall the last few days and it's feeling insurmountable at the moment. Mother{parent}hood is one part ecstasy, one part exhaustion. I know this. I get it. But I can't keep functioning like this. I haven't slept for more than two hours at a time (max 3 or 4 on a couple of very rare occasions) in well over a year now. A year! It has to stop.
Before you offer your generous words of wisdom, let me fill you in on the situation:
I chose to co-sleep with my son. He's been in my bed since the day he was born. Initially, I believe, this really saved me  in the exhaustion department. Every time he cried, he was right there to be nursed and lulled back to sleep. Drake and I became such side-nursing pros that I was often able to fall back asleep as soon as he was latched. But then he got bigger. And he started moving around more (read: kicking me in the face). And then his sleep schedule went wonky. Now, not only was he waking up to nurse every couple of hours but he was full on waking up. Wanting to move around and play and explore. That was a couple months ago. It took about two weeks of that for Justin and I to decide it was time to start putting him to sleep in his own bed. We had been introducing him to his bed for months already, as he napped there twice a day, so it wasn't very hard to get him to go to sleep there at night time, too. He cried at first, often for just a couple minutes but sometimes for as much as fifteen minutes - of which I hated every second - but then he got used to it. Now he goes down without a whimper. Binkie. Lovey. Blankie. Done.
But he does not stay asleep. My son still wakes up every hour and a half to two hours. Every night. Without fail. I had really hoped that once he was away from me - away from the smell of me - he wouldn't want to nurse as often. I did not get so lucky.
Do you remember when I told you that Drake has a thing called Anal Stenosis? It means his little bottom is too small. We had to cut out solid foods entirely for a while in order to keep his stools soft enough to pass. We've been able to reintroduce some now, but we have to be very careful about how much and what kinds. He still relies almost solely on breast milk. Which means he still gets hungry every couple of hours. I try to feed him his one solid food meal later in the evening so his tummy will be full at night, but it hasn't made a difference.
I really don't know what to do.
I woke up the other morning thinking, "Something has to change. Tonight I'm just going to let him cry it out every other time." Somehow, in that moment right after a hard night, that seemed like the obvious answer. During the day, he often naps for two to three hours. So he's not going to starve to death in three hours. So I will just force him to go that long between getting up to feed him/bring him back to bed with me. I've now tried that twice and CAN NOT do it. His cries are so devastated after a couple minutes of my ignoring him that it literally pains me not to go to him. And I feel for him! It's like he can understand when I lay him down in his bed that, ok, Mommy wants me to go to sleep. But then once he has been asleep, no matter what the length of time, now it's time for Mommy to come get me. I can hear the, "Why don't you come get me??!!" in his wails and it kills me.
So now what? Is this a case of, "Buck up, girl. That's what Mommy hood means."? Or is there something more I can do? Because, really and truly, I'm dying over here.
*Please know that I am genuinely interested in any help or advice that anyone has to offer. What I am not interested in is any judgement or criticism of choices my family has already made. If that is what you are tempted to write when you read about my family's choice to co-sleep -or anything else - please, please refrain. I'm only going to delete it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Drake's First Halloween

 It was pretty low key, but nonetheless adorable! I mean, just look at him. Cutest baby with a mustache, ever. I held him on my hip as we handed out candy to sparkling princesses and foam-muscled super heroes. He was a pretty big hit with the accompanying parents, which of course makes this momma beam. "Thank you, thank you! Yeah, he's pretty cute. I guess I'll keep him..." (Smiles proudly and tickles Drake.)

 When Justin got home from class, we decided to take Drake out to dinner so we could show him off to a few more people. That poor waitress. She heard all about how cool our kid is. :)

This Halloween season did mean one fun first - for me! I carved my first pumpkins! Way, WAY too soon - as they were mostly rotten by Wedneday night, but I had fun doing it and look forward to lots and lots of creatively carved pumpkins next year.

Oh! And there was this cute moment when Drake had his first piece of candy ever (peanut butter cups - Mom's favorite). Don't mind Justin and my commentary in the background - I'm telling you, parenthood really puts your personal brand of weird in the spotlight.

I'm linking up with Momma Loves Papa for the first time in a good long while for her Small Style series. I thought Drake's stylish Halloween costume deserved a nod. ;)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Drake, in this moment

This video isn't particularly funny. There is no "first" caught on tape. It is just so quintessentially Drake, age 10 months and 3 weeks. I pull everything out of Mommy's drawers, experiment with new sounds as I try to talk, crawl around, pull myself up on everything, be super freaking cute. (Note: not pictured here: the fits he has begun to throw. Dear Jesus, help me. Must figure out a way to curb that fun new habit.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Drake's Birth Story, Part 1: The Beginning

(More than ten months later... what I've been promising...)

 I’ll never forget the sunrise on the morning you were born. Truthfully, I haven’t seen that many sunrises, relatively speaking, because I’ve just never been a morning person. But that particular morning, I was up hours before the sun. It’s funny; I had been really worried that I wouldn’t know when I was in labor. I had heard stories of women going to the hospital as many as five times, thinking they were in labor, before they ever got to walk out with their baby in their arms. We had to drive an hour and a half to the birth center we were planning on using - in December, in Montana – so, needless to say, that seemed like a less than ideal scenario. I had asked my wonderful midwife to give me more clues. What should I look for? How will I know? She told me we would just have to stay in communication and take it as it came. And, this I very specifically remember, she told me, “Don’t expect it to be like in the movies when the wife pops up out of bed in the middle of the night and says, “Honey, it’s time!”” That’s why, when I went to bed on the evening of December 6th, 2011 – after I had finally finished putting together my overnight bag and cleaning the house -  and said to your Dad, “Maybe I’ll just have this baby tonight,” I thought I was kidding. Up to that point, I hadn’t had so much as a single Braxton Hicks contraction.  Turns out, my teasing remark had been right, and my midwife’s very reasonable and wise warning had not.
I sat up in bed at 4 am with what felt like the usual aches and pains of my third trimester. I hadn’t slept through a night in nearly two months because of heartburn and lower back pain. I’d get up, stretch, maybe eat a piece of cheese and a cracker or two, pee, and go back to bed. But on that morning, when I sat up to stretch my sore back, I suddenly felt the sheets beneath me dampen. I shook your Dad. “Honey! I think my water just broke!” Yep. Exactly like a movie. But your Dad’s response… not so much… “Shouldn’t you get off the bed?” You’d think maybe I would have been offended, but the first thought I had was, “It is a $3,500 Tempurpedic,” and hopped off. Bad choice. I was soaked. I quickly sat back down and tried to snap your Dad to attention. “Honey! How about a towel?” And with that, we were both officially aware of what had just begun: your birthday.
We got on the phone to our midwife, who recommended trying to get some more sleep. She said that, since I hadn’t had a single contraction yet, she wasn’t worried about me progressing too quickly, and that I would need my rest for the day. She assured me that my body would wake me back up when it was ready.
After speaking to her, we debated about calling family and friends. There were so many people who were anxious to be there the moment you arrived; I didn’t want them to feel that I had kept them in the dark. But it was only about 4:30 in the morning still, so we opted for a text message to let them all know what was happening without jarring them awake.
Once that was done, we just kind of stared at each other for a few moments. I was sitting on the toilet (I know, really cute image, but my water had just broken!) and your Dad was leaning against the wall with his phone in his hand. We both had this look in our eyes … how to describe without being rude…  I’m just gonna say it: an excited, Holy Shit! kinda look. I think it was your Dad who finally said we ought to try to go to bed. So we laid down a few towels and crawled in.
I really did try to relax and go back to sleep but my contractions were just beginning and the excitement and adrenaline that was coursing through me was overwhelming. I laid there for about 45 minutes before I gave up and got into the shower. By then, texts and phone calls were rolling in and your Nana was up and on her way to me (stopping only to pick up some champagne – the Alton family will take any excuse to celebrate!).
Daddy packed up extra towels and blankets and I trudged out into the snow to snap some pictures of that gorgeous sunrise before we loaded into the car and began our last car trip pre-parenthood. There couldn’t have been a more beautiful or exciting way to start your birthday.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

People Who Love You: Nana Amy

I'm so excited to publish the first post in what I hope becomes a long and meaningful series: People Who Love You.
The idea came to me months ago as my husband and I faced the reality of moving away from my hometown and the place we had met and fallen in love. At the same time, some of my best friends made their own plans to explore new roads in their lives, and quickly I watched my tight web of support begin to stretch much further than I was comfortable with.
But here's the thing: life changes. And it's a good thing. The path that my family is on is the right one for us. And the paths that my friends are on are good for them, too. But that doesn't make it sting any less.
So, in the spirit of all that change - and the attempt at accepting it - I wanted to write a series of posts about the people who are in our lives, right now today. The people who have surrounded us and loved us during the best - and worst - times of our lives so far. But, most importantly, I wanted to write about the people who love you, my son. I want you to know all about the people who have been there for you from the start, from my mouth and theirs.

This post feels like the most natural place to start: my mother and your beautiful Nana Amy.
Growing up, I knew that my Mom was special. The older I got, the more clear that became. When I was a nanny at 18, I got in a fight with the mom of the family I was living with because she was failing to live up to the idea I had in my head of what a mom should be. I even have a word for it: SuperMom. That's your Nana. She's the absolute authority on Love and Nurture. She has been my rock throughout my life, and I lean on her and rely on her wisdom now more then ever. Because when it comes to being a mom, I want to be just like her.


Hello my sweet boy Drake,

It’s your Nana - your Momma’s Momma.

There’s so much to say to you! 

I was there the day you were born, for every labored moment of it.  Your Momma did SO well. Leading up to that day, your Momma worked very hard to be sure you grew big, strong, and healthy. And that you did! She was horribly sick with you but she soldiered on and did great!  Your Daddy was a huge support – being sure she ate when she could and slept when she could and comforted and encouraged her during the times she thought she couldn’t take anymore. Then on your birthday, he stayed right by her side doing all that he could to help you be born.  And Nana was right there too. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! 

We were so excited to have a boy again in the family.  All your cousins thus far are girls so you are a welcomed addition into the mix.  I think your cousins will spoil you. Before long though you will be bigger than your youngest cousin, Ashton.  She is petite and you are not!  We call you Michelin Man because of all your rolls which remind me of your Uncle Trevor.  He was like that too but I think you may have him beat at this point!  But I love every single roll on you. I cannot get enough kisses planted on you somewhere.  I hope you will not mind that much as you get bigger.  Your Nana loves to hug and kiss her babies!!

You are now 9 months old and watching you grow and thrive has been so much fun. At times you remind me of your uncle Trevor, then your momma and other times, you are the spitting image of your daddy. You always smile. If and when you ever do cry, it’s such a surprise to us. You tolerate your cousins, the dogs licking your face, hands, and feet, everyone kissing on you, tickling you. You just go with the flow pretty much of whatever is happening around you.  Recently you and your parents moved into a new home. During that stressful time, you were a bit perturbed by all the constant activity and jostling about but still, such a sweet boy.

You love your baths which makes Nana so happy as that hopefully means that you are carrying on the tradition of being part fish.  I grew up a swimmer and so your momma, auntie Becca and Uncle Trevor learned to swim very early on and to this day, all love the water. Someday, you and Nana will have a little swim race ok?

The best part of being your Nana is and always will be watching you grow and change ~ to see the changes from infant to toddler; the boy into the young man; and then hopefully, watch you grow to adulthood and into the man I see in your sweet baby face. Your expressions are priceless as you take in and work over all that your world gives you. I know you are bound for great and wondrous things by all the thinking I know is going on in that noggin of yours and I can’t wait to be a part of them!

You are now a member of a growing, crazy, loud, happy, protective, conversant, very loving family. We don’t always agree but we love each other fiercely. We laugh and cry often. We love to play and explore far and wide. We enjoy music, theatre, reading, writing, arts, the outdoors and so much more. You no doubt will do the same. You will find your spot somewhere in the midst of all of that. It will be a blast and quite a ride of that you can be sure.

Know that to the best of my ability, I will be here for you anytime you need me. I will be one of your biggest fans. I will be the giver of endless kisses. The listening ear when you need someone other than mom and dad. The proud displayer of art work.  The keeper of gum and mints. And lip gloss -though you won’t be interested in that. ;)

I love you beyond words and time.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Summer 2012 Recap, Part 1: Drake

 Labor Day weekend is long gone. Students have been back to school for weeks now (my husband included!). The evenings are starting to cool off and people are excited to bust out their jeans and sweaters. All of the social and cultural factors have been lining up for a while.  And now, it’s official. The Fall Equinox is here. Summer is over.
So I thought it was a good moment to pause, take a breath, and get back to this here blog of mine.
Drake, I want you to know that I didn’t stop writing in your online baby book because there was nothing exciting going on to tell you about or because your development became any less thrilling to me – quite the opposite, my son! We have been so busy living such a full life. And you! You have grown so much and so fast and so profoundly! You are moving and learning and vocalizing.
You have been getting around pretty well all summer – you perfected a military crawl several months ago. It was so effective, I wasn’t sure you would ever care to learn how to actually crawl on your knees. But about a week ago, you got it. And now, you are literally unstoppable. You are getting anywhere and everywhere – fast! You even started climbing the stairs – cute, but terrifying. Sure enough, you rolled down a few steps two days ago. It’s high time for some baby gates. You and I have errands to run later today…

 You are also sitting up incredibly well. This may not seem as impressive as the crawling, but it baffles me possibly more than the crawling does. You just look so big when you sit up so tall and sturdy like that. And it wasn’t even a process! You just DID it. One day, about a month ago, you just tucked your knees under you, pushed yourself up, and then turned and looked at me like, "What? No big deal." Now you crawl where you want to go, slide your legs under you, and sit and play with your desired object – you know, like electrical cords and box fans and dog bowls. Very appropriate toys.
In the world of “firsts,” there has been a lot going on. You said your first word about six weeks ago and haven’t stopped saying it since. What was it, you ask? Well, in a move that melted your momma’s heart yet again, you said “Momma” before any other word. It is so good to be loved by you, Little Man.
You went on your first airplane ride and went swimming for the first time when we visited the Tennessee clan this past July. You did great on the plane – it wasn’t the fun and restful trip that Mom has been used to in her life with the addition of you on my lap – but every stewardess commented on how good you were. On each leg of our trip, there was a baby that screamed and cried and kept everyone awake but it was never you. We were proud parents, for sure. 

 I was equally as proud and excited to see how much you loved the water when we went swimming in Nana and Pampa’s neighborhood pool. There was no fear whatsoever, even when I tried the blow-in-your-face-and-dunk trick. Your eyes got big, but you did great. Held your breath and decided to smile despite the shock. Between that and your very vigorous and strong kicking in the bathtub, I just know you’re going to be a great swimmer. It’s in your genes. 

 On a much less happy note, you were diagnosed with a little “condition” this summer. At the end of an extremely heart wrenching process, we found out you had something called Anal Stenosis. It basically means that your little bottom was too small. After eleven days without being able to go to the bathroom and a trip to the emergency room in Chattanooga that involved an enema and the most heart breaking hour and a half yet, it was our wonderful pediatrician here at home that finally told us what was going on. Mom had been feeling extremely guilty because the nurse practitioner in Tennessee had told us it was constipation from the foods I’d been feeding you that caused the cramping and screaming and pain that I had seen you go through for days. I was devastated that the bananas and rice cereal I had been so pleased to give you had caused you so much pain. Turns out, it wasn’t your diet at all. It was your hardware. That being said, Dr. Reynolds recommended that we go back to a strictly breast milk diet – well, breast milk and prune juice - to keep your stools as soft as possible while the situation sorted itself out. Yes, that was the good news! It was something you would grow out of simply through the process of… well… pooping. It would gradually stretch out, though it would be a slower than normal and slightly uncomfortable process. We had to learn to use at home enemas and mom had to chug gallons and gallons of water to keep her milk supply up to snuff (your appetite had grown used to the bulk of solid foods and it wasn’t easy to deprive you of it). But, I am happy to announce, you are doing MUCH better. Over the past couple of weeks, you have been pooping easily and frequently. I have even been able to reintroduce a few purees over the past week! I mixed in a little prune juice, just to be on the safe side, and – so far! – all is going well. I hope it is something that is behind us now.

 It’s hard to condense the past several months of change into one blog post (if only I had been keeping up with it, right?) but I want you to know it’s been a great summer. It’s been a pleasure to watch you grow and explore and just to BE your mom. I saw a commercial for laundry soap, of all things, today that said “you will have a child forever, but a baby for only one year.” What?! You won’t be my baby after one year?! But that is almost over! Agh. I can hardly stand the thought of how soon we will be celebrating your first birthday (though I am so proud to see you grow). I hereby vow to savor every day of your baby hood from today until it’s over, and then to celebrate the next phase with you too.

(And I hope to write a little more about it along the way.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Like I've already won

I know I haven't blogged in, well - forever - and I should really be telling you about my son's incredible development (he is seconds away from crawling! video to come) or maybe about the awesome progress that is being made on our first home. But, instead, the thing that has motivated to write my first post in weeks is a prize giveaway.
I know, I know. Silly of me.
But it's a freaking Ergobaby Bundle of Joy carrier! And I have wanted one so badly since I saw my beautiful friend Katie carrying her gorgeous little girl Scarlett in one. They are great for people with bad backs (me) and can be used all the way until your child is a toddler (or your infant is huge, like mine). I have a very pathetic excuse for a carrier (a department store knock off of an Ergobaby) that kills my shoulders and back so you can understand why I was so excited to see that Mandy at She Breathes Deeply was hosting a prize giveaway. 
I'm so excited right now, you'd think I'd already won. Somehow, it just feels like it's meant for me.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


It's a funny thing. For me, it's more of a sense than a thing. I have lived in some places for months without them ever quite feeling like home. Other spaces have felt like home before I moved in the first box. And it's not just about shelter. It's about location, too. But mostly it's about people. My  husband and son make any house home on some level. And yet the house we're in now is one of those that has never quite felt right. It's not ours; it doesn't suit our needs; it isn't what we would pick for ourselves. But that is all about to change.
We bought a house last Friday. But we didn't buy just any house. We bought our house.
Our home.
 It felt like home the first time I saw it (almost three months ago now). It was full of outdated Grandma-y decor and really, really bad carpet, but I loved it. We put an offer in almost immediately but, sadly, got out-bid. I was beyond heartbroken but, mostly for my husband's sake, tried to keep my chin up. "There will be other good ones," I told myself.
The next time we went house hunting, I tried hard to keep my ex-realtor Dad's tough-love advice in mind: "You can't have that house. It's gone. Forget about it." But I couldn't. I compared everything to it and was completely underwhelmed by my new options. Justin felt the same but chose to let his practical mind take over. My emotions were, as usual, overshadowing my otherwise logical self.
After a few weeks of that, it was a relief to us both when our realtor called to ask if we wanted to put another offer on the first house, as the other buyers' offer had fallen through. Yes! Yes! Yes! A big, emphatic no-hesitations, "Yes!"
In the nearly six weeks since then, a lot has factored into our level of excitement over the new house: financial worries, leaving my home town, the stress of packing. But through it all, I've never doubted for a moment that this is the house for us. What I did doubt was that the proverbial "they" of the world was actually going to give it to us. The seller was going to back out; the appraiser was going to tank the deal; the bank was going to decide "Just kidding! We don't like your credit score after all."
But none of that happened.
On Friday afternoon, the title company receptionist very unceremoniously handed us a manila folder full of plastic baggies full of keys labeled, "garage and greenhouse," "back door," "front door," and "oddball." We drove out of the parking lot like we were afraid they were going to realize their mistake and take them back.
As we drove into Three Forks, I took in everything around us. The old abandoned train station; the tiny coffee shack for sale; the Chinese restaurant with big red letters.  I turned to Justin and said, "Hey, we live here now."
"Yeah, that's what I was just thinking. Weird."
At the house, Justin swept me up and carried me across the threshold and we giggled and kissed and freaked out and generally relished in it for a minute.
Then we got straight to destroying it.
We tore up carpet in some corner of each bedroom and were ecstatic to find old hardwood floors under most of them. They are going to take some hard lovin to get back to pretty but they are there! I accidentally broke the cat door in the front porch. The second you become homeowners, right? Oh well, we don't have a cat.
We ran around doing funny things like tasting the water from the tap - good! - and testing the garage door openers.
I still can hardly believe it.
It belongs to us.
Tomorrow we start the messy job of tearing it apart a bit. A couple of walls are coming out. The - hardwood! - floors are getting refinished. We have so many plans. Because we can. Because it's our first home.
Drake will crawl there for the first time. He will say his first words. He'll take his first steps.
Next week, the three of us are moving home.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Celebrating Parenthood: Mother's Day/Father's Day Numero Uno

What's not to celebrate when this is your kid? I mean, really?

I could not have asked for a more perfect day for my first Mother's Day. Firstly, every day is a gift with this handsome little man. Secondly, I was lucky enough to celebrate with the whole fam damily, which is a freaking miracle these days. My brother and soon to be sister-in-law just happened to be in town (they live outside of Portland these days) for their good friends' wedding. My brother-in-law was also home - another rare bird - from the oil fields so we were all together for the first time since Christmas.
We all gathered at the Main Momma's house, had delicious food (smoked salmon with capers and cream cheese on a cheddar bagel anyone? mmmmm), drank some mimosas, soaked up the spring rays, and generally just enjoyed the hell out of each other's company. The kiddos played on the grass, Drake had his first taste of pineapple: all good.

Sadly, I couldn't make as big a to do for Father's Day seeing as my hard working hubby has all of about three waking hours with us on Sunday's (and Saturday's for that matter). However, I did wake him up with coffee ready and surprised him with some fun loot. I got him an antique coffee grinder that we can refinish/remount - an intended "first home project" for our new house (yes, we're buying a house! more on this later), a vintage poster of his home town, Franklin, TN as an attempt at a "thank you" for all the things I know he misses and has given up to make a home with us here. Then, of course, I got him some beer and a new pint glass. This is essential.
My Dad joined us for our short, but sweet, Father's Day. (I had actually been lucky enough to spend the earlier part of the day with him - No Sweat breakfast and a down town stroll - but asked him to come over rather than cut the day short). I made banana pancakes like the ones I had seen on (I'm obsessed! She's amazing!) but threw in some little airplanes to celebrate Justin's new undertaking to become a pilot. Hearts and airplanes: those go together, right? We had bacon, white trash mimosas - and even some home made coconut syrup that Dad whipped up! - and brunch was to die for.
Then  Justin was back to business - getting himself ready for work. But for a brief couple of hours, it was so nice to dote on him. I try to make sure he knows every day just how much I appreciate him - how much I see that he does for us all the time - but it was nice to have a day to say, "Hey, you rock at this fatherhood thing and I love the hell out of you for it."