Esmé’s First Birthday

One year ago today, at precisely 4:16 in the morning, our daughter Esmé Valentine was born.

I spent all of yesterday, and very, very late Monday going through, in my mind, what happened last year, then sharing it with my husband: ‘This time of the morning was when I was shoveling PB&J into my face before we left for the hospital!’ and ‘This was when we arrived at the hospital!’ or ‘This was when I started to want the epidural.

Emile also had some touching recollections: ‘We had to reschedule the delivery for my TV!’ Priorities man. It’s all about priorities.

I knew today was coming, and yes, I had mixed emotions, but I was not expecting it to hit me like a ton of bricks. So I thought I would be helpful and tell you what not to do on your baby’s first birthday so you don’t have to end up like I did. You’re welcome.

1. Do not sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to your baby in front of anyone but your spouse, particularly large gatherings of people at, let’s say, your Little Gym class. You will end up being that mom weeping uncontrollably, unable to see the people offering you sympathetic words of encouragement through blurred eyes.

2. Do not bring your spouse with you to a particularly large gathering of people at, let’s just say, your Little Gym class again. You will hear an awkward voice asking you ‘why are you crying??’ amid all the lovely mothers trying to help you out. You will also have a witness to your uncontrollable weeping that can recount this story for years to come.

3. Do not look at photos from the hospital when your baby was first born, or photos of the first few weeks of their life. You will come across something like this:IMG_1818Oh hello again uncomfortable heart squeezing. So nice of you to make me wish I had my newborn back again. Or there’s this:

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Ah yes. Remember those times when your baby fell asleep in your arms with her mouth open, and you could smell her sweet milk breath? No? Just me?? Also this:

IMG_0793Sweet, happy, dreaming angel. By the time you finish looking at all those photos, you will convince yourself that you need another baby. Don’t do it.

4. Do not go to Target with your now 1 year old baby. There will likely be at least one person to ask how old she is, and you will get all choked up again trying to tell them that today is actually her first birthday. There will also likely be a new mom with a brand new baby that is crying its little heart out. If you managed to hold it together when talking to the person before, good luck keeping it together now.

5. Lastly Do not spend the whole day thinking about how small and squishy your almost-toddler used to be.  Instead spend the day enjoying the person that they are today, because you won’t get another day where they are exactly 365 days old.

IMG_2747Happy Birthday Esmé love!!! We love you so much more than you’ll ever know. Thank you for giving Mommy and Daddy so much love, laughter, and light in our lives.

Esmé goes to Baltimore

A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to go on another ‘kind-of’ vacation, this time to Baltimore. While it was a stressful, whirlwind of a trip for my husband, who had to work, Esmé had herself a grand time. She managed to pack quite a lot of activity into just two short days, so let’s hear what she had to say about her jaunt to the waterfront in Baltimore:IMG_2739First of all thanks for taking the time to speak with us again. We all know how busy your schedule is these days, so we were delighted that you had some time to sit down with us again. Oh sure! So long as it doesn’t interfere with my breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack times, I don’t really mind.

Our readers are curious to know if your mommy and daddy just got lucky with your first flight going so smoothly. How was it going through the airport and being on a plane for the second time? Did you have a hard time because it delayed your bedtime by a few hours? You know, I said it last time and I’ll say it again. Going on those giant loud things with all the people is a blast! This time around I walked all around the airport and pterodactyled as many people as possible while waiting for our plane. It was a short plane ride, so I didn’t get to talk to as many people as I would have liked. I did love looking out the window this time around. I waved at all the take-off and landing crew, I licked the window, I watched the clouds, I looked at the lights, and licked the window again. I think that was my favorite part, licking the window.

So you’re saying that you didn’t even notice you were up way past your bedtime? Not on the plane, no. Once we were in the taxi and it was all dark and quiet, I think I started to get a little sleepy. But there were so many tall buildings with so many pretty lights that I stayed awake the whole time. I didn’t want to miss a thing!  Once we got to the hotel and it was time to go to sleep in the torture-chamber, I let my parents (and all guests staying on the 12th floor) have it, and threw a proper fit.

I’m sorry, I’m confused. Torture-chamber? Are you referring to your pack’n’play by chance? It is NOT a pack’n’play. There’s nothing playful about that thing, so I don’t know why they call it that. It is the torture-chamber.

Oh dear. So sorry to hear that. Yeah, well I just try to make my parents lives as miserable as I can by screaming bloody murder until I fall asleep in hopes that they won’t make me use it again. But so far, my strategy hasn’t been working.

Let’s talk about some of the funner aspects of your trip. We heard that you got to go to your first baseball game! What did you think of that? That was a lot of fun! I’ve never seen so many people in one place before. There was lots of noise, and clapping. I liked the clapping part. I clapped whenever I heard people clapping. Mommy told me that I was clapping for the wrong team, but I didn’t care. Clapping is the best, so I did it as much as I could.IMG_2737That sounds absolutely thrilling. Did you get to do anything else fun while you were there? Mommy took me to this huge building that had lots of different fishes. IMG_2646Oh I bet you loved that. It was OK. I really liked getting to see all the different fishes, like big ones, and little ones, and strange circle ones…but it wasn’t my favorite.IMG_2736

IMG_2649Really? All those beautiful, colorful fish swimming around and it wasn’t your favorite activity? Well I liked them, it just wasn’t my favorite.IMG_2738

What was your favorite then? Whole Foods, and the lobby of the Marriott Waterfront.

Um, I’m confused. Was there a playground at these places or something? Nope. They just happened to have the best acoustics for my pterodactyling skills. 

Aha! Now I understand. We have heard that you enjoy shrieking or pterodactyling, as you call it, a great deal. Do I ever! Let me tell you… I had such an amazing pterodactyl at Whole Foods I actually managed to scare a boy 4 years older than me, AND my Daddy heard me outside the store. I was doing such a spectacular job of pterodactyling in our hotel lobby, that I made all of Daddy’s coworkers question their inviting us to the baseball game in the first place! Hands down, the best part of my vacation.

It certainly sounds like you really made the most of your time there. Tell us, now that you have two plane trips under your belt, are you itching to go exploring again? You know, I do love airports and airplanes and new places, but I am happiest when I’m home with my kitty and my bed.

So no future plans for travel? There actually may be a little more travel in the near future…something to put me in an empire state of mind.

Well we can’t wait to hear all about it if you do!

 

**I just wanted to make a note: we were in Baltimore before all the riots and the protests began. It has been heartbreaking to watch the recent events unfold in such a wonderful city. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Baltimore.

Milestones and Memories: 11 Months

IMG_2534I am starting to experience serious anxiety as my daughter’s first birthday gets closer and closer. We will be celebrating her birthday a couple weeks late, so that we can celebrate when family is here, so technically I still have a little over 3 weeks to get it together, but I am freaking out. Our baby is going to be one at the end of this month! I just had heart palpitations saying that out loud.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much excited. Shopping for party decorations reaches whole new levels of excitement when it’s your own child. There were several raised eyebrows from Target employees as I kept saying ‘oOOOOOooo Esmé look at these!! Or these!!’ I got so excited I ended up not buying much because I just couldn’t make up my mind. I’m waiting until reinforcements arrive in the form of my sister. She can help me make up my mind.

Before I am in full birthday-prep mode craziness, I thought I would let you know what she’s been doing as we approach her first birthday:

IMG_2458-The term clingy has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Basically much of my day is spent shuffling around with a certain child wrapped around my legs.

-We were given an activity table by friends of ours and Esmé loves jammin’ out to all the different songs it plays. This has actually helped a little with the clinginess. It will give me about 10 minutes before she realizes I’m missing, then comes to find me again.

-She can sign for milk now! I have been doing the signs for ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘more’, ‘milk’, ‘water’, ‘change’, and ‘all done’ for a while now. I largely felt like an idiot because she would just stare back at me, so I was very excited when she started signing for milk.  It’s not 100% consistent, but she knows what that sign means and will crawl to you if you are sitting down and make that sign.

-She is always experimenting with different sounds that she can make and at different volumes. Her latest one is making little clacking noises, (my uncle would be so proud…he can make epic, echoing clacking noises). Every morning when Daddy goes to get her from her room, he will stand outside her door and go ‘Clock, Clock, Clock!’ and Esmé will go ‘clack, clack, clack!’ and then she shrieks with joy when she sees him come in. It’s pretty freaking cute.

IMG_2569-She has been taking a class at The Little Gym which we both love. I love that there are lots of moms with babies close to her age to talk to. She loves to watch all the other kids doing their thing, and crawl and explore everywhere. Her Kindermusik class was such a small space, and there were only a few other kids there who were much older than her, so I feel like this is a much better fit for us. She is one of the youngest in her class, so she still gets to watch and learn from the older babies.

-She still isn’t brave enough to stand or walk on her own. This is actually another thing that her activity table is helping with. She is so excited to be banging on all the different buttons, and making different sounds, that she stands on her own for a few seconds as she’s maneuvering her way around it, without even realizing it!

-In addition to saying mama and dada (not always to the right people or at the right time) she can now say hi and wave her hand. It’s super cute, but we have a little problem with timing. People will wave and say hello to her, and she will just stare at them until they walk past. Then she says ‘HI!’ and waves. So we’re working on that, but progress nonetheless!

-She has learned to pet kitty gently, though she still prefers pulling out her hair, and pulling/eating her tail much more. (The video also showcases her pterodactyling skills, along with her ability to make some of the best farting noises you’ve ever heard. You’re welcome.)

-She also tries her best to copy mommy and daddy. She will nod her head yes, she LOVES to clap her hands, and she has started sticking out her tongue saying ‘aaaaaah!’ when we do it.

IMG_2583She is just the best little munchky and we love her to pieces.

An Imperfectly Perfect Easter

When I was a child Easter was always such a special holiday. My brother, sister, and I were always in matching fancy outfits from The Wooden Soldier company. We would have an egg hunt for eggs that we had dyed, and then we all went to church. Easter baskets were always full of chocolate sweets, jelly beans, and toys.

This year, for our first Easter together as a family of three, we did none of that. I didn’t get her dressed up in one of her pretty dresses so that we could take a family picture. We didn’t take her to church. I did not make her an Easter basket, and we did not do an Easter egg hunt.

We didn’t take her to church because we haven’t found one we like yet, but more so because I am that neurotic, germaphobe parent who doesn’t want her in any kind of day care while she is a baby. Especially because she eats everything.

Not participating in an Easter egg hunt was done on purpose. She isn’t walking yet, and I don’t think she would be able to grasp the concept of finding eggs, and then putting them in a basket. She probably would have grabbed the first two eggs she saw, and sat down to gnaw on them while the other kids grabbed their eggs.

As I looked at my Instagram feed and Facebook, I was feeling like I dropped the ball. I felt that I should have made more of an effort to make her first Easter special. It wasn’t until my husband reflected on everything we did, and what a perfect day it was, that I realized he was right. It was probably unconventional, but we had the most amazing day…we built a garden!

We went early to the farmer’s market, and though there were some stalls that were closed, we were still able to find all the plants and herbs we needed. Then we headed off to Lowe’s to get our Mandevilla vines, and a new plant for our living room since we killed our other one (Oopsie!). While we were there I convinced the husband that we needed to buy a hydrangea to hide our air-conditioning/heating unit in our back yard.

IMG_2546Esmé likes it. Let’s hope it passes our year test so we can buy more :).

She also supervised the construction of our second garden box. We already have one set up from the past couple of years, but this year we decided to assemble our second one so we could plant lots more stuff.IMG_2508In addition to telling us to live long and prosper, she was super helpful, giving us lots of tips on the correct way to dig: ‘gaAAAAAAAAaaaagh!! AAaaaaah! Ba. Ba. BA!!’ Also she was sure to let us know that the box wasn’t quite level: ‘Doo dooo dooooooo dudg dudg ACK ACK ACK AAAAAAAAAaah!!!’ I really don’t know how we could have done it without her. IMG_2562

The final product! Our very confused little lemon tree closest to us; our newer box that has zucchini, red and green kale, basil, parsley, green onions, and rosemary; our older box that has cherry and grape tomatoes, and cucumbers; and my over-grown thyme plant at the back. The newer box is our experiment box. We haven’t grown zucchini or kale before, so we’ll see how it goes.

After all our manual labor we figured we had earned a proper meal. We grilled some super yummy Trader Joe’s meat, put together a mixed organic baby kale and spinach salad (courtesy of our garden!), french fries, and wine. It was divine.

As non-traditional, non-Easterish, or imperfect as our day was, we still had the best day ever. You don’t have to follow traditions all the time, or do what everyone else is doing. Celebrate holidays in your own way!

 

The Lunch Lady

When I was in school, I used to think that one of the worst jobs ever had to be being a lunch lady. The outfit alone seemed like some sort of punishment by forced non-self-expression. I mean, hairnets?? Then there was having to make and serve all that goopy food, and after everyone ate they had to clean it all up. Those poor tortured souls.

Then the other day I had a horrible revelation: I am a lunch lady. I am in a perpetual state of cooking food, serving/feeding it to my baby, cleaning baby, cleaning high chair and table, then cleaning dishes used to make baby food. Once that is done I clean bottles, make bottles, feed bottles, then they go back to the sink to get cleaned again. Every day the end of the day comes, and I ask myself how did I not get anything done? I have been cleaning all day but nothing is clean.

Nobody told me that you become an unpaid, overworked lunch lady when you decide to become a stay at home mom instead of going back to work. Really, all I am missing is the hairnet. Though, as a SAHM-lunch lady, I would suggest shower caps instead of hairnets. When real lunch ladies wear hair nets, they are trying to keep hair out of the food. When working as a SAHM-lunch lady it’s the opposite: you need to keep food out of your hair.

It can happen in one of two ways:

1) The baby dropping leftovers on top of your head while you are cleaning up what they have already dropped on the floor.

2) Improperly cleaned baby hands, face, or body parts that still have food on them are then rubbed in your hair.

Things I have found in my hair have included, but are not limited to: lasagna, cereal, corn, avocado, tofu, banana, blueberries, yogurt, tomato, baby puffs, baby crackers, and pizza.

Fellow friends who have babies about to start feeding themselves, lunch lady time is coming…

You too will ask yourself how long has this avocado been smeared in my hair? You will learn that is better to feed your baby in just her diaper and bib when she is eating berries, and Italian food. Your meals will become the pieces of unwanted food on baby trays, the floor, and sometimes baby herself, because you will not have any energy left to cook for yourself. You will see a face like this,

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and think that perhaps being a lunch lady isn’t the worst thing in the world.