Thursday, May 29, 2014

Took a Little Trip

This past weekend Dan and I traveled to San Francisco -- alone. Being the first time we've gone on a trip without our daughter (in her life time), I wasn't quite sure what to expect. And being that I'm not one to pack or prepare for trips any earlier than the last possible minute, I didn't get too emotional leading up to our departure.  Because, well, I wasn't thinking about it.

In my head were plans of the schedule I was going to type, the meals I was going to pre-prepare, the outfits I was going to lay out, and the post-it notes I was going to put all over the house (no sippy straws in the dishwasher, almond milk stains clothes please use bibs, bedtime checklist, stuff like that).

But when it came down to doing laundry and packing my own stuff, the time kind of got away from me and all the non-essentials got pushed aside for later... and never got done.

We left my mom with nothing but a few spoken reminders and a stash of diapers.

As we drove away from the house toward Sky Harbor Airport, I had major anxiety about all the things that would happen in our household whilst we were galavanting around union square and wine country.  Even though Penny would be with her grandparents and aunt, in her own house, all weekend, there were still so many things that could go wrong.

So many things in only my head that only a mother could know, that might be crucial to the success of the weekend without me.  Like how she's more likely to eat a better dinner if you let her dip something from her plate in something else on her plate.  Or how we don't say "Penny, do you want to do such-and-such?" if such-and-such isn't an optional activity. Or how in the morning she's happier out of bed if you let her be alone in her crib for a little while after she initially wakes up. Or how our dishwasher only cleans things thoroughly if you rinse them really well before loading it. Or how to tame the dogs when they get rowdy at 7am and 5pm.  Or how the thermostat sometimes resets itself... you get the idea.

Then I got to thinking about what it was like to be a kid spending a weekend away from mom and dad.  Stuff went crazy, routine went out the window. And it was awesome.  And I turned out ok.

So I let it all go, trusting that the logistics would sort themselves out accordingly, and our child would survive without us just fine.

At the airport on the way out, there was a little girl in an umbrella stroller about twenty passengers ahead of us in the security line. Every time we roped around and passed her family, I looked at her and thought of Penny and burst into puffy boogery tears. It was pretty humiliating, big pregnant lady crying uncontrollably in a slow-moving line with nowhere to escape to.

I think my face returned to its normal peach pigment by the time we reached our gate. I was so excited that we didn't miss our flight, and that there was a Tammie Coe cake stand literally next to where we sat waiting for our delayed plane, that I stopped thinking about abandoning our child and started getting excited about our trip.

And that was it for the waterworks.  We sighed, we made it.  Then Dan taught me how to play chess on the way there.

Throughout the weekend, we didn't really talk to each other about how we missed our daughter, although we both did I'm sure. We didn't check in with her various caretakers, assuming they'd reach out if they needed something.  Surprisingly, I didn't worry at all.  And when we got home, it was clear that she didn't miss us, not one bit.  And I was glad.

watch out SF, I might not be drinking but I'll be taking pickshures.
The weekend was too action packed for me to quite call it a babymoon, but we wouldn't have changed a thing. It was a weekend of laughs, red lipstick, and glorious weather. We were primarily there to celebrate our good friends' wedding, and also got to see Dan's brother and a few other local friends.   We ate amazing food and [Dan] drank [too much] amazing drinks and we stayed in the coolest hotel I've ever been to.   We didn't stop all weekend.

Us with the bride and groom before their gorgeous and classy wedding at SF City Hall.  
Side note: the robot arm doesn't really work for me, what do all y'all preggers do with your arms in formal photographs?

I liken visiting San Francisco to being in college again -- social opportunities happening everywhere, every hour of the day -- but surrounded by grownups with jobs and money.  "Cool people are up to cool things here," Dan said.  [I'll save my reflections on the polarity of the city's extreme success vs. extreme dysfunction for private conversations].  I imagine living there would be exhausting (and would certainly break our bank) but we enjoyed three nights and three days of being a part of the frisco whirl.  It helped that the wedding festivities included wine tasting, a trolley tour, and a fancy dinner and such a fun group of people; and that Dan's bro works at a super happening restaurant, which you should all try to get in to if you're ever in the city.


When I would tell people we were planning a trip without Penny, it was funny the responses I got.  Some people couldn't mask their shock that we would want to leave her behind "this young" (uh, she's almost two), while others preached about how important it is to leave your kids with other people overnight on a regular basis at a young age so they learn to be adaptable.  I'm in neither of those camps.  I think every kid and every family are different.   Certainly I won't make a habit of up and leaving the kid(s) all the time, but I sure am glad we went and got this last trip in, just the two of us, before baby number two comes.  Twenty-five weeks and counting!

Friday, May 16, 2014

In the Kitchen

It used to be that laundry was the only daunting home task that I felt a slave to, the never-quite-caught-up, never-ending cycle of always being behind.  Guess that was also when I was cycling through clothes more quickly due to wearing nicer things to work and not having so many days where I didn't get dressed at all [like today, I didn't leave the house, sooooo I didn't wear pants.  All day.]   It still never ends, but laundry now feels a little more controlled since I'm home all week to do it, and no longer suffering from all-day nausea like I was a few months ago.

No no.  Laundry's not the thing.  Other than the obvious lots-o-time-with-kid and less-time-in-the-car, my most notable change between working outside the home, and staying home, is the amount of time I spend in the kitchen.

The kitchen.  The room in the house I just recently became acquainted with.

Don't be fooled, I don't really cook. Even still, I feel like I'm ALWAYS in the kitchen.  Cutting something, washing something, putting something away.  All day long.   How does it get so full of dirty things soooo quickly sooooo many times a day?  It's sink always full, it's surfaces always covered.  It's appliances always begging for attention.

Some days, like today, I think I literally didn't leave the kitchen.  I prepared [note *prepared, not cooked] three simple meals for my family, and baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies in honor of National Chocolate Chip Day (it's a thing.)   This doesn't classify as Above & Beyond, this is just regular Mom stuff, right?  It's not like I cooked four courses from scratch for a dinner party, or roasted (baked?) a Thanksgiving turkey, which some people actually do in their houses.

Some of the reasons I feel so overwhelmed about being in the kitchen could be:

1) our kitchen layout stinks, we need more cabinet space to keep things and more counter space to do things.

2) our house has no "drop zone" like a mail area or purse area or diaper-bag area or shopping-bag area... you know all that stuff that you bring in from the car and put down on the first possible surface because your child immediately needs something or your pregnant self has to pee or it's about to fall out of your arms because you insisted on proving to yourself that you could carry it all in one trip... that stuff goes on our kitchen table or kitchen counter because there is seemingly nowhere else for it.  I hate this but I see no other solution due to the layout of our house.  Meh.

3) our kitchen is disorganized, we need to spend a good amount of time going through and finding logical homes for gadgets and devices... preferably places that I can reach... and getting rid of things we don't use.  What else is new.  Welcome to every room of our house.

4) I am grumpy and pregnant.

5) I am not an efficient meal-prepper.  My knife skills and my decision-making skills are slow.

6) My mother's kitchen is huge and organized with tons of counter space and ginormous refrigerator and freezer that fit everything a family could ever need to keep cold in their house.  I grew up with a mother who cooked a lot and cooked well, and had the perfect environment to do it in.  Spoiled, now not knowing how to function in such a tight space, which I might add is getting tighter the bigger my belly gets.  I literally almost burnt my stomach opening the oven door today.

No but how good does that cookie dough look...

I digress.

In my head I planned on this being a post all about how much I love my role as a stay-at-home-mom (which I do) and how spiritual and symbolic it is for me to prepare meals for my family (which it is) and how much I cherish that responsibility (which I do).   The words just kind of came out differently.

I'm sure there's a camp of baby boomers out there scoffing about how this generation never had to learn how to cook like we did. 

Do other moms feel like they spend too much time in the kitchen?  Or is this just me being thirty, with a toddler, and not eating out for pretty much every meal like I did in my twenties?

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Motherhood Again

photo by Jane Zarzynski when Penelope Jane was four months old.
Yesterday I attended a Mother's Day Tea and pseudo-reunion for our old Mommy/Breastfeeding Group.   I attended this group (at the hospital) with Penny almost every Friday for the first year of her life.  Picture a room full of about 35 mothers with newborns and infants mostly under seven months old, nursing and talking and getting support.  Most ladies sit on the floor surrounding a giant play mat, and their babies lay peacefully on blankets in front of them, or sit in their laps (or nurse).   It's a beautiful scene.  Of course the babies grow out of this group when they hit a certain age and are too mobile and too busy.  It becomes unrealistic to bring them, so they "graduate" when they turn one.

It was surreal for me to show up at this group with my "big girl" and our tupperware full of orange slices, and see all those moms with teeny tiny babies.  Even though I've been photographing quite a few newborns lately, when I'm by myself and in photography mode, I don't really think about things the same way as when I was holding hands with my toddler trying to prevent her from literally stepping on babies all over the floor.  

Penny seemed so big.

I felt like I was in The Christmas Carol, holding hands with someone magical while attending scenes from my own past [but not as grumpy].  I didn't really know any of these moms (my "crew" didn't make it to the event), but the scene was the same.  This room, the saint-of-a-lactation-consultant, these moms, these babies... it hit me hard that Penelope used to be one of those babies.  I used to be one of those moms, lovingly obsessing over every detail of my infant's life -- weighing her every week -- charting every sleep, diaper, feeding -- marveling at every coo or smile.  Crying among friends about lack of sleep or clogged ducts or worse.  

"Look at all the sweet little babies, Penny."

"Sweet babies, mama.  Right there, sleepy."

As I was intercepting Penny's fingers from helping herself to a handful of coffee cake from the buffet table, I felt the baby girl in my tummy move around, as she has been doing more and more this past week.  Reminding me: Oh yeah, I've got another baby in here.

I looked around the room at all the infants, an aha moment, and quickly felt a sense of unsure.

In a few months, I will be right back where I was -- not a brand new mom, but a new mom to this baby.  Because this baby is going to be different from Penny.  She might not nurse, or sleep, or act the same.  She might be huge.  Or teenier.  Or fussy.  Or colicky.  Or all kinds of unpredictable things.  

I felt overwhelmed at the idea that all my mostly-successful mothering of big sister might truly be of no help to me with this one.  I will be starting over, and she, already, is her own person.   I, already, have two... separate... children.

This Mother's Day that's what I'll be thinking about and praying about: my two daughters and how to mother them separately as they need, but love them the same.  That I can remember how to mother a newborn in the midst of covering new ground with my toddler every day.

Two children.

I'll be praying for some courage and strength and wisdom to compile during these last few months of pregnancy, to prepare me from when new baby girl comes to meet us.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Your Daily Vote

Top Baby Blogs has just done their quarterly (I think?) reset, which means we are back to zero, zip, nada, double donuts.  

If you find yourself "liking" my posts on Facebook, or venturing over here to this little blog often, you can show your love every day with a vote for Becoming Julie Griffin on TBB ... but especially today!  It's just two clicks and I so appreciate the support!  

You'll see this rectangular link: 
Vote Daily and Help Our Rank at Top Baby Blogs!
conveniently located at the bottom of most of my posts, 
or you can always use the button up there on the right if you are using a web browser.

Being ranked [somewhat] highly in the Top Baby Blogs directory means I get to tell my story to more people all over the place, and who knows what could come of it!


photo: our good friend Brett from Siegel Thurston Photography

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Penny Jane: 21 Months Old

And exactly 25 pounds (with shoes), per the big-girl scale at the doctor's office.  We just visited the pediatrician for a gnarly red itchy diaper- and leg-rash that turned out to be... shocker... just dry skin.  Bring on the jojoba and lavender.  Anyway, it was cool to get an unexpected weight check.  She's wearing size 4 diapers and size 6 shoes (and growing fast).  Size 24-month onesie pajamas are baggy in the middle but the feet are too tight for her big toes.

Her hair is long enough now that I have to move it before clasping a bib.  By "hair" I mean the mullet tail that graces the back of her neck.  Sometimes I split it and pull it to the front to make it look like she has sweet curls on the sides... but don't be deceived, it's actually a mullet.  And it does not like to be combed. Or washed.

She's got an obsession with babies and baby dolls.  For a while she had one doll she was calling "Baybo" but now they are all just "babies" and "baby dolls."  She tends to them very sweet and nurturely like, until she's done and throws them on the floor.

Penny likes for things to be in their rightful place, like phones in the hand of their rightful owner and bottoms to be in their rightful seats. And for doors and gates and drawers to be shut all the way after they are done being used.  She loves to walk in public instead of being carried, eager to hold our hands. I love this.  She says "Ready set go go go go! STOP."  And repeat as we scurry and halt with her.

Earmarks of this stage:
-Putting her stool on top of the table for stadium seating in the family room.
-Using step stools to get where she wants.
-Snorting like a pig.
-Eating ketchup with her fingers.
-Telling people they are funny and then doing a fake laugh.
-Insisting on washing my pregnant belly for me in the shower.
-Saying please ("peees") to ensure she'll get what she wants.
-Doing all the motions of itsy bitsy spider three seconds ahead of the lyrics.
-Bossing the dogs around, unsuccessfully.
-Going up and down stairs, unassisted, without holding on to any rails (this still makes me nervous).

She's had her first ice cream cone (that was all her own) and first Oreo cookies.  She eats well with utensils, ahem when she wants to, although she regularly chooses to make a mess.  She also likes to clean up things that are "messy messy" which has almost doubled our baby wipe consumption.

She likes to put things "back" or "away" or in the trash if that's where they go.  She asks for "help" instead of getting frustrated (most of the time), and comes to me with an "owie" for a kiss to make it all better instead of melting down (unless she's really hurt).   Some other fun phrases you might here from her right now are "Ready. Set. Go!" "Oh hey." "Oh boy!"  "Oh man!" "Oh Mommy!"  "It's OK".    I am trying to teach "No, thank you" and "yes, Mommy" or "yes, Daddy" but it's usually just "no no."   Sometimes she talks in her sleep.  She knows all of her colors.  I feel like her vocabulary grows exponentially every day.    The other day she was reading an alphabet book in her room while I was organizing her shoes, and she exclaimed "Mommy! Q! Queen!" pointing at the queen on the Q page.  It stopped me in my tracks, I didn't know she had been paying that much attention.   My mom's grandma name has been changed from "Mimi" to "Meemo" (like Finding Meemo), out of nowhere.

Penny gravitates towards purple and blue crayons when given the option.  Other than crayons, she gravitates toward anything pink.  I cringe at the thought of her asking for a Barbie some day but I know it's coming.  At least she also loves her "bike" (which is also pink).

Separation anxiety has been tough with babysitters these last couple of months.  She spends so much time being "babysat" by her grandparents and aunt, that when we have actual other babysitters, it's rough.  I don't lose too much sleep over this because we don't hire babysitters often, but I do hope it's just a phase.

She's not nursing any more, weened her at the beginning of April.  I miss our morning nursing snuggles, but most mornings now it has been replaced with cuddles on the couch watching Sesame Street and drinking almond milk -- I'll take it.   Since then, she has only tried once and it was no big deal that she couldn't.   In this instance, I told her that the milk was all gone, we were saving it for the new baby, and she didn't pursue it further.  I patted myself on the back for nursing 20 months and through a first trimester of pregnancy number two. 

Speaking of the pregnancy, did I announce on the blog that we are having another girl???!?!?!?  Along those lines, we are teaching Penny that her "baby sister" is in Mommy's tummy.   Some days she gets it right, but other days she says jokingly, "No, baby boy." and think she's pretty funny.  It baffles me that she understands that babies are either boys or girls, and that she gets the irony of saying it's a boy when we tell her it's a girl.

We are working on her new big girl room.  We are super stoked to work with our super cool neighbor with super style and super skills on some design stuff for the new room.  More on that in months to come.  For now, it's painted and my mom is making a quilt for her bedspread.  Penny probably won't move in to the big girl room until baby #2 moves into the nursery several months after she's born.  But it's fun to plan now.

I am thrilled at the thought of Penny and a SISTER.  I'm super giddy about being able to re-use the whole baby girl wardrobe.  I'm thrilled at the thought of Dan being Daddy to TWO little girls (he's already mentally preparing himself for having two pre-teens in a decade.).  More than any of that, sisters have such a special relationship, I am elated that my girls will be so close in age.

That's all for my ramblings for now.  I'm getting less diligent about logging Penny's milestones in baby book fashion.  They told me this would happen when there were two kids in the mix.  I hope you all don't mind that I use the blog to capture these things, because even though I've skipped a few months, I sure do love to go back and read the blog entries from her various ages.

Here are a few photos from Penny's first Easter egg hunt.  She totally got it.  Also, I started the tradition of putting a new swimsuit in her Easter basket every year, just like my mom did with me and my sister :)

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