Tuesday, July 28, 2015

this time last year

I've found myself thinking a lot lately about what life was like a year ago at this time. 

To be honest, it sucked.

I don't know if there are adequate words in the English language to describe the particular feeling of hope and overwhelming fear that surrounds someone who is days away from their maybe-baby's due date. I remember, though. I remember feeling like I was going to throw up every single waking minute of every day. I've never experienced morning sickness, but maybe it's something like that- only this nausea is from panic and fear, not hormones. I remember just wanting to be able to turn off my brain. To relax for just FIVE MINUTES. To not be frantically wondering what was going to happen in an hour, a day, or a week. To just KNOW whether we were going to leave the hospital with a baby this time, and if we did, then would we make it through the ten days and still have a baby in our arms. Last year at this time, we were celebrating last everythings...and trying desperately to believe that they were truly our lasts. To be honest, I can barely even stomach reading my own posts from a year ago. I remember so vividly how terrified I was...it just kinda makes me feel sick all over again. Even though I know how the story ends...I will never, ever forget what it felt like in the days before redemption came.

Yo, Mom. Enough talk about redemption- how about a cold beverage while I get my relaxation on?
Life isn't stress-free now, but praise Jesus, all my current stressors are so gloriously mundane they're nearly laughable.

Work. It's been really stressful the last few months. It gets me down sometimes. But you wanna know what's awesome about work stress? EVERYONE IN THE WORLD UNDERSTANDS IT. Practically everyone has experienced it personally at some time or another. When you want to complain to someone- a friend, a parent, a random checker at the grocery store- about how work has been overwhelming lately, THEY GET IT. And they don't try to offer ridiculous platitudes and "promises" with no legitimate basis (I'm looking at you, "God won't give you more than you can handle"...). 

And although Millie is truly one of the easiest and most un-stress-inducing babies I've ever known or heard of, even parenthood isn't entirely stress-free. But you wanna know what is the most awesome stress ever? Parenthood stress. Because it means I am a parent. So it makes it pretty easy to keep things in perspective. 

Still, Millie's health has kinda sucked the past few months (in a really, really non-serious way...not at all trying to compare her to kids with SERIOUS medical issues and conditions). She got tubes in her ears last week, and although it's probably the simplest surgery in the world, it was still a little stressful knowing that she would be under general anesthesia and signing the paperwork that says you understand that surgery could result in loss of limbs and/or death...which seems a little unlikely, but still. 

But I like my limbs, Mommy.

What's going on? Why are we awake so early? WHERE IS MY FOOD?

Another picture, Mama? On an empty tummy? Really? I can't even.
And so the bottom line is this: if I even start to mentally complain about stress these days, I can cut myself off pretty quickly by thinking back to last year at this time. Then I just have to laugh at my present-day self. And when I laugh, Millie laughs, because she thinks laughing is great. And then everything is better, because there is nothing better than a happy, laughing baby.

A happy, laughing baby calls me Mama, yall. Everything was worth it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

much sickness. very fun.

So remember how Matt was sick during our vacation and it was super lame? Yeah, well. What I didn't mention is that he'd also been sick (although not THAT sick) the week-ish before vacation. And then we came home and he was just progressively sicker. And so it turns out he has mono. Yep! MONO! Like a high schooler! And I am also sick, although hopefully not with mono. But let me tell you, we were one heck of a household last week. Sick Erika. Sicker Mattie. 
Did someone say something about "in sickness and in health"? Okay, got it.
Poor Millie was trying to raise herself...it was pathetic. It's convenient that she can walk now, though. Millie, go get Mommy some tea. Good girl...

Just kidding. Maybe.

Maybe I'll get your tea if you get yourself together and PUT SOME CLOTHES ON ME, WOMAN!
Fortunately, we're both feeling a good bit better so far this week. Tired, but functioning. And even MORE fortunately, Millie seems to have escaped our House o' Germs unscathed this time. Miracle of miracles. Despite our under-the-weatherness, we still managed to get Millie to the ENT last week so that we could schedule her surgery for tubes for THIS week! I am seriously so excited. I am so incredibly tired of the poor thing's constant ear infections. I can't wait for her to feel (and hear) better!

So between sickness and trying to take care of Mattie and Millie and still go to work on occasion, too...there hasn't been a whole lot of excitement in the last week. Except for Millie. She's always exciting. Since her parents have been total duds, she's taken a renewed interest in befriending animals.

Heeeeere kitty kitty!!! Come be my friend!
Lolas are a girl's best friend.
And this has nothing to do with anything, but one day I went to pick her up at school and she was napping like Spiderman. It was basically the greatest thing ever.

Even sick mommies can manage to pull out the baby pool for hours of saying "SIT, Millie! Sit on your bottom! NO, Millie, no jumping. SIT, Millie!" fun.

But what kind of chump would sit when they know how to JUMP? "Sit" is for dogs, I tell ya.
Um, is anyone going to pull these weeds? Seriously, this is humiliating.
Between traveling and being sick, I've managed to do a lot of reading the last weeks. Since it's been awhile since I've done a good 'book report,' here are a few of my recent favorites (and not-so-favorites).

We Were Liars (E.Lockhart): LOVED it. Ten out of five stars. I mean, maybe I'm exaggerating, but I knew basically nothing about this book and it was just awesome. Easy, quick, well-written.

The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins): Enjoyed it. Four out of five stars. I think this one was just overhyped for me. It was a good read, but I just didn't feel like it was anywhere near the caliber of Gone Girl, which is what most folks seemed to compare it to. Decent mystery, good character development, but like...at the end of the day, it really wasn't anything super special, I felt like.

Dark Places (Gillian Flynn): Awesome. Seven out of ten stars. (Note: there may be something flawed with my rating system; I can't seem to stay within my own parameters...) This was a much more satisfying mystery than Girl on the Train- nearly up to Gone Girl level, if slightly less twisted. It was definitely still dark and probably disturbing to some, but I really enjoyed it.

The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah): Captivating. I'm running out of adjectives, I think. ;) Five out of five stars. But to be honest, I didn't finish the last third of the book. HA. This was my book club book for this month and my reserve copy didn't come in until late and so I just wasn't able to finish it before we met last week. I LOOOOVED every single minute of it up until I had to stop reading, and then at our meeting, the other girls filled me in on how everything wrapped up. Annnnd I cried (along with the girls describing it) the whole time that they told me what happened, and now I a) know how it ends and b) can't bring myself to suffer through actually READING it, so I'm not sure if I will. But still, this is an amazing historical fiction about two sisters living in German-occupied France during WWII. Read it.

Matched trilogy (Ally Condie): I should probably rate these separately. Book 1: 5/5 for YA Dystopian. Extremely similar to Hunger Games and The Giver, with a few new elements thrown in for variety. Very enjoyable and left me wanting more. Book 2: 2/5 for anything. Seriously almost gave up. The pace crashed to a halt and this book was trying WAY too hard to be deep. Teenage melodrama, blah. Probably wouldn't have pressed on to Book 3 except that I already had it sitting on my table...Book 3 (50% through): 4/5 for YA Dystopian. So far I'm loving it. The pace has picked way back up and we're getting to some good action and not just love-conflicted soliloquies. So although I haven't finished, I think I will overall end up liking the series. You can skip book 2, though. I can just summarize what happens in about 3 minutes and you can save yourself a lot of eye rolling.

So anyway, now I'm all accounted for. No time for blogging thanks to household sickness, the ridiculously cute baby, and a whole lotta "summer reading" (ha, although I read this much all the time, but it sounds peppier if I call it "summer reading," right?). My "to read" list is getting low, though, so let me know what I need to get to next!

PS. If you have a few minutes, would you pray for Katie Hall and her two boys? They are friends of my friend Colleen, and they lost their husband and daddy unexpectedly earlier this month, three weeks after the birth of their second son. I can't imagine that kind of loss at a time like that (or any time, really), but I know that the prayers and support even of strangers can be a comfort during painful seasons. You can visit Colleen's post for more information about David's life and how to pray and support his family in this difficult time. Thanks, friends.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

millie takes florida

Last week was our long-awaited First Beach Trip with Millie!! Going to the beach with my baby was always near the top of my list of things I daydreamed about when I was still waiting for my baby to come...so no pressure, Millie, but there were a lot of years of dreaming going into this trip.

Betcha didn't daydream about the eight hours in the car it would take to GET to the beach, didja?
We joined my parents at their timeshare in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and it was truly a fantastic week. My only complaints are a) the long drive there. This baby ain't cut out for long car rides...and b) Matt was sick the whole trip. A few days he was still able to get out and do fun things, but much of the time he spent in bed or at the doctor's office...so that was a huge bummer.

Those two bummers aside, though, it was perfect! I won't torture you with a lengthy play-by-play...you've been to the beach, you can imagine what was happening here. 

Millie was initially a little hesitant to embrace the sand and the surf, but after she realized that we weren't going to just toss her out there and abandon her, she warmed up to the idea of enjoying it.

It's just like a really really REALLY big bathtub, Daddy? You promise?

Oh, this stuff is delicious!! I do love it here!

You parents with your lame smiles...a smoldering stare is what it's all about.

WHOA NOW, BATH. Watch yourself.
I'mma take a nap real quick while the Big Bath gets itself under control.
We also spent a lot of time at the pool, because we're equal opportunity like that.

My cuteness causes a riot every time I go to the pool.
 It's true, though. I have gone to this resort almost every summer since 1999 and can confidently say I have NEVER actually gotten to know other people there. I'm just not the girl that makes friends on vacation. I'm the girl with her nose stuck in a book.

But Millie? Oh, she's there to make friends. We made friends with Gideon and his parents and grandparents...we shared toys, swapped stories, chatted it up. We made friends with Catalina and her parents. They gave us tips about how to teach Millie to swim. We made friends with about 20 other families whose names I don't remember. I mean, it was pretty insane. Millie is apparently a people-person. I guess I'm going to have to learn to be one, too!

When I could tear her away from her admirers, though, Millie settled down to focus on the things I excel at...like having a nice drink by the pool.

 And eating seafood by the river (while watching for manatees, of course).

Hey wait, Mom, your drink looks way better than mine...
Matt's sickness meant that we had to cancel our kayaking with the manatees reservation (BIGGEST SAD FACE EVER), but my parents tried to cheer me up by joining Millie and me for a more low-key manatee hunt at a local manatee preserve.

My dad and Millie scoping out the scene.

I know you're jealous of my (dad's) sweet binocs...
We didn't have any super close encounters, but we did see several from a distance...and with binoculars, that's almost like seeing them up close. We saw a lot of dolphins, too, so that was good. It definitely wasn't my most fruitful manatee hunt ever, but it was better than nothing.

At least there was this statue, so Millie would know what to look for. 
For our last afternoon of vacation, we returned to what we do best: hanging out by the pool.

Millie observed that all the grown-ups wear their sunglasses up on their heads...she was super excited when my dad helped her wear hers like that, too!

Finally, after all of that relaxation, fun, and undivided adult attention, Millie decided she may as well learn to walk. So we went to the beach with a crawler...and came home with a walker. YIKES!!!!

For the record, now she is up to about 12 steps at a time. In other words, the 2016 Summer Olympics better watch out. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

eleven months!

This girl is ELEVEN months old!!! And two days, but let's not count those, okay?

Don't worry, this picture was taken ON her eleven-month birthday! No cheating!
Not only is this post late, it is also the one and only monthly picture that is on a chair other than the gray rocker in her bedroom. WAAAAH for consistency. We've been traveling, though, and I just couldn't get it together to take the eleven month pictures before we left town...and also, they would have been lying pictures, since she would have still been a ten-month-old. So boo, her final sub-one-year-old photo shoot is different than all the ones before it. I imagine we'll survive, but it is tragic.

No mommy, what's tragic is how hot it was while you took these pictures. South Georgia is no joke. AND WHAT IS WITH THE GNATS??!
Aliases: Millie, Mills, Millsie, Millsie Lou, Nuggie, Nugs, Snugs, Little Bit

Stats: 23 pounds, 10 ounces last week. She is still comfy in 12-month and 12-18 month clothes. She still wears a few 9-month things, but she is way too tall for the pants, ha. She sleeps in this little one-piece footless snappy thing that is size 9-months and it used to be pants and now it barely comes below her knees- it is hilarious. But it fits fine otherwise, so we keep on keeping on. Ha. Sorry, no picture of that awesomeness! She wears size 3 and/or 4 disposable diapers and hasn't worn shoes in a few months, so no idea what size she'd be there...but her feet are still proportionately tiny compared to the rest of her body. Oh yeah. I tried on some of her Carter's 6-9 month sandals the other night and they were still way too big. So...smaller than that.

Also, I haven't been tracking this in the past updates, but I wanted to note that she has 6 teeth now- her two super-visible bottom center teeth, two semi-visible top center teeth (with a huge gap between them to accommodate her lip-tie), and two practically invisible top teeth (on either side of the middle two) that broke through at the same time as the center top two but are still itty bitty.

I also do not wear socks right now, but I like to organize them occasionally just to make sure they're ready when I need them!

  • Eating: She drinks 4-5 bottles per day for a total of about 18-22 ounces normally. She is definitely less and less interested in them and much prefers to eat food with the rest of us! For solids, she eats basically anything we do- the only things we have intentionally not fed her are nuts, peanut butter, honey, and shellfish. Other than that, she eats like a big kid an adult! Meats, veggies, fruits, grains, seasoning/spices...yup. Currently her favorite is blueberries, followed closely by BBQ pork, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes.
  • Sleeping: She's doing much better sleeping in her crib and room now. She finally seems used to sleeping unswaddled and not waking herself up every time she flops around, and she isn't teething and in pain anymore...so she sleeps well again! We bought some blackout curtains last week finally and that seems to have REALLY helped her not rise with the dawn at 4:00 a.m. or whenever the sun comes up. She also falls asleep much more quickly at night now that it isn't blazing bright in her room. So she typically sleeps from about 8:30 p.m. until 7:00 a.m.-ish. Sometimes later if we're lucky. Sometimes earlier if we're not. She takes about 3 naps during the day, usually 30-45 minutes each...when she's at home or on vacation. ;) When she's at school, we're lucky if she get an hour of sleep total throughout the day.
Likes: EATING. She is never happier than when she's eating...unless it's story time, of course. She loves playing with her toys, swimming in the pool, banging things together/banging on things, and freeing items from their prisons (such as Kleenex from their boxes, socks from their baskets, books from their shelves, toilet paper from its roll, dog food from its bowl, magazine pages from their binding...I could go on...).

Yeah but this magazine looked really boring, Mommy. It's not like you were going to read it, anyway...
She really loves playing with other babies now, too, and it's adorable. She doesn't know much about sharing yet, but she certainly likes to laugh and smile at people her size!

Hey Laney, let me show you how to use your jump-jump...I'm a pro!

Would you quit making us look at you for pictures? We are BUSY!
Dislikes: Shots. Surprising, right? Those three days of shots last week were NOT her favorite. Too bad for her, they worked like magic...so the next time she gets sick, I'm voting we skip straight to the shots and not waste time. Sorry, Mills. She also has started passionately hating having her diaper changed. I suspect it's because she's been having diaper rash (from the antibiotics, from the constant ear infections...it's all related, I'm pretty sure) and it probably hurts plus we fiddle around with creams and such and it's just a more involved process than it used to be...but anyway, now she'll pitch a serious fit when it's time for a diaper change. Too bad that won't get her out of them! She also seriously dislikes being wiped down (with baby wipes or a wet washcloth) after mealtimes. It puts a real damper on her post-meal buzz.

Undecided about: Strangers making eye contact with her. Sometimes she will just give a smile and a wave to anyone! Sometimes she will burst out crying at the little old lady in the aisle at the grocery store who dares to smile at her. It's really a toss-up, so good luck if you encounter her at the store!

Special skills: About five minutes after she learned to crawl, she decided she'd just start standing up on her own, too! Not just pulling up on furniture- she can go from sitting to standing all on her own in the middle of the floor. And once she stands, she can bounce up and down- she looks like she's surfing. It's really adorable. And now she has even started taking one step, but she technically didn't start that til she was eleven months and one day old, so we can't count it here.Pretend you didn't read this. 
I will stand up to pet this kitty! And to show off my ridiculous booty-ruffles...
I can't believe this is the last monthly update I'll write before she is one year old. I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by- how she's gone from a little lump of baby to this big, active, brilliant, full-of-personality toddler bigger baby! When I look back through her newborn pictures, it blows my mind how far she has come already. I truly don't (yet) miss those days- right now she just has so much more personality and is so much more interactive and fun, while still being cuddly and baby-ish in other ways (like, ya know, diapers...). Anyway, I just feel encouraged that so far everyone has been correct- it really does get better and better. I have no doubt that by the time I write her next update she will be walking (and sprinting, most likely, and pole vaulting...) all over the place...and right now that just sounds insane, like I can't imagine it, who will she even be when she can walk?? But now I have these eleven months under my belt of thinking things like that and then finding that the next milestone really isn't as scary (and is even more awesome) as I'd anticipated...so I just look forward with happy expectation. This month will be awesome. Every day with her is a gift.

Friday, July 3, 2015

story time

On Wednesday, I stopped by Millie's school in the mid-morning to pick her up for a doctor's appointment. (Semi-related side note: she had to have three days of antibiotic injections this week for her awful ear infections. Sad face...times three. And you better believe we are counting down the minutes until her ENT appointment later this month...) Although I normally go to her classroom twice a day, it's always when they're doing "free play" or something, since it's when most parents are dropping off and picking up the babies. On Wednesday, however, I happened to arrive during "group time."

On some level, I knew they did group time. I mean, it's on their official Classroom Schedule. And they send home lesson plans that indicate that they do stuff during group time. It's just that I've never seen it happen, so I kinda forgot that it was a thing. But on Wednesday around 10:45, it was group time. And also on Wednesday during group time, I happened to leave my phone in the car...so I have no photographic evidence of what I'm about to describe. I will do my best to paint a picture with my words, but I'm sure I can't do it justice. You'll just have to trust me when I say it was the greatest thing I've ever witnessed.

I come in the door that's at the back of the classroom, and as I enter, I can hear Ms. J reading a story. She's doing a great job with the voices and all, and as I peek in, I can see that the kids are all arranged on the rug with their backs to me, facing Ms. J. There weren't many kids there on Wednesday, so there were maybe three younger babies in exersaucers and bouncy seats, arranged in a semi-circle around Ms. J. These kids may have been physically part of group time, but they seemed to mostly be off in their own worlds- jumping, bouncing, and babbling. Which is totally fine...because they are like six months old. It's really the thought that counts here, I'm pretty sure. On the floor were the 'big kids,' Millie and her bestie S. S was sitting a few feet away from Ms. J, doing a little wiggling and looking around.

But then there was Millie. The child of my heart.

As I walked in, I immediately thought "oh no, I'm going to disrupt them!" Because obviously as soon as Millie heard or saw me, she would raise a ruckus in her frantic effort to GET TO MOMMY AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, as she does every afternoon. There's usually happy shrieking, and bouncing, and spastic crawl-running (I think that's a thing.) So I already felt bad that I was going to bust up story time, which was going really well. (Did I mention that in addition to reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear and slowly showing the pictures around the circle for all the kids to see, Ms. J was also simultaneously shaking a pom-pom nonstop?? It was the funniest thing ever, but really smart. Perhaps for our younger friends, if the story doesn't interest them, the wavy red shaky thing will??) 

But then I saw Millie. I almost didn't recognize her, because she wasn't bouncing or babbling or crawling or shaking or doing anything that she normally does. She was sitting: still as a statue, ramrod straight back, eyes with a laser-like focus on the book. Six inches from Ms. J. When Ms. J moved the book to the left, Millie's head followed to the left. When it came back around to the right, Millie's face tracked it perfectly. She was in. the. zone.

So I kinda crept around the back of the room over to where Millie's diaper bag and belongings were so that I could gather them. I was approximately three feet away from her, but just outside of her peripheral vision, so I managed to gather up her stuff without attracting her attention, which was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT focused on what that brown bear was seeing. I was really having a hard time not laughing, because I have just never seen a baby that young be so enthralled by like...anything. Anything that involved sitting perfectly still by herself, anyway.

I got her stuff together, but then realized I was going to need to fetch some other stuff from the other side of the room...and the only way to get there was going to be to walk behind Ms. J, right in front of the semi-circle of babies. Well, this will do it, I thought. No way she can miss me when I walk right in front of her.

I cross over, and the other babies all acknowledge my presence. S gives me a smile. I gather Millie's diapers and look over at her, expecting to receive another smile.

Negative, captain. Those eyes are only for Brown Bear.

So I cross back to the other side. This time I do it a little more slowly, pausing as I cross a few inches in front of my baby.

Nope. It is story time. Nothing but the story shall be acknowledged.

So I stand next to her other teacher, Ms. A, and we both start laughing. Yall must read to her a lot at home, she says. I have never seen a kid get so obsessed with books! Apparently this is a regular occurrence- when the books come out, Millie is in her element. We are standing about two feet away from Millie, talking in not-very-quiet voices, and still- NOT EVEN A GLANCE IN OUR DIRECTION. 

I'm not gonna lie, she isn't even this still when she sleeps. I am slightly concerned she is paralyzed or something, but luckily, her head keeps tracking side to side with the moving book, so I don't have to worry too much.

Finally I realize that we're going to be late for our appointment if we don't start moving. I crouch down next to her, touch her arm, and say "Millie...Millie...Mama's here, it's time to go!"

She looks over at me and gives me a huge smile. Her eyes light up and she gives a short, happy shriek. I expect her to reach to be picked up, but I have obviously underestimated her passion for story time.

After checking "acknowledge Mom" off her to-do list, she turns right back around, crosses her legs, and stares straight back up at the book and Ms. J. 

Mom, you are dismissed.

I was too proud of my little nerd-baby to even get my feelings hurt. Not even a year old and already prepping for her future book club!! She's even more brilliant than I knew.