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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Let the Holiday Begin!! (Week 37, Day 1)

Work is finally complete, presents have been bought and wrapped, and now it's time to enjoy the holiday!  Christmas celebrations began Saturday, with an afternoon spent with grandparents and dinner with friends. Sunday we spent the day serving food to the homeless at our church - a humbling experience that reminded me of all that we have to be grateful for. This also gave Carly a chance to babysit Maddy during the day, providing the added bonus of having some quality time with Maddy when she is awake and alert.
Playing with Daddy
Phil and I have a Christmas tradition of celebrating just the two of Christmas Eve's Eve. After Maddy was snug in her bed, we had our traditional crab boil, always a treat! I think my favorite part of the night was towards the end - I was finishing up some presents when Maddy woke up and needed attention. Phil went in to tend to her, and I finished what I was working on. In general, I try not to go into Maddy's room and take over when Daddy is in there - it can be distracting for Maddy once I'm there, and it's nice for Daddy to spend quality time with her. Tonight, Phil was in there longer than usual and I could hear talking and laughing coming from her room. I snuck over to the door and peeked in the room, to find Phil sitting in front of Maddys crib, playing games with a Santa hat and both of them giggling and squealing with delight. It was absolutely adorable! It took every ounce of restraint not to come bounding into the room and join the fun - while I wanted to play too, I knew my presence would change the tone for Maddy, and I wanted she and Daddy to have these precious moments together. Instead, I grabbed the baby monitor, and was able to watch from afar, marveling at the bond growing between my daughter and husband .

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was split between both sides of our family, each with there unique traditions, both consisting of lots of quality togetherness and celebrations. It is always a treat for the grandparents to spend time with Madeline, and we enjoy seeing her interact with them. While Maddy didn't really get Christmas this year, she enjoyed all the people, toys, and boxes and paper to tear up.  

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Christmas Shiner (Week 36, Day 5)

Ever since Maddy started crawling, the ladies at daycare have been calling Maddy fearless. From the week she began crawling, she's been trying to pull herself up on anything she can find. It's clear that crawling is going to be a blip in Maddy's evolution, and she'll be walking before we know it. Today, no sooner had I dropped off my daughter at daycare and headed to the office, did I receive a phone call from one of the teachers. This is the first time they'd called me since the week she started, and I knew for certain we hadn't forgotten her food, bottles, or nipples. A phone call meant either Maddy was sick, or something was wrong. I mentally prepared myself for needing to turn around and reschedule my day. I answered the phone, and Miss Katie informed me that Maddy was not sick, so there was no need to come back. Maddy had taken a spill though- while trying to pull herself up on one of the benches, she lost her balance and fell on her face, and had a little cut under her eye. They called to tell me so I wouldn't be surprised when I picked her up. I was happy that they did, and while I hate for Maddy to fall, I know this is going to happen often as she learns to use her legs.

When I arrived at daycare that evening, I found my little girl happily playing, with a cut under her eye and a bit of a shiner. I've taken to calling her 'Bruiser' as it looks like she got in a schoolyard fight. She could care less, and I'm doing my best to try not to hover over her- I don't want her to lose her fearlessness, I don't want her to be afraid to try and explore. It won't be easy, and there may be more shiners coming her way, but in the end, she'll be the toughest little girl in town!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Christmas Overload (Week 36, Day 1&2)

It is currently the most wonderful time of the year, and this year is even more wonderful as we get to share the experience with our bouncing baby girl. The past couple of days have been filled with Christmas festivities. First, Madeline had her holiday party at school. It unfortunately coincided with a mandatory work event, so Phil had to be the sole parent to accompany Maddy to the event. This was hard on me - I wanted to be there so badly, but knew that I couldn't miss work. I adore Christmas and everything about it, so missing this party for my little lady gave me a lot of heartache. Luckily, the evening of the event, I was so busy with work the time went by quickly and I barely had time to think about what I was missing. Phil had a great time with Maddy at the party- they sang songs, made ornaments and took pictures with frosty the snowman. Maddy was not a fan of Frosty.

On Saturday, our church had a cookies and cocoa with Santa event - Maddy’s first interaction with Santa. I was so excited. It was a great event - our church had set up their gym for decorating cookies, a hot chocolate stand, and a picture booth for Santa. It was the perfect setting for a first Santa meeting - not crowded, and a very relaxed atmosphere. Unfortunately Maddy did not think so - she took one look at the bearded man, and stated very clearly her displeasure. We did get a picture, and I have to say it clearly portrays the fact that the first Christmas is more for the parent than the child - a profile shot of me, overly excited about the whole situation, and Maddy looking at Santa, clearly beginning to cry about being placed on this scary mans lap.  Sunday was the grand finale - a play date with a friend at Navy Pier, where they were going to a Winter Wonderland festival. There were lots of rides for my friend's daughter, and lots of lights and fun things to look at for Maddy. For me, it was pure joy - lots of people in the Christmas spirit, children SO excited about the holiday events, and me, seeing the future for Maddy and all the fun holidays to come.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Christmas Wishes (Week 35, Day 2)

Today I spent the afternoon away from the family, at a Christmas celebration with a few of my very dearest friends - we've been getting together for an ornament exchange every year for the last 10 years, and this one was no exception. It was wonderful to see my ladies, and revel not only in the memories we have together, but also in the support we provide each other - as friends and mothers. This year was the first year that we were all mothers, and you could tell - our discussion rarely left the topic of our kids. Each of us has taken a different path in motherhood - we have a mix of full time, part time, and stay at home moms. We have some that read every parenting book and followed the ‘sleep rules’ to a tee, and some that never read one book and went with their gut. Some had their children in their own crib from day 1, and some still have children sleeping in their bed with them. What they all have in common is they have amazing, well adjusted, completely secure, lovely children.
There was one thing that kept coming up that continued to irk me though - each mom, as they would tell a story or an antidote, somehow would mention how they felt in that instance they were a ‘bad mom’ or weren't going to win Mom of the Year Award. Each of these women are absolutely stellar - both as parents and as individuals, and it bothered me that they would punish themselves with such harsh overtones. It’s a habit I've seen in lots of Moms, and read about as part of the American culture today in ‘Bringing up Bebe’ - Mom’s in the US have a habit of cursing themselves for not being perfect, not being Mary Poppins to their children. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be Mrs. Everything, and then chastise every mistake we make.
I know I am not beyond this. I've already seen it - I beat myself up if I forget something of Maddy’s when we go out, if she begins to cry and I cannot fix the problem fast enough, if I’m 5 minutes later than usual picking her up. But I’m not convinced this makes me a bad mommy. I am convinced it makes me human.
Looking back, I can guarantee that not one of the beautiful woman around the table will have children that will look bad and say “My mom really could have tried harder, done more, etc etc”. I know they will only have accolades for their mothers around how they always did their best for their children, loved them, and made them feel safe. And I hope my dear friends know this, and don’t beat themselves up too much in the along the way.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Double Wave Maneuvers (Week 34, Day 6)

With each new milestone, Maddy’s excitement builds. Crawling has caused her immense joy - being about to spot something she wants, and immediately start to move towards it of her own accord - you can see the satisfaction in her face in being able to achieve these small feats on her own. Her determination and independence is beginning to shine through more every day.
Maddy hit a new milestone today when she showed Phil and I (at midnight) her ability to wave. Nonstop. With both arms. Continuously. At Midnight. Phil and I both knew we should be urging her to go to sleep, to calm down, to be quiet, zen, and sleepy. But it was too cute to control. She was squealing with delight and waving her arms with such excitement, we couldn't help but to laugh.

Maddy is now sharing this talent with all her friends and family, and while they reciprocate with a wave in return, no one can quite capture the excitement and enthusiasm of Maddy’s double wave combo.
Here comes the wave!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

She's Got Personality (Week 34, Day 4)

Every day, Maddy's daycare sends home a report on the world of Maddy that day - not only when she ate, slept, and had diaper changes, but also what she did that day, and anything exciting that might have happened. Each day I enjoy reading about her activities and adventures,whether it be the books she read or toys she really enjoyed. Today's report card had me just tickled. In it, they said "Maddy has been fearless in her crawling and pulling herself up". I love that the word fearless was used to describe my little girl. I want so much for her to be fearless in so many aspects of her life - not afraid to go after her wants and dreams. I know that fearless right now is going to mean some falling, some bumps and scrapes. I hope I'll be able to help protect her from real danger, while allowing her the room to fall and get back up on her own two feet- today physically, and some day emotionally.

So far, she seems to be off to a good start, and I will try to continue to encourage her fearlessness. For now, I'll just continue to watch my fearless munchkin attempt another pull-up!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A lot to be thankful for (Week 33, Day 5)

Today was Maddy’s first thanksgiving, and we had a lot to be thankful for. Maddy was finally feeling better, and we were planning to spend the day with family. As we stayed in Chicago this year for Thanksgiving, I signed us up to do the Lincoln Park Turkey Trot - Phil and I had done it the last time we spent Thanksgiving in Chicago, and it's a great way to start the day- nice run on a brisk morning before a day of overeating. This year, however, the brisk morning was downright chilly- the temperatures in Chicago had gotten unreasonably cold lately, making a thanksgiving morning run a challenge with a 7 month old. We got up early with Maddy - no alarm needed thank you - she naturally gets up at the crack of dawn! 

We then proceeded to bundle Maddy up in as many layers as we could possibly fit on her, including the big puffy snowsuit my mom bought her before she was born. We got ourselves mobilized and out the door, and managed to strap our little snowsuit puffball into the running stroller - hat, gloves, blanket and all. I can tell you, Maddy was none too pleased to be out in the cold, and we didn't find it to be a real fun fest either. It wasn't too bad walking to the park- if we were moving we at least had the blood pumping a little. Once we got into our corral to wait, we could no longer really move, and it started to get really cold. And as we now had a little one to account for, we were in the “Walker/Stroller” Corral - AKA the very very VERY slow stall. This also meant we were the very last to start the race, and had to stand there for a very long time. It was cold enough with me jumping up and down, moving around trying to keep warm - I was growing more and more concerned with Maddy, who had no way of building up a sweat and getting her blood pumping. Phil and I decided we’d start the race, and see how Maddy did - if she was uncomfortable or fussy, we’d cut out and come home.
By the time the race FINALLY started for us, we were all a little irritated, including Maddy. I was well past thinking this had been one of my more brilliant ideas. We set up with the rest of the walkers/strollers, and found that the concept of a race was a bit different for Phil and I than most of the other people surrounding us - we had dressed in running clothes, obtained a running stroller, and were ready to, well, run. The throngs of people around us seemed to be more inclined to leisurely stroll the 3.3 mile course, and as hard as Phil and I tried, we could not seem to get around anyone or find a pocket of space to begin

to jog a little. At this point, we were all frustrated, and decided to break from the pack, and jump over to a different path to allow us to run a little. Once we did that, things began to look up, except for the fact that we ended up taking a short cut, and cutting the majority of the race course out! Our 3.3 Mile race ended up being a little over 1, if that. Which actually turned out to be a blessing, as we just wanted to get Maddy indoors at this point.  We ended up crossing the finish line, and walking straight to a coffee shop to warm up and get some reprieve from the cold.
The rest of the day was far less eventful, and our blessing increased exponentially to have warmth, food and family in abundance!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fever Pitch (Week 33, Day 3)

Maddy woke up with a fever this morning. Of 103. This was the highest it's ever been, and she was burning up to the touch. I stayed home from work with her, and planned to take her to our doctors walk in appointments as soon as they opened. I got there right at 8:30 on the dot (the official opening time) to find an absolutely jam packed waiting room - every seat taken and extra chairs in the hallway, also taken. Part of me was anxious about the long wait before anyone would be able to see Maddy, and the other part was relieved that there must be something going around, which explains Maddy's horrendous cold. Once we finally got to see the doctor, they identified an ear infection and a cold and I hiked off, stroller in tow, to fill her prescription.
By the time I got back home, it was almost lunchtime and I had to begin fielding calls for work. While I could stay home with Maddy, my workday did not stop. So in between phone calls, I played, fed, changed diapers, nursed, changed more diapers, and generally entertained Miss Madeline. I had given Maddy her prescription for her war infection, but had not given her any Tylenol as I didn't like to give her too much medication. And in full disclosure, I could not figure out how to get the medicine out of the bottle. Damn you child proof bottles!
In the afternoon I had a very long conference call, and Maddy had begun to get irritable playing. I was able to soothe her to sleep on my chest, and she stayed there, asleep but clearly uncomfortable, snotty and sick, for 3 hours - not a usual nap for her. She woke up right around the end of my call, and she felt like a little furnace she was so hot, so I took her temperature. 104. Now the highest it's ever been, and scary high. Mom freaked out high. Ready to take action and head to the hospital high.
Before I completely panicked and rushed to the emergency room, I decided to call her doctor and get their opinion. I'm very grateful for the nurses and doctors at her practice - they are all very responsive, and very understanding of how scary it is to have a sick baby. They suggested that before I hike off to the ER, I give Maddy some Tylenol and see if her fever drops and she perks up with 30 minutes - if not off to the hospital we go. So now it was me against the childproof bottle, and I was going to tear it apart with my bare hands if I had to and get the medicine inside. Luckily, I was not foiled by it, and was able to get the medicine out of the bottle and into Maddy's mouth. And then we waited. My lethargic, fussy girl laid quietly on my chest, sniffling and suffering, and it broke my heart. I sat there, sleep deprived, hungry, and anxious, worried about what would happen if the fever didn't go down, if she didn't perk up. 30 minutes felt like two days. And then Maddy raised her head, looked me square in the eyes for a while, and started to squirm. She started to roll, and look for a toy to play with. She wanted to get on the floor and crawl. In summary, she started acting like herself again - the fever had gone down.

I knew eventually the day would come when the scary high fever would arrive, a day every new mom dreads but knows is unavoidable, and today it had. Together, we weathered the storm, and made it through relatively unscathed.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Dog Day (Week 33, Day 1)

This weekend, we went to Fort Wayne to see my parents before thanksgiving. We thought it would be fun to get to spend some QT with the grandparents, and they were thrilled to see Madeline. We drove in late on Friday night, and Maddy was a dream- slept every second of the 3 plus hour drive from Chicago. Even slept once we got there, and sat and chatted with my parents. She slept every moment until it was time for us to get settled to sleep for the night, and transfer her to the pack and play. And that is when she woke up. And stayed up. All night. I'm not sure where her pure hatred for pack and plays came from, but it seems to be here to stay. She wants nothing to do with them. Ever. That night was spent coercing Maddy to sleep next to me in bed, and was only half successful. I thanked my lucky stars that we had nothing major planned the next day, and could rest and relax.
One of the amazing things about my parents place is the space- after being in our shoebox apartment, Maddy now had some serious crawling space, and didn't hesitate for a moment to use it. It was such a fun site.
Another treat was a visitor for my parents - my sisters dog Jackson. He is one of the sweetest dogs in the world, and also a little bit of a sceredy cat. I knew we had nothing to worry about with Jackson being around Maddy - he was probably more scared of her than she was of him, and kept wandering near me to get a look at this small new object, but never got too close to her. He definitely couldn't understand what all the fuss was over this little being, and continued to ensure all the big people knew he were around him.

As for Maddy, she couldn't quite make out what this new furry creature was doing in her world. She alternated between giving Jackson a serious stared down to attempting to chase after this new friend. At one point, Maddy was sitting in my lap, and Jackson came in a little closer to check out the little lady. Maddys response was to throw her arms open and squeal in delight- making Jackson jump and run away in pure terror. It was absolutely hilarious to see how confused each was by the others existence. By the end of the weekend, Jackson had become accustomed to Maddy, and had found one of her toys that he really wanted to explore. I spent a good half hour with Jackson running around me trying to steal Maddy's toy, and Maddy crawling around trying to catch Jackson. It was absolutely adorable. 
A few days later, Maddy now clutches a tiny soft puppy while she sleeps. I think Jackson has made a lasting impression on her!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Small Moments (Week 32, Day 6)

It's the week before thanksgiving, and I'm giving thanks that a break from work is near. Things have been so hectic that I'm barely able to keep up, and it's beginning to really wear on me. I feel like I'm in constant motion between spending quality time with Madeline and my husband, working and catching up at night, and cooking, cleaning bottles, doing laundry, making food, and generally running myself into the ground.

In all the madness, there are moments that make it all worth it. Today when I got to daycare, I got a very special treat. For the first time ever, when Maddy saw me and grinned, she went from sitting and playing with her toys to crawling over to be with me. It was amazing to get to see her be able to take action and control of what she wanted- just days ago she could only wave her arms and show frustration at not being able to move towards her goal (aka me) and now nothing stopped her. And it's the best feeling in the world to have your child want to be with you so much. It's the moments like this that make all the madness worthwhile.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

BIG crawling days (Week 31, Day 6)

Today was a day like most others - a cold, winter approaching Thursday. We managed to drag ourselves to work and school, bleary eyed and cold. Nothing terribly exciting to report. At the end of the day, I raced to school to pick up Maddy, and got her 1,000 watt smile as a greeting when I entered the room. The monotony of the day melted away, and based on her reported nap times, I was in for a few hours of one on one time with my little girl.
After bundling up and getting home, I put Maddy on the floor so I could get situated for the end of the day routine. However, Maddy seemed ready to play for a little while rather than head off to bed, so I figured I’d give her a little more time on the play mat before starting sleepy time. I’m so glad I did. Maddy continued to move around the mat and sit up by herself, checking out the landscape and deciding her next move. For the past few weeks, she’s been so close to crawling, and so frustrated by not doing it, that I knew she was going to crawl at any moment. I thought this might be the time to test our her crawling skills, and gently placed some of her favorite toys just out of reach. She happily played with the toy in her hand and looked around the room, eyeing all her favorite things. And then, with determination and relative ease, she moved from her sitting to her hands and knees, and slowly shuffled a few paces to her favorite elephant toy, and flopped down on the ground to grab it. I knew it was going to happen soon, and was expecting it any moment, but I still couldn't believe it when it happened, and immediately teared up. She looked at me and smiled, with the expression of “What’s the big deal Mom?”
I could barely contain my excitement. I couldn't wait for Phil to get home so he could see what was happening. And even more, I was wondering if it was a fluke - could she really be crawling? I figured if she was truly crawling, she would try it again, so again I gently moved her favorite toys out of reach. She chewed on her elephant contentedly, looking around her environment for her next form of entertainment. And then she spotted it. More accurately, she heard it. Her rattle. The purple one with the pink handle. The one that fits perfectly in her mouth. She LOVES it. I had just moved it, and she heard it, and she wanted it. She put down her elephant, moved from her sitting position to her hands and knees, and again shuffled along, crawling a few precious steps before lunging for her beloved rattle and licking it with all her might. This time, I was able to follow her with my phone, and document the event for all humanity and family to see.

I’m practically speechless. This transition is amazing and exciting, and I know a thrill for Madeline, as she’s gotten increasingly frustrated by not figuring it out sooner. It’s terrifying as we now have to truly figure out how to baby proof our shoebox apartment, and there will be no setting her down for a moment and running to get something - she’ll need eyes on her all the time. And it marks a major milestone in her life, one that you can never go back from - she is crawling, and is mobile. There is no going back. During the time she wasn't moving around, it seemed to last forever, and now it feels like time flew past like a blink of the eye. I’m know this is not the first time in Maddy’s life that I've felt this way, and I’m positive it won’t be the last.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Stealing Moments (Week 31, Day 5)

These days, it feels like there is never enough time. The days and weeks are flying by, and there is never enough time to get everything done at work, and the weekends are too short to get all the family tasks done. It's easy to get caught up in the constant planning and movement involved in making our little family's life run smoothly. And throughout all of this, I have a profound desire to slow things down, stop what I'm doing, and relish the time with my daughter. Some days it's easy and I can push work and laundry and dishes aside. Some days it's not, and work tasks way heavy, commitments feel overwhelming, emails pile up.

Sleeping Beauty
Tonight Maddy fell asleep all too early as usual. This gave me time to run errands after she went to sleep while Phil stayed with her. Shortly after I got home , she woke up and sat up in her crib, crying to be held. This is becoming an increasingly rare occasion for her, when she is not teething or sick. So tonight, even though commitments are in fact looming in front of me, I pushed them aside to allow for a few stolen moments of snuggle time with Maddy falling asleep on my chest. I know all too soon she'll be too big for this and will no longer want to sleep on Mommy. I use these fleeting moments to soak in every thing about her- her peaceful and calm face, deep breaths and sighs, the smell of her just barely there hair. Her eyelashes that any grown woman would envy. It's times like these when all life's challenges can fade away for a moment, and you can just enjoy the small miracle that you just happen to be a part of.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Teething and Sitting and Eating, Oh my! (Week 30, Day 7)

This week has absolutely flown by. Maddy has fully recovered from her cold, however Mommy was the next victim, so the weekend was spent trying to recover and take care of a perfectly healthy child. Then it was back to work and school, and catching up on all the things that slipped the week before.

Before we could even recover from our last challenge, the next one set in - teething. Every baby reacts differently. It can't be predicted. It can't be controlled. The only thing it can be is endured. And so it began. I have to say, compared to others, I know we have it easier than most. There is no endless hours of crying in pain. No inconsolable baby. What we do have, however, is a very AWAKE baby. A baby that is not hungry. And a baby that just wants mommy and daddy to hang out with her and hold her while she goes through this transition. At 2 AM. For more than an hour. Every night.
This week has been a challenge - our almost sleeping through the night baby has reverted back to up in the middle of the night for long periods of time. And because she has not been eating during the day, she's all of a sudden hungry in the middle of the night again. Needless to say, the work week has been long, and trying to catch up has been a challenge.
On top of all of that, we added continuing solids to the mix, which is a day to day adventure. Some days she loves them, some days she doesn't. Most things green, she doesn't.

And to cap it all, she's made the exciting development of sitting up be herself. It's awesome, and she's thrilled with herself when she does it. But it alerts us of more change. One night this week, she fussed and I went into her room to find her sitting I her crib, bewildered as to how she got there. And at daycare, she sits up only in her crib, and is so excited she won't take her afternoon nap - she sits up and stares at the other babies and refuses to sleep. So the "normal" schedule is now gone with the wind, and we are waiting patiently for a new norm to emerge.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bad Luck Comes in Threes (Week 29, Day 6)

OMG. I don’t think it’s possible to be more tired. The last few day have been exhausting, and tested every level of sanity I never knew I had. It started on Sunday, when Maddy started developing a deep cough - not a little wimpy cough that all babies get, but a big one - one that told me there was probably more to come. And more to come there was - by the evening she was burning up with a full fledged fever, and we knew we would have to make alternative plans for the work week - there was no way she was going to daycare on Monday. While there was nothing we could do about this, the timing wasn’t perfect - both Phil and I really needed to be in the office on Monday. In the end, it was me that stayed home as there was more I could do remotely than Phil. We took turns sleeping in a chair with our feverish daughter all night, and in the morning began the task of trying to join conference calls, write emails, and generally move work forward - all while holding a lethargic and newly clingy baby.
As the day went on, Madeline continued to get worse - her temperature rose, and the happy smiley baby I see everyday turned into a red eyed, sleepy and sad little girl. There was nothing I could do to make her feel better besides hold her, and that’s what I did for most of the day.
By the time Phil got home I was exhausted from the trials of the day. Unfortunately the days trials were not over. Phil came home with news that our brand new car (the one we bought no more than 3 weeks prior) was dead. It had died on Sunday, and he had jump-started it, and now it was dead again. To make matters worse, one of our neighbors was having work done on their apartment, and while there, the electrician discovered a major gas leak. We received an email that the gas had been turned off until further notice, so that the gas company could come out and fix the leak. I was appreciative of the speedy action that was being taken to ensure we didn't have a serious problem. I was not so pleased about having no heat or running water at the end of October in Chicago. While the weather wasn't terrible, the forecast did show temps dropping to the 30s/40s overnight. So I sat on my couch, holding my inconsolable baby, with no heat, no hot water, and no transportation. The week was not starting out well, and it wasn't looking like it was going to get any better any time soon.
At this point, Phil and I decided that we both needed to stay home the next day to divide and conquer. As Madeline was no longer leaving my arms at all, I didn't even attempt to get her to sleep in her crib - and didn't want her to anyways with the temperatures dropping. We spent the even on the couch - she sleeping on my chest under several afghans, me trying to sleep and worrying about the comedy of errors that had befallen us. In the morning, Phil went about trying to figure out what was causing the car to die, while I waited for the doctors office to open - Maddy’s fever had continued throughout the night, and gotten higher, and at this point it was time to take her in.
Phil was able to fix the car more easily than expected, so we trekked off to the doctor’s together. Luckily, everything looked relatively normal for Maddy, and they ascertained that she was just suffering a bad cold. While this is always great news to hear, the prescription is not - do nothing. We could give her some baby Tylenol if we really wanted to, but the only thing to do is ride out the fever and the cold, and try to keep her comfortable.
With this news, we headed back to our now chilly condo, to find about 5 large gas company trucks camped outside the building. Knowing that we would not get any relief from the cold in our house, we packed up our things and headed to the nearest Starbucks, to try and get some work done but more importantly keep our daughter warm. This was an easier task for Phil and for me - Madeline again did not enjoy being anywhere by on Mommy’s chest - luckily once she was asleep I was able to rig up my computer on a table so that I could hold her and get work done at the same time. Oh the life of a working mother!
By mid afternoon, we headed back to the apartment to check on the status of the gas leak. While it was not on yet, It was time for Maddy to nap, so I again took to the couch and layered on the blankets, to get some relief from the cold.
Our luck started to turn around in the evening, when the gas company came by to turn our gas back on. We were finally able to cook a dinner, shower, and do laundry again, which helped restore a little bit of sanity to the household. Maddy was not fully recovered, so I spent another night on the couch with her, trying to keep her comfortable. By Wednesday morning, her fever had pretty much broken, and while she remained lethargic for most of the morning, I was beginning to see signs of my normal little girl. I spent one more day struggling through conference calls and getting work done in moments between feedings, naps and fussiness. By the afternoon, Maddy was fully herself again - laughing and playing and wanting to spend time with Mommy and Daddy. Now it was time to start re-introducing sleeping in the crib, and our normal routine - not an easy task in itself. Once that is done, there are bottles to clean, laundry to do, more work to do, the list goes on and on and on…..
Did I mention I was tired??

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Princess of Halloween (Week 29, Day 2)

Fall has officially overtaken Chicago, and with it comes all the fun holidays and events. Every holiday has a new meaning now that we have a child - I’m no longer terribly concerned about my needs or wants during the holiday, and usually overly excited about the first experiences for my daughter - even if she has no idea what’s going on, I still look forward to each new experience.
With the end of October fast approaching, I've been thinking for weeks about what Madeline should be. Halloween is always tricky in Chicago, as you never know if it’s going to be 90 degrees or 30 by the end of October - it’s really anyone’s guess. I wanted to make sure she had a costume that would be cute, and warm enough for her to be comfortable outside. Not that we intended to take a 6 month old door to door trick or treating - in fact, we didn't really have any plans for Halloween, but I was sure something was going to come up, and wanted to be prepared. Plus, Maddy’s school was doing a Halloween parade, and I wanted to make sure she could participate.
And something did in fact come up - the weekend before Halloween, a mom friend of mine asked us to join her and her family at the Farmers Market Saturday morning for a children’s costume contest. Challenge accepted.
Saturday morning we got ourselves together, packed up Maddy's costume, and headed off to the farmers market. We met up with my friend for coffee and a lttle catch up, before heading over to the market. It was a nice sunny day, windy and blustery.  I was happy I had chosen an outfit for Maddy that would allow her to wear warm clothes under her costume - it wasn't terribly cold, but layers were needed. And now the time had come to transform her from your everyday average Princess Leia.
That's right. After months of posing with her buddies Darth and Yoda, it was time for our little lady to join the Force. I had found a women that crocheted Princess Leia hats online- they couldn't have been cuter AND it would keep Maddy's head warm in the cold. All I needed after that was a white sheet to go over her clothes, and voila! A Star Trooper is born. What worked out even better, was that I could put Maddy in the baby Bjorne, and put her dress over it- therefore showing off her costume while comfortably carrying around the market.
Her costume was a BIG hit. In fact, she won the contest!! I couldn't believe it. Actually I could- she looked absolutely adorable, how could she not win?
People at the farmers market kept stopping us to ooh and ahh at Madeline- one woman even asked to take a picture of her. Madeline as usual ate the attention up, and grinned and flirted with all who came her way.

Once home, we made sure to reunite Princess Leia with her Star Wars buddies for a photo opp. The pictures turned out great- I don't think I've ever been more excited about a Halloween costume!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

(Week 28, Day 3-5)

It’s Coming! It’s Coming! Today after work and school, Maddy grabbed my husband’s hand and started sucking away at it, and he responded with a “Look at that!”. I let Maddy take my hand and she immediately put it in her mouth, and there was a new sensation on her lower gums - a hard, sharp object starting poke through - her first tooth! You can’t quite see it yet, but you can certainly feel it! And thus far, there has been no drastic change in behavior - no diaper rash, fussiness, etc. Just pure Maddy joy and a whole lot of putting everything in her mouth, which isn't exactly a break from the norm.
There are so many things happening with Maddy’s development these days, it’s hard to keep up. She’s teething, she’s so close to crawling that we are days, not weeks, away, and she’s firmly in the world of solids. This is opening up all sorts of new and fun opportunities and challenges. It’s exciting to think about introducing her to new kinds of foods, starting her down a healthy track, and the whole idea of making homemade food for her is very appealing. The idea of my little girl getting teeth and moving from gummy grins to an actual toothy smile is crazy to me, but terribly exciting. And crawling. Don’t even get me started. She is already fairly mobile - scooting and rolling everywhere. When she starts crawling - watch out, there will be no stopping her!
And then there are the challenges. Now on top of washing bottles, freezing and storing milk, and all the coordination that comes with pumping, there are solids to think of - what should we introduce next? Where am I going to find time to make food? Once she has teeth, when does the biting start? When should we start brushing her teeth? Once crawling starts, how often should I wash my floors? What about childproofing the house - how can we make sure she doesn't get into something? And how am I going to find time in the day to do ALL this STUFF??
As with every new stage, there are feelings of excitement, nervousness, and frustration. I know we’ll figure it out, just as Maddy figures out how to get her legs under her and moving in the right direction. Have children is truly a lesson in change management - ready or night, the change is coming, the platform is burning, and soon, it will be time to jump!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Baby Baptism Adventures (Week 28, Day 3)

What an eventful couple of days! After a few days back at the office, we took Friday off to welcome family from out of town to celebrate Madeline’s Baptism and our membership into our Church. We’d spent the last few months going to different churches in Chicago, to find the one that Phil and I felt as a couple we’d like to be part of. We knew that as a family we wanted to have one church to raise our family in, and had discussed around the kind of religious upbringing we’d both had, and what we’d like for our daughter. After visiting a few churches near us, we had attended a service at St Pauls United Church of Christ, and both of us left the service feeling like this was the right place for us. Now, after attending the new member and baptism classes and meeting a few more people in the congregation, we were sure that this was the place we wanted have Madeline baptized.
We had a great weekend our families. Friday, my older sister and her son flew in from Boston, and Phil’s Aunt Caroline flew in from New Jersey. We spent Friday afternoon in the suburbs letting all the babies play together - including Maddy’s cousin Jake. It was fun to see all the babies in their different stages of development - watching Maddy struggling with getting on her knees, and so close to crawling. Jake, now walking but still awkward on his feet, but loving to explore his independence. And Jack, the oldest of them all, barely able to sit down because there was WAY too much exploring to do. Seeing them interact was awesome, and you could see a glimpse of the fun they will have when they are all walking/talking little people. The Aunts/ Great Aunts loved sitting back and watching and relishing these first few days with the babies.
As part of the weekend adventure, my sister Meagan and her 17 month old son Jack were staying in our shoe-box apartment with us. I wouldn't have had it any other way - with baby bedtimes between 5-7, I was certainly not going to miss seeing my sister for the rest of the night while we sat in two separate places. And as we have a two bedroom apartment and sleeper sofa, this meant the babes were going to have to sleep in the same room. Meagan and I were both nervous about how this would work - with Maddy not yet sleeping through the night, that meant Jack could potentially be waking up throughout the night as well. Friday night was the first test, and both Maddy and Jack did surprisingly well! Maddy still woke up throughout the night, and while Jack would rustle around and at one point stood up in the pack and play to look and me, he laid right back down and went to sleep. Win for the mommies!
Saturday my parents came in for the weekend, and we had a great time taking Jack and Maddy to the Lincoln park zoo to see the animals, and playing at home. Having both my sisters, my parents and Jack and Maddy together was such a treat - I didn't want the day to end. Phil's parent's and Aunt came down for the afternoon as well, and our little shoe-box was packed to the rafters with people that love our little girl, and we spent a lovely afternoon together eating dinner and catching up.
Sunday was the big day - Maddy’s baptism. It unfortunately followed a rough night - after being off nap times and sleeps times for the last few days, Maddy wasn't enjoying crib time any longer, and at about 2 AM I conceded and slept in a chair with her in my arms for the rest of the night. Before I went into her room, I found my sister sitting up on the side of the sofa, saying she didn't feel well. When I emerged from Maddy’s room at 6 AM, I learned that my pregnant sister had been sick all night, and had either food poisoning or a very strong virus. She hadn't slept at all, and was feeling terrible.This was not exactly the way I thought the day was going to go.
Luckily, no matter how old you are, parents always come to the rescue. After a 7AM call to mom and dad, they were showered and over to our place in a snap, ready to help with Maddy and Jack so that we could get ready for the baptism. Meagan was in no condition to go to the church, so she crawled into bed, and my Mom stayed with Jack. I was sad not to have them all with us at the church, but knew it was the right thing to do.

The Baptism ended up being a very special ceremony. It was new membership day at the church, so along with Maddy being baptized,Phil and I became members of the church. The church had recommended this, and it was a special way for us all to be welcomed into the church’s community. We had met several people through our new membership class, so it was neat to see them again and know they would part of the congregation.
When the time came for the sermon to start, it was also right around Maddy’s nap time. She fell right asleep, and slept quietly in my arms throughout the sermon. She continued sleeping right through Phil and I walking up to the front of the church and saying our new membership vows. She even slept through most of the baptism, right up until the moment I needed to hand her over to the pastor to have the baptismal water put on her forehead. She couldn't have been more of an angel through the whole thing - she opened her eyes, happily went to the pastor, and looked around at him, and the entire congregation, as if to say “What’s the big deal?” There was no crying, no stranger danger, just my confidant and curious little girl, facing the world head on. I couldn't have been more impressed with her. Although the day didn't turn out quite as planned, it was memorable none the less.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

California Dreams (Week 27, Day 4)

What an eventful couple of days!! Our little family has just returned home from a trip to visit friends out in California. The weekend was filled with new experiences for the whole family. Plus, it was a much needed vacation for all of us - with me being back at work for a few months now, we definitely needed a break from the grind to recharge our batteries.
The trip started off fairly stressful, with traffic to the airport heavier than usual. There was a very real chance of us missing our flight, but luckily things started moving and we made it to the airport with a little time to spare. Once we got through security and got to our gate, we found that our flight was also delayed and we'd be arriving late to San Francisco.
Playtime at the airport
After the long flight (on which Madeline was a dream, taking a whopping 2 hour nap and winning over all the surrounding passengers with her gorgeous gummy grin and cheery coos) we arrive in sunny California. Now it was time to head into the city, pick up one of our friends, and drive to Sonoma to meet up with all of our friends at the house we were renting. Except our luggage didn't arrive. Nor did anyone else's on the flight. For over an hour. So we stood there, waiting, with Maddy strapped to me and getting heavier, and antsier, by the minute. Eventually, I found a corner of the luggage area in which I could lay Maddy down and let her roll and squirm for a while as we waited. When we finally had our luggage, we headed over to the car rental, and were greeted with a massive line to get our car. Again, I located a quiet corner to allow Maddy some wiggle and squirm time. When we finally got our car (and installed the car seat, got Maddy settled, and luggage stowed, whew!) we were ready to hit the road. Or should I say, the 5 o'clock traffic. With all the delays and mishaps, we'd now managed to get caught in rush our in 2 separate states on the same day. Luck was not on our side today. The one thing we could be grateful for was Maddy being an absolute dream the entire trip - she slept, she ate, she charmed everyone around her. I had worried that now that she was 6 months old and a lot more alert and awake than the first time we flew with her, that she would be a lot harder to manage. While she needed more entertaining when she was awake, she was still a delight. I count my blessings for her cheery disposition daily.
Once we picked up our friend Stephan and made it through the traffic, we finally arrived in wine country. We had rented a house with some friends and their children, and were so glad to finally arrive and settle in. We had a challenging time finding a place for the weekend, so while the place didn't have a glamorous look and feel, it had enough space, and a pool, hot tub, fire pit, grill and outdoor seating for dinner- all the elements needed for a great weekend with friends.
While at this point we'd been traveling for over 12 hours, and I was certainly ready for a glass of delicious California wine, there was still the matter of getting Maddy changed, fed, and to bed in this altogether new time zone. This proved to be a challenge. Maddy had a serious objection to the pack and play we had set up in our room, and wasn't afraid to let her opinion be known. Phil and I made it through dinner and some social time alternating turns in the bedroom with Maddy, until I eventually just gave up and went to bed with her. She refused to sleep anywhere except on my chest or next to me, so for the first time ever, she slept in the bed between Phil and I. I was nervous about it as I'm a restless sleeper, but we all made it through just fine.
Pumpkin Picking
Saturday, after spending the early morning playing with all the children, we packed up the babes and headed to a local farm that allowed you to pick out pumpkins and other fresh veggies from their gardens. It was a gorgeous morning, and we had a blast roaming their crops, picking out tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and beets for our dinner salad- talk about farm to table! There were also several pumpkin patches with the pumpkins still on the vine, and we helped our local friends choose their Halloween pumpkins. Our friends had children that were older than Maddy, so it was fun to see them get excited about choosing their pumpkins or playing with the straw, or riding in the wheelbarrows. It was a gorgeous morning with friends, and it made Phil and I super excited about the years to come and the experiences we can have with Maddy.
The rest of the morning was spent at one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma (Buena Vista). They had a gorgeous outdoor space, and we spent a couple hours sitting outside, sharing a bottle of white and enjoying the fall sunshine.
The afternoon revolved around nap times and visitors from SF, which meant relaxation time by the pool. It was wonderful to have the space and downtime to catch up with our friends - this California crew has known Phil long before we ever met, and are his closest friends. They welcomed me into their circle of friendship when Phil and I started dating, and all have become dear friends to me. The last time we were all together, only one of the couples had children, and we were spending the weekend enjoying wine country sans children. Oh how times have changed. While it's harder to relax, unwind and catch up while chasing after, feeding and comforting the babies, there was an added bonus to knowing we were all in it together - we all understood each other's challenges and helped each other out when a baby needed holding, a face needed wiping, a child needed attention or focus.
Daddy I love wine country!
Sunday was much of the same, with a lovely visit to a winery in the morning, and hanging around the house in the afternoon. The highlight of the afternoon was being able to get Maddy into the pool in the backyard. I had been wanting to get Maddy in the water for a long time- I grew up swimming, and feeling confident swimming and in a pool is something I want to pass on to my daughter. While Maddy has been exposed to water during bath time (and tolerates it- but I wouldn't say loves it) she had yet to be immersed in a full on pool situation much less gotten her head underwater.
We lucked out with a pool and hot tub combination. The hot tub temperature could be adjusted, so we were able to turn the heat up enough to make it comfortable for the kiddies without getting it too hot for them. Maddy’s first pool experience was a very positive one - she absolutely loved being in the water and passed between mommy and daddy, and even tolerated being dunked underwater. I for one could not get enough of the experience.
Our final night was spent sitting out by the fire with our dear friends, laughing and enjoying our time together. After several nights of Maddy protesting bedtime, we were finally able to get her to sleep (albeit in the middle of the bed with pillows around her) and able to enjoy some uninterrupted adult time. It was the perfect end to the great vacation with friends.
Our trip home ended up being almost as eventful as our trip to California - while we had a much easier time getting to the airport, through security, and to our gate, halfway through our flight, Phil started to feel bad - really bad. Holding the barf bag bad. Maddy did great throughout the trip, again sleeping, laughing and cooing at her neighbors. She did great when we got off the plane, got our bags, and rode the train to our car. She really was fantastic throughout the whole journey - right up until she was in her carseat and on her way to home sweet home. Then she was done. She’d had quite enough of the trip, and wanted to make sure we knew it. At this point I was driving us home, and Phil was in the back seat with her, trying to calm her down, and not lose his lunch. At one point in the trip, I had to pull over and get her out of the car to calm her down, at which point I thought Phil was actually going to lose his cookies. We somehow made it all the way home, and I started the task of getting Maddy changed, fed and ready for bed. Phil made a bee line for the bathroom, and I didn't see him for the rest of the night. I spent the rest of the night in Maddy’s room, sleeping in a chair and trying to console her to sleep.
It wasn't quite the perfect ending to the trip, but it did justify our plans to take one more day off after traveling, to recuperate and get settled back into our daily routine. After the trip we’d had, it might have been the most relaxing day of the whole trip!