Friday, December 28, 2012

Jekyll and Hyde

Dec. 28, 2012

My husband has got a lot going for him. Obviously. He's funny, with his dry sense of humor and good comedic timing. He mostly caring and kind - did I ever mention how all the "marginalized" students flock to him, not the school counselor, to confess their hardships? He's athletically gifted and has a strong body - it took him until age 30 before breaking a bone, despite having played a D1 collegiate sport. He's smart, and if he's paying attention can recall details with ease. Plus he's got great hair.

But at nighttime, he's THE WORST. Jekyll and Hyde, I tell you. He's part whiny biotch, part mean bully, and all grouchy jerk. This ain't so fun with having a baby and all. Particularly, a baby who does not sleep through the night. Or even "through the night." With him being off from work on holiday break, and me orienting to a new hospital all week, I was hoping to catch a little break from feeling like I was 'doing it all'. No such luck. The last two nights, for the few hours I have gotten to sleep, I've spent the latter half in the guest bed downstairs, too annoyed-slash-pissed with Alex for being so UNhelpful in the wee hours. Did I mention I'm working right now and he's not? But he is rightfully tired, after all, because he stays up late puttering in the man cave, drinking beer, and watching Sons of Anarchy. I know it's his vacation and all, but boyfriend, give a girl a break, eh?!? This is one of those things that I will tell our kids for years to come - you know that handsome, super fun, silly daddy of yours? The nice parent? The funny parent? The yin to my yang? Yeah well, he's like a gremlin, unforgivably feisty at night.

Baby's First Christmas

Christmas Eve found Alex, Al, the Bean and me eating homemade pizza, opening two gifts - a new holiday book (Bear Wakes Up for Christmas) and festive jammies, and watching Bad Santa. Damn that movie is funny. Alex called me "Mrs. Santa's sister" for the rest of the week. And I couldn't stop thinking about Therman Merman's t-shirt - "shit happens when you party naked" - and his offering to make me sandwiches. We forgot to read The Night Before Christmas, which was a tradition when I was growing up. And I never did find the Santa and little elf helper hats for us to wear, either.

Christmas Day was more of the same low-key, holiday fun - a leisurely morning cuddling in bed, delivering homemade goodies to our favorite neighbors' doorsteps, Dutch baby and coffee with Irish creme, Santa sacks, opening presents Facetiming with both uncle Brians, the Close grandparents. Texting with friends. Ham and manloaf for dinner. And taking pictures. Hundreds of them.

Francie certainly seemed to enjoy herself. She loved sitting surrounded by all her things. Must be a Closeman, I said. She particularly loved the wrapping paper, and gifts that weren't hers - like Alex's new spatula, my LED keychain, and the giant container of almonds Santa brought my dad. But she loved all her goodies too, and boy did she get more than enough of them - a "puma" suit like Uncle B; old-school wooden alphabet blocks; a wooden xylophone; a play grocery shopping kit; lots of 12-month clothes; penguin PJ's and a penguin fleece hat and a toy penguin stacker; lots of books - Goodnight iPad, A Book of Sleep, Goodnight Little Sea Otter in English and Spanish, Quick as a Cricket, and more. The rest of us didn't fare so poorly either. I had already "received" the elliptical. Bri got me a gorgeous diamond and aquamarine pendant. Alex built me a side table to match my rustic entryway table. Al got a new old-school shaving kit. And an inappropriate t-shirt. Alex got a bunch of new pants. A new, new-school electric razor. And some sort of tool he likes. We all got calendars. Several of them.

Baby's First Christmas was small (in number of people in attendance, not in number of gifts received), relaxing, and very, very pleasant. Alex said it was one of his favorite holidays ever. So thanks, Jesus, for being born. Whatever came after that, I'm not sure. But happy birthday to you and to Santa and to Rudolph and to Hallmark. 

The Great Elliptical Debate

Last week I gave Alex the following ultimatum, in writing:

1. Buy exercise equipment.
2. Spend less time with your wife.
3. Pay for childcare at the gym.
4. Have a miserably chubby wife forever.

I did my research. I worked out at Sears. I pouted. I justified. I motivated. I pleaded my case. And guess who got an elliptical trainer as an early Christmas present? 

Tis the Season

Tis the season of making, baking, decorating, get-togethers, and bows ... and of too many photos. Like you care about each detail of my past month. But guess what? I do, and it's my blog, and I want to remember what those yummy cinnamon almonds looked like, as well as the salt dough ornament of Francie's hand, her stocking, and each of the Christmas outfits Francie wore.

Baby's first stocking.

Slow-cooker cinnamon almonds = my default food gift. So.Good.

Handprint in salt dough turned (upside down) Santa ornament. One for the grandparents and one for our tree.

"Love" tops.

Santa whiled away in his workshop the few nights before Christmas ... 


First attempt at needle felting - stocking for the dog. Somehow hers managed to be largest of the family? Then again, we use Santa sacks, anyway.

Auntie Katie and Scott visit! BFF Christmas brunch.

Homies. With books. Christmas books! Love, Auntie Katie.

Apparently "Larry" is destined to be in the Olympics after all.

We missed you, E.

It's not Christmas unless there are lace cookies. And I even made my mom's fudge recipe for the first time. My initial attempt was a disaster (I learned that "canned milk" means evaporated milk which is drastically different than condensed milk). My second attempt? Total success.

No fireplace means no mantel means be a little creative. Should have taken down the family photos and spaced out the Xmas cards a bit more. But I didn't even open all the boxes with holiday decor. Next year I'll actually decorate the house a la Nancy. Maybe.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I made this one for Gus's 1st birthday last month.

And this one for Logan for Christmas.

Now Katie's fiancee, Scott, wants one too. Yes, I stole the idea from Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

9 Months

The Bean is more than 9 months old now, and getting cuter and funner by the day. I remember when we first had Francie people would say to us, "It gets better." We took this as sort of an insult, and wanted to proclaim to the world just how fabulous and fun and adventurous parenting our newborn baby was. "We don't need this to get better" we thought. "It's already great!" But I now understand what those people meant. They meant - "It's great now. But it gets even better."

"She's fucking adorable. She's just so goddamned cute," a la Alex. She's a round-faced baby, with fat rubberband-wrists (and shoulders and elbows and forearms and thighs and cankles, and ...) and rosy pink cheeks. She has two lower teeth which she cut on Thanksgiving and proudly shows off with her open-mouthed smile. Her hair is "starting to come in." It's still strawberry blonde in most light. It's very fine with more, longer, hairs, but certainly nowhere near enough for a clip. Her eyes have been described as everything from "stoney" to "soulful," but usually just "sleepy." Her fingernails seem to grow at a rapid speed, and that coupled with the fact her parents don't like to trim them means she's usually sporting kitty-cat-claws.

At her 9-month well-child checkup last week she weighed in at 18 lbs and 6.6 oz and measured 28 inches long, which puts her in the 25th-50th percentile for weight and 50th-75th percentile for length. Her head in 17 inches around, placing her in the <25th percentile ranking. Generally speaking, she's stayed put on the same growth curve across all her visits, and is pretty much smack in the middle of the bell curve.

As for clothes, she's still squeezing in to some 6-month clothes, is fitting very well in 9-month clothes, but is more appropriate for 12-month clothes. The PJ's she got on Christmas Eve were a 12-month size, and looked like they'd be huge. But they mostly fit her, despite being a bit long for her limbs (go figure - have you seen her daddy's T-rex arms?!?).

She continues to nurse at least 5 times each day. Since I'm not working right now, she takes bottles pretty infrequently. Truthfully, including all the "sleep eating," she probably nurses more like 8 times per day, but sometime it might only be for 1.5 minutes because she's distracted. I still adore nursing her and can't imagine having proceeded any other way. What better excuse for cuddling! She most definitely knows to reach for me, sometimes pulling at my shirt, when she's hungry or tired, to signal that she wants to nurse. I rarely feed her any way other than side-lying, and usually on the guest bed, on her futon, or occasionally in our bed.

We usually feed her solids three times per day. She almost always has the same thing for breakfast - oatmeal mixed with either (homemade) applesauce or banana and cinnamon. For lunch I usually feed her avocado and/or quinoa and/or yams/pumpkin. We are usually a bit more adventuresome at dinnertime, and share with her our foods, as appropriate. She had salmon for the first time last week, and loved it. She also ate hardboiled egg yolk, which is still up for debate. We started giving her a whole big carrot, whether for teething, a toy, or nutrition. She doesn't feed herself regularly, but is able to put small pieces of food in her mouth with her fingers, or eat a cookie or cracker (if we feel like eating packaged food). She definitely doesn't know what to do with the spoon yet, but we don't give her many opportunities either. She drinks from a sippy cup, but still coughs more than 50% of the time, and throws it on the floor more than drinks from it.

Ah, sleeping. This is, fortunately, not an issue in our house at the very moment. But this is not because our child sleeps uninterrupted throughout the night. It's because I'm not working so don't have to be on a regular schedule (aka 6 a.m. alarm wake-ups). And it's because she is sleeping on a futon in the nursery where I spend at least half my night cuddling up, nearly topless, next to her.

Francie usually goes to bed between 7 and 8 p.m., after we eat dinner, go for a walk, give her a bath every other night, put her in a disposable diaper and jammies, and nurse her or cuddle her to sleep with her Soothie and white noise from her iPhone. She generally goes down until 7 or 8 a.m. the next morning, and stirs who knows how many times in between. She naps usually twice each day, anywhere from 1 to 2 hours each. She almost always naps on the guest bed. The last month she's needed more help falling asleep - her body seems to be in constant motion, and she literally needs us to pin her legs with our legs, and hold onto her hands while she calms down and stills herself. If not, her limbs flail uncontrollably and she spastically pulls the Soothie out of her own mouth and cries, like she has no say about her body's motions. She rarely falls asleep from nursing alone or from a ride in a stroller.

She "speaks" regularly and is very socially motivated. As Alex would say, she has "four words" - *cough,cough,* "screech", a tongue fart, and a lip trill. She really is a noisy little bean. Especially when we're out in public, say, at Home Depot or eating dinner out at a restaurant. She knows Gizzy's name and looks for her when we ask "Where's Giz?". She does not, however, do the same thing with either "daddy" or "mama." In public, she wants to smile and talk to people, women more than men. She is still afraid of men if they try to hold or touch her. But at least now she loves her BDA. She does NOT like Santa. But she does love Christmas. That's how I know she's my daughter (aside from coming out of my vagina).

In general she is a happy, playful baby. When she's fussy, it's almost always because she's hungry or tired. Sometimes she seems bored, like she wants a change of scenery or more focused attention.  Her personality traits are becoming more apparent. She's still "zero to 60" - she lets us know if she's not happy or not getting her way. Mostly when it comes to things; if she wants something, she seems to want it bad. Take my iPhone, for example. If she wants it, she grunts, screeches, reaches, and writhes until she gets her dirty little mits on it. If she's holding something, and it's removed from her hand, she throws a little baby tantrum until she's distracted with something else. The funny thing is that now, with her development of object permanence, she's no fool when I take my iPad and hide it under a pillow. Even if I try to divert her attention to say, her Soothie, she's still reaching for that pillow to unveil that iPad. Aside from these drama-queen episodes, she's mostly pretty agreeable and laid-back. She's pretty easy to appease with food, naps, boobs, chit-chatting, walks, tickling, and music/dancing.

Motor Skills:
Maybe I said this last month, but she is so close. SO CLOSE. So.Close.To.Crawling.It.Hurts. She actually seems fussier to me the last two or three weeks than usual. It's like she's unsettled. When she's being held she wants to be on the ground, and when she's on the ground she reaches to be held. My theory is that she's frustrated with her lack of mobility. She gets up on her haunches, and will sometimes scoot backwards, but mostly just hangs out in one spot, and returns to sitting on her butt to play. If she gets stuck on her belly, she'll log-roll around a bunch, and then squawk to be put back in the seated position. We realized the other day that maybe her cloth diapers were hindering her crawling progress, so have been trying "naked crawling" sessions and she actually moved about better during these times. More on the motor skills below ...

Favorites: (toys, equipment, etc)
The dog. She LOVES trying to pet Giz, and screeches to get her attention when Giz is not close enough to pet. When we walk the dog, she grunts until I give her the leash to hold in her hand. We continue to use the Beco daily. With Christmas just barely behind us, she's got a whole new world of toys. She likes blocks, because she can bang these together or against the table. She will mostly play with anything, though. Spatulas. Kleenex boxes. A magazine. A washcloth. She loves paper, to crinkle it and mostly to eat it. She likes books. She likes throwing things on the ground. And she seems to love tags, so we just introduced one of those "taggie" small blankets that someone gave us early on. She does not have a "lovey" or favorite toy. But we could not exist without the Soothie. We continue to use BumGenius diapers and cloth wipes. Her crib remains mostly unused. She rarely goes in the Pack n Play. The Bumbo and the Boppy's are long since out of commission. We have a Baby Einstein that she goes in occasionally, and recently bought a Johnny Jump-Up for the doorway that she dances in for 10 minutes before wanting to play on the floor or with me. And like I said before, she seems to love my iPhone.

For the Bean's 9 Month check-up we were mailed an "Ages and Stages Questionnaire" to complete and return at our appointment. The questionnaire is broken down into five main categories, and we are to rate whether our child can do the skill "yes," "sometimes," or "not yet." Overall, she's more advanced at fine motor and problem-solving skills, and totally not good at gross motor skills. Oh great, we have a Hartman on our hands!

Me being the "tiger mom," I don't like to count a skill unless she has it mastered. Same goes for me. I don't say "I can knit" - rather, I say, "I once knit an earband." I can say with confidence, "yes, Francie copies the sounds I make," because she will do this consistently. Does she consistently look for Cheerios in a clear bottle? I don't know. So we had to run a few tests.

Here it is, in summary, re-written here rather than her health record for posterity, modified with my language:

1. Does baby makes sounds "da" "ba" "ga" and "ka" sounds - yes
2. If you copy baby's sounds, does baby repeat sounds back - yes
3. Does baby make two similar sounds like "ba-ba" - yes
4. If you initiate, does baby play at least one nursery game WITHOUT showing activity yourself (peekaboo) - not yet (she will if we show her some sort of gesture meaning it's time to play "here")
5. Does baby say three words - not yet (I'm a speech path, and 9-month old should not have one word yet, let alone three, who wrote this thing anyway??)

1. If you hold both hands to balance baby, does baby support own weight while standing - no
2. When sitting on the fllor, does baby sit up straight for several minutes without using hands for suport - yes, definitely
3. When you stand your baby next to furniture or bric rail, does baby hold on leaving leaning chest on furniture for support - crib? guess we should use one of those; ope, baby does not put feet on ground for any kind of that standing business
4. While holding onto furtniture, does baby bend down to pick up toy from ground and return to stand - no
5. While holding onto funriture, does baby lower self to ground without flopping - nope
6. Does baby walk beside furniture while holding with one hand - not even close

1. Does baby pick up small toy with onehand - yes
2. Does baby successfully pick up crumb or Cheerio with thumb and all fingers in raking motion - yes
3. Does baby pick up small toy with tips of thimb and finger - yeah
4. Can baby pick up piece of string with first finger and tymb - yes
5. Does baby pick up crumb or Cheerio with tips of thimb and finger - not yet, but she's working hard on the pinscer grasp and very nearly has it mastered
6. Does baby put a small toy down without dropiing it and then take hand off toy - yes

1. Does baby pass a toy back and forth from one hand to another - yes
2. Does baby pick up two small toys, one in each hand, and hold on for one minute - yes
3. When holding a toy, does baby bang it against another toy - YES!
4. While holding a small toy in each hand, does baby clap the toys together - YES!
5. Does baby poke at or try to get a crumb or Cheerio that is inside a clear bottle - we actually tested this, and yes, yes she does
6. After watching you hide a small toy under a piece of paper or cloth, does baby hid it - yes

1. While baby is on her back, does she put her foot in her mouth - yes
2. Does your baby drink water from a cup while you hold it - yes
3. Does baby feed himself a cracker or cookie - yes
4. When you hold out your hand and ask for her toy, does she offer it to you even if she doesn't let go - sometimes, she usually needs a verbal cue like "here," or "give it to me," and then will let go of the toy about half the time
5. When you dress baby, does she push arms through the sleeve once her arm is started in the hole of the sleeve - yes
6. When you hold out your hand and ask for her toy, does baby let go of it into your hand - sometimes yes, and sometimes no, she does not let go with 100% consistency

After we left the pediatrician I was all in a huff. "I don't like her anymore. I want to find a new doctor." Why? you ask. Because she referred us to a pediatric physical therapist :( Because Francie is not standing (with assistance) and because her toes are usually curled, the doc thought we should get her checked out, just in case. In my gut I don't feel like there's anything wrong with her, but I suppose it won't hurt to get a specialist's opinion. Besides, I don't want her to develop any bad habits that might influence her motor development later. 

But now I'm feeling bad that she's not crawling, she's not standing, and she's not cruising. It's hard not to compare her to other babies her same age. And then I remind myself that it's not about me and it's not about my ego. She's a beautiful, happy baby, who is meeting milestones within normal limits, and I don't EVER want her to feel like she has to perform in a certain way in order to appease me. Like I said, it's not about me or my ego. But I'm working on that.


Now that we have a child, Christmas gifts are easy. Oh, you want a skill saw? New snowboarding gloves? A nice sweater? Too bad! You get pictures of our kid! Photos photos and more photos! 

I had a particularly good time with this year's calendar gift for the grandparents and uncles. I fancied myself a budding Anne Geddes, really, donning my child with props, sticking her in flower pots, etc. Here are some of the photos that made the final cut. About half of them are mine, and the others are courtesy of Bethany Raelene Studio from our family pictures sesh in October (some of which can be seen here And yes, Miss February is covered in real kisses from yours truly.





Bethany Raelene Studio

Bethany Raelene Studio


Bethany Raelene Studio



Bethany Raelene Studio
Bethany Raelene Studio
Bethany Raelene Studio


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