Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Gator Bites

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I yam so thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving!! 

I hope you are spending it relaxing with loved ones and enjoying a few extra days off work because that's what I'm doing.  I love that we have a day devoted to giving thanks, but I try to be thankful each day ... that said, I often find myself getting flustered with my "first world problems" ... like having a broken garage door or getting take-out only to have the food be a little cold.  At the end of the day, I have a car to walk to and food on my table and I'm blessed beyond belief in so many other ways.  And I pray that I always have the perspective to realize this. 

I YAM so thankful! 

I found this card at Target the other day, and although I've never send a Thanksgiving card before,
I couldn't pass it up.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sibling Rivalry

Anna has grown out of her bouncy chair for the most part, but we keep it in our room in case we need to set her down for a couple of minutes; with her becoming more mobile by the day, we can no longer lay her in the middle of our king size bed surrounded by pillows and be assured she'll stay put.  Fast forward to Saturday night when the cats were locked in our room for a few hours as I got holiday decorations out of basement.  Milo cried for the first hour, but eventually settled down and apparently Daisy made herself right at home.  Let the sibling rivalry begin : ) 

"What's the big deal? 
You told me on Friday that the tiny human finally weighs more than me ..."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Going nowhere fast

Mike often asks if I think Anna is too lean after he hears stories of our friends having babies in the upper percentiles while she continues to rock the lower end of the spectrum.  I remind him of just how active our little peanut is on a daily basis, leaving little time to fill out as she continues to stretch to new lengths; and recently used this video as proof.  I swear it looks like she's about to take flight at times : )

Friday, November 18, 2011

Growin' Like a Weed: Month Six

We survived another round of shots and this time Dad was in tow to hear the glowing reviews from her doctor.  True to her usual form, Anna did great and was again proclaimed to be perfect, but that was no surprise to us!  She's growing perfectly in line with her percentiles and is still long and lean.  Since birth she's almost doubled her weight and grown almost 7 inches, way to *grow* little one!  We have to go back next month for her second round flu shot, but don't see the doctor again until February and we hope to keep it that way *arms crossed in front of me to ward off any evil winter sickness bugs coming our way*. 

Six month "stats" include: (*)

13lb 3oz (10th percentile), 1lb 9oz gain over 2 months
26 1/4 inches (25th percentile), 1 3/4 inch growth over 2 months
16 1/4 inch head circumference, a gain of 1 inch over 2 months

* Mike and I both guessed for weight and height again this time and I'm happy to report that I was closest in guessing weight and Mike was closest in guessing length, I guess we're a pretty good team : )

Big, six month girl!!
During our "shoot", there was still a lot of this going on ...
... and plenty of this as well! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fall Photo Shoot

We had family pictures taken a few weeks ago, just a bit shy of Anna turning 6 months.  It was a beautiful day, but there was definitely a chill in the air, and combined with new surroundings Anna just wasn't her usual super-smiley-self.  All that said, we love our photographer and Anna is still pretty adorable even when she's practicing her more serious poses ... after all, models have to be versatile : )  I hope you enjoy the finished products as much as we do!

All photos are courtesy of Emily Faith Photography.  Anna's custom headband (for her petite noggin') was made by our family friend from Sydney Bean's Bows

Monday, November 14, 2011

Letter to Anna: Month Six

Dear Anna,

Wow! You're half a year old today! I wouldn't have believed it if someone had told me six months ago what you are doing today; it's simply amazing how much you've grown from both a physical and developmental perspective. You're still our petite little girl, but are filling in and rounding out in so many ways, both literally and figuratively.

You mastered rolling from your back to your tummy this month and are *so* close to sitting up on your own that it's crazy. I'm savoring these days where you're still relatively immobile because I know that crawling is right around the corner and soon you'll literally be giving us a run for our money. EVERYTHING is going in your mouth these days, toys, blankets, hands, and especially feet. Although we see a lot of drool, there aren't any tooth-buds that we can feel. You are intrigued by and in love with the cats, and Milo has become one of your best friends. He is thrilled by the attention you give to him and you generally grasp that you should be gentle with him and spend time "petting" him each day. It's one of the cutest things ever to see your excitement when he's near and it's only a matter of time before you are two are thick as thieves and you're dropping food to him from your high chair or inviting him to your room for a tea party.

We started you on solids this month and it came as no surprise that you picked up on eating like a "big girl" in no time. I'm hoping to make all of your baby food and mastered acorn squash thus far, which you loved. We'll be moving on to peas, sweet potatoes, and apples soon. So far you've been taking an evening meal ("dinner"), but we're set to add "breakfast" to your daily routine this week. With the love of food shared by your Mom and Dad, we doubt you'll find a food you snub, but time will tell.

You are one of the stars in your class at school and you love each of your teachers. You spend most of your time with Miss Patty, but I'm pretty sure the others fight over you during the day; they tell me each day that you are one of the most gentle, laid back, and happy babies they've worked with. You've made a few friends, Kaylee, who is two-weeks younger than you and also has roots in Pittsburgh, and Connor, who is two-months younger than you (not that you can tell by his size, he's going to be a big boy!). You've learned to share and I've been told you often times offer a sock to one of your friends (yummm!!). And then there was the one incident where you decided halfway through your nap that the crib room should become the party room and were pulled out for excessive chit-chat (gee, I can't imagine where you get that trait from). It's a real treat to see your excitement when you arrive in the mornings and the best part of my day is when I see that ear-to-ear smile as I arrive to take you home.

You were baptised this month and we hosted most of your immediate family at our home after the service. It was a sight to see how many people love and care about you and have agreed to support us as we raise you in the church. Faith in God is something your Father and I grew up with and is what has gotten us each through the trying times in our lives. So much of what we want for you as you grow includes traditions and beliefs that were formed with our families many years ago.

My only regret is that your grandparents weren't able to witness your special baptism day, especially your namesake, my maternal grandmother. It's not just that particular day, it's all of your days that I wish she could be a part of and I find myself thinking of her often and wondering what she would think of you and how much joy you'd bring to her. I can still remember so much about her, including the little things, like the way she answered the phone or called out "Hello Sweetheart" when I went to her house; even after so long I can still hear her voice in my head. She gave me more perspective in life and passed along more wisdom than I'll ever be able to convey to you.

Your Gigi gave me a book this month that says it best, "A mother's relationship with her daughter starts before the beginning, in fact, it starts in the mother's own childhood. Because the childhood she has determines the childhood she'll give her own daughter … Mothers know that love is forever. And that's the lesson their daughters can't wait to pass along." I want to share SO much of my past with you and feel so blessed each day that your Gigi and my Nana made my past so very much worth sharing with you. In the meantime, I'm going to live in the future and love you more than you will ever imagine.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Rockin' and Rollin'

I walked into Anna's classroom on Wednesday and almost fell on the floor when I saw her roll most of the way from her back to her tummy.  She saw me walk in and got distracted with her huge smile, plus there was an arm she hadn't accounted for being in her way.  She's still pretty active, but most of the time she spends on her back is used for sucking on her toes.  After the usual feeding and cuddle session at home we tried again and I was lucky enough to capture footage ... she rewarded me for my patience with some huge grins and even a little chuckle.  Now that she's checked this milestone off her list she can move on to perfecting the free-standing sit; the world is her oyster! (PS - Check out that full head of hair she's rockin' ... no more male pattern baldness for this little lady!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Heinz 57 of Videos

With a lot on her plate developmentally, Anna has to really pick and choose how she wants to spend her time these days.  Between working on sitting up, being ever so close to scooting, and trying really hard to roll from back to tummy, it's hard to even squeeze her evening meal into the mix ... and then throw her budding friendship with Milo in there and it's enough to tucker a gal out by 7pm.  This video started as a way to showcase her almost-sitting skills, morphed into her showing off her high kicks, and ends with her utter excitement at the sight of one of her best buddies.  Apologies for the dark lighting, it was wee early o'clock : )

And, stay tuned for video of one of her first rolls from back to tummy ... it's been a big week around here!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Enough with the flashy pictures already, Mom!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Just thinkin' ...

... about all the fun I'm going to have with so many family members in town for my baptism ...

... Gigi, Grandma, Paw Paw, Maw Maw, Uncle Brian, Uncle Sean, Uncle Michael, Aunt Jennifer, Aunt Emily, Aunt Danielle, and Cousin Aiden, OH MY ...

... I sure am one lucky gal! ...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mommy Moments: Making breastfeeding work

The biggest fear I harbored during my pregnancy was in regard to breastfeeding. Some women seem more concerned about the labor and delivery, but at the end of the day, that baby's going to come out one way or another and breastfeeding isn't as automatic. First there's the milk that your body needs to create, then there's your baby's latch, then there's the personal commitment … long story short, there are a ton of variables and it's almost like the stars have to align in a perfect pattern.

I was and have been extremely lucky in this regard. Anna was able to latch within the first hour of her delivery (and on the first try!) and my colostrum was ready and available. I remember my L&D nurse Anne helped me with that first nursing session and I simply stared down in shock, amazement, and pride that I was able to provide for my daughter in this way. While in the hospital I beamed as I was feeding Anna and my nurse came in with a student shadow, saw me nursing and then told the student to take a look at my technique as "everything about it is perfect." My milk came in on schedule and other than a minor engorgement issue we did really well those first few weeks.

Part of the fantastic family leave policy my company provides is access to a Lactation Consultant for as long as we're nursing. This is in addition to a very reduced price we pay for a top-of-the-line pump and a really great book on breastfeeding. My LC had reached out to me a few weeks before my last day in the office and we decided to touch base again when my leave started and when I'd have more time to talk, granted, this was supposed to be two weeks before my due date. When she called a couple of days after Anna was born, she was surprised to hear I was already in the throws of motherhood and her timing was perfect. Since then her timing has always been impeccable, just as I feel like there's an issue or I might have a question, a call from her comes through.

For me, breastfeeding was something that was extremely important and was a gift I desperately wanted to give to Anna. My mom breastfed both my brother and I in a time when breastfeeding was something only handful of mothers did (I find it very ironic that the bigger push in the 70's and early 80's was using cloth diapers). She worked full time and pumped while she was away from us. She told me that although she had a private office, it didn't stop some of her male co-workers from making "moo'ing" noises outside her door while she pumped during the day. In asking for advice from friends and co-workers I heard stories of women having to pump in a bathroom stall or in their car. All of these women are my inspiration and when the going gets tough, or I'm sitting in the Mother's room at work, exposed and feeling more like a cow than a woman; I think of them and it keeps me going. (I also catch up on facebook, blogs, and read magazines … not a bad way to spend 30 minutes twice a day, no questions asked.)

In addition to the feelings of guilt about returning to work, I was deathly afraid that continuing to breastfeed would be an issue as well. I looked to several friends and my LC for advice. I'd started storing milk over the summer by adding an extra pumping session during Anna's morning nap or after she went down for the night. To say I was thrilled my first day back at work when I pumped and was only an ounce shy of what she needed for the next day (which I'd make up with my evening session), is an understatement. Since then I've managed to only use a few frozen ounces and Miss Anna is thriving.

The reason for this post now is that I was having a rough week last week. I'm four weeks back at work and although it's going well, I miss my baby more than I ever imagined during the day. On the flip side, I have pangs of guilt because I enjoy having some time away from her. Balance is something that will always be a work in progress for me. On top of that I've been battling an on-again-off-again cold and was feeling really worn down. Over the past couple of days my milk supply had suffered as a result and I was starting to get worried. And then, just like clockwork, my LC called.

I was explaining my routine, which includes forcing myself to stay up until 10pm to pump before going to bed (the bain of my existence some days), and asking her a few questions. As soon as I stopped talking and caught my breath she said "Jen, I'm sooooo proud of you! You've made it work and you are extremely dedicated to this! Way to go! Every ounce she's gained and the fact that she's thriving is because of you!"

Sometimes, as a Mom, you just need to hear those words and for me they came at just the right time. We try so hard to find the right balance, to do what's best for our babies while still caring for ourselves, our homes, and our loved ones. It's easy to forget that while everything might not be perfect, there are still some pretty great things that you're doing. Our routine these days includes me waking up at 5:30am to shower and get everything I can think of ready before feeding her around 6:30am, pumping at work around 10am and 2pm, and feeding her 1-2 times in the evening. It's working so far and I'm proud that I'm almost halfway to my one-year goal!

My first day back at the office my secretary had a gift on my desk, a book called "Mommy Prayers" that I have related to more than anything ever in my life, and has provided a several belly-laughs over the past few weeks. I felt it was serendipitous that one of the first "prayers" I read was this …

"Dear God, Here I am, huddled in a dusty utility closet, half naked and half deafened by the noise of my top-of-the-line, ultra-expensive double breast pump, which is supposed to be "whisper-quiet," but is not. I'm staring at a picture of my sweet baby girl and working on my relaxation breathing, all in an effort to suck as much breast milk out of me as humanly possible in the fifteen minutes before my next conference call. With the dials turned all the way up "stun" and both breasts going simultaneously, I'm feeling more like a cow than a human right now. Lord, but I don't want you to think I'm not grateful for my tiny closet. Though it could use a lock on the door - last week Dave from Sales Support walked in on me, which was extra funny seeing as how the poor kid is nearly young enough to remember nursing himself. This pumping business is awkward for everyone, Lord. Please give me the patience and strength to hang in there for the sake of my baby daughter. And please help Dave recover from his embarrassment long enough to be able to look me in the eye at next week's meeting. Thanks, God."

I couldn't have written it better myself!

Thanks for hanging in there with me on this post. Part of the reason I keep a blog so that I can personally look back on my days and remember what was happening, a diary of sorts. I choose to write about what's going on in our lives and what's important to me, and if you can't tell, this is something that I'm pretty passionate about. I know that a few of my readers are mothers as well, and maybe they'll benefit from my experience. By no means do I pass judgement on mothers who don't or haven't breastfed their babies, it's a personal choice and there are often variables out of our control that dictate a path we take in this regard.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to stare at a picture of this little girl while I set my pump to "stun."