Friday, October 26, 2012

this is our life

I've been struggling to post on a regular basis for the last few months. There are two reasons for this: #1, I had a baby and need to readjust my expectations, and #2, insecurity. I won't get into #2 in this post, but I am trying to do something about #1. 

I am not skilled in the ways of being brief. My husband likes to say that I "talk in essays." This is true. Also true, I write in essays, and that is more than I can do most days of the week nowadays. So, I'm trying to learn the art of cutting to the chase. To that end, I've come up with one solution to my posting problem and it is called: This is Our Life. "And, this is our life" is something Alex and I started saying in the middle of crazy parenting moments that sometimes seem totally bizarre objectively speaking, but feel totally normal to us (or sometimes, don't, but it's still our life). As I was saying this very phrase to my husband last night, a lightbulb went on and this idea was born.

So, I will post very real, very small (and hopefully very entertaining!) unfiltered morsels of our life—sort of the blog equivalent of Twitter updates. This will be a series, stuck in amongst the other series pieces I've been working. I hope you like it! The first will be posted on Monday….as long as I don't lose power courtesy of frankenstorm/moonapocalypse. Oh, please. No, we will not lose power. In fact, we'll be totally fine and untouched by disaster. Just putting that out into the Universe.

Friday, October 19, 2012

give me the first taste

I've been stressing about when to start Emerson on solid foods. Like every other decision regarding my child (or life in general), I have probably been putting too much time into weighing my options, reading and researching. Let's just say, I don't take decision-making lightly (both a blessing and a curse). 

Breastfeeding did not start out well for me—there were cracked and bloody nipples, there was pain, there was a lot to learn. But, once I got past those first few hurdles, I have enjoyed being my child's life source. Being pregnant and breastfeeding are two incredible experiences in life, because of that fact. Growing and nourishing another human being is just miraculous and satisfying. So, naturally I've been content to fill my baby's belly with breast milk….and hesitant to introduce anything else. Emerson, however, is very interested in food and the sight of a person eating will stop her dead in her tracks.

Last Sunday, I decided to make a batch of baby food to freeze. We have been hauling home quite the bountiful fall harvest every week from our farm share and I wanted to put some of those fresh, local, organic veggies to good use. My in-laws also recently sent us this amazing baby food maker, which I've been dying to try out. Despite all my hesitation, I got excited about Emerson's first taste of food, as I was heaping pureed butternut squash into tiny mason jars. I decided we'd give her a few bites, just for fun. I imagined tasting nothing but breast milk her whole life and then tasting and feeling food on her tongue would be a huge moment. So, I gave her some butternut squash (to hold her over until we actually start solids). In the end, it was more of a big deal for me and nothing good or bad came of it (there may be a life lesson somewhere in there). My always serious child, for the most part, acted as if she'd eaten a thousand things, a thousand times before. Like, no big deal. Oh, Emerson.

My husband documented the experience...

Getting ready...
Super excited that the food seems to be going
in her direction for once.
Yes! Give that to me!
Oh...wait…I don't know about this.
What just happened to me?
I'm stunned.
Wait, let me try again.
I don't know, mommy.
Why are you so excited about this, mama? I won't
lie to you, you look kind of insane.
Ok, I like it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

feeling inspired

In the past year, I have only painted three paintings, all of which were for Emerson's nursery. And, if I hadn't felt the desperate (hormonal) need to fully decorate her room, I would have had a completely art-free year. This may not seem like a big deal, but for me it is. I cannot live without creating. I must create or there is a big old empty hole in me, less color and liveliness in my spirit, and the feeling that I am without a purpose. Such is the life of an artist. 

Since I had absolutely ZERO energy for the entirety of my pregnancy, I poured all my creative energy into writing this blog (which, coincidentally made it what it is today). But, over the past week or so I have had a giant burst of inspiration and creative excitement. I'm not exactly sure what the catalyst for this new wave of creative energy was, but I am generating ideas left and right (god, it's been so long since I could say that!) and have been devoting as much time as I can manage, in my crazy life as the mother to a rambunctious 5-month-old baby, to working on my fine art photography, painting, writing, and (at a very slow pace) my portraiture business. Of course, in the past that would have meant spending every moment from the time I got out of bed until the time I went to sleep at night totally focused and working….but, alas, times have changed. I do what I can during nap times (with the baby sleeping ON ME) and have been able to sneak in a half hour of painting here and there (sigh, I used to paint in five-hour stretches). 

I have a big piece of canvas that I have been lugging around from place to place for years, and at one time started a painting of birch bark on it that went totally awry….hated it. Now, it will tell the story of our family with little bits of nostalgia all over it. It might just take me forever to finish with the mini-sessions I've been putting in on it. But, it feels SO good to paint! Creating reminds me of the woman, the individual, I am underneath the conjoined super being: EmersonMama (sidenote-we really need a uni-name/portmanteau like Brangelina).

The very beginning...

Monday, October 15, 2012

five months of emerson

Emerson turned five-months-old on Friday and she seems more like a person and less like a baby to me every day. She decided to start sitting up at four and a half months, which I was not at all expecting. Alex and I were literally discussing this milestone and how it wouldn't happen for a little while and an hour later, while I was reading her a book, Emerson sat up. Pow. I felt so excited and proud of her in that moment, but also a little terrified, because sister is growing up (and becoming mobile) so fast. In the past month her repertoire for moving herself around has grown enormously—scooting, wiggling like a worm, sitting up, reaching, arching her back to free herself, jumping, rolling, pulling herself from place to place. She is On. The. Move. And I'm so not ready for it.

It's incredible to watch a child development, and incredible to watch them behave exactly as a book tells you they will behave. The good old Dr. Sears Baby Book warned me that Emerson would become excessively clingy and fussy just before hitting major milestones, and that she'd have to come back in (to me) a little more as she goes out into the world (in exploration) a little more. And right on cue, so it was. I had the most horrendous week with baby girl (the week before last), so much so that I took her to the doctor's office sure that something was truly bothering her. I got the you-are-such-a-first-time-mom half-smile from her doctor and was sent home with my baby still whimpering non-stop all day and waking up sobbing at night. But, the next day, she sat up. At the same time she seemed more aware, made new sounds, became much more independent and just seemed "grown up" in some new way I can't put into words. At that point, the (maddening) all day fussing stopped just a day shy of me completely losing my mind. 

Now I have this new grown-up baby who currently needs to cuddle extra close at night, sometimes sleep on my chest like she hasn't done since the first few weeks of her life, and wants to nurse connnnnstantly. And you know what? I will let her have all those things. It's exhausting to be "on" for someone else all day (and night), to give more than I thought was possible to give, to try to fill as many needs and wants as possible (not my own, of course). But, I cherish the exhaustion, cherish the opportunity to do all those things, because Emerson won't always need me. She's already growing more independent at five months and I know it will continue to infinity (it may seem contradictory that she is newly independent and desperately clingy, but that's how it goes). I'm not saying that I don't break down at times or get frustrated, because I do. Oh, do I. But, I always return to a place of enjoying this closeness I have with my baby right now. This phase of her life is so short in comparison with any other. Even when I'm overwhelmed by the needs of my child, and motherhood in general, I still never feel like I want things to be any other way…..I still know with every bit of my heart, that I will cry when she's not a baby anymore. I will miss these (exhausting/stressful/chaotic/messy/confusing/long) days. Always. And forever. I will miss the enormous give-a-thon that is my life right now.

Other new developments: Emerson has quite a few obsessions. One is turning the pages in books. If she sees anything resembling a book she will launch herself in its direction and sit there until she has turned every last page. We read to her all day so it only makes sense that she wanted to become more involved in the process. The only problem is she obviously has no idea when to turn the page so we either have to be able to recite the book from memory or continue to tell it with large chunks of the plot missing. Emerson doesn't seem to mind. She has a job to do, and takes it very seriously. 

One of Emerson's other obsessions is teeth brushing. She loves to watch mama brush her teeth and will break out in giggles at the sight of it. Then she will reach for the brush, which I let her hold onto so she can "help" me brush. She loves it. I don't get it. She is, however, very upset by Alex brushing his teeth (perhaps because he doesn't let her help?). This girl continues to crack me up. Children are so curious and engaged in life and love to help, even at five months! 

This is the nightgown Emerson wore home from
the hospital. I put her in it the other night and
was hit with nostalgia….
and how incredibly different she looks today.

Action shot. She's mid-roll.
Look at the concentration of that face.

Annnnd, she's over.

A ruffled bum is just the cutest thing ever.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

honestly adorable: random diaper ramblings

We cloth diaper in our household, but not 100% of the time. I originally intended to commit myself completely to the budget-, baby-, and planet-friendly way of diapering, but have been afraid to put Emerson in cloth diapers overnight since she was born. I made the mistake(?) of buying a package of disposable diapers when I was setting up my nursery—the purpose was to spare my cloth diapers of the meconium that would be exiting my child's bum during the first week of life. But, in hindsight, I think it might've been easier if I had just cloth diapered from day one. And now, I have a 5-month-old baby who is a heavy wetter so I cannot imagine a cloth diaper making it the twelve hours that she is in bed at night (cloth diapering mamas, if you're out there, suggestions for making it overnight?). Even her disposable diapers cannot handle all the pee so we've been dealing with puddles in our bed almost nightly (and a whole lot of laundry, daily). 

I've tried every brand of non-toxic disposables that I can find, because, while I cannot seem to cope with cloth diapering overnight, I also cannot cope with chlorine-, petrochemical, PVC-filled disposable diapers on my child's body either. I figure that I'm at least being a little bit kinder to the earth and to my child's sensitive skin (not exactly kind to my wallet, though) by going with a less toxic diaper. If only they didn't suck so much and could actually hold up to my daughter's nighttime issues. I hate to say it, but I haven't had a good experience with eco-friendly diapers….until I tried the Honest Company. I'm not going to say they are perfect, but they are world's better than any of the other diapers I've tried.

We've been using Seventh Generation from the beginning (and have also tried the Whole Foods 365 brand and Earth's Best), but have always had issues with them. So, I ordered the free Honest Company discovery kit. These are some seriously well-made 100% non-toxic, planet-based, biodegradable diapers (not all "eco diapers" are, by the way). AND they are so incredibly adorable. I'm a sucker for anything that comes in a pretty package.

My mini-plug continues. The Honest Company is subscription based so it is not very economical unless you sign up for monthly shipments. This bummed me out, until I called Customer Service and the bubbly, friendly, incredibly helpful girl on the other end of the phone (I sort of felt like I was actually talking to Jessica Alba-who owns the company if you didn't know-they must only hire people with the same personality as her character from Good Luck Chuck). The Customer Service rep told me that since I cloth diaper and cannot use a full monthly supply of diapers and wipes (we also use cloth wipes) they could send me a shipment of diapers in multiple sizes since I'd be using them for several months instead of one AND they would postpone my next "monthly shipment" for several months. Love this company. 

End of plug.

I really just wanted to post pictures of Emerson modeling the adorable diapers….