Iris: The 7 Month Update

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This girl is still a smile factory, always beaming.

She attacks everything which enters her realm of reach with piranha like swiftness and intensity…

…making it nearly impossible to eat while holding her!

… everything goes in her mouth.

… my favorite: when she pulls at her brother, his hair, arm, shorts; his reactions, her indifference to the object at hand.

Also the way she beams when he pays her attention…he plays with her now, tries to pick her up, gives her toys, sits to chat with her…

She can sit up! (but not without eventually tipping over; eventually as in after a few seconds.)

She shrieks and babbles and laughs a hardy laugh.

Her babbles are sweet and breathy, especially her delirious bedtime chatter.

Her laughs are usually for her Papa, whom she is so overwhelmed by excitement to see when he gets home, and whose kisses tickle her amusingly.

Nearly every time she is placed on her back she flips over immediately…

… she is now as difficult to change on the changing table as I remember her brother was…

— and her wiggly little body is making her even more difficult at bath time than I remember him being. She wiggles and squirms, flipping about like a fish out of water!

She loves all her mobiles.

She still wakes several times a night and falls back asleep while breastfeeding.

She goes down for the night easily. I can place her in her bassinet after she falls asleep between 8pm and 9pm and she will sleep there for one long stretch. She ends up by my side in the night.

She loves riding in the stroller so I push them both about in the double stroller now instead of wearing her everywhere. She faces me and plays with captain calamari, looks around at the world, smiles at strangers, and eventually nods off.

She naps in the carrier or the stroller or on her boppy pillow in my lap after eating. She is not so easily transferred at nap time. (I consider myself “trapped” if she falls asleep while eating, which is a lovely excuse to sit and read or watch Netflix if this happens while Roman is napping.)

She’s such a squeezable little love bug.  I find myself sneaking in hugs a dozen times a day, pausing to hold her soft little self close in my arms, to snuggle her face against my face.

The expressions she forms while chasing after a toy, struggling with all she has to coordinate a grip on it and have it for a snack, the look in her eyes, the way the corners of her mouth contort, her eyebrows all askew…

the eagerness… her earnestness.

I can lay her down on her play mat to play, sit her up in her bumbo seat or stick her in the jumper in the kitchen doorway. She entertains herself for a little while, depending on her mood.

For the most part she is still always attached to me somehow. My little partner in everything. She is never away from me and if she realizes that for once she is, she screams until I return to her.

I can already see the ways in retrospect we’ll recognize her personality.

This is a good age…. she is a good baby <3

A Portrait of Modern Day Fatherhood

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This Father’s Day I’d like to shout from the rooftops how grateful I am to be parenting in this age of involved fathers. Mostly I’d like to say thank you to my dear husband, for being the best father I can possibly imagine to our two lucky children.

I recently read this article about working mothers and my first thought was “wow, that sounds just like what my husband is always saying.” Because here’s what modern fatherhood looks like in our household:

My husband typically co-sleeps with our two year old son while I co-sleep with our baby girl, because even at two he still wakes in the night upset and this is the easiest way for everyone to get the most sleep.

He wakes up early in the morning, after sometimes being up for hours at night with our insomniac child, and heads to work an 8+ hour day at a job he’s passionate about. I stay home with our children.

He checks in multiple times a day to hear what the kids are up to.

He comes home and our toddler clings to him from the moment he walks in the door until he finally falls asleep.

Most nights he makes dinner while our son stands in his kitchen helper and well, “helps”. “Salt” “pepper” and “olive oil” among his first words because he longs whole heartedly to be just like his father.

Some nights he has some time to play with the babies before he takes our son upstairs. He gives him a bubble bath, brushes his teeth, reads him stories and lays with him while he tosses and turns and kicks to get himself to sleep.

Sometimes our son takes so long to wrestle himself to sleep that my husband falls asleep too and never makes it back down.

Other nights he comes back downstairs, helps me with the cleaning up and either finally relaxes or takes his last free moments of the day to work.

He’s constantly evaluating his life for ways to be more efficient, to maximize his time with his family, contributing equally to housework and his efforts for his career. He’s often stressed.

I hope my children will parent in an age when government policy and the workplace supports family life. Remember these awesome photos of dads who took paternity leave?  How wonderful that this is the example being set, the standards our children will live up to. The boxes of opportunity opened up, for women who want to work, for men who want to raise their children. How wonderful that we are afforded these choices. How much work there still is to do! As a feminist I would like to thank all the fathers out there striving to “have it all” too, making space in their careers for their families and expecting as much from themselves in the home as they do from their partners.

HAPPY FATHERS DAY WEEKEND!

On Finally Organizing and Printing Family Photos With Artifact Uprising

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Like most smart phone toting people today, we take a lot of pictures. From time to time we even break out the “good camera” and capture some of our life in high definition. Then we dump all those pictures onto our computer, back them up on an external hard drive, and there they sit. Unedited, unorganized. I have a hard time deleting photos of my babies, so there are dozens, sometimes hundreds of photos that look almost identical just resting there waiting to be filtered through until that one printable winner makes its way into a photo book or frame. The memories piled up and piled up until the task seemed insurmountable, the thought of all that sifting and editing so overwhelming I would give up before beginning. We bought an extra external hard drive to back up the back up, just in case.

And then I asked for a gift card to Artifact Uprising. There are a few printing sites I’ve been a fan of for photo gift giving and card making, like Pinhole Press and Paper Culture, but the gorgeous site and product examples of Artifact Uprising had been calling out to me for some time now, so I gave them a try for this big important project of finally ordering some family photo prints and books. Receiving a gift card was the perfect motivational factor to finally initiate these projects; I highly recommend this to anyone who relates to my dilemma!

I loved the idea of their heavy, frame ready, matte finish Signature Prints. For $29.99 you can choose one 11×14, two 8x10s or four 5x7s. I picked two favorite photos and ordered the 8x10s to see how I liked them before ordering more. They look lovely and I plan to order at least two more.

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The big projects were the photo books. I decided to go with their soft cover photo books. The pages are sturdy with a matte finish, %100 recycled paper. The books start at $17.99 for 40 pages, and go up with size and additional pages. I went with the smallest size, 5×5. I want to be able to continue to print books for each “chapter” of our lives, so this was the practical, affordable option. I decided to make two books, one with all our favorite photos of life before the babies, and one with all our favorite photos of life with Roman before Iris. Two chapters of our lives that have closed. For Roman’s I chose the landscape book and for ours I chose the square. I don’t have a favorite, though I think we did fit more photos into the landscape style, I would say it mostly depends on the photos you’re using.

The site is well designed and so simple to use to design the books. They have multiple layouts to choose from and use for any given page, it’s easy to add pages and to rearrange them (which I did a lot of.) There is a lot of flexibility to create the books exactly as you want them. With so many photos to fit into one book I opted for a lot of pages with multiple pictures, using the full page for our highest quality photos. Those full page photos were by far my favorite. For our next book, the first year as a family of four, I will definitely better utilize that layout option! I think the small soft cover books are wonderful for displaying on photo ledges.

You can create a project and save it, so I started our next book to begin adding photos now so future projects will seem less daunting. As far as how I went about taking those external hard drives full of thousands of photos and turning them into printed books: I created albums in my iPhoto library on my computer with the titles of the photo books and also for all print contenders. Then I plugged in that external hard drive and started dragging and dropping photos! I looked back through Instagram and Facebook to make sure I wasn’t missing any favorite moments or occasions, using them to create an outline of sorts, and then uploaded those albums onto the Artifact Uprising site. I could play around with the pictures and layouts and make my final decisions as I saw how it all fit together. It was a long editing process of choosing favorites, then choosing the favorites of the favorites and so on and on and on.

I’m very happy with the finished products and am still curious about some of the other charming, unique products they offer, like their wood block and prints set, and wooden box .

This post was originally written for Hellobee.com

“More Bubbles!”

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My favorite purchase for the yard this summer? The Gazillion Bubbles Hurricane Machine (with giant backup supply of Gazillion Bubbles Solution.)

$15 has never felt dreamier.

(The machine is as cheap as it sounds, but it doesn’t matter, I will buy it over and over again if it breaks.)

I might also have to buy the tornado and the monsoon to create a never ending atmosphere of iridescent bubble magic for Roman’s upcoming birthday celebration.

Oh the way his sweet little voice repeats “more bubbles, more bubbles, more bubbles” all afternoon….  <3

On Embracing “Slow Parenting”

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“Slow Parenting,” the latest term I’ve come to encounter in this age of naming and defining everything. “Slow parenting cherishes quality over quantity, being in the moment and making meaningful connections with your family…. it’s about being mindful of what you’re doing.” It’s partly about “stopping the glorification of being busy” by scheduling less, and partly about taking time to just watch your children and “drink them in.” It’s wonderful when you discover your own parental attitude and choices neatly summed up in an identifiable “method” that is now making its way around the internet for discussion. It justifies all those moments I opted to neglect a household mess, or straight up let my toddler make one, for the sake of enjoying the moment.

And in all seriousness, it is wonderful to see this being discussed. It is the one thing I feel I’ve really figured out about parenthood (through much conscious effort). How to move at a toddler’s pace. How to let him stop to pick weeds, take his time getting his shoes on himself, to explore and learn in his own way at his own pace. How to watch them, to be truly present, to pay attention. Because that’s what “slow parenting” is really about. It’s a lesson I’ve been focusing on in my life in general lately; one of those essential life lessons our children can teach us. Being afforded the opportunity to stay home with my children has perhaps made this easier. I do not need to rush through my day; most of the time there is no where I must be. Even with that it seemed I used to have to remind myself to switch out of rush mode. In line for groceries this week the woman checking out was having trouble with her payment and the woman between us became quite frustrated and turned to me and said, “you don’t want to be in this line,” before switching to another. I said nothing, but what I wanted to say was, “actually, I’m in no rush, this doesn’t aggravate me in the least!” And I thought to myself, ah I’ve finally accomplished it, my natural instinct is no longer “go go go.”

I want to sink into this phase of my life; this phase everyone is so eager to remind you, “flies by” and is quite possibly, “the best part.” It is amazing how moments that used to bring on stress simply don’t anymore because I let myself just be in them without thinking about all the other things I could or should be doing. When I turn off my to do list conscience and pay attention, it becomes so easy to fall in love with my days, my long meandering days with my babies. Because these babies are so heart wrenchingly beautiful. Because their every movement and expression and emotion is so pure. Their joy, their laughter, their frustration and sadness, so real I can’t help but be moved by every little thing they do. Her smile when I kiss her belly. The way he squints his eyes shut, wrinkles up his nose and grins ear to ear when he’s just so pleased with himself, he can’t contain the excitement of flipping a pretend egg all by himself in his pretend frying pan in his pretend kitchen. All those little things that could be so easy to miss.

I’ve been following a lot of the conversation online about the choice not to have children. One thing that interested me in particular was the acknowledgement of a surprisingly high percentage of people that admitted to regretting having children. I believed children to be something no one regrets, a love you would never want to take back. I even believed children freed you of any former life regrets leading up to their birth. But apparently that’s just not true. This has given me a lot to think about.

I think slow parenting is related, in my mind these conversations keep connecting. Finding moments to connect with our loved ones, consciously cultivating that love — what a beautiful escape from our daily grind, the stresses and the striving. I think a lot lately about how sweet it is to slow down and be truly, all consumingly grateful, and I feel frustrated with a culture that drives us to keep seeking, keep wanting more, that keeps us in a state of chronic dissatisfaction and distraction from the fact that what we truly need to be happy, we already have. I want to ensure that my children never lose sight and gratitude for those simple joys that thrill them now. There is wonder and beauty to be found in every day, and there is so much love to be nurtured.

The Small, Happy Life is a lifestyle I admire. We all make choices about how we give meaning to our lives, we choose what we value and how we prioritize those values. One grand and growing lesson of parenthood, for me, has been to become increasingly conscious of and intentional with those choices, with how I want to live.

Slow parenting, slow living, is a conversation I hope continues.

This post was also shared on Hellobee.com

It Feels Like Summer, and We Have a Yard!

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We have a yard! For the first time ever.

In that yard we now have a grill, a picnic table, a rocking chair, a sandbox, a play house, an inflatable swimming pool, a sprinkler, a t-ball set, a toy shopping cart and a toy car.

Its May, all month it felt like summer, we have a yard.

Never again will we live without a yard.

Roman, that sweet boy, has taken to watering the plants, the grass, his sandbox and himself. He loves to turn the knob on the faucet and watch the water shoot through the sprinklers, but running through the sprinklers is still a “no.” He much prefers to squeeze the handle of the spray gun and watch the mist.

His favorite activity in his sandbox is dumping (sometimes throwing) the sand out of the sandbox.

He loves hitting the ball off the tee. He sets it up, readies his bat, counts “one two three, hit the ball!”, swings and claps and cheers and exclaims “Woah!” to celebrate each hit. Looking to us of course for the same reaction.

Roman’s desire to do whatever his Papa is doing has never been more adorable then with his recent efforts in yard work. He pushes the mower, sweeps and rakes up the yard debris. He loved placing the screws in the picnic table, hammering aimlessly with such conviction.

We can spend hours outside now, Roman entertaining himself better than ever. Finding sticks, hitting trees with said sticks, digging in the dirt, picking weeds, exploring.

We started grilling for our dinners.

(It is amazing the amount of time it takes to maintain a yard in even with the lowest of standards for its appearance…)

This home that felt so isolated, so lonely in the winter, is a whole new place in the Spring sun.

Iris: The 6 Month Update

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At 13 pounds 8 ounces Iris is now 10th percentile for babies her age, 50th on the corrected chart. At 23 1/2 inches she hasn’t made it onto the unadjusted chart yet, but her head is 25th percentile, 75th when corrected for prematurity (both my babies inherited their Papa’s head!)

SHE IS ROLLING BACK TO BELLY! Like non stop. Put her on her back, she flips to her belly. (Apparently many full term 6 month-ers aren’t doing this yet, I am convinced she is a genius.)

She spends more time awake and out of the carrier these days. Jumping in the jumper, rolling on her mat, swatting at her toys, bouncing in my lap.

She laughed SO HARD at her Papa the other day, we had never heard her do anything like it before.

She loves being out and about, watching the world pass by.

She feeds well in the baby bjorn while we walk.

She sleeps 4-6 hour stretches at night.

She’s started drooling constantly and chewing on everything.

She has entered the ‘chronically frustrated at her lack of coordination’ phase. Trying so hard to do something with her toys and her hands. She gets things in her mouth but still isn’t satisfied. Roman was the same exact way, I never knew what it was he was after.

She likes to jump to music.

She lights up with smiles when her brother gives her attention. They are interacting more and more these days.

She has big warm friendly blue eyes with lashes that keep growing darker and thicker .

The way she smiles at strangers, sweetly and excitedly, then shyly nestles her head into my chest before coming back up for another friendly glance, sometimes this way even with her Papa…

She is so expressive. Full of faces that make her seem witty and hilarious.

She loves to see herself in the mirror and on my phone in “selfie mode” (we’ve been taking a lot of mother daughter selfies lately…)

She has discovered her feet but cannot reach them yet, though she tries.

She gets giddy if you kiss her chubby cheeks or round little belly.

She manages to get a fist full of Roman’s hair whenever she gets close enough, sneakily, silently, pulling in true little sister form.

She looks so cute in everything, I cannot stop buying clothes for her.

She comes across as a little attached to “the mama” as I am so often referred to in this house. So I am attached to her, always. She is my sweet baby <3

Adventures, Just The Three Of Us

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Roman, Iris and I were stuck in a rut. A winter house arrest rut. A couple of weeks back my mom came to visit and we decided to do our first metro adventure test run with the babies. We walked to our stop and took it a whole two stops to wander about. When we got home I said to myself, well actually to my mother, “Why have I not been doing this every day?!” It was so easy.

As it turns out, Roman LOVES the metro, or “choo choo” as he so enthusiastically refers to it. He sits so nice in his stroller, watching the doors, the people, looking out the windows. He raises his arms and exclaims “yay choo choo!” at every stop. He looks up at me excitedly every time it goes under ground, and again every time it comes back out into day light. Iris stays content in the baby bjorn. We’ve done up to a 25 minute ride so far stress free.

I was full of mental hurdles about venturing out by myself with the two of them. I imagined he would be antsy in his stroller, that I’d get stuck out in public with two crying babies wiggling all over me, that I’d end up chasing him down the street somewhere. Instead, these “adventures” are a far more enjoyable, even less stressful way to pass our days than remaining in the comfort of our home. Roman loves riding in his stroller. Iris loves looking about at the world. I can feed her in the baby bjorn as we walk.

We’ve made several trips to Old Town and the National Mall. We’ve gone grocery shopping, treated ourselves to donuts, muffins and ice cream, visited the Air and Space Museum, The American History Museum and the Sculpture Garden at The National Gallery of Art. We had a picnic on the lawn at the National Mall with lunch from a food truck.

I officially feel like a city family again. For so long I felt so isolated, so far removed from our life in Dupont Circle. With nothing to walk to here besides the metro I thought getting out and about was too much of a challenge. Spring has proven me wrong. Thank you spring. Summer, I sure am looking forward to you and all those splash parks!

Sleepy Eyes and Sweet Bye Byes

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One of my favorite parts of this moment in our life:

Roman says “bye bye” at least two dozen times a day.

He says “bye bye” to his food when he doesn’t want to finish it, “bye bye eggys” “bye bye toe (toast)”, “bye bye noo noos”.

Eyes wide he says “bye bye” to every car or dog that passes by, waving eagerly, fast and high.

“Bye bye” to mama, papa and baby when we leave the room, or he leaves the room, and maybe when he wants us to leave the room because sometimes it comes completely out of nowhere.

Whenever he’s done with something: “bye bye bubbles” (Oh the way he says “bubbles”!) “bye bye Wheel” (Referring to his new favorite music video which features a graphic of a spinning record) “bye bye shoe” “bye bye bubbos” (the word he invented for drums)

The other day he said “bye bye pee pee” when I flushed the toilet. I thought this was very clever of him.

 Also, the way he loves those footsie pajamas, pointing at his feet as we pull them on, “shoe! shoe!”… smiling, ecstatic.