Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Sleeping Baby

Long story short, Emerson has not been sleeping well lately. It's taking her longer to fall asleep at bedtime, she's restless and wakeful in the late-night hours, and she's begun waking up multiple times in the early-morning hours. I'm always left wondering if it's her teeth causing trouble (all the usual signs of teething pain are back), if she's hungry (it's time for a growth spurt and perhaps her nutritional needs are changing as she transitions to solids), or if she just wants to play (her little giggles make that obvious at 4:00 a.m. on a regular basis). Though I know we've been considerably lucky that she's slept as well as she has for as long as she has, these long nights of late have been rough.

I've been increasingly mindful of the need for sleep training of some sort, and increasingly uncomfortable with the variety of possible methods. Letting Emerson simply cry, when my biological make-up makes that painful for myself as well, felt wrong.

However, for whatever reason, tonight I let her do it.

Perhaps my late-afternoon coffee gave me the boost of energy I needed.
Perhaps my social time with friends today gave me encouragement.
Perhaps spending time with an older baby gave me motivation.
Perhaps it was reading the preface to C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" moments before. (Clearly, a powerful book already.)

Bobby was out with the guys; I was home alone. The time was right.

The girl was sound asleep in her crib. And then, something woke her up. She fussed, and I let her complain for a while. Then, I decided to go to her nursery.

I put my hand on her chest, and I watched her wiggle around, making sounds which truly just amounted to the equivalent of her yelling at me. And that's when it clicked: she really wasn't crying, per se.

Crying was what she does after her shots at the doctor's office.
Crying is what she does when I've left the room briefly and she's in the arms of someone she doesn't think she's quite so comfortable with.
Crying, for Emerson, means tears streaming down her face, and her voice taking on an entirely different tone.

To let Emerson "cry it out" would be, in my opinion, the wrong game plan. But, tonight, there was no crying about it. No tears, no trauma. She was, essentially, "letting it out"...communicating to me, as she knows how, that she wasn't enjoying herself, that she would prefer to be more comfortable elsewhere, that she wasn't pleased.

Fair enough. I get it. (I regularly feel the need to express myself similarly, though it isn't quite as socially-permissible when you're past infancy.) In any case, she was frustrated, and she "let it out", but she wasn't heartbroken.

We weren't miserable. I stood next to her crib with my hand on her chest, my biggest discomfort not my ears, but my tired legs. For fifteen minutes or so, we held our own.

And then, just like that, I looked down at what had suddenly become a very tired baby, her head turned to the side, eyes closing, drifting off to sleep.

She had "let" it all out.

Monday, February 25, 2013

27 Candles

What a lovely weekend we just enjoyed! Bobby's 27th birthday was yesterday, and the past two days were full of celebration for the wonderful blessing that his life is. 

On Saturday night, we had dinner at a Japanese steakhouse with Bobby's family, and Emerson had her first taste of hibachi. (Figuratively-speaking, of course.) She and the chef found each other quite entertaining, and for one of her first restaurant experiences, it was certainly a success.

After dinner, the family came over to our house for cake & ice cream & the Mizzou basketball game. The game didn't end well...but, let's talk about this cake for a moment, shall we?

My mom discovered this recipe on Pinterest over the summer and fixed it for her birthday in July. (I'm a bit embarrassed that she had to do such a thing. Baking your own birthday cake just seems wrong. But, to be fair, I had just delivered Emerson ten days earlier and was in no condition to spend time in the kitchen. Goodness, July was a blur!) This is a three-layer chocolate cake, with a middle layer of brownie, covered in chocolate icing, with chocolate chips throughout. Anyone who loves chocolate...or is a human being...really ought to try it. Needless to say, it made an impression on Bobby in July and was his request for his birthday cake this year. I'm happy to report that he didn't have to make it himself.

For Bobby's birthday on Sunday, we watched a church service at home, ate lunch at Hong Kong Inn, went clothes-shopping for the birthday boy (largely unsuccessfully, I'm afraid), stopped for a coffee treat at the Mudhouse, and ended the day with a steak dinner at my parents' house...with more of that sinfully-delicous chocolate cake for dessert. 

Bobby's 25th birthday included a surprise party. So, I was a bit surprised myself when he said last night that "this birthday was the best yet". His explanation? "Emerson wasn't here before." He has a point.

Bobby's first birthday as a daddy was a special one, and I think 27 is going to suit him just fine.

Friday, February 22, 2013

It Isn't Just Me

I had a book as a child that I remember enjoying largely because of its title. It's Just Me, Emily had my name! In print! Repeatedly! (What little girl wouldn't consider a book like that a classic?!)

As I was considering potential blog titles for this "facelift", that childhood favorite of mine came to mind. But to say "It's Just Me", just won't do. 

Because at this season of my life, as I navigate being "Mrs.", becoming "Mommy", and balancing myself...I've learned that it isn't just me. 

It's me & Bobby...
my husband since August 15th, 2009 and the only man who has ever held my heart... 

...& our daughter, Emerson...
a perfect miracle born July 1st, 2012, who has brought us indescribable joy every day since....

...& our dog, Royal...
who keeps life interesting...

...& our home, our families, our friends, & our God. 

I am blessed beyond measure to be surrounded with such love, and I thank the Lord that it isn't just me. 

(It never really was.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Snow Day

The life of a stay-at-home mom is relatively flexible, unstructured in the sense that there are no bosses to report to or business deadlines to meet. (While one might be inclined to insert the adjective "relaxed" in this job description, that would be oh, so very misguided and unfortunate.

I do have the benefit of lingering over my morning coffee, perusing a magazine while my baby explores toys next to me, and should she decide to nap, I have the chance to catch a few afternoon zzz's myself. (To be clear, my "lingering" is done while Emerson and I play, my "perusing" is done only by glancing at a page here & a page there, and my afternoon snoozes are a rarity...because so are Emerson's naps.) Of course, my "office hours" are all twenty-four each day, and it is very much "work" in every sense of the word. 

(I shall avoid a stay-at-home vs. working mother diatribe here as those are hardly productive. The roles are very different, to be sure, and I doubt quite highly that--without having experienced both--a mother in one position could truly understand the trials associated with a mom in the other.)

Although my wardrobe of sweatpants may lead you to believe otherwise, I do try very diligently to make each day a productive one, for Emerson's benefit and for the maintenance of our household. There are obvious chores to do, of course, and other projects I find (or create) for myself to do, as well. The point is...my days are full...often busy & frequently productive. (To be clear again, a great many of my days are none of those things...and the lack of activity and lack of adult company brings about its own mental challenges.)

As I write this, icy sleet is hitting the windows and I'm looking at the backyard, with its ice-covered grass blades and icicles hanging from the rooftop. Today is shaping up to be a perfectly wintery day, and I have the blessing of being cozy inside with Emerson.*

And today, I'm giving myself permission to relax. To be productive if I want to be, but not because I feel like I need to get anything done other than cuddling with my daughter. I'm going to give myself the  "snow day" that many of my friends are enjoying, and I'm going to do my best to guiltlessly enjoy the slow-pace and the quiet. Emerson and I are going to do little more than snuggle, play, and admire the beauty of the winter wonderland from the warmth of our living room.

Because stay-at-home mommies need a snow day every now and then, too. 

*I have this blessing because of a husband who woke up this morning and went to the office with not a hint of complaint about his task. I know he would've enjoyed a snow day, too, and I'm so very grateful for his willingness to serve our family, even on days such as these. What a good man.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Emerson: Seven Months

February 1, 2013

  • You are wearing a few 6 month outfits, lots of 6-9 month onesies, and a few 9 month sleepers. For some reason, the transition to wearing 9 month outfits entirely is tricky for Mommy. You are growing up so very fast....
  • Playing with toys is a big part of your daily routine, and it has been so fun to watch you discover your favorites. We've set out your activity mat on the couch and ottoman, and you have a nice play space in the middle of the family action. You enjoy sucking on your stuffed caterpillar, chewing on "Sophie", and catching glimpses of yourself in the mirror. You've figured out how to make the electronic frog play the "Froggy Went A'Courtin'" jingle by slapping the button three times. You've chewed the corners of your "Animals" board book, and you love looking through the pages to find the "pupp-y!" You seem to love books, and we love that. People seem to be your favorite "toy", though. 
  • You are still nursing several times a day, although you're getting distracted far more easily. You reach around with your free hand and grab onto mine, or onto the side of my tummy. It's difficult to imagine that we ever struggled with finding our rhythm...you're an expert now, and feeding you feels so natural. 
  • You are discovering solid food, though! So far, your repertoire includes rice cereal, sweet potatoes, avocado, applesauce, peas, yellow squash, green beans & bananas. You've yet to really get excited about any food on a regular basis. 
  • Royal has figured out the beauty of your eating solids, and he sneaks under the table to his post next to your highchair.  When you see him nearby, you sneakily stretch your arm down so he can lick your fingers, although we try our best to minimize this behavior. You've discovered how to throw chunks of banana onto the floor specifically for Royal's benefit, and although it's ever-so-kind of you to share your favorite snack, we've had to tell you "no" a few times. You two seem to have an agreement, and are making quite the pair!
  • You are learning to put yourself to sleep, or, rather, soothe yourself back to sleep after you wake up. You consistently wake up at or very near 10:30 p.m. and often need my hand on your back to help you fall back to sleep. Then, your internal clock wakes you around 2:30 a.m., but you've learned to cry for a bit and sleep once again. Around 5:30 a.m., you're ready to nurse and often go back to sleep for a short while. At 7:00 a.m., you usually wake up with a smile, happy to sit on the bed while Mommy and Daddy finish getting ready for the day, entertained by Royal's tail, purely delighted by the excitement of a new day!
  • You are consistently napping for an hour or so around 9:30 or 10:00 a.m., on the couch with Mommy. (Laying in the crib for daytime naps is still not something you tolerate.) Then, in the afternoon, you're ready for another hourlong snooze around 1:00 p.m., and then take a "power nap" around 4:30 p.m. before Daddy comes home.
  • Your vocal skills are coming on strong! You've mastered "buh, buh", "ffff", "vvv", and "puh, puh". The funny thing about it is that once you discover a new sound, you seem to practice it all day...and then after 24 hours, we don't hear it anymore! You're storing it up, I suspect, until you're ready for complete sentences. 
  • A few months ago, Grandpa brought the bird feeder at the kitchen window to your attention ("Come back, chickadee, come back!"), and it has become more and more appealing to you. When we're in the kitchen, we look for birds (often, Mama and Papa Cardinal) eating their breakfast or lunch, and you know just where to look to see them. 
  • The bathroom counter was getting too wet to continue your baths in that fashion, so we've moved you to the big tub. You still sit in the infant tub, however, just until you're not wobbily sitting up anymore. It seems to work really well. Splashes are minimized, clean-up is a breeze...and Daddy and I get to soak our feet in the warm water every night while you bathe. It's a great set-up. ("Frankenstorm!")
  • Making you laugh is one of our favorite things. You often squeal when we "nibble" your tummy, blow raspberries ("I'mmmm...gonnnaaa...get you!"), or pretend to smell your feet ("puht, puht...stinky, stinky!"). Your giggles are so beautiful; you seem to like the sound of it, too. I hope you always love to laugh.
  • When you're hungry or sleepy, you often grab my neck with your fingernails...and I have a network of scratches to prove it. Also, you bite...and I'll leave it at that.
  • I don't mind the scratches (the biting I could do without), because you're learning to communicate your needs...and you've also started giving "kisses" by sucking on my chin after I kiss your cheek. Those kisses make my day.
  • You enjoy playing peekaboo and have started initiating the game by putting a blanket or the nearest burp cloth over your head. ("Where's Emerson?"..."There she is!")
  • You're an expert at sitting up, though you are so ready to be mobile. You've begun falling forward intentionally and are moving your leg up under you a bit when you're on your tummy. You often rotate full-circle on the floor...it won't be long now!

Your personality is blossoming, little one. 
You become more entertaining by the day, and as you interact with us more & more, 
I see how much your spirit shines. 
What a gift God has given us through you! 
I love you, Emerson.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Feelin' The Love

Last Valentine's Day, Bobby and I were anxiously waiting to open the envelope on the mantel and learn the gender of our baby on the way. That night, when we learned we were having a daughter, I knew our world would be full of "sugar and spice" and everything pink, and I was overjoyed.

Presents for Emerson on the mantel this year!

What I didn't (couldn't!) know, however, was the unique & incredible love we'd feel for our sweet Emerson Blair. A love unlike any other than I'd known before. A love that began the moment I met her, and a love that's grown ever since.

Bobby and I are celebrating our tenth Valentine's Day today. This year, I am aware of my loving him differently...better...than before. I have the benefit & joy now of seeing him as a father, of recognizing his love for our little girl, and for appreciating how he loves both of us so well.

Basically, this year, I'm feelin' the love!

Love as a parent...feeling a love that just is, and increases every day.

Love as a wife...feeling loved, choosing and nurturing love for my husband, and constantly learning what that means as we grow in our new roles as "Mom and Dad".

Love as a child of God...feeling and understanding the depth of a Father's love, and recognizing how incomparable His great, great love truly is.

My heart is full!