Friday, July 30, 2010

8-week Update

Clairebear is 8 weeks old today. I'm basically required to follow that with, "and I can't believe it's gone by so fast," but it's true- I really can't. Everything has been SO much easier this time around. And not because of Claire- as it turns out she is much like her big brother with the milk protein allergy, super expensive formula, and freaking reflux. Oh yes, we landed a pediatric gastroesophageal reflux disease diagnosis last Friday when I took Claire to the doctor an hour before we were supposed to leave for Houston for my mom's party. She'd been up every half hour the night before just crying and crying and it was so sad and nothing helped, not even her bottle which she seems to love more than life itself, and finally at about 3 a.m. JP stuck her in her car seat and drove her around the block for 30 minutes. When he trudged back in the door with a baby who had been asleep until the moment the car stopped moving he said, "no more kids." I told him that shouldn't be a 4 a.m. decision, but I wasn't about to argue just then.

(though this one is so cute!)

The pediatrician agreed it was GERD, and due to my vast experience and knowledge of reflux treatments, we got to skip straight to the good stuff- a strong dose of Prevacid in the evening and Zantac as an option in the morning if she's really struggling (we've only used that once so far, and I'm really not sure Zantac does anything, it didn't for Landon.). Claire is doing so much better- about an hour after she took the Prevacid for the first time, she had her nighttime bottle, heaved a great sigh, and fell into a deeper sleep than she had for days. And then she slept for 7 hours! Delightful- for everyone. I think we caught on much earlier with Claire so there wasn't as much damage to her esophagus yet and the medicines were able to help better, faster.


There is so much that has made things easier this second time around. Previous experience is big- you learn a lot about babies and their many issues after surviving the infancy of a difficult one. This time I knew what reflux was as well as how to recognize it. It also helps to know that one bad night won't kill anyone. Not you, not your marriage, and not your baby. In fact, a hundred bad nights won't kill you. And I also know that it's going to get so much easier and so much more fun. Having a toddler around is a fantastic reward at the end of babyhood. And knowing all of that has helped me to enjoy Claire's babyhood that much more.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thoughts on My Return

I have 5.5 weeks left of my 13 week maternity leave (12 weeks paid leave + 1 week vacation). I've been asked how I feel about this, so I want to address it, but it's probably not going to be very interesting because the full and complete answer is that I feel fine. For one, not feeling fine isn't an option because my working isn't an option, so there's not much point in finding reasons to be unhappy with the reality of returning. But for the sake of discussion, I'll pretend like I didn't just write that previous sentence and delve a little deeper into my emotions regarding my return to full-time working attorney.

And, well, I feel fine. I'm looking forward to it in a certain sense. I like working and I miss the intellectual outlet that being a lawyer provides me. Not that I haven't used my brain at home, or that stay-at-home parents don't have intellectual outlets, I just really enjoy the unique analytical processes that come with being an attorney. I like reading cases and I like finding ways to coax their holdings into working for the argument I'm making. I miss the professional environment- talking about current cases or news stories (or the latest episode of Glee) with my colleagues, and I miss my office with its order and separateness from my home life. Basically, I just like my job. Whether it's because it really is the perfect career for me or because it's the career I have and the salary is necessary for my family so I've decided it's the perfect one for me (or more likely, a combination of the two), I'm happy with my life as a lawyer mom, and I'm happier in that role than I am as a stay-at-home mom.

Which is not to say that I am counting down the days to my return (I'm not) or that I haven't deeply enjoyed my time at home (I have). These weeks have been more enjoyable, more relaxing, and more maternally satisfying than I ever expected. I'm very grateful for them- there's no mandatory paid maternity leave in the US and many companies don't provide for it. I have loved every one of the hours I've logged on the couch, holding a snuggly, sleeping Claire- or, more recently, a wide-eyed awake Claire who can't seem to figure out where she is but is pretty sure everything looks familiar. I've enjoyed grocery shopping in the middle of the day and starting big dinners (and new recipes!) at 5:00. I've enjoyed being able to plan vacations and lunches and know that no case or sudden partner request will get in the way of them. And I've really enjoyed my daytime uniform of casual clothes and flip flops.

The things I worry about when I decide to worry (usually when I can't sleep) are as follows: One, being a working mom with one kid worked out great- I felt like our days were pretty easy and we spent a lot of happy time together, but I haven't done this with two. What if I can't give both of them enough of myself? What if JP and I don't have enough time together? With Landon we're off duty at 8 pm and that's when we can spend our quality couple time and when I can do the work I didn't finish because I darted out of the office at 5:30. But I'm optimistic. Claire is a great sleeper (11pm to 5:30am the past 5 nights!) and one benefit of JP's unpaid independent contractor status is that his work is extremely flexible and he can drop off and pick up the kids as needed. Claire and Landon will be at the same daycare, which we love and is a mile from the house, and I think our routine will be much the same as it was before. Before I started working I thought mornings and evenings would be so stressful as a working parent, but so far, ours just aren't. They're relaxed and organized and fun and I'm hopeful that will continue.

My second worry involves my job, its recent low work flow, and my lack of options and a network in Austin. I've vowed to work on this. I need to get involved with more (and by more, I mean at least one) associations or bar events in my city. I need that both for potential lateral moves (whether necessary or desired) as well as to have any chance of making partner where I am. I'll be starting my 3rd year when I return and it just isn't that long before you need to have developed an area of specialty or expertise, as well as worked out whether or not you want to aggressively pursue the path to partnership in a few short years. I don't know my answer to that, but I am keenly away of how much my family needs my salary. I need to make sure I'm in as strong a position in my career as I possibly can be and that is going to involve some out-of-work commitments. I don't like it, I love coming home at the end of the day and soaking up my family time- my ability to do that every day is what makes my life work for me- but I need to start looking at it as another way I'm serving my family and missing a dinner or two a month isn't going to hurt any of us.

My third concern is that I've forgotten everything I used to know about law and that my fellow 2nd years have moved past me in knowledge and experience while I've been out. There's not much I can do about this except work hard when I get back and remind all the partners who loved me before I left that they still do. I'm less worried about this than the other two things, but it's there.

So that's that. September 7th is the big day back. Claire starts daycare on August 23rd- or at least we start having to pay for daycare on August 23rd, so we'll probably use those two weeks for some short transition days. Landon, who continues to just thrive over at the neighborhood center, is so excited that his babyclaire is going to be at daycay too. I think it's all going to be good.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Got It!

It's not a good angle, the light is terrible, and the perspective makes her triple chin look even more out of control than normal, but I finally captured Claire giving her Daddy big smiles this morning!

I never really understood this phrase before when applied to babies, but she is absolutely delicious. I actually found myself attempting to chew on her cheek yesterday.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

For My Mom, Master of Biology

I'd been planning the party for months.

My mom, a high school biology teacher, has been working towards her masters in biology for the past 2 years through a distance learning program with an out-of-state university. To say it has been hard would be a vast understatement, but because she doesn't like to complain and is herself the most positive person I know (second only perhaps to her mother), she probably wouldn't like me detailing the struggle of the past 2 years. But it has been hard. Really, really hard. I remember when Landon and I drove over to see my dad on his birthday and on Saturday morning I heard noises downstairs at 3:45. 3:45 AM. It was my mom, up early, so she could get some studying done before the day began. Then after 2 years of that, she had to spend 2 weeks in June at the out-of-state university working 24 hours a day to complete all the on-site lab work and take the comprehensive exam so she could graduate. At the end of the exam, on the last day of the program, she sent a text to all of us saying, "It was awful... I can't talk about it." (I should note that we later discovered she got an A on that test, something which did not surprise anyone in our family besides her.)

So obviously, at the end of all this, she needed a party. Both to celebrate her and her amazing achievement while working full-time (and working so hard she still got nominated for teacher of the year), and also for her family and friends to celebrate getting her back in our lives the way we know she wants to be!

I emailed my dad in April to suggest the idea and he agreed to fund whatever I planned (within certain budgetary guidelines, of course). It was the perfect partnership and I loved every second of the planning process. The only hard part was not saying anything to my mom! In the end we told her there was going to be a party (since there was no way we could hide it on the day of), but didn't tell her any details, including the guest list.

When she arrived at the restaurant on Saturday I think she was surprised to find 35 people there to honor her, and I know she was shocked to find her parents among them:

They had traveled all the way down from Northern Wisconsin just to be at the party in Houston for a few hours.

We are all so proud of my mom. My dad even kept his leaky eyes (as he calls them) in check for a short toast and then my mom made everyone cry by toasting all of us in return.

It was a great little luncheon and I'm so glad it all came together like it did. Though when you combine good friends, loving family, Italian food, cake, and a very good reason to celebrate- how could it not be wonderful?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Claire's Announcement

I love stationery, particularly personalized stationery. I love the thick card stock, the crisp, professional printing, and the way I feel when I put pen to paper to drop someone a little note. (I also love writing thank you notes, but that's a different topic.)

And for as much as I love stationery, I love formal announcements and invitations even more. Picking out our wedding invitations took me hours even though I knew I wanted something very simple and traditional and my budget was very limited. I struggled over the font selection for days. I love getting a heavyweight envelope in the mail and seeing what friends have selected for their own wedding. Birth announcements are even more fun because you get to be more creative and they involve pictures of itty bitty babies and proud parents. I also love the archival nature of all these things- they commemorate very big events in your life and putting them on a page of a wedding album or baby book makes me very happy.

(Side note, my mom keeps my baby book up in my old room at home and I love flipping through it when we visit. It's so fun to read about the early years I don't remember from my mom's perspective. I feel like I get to see a version of her, and a version of me, that I wouldn't otherwise know. My birth announcement is also in there, a little card with my name and birth information hand-written on the inside page and a picture of me, wide-eyed and brand new with a bonnet on my head, on the front. That baby book means a lot to me.)

One of the things I was so excited about while pregnant with Claire was designing her birth announcement. I knew I wanted something nature-inspired (based on her nursery), I wanted it to do our much-anticipated professional pictures justice, and I wanted to hire my friend Ally to do it. Her company is Little Bears Designs and I think she did an amazing job. She was extremely patient with my back-and-forth emails saying things like can we move this box a little this way? or change this color a little bit? or add some vines, no take away some vines, no wait never mind I like them how you had them before. And when I finally gave her the okay at about 10 pm on a Tuesday night, these gorgeous cards, in a heavy card stock with a linen finish, were at my door 36 hours later:



One sits proudly in a frame on a wall of Claire's nursery and another is taped to a page of her baby book. I just love them!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Where's My Sticker?

Because I know you guys are on the edge of your seats regarding my new commitment to exercise, I wanted to let you know how my I'm doing. Yesterday I dug out a pair of old Swedish goggles (the only goggles I like to swim with and not because they're Swedish -- well, not just because of that, they're also the only ones that have ever felt good on my eyes and don't leak. Plus, fun colors! and cheap!), a cap from high school that has my maiden name emblazoned on the side, and a training suit and headed to the pool. I told JP my goal was to swim 1,000 yards and he scoffed and said I could do at least a mile. After I yelled at him and told him how hard it was to swim 9 years out of competitive training and how bored I get swimming by myself, I secretly resolved to do a 2,000 just so I could come home and proudly announce my total.

Once in the pool I felt much better than I anticipated- the water is still home to me and my stroke technique came right back. However, I had NO endurance and by the end of my 200 warm-up (8 laps, for the non-swimmers) my arms were shaking. Shaking! In high school we warmed up with a thousand every morning. But I persevered and made some sets for myself and then vowed to stick with them. I know the limits of my self-discipline so they were all short sets of 10 x 50's, mixing things up with kicks, drills, and different strokes. I was done in a little less than 40 minutes and I felt really good - tired, but good, and it felt even better to triumphantly announce my 2000 yards to JP when I walked in the door.

Then, while I was still riding on my post-swim high, I saw yesterday's Groupon for a local yoga studio. It was $49 for a month of unlimited classes and I bought it. For those who don't know me, that was a huge leap in my path to physical fitness. I hate yoga- completely hate it. In theory I think it's fantastic, and I appreciate that is is great for your body, but I am so inflexible and get so impatient that it has very much NOT worked for me in the past. But I have been told by multiple doctors that I need to try it, that it will help my headaches, and that I will continue getting more and worse back injuries if I don't start stretching. So I'm excited about trying it out- and because I just invested $49, I WILL be going on a frequent and regular basis for at least those 30 days. I love group classes, so it will have that going for it and hopefully it will be okay that I don't know anything about yoga and I can't touch my toes (or my ankles, or my lower shin) without pain.

Today I skipped the pool and popped in Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. I turned on Level One and OH. MY. GOD. I was begging for a break after about 45 seconds. How is that workout only 18 minutes long? It is at LEAST an hour. Claire had a tummy ache and was a little more needy than usual. I had her all set up in her play gym will mommy worked out, but I have to admit I was very grateful for her need to be held every 5 minutes or so. Jillian kept telling me I didn't get any breaks, but what she doesn't know won't hurt her and my in-home gym doesn't come with childcare (JP was out). Even with my breaks it was still a good work out and I don't know how any one moves on to Levels 2 or 3. I'm not even sure I can do Level One again tomorrow. Has anyone done all 30 days in a row? How long did it take to not want to die by minute 6? Right now I'm thinking of alternating it every other day with my swimming.

It's back to the pool tomorrow- now that I've started out with a 2,000 I feel like I have to do at least that from here on out. I'm hoping I can start really pushing myself, I'm just so bad about doing just enough to be tired without pushing past it. Practice was never something I enjoyed about swimming- I just like racing (and winning), but I'm trying. I'll just picture my favorite work dress at the end of the lane- I'm determined to fit into it by the time I go back!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jumping Back In

My 6-week check-up was last Thursday and I am now cleared to swim, take baths, exercise, and have sex. This is good since I was already doing all of the above (except the exercise- unless shoe shopping and house cleaning counts). I am also back to the land of mindless, effortless Mirena birth control, which is good, since we kind of suck at taking care of that on our own. I may be undecided on the possibility of a baby #3, but I am 1000% certain that I do not want baby #3 any time soon. The mere idea is terrifying.

(Although, Claire learned how to smile a few days ago. She forgets she knows how most of the time, but then out of nowhere she'll remember and smile in response to your smile, and then she'll get so excited that you're so excited that she'll smile more and smile bigger and get caught in this vortex of delight and smileyness. And in that moment I completely get why some people are so obsessed with babies, because I find myself wanting at least a dozen. But still, not right now.)

I can't believe we've only known Claire for 6 1/2 weeks. She seems like such a natural, forever part of our family. I also can't believe I was pregnant and had surgery only 6 weeks ago. It seems like I've felt great forever. The only two reminders are my scar and the 15 lbs. of flabbiness that is hanging out in my midsection. I admit that I have made almost no effort to get rid of it, but I was kind off hoping it would all just disappear on its own anyway. I need to start making some gains (or really, losses) in that direction because I have a lot of money invested in a work wardrobe that I really want to fit again by September.

It took me a while to lose the weight after Landon- I was still wearing my maternity pants at 8 weeks, but no one remembers that because I suddenly got so skinny when he was about 5 months old. Life got very stressful right around then and my body's response to stress is to lose all appetite for food- the thought of eating would turn my stomach (this from the girl who ranks restaurants by their french fries and loves cookies more than almost anything in the world). I don't want my life to be that stressful ever again and I like my happy, heartily appetited self, so I wonder if it will even be possible for me to fit into some of my clothes again... It's probably good if I don't, but that doesn't mean a little part of me doesn't hope it will happen anyway. I really like some of those pieces.

Anyway, since Claire has exhibited all the signs of being an easy, non-stressful baby, I'm turning to exercise. I've never been good at working out on my own- the most fit I've ever been was when I swam as part of a team and when I did exercise classes in college, but I'm going to try. Joining a gym is definitely not in the budget right now, and while working out with JP would be just like having a coach, I'm not sure our marriage could survive it. He watched me swim once and I did not take well to his well-intentioned critiques of my stroke. The same thing also happened when we lifted weights together once- a barbell was very nearly dropped on his foot. Accidentally of course.

So I've planned a swimming work out for myself tomorrow. It's approximately 135 degrees here, so running or walking or doing anything outdoors and not in water is out of the question. I'm really hoping I can make myself swim more than a few hundred yards and that I'll keep it up a few times a week. That would be unlike me. Maybe a sticker chart would help? If only I had some sort of public forum to write about my progress with a way for people to comment and bug me if I don't stick with me plan. That might work...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Birthday Wrap-Up

One more post to wrap up the birthday weekend. Yesterday morning was Landon's party at a brightly colored warehouse full of bounce houses, aka Toddler Heaven.

a small corner of the inflatable universe

We picked this particular place because it's near our house (and near all of his friends' houses), relatively new, very clean, and geared toward the younger crowd. It was also very well priced. I think I spent more money hosting his party at our house last year- though this did deny me a chance to use my serving dishes and lay out a table full of food and I do love doing that.

Anyway, the kids LOVED it and JP, who got to do his favorite thing and become a kid himself, loved it too.

I don't like to post pictures of other people's kids without their knowledge and permission, and since most people I know don't know I have a blog, there aren't many pictures I can share from the party. For the record, there were 9 toddlers in attendance and all appeared to have a blast. It was adorable to watch them play with each other and to see that happy hysterical squealing is very contagious. I also realized later that all of them were extremely well behaved- everyone got along, happily ate their pizza and fruit, and then patiently waited for their piece of cake.

And speaking of the cake:

Landon found the caterpillar to be every bit as delicious as he anticipated.

It was a lot of fun and it was awesome to just leave at the end of it all. We opened the presents at home after his nap and he got some great things that were mostly different from anything he already had. I'd flirted with the idea of putting "no gifts please" on the invitation because he just doesn't need anything and he continues to be so happy with the toys he already has- I don't think he's ever even asked for anything. But we never buy him toys outside of holidays and his birthday and we've bought gifts for nearly all of his invited friends, so I decided to leave it off. And I have to admit that I'm glad I did- he loves his new toys and has spent the whole day rotating among them (current favorite: a Melissa & Doug grilling set and a John Deere tractor/dump truck thingy). We already wrote our thank-you notes and talked about how nice it was that all of his friends picked out such special presents for him-- and if asked he'll tell you his favorite part about his birthday was the cake (and, if pressed to move beyond sugar, he'll say it was bouncing at the bounce house with his friends), so I guess I shouldn't worry too much about materialism taking hold of him. Not yet at least.

All in all it was a lovely, surprisingly relaxing birthday celebration. Now I'll get back to some regularly scheduled publishing on things like my thoughts on being halfway through my maternity leave, c-section v. vaginal birth recovery, Claire's newbornhood, and whatever else I happen think of or you ask me to write about.


Friday, July 16, 2010

For the baby book (written yesterday)

Dear Landon,

Today you are three years old. You've been looking forward to this day since sometime in February when you learned it was my birthday and wanted to know about yours. Since then you have told at least 100 strangers that "my birthday is in July!" and we have discussed the merits of various birthday cakes for months. For the record, you selected a chocolate cake with white frosting from Costco that they will decorate with a multi-colored caterpillar. You are extremely excited about this cake and the fact that your friends will get to eat it too.

In fact, as I sit here and think about what I want to memorialize about who you are right now, I think that's it- you are just 38 inches and 38 pounds of excitement. Excitement, playfulness, and love. Toddlers have a bad reputation and you have single handedly slayed it for anyone who knows you. You are so happy and smiley, so giving and empathetic, and just so generally sweet that it's impossible not to smile when you're around. You love new people, adapt easily to change, and are enthusiastic about nearly everything.

You talk non-stop, using new words and complex phrases in a way that surprises us daily. There are so many nights that your daddy and I lay in bed and one of us will just start laughing quietly over something you said during the day. You are very matter-of-fact, often telling us things that you want to happen as though they are already certain. You remember things we've said and play them back for us at inopportune times weeks later. You also put things together to make your own, surprisingly logical, conclusions. Yesterday when I was feeding Claire a bottle you walked over to us and said, "Baby Claire, you need to drink ALL you milk so you can grow up big and strong and talk to me!". I'm assuming this came from us telling you that milk is Claire's food, that Claire can't talk to you until she gets bigger, and your food makes you big and strong. It's little moments like that that make me unbelievably glad I had children.

And speaking of Claire, you are such an amazing big brother. You love Claire and introduce her as "my baby sister" to everyone. Your favorite thing is to "pet" her head or her feet and you always insist on giving her a hug before you go to bed. You get very excited every time we take a car ride because "baby Claire" is next to you in the back seat. Sometimes I'll walk into a room to find you sitting near her and playing and when you see me you say "I was just taking care of my sister mommy". When she cries you're one of the first in our room to check on her and ever since we mentioned she sometimes has a tummy ache you walk up and ask her how she's feeling every morning. You really do love her very much and it is a joy to see.

You continue to love your room and your bed, and you sleep from approximately 8 pm to 7 am each night. You have never left your bed at night, and in the morning you take yourself downstairs to play in the playroom until mommy and daddy wake up. In fact, it wasn't until a few weeks ago when I was up at 6:30 feeding Claire that I found out you come downstairs a lot earlier than we thought you did! But I think you like your early alone time because you looked very confused and not exactly happy to see me awake when you were. Each morning when daddy or I come out of our room we'll find you building a block tower or reading a book to Puppy, Ducky, and Teddy (the three animals you sleep with every night and tuck carefully back into your bed before you leave for daycare in the morning) and you look up with a giant smile and announce, "I had a great sleep!" It's one of my favorite parts of our day.

You continue to love "daycay" and your friends and teachers and they all love you back. Music class is your very favorite activity and when you have your Friday dance parties (one of your teachers DJ's at night and he brings his equipment out on the playground on Fridays) you are a big hit- we've heard from teachers who aren't even in your class that they love to watch you groove. You also love trucks, sharks, dinosaurs, blocks, space ships, airplanes and hepatopters, fire trucks, books, balls, hats, Spiderman, and taking showers. You now take a shower every morning with daddy and you act like it's some sort of special treat we're giving you.

And lest you one day think you were too perfect, there are a few things you do NOT love. Namely, eating your dinner in a timely manner, thunder (aka "funder"), your swimming lessons (though you claim to afterward), watching TV or movies, and when we call your crocs "shoes" (the latter seems to be a particular pet peeve of yours). Based on past experience you also don't like long car rides, but we're hoping that will change as you (hopefully) discover that the occasional TV show or movie is fun and an excellent substitute for screaming that you want to "go home to Austin" over and over again. I should probably also note that you are 100% potty-trained during the day, 75% potty trained during your nap, and 0% potty trained at night. We haven't actually attempted the night part yet. You sleep like you are unconscious and given that loud movies and the parties we've held downstairs don't wake you- nor does the two minutes of shoulder shaking I've had to do on the rare mornings I need to wake you up early, I don't think the urge to pee would either. Maybe next year.

You are truly a joy and a gift to your daddy and me, Landon, and above anything else I wish for you it's that you always keep your zest for life, your enthusiasm for all things new, and your huge heart. We love you so very much.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

A 3rd Birthday in Pictures

Today was Landon's birthday. Or, as he would tell you, "My Birthday is TODAY!!!!!!" He was so excited he actually had a bit of a meltdown this morning, but he pulled himself together and enjoyed a nearly perfect day.

It started out with some playtime with babyclaire around 9 a.m. When I watch them together I'm pretty sure we could just tell him that Claire is his birthday present and he'd accept it without asking for anything else.

Next he made muffins with mom and Gigi (my mom drove in yesterday to see Landon on his birthday and to babysit so JP and I could go out on a hot date last night). He decorated them with little Spidermans and then asked to take them to daycay to share with his friends.

We got to daycare around 10:30 to find his door decorated for his special day. Ms. C also made him an adorable crown in his favorite color- I love his daycare.

When I picked him up he told me that his friends sang to him "lots of times" and that his birthday was all done. When I said, "no, buddy, it's your birthday all day!" he was SO excited. I guess he thought birthdays were just a morning thing. We stopped at HEB so he could pick out his special birthday cupcake and he told at least two employees that, "it's still my birthday!" News like that must be shared.

Dinner was his choice - pepperoni pizza from Costco. Delicious.

During dinner there were lots of phone calls from extended family. Landon is quite the phone talker and had lots to say about his day, his pizza, his babyclaire, and his bounce house party on Saturday.

After eating his pizza and some fruit, it was finally cupcake time. This was the moment Landon had been looking forward to for about 6 months.

Claire wasn't quite as excited as her brother. (This picture absolutely cracks me up.)

After cupcakes it was time for presents. Landon got some legos, a lego watch, a snake water hose, a suitcase (from his parents, because we're boring), some books, and a Spiderman action figure (from my sister's boyfriend, Landon thinks he's very cool). He was excited about everything, but I'm pretty sure he'd trade it all in for another cupcake.

After presents there was just enough time for a quick birthday shower (Landon is obsessed with taking showers now), lots of birthday hugs, and a birthday story with daddy.

It was a simple, happy day- perfect for the little boy we love so much.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


So, I have this baby:

I feel a little bad for not writing about her more, but the thing is, newborns don't do a whole lot. When Landon was a baby his every arm movement was recorded, but now we see this three-year-old running about stringing his own sentences together and the sleeping 20 hours a day doesn't seem quite as newsworthy. Which is not to say that Claire isn't completely and utterly captivating and that we don't spend hours at a time just staring at her and smiling at the faces she makes or making up the things we think she's thinking. I just forget to put her "news" down on paper and get out the camera to get pictures of her doing the nothing that she does so cutely, so I spent yesterday trying to correct that.

Claire's biggest news is that she's allergic to milk protein (among other things) and is now on the same crazy expensive formula that Landon was on. It all started about ten days ago when we noticed the little "seeds" in her stool were getting bigger. These little dots are actually un-digested down proteins and should be quite small in a breastfed baby. Claire was a combo breast/formula baby, thanks to her voracious appetite, her squawking in anger and hunger after each nursing session, and my own general ambivalence about the whole nursing thing, but still, the poop was not normal. Then after a few days of this odd change in her diapers, she started spitting up, a lot, after each feeding, whether breast or bottle. She also pooped immediately after every meal and soon that poop had a lot of blood. So off we went to the pediatrician with a sample diaper tucked in my purse (as I've said before, motherhood is so glamorous) and Claire was immediately diagnosed with milk protein enterocolitis. We left with samples of Nutramigen (a very expensive hypoallergenic formula) and were told to put her on it immediately.

We did and the spitting up stopped with the first bottle. Three diapers later and the blood was gone too. Friday's sudden change in diet seemed to make Claire mad, thus the non-stop crying on Saturday night, but her tummy and digestive system are definitely much happier and now Claire is too. I'm done nursing- if I felt strongly about it I could have tried a total elimination diet, but given Claire's big appetite (she's nearly 12 lbs!), the fact that it can take up to 6 weeks for the dietary changes to take full effect and we aren't completely sure what outside of milk proteins Claire is allergic too (roughly half of babies like her are also allergic to soy proteins which are in just about everything), and the fact that I really just don't care whether I'm nursing or not- I'm done. I like that she's just getting one constant, unchanging food source and it has done wonders in making her more comfortable. Most babies grow out of these allergies between 6-9 months, like Landon did, and we can try soy formula in about month, after we let her digestive system repair itself and stop bleeding. But right now I'm just glad the problem was so easily, even if expensively, fixed and that Claire now practices her smiling after eating rather than crying.

Otherwise, she continues to be a very content and happy baby. She loves to hang out in her play gym, stare at herself in the mirror, and sit in her papasan chair looking around her world with wide eyes. She sleeps well- still getting up just once around 3 a.m. She loves to snuggle and sometimes squawks at us from her chair just so we'll pick her up and hold her. She spends at least one nap a day sleeping on me while I type or watch TV. She sticks her little butt out, stretches out her neck, and then rests her giant head on my chest with a sigh and it is truly one of the most awesome parts of my day.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Like Being Back in College, but not

Three of my best friends from law school flew in to visit me from Chicago, D.C., and New York City. After their 48 hours here I think I had them almost convinced they should move down to Austin immediately. They flew in Friday from their respective cities and we headed out for Tex Mex and margaritas (and Mexican martinis) at a favorite restaurant of mine with a balcony overlooking 6th Street. After dinner and drinks we spilled out onto that infamous landmark from my college days looking for a mechanical bull to ride. One was located a few doors down from the restaurant- drinks were bought and the next thing I knew my highly paid, highly educated attorney friends were whooping it up on the back of a mechanical bull. It was fabulous and I have the video clips to tease them with later. I didn't join in the fun because I'm only 5-weeks out from abdominal surgery and am not supposed to exercise yet, and bull riding sort of seemed like exercise. Or just a bad idea generally. We visited a few more bars and ended up being the only people on the dance floor at another rooftop venue. It was the latest I've stayed out in 2 years and it was awesome-- at least until Claire woke up seriously pissed off at 4 a.m.

On Saturday we had breakfast tacos before heading to New Braunfels to float the Comal river on tubes (or "toobs" as they call them over there, but I really can't get behind such a flagrant misspelling). I hadn't been since college (kind of the theme of their visit, really), but it was a blast. We missed one of the chutes and accidentally went over a dam where we were immediately flipped over and trapped under churning water. A hat and sunglasses were permanently lost, and part of my bathing suit top was temporarily askew, but all was well and we continued on our way down the river. Next was lunch at the historic Gristmill restaurant in Gruene, then back home for some Landon/Claire playtime, and then off to County Line for some famous Texas BBQ. We decided we were too old to go out two nights in a row (or maybe that was just me) so we ended our Saturday night drinking wine on my back patio while Claire cried inconsolably for 2.5 hours. My friends are super excited about having babies of their own one day.

Sunday was brunch, a trip to the airport to say goodbye to one friend, a few hours swimming and sunning at Barton Springs, and then another trip to the airport to say goodbye to two more. Landon and Claire joined us on the second airport drive so that JP could leave the house for the first time in 2 days and Landon was so sad that my friends were leaving. He really liked having three pretty ladies in the house to flirt with, and he REALLY liked sleeping on an air mattress on the floor of the nursery so that two of my friends could sleep on his twin beds. The first thing he asked me this morning is when "mommy's friends" were coming back to see him. Soon, I hope -- it's so wonderful to have a group of friends who understand you so well and who you don't need to see too often to stay close. And it's even more wonderful when all of them will come to you!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Silver Bullet

The Lag Liv family got a new member today- a car. A shiny little silver car that is sitting in my driveway and belongs to me. (Well, me and the credit union who financed the loan, but I'm the one who gets to drive it.) I'm a little shocked, it all happened so fast, and I'm still a little mad that it had to happen at all, but I'm also very excited because I've never had a car this new and I drove my old one for 8 years.

It all started yesterday afternoon when I called JP from my car, nearly in tears, because the air conditioning wasn't working and I thought I was going to have heat stroke. My a/c has been half-broken for 5 years. It wouldn't blow air as cold as it used to (even with new coolant, etc) and it wouldn't blow air at all if I was accelerating. I clearly remember sitting on a Houston highway in the summer of 2005 sweating and gasping for air while my little in-car thermometer said it was 117 degrees. But a month later we moved to Chicago so the a/c issue didn't matter very much, and then during our first two summers in Austin I didn't drive my car that often. Ten minutes to work, ten minutes back, and covered parking in both locations- it just wasn't that big of a deal. But this summer I'm out and about with two kids and the a/c decided to stop blowing cold air at all.

So after my call to JP I decided I wasn't spending another day in my car. I took a shower (I was drenched in sweat), jumped on craigslist, and found the EXACT car I'd been wanting in the color I wanted with the trim and upgrades I wanted AND it was a 2009 still under warranty and listed several thousand dollars under blue book. AND it just happened to be at a little car dealer 5 miles from our house. I called them and was test-driving it with Claire two hours later. This morning we arranged for financing and I drove it home this afternoon. It's so pretty. It has leather and a moonroof and seat warmers and other fun fancy things like working a/c and a keyless entry remote that actually works.

But even as excited as I am about the new car, I'm so sad to say goodbye to my old one. She was a great little buggy - never had a problem, always did what I wanted her to even though I was terrible about things like maintenance and oil changes. I got her as a present from my parents after my freshman year of college because I'd earned enough academic scholarships to pay for nearly all of undergrad. My dad and I spent a day looking at used cars and I fell in love. She was only 4 years old then and cost $11,000. My first car. She went on a spring break ski trip to Colorado with JP, me, and two friends and she drove to Chicago and back twice -- 8 years and so many memories. I'm probably going to cry when I hand over the title to whoever buys her.

But then I'll sit in my new car, The Silver Bullet, as he's been dubbed, and his cold a/c will comfort me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

3 years of 4ths

We've gone to the 4th of July party at our local country club for the past 3 years. We're not members, but the realtor who helped us find and purchase our house hosts a VIP tent each year. As former (and potential future) clients, we get fajitas, beer, and a fantastic spot on the 18th green to watch the fireworks. We've had a blast every year and Landon has too:

(Landon's first time to stand on his own!)


(similar posing is purely accidental, but kind of awesome)

Time flies- I can't believe he wasn't even walking when we went for the first time!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The 4th

I think the 4th of July is my favorite holiday. I decided this in church this morning while listening to the full orchestra play America the Beautiful. It has all the best things about holidays- the meaning, the food, the family-focused gatherings, and none of the things that can mess one up like presents, commercialization, and stress and expectations. The 4th is pretty low key. It's a cook out with a few friends or a neighborhood block party. There are no gifts, the menu consists of inexpensive hot dogs and hamburgers, and no one expects it to be amazing- just a fun day hanging out with friends and family. And, as I was reminded in church and by Citation's post today, it has meaning. A fantastic meaning. The birth of America- the birth of our ideals and freedoms and a beautifully written document called the Declaration of Independence. Words can be so powerful- if you're like me and haven't read it since 11th grade US history, you really should read it again today.

The other awesome thing about the 4th? I get to revel in my suburban existence and dress my children in patriotic attire.

Like last year, we attended our neighborhood's 4th of July parade yesterday morning. Landon was super excited- he had been asking about the parade for days and I was a little worried the reality wouldn't live up to the expectations, after all, we're talking about a bunch of toddlers and boy scouts marching up and back a 1/4 mile stretch of road, but once the firetruck showed up to lead the way, I wasn't worried anymore. He loved it.

Claire, on the other hand, is withholding judgment until she can stay awake long enough to do more than briefly open one eye to survey the scene. But she did look very nice in her outfit- even if you couldn't see the best part (her ruffly behind) because she never left the car seat.

After the parade we drove out of the Austin city limits to pick up some contraband fireworks for our cul-de-sac party tonight. All I can say after dragging JP out of that superstore nearly an hour later is that sparklers have really come a long way.

The rest of the afternoon was spent cuddling Claire, reading books to Landon, and desperately hoping the rain would clear up before the country club party began that evening.

It did.

Landon had a blast running around with two of his toddler best friends while Claire slept and JP was inundated with summer league swimmers and their parents. He has a lot of admirers. There was a live band and Landon danced up a storm for nearly an hour. I really wish I'd had my video camera because it was hilarious. He was jumping and spinning and shuffling- I can't tell you how many people walked over just to tell me how much they enjoyed watching him. JP thought we should put out a tip jar.

And then came the fireworks. Like last year, Landon LOVED them. No fear, no fussiness because it was 2 hours past his bedtime- just absolute joy. He was sitting in a little row with his two friends and I noticed at one point that all the parents were looking at the kids' faces rather than watching the sky ourselves. It was one of those moments where I almost wished I could take a picture to capture their expressions, but was then glad I couldn't because it allowed me to just sit and soak it in. I won't forget.

Tonight is a very low key gathering of desserts and sparklers with our neighbors. We told Landon that we had our own fireworks to do and now I think his expectations are a bit high. My little tanks, spinning tops, and egg-laying chickens may not impress him very much after last night's spectacular pyrotechnics, but I have giant neon glitter sparklers for the finale and I think they'll be a big hit.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Birthdays Plans and Traditions

I think one of the most fun things about having kids, besides moments like yesterday morning when I walked out of my closet in a new, very colorful dress and Landon looked up from the spot on the floor where he was carefully arranging brightly colored necklaces that I picked up for $1 at Target into circles and calling them birthday cakes while singing "Happy to You" over and over, and said, "oh, mama, you're so pretty!" That's fun, but on a larger scale, I think my favorite thing is the creation of family traditions and celebrating occasions big and small.

Landon's birthday is on the 15th and he is super excited. Not about the presents- he knows what they are and knows he will get some, but there's nothing specific he wants and they're not the big draw. No, the reason he has been asking whether or not it's July since February is because of the cake and his friends. His friends will come over to our house (or indoor bounce house place, as it turns out) and they will all get to eat cake. He has his mom's sweet tooth but unlike his mama, he's almost never allowed to indulge it.

One of the birthday traditions in my family was that the birthday kid would get to pick whatever they wanted to eat for dinner. The birthday kid also got to leave their bed unmade in the morning, but it was so ingrained in us to make our beds that I don't think I ever once remembered to not make it, though I did mess mine back up a few times just because I could. This dinner that we got to select was never out at a restaurant- it wouldn't have occurred to use to ask since we never ate out (except on our 10-year "double digit" birthday when you got to go to a fancy restaurant with just mom and dad, it's a special memory), it was just your favorite recipe from mom's kitchen. For years I always picked breakfast tacos. My sister picked stir fry and my brother picked spaghetti. It wasn't about fancy, it was about your favorite thing to eat. When I asked JP about his birthday traditions he made a sour face and said he either had to eat at some fancy restaurant and sit still for three hours with his parents or he was forced to eat filet mignon stuffed with crab. Now I know, poor little rich kid who had to eat gourmet food, but he was 10 and really wanted pizza and his mom said, No, that's not special enough for a birthday, I'm buying filet. She also never threw him a birthday party because it couldn't just be simple and the thought of doing something more involved overwhelmed her to the point of inaction so it never happened. This is why we have yet to pull any traditions from JP's family. Also because they didn't have any.

So, last night I tried to ask Landon what he would like to eat on his birthday night. Cake! was the immediate response, so I spent about 10 minutes trying to explain that he will get cake but we have to eat something before the cake. Finally he agreed on Dino Chicken Nuggets, and while I am determined to not be my mother-in-law, those things look mildly repulsive to me so JP and I may eat something different. But I promise that Landon can have as many molded chicken products as he wants.

For his party we're keeping it easy and inviting his friends (daycare classmates and a few other buddies) to a nearby bounce house place. It's new, clean, and relatively undiscovered. The last time we went, for another classmate's birthday, the toddler party guests were the only ones there. I wanted to have the party at our house because I truly love hostessing things like that, and I had some fun ideas for the kids, but I decided that with a 5-week old I'd cop out and fork over some money for someone else to host it (and clean up after). I'll have more details on the party later, but basically the kids will run around and bounce and make squealing noises and then they will eat pizza, fruit, and cake. It will be two hours of toddler approved awesome, I'm sure.