Monday, May 14, 2012

Oh, hi. I have a THIRTEEN MONTH old that I've been having WAY too much fun with to really sit down and take the time to write this post, but it's an important one that I don't want to miss.

Dear Lucia,

Today, you have been with us for 13 months and 10 days, yet life before you has become such a haze... a collection of memories that somehow seem incomplete without you in them. To say you have turned our world upside down and inside out in the most magical way imaginable would be such as gross understatement. You have brought a joy to our lives that we could have never thought possible, my girl. Your Papa and I have always felt happy and lucky to have each other. We've had the whole sundae, but you are the official cherry on top.

We've spent the last year (and 40 days) really getting to know the newest little member of our family, and I think it's safe to say that you continue to surprise us every day. In many ways, you are just like us. You have inherited your Papa's stubbornness, and my tendency to overreact. We're so sorry. In most ways, however, you are very much your own person. You love to laugh, and you do it often. You might be the most adventurous and curious person I've ever known, and you let nothing stand in your way. Don't ever lose that. Your comic timing is spot on. You have A LOT to say. Sure, none of it makes any sense just yet, but that doesn't stop you from saying it. Your smile is infectious, catching and trapping every stranger it meets. You are the antithesis of shy; you love meeting new people and want to make every single one of them your new best friend. You're big on affection, and you can't seem to get enough or give enough hugs and kisses in a day. I think it's impossible to put into words how much we admire you and how immensely you inspire us.

Please try and remember that your Papa and I are not perfect. We will work very hard and always try to do our best, but we will most likely make some mistakes in the parenting department along the way. Know that everything we do for you comes from the purest form of love and with the absolute best intentions. Even if it may not seem like it at times, our number one goal is to always do what we think is best for you. If you ever feel that we are wrong, we want you to be comfortable telling us. We may not always necessarily agree with you, but we hope you understand that you can talk to us about ANYTHING. Yes, we are your parents, but we are also your buddies and your top supporters. The three of us are in this together.

Thank you, my sweet girl, for the absolute best of year of our lives. Even the challenging times, and you better believe we've had some, have ended up being nothing short of rewarding. If these past 12 months (and 40 days) are any indication of what's yet to come, let's just say your Papa and I are THRILLED to have you joining us for the ride. We would tell you that we love you to the moon and back, but that would only be the tiniest fraction of the actual love we have for you. You are, and you have our hearts forever.

The Luckiest Mama on The Planet

Friday, May 4, 2012

Guys, I have been meaning to write a series of posts about breastfeeding for ages. It is something I never knew I would come to feel so strongly about, but sometimes the more I have to say/more I feel about something, the harder it is to write about. You know, those good long letters you plan to write are the hardest ones to get to? In my plan, I kicked off a whole week of breastfeeding posts by an intro about the topic (and my experience with it) in general.

But life being what it is, I am going to jump into a later topic, returning to work while breastfeeding. I had NO idea what I was in for. I knew that plenty of women went back to work full time, and continued to pump milk and breastfeed, and I had NO IDEA what a challenge it could be. I have a lot of lessons learned that I think others can learn from! Warning, this is a LONG post. I am not good at editing, and it is made for mamas who need specific and practical advice, so I am putting it all out there.For this reason, I included a "jump."

When Henry was just over 3 months old, I returned to work full time. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, emotionally. Making sure our little baby (who we hoped to keep exclusively breastfed till 6 months) was well stocked up on milk was a challenge both emotionally and physically.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Oh, hi there! I know we've been a little MIA here at H+L as of late. Jamie has been crazy busy trying to get her awesome new business off the ground, and I have been mad house-hunting/in a funk/taking a blog break. We'll be back soon. Promise. 

On that note, my little family is ready to part ways with what has now become our useless crib. It would be super rad if I could sell to a local reader, or a local friend/family member of a reader. I live in the SF Bay area, so if this offer interests you in any way, please check out all the details here on my blog.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I've recently gotten in the habit of giving Cheech choices. Lemme explain. When I was pregnant, I was perusing through a children's clothing store when I noticed a mom hold up two different dresses to her baby girl. "This one, or this one?", she asked. The girl, who couldn't have been more than 12 months, took a minute to study each dress, then extended her hand to reach for the one she wanted. I couldn't tell if I was more amazed that such a little person was already showing signs of likes and dislikes, or that her mom had even thought to give her the option. I vowed to do the same once my little one came along.

Here's why. When I was a kid, I pretty much wore what my mom wanted me to wear, played with the toys my mom picked out for me, and did the things my mom chose for me to do. I never got the luxury of options. I'm not trying to make my mom out to be the bad guy here, I just believe that it never would have occurred to her to do it any other way. And honestly, I think that's most parents out there. When you're the one doing all the purchasing, until your child becomes very vocal about his/her opinions, why wouldn't you pick out what you like? So, I ended up the little girl with super long ringlets, and always, ALWAYS in a dress with some sort of mary jane-type shoe. But that's not me, AT ALL. I've preferred short hair for most of my life, my favorite color has been blue for as long as I can remember, and my mom still cringes at my incredibly foul mouth. Just because I came from her, it does not mean I am her.

With Cheech, I want things to be different. I am fully aware that she is her own person, with her own interests, and as new age-y as this may sound, I want her to always confidently express herself and feel comfortable picking out the things she likes. I want her to be aware of what makes her her, and not me or her dad. So when I took her shoe shopping about a month ago, I grabbed two completely different styles. A super cool "Chameleon" pair that would have been my first choice, and a pair that never in a million years I would have chosen for her, the "Tasty Treat" style. I watched as she carefully looked over each shoe and reached out for the Tasty Treat. I'm not gonna lie, I was kind of bummed she didn't go for the Chameleon. I took the Tasty Treat back, switched hands, showed them to her again, and asked, "Are you sure??". Tasty Treat it was.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The last few days have been a NIGHTMARE in our household. It all started the day of Cheech's birthday party. She was one unhappy baby, and the next day when I realized that her top front teeth, which had been hanging out right at the surface of her gums for months, had FINALLY broken through, it all made sense. We got a few days of normalcy after that, and BAM, she's been in total teething hell ever since.

On Saturday, it took 6 hours and two doses of Tylenol to get her fever to settle down. If I even tried to get near her with a cold compress, she would start screaming. We battled high temperatures for the rest of the night. By noon yesterday, her Easter dress was soaked through with drool. We went for a drive in the afternoon and she ended up having such an epic meltdown that Joe had to speed home, all while I tried to soothe her as she struggled to get out of her car seat and reached her arms out for me to hold her. By the time she was in bed last night, I was much too exhausted to drown my sorrows in a margarita. DO YOU KNOW HOW UNLIKE ME THAT IS?

She woke up at 5:45 this morning (very early for her), and started the day off in tears. I tried taking her out for some distraction, but it only seemed to make matters worse. By 10 am, after hours of constant crying and fussing, I gave up. I gave her some more Tylenol, started a Netflix marathon of Yo Gabba Gabba, and handed her her pacifier to suck on all she wanted. And then I cried.

I wish I had a better post for you today, but I simply do not currently have the mental capacity to think of anything besides my unhappy baby. I wish I had words of wisdom, but obviously I have no fucking clue what I'm doing here. This week has been about getting by and patiently waiting for all this to end, for Cheech to be her smiley, happy self again. On a more exciting note, she took her first steps on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I don't know about your babies, but my baby grows out of her PJs like nobody's business. I don't know what it is, but they just don't last us. Considering she wears a clean pair EVERY SINGLE night, this is quite the inconvenience for us. I've decided to stop putting her in footies because those seem to fit for the least amount of time, and I've found that she sleeps MUCH better when she goes to bed in two piece pajamas anyway (it really is peculiar how the tiniest adjustment can make such a difference). Seeing as she doesn't really get *seen* in her PJs, I'm not exactly keen on shelling over the big bucks (or even the medium bucks) for them. As long as they're comfortable for her, I really don't care what they look like. But when my friend, Hannah, showed me some ridiculously adorable sleepwear she picked up from Old Navy for her daughter Stella, I knew I had to pay them a visit. Affordable AND cute? I have to say I'm impressed.

P.S. The pair in the picture is on sale in the actual store. ;)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I guess all my talk of coloring made many of my friends want to go out and buy Cheech some sort of crayon for her birthday. They're all super cool and fun, but I especially wanted to share the Playon Crayon by Studio Skinky with you guys. They come in stellar colors, are stain free, and incredibly easy for little baby hands to hold. Unfortunately, Cheech is still really only interested in sticking them in her mouth, but considering they're certified non toxic, well, I just go ahead and let her.

Monday, April 2, 2012

photo by olivia boone

In the months after Henry was born, one of the last things I was ever prepared for happened, I lost my best friend. No, she didn't die. We just had an ugly fight and were unable to resolve it. (So Jr. High, right? What else can I say.)

In the last year, I have come to find that friend loss for new mothers is... kind of common? My friend Meg just send over this well written piece on embrace release, and I think it is so helpful, I have to share it here. For soon to be parents, new ones and long time ones. And importantly, non parents. Oh how I can relate:

Friends were excited with us when the baby was an idea, a distant future reality symbolized by an absurd hump on my front, his wants and needs and bodily fluids managed quietly by my trusty uterus. I think we imagined that hazy future reality to include plenty of hanging out at friends’ houses, festival-going, and lazy afternoons at the park, throughout which the baby would giggle and stumble around happily while we caught up on our social lives.....

And then on to:

But when our son arrived and new parenthood was nothing like the dopey feel-good fantasy we imagined, when he didn’t sleep longer than two to three hour stretches for his entire first year... I unconsciously shrank inside of our house, vaguely assuming we would emerge one day when things were easier, when we felt more in control and better rested, to find our friendships intact and waiting.

And confirming some of my suspicions: 

The Offbeat Mama commenters who gloated about how they take there babies any and everywhere? They have easy babies. Lucky them. I know those exist because our second one turned out that way.


Release yourself and your friends from the bondage of naive expectations, defunct plans, and the starry-eyed fantasies of yore. None of you knew what to expect pre-baby, maybe least of all  your friends. Change is hard and can be painful for everyone. But in this case, for you at least, it is infinitely worth it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cheech's first birthday is in exactly one week. I may have gotten a little emotional while wrapping her gift last night.

Look at what a difference 1 year makes.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Can we have a little chat about the pacifier? First, I'd like to say that I LOVE our pacifiers. They made car rides for those first 8-9 months miles easier, and had it not been for Cheech's chupĆ³ns, I'm not sure we would have been as successful at getting her to sleep through the night on her own. Well, kind of on her own. But, where does the line have to be drawn?

Joe and I were out to lunch a few weeks ago, and we saw a family walking with a child in a stroller and a pacifier in her mouth. The child was a GOOD 5 years old. I'm not going to start ranting about my feelings regarding children who have been walking for YEARS in strollers, but I have to admit I was a bit taken aback by the fact that she was sucking on a pacifier. Am I just being naive? Look, I'm well aware that parenting is often times more about survival than anything else, but when does it stop being about convenience and turn into downright destruction?

In no way, shape, or form do I want Cheech to be sucking on a pacifier when she's 5 years old. ESPECIALLY, in circumstances where she wouldn't need it. That being said, I'm not exactly in a rush to take it away from her now. We mainly use them currently for sleeping purposes, and still, in her car seat (although, she's recently been using it less and less in the latter situation). Although I carry one with me, I try to only give it to her if she seems to be in distress and I need to help soothe her before I get her home/change her diaper/do what needs to be done to snap her out of it. In other words, I don't let her have at it whenever she wants. And, once she does calm down, I gently take it out of her mouth and tell her that she doesn't need it anymore. She's also a thumb sucker, so I also try to see if she'll resort to that first.

Ok, so I'm definitely pro-pacifier, but I am anti-pacifier-forever. What I'm having trouble figuring out is when to know that their time is up... and when that time does come, what's the best approach to help kick the habit? P had her girls quit cold turkey at 9 months, but like I said, I'm not exactly feeling the pressure just yet. When I lived in LA, I nannied part-time for a 3 year old girl. Her mom had instructed me that she could use her pacifier for her naps, and ONLY for her naps. It was kept in her nightstand drawer and if she requested it at any other time, she simply was not allowed to have it. Right around the time she turned 3 1/2, her mom had a "talk" with her and told her that now that she was a "big girl" she had to hand her pacifier over to the Pacifier Fairy, who would then pass it along to one of the new babies in the world. She gave it up without a single problem. I kind of like the idea of "reasoning" with a slightly older child, but I can see how that plan might backfire.

What do you guys think? Do any of you get help from a handy pacifier? Have any of you taken them away with success? Or, has it been a total nightmare?