Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Update 2011

Dear Friends, Family, Shareholders, and Valued Customers,

Merry Christmas!

2011 has been a big year for our Corporation. In January, we increased our numbers by 50 percent!

While the executive board agrees that this rate of growth is unsustainable, we are nonetheless thrilled with this year's output.

Our newest employee, Dorothy, has proven herself to be a valuable acquisition. We will admit that at first we wondered if she was taking her work seriously. It seemed she spent all her working hours sleeping or protesting workplace conditions.

Employee Complaint Files, March 18, 2011: It is too bright in here for a good nap and people keep pointing that thing in my face.

However, we have been very pleased with her improvements this year. In a mere eleven months she has passed her Infant Locomotion Courses 1-4 (rolling, scooting, crawling and cruising) with flying colors and learned to grab, eat, sit, smile, laugh, and babble. She has recently begun adding baby signs to her already prodigious skills, with the initial production of "milk" and "all done". We feel confident that in the next year, ChanCorp will be able to offer even more communications products to our valued customers due to Dorothy's diligent efforts.

July 15, 2011: BabyGrins (tm) overtakes SmoochableCheeks (tm) to become Dorothy's most popular offering.

Ben, our Co-President, CFO and Chief Musical Engineer, has also been hard at work. In addition to his work for ChanCorp, he has put significant work into ChamberHymns and WoogiWorld this year. He's worked hard at creating games and activities to teach children Internet Safety, Music, English, and more. His musical skills have been in high demand this year, as well. He's transcribed, arranged, written, and performed music on many occasions, including, notably, at a Soiree Musicale thrown by one of ChanCorp's parent corporations in Virginia.

August 1, 2011. Being a Co-President, CFO and Chief Musical Engineer is thirsty work!

Sarah, ChanCorp's Co-President, Household Manager and Food Engineer, was promoted this year to Human Resources Officer as well. She has very much enjoyed her promotion and the opportunity it has given her to get to know ChanCorp's newest employee. Sarah has also been honing her abilities as a counselor in the Primary Presidency, where Child Management skills are always in demand. She also very much enjoyed a corporation retreat in Utah over the summer, where she got to inspect the acquisitions of many sibling corporations.

Here at ChanCorp, we are looking forward to what we hope will be a happy and successful 2012, and we wish the same to you.

Once again, Merry Christmas!


Ben, Sarah, and Dorothy Chan

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween (Belatedly)

So, way back in August I decided I wanted to sew a Halloween costume for Dot this year. After finally finishing a quilt almost all by myself back in January, I thought a simple pumpkin costume would be a good way to branch out.

It was a fun new thing to try. It was certainly not an economical choice -- I spent more on materials for this than I have on any of her baby clothes -- and I have a list of mistakes a million miles long, more or less.

(The hem is especially kind of laughable. By the time I got to it, I was just done with this project. It's a three-layered outfit -- outer layer, lining, and fleece inside for warmth -- and so that means that at some points on the hem there are like twelve layers of fabric. Figuring that my sewing machine wouldn't be able to handle it, I whip-stitched the hem, and it seriously looks like a five-year-old did it in parts.)

But in the end, I'm happy with it and proud of myself for trying something new. And Dot seemed pretty happy with it, too.

I love this back view.

Other than the church shindig, we didn't do anything this year for Halloween. We didn't even get a single trick-or-treater. Next year I'll probably want to decorate the house and carve a pumpkin and work on creating some family traditions, but we somehow just skipped all that this year. She's too young to appreciate it yet, anyway.

(P.S. I'm still mostly avoiding sugar -- I allow myself one yogurt per day and a smidgeon of sugar in my oatmeal -- and so I actually made it all the way through Halloween without eating even one piece of candy. I've already lost nearly five pounds. But that doesn't mean I'm not counting the days until Thanksgiving, and pie.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In and Out

Nine months in:

Nine months out:

It was cold, snowy and dark then (at four in the morning on January 27); it's cold, snowy and dark now. But that's about the only thing that's the same! Dot is growing so fast. Sometimes I just want to shrink-wrap her and keep her this size forever, but I guess half the fun is the in seeing her learn and grow and change.

This month Dot's learned how to wave and clap and (kind of) give kisses. She learned how to pull herself up to standing in her crib this morning and then cried with sheer, genuine terror because she didn't know how to get down again. She spontaneously plays peekaboo if you hand her a blanket, and she has the most delicious giggle.

Her favorite toy right now is probably a hairbrush (though she'd rather have my cellphone, if I'd let her play with it) and sometimes she'll even try to brush my hair with it. Her favorite place to be when she's awake is either in her stroller on a walk or under the bed/table/chairs. I made a tunnel for her out of daiper boxes and she has a good time crawling through it.

We'll go to the doctor's next week for the official stats, but my guess is that she's still tall for her age -- she's wearing 12 month clothes for the most part -- with just enough chub to have fantastically pinchable cheeks.

And she makes me feel like this:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fall Colors

I like to take my camera out on walks with Dot, and play at being a photographer.

Isn't digital photography great? If I had to buy the film and pay to develop each shot I took, I'd spend a lot less time taking pictures of trees. But since I can delete every shot that isn't framed right or doesn't have good lighting, I have fun and snap away.

I recently read Maphead by Ken Jennings, and in one of the chapters he writes about "topophilia" or love of place, and about how a particular landscape or place can have intense emotional resonance for a person. I'm a transplant to New York, and I like to grouse about the taxes and the winters ad infinitum, but every fall I'm glad to be here. I just love the changing colors and the beautiful landscape of a deciduous forest in the fall. It's part of my emotional landscape, and I'd be a little sad to live with any other kind of scenery.

(Of course, in Virginia you have beautiful leaves AND it's ten degrees warmer... but I'll take what I can get.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Twenty Nine!

I turned 29 yesterday. I can see why 29 is the age that people continue to claim to be for the rest of their lives -- this is a good time of life! I feel grown up (mostly) but not old, settled but still flexible, still like a beginner at parenthood but not a novice anymore. Of course, I'm also actually really looking forward to 30. It will feel so much more like I'm officially grown up.

In any case, I had a great birthday. It was the ward chili cook-off, and Dot obligingly took a late nap so as to avoid a meltdown from pushing her bedtime back two hours. I submitted chili, but didn't win -- I should have informed all the judges that it was my birthday! But it was a huge batch and got almost entirely eaten, so I feel good about my submission, all the same. We had a great time. It felt so daring to be out of the house past seven. :)

For my birthday, I also ate a METRIC TON of sugar, mostly in the form of chocolate, because I've decided I'm giving up anything with added sugar between now and Thanksgiving. (But I'm not giving up carbs, or things that are BASICALLY just sugar, like honeycrisp apples. Just sugar.) I lost all the baby weight about two months ago, but I've recently started seeing the scale creep back up as Dot's starting eating more solid food and has cut down on milk. And with Halloween coming up, I know that if I don't cut myself off at the pass, it'll only get worse. Besides, how much BETTER will all that pie taste if it's the first dessert I've had in weeks?

I've found that I can have great discipline in refusing to buy or make junk food, but once it's in the house I will devour all of it, immediately. So poor Ben will be kind of going on this sugar fast with me, but he doesn't mind -- he's more of a salt guy, anyway. I suspect Dot will miss the vicarious chocolate. (She was kind of hyper yesterday, and of course looking back I can connect the dots and realize why.) But she'll get over it, I'm sure.

(I made Ben take some official birthday pictures before the day was over. Yay, 29!)

Sunday, September 25, 2011


In September we've been...

sleeping through the night but waking up at five (because Dot believes in early to bed and early to rise, and Ben teaches seminary)

dealing with rain, rain, more rain and a horde of mosquitos

sewing a pretty, puffy pumpkin costume for Dot for Halloween (more on this later)

scooting, rolling, thinking about crawling and getting into everything

playing, laughing, hugging, patting

and getting cuter by the day.

(Although I'm not too sure how Ben feels about me calling him "cute".)

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Portent of Things To Come

Today I held Dot on my lap for a few minutes while I checked my e-mail and caught up on Google Reader. She was squirmy and reaching for the computer frequently, so I put her tummy down on my lap, which she likes. I rubbed her back and got back to reading something-or-other.

She was unusually content to just lie there, and I soon realized the reason why. As soon as I had put her down, she caught sight of my keys just sticking out of the pocket of my pants. She reached over and snagged them and soon began liberally covering them, her hands, my pant legs and the entire general vicinity with a thick layer of drool.

My seven-month old quite literally picked my pocket.

I thought that sort of behavior wasn't supposed to start until later.

I guess it's time to hide the valuables.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Room of Her Own

We live in a two-bedroom place. Ben works from home, and so when we first moved in we set up the second bedroom as his office.

When Dot came along, I was initially adamant that we keep that second room for his office. I wanted to keep our bedroom as a relaxing, work-free zone. I figured we could keep Dot at first in our bedroom, and then in the closet, and then maybe set her up in the corner of the living room if we had to.

It became clear pretty quickly that that wasn't going to work. My goal of having a work-free, relaxing, calm bedroom was not served at ALL by keeping a baby in there. (That was the kind of self-delusion only a first-time parent can indulge in.) I couldn't go into the bedroom while she was napping, which meant I couldn't shower, grab the dirty laundry to take care of, straighten up, or do any number of things I might like to do during that time. We'd have to sneak in and get ready for bed in the dark when it was our turn to go to bed -- and frequently she'd wake up anyway and demand one last feeding before I went to sleep. Plus, sometimes I'd just lie awake at night and try to listen to her breathe.

It was not very restful for anyone.

So last weekend I gave in, and Ben and I spent Saturday moving his office into our bedroom and setting up a little nursery.

We should have done that MONTHS ago.

There were some initial hiccups with getting her settled -- naps suddenly became a terrible battle and shortened down to being little half hour things -- but (fingers crossed) she's sleeping SO MUCH BETTER now. After our trip to Utah totally undid her schedule, she'd been getting up two, three, four times a night. Now we're back down to once, and it's been creeping later and later each night. And the naps show real signs of improving.


(Babies who let their mothers get some sleep are 73 percent cuter, 80 percent smarter and 93 percent happier than those who don't, according to this blog's panel of experts.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Next Great Orator of the 21st Century

Click anywhere on the image to make Dot give a speech.

Don't you feel moved now? Inspired, even?

(I love this age.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Most Impressive "Cake" I Have Ever Made

I enjoy cooking, but have not yet in my life been much of a baker. I've been particularly intimidated by the idea of decorating a cake, for some reason. My mom and my sister both decorate beautiful cakes, and I know the basic idea -- I've just been unwilling to try. It's probably because I know I need practice, and am unwilling to turn out the many lopsided, messy, goopy cakes required to learn on before I get good.

However, I did want to make something really special for Ben's birthday this year. He got his birthday gift (luggage -- he has a stated preference for practical gifts, and we were going on a trip) without wrapping and without fanfare a couple weeks before the actual birthday, and I thought a beautiful, delicious cake would be a good substitute for the actual unwrapping of presents/general fanfare. And when I saw a crepe cake on one of the many food blogs I peruse, I knew that was what I wanted to make.

When I first presented the cake to my husband and his family, my sister-in-law commented that it looked like it was a lot of work. And yeah, this is not something you can make in a hurry. Fortunately, the work can be spread out over a couple of days.

I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and it's a good one. The crepes in particular are extremely yummy -- eating the ruined crepes that I hadn't poured, swirled or flipped properly was one of my favorite parts of putting this together. However, the special deliciousness of the crepes kind of got lost once the whole cake came together, so I think next time I make this (and I WILL make it again) I'll use a crepe recipe that's slightly less fussy. The main thing is to get 20 or so good round crepes.

I'm also looking forward to playing with different fillings. The pastry cream with whipped cream was fantastic (and with ganache on top tasted basically exactly like a chocolate eclair in cake form), but I saw some variations in google recipe search that looked really good, too, like lemon curd, fruit and yogurt, and cream cheese with white chocolate.

So here's the timeline for making a crepe cake:

Saturday morning, while baby naps: Make the crepe batter and stick it in the fridge. You've never heard before that crepe batter is better if it has time to rest before being cooked, but you don't make your living off running a food blog. Trust it. Try to make the pastry cream now, but if your baby decides that long naps aren't really her thing, that can be done while she plays on the floor next to you.

Saturday night, after baby is asleep: Make the crepes. The recipe says the crepes only need to cook about one minute on the first side and a few seconds on the other. The recipe also says to flip the crepe with your fingers. This is insane, and written for people who cook so much they have no nerves left in their fingertips. Ignore. Sweat over the stovetop for an hour, thinking about how much you love your husband. Try not to lie to him when he asks about the number of ruined crepes, even though you were hoping to eat them all yourself.

Saturday night: Lie awake stressing about the stack of crepes in the fridge. What if they all stick together? What if the cake isn't impressive enough? What if the pastry cream is lumpy? Should you make a whipped cream frosting for it tomorrow or a chocolate ganache? Tell your brain to shut up and sleep.

Sunday morning, while baby naps: Don't bother straining the pastry cream again, as the recipe suggests. It looks fine, and at this point, you are past caring about any lumps. Whip heavy cream with some sugar, but substitute a little splash of vanilla for kirsch, which you don't have and aren't interested in buying. Fold together the whipping cream and pastry cream. Take the crepes (which have NOT stuck together and were never even thinking about it) and start to assemble. This part goes pretty quickly. Crepe, cream, crepe, cream, crepe, cream. Feel tremendously impressed with yourself and take lots of pictures.

Sunday afternoon: Decide that you really DO want to put a chocolate ganache glaze on it, because the cake looks a little bare just on its own. Heat 2/3 cup heavy cream with 1 tablespoon light corn syrup until just simmering, then pour into a bowl with 6 ounces chocolate chips that you've made some attempt at chopping up a little. Stir until glossy. Pour over the cake. It might pour more quickly than you thought it would, and make a huge mess. You might get chocolate all over your white shirt. For this reason, I would not recommend wearing a white shirt while you do this. At least not one that you're attatched to.

Note: This makes a good deal more ganache than you need. You could probably halve the recipe, or you could save the rest for something else, or you could eat it straight out of a bowl with a spoon. It's up to you. (I'm not saying which option I chose, only that it was DELICIOUS.)

Sunday night: Serve after dinner to your husband and assorted in-laws. Bask in the accolades. Do not let your sister-in-law who does not like anything with cream or butter to have any, because she will not appreciate it. Save two big slices for later, because it is still actually NOT your husband's birthday and you have to have SOMETHING for the actual day.

(That's your excuse, at least.)

It Takes Two

Last week, our marriage turned 2.

We celebrated with a fancy dinner out.

Well, at least the PLATES are fancy. And there are cloth napkins, too! But no silverware, because we didn't need it. If I'd thought about it, though, I might have packed some anyway, just for the sake of the table setting.

Ben's now lived with me longer than he did with anybody outside of his immediate family. We'll have to make it another year or two before he can beat my college roommate and friend extraordinaire Kim, though.

I think we'll manage it. I'm hanging on to this one!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vacation Highlights

Well, it's taken me a while to get around to blogging again, but Dot's sleeping off her 6-month vaccines, the pizza dough is rising for dinner tonight, and I don't feel like cleaning, so here it is!

At the end of July we went to Utah for a reunion with family and friends. It was the first time I got to see many of my siblings in almost two years, and the first time Dot got to meet all her cousins. I'm so, so, so glad we went, even though Ben was sick the whole time and Dot's schedule got totally thrown off and I'm still tired from it. I really wish we'd taken more pictures, though. I remembered to BRING my camera most places. I just didn't remember to USE it. Maybe next time.

Some highlights from our trip:

OK, so here was one place I forgot to bring my camera, so I have to settle with a picture taken with my (free, old-school flip-style) cell phone, in sun so bright I couldn't see the display, with a baby who really wanted to eat said phone. So the picture's not great, but it's still one of my favorites from the trip because it reminds me how beautiful the day was and what a great time we had our first day there when we hauled the cousins up to bridal veil falls. The older kids waded in and splashed and played until their feet were numb. Two of Dot's cousins took turns pushing her in the stroller, so I got to take it easy and chat with my sister and sisters-in-law while we walked. The only downside was that Ben was coughing too hard that morning to come with us.

(Another cell phone pic, unfortunately -- but I'm glad I had it on me to capture that happy smile!)

Despite having her schedule shot all to pieces with our long, late plane flights (our flight there we didn't get into a bed until about 3:30 a.m. by our time), Dorothy was the happiest kid in the world for that week. One of my nieces told me, "Dot has the gift of happiness." She LOVED seeing everybody and getting so much attention!

Speaking of which...

Dot's cousins absolutely lavished her with love. It was so funny to me when these little tiny kidlets would beg and beg to hold Baby Dot. She was nearly as big as they were! But it really warmed my heart to see how tender, kind and sweet all my sibling's children are. The two- and three-year-old cousins were especially cute with Dot, offering her gentle hugs and kisses all the time.

My oldest niece earned this dollar fair and square by teaching Ben how to hula hoop. Hula hooping is apparently not like riding a bike -- both Ben and I were initially totally unable to keep a hula hoop up when we were playing outside with the kids. Because he didn't think it could be done, Ben offered her a dollar if she could teach him how. And later that night, we were both hula hooping like pros! (I was wise enough not to bet the dollar, though. Never bet against a determined eight-year-old.)

We attended a reunion with all my extended family on my mom's side -- aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins once removed, and so forth. There was a photographer there at the beginning who was able to take family group shots and a couple individual pictures -- hence the picture above of just Dot. It was a lot of fun to see everybody! I only wish we had had more time to chat with all my cousins, instead of just being able to breeze by and say hi-how-are-you-good-I-love-your-blog-bye! But at least many of my cousins keep blogs. Otherwise I'd be asking them inane questions like, "So... what's your name again?" (Which is not to say I did not ask a cousin or two that exact question. I have a lot of cousins, and not all of them have blogs.)

Other highlights I don't have pictures for:

*Eating out! A lot! Twice at Cafe Rio! (This is very exciting for us. We have not eaten out very much since Dot was born -- or even before that, for that matter. I enjoy cooking and we're homebodies, but it was really nice to have a reason to splurge a little and go out together and with our families. Plus, we have MISSED Cafe Rio.)

*Playing in the sprinklers

*Playing a little basketball with my brother Warren (I got OWNED, but it's been so long that I even though about playing basketball that even getting owned was fun -- until I ran out of breath disappointingly soon after beginning)

*Playing a couple rounds of Wits & Wagers with my siblings and my mom. It's a really fun kind of trivia game -- even if you have no clue what the answer might be, you can have a really good time guessing. Thanks to Christian for introducing us to it!

*Staying at my Grandpa's house, now decorated with really cool 50's-style furniture

*Making fun of my dad's new beard until my Aunt Nancy trimmed it, and then admitting that maybe it sort of looks okay

*Going to the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point. That place is so awesome I used to go there as a single young adult, because I just liked it. It is even MORE awesome with kids that you are related to in tow. There's lots of hands on stuff and exhibits and information for almost all age levels.

*Visiting with some of Ben's family in Utah and getting to know some more of my in-laws

*Splurging on some Amano Artisan Chocolate with Ben.

There were definitely some downsides, as well -- like the fact that the plumbing at Grandpa's house was having issues and that a house with 11 children in it under the age of 8 is going to be pretty wild and crazy -- but overall it was an amazing vacation and I had a fantastic time. I'm so blessed and so grateful to have such a wonderful family.

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July!

My Sister-in-Law JoAnn, who is spending her favorite holiday 30 weeks pregnant, on bedrest and with a diagnosis of hydronephrosis, requested that we all post pictures of what we did to celebrate the Fourth of July. I think the idea was that she would live vicariously through us and at least be able to imagine having fun today.

Well, she asked for it:

We cleaned under the fridge.

Sorry, JoAnn! And sorry to everybody who just had to see how gross that was. :)

(I am not a great housekeeper. Periodically I print myself out chore charts and I get all organized and stay really clean for a couple weeks, but I haven't yet found a cleaning routine that really clicks with me. For the most part, I keep on top of the laundry and the dishes -- with Ben's invaluable help -- and pick up the front room and vacuum once a week and that's good enough for me. But then all of the sudden I realize it's been over a year since I cleaned under the fridge, and squirrels might be nesting back there for all I know, and then I have to take care of it and it's disgusting. But I have nobody to blame but myself.)

But we did some fun things, too.

We played with blocks.

We went on a walk...

... and admired a pond.

And then Dot was so tired she went to sleep (mostly) without protest. We've made great strides in sleeping recently. She still wakes up once or twice a night and then is up earlier in the morning than we prefer, but she doesn't cry for over an hour before settling down at bedtime anymore. Hooray!!

As an aside, one of the things that makes me very sad about living in New York now is that fireworks aren't legal here. I don't miss the explosive fireworks as much, but I REALLY miss sparklers. (I mean, really? We can't even buy SPARKLERS?? My first 4th here I made Ben drive me around from store to store to verify that there really weren't any to be found anywhere. I saw a Stewart's with an ad for FIREWORKS! in the window, but it turned out that they were advertising the "fireworks" flavor of ice cream they had for sale. Major bummer.) July 4th just isn't the same without being able to go out at dusk and draw in the air with the light from a sparkler.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day photo shoot

We had a really good Father's Day weekend. (Partly because I thought last week was Father's Day, and cleaned the car as my gift to Ben that weekend instead of this one.) Saturday, we cleaned the church in the morning, went on a long family walk in beautiful weather in the afternoon, and totally tuckered our little one out so that she went to bed early that night. We watched a movie together in the evening all the way through without having to pause for a crying or hungry baby, which I'm pretty sure is a first since she's been born. It was True Grit, which I mostly enjoyed except for the bits that were too gruesome for my sensibilities.

Today, we had a nice breakfast and Ben got to participate in the official introduction of Solid Foods (rendered almost totally liquid by the addition of lots of breastmilk.) Mostly, she just spat everything out, but she does enjoy grabbing at the spoon and chewing on it. We'll wait until she's a bit bigger to try again, although she's welcome to continue to play with the baby spoons.

We also went out before church for a Father's Day photo shoot, though that meant trying to take good pictures at high noon on a bright sunny day. I enjoyed playing at being a photographer and trying some creative (read: goofy) angles and shots, and our Dotter enjoyed making more of her camera face.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Toes! And a terrible pun!

Just the other day I stumbled across the blog of one of my favorite authors, Shannon Hale, online. She wrote this poem that made me smile -- and I'll just link it rather than copy it over rather than risk anybody thinking I wrote it. (Plus, the rest of her blog is pretty good reading, too.)

My Feet
A poem by Magnolia Jane Hale, age 4 months
Translated by the mother

(This picture is blurry because it's the ONLY ONE I could get of her actually looking like she's enjoying playing with her toes. She won't smile or play for the camera anymore -- she immediately stops what she's doing to stare at it. We have dozens of pictures of her "camera face" and only a precious few of her charming, active, giggly self.)

The only thing she loves more than her toes is when we're changing her clothes or doing laundry by her and she can grab a fistful of fabric and stuff it in her mouth. The other day while she was nomming away at a shirt, I told Ben, "It's like cotton candy for her!" A-ha-ha-ha, COTTON candy, get it???

(Yay puns.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Four Months in Five Seconds

Idea unapologetically stolen from my cousin Hannah.

(on the way home from the hospital)

(one month)

(two months)

(three months)

(four months)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

My first Mother's Day as an actual mother merits a blog post, I think.

Up until a little over two years ago, I really honestly believed I would never be a mom. I wasn't dating at all -- hadn't EVER really dated at all -- and couldn't see any good prospects on the horizon. It was fairly depressing. (It was also overly dramatic of me, but that's beside the point.) As long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a mom. As a child, I don't remember ever answering the "what do you want to be when you grow up?" question any other way. I wanted to be a mom. As I got older and my chances for having a family (I thought) got slimmer, I gradually came to accept that it was OK to be the fun aunt, and that I would be OK if I was single forever. And I still appreciated Mother's Day because it was a chance to celebrate my amazing mom. And I STILL love to celebrate my amazing mom -- but I'm thrilled to be a mother myself, now, too!

Here are some things I love about my mom:

*She gave birth to me via c-section when my older brothers were 5, 3, and 18 months, when her parents were on a mission in Zimbabwe and unable to come help, and she did not go insane. RESPECT.

*She always believed in me. She still thinks I should write a novel someday. It's totally not going to happen, but it's nice to have somebody who thinks your high school English class submissions were REALLY GOOD.

*She has an eye for beauty. My mom's a woman of many talents -- she quilts, she sews, she makes jewelry, arranges flowers, refinishes furniture, plans gorgeous weddings, decorates, and more -- and what they all have in common to me is that she creates things of beauty and gathers them around her.

Two examples: First, My wedding really should have been in a magazine. (This is a double-edged sword -- my wedding was a LOT OF WORK for my mom and my siblings, and I apologize to anybody who was up all night painting, cleaning, organizing and preparing for it. I went to bed early and had a marvelous day.) My dress (sewn by my mother, of course) was beautiful, the food was good to both eat and look at, the decorations were perfectly eye-catching and exuberant. I wanted a fun wedding and I GOT ONE.

Second, when I got home from my mission I went upstairs and found that my room had been perfectly redecorated. It had formerly been a room for a little boy (it was my brother's before I inherited it) and over the years had gotten pretty beat up. But it was my room, and I'd been away for a long time, and so I would've been happy to see the scuffed wallpaper and the little blue houses marching around the wall. Instead it was perfectly redone to be the room for a young woman (even though I'd only be at home for a short while before leaving again for college.) She'd stripped the wallpaper, painted the walls, found an awesome -- somehow both funky and delicately pretty -- small chandelier, redone the curtains, found a small bedroom set that fit snugly into the tiny space, and added all the little touches to make it just perfect. It was such a wonderful way to make me feel welcome and at home during those awkward weeks of adjustment home from the mission field.

*She sends amazing care packages -- and she didn't just send them when we were missionaries or college students. I STILL occasionally get a fun box o' stuff from my mom.

*She's so fun and inventive and patient with little kids -- important qualities as a mom that are now standing her in good stead as a grandma. I'm really looking forward to taking my kids on summer vacation's to grandma's house. They're going to love it.

Now, to keep this from being the longest blog post ever, I'll just reiterate that my mom is incredible and I love her.

Now, some things I love about BEING a mom, now that I am:

*I can enjoy the smell of freshly-bathed baby whenever I feel like bathing a baby. (The rest of the time I can enjoy the smell of baby plus slightly sour milk.)

*500 extra calories a day. I'm just sayin'. It's especially nice when I have a small cup of ice cream and sit down to nurse right after. It's the perfect calories in/calories out set up.

*Watching Dot with her daddy. It seriously melts my heart. It's so clear how much they love each other, and it makes me love both of them even more when I watch them play and laugh and cuddle.

*Chunky baby thighs. (And baby arms, and baby cheeks, and baby toes...)

*The sense of motherly accomplishment I feel when I happen to get more than three hours of sleep in a row, or when the doctor comments on how strong and alert she is, or when I recognize the signals and meet her need (food, sleep, game) BEFORE she starts crying for it, or when she's been crying but she calms down when I get her.

There's tons more that I love (and that I'll think about and savor tomorrow) but it's getting close to my bedtime. Here's what you all come here for:

I have the best. job. ever.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

So much for my good sleeping baby...

Dot used to sleep so well. She was really getting into a groove of sleeping 4-5 hour stretches at night, with the occasional 6 hour (and one 7 hour!) sleep to really make me happy.

Then I decided that I needed to start getting her settled into a routine so I could start planning my days better and having regular naptimes. The first step, I figured, was to just record what she was already doing so I could see what her habits was and then see where to adjust. So I got a notebook and a pen and started diligently writing down the times she slept, ate and played each day.

Well, the very act of recording it seems to have RUINED my good sleeper. She hasn't slept for more than 3 and a half hours at a stretch in the three days since I started recording. She got up at 4 this morning and would NOT go down again for more than 15 minutes at a stretch until 9:00. I've been really trying to teach her good sleep habits -- putting her down drowsy but awake, making sure she sleeps in the crib for her naps instead of in my arms or in the swing -- but when she woke up again at 9:45, I gave in and put her in the swing just to help her catch up a little bit on the sleep she didn't get last night. As of 11:00, she's still there.

It's funny, how before I was actually a parent I had all these great ideas about how I was going to teach my kids to sleep in their cribs or beds and sleep through the night, and how consistent and perfect I was going to be. And it all goes out the window when I'm confronted with dealing with an overtired baby all day long.

Oh well. Maybe she'll stay in her crib for the NEXT nap.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Going back on my promise...

When I was little, I HATED it when my mom did my hair. She tried to put it up in hot rollers every week for church, and I complained the entire time. She was pulling my hair, she was doing it wrong, it hurt, it was too hat, I didn't like it. I have many memories of sitting on the toilet seat in the bathroom with tears going down my face and toilet paper stuck behind my ears to keep the rollers from burning my skin there.

I SWORE that when I had a daughter, I would NEVER torture her by doing her hair.

Yeah, right.

(Someday, I will figure out how to switch the orientation of photos so they show up the way I want them to. But today is not that day.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baby Dreams

I've been having the strangest dreams lately -- wierder than I did when I was pregnant. I think a big part of the reason for it is just that I wake up a couple times a night, and so I'm more likely to remember the crazy dreams I already have anyway.

So here are some of the dreams that I've remembered:

*I dreamed that I went to the OB-GYN for a follow-up visit and they discovered that I was pregnant again, with a boy. They even had baby pictures of him to show me, somehow. I flipped out, trying to figure out how it was even possible. I was very, very concerned that the due date would be in December, making for two babies in one calendar year.

*I dreamed that instead of just Dot, I had Dot and two other babies at the same time. I worried that the two dream babies would know that I loved Dot more than I loved them, because I did. I was also very, very frazzled (because, you know, three babies). Dream-Ben came home and announced that he had signed adoption papers for MORE babies, and dream-me FLIPPED OUT at him. He quickly back-pedaled and said he was just teasing me, it was just a joke, and then there was more shouting from me about how I was not in a position to even THINK that was funny.

*I dreamed that I was on vacation with some friends who had a toddler. The toddler wanted to nurse, but the mom didn't have any milk because they'd already weaned. I said, "Oh, that's OK, I'll nurse her." So then I was nursing this toddler who wasn't mine and she started walking around with the nipple still in her mouth and my skin stretched and stretched and stretched (like gumby) to accomodate this wandering toddler.

I know I had one or two more funny/remarkable ones that I remembered long enough to tell Ben, but neither of us can remember them now. I also have a recurring dream where I nurse Dot lying down in bed and then fall asleep next to her. When I wake up, I have a little panic attack of wondering where my baby is and looking for her under the blankets and pillows before I think to check the bassinet, where she always is.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Seven Sleepy Weeks

I love watching this baby sleep.

And I love watching this baby when she's waking up.

Dot is a champion sleeper for her age. She recently gave us two nights IN A ROW of sleeping from 9:00 until 3:00. I was in heaven. It was, unfortunately, not a new habit, as she has had a couple rough nights since then. But still, it's a step in the right direction. And even on her bad nights, she'll get in at least two three-hour blocks of sleep, which is enough for me to get by on. So I am very grateful for that.

During the day she doesn't so much nap as just doze on and off all day, especially if she's being held. Because she falls asleep so easily she almost always falls asleep while nursing, whether she's full or not or even really tired or not. So she has a lot of 15 minute naps in the middle of eating. I'll feed her on one side, burp her and then, because she is completely dead to the world, put her down in her bassinet. In 15 minutes, she wakes up, realizes that she's still hungry, and screams until I come get her. Then she'll take the other side and fall asleep again while being burped.

I know that newborns tend to be sleepy, but this girl goes above and beyond the call of duty. I think she got that from my side of the family.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I've been getting the itch to blog more lately, and I think I know the reason why...

Whenever you fall in love you want to shout it to the world in every forum possible. And I am SO in love with this baby. That hair! Those cheeks! The little fingers and toes! Sometimes I still look at her and marvel that she's really ours for keeps.