Daddy's Beard



M pulled us around the block in Laurel's sled, which she received for Christmas from her grandparents. Laurel isn't sure what to make of the snow. She likes being outside, but doesn't seem to enjoy snowflakes falling on her face. However, it was fun enough for all involved (even for M, who got the job of pulling us!) that we stopped cursing the never-ending snow for a minute, and just enjoyed it!


Pizza Night!


Baking with Baby, ep1.

What to do when your dormant sourdough starter is suddenly (and plentifully) revived? Grab your baby and make some dough, that's what! Today, Laurel and I made some sourdough pizza crust. More pics of the finished product to come...


So Big

Laurel is changing so much everyday. She's definitely out of that newborn stage and is a fun and inquisitive baby. We went to the bookstore yesterday and the book sellers were all laughing about how much she seems to like to read. It's so amazing to me that four months ago she was inside of me! (Glad she came out then, and at that size. Haha!) She has recently discovered her toes, and anytime she gets her diaper changed, she makes an attempt to get them into her mouth. It's so interesting to get to know her...even though she can't speak yet, she is somehow able to communicate so much.


Why you should dress your baby girl in pink and other musings

I'm a little sleep deprived, I'll admit. I have that glazed over new mom look. It's sort of like a cross between a hangover and someone who just woke up from a twenty year coma. I obsessively think about getting a full night's sleep. But I'm also at that place in chronic sleep deprivation where I have trouble falling asleep when I actually make it to my bed. So maybe that had something to do with the bizarre conversation I had with a stranger in the line at Barnes and Noble today.

Let me preface this by saying that Laurel often wears a fleece Penguins sleeper as a coat when we go out. It's kind of gold in color. It was one of the things that M couldn't resist buying for her when, in the early days of her life, he went out for toilet paper and tofu and came back with all kinds of other goodies. But I digress.

Here's the conversation...

Stranger: That's a cute baby. He's real tiny.

Katy: She. Yes, she's pretty small. She's 3 months old.

Stranger: My boy was like that. In the third percentile. They always put him with the girls.

Katy: Well, actually she is a girl. But yes, she's on the small size.

Stranger: You know what happened though? When he hit 13, he grew. All of a sudden.

Katy: Hmm, well maybe that will happen to her. But her father and I are both pretty small, so...

Stranger: Don't you worry. He'll catch up to the boys.

Katy: Um, ok. Thanks, I guess.

So, I finally get the pink thing. It's to help facilitate the social discourse of check out lines. A woman at the Co-op yesterday mistook Laurel for a boy, because she was wearing a blue hat. I corrected her, and then she felt the need to gush over how pretty she was, I think to overcompensate for her mistake.

Really, it didn't bother me.

It's almost as bad as the constant queries into our sleeping habits. Seriously. She's 3 months old. Some babies wake up at night to eat. It's completely developmentally appropriate. Sure, I'm tired of waking up every few hours, but I'm more tired of talking about it strangers.

(And yet, I can't seem to stop going to the bookstore to try just one more book by a sleep expert.)


Drip Drip

Pittsburgh is melting. Big chunks of ice slide off the roof and crash to the ground, puddles of water collect around street corners where drains are still blocked by plowed snow. Every homeowner in the city is making it a nervous habit to check the ceilings around the eaves and the corners of the basement. Rain is headed our way and it's not going to be pretty.

We made the mistake of going to the Trader Joe's this afternoon, when all of suburban Pittsburgh seemed to have made it down to East Liberty to shop. You can always tell because people from the suburbs bring their whole families...men, grandmas, children of all ages. It's more of a tourist event than grocery shopping. I took Laurel because she usually falls asleep when we go out, but there was way too much action for her. And there was not a parking spot to be had in front of that store. We parked closer to the pet store, so M could take a peak at his favorite...the English bull dog. Although, we found the French bull dog to be awfully cute today.

Hopefully things will start to get back to normal around here. The sidewalks are still really icy, and I'm afraid somebody is going to get conked in the head by a giant icicle on our driveway. It's going to be either me or the mailman.

We had a nice weekend. My parents came down to babysit on Saturday and M and I went out and wandered around the South Side, enjoying the rare sunny afternoon. I found a pair of jeans at the Goodwill in exactly my size. We bought a pastry brush at Sur La Table.

This morning I went to the Friends' Meeting on Ellsworth, and M baked a loaf of bread that didn't work out as well as the amazing loaf he baked yesterday. Laurel peed and pooed on everything all morning and afternoon and I had to do more laundry. Laurel and M are on the couch right now...they both dozed off during a curling match on tv.

Our house is messy in the way that only a house with a new baby is. Unfolded laundry on the bed, baby toys scattered, and burp rags draped over the backs of chairs. M's work and my work stacked in piles in various locations around the house, where we started on some project or another, and then abandoned to change a diaper or rock the cradle. The days seem to pass very quickly and very slowly at the same time.

Last year at this time, I had just discovered that I was pregnant, and we were getting ready for a funeral. Life...coming and going, as is the nature of things.



I'm starting to go a little nuts here. Laurel and I went down to campus yesterday, in an attempt to resume our regular schedule. It took us almost 2 hours on the 71C to get there. Traffic on Penn Avenue was just inching along. Luckily Laurel took the opportunity to nap, but I didn't go in today. I didn't want to risk her needing to eat or get a diaper change en route. Not that I'm opposed to nursing in public, but when we're all bundled up on a crowded bus, I don't think it would work.

So here we are, sitting inside for yet another day. It would be difficult for us to walk down to Regent Square or Squirrel Hill because the side walks are in really bad shape. To go anywhere in a car would probably take forever on account of the traffic on Penn Avenue. I think we'll head over the Co-op in a little while.


Laurel Rolls

Sorry for the graininess of this footage. The room was dark because this rolling event occurred during our "quieting down" time of the evening. Not that she's all that quiet here.


More Snow, Car Seats and Elmer

I can't believe it is snowing again. Snow is pretty and all, but the city is clearly not equipped to handle it, and I am tired of being at home all the time. We ventured out today, but I worry about her getting too cold, or getting stuck in the snow.

When I was picking out baby gear before Laurel came, I opted for a convertible car seat. This is the kind that stays in the car...not the "baby bucket" kind. I reasoned that it was a better buy, since a) I don't drive all that much and b) Laurel would fit in it for years to come. And until recently, I was perfectly happy tooling around town on foot and by bus and the Moby Wrap or the Baby Bjorn are perfect for that. We actually ended up getting a used "baby bucket" style car seat from one of Mark's co-workers, along with the stroller that it snaps into. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to install it in my car, so I basically just used it as a place for Laurel to sit, in the kitchen. But then, Sarah enlightened me to an alternate way to install it using seat belts, instead of the LATCH system. I looked up the directions on the internet, and it seems safe enough, so I started using it. Baby gear is so complicated.

I was drawn to the idea of being able to set Laurel down when I went out...without disrupting her naps when I ran errands by car. (I've become a bit nap obsessed, because I am convinced that this is they key to good night time sleep.) We went out to dinner the other night, and it was really great to be able to sit her down while we ate, without dropping crumbs all over her head. However, today I was reminded of the reason I didn't want the baby bucket...they are really dang heavy! Good enough for suburban life where you always park near where you are going. Not so good when you are circling Squirrel Hill, looking for a parking spot in a snow storm, when half the spots in the neighborhood are buried in eight feet of plowed snow, and you have to park 4 blocks away from where you are headed. So, I staggered down the icy sidewalk, Laurel swinging wildly from side to side as I attempted to walk while not hitting myself in the leg with the car seat.

But I was reminded of the merits of the baby bucket when I went to the Coffee Tree and was able to set a sleeping Laurel right next to my table while I enjoyed a soy latte and met an interesting old man named Elmer, whom I shared a table with in the crowded coffee shop. He entertained me with stories of his world travels while Laurel dozed at our feet. Elmer was taking a much needed break from his wife, who has dementia, and the look in his eyes reminded me very much of how my grandmother looked when she was taking care of my grandfather.

Elmer's first words to me were, don't you have wheels for that thing? Which of course, I do, but I left that part at home because I figured a stroller wouldn't be much use on the snowy sidewalks. And how much baby equipment do I really want to haul around? Elmer's last words to me were, you better tell your husband about me, you don't someone else to tell him they saw you out with another man. Very funny, Elmer!

Anyway, it got me to thinking about the baby gear we thought we would need, versus what we have actually found useful. It seems with baby gear, everything seems useful, at least for a short amount of time. But one could probably get by without most of it. I was thinking I should write a review of our gear, if for nothing else, my own reference should there ever be a sibling for Laurel. I have a feeling the sleep deprivation is going to erase my memory of this time of my life.

I also wish there was a way to ask Laurel about some of it. Say, Laurel, do you prefer cotton or fleece sleepers? Is your crib mattress comfortable? Do you feel squished or cold in the baby bucket? But what would she really tell me, even if she could talk? The uterus is basically a hot tub with constant nourishment and soothing ambient noise. Other than the lack of space, I think she would probably tell me that nothing is as comfortable as floating naked in warm amniotic fluid.

The snow continues to fall, and I am waiting until Laurel falls asleep so I can dash outside and throw some salt down. M won't be home from class until very late tonight, and there may be 6 more inches by then.

I will leave you with something that will surely put a smile on your face, a video of Laurel performing her latest talent...yelling.


Laurel at 14 weeks


A Man and His Daughter

We're spending a lazy Saturday afternoon lounging around the house recovering from M's birthday party last night (which was awesome and thanks for coming!). My sister is leaving in a few hours, so we're hanging out with her and my dad before they head off to the airport. It's still snowing, although not really sticking, and there just don't seem to be any good reasons to plan to leave the house today. Laurel is practicing her yelling voice, which is still cute and funny.


Happy 3-0, M!

Now we are both old.

Just kidding, M. You have a youthful quality about you that chronological age cannot erase.

I'm sitting here right now, watching Laurel tug on your beard while you smile at each other. I'm pretty sure her grunts and squeals are her way of saying, Happy Birthday, Dad, I love you!

The 20s were pretty rockin'. I have a feeling that our 30s will bring a new set of adventures.

Happy Birthday!


Laurel "Talks"

One Day

When does day start? I might consider it 5 am, because Laurel wakes up then. But it is dark and I can usually coax her back to sleep for a few more hours, so let's say 7:30. Perhaps I wake up a little early and manage to get dressed or make a cup of tea.

She usually wakes up crying. Not in a terribly distraught way, just in a, "I don't know how else to let you know I'm awake" way. She smiles when she sees me. I nurse her and change her diaper and we go downstairs to greet daddy and wiggle on the couch. She smiles and I smile back. I can't help it. I snatch small bites of breakfast in between entertaining her. She plays with a few toys now, her little hands getting better at grasping them every day.

More nursing. More playing. A diaper or two. Laurel is happiest when she is naked so I try to let her wiggle around without her diaper on for a little while every day. While she wiggles and coos, I tidy up around upstairs, pausing after I put each item away to exchange smiles with her, as I lean over her crib.

Around 9:30, it's time for a nap. Nurse, rock, ever so gently lay her down in her crib, or in the rocking cradle and crank the static up high.

Madly (but oh so quietly) dash around the downstairs, tidying up whatever chaos is leftover from the night before. Type a paper. Answer emails. Do a few dishes.

She wakes up crying. I nurse her and she perks up immediately. Seems so happy to see me. We smile at each other for a while. Change a diaper. We go downstairs and she wiggles in the Pack N Play. She's working very hard right now to turn herself over, but try as she might, she can't do it. So she lays there on her back, arching, and flexing her legs. I work out in front of the tv, while she watches.

Throw in a load of laundry. Change a diaper. More nursing.

Check the weather. If it is above 20 degrees, we are good to go for a walk. Get coat, keys and shoes before sticking her in the carrier. She wails until we get outside, then promptly falls asleep. Walk until a proper amount of nap time has passed, then head home.

Laurel wakes up. Cries. Change a diaper. Nurse. Play on the couch.

Think about starting dinner. Get out an onion. Abandon onion to change a diaper.

More nursing. She's tired and fussy. Work hard to get her to nap. Give up after excessive crying. Stick her in the Moby Wrap.

Crying continues. Check the diaper. Go outside to pace back and forth on the porch. The traffic noises put her to sleep.

Back to the kitchen and the onion. Chop vegetables carefully while Laurel dozes in the Moby. She wakes up. Put her in the stroller so she can watch me.

M comes home. Dinner is half done, he'll do the rest. Take Laurel upstairs to start bedtime routine. Change a diaper. Read some books. Dim the lights. Nurse. Swaddle. Nurse. Change another diaper. Re-swaddle. Turn up static. Lay her down, ever so gently and tip-toe out of the room.

Dinner is finished and kept warm in the oven by M. Eat quickly, one ear towards the nursery. Homework. Shower. Watch TV.

Go to bed way too late. Fall deeply asleep, and sleep without dreams.

It seems a little repetitive when I recall it. But the kind of life where you can literally spend 30 minutes just exchanging smiles is the best kind of life.

Life is good.


Scratch that, hooray for snow days!

I'm not exactly recanting my previous posts (still no snow plows). But I'm sitting in a peaceful house, snug and warm, with my sister and my daughter. We have food and heat and love. Danna is reading to Laurel before we put her to bed. Life has changed a lot in our house since the last time Danna was here, and it's so fun to show her how and have her be a part of it. So, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Pitt, you suck, too!

Ok, ok. Pitt did close down for the first time since 9/11, so props for that.

However, it would be very helpful if you would actually let people know, so they don't clog up the roads trying to get in to work!

We found out about the highly unusual closure through the rumor mill. I think M got a text from one of our friends. It was during the Super Bowl, but I checked my email and the University web site and saw nothing. I also checked my phone for an official text, since I subscribe to the Emergency Notification system. Nothing there either. I still haven't received anything. They did post a message to the university website, but they put it in very unobtrusive text in the "News" sidebar, where the other stories are things like "Dr. So and So to lecture at the School of Public Health" and "GPSA collecting toiletries for Haiti". Not exactly the place I would look for urgent notification. At least put it in red or something. A message did finally show up on my.pitt.edu today, but well after the time I would have started off for work had I not known about the closure through other means.

M and I ventured out to go to the chiropractor this afternoon and it is still a sloppy mess. It's obvious where the snow plows have come through because there are banks of snow on the curb. We didn't go too far, but were wondering how Public Works can, in good conscience, claim that they have cleared all primary arteries. It's so obvious that Penn and Braddock Avenues have not been treated at all. And with the sunshine melting the top layer of hard packed snow, I expect another night of icy streets.

Tomorrow's forecast has another winter weather warning, and I can't wait to see what another 6-10 inches on top of the hard-packed snow covered roads will do to traffic.

A Poor Excuse, Pittsburgh. Shame on you!

I just received an update that Pittsburgh will not be taking any more phone calls into the 311 hotline regarding snow removal. Garbage and recycling will not be picked up and residents are urged not to drive. The National Guard has been called in to assist with snow removal.

Shame on you, Pittsburgh! Yes, this is a storm for the record books. M and I can attest to to the hazardous conditions of the roads, as we ventured out to my parents' last night to watch the Super Bowl (Go Saints!). We live on a main road, and took only main roads to get to my parents house. The main roads in the city remain snow packed. There was little evidence that either plowing nor salt or cinder application had been done. And yet, as soon as we crossed the river (and thus crossed the city limits) the roads were mostly bare and definitely passable. We saw salt trucks. Traffic was moving slower than normal and in some places, snow remained in the right hand lane. Some tree branches still needed to be removed. However, it was obvious that the outlying communities had trucks out during and after the storm. It was clear by the conditions of the roads, and well...we actually saw more salt trucks out there!

Since we recently received a warning about clearing our own sidewalks within 24 hours of snow, and since we (well, M and my dad) worked hard to do so, it is more than a little annoying that there has been little evidence of the City's attempt to clear the roads from this storm.

I saw very few Public Works trucks doing snow removal of any sort, either during the storm or since that time (and it's been at least 36 hours since the snow STOPPED at this point). I can verify that most people are staying off the road...we live within viewing distance of a major intersection and it's really quiet out there. So this idea that plows are having difficulty getting around because of abandoned vehicles or foolish drivers clogging up the roadways is just absurd to me. People have given Public Works plenty of time and space to clear the roads, but at a certain point, we simply need to get from Point A to Point B....essential personnel for hospitals have to get to work. And people like my parents, who were stranded at our home and respectfully stayed off the roads during and directly after the storm, eventually needed to get home. And what about all those folks without water or electricity who need to move to relatives' homes, or to warming centers?

And Pittsburgh doesn't have the building density issues that a city like New York or Philadelphia would have. There are lots of places for the snow to go! I don't live back in one of Pittsburgh's many hilly neighborhoods with narrow streets. I live on the corner of two of the busiest streets in the East End and the road conditions are so deplorable that ambulances and fire trucks can barely get by.

And then to add to my frustration, I hear that Luke Ravenstahl was stuck in the Laurel Highlands where he went for his birthday. YOU WENT TO THE MOUNTAINS FOR A BIRTHDAY PARTY DURING ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED SNOW STORMS OF THE LAST ONE HUNDRED YEARS!!!!????

Happy 30th, Luke. Hope it was worth it. And Pittsburgh Public Works, observe the rest of Allegheny County as an example, and maybe send your trucks out to actually do something in the next day or two.


A visit and a snowstorm...

Danna made it in to Pittsburgh, just ahead of the snowstorm. My parents picked her up at the airport and brought her here to meet Laurel. But by the time we finished dinner it was too treacherous for them to leave, so we're all still snowed in here! Here's a picture of Danna's first encounter with her niece.

There is an incredible amount of snow here. M and my dad spent all morning digging us out, and it's still not all gone! No way will we get a ticket from the city for Failure to Remove Snow! They already attacked the front sidewalk. Our street has not even been plowed yet! The problem is what do we do with all this snow on our tiny city lot? Our yard is already full of snow.


Oh, how life changes...

Four years ago, we were plotting our "early retirement". I was feeling seriously burned out from my Teach For America work, and M was sick of his 50 mile daily commute on the Phoenix freeways. We weren't happy. It occurred to us that we could simply purge our lives of anything that didn't make us happy. I told my principal I wouldn't be coming back the following year and started selling our stuff on Craigslist. We planned a summer cross country road trip and started writing this blog.

Three years ago, we were getting ready to head to Georgia to start hiking north. It was an exciting, but scary time. I didn't know if I had it in me to actually do a thru-hike. I was feeling a little scared about sleeping in the woods every night.

Two years ago, we had recently moved into our apartment in Bloomfield. I was in the best shape of my life, having just finished the AT a few months before. I had (what I thought was going to be) a great special ed job. I still took deep pleasure in daily hot showers and electric lights.

One year ago, we didn't yet know I was pregnant. We had recently bought our house, and Pete and Meg and Lucy were living with us. We were planning a wine-tasting trip to Niagara Falls for M's birthday. My Grandma was sick. I had no idea how much vomiting I would do in the coming year. Or the indescribable joy that would arrive with Laurel.

At any point in the last four years, it would have been really difficult for me to predict where I would be a year from then. I don't know why I'm thinking about this right now. Maybe because Laurel is starting to try and scoot around on her tummy, and I imagine I'll be spending a lot of time chasing after her at this time next year. I'm looking forward to seeing her personality emerge.

So does life get more predictable once you have kids? Or less?


This is Very Hard Work

Here is Laurel concentrating very hard on her latest skill. She can roll herself over from this position, which makes her kind of a danger to herself, and keeps me on my toes. She's spent a good part of the last few days lying on her back, flexing her entire body and grunting as she attempts to do who knows what. I think she's trying to play the "push" game, which Mark taught her, only she wants to play it by herself. Let me explain. A few weeks ago, Mark started doing this thing where he holds her feet down with her knees bent and says push, and she pushes herself backwards. Well now she just can't get enough of this "game" and if nobody is holding her feet, she tries to do it herself. However, this mostly results in the flexing and the grunting, and not much actual movement. Thus the serious look.