A new season...

One of my favorite things about Pittsburgh is that there's always a really crappy winter, and just when you think you can't take it anymore..spring comes! My mom's neighbor gave us her old jogging stroller, and Laurel and I have been all around the neighborhood. Today I went down into the ravine in the park, which of course means, I had to then push the stroller up out of the ravine (that's a workout!). I got my first pang of she's-growing-up-so-fast when I felt the telltale bump on her lower gum...before I know it her adorable toothless grin will be gone.

Waking up to her smiling face is the best alarm clock in the world. She is curious about everything, especially food, and she loves to bring a glass to her lips with a little help, although all she does is lick it. Bath time is an adventure now that she kicks and splashes so much.

And, oh yeah, the laughing. We made her laugh one time a few weeks ago. Then she wouldn't do it again. My friend Sarah was watching her a few weeks ago and made her laugh. I was feeling a little insecure about that, especially after I tried doing exactly what Sarah does and it didn't work. Finally, M and I figured out that everybody has their own special sound/move to make babies laugh. When we did Sarah's thing, Laurel would just kind of look at us like we were crazy. M discovered that his special sound is "wheeeee" (yes, I know that just made you smile thinking about M going "wheeee"). And I pretend to eat her toes while tickling her ribs. There's a lot of laughing going on by all of us, these days.


Laurel at 20 Weeks 1 Day

That seems so old. She has changed so much in the last 20 weeks. You may be noticing the tiny tuft of hair I managed to pull into a barrette, for example. At this time last year we were just spreading the news to those who hadn't guessed yet.


Messy Fun

Laurel really digs rice cereal. She was cool with sweet potatoes, but not that into avocado or bananas. But man, does she like rice cereal.


Sunday Dinner

I never made it out to my mom and dad's on Saturday as planned, on account of the whole emergency room excitement, but the three of us went today instead. My dad cooked a vegetarian feast of grilled veggie sandwiches (complete with his famous garlic paste!). Of course there was cake for desert. Or should I say two cakes. Laurel got to meet some more of the neighbors.

And here's a picture of her looking pretty darn cute, as per usual.

Update on M

We had a little mishap at our house yesterday while M was moving a washing machine into our basement. Basically his hand got caught under the machine and was sort of crushed/scraped against the ground.

We were reminded of how truly blessed we are to have friends and family around. Grandparents flocked from all corners of the city to watch Laurel. Stan and Laura dropped what they were doing and came over to finish moving the washing machine into the basement. Matt and Loren took M to the emergency department and stayed with him until I was able to get there. We are really, really grateful for the help.

The injury, while gruesome-looking (sorry for that Facebook photo, folks), is not terribly serious and M should recover full function of his hand. A plastic surgeon stitched him up, and we'll go back to have it looked at next week. In the meantime, he's going to have to take it a little easy. I'm sure he won't have any trouble giving up changing diapers, but his sourdough bread obsession may have to be put on hold for a couple of weeks until he can mix and knead again.



I love Fridays. It is so very cool to watch these guys change and grow. For the first time, the babies started looking at each other with interest. Kai is the best at laughing. Laurel is the best at wiggling. Niam is the best at making cute baby noises.


More Grandmas and Grandpas

Laurel and I went to have lunch with my grandparents last week. Uncle Tom came over, as did the Mayor of Rices Landing, my cousin, Ryan. We had a great time visiting, Laurel was quite the charming baby. Here are a few photos from that visit.

Laurel Meets the Maryland Relatives

Shout Out to Habitual Hiker! And other business....

Hello Habitual Hiker! My Aunt Mary saw you at your wildflower talk. Greetings from hikers never fail to warm my heart, and infect me with the slightest touch of Springer Fever. First Wife sent a brief, but much needed message the other day. And rumor has it that Flick may be passing through Pennsylvania some time this month on his return trip from the most insane bicycle tour ever. Seriously. He and his new wife biked 5,000 miles through sub-Saharan Africa. It is really making me want to go to Trail Days this year.

Hopeful thru-hikers are leaving from Springer Mountain, GA right about now, and not that any of them are asking me for advice, but I will give it. Hike your own hike. Do not fret about your gear. And just keep walking. And enjoy it...even aching feet and days without showers will be fondly remembered some day.

Funny, the advice for new parents is pretty much the same. Follow your own parenting style. Don't worry about the crap Babies-R-Us says you need. And just take it day by day. And enjoy it...even sleepless nights and poop-splosions will be fondly remembered some day.

In other business...I know some of you are anxious to get some new pictures of Laurel. And we have some great ones! I am busy writing my comprehensive exams this week (I hope to graduate in April), but I will post some new stuff soon!


Sleep Habits

Why is it that Laurel naps so marvelously when my mom is here to watch her?


On the Road

I wish I had a camera. Or rather, someone to use the camera I have to take a picture of Laurel and me. She's fast asleep in the Baby Bjorn and looking quite angelic. We're staying with M's Aunt Mary Ann and Uncle Tom in Maryland for the weekend. Yesterday she met her great-grandma, and today she'll meet more aunts and uncles and cousins. Everyone else has gone out shopping and the house is dark and quiet.

This is only our second overnight trip with Laurel. I didn't want to be one of those new parents who carts around two tons of baby gear just for the weekend, but in my zest for minimalism, I may have crossed the line into "woefully unprepared." Mainly, I forgot how much she spits up, pees on herself, and drools. And I also packed disposible diapers, but we are kind of tearing through those, too. Luckily, most of this can be fixed by running a load of laundry and a trip to the drugstore.

Laurel was quite unhappy last night and howled for several hours. She ended up in bed with us, cuddled up close. I think she misses her monkeys. Or she's teething. Or she's distracted by the new environment. Or, it could have been that we excited her too much by tickling her when we put her pajamas on. It was very hard to resist tickling, because she started laughing last night. I've been waiting and waiting for this, because Laurel's friend Kai started laughing a while ago and it was so very cute. In any event, I think we're going to have a no tickling past 6 pm rule.


Must Resist Urge to Read Sleep Book...

...but I couldn't resist googling "normal sleep for four month olds" at 2:20am, while nursing Laurel who had just nursed at midnight, and would be up again at 4:45. And 6:00.

Should not have done that. Previously I was unaware of the four month sleep regression. Although, most of the women posting about this seemed to have babies who slept all night at three months. I don't know if I feel more sorry for them, who had a good night's sleep and then lost it, or for me, who hasn't really slept a good stretch in longer than I care to think about. Laurel is not really regressing. She just gets up every few hours. It's her nature. My pediatrician says this is totally normal. I still wish for the kind of baby you see on television that sleeps all night. Or the kind of baby that the sleep experts say you can teach to sleep all night. Laurel isn't having any of that.

I made M take Laurel at 6 so I could sleep. A little something to take the edge off of that gripping fatigue that reminds me of hangovers in college. He passed her back at 7 for yet more nursing, swaddled up tight like a wiggly caterpillar. Now she's peacefully sleeping, while I sip decaf tea. Too tired to be productive, but kind of happy to have the excuse to sit in my robe with sunbeams streaming in the window.

I need to cut my addiction to this baby rhetoric. It's so polarizing. Yesterday, my mom and I went for a walk with Laurel in the stroller and I kept thinking about those La Leche League ladies from my neighborhood and what they would think if they drove by and saw my poor daughter in her isolation pod. I got props from them for bringing her to the last meeting in the Moby Wrap, which I love, but can't I also love the stroller? Is it ok to breastfeed because I find it more convenient than mixing up bottles, and not because I'm looking to establish some magical nursing relationship with my kid? Frankly, I think we might have a deeper relationship without the breastfeeding...I think all she sees is a 24 hour milk bar when she looks at me.

I would like to state for the record that I sleep much better when Laurel is in her crib, aka the baby cage, than when we co-sleep. And (gasp!) I let her watch tv sometimes. She likes the blinky lights, and frankly, I've been skeptical of any neuroscientist that says things are good or bad based on MRI studies since I read about this one.

There's a lot of money in telling new parents what they ought to be doing with their babies. I just finished reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, right after I read the No Cry Sleep Solution, on the heels of the Happiest Baby on the Block.

Every time I pick up a new book, I think, "Ah, this book must have the secret."

It never does.

And you know what, I still have a pretty darn happy baby, even though she wakes up all night.



My dad hosted an impromptu dinner over the weekend and you know we never turn down a dinner invite from my dad...his food is way too delicious. We hung out around the dining room table and talked for hours - even Laurel, who loved sitting on Uncle Pete's lap. Yesterday, Megan came down and hung out with Laurel and I for a while. I am already counting the days until the Pittsburgh Marathon because my sister will be back in town for that. And my mom is coming to babysit tomorrow. Last Friday Grandma "Cake" (aka Mark's mom) came over to watch Laurel while we went out for Jason's birthday. And today, Laurel and I are taking a mini road trip to Rices Landing to visit her oldest living relatives. This weekend, we'll take a longer road trip to visit the Manzi clan in Maryland. Whew, that's a lot of family!


This is Not Milk!

Laurel has been showing a lot of interest in what we are eating. She reaches out for food and utensils, and watches closely when we lift a glass to our lips. We don't think she's ready for solids quite yet, but we gave her a carrot to "explore". She really, really wanted to put it in her mouth, but every time she did, she got this funny expression on her face.


Laurel and Her Friends

Here are some of Laurel's baby friends. Laurel has started to interact with her friends, mostly by pulling their hair, and also kicking them in the head (Sorry, Niam!). They are getting so big!

Also, their couch sitting abilities have improved considerably.


Kitchen Work

Laurel helps us cook now. This largely consists of her being patient enough to sit in her chair and watch us. Today I gave her a wooden spoon, and she spent many hard-working minutes trying to hold it in a way that she could lick it at the same time. This was very hard for her tiny hands to do without bopping herself in the head. I can't wait until she's big enough to wash dishes.