Superstitions and Graduation

You know I can't blog that Laurel is sleeping well because that would likely lead to immediate sleep regression. It's like drinking Canadian beer during a playoff run against the Canadiens. Or cutting off your playoff beard prematurely. Even if you have a job interview. So, I'll just tell you that she's not sleeping poorly. Wink, wink.

Thank you to everybody for the words of congratulations about my graduation. We went to the ceremony yesterday, and I was so glad to have my family there. Even Danna was able to come since she's in town this week! It was just a little bit too long (as graduations tend to be) and a little bit too hot and the fire alarm went off as they were reading off the names for the first class. However, it turned out to be nothing and all in all it was a nice event.

Here are some pictures from the day, including some adorable shots of Laurel (before she peed all over her Pitt cheerleader outfit).


Guitar Lesson

Sleep Fail!

This is what we call it when we go through a bedtime or naptime routine and Laurel appears to be getting drowsy or even falls asleep, but then -PING!- she pops back up, completely restored, smiling and ready for action.

Sleep Fail.

This is what happened last night, except there were hearty cries of protest prior to the smiling. Eventually, I brought her downstairs and gave her a cold pacifier to suck on. I kept all the lights off, and she played with that pacifier in her pack-n-play, in the dark, for half an hour, and then we tried sleep again. I think she's teething some more, so maybe her mouth hurt. She also learned to roll over, and it's very hard for her to lay in her bed without practicing this new skill.

It must be exciting to be almost six months old and learning something new every day.

But the sleep fail of last night, was followed by a sleep success this morning! I rocked her a few times, laid her down, awake, in her crib and said, "Shhhh." I walked out of the room, and closed the door. And she fell asleep!! She cried for a couple of minutes, but they were those whimpering, "I'm trying to fall asleep" cries, and not her usual howling at the top of her lungs.

It's weird that I spend so much time obsessed with someone else's sleep. If you asked me a year ago what parenting would be like, I don't think I would have predicted this. My prior experience with children involved kids old enough to be reasoned with. I was always successful in getting my students or babysitting charges to do what I wanted them to do by giving directions in a calm voice, never giving in to tantrums, and doling out hugs as necessary. Trying to figure out what Laurel needs or wants, let alone trying to change her behavior, is complicated by the fact that she doesn't talk.

Yeah, I hadn't really considered that I would be dealing with a person with limited verbal capacity for, like, two years.

It's not that she doesn't communicate, but we seem to hit an impasse every now and again. Mostly at night. Mostly on the topic of sleeping.


Everything seems to be in order....

...for my graduation next week! I had to go to Kinko's today and get my thesis printed out and spiral bound. Laurel slept soundly in her car seat while we were waiting (I think the copiers lulled her to sleep). But she woke up yelling right as the guy was handing me my change. Laurel seems deeply disturbed each time she wakes up and doesn't recognize her surroundings. She got over it, and we went to the bookstore, where I bought myself a knitting book and got "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" for Laurel.

I still have a lot of loose ends to tie up with America Reads. But I'm officially done with my student responsibilities!


Laurel and Grandma Cake


Every Prayer a Prayer of Gratitude

Thank you for babies who require lots of snuggling between the hours of 5 and 8, because dinner tastes even better at 9pm when you are good and hungry.

Thank you for a stomach flu that knocked me out and forced me to walk very slowly through the park, instead of at my usual brisk pace. I noticed so much more.

Thank you for the unanticipated announcement that my office has to be packed up for a move by May 1st. This will force me to get my work done faster so I can move on to the next adventure, and enjoy the month of May.

Thank you for Pittsburgh weather, where a sunny day is always something special.


Two Down, One to Go

I have all the work for two classes done and just one left to go. My last class is meeting on Thursday, and my graduation ceremony is two Saturdays from now. I didn't go to the commencement for my undergrad degree, but I'm planning to go to the School of Ed ceremony this time. I'm really proud of myself for pursuing this degree, and most especially finishing it six months after Laurel arrived. It's been a lot to juggle, but I'm glad I pushed through and finished it. I'm especially grateful to have had the opportunity to be a Graduate Student Assistant, because it's nice to finish without any more debt.

Now...what should I do next?


The Plague Has Lifted

What happens when the whole family gets sick? Well, you hunker down on the couch, tissues and buckets and tea within reach, and get plenty of toys for the baby and let her wiggle in the middle, and you lie around for a week until you feel better.

We're feeling better now. It's windy and cold and gray in Pittsburgh today. I like the last cold days of spring, especially when they happen after some warm days. It gives you a chance to remember the nice things about being snug and warm inside a house.

I'm doing some final revisions on my thesis, and writing up end-of-semester reports. Mark is cranking out homework and final projects. Laurel is flipping over onto her belly, although she inexplicably forgot how to roll back, even though she learned how to do that about 2 months ago. So now she grunts and kicks her legs like crazy and eventually cries until you roll her back over.

I missed mom group on Friday, which was the worst part of getting sick for me, except maybe that we passed our illness on to the Grandmas, who both came to take care of us. Two weeks left in the semester. I have to pack up my office at America Reads, which will be strange. I worked there for 6 years once before, and now I've been there another 2 years again. It's time to close that chapter once and for all. Pass the torch.

May will be here before we know it. When that happens, I'll have no work or school obligations. And no paycheck. Mark advises me to take things slow...wait and see what opportunities crop up. I'm a do-er by nature, so this is very hard for me. But I think he's right. No rushing into the first job that comes up. I think if I'm patient, a very good opportunity will come my way.


Entertaining Guests

That's what we did this weekend...entertained guests. And also, the guests were very entertaining to Laurel. My Uncle Joe is a devoted reader of the blog, and I am delighted to feature his visit in this post. Here he is working his "Great Uncle" magic with Laurel, who was rather fussy during their visit (we later figured out she was working on a cold). Aunt Donna and Grandma Mazza also came to visit, and they also took turns cuddling with Laurel.

Uncle Joe is famous for his precise itineraries, when he is traveling, as well as his extremely consistent routines when at home. M and I always knew exactly what we could expect when we visited them in Texas. We are pretty much the opposite in this respect, so we always found it novel and fun. Like tonight, for instance, it is 8:56 pm and we have not eaten dinner yet. I am certain that if Uncle Joe and Aunt Donna were at home, they would have eaten dinner, watched tv for one hour and taken a walk with their dogs by now. Anyway, we had a spirited discussion about Mother's Oats, learned about Heather's exciting new adventure in foster parenting, and caught up on all the latest news from Texas. Uncle Joe, you should post your recipe for oatmeal cookies in the comments section, since I have forgotten it. We had a great time with their visit, and were so happy to introduce Laurel to even more of her relatives.

Laurel's cold got a lot worse so we spent the day at home today, trying to distract her and keep the snots flowing.


Guess what I'm thinking?


Happy Birthday, Laurel!

Today is Laurel's 5 month birthday! I dressed her up and paraded her around the neighborhood in the stroller. I was hoping that lots of people would stop us and give us compliments, but there were very few people in the park. Then we did a photo shoot in the back yard. Naturally she was smiling the whole time, except when I pulled the camera out. I think she wanted to send our readers a message. Something like, "I am thinking about something very serious." or "Stop messing with me."

Besides finally getting some chub on her legs, Laurel is also cutting some teeth. So far there are two, razor sharp teeth in her bottom middle gum. She doesn't seem terribly distraught over it, but will chew on anything she can get her hands on. We have a stash of pacifiers and chew toys in the freezer for her. We're still in the experimental stage with food, but I tried again with some banana this morning and she really seems to object to the texture of it (just like Danna!). She's pretty efficient at flipping over from tummy to back (she hates being on her tummy), and has started to roll the other way if there's something in her crib that she is reaching for. She also really likes to suck her toes and has figured out how to rip open the velcro on her diaper covers (uh-oh). She is incredibly animated for a little baby, and people often comment on how alert she is. Her little legs and arms are constantly in motion, except when she's asleep.

She started noticing other babies and also our cat, Rosie. (Rosie is not a huge fan of Laurel yet, but I'm sure they will be better friends when Laurel's gross motor skills improve and she stops swatting at Rosie anytime she gets within range.)

I can't believe we have a five month old!


Sensibilities and a Brief Reflection

It's funny how certain memories of the most mundane details of life stick with you.

The smell of Walgreen's Natural baby wipes will forever remind me of my first weeks as a new mom, nights and days mixed up, an endless parade of diapers needing changed, Laurel still curled up in a fetal position and nestled on my chest.

The closet in our guest room is filled with our hiking gear and the stale sweat and synthetic fabric odor takes me right to the woods, falling asleep in a not-so-fresh sleeping bag, drinking icy cold spring water, and the scary-jumpy feeling in my heart when I hear thunder.

The smell of baking bread, no matter where, reminds me of my parents.

I had to take Laurel to work with me on Thursday. Normally M watches her, but he had to go see the hand surgeon to see how his fingers are healing (they are doing quite well). A few months ago, I was writing middle-of-the-night emails to Leah every other day about how needy Laurel was. And indeed, she was. I could not put her down even to go to the bathroom without her becoming hysterical. She never took long naps during the day and was up for hours at night. She nursed constantly. I was so tired it hurt.

Then one day (or was it gradual? I don't know.) she became easier. She entertains herself in her crib while I get dressed in the morning. She sleeps at night and wakes up smiling. I was able to put her on a blanket on the ground with a few toys, where she played quite happily during the first 45 minutes of my presentations. And everywhere we go, people say "what a happy baby you have there."

Did Laurel get better at being a baby? Or did I get better at being a mom?

I'm kind of obsessed with the television show "16 and Pregnant". (The episodes with Catelynn and Tyler make me cry every single time.) The girls are always giddy at their baby showers, but look like deer caught in headlights once labor starts, and it goes downhill as the reality of 2 am feedings hits home. The thing is, I'm not sure "30 and Pregnant" looks any different. I didn't have any idea of what I was getting into, and the first few weeks were a total blur, between recovering from surgery and dealing with Laurel's weight loss. Now that our family life is starting to gel, I'm still learning something new about juggling my responsibilities every day. On Thursday it was figuring out how to help Laurel nap when we are out and about all day (cover her stroller with a blanket and pace the hallways a few times). This past week, I figured out how to get enough sleep every night (for us, sleeping together works best). I'm hoping to get some more regular exercise (I think the jogging stroller will be key).


This little stinker has a tooth in there!

I'm not sure what this funny expression is all about, but my mom took this picture after she spent all day babysitting. Yesterday morning we discovered a tiny tooth poking up.