Characters in a snowy two-step.

Traffic was slowed by last night’s storm.  I was at a crawl in my car at 8th and Sherman on my way to the highway when I noticed a man and woman at the bus stop two-stepping in the bright white snow.  In hats and gloves and scarves and coats, they made their way around the sidewalk floor.  The woman threw her head back with a wide-open laugh as the man held her close with a pleased smile on his face.

Strangers?  Lovers?

I met for wine with my writer friend Tuesday night.  She was asking me what motherhood was like.  ”I mean, how much time do you get to write?”  I had to think about it for a second.  When was the last time I even had time to read?  Now that I am more comfortable with my role, being mommy, I feel like I have time to SLEEP again.  Order of priority: sleep, eat, read, write.  One or two or all have suffered greatly this year.

I have missed finding characters at bus stops.


Stories from the new place.

Lots has been happening around here!  We have a baby who crawls and we moved into a house!

The house is a sweet brick bungalow whose walls hold lots of quirks and stories.  Luckily, the most difficult things we’re dealing with now are the lack of electrical outlets and mirrors.  Coming from a 1950s condo where every room, save the kitchen, had floor to ceiling mirrors, I now find myself depending on Chris to give me proper feedback about what I’m wearing.  It seems that in 1926, there was much less vanity.

This morning is the perfect example of what we go through each day before I rush off to work.

“Chris.  How do I look?”
“Go into the light.  Hmmm, no, that’s not light enough.  No, this light, here in the kitchen.”
“Yes.  Okay.  Well, I think I read somewhere that navy doesn’t go with brown.”
“No, they go together.  It’s a color wheel thing I think.”
“Okay, then you look great!”

We just love our new digs.  The yard has room for sitting with baby and the block seems to be filled to the brim with lovely, friendly neighbors.  Our house is in between houses owned by couples who have been living in their homes ten plus years and are the heartbeat of the hood.

It’s wonderful to me that this house has a long history.  It’s been sitting on its plot since 1926.  I want to know all its stories.  So I started looking in the easiest places.

I pulled the 1940 U.S. Census and it was quite revealing.  In that year there were four kids living in our two-bed one bath home.  The oldest child was 15.  The youngest, 7 months.  Talk about a full house.

Well, what we found out from our neighbors was that Silvio – “Junior” – the oldest of those kids, was still living here until he died in 2007.  That’s right.  He spent almost his whole life in this house — from 1930 on.

Our neighbor told us she used to pick his brain all the time about what it was like in Capitol Heights in the old days, before it was known as Congress Park.  The first time she asked him, he said, “Well, you know, Ann, there were a lot more children in those days.  They’d run around from house to house causing all sorts of trouble.”

Ann reflected on this and thought it couldn’t be too much different than it was today.  She was erecting a fence in her backyard because of the three boys who lived down the street and the constant whooping and hollering that seemed to always happen just as the sun peeked though her windows on Saturday mornings.

“You know, now everyone has fences in their backyards,” Junior continued. “It wasn’t like that back then.  The goats all used to have free rein, nibbling down all the grass.”

Ann said, “Junior.  There were goats?!”

“Oh sure.”

More kids, more goats.  Ah, the old days.

Certainly more stories to come as we continue to meet the other characters on our block.

Love that holy water.

We tend to rotate between masses at the church we’re attending.  Depending on what time Benjamin wakes up on Sundays, and now, in our new trend, depending on how often he’s up during the night in the hours before mass, will decide what time we attend mass – 7:30 or 9.

We generally prefer 9 because the message is so clear and well-spouted.  The priest at the 7:30 mass is lovely, but we’re never really quite sure what he’s getting at.

Anyhow, since Benjamin has started becoming wholly animated all day, every day, we’ve begun sitting in the “Bawl Room” at the back of the church near the nursery, the “Bride’s Room” (yes, the church is so big it has a room just for brides) and the rest rooms.

Two weeks ago we attended 7:30 mass and were sitting in the Bawl Room.  During the first reading an older woman walked into the room behind us toting a large rolling suitcase and another bag over her shoulder.  She did not look haggard or tired or homeless, but she was traveling with an awful lot of luggage and seemed a bit out of place.

She went directly into the bathroom and didn’t come out for a while.  I take notice of things like this when I’m supposed to be listening to the word of God.

Since childhood, before ever doing something daring or nerve-wracking or whenever I’m in a situation where something unexpected could happen, I imagine what the newspaper headline would read if an unforeseen tragedy occurred and I was involved.  ”American tourists in South Africa killed in rhino attack.” “Amusement ride at county fair crushes local woman.” “Girl sent by parents to get a gallon of milk: never returned.”

For some reason, I had a little pit in my stomach as I tried to imagine just what was taking her so long in the bathroom.  What on earth was she doing in there?  Should I alert someone that there is a woman with a lot of luggage in the bathroom and she’s been in there for too long?  If you see something, say something?  But what did I really see?

And then, just after the homily, the door to the bathroom opened and she came out, with her bags.  Her clothes were changed and her hair was pulled back.  She stood behind us.  Chris was wrangling our busy baby and offered to get her a chair.  She politely declined, coo-cooed at Benjamin and flashed him a huge smile which he reciprocated.  And then she walked out of the room with her things.  Benjamin followed her with his eyes.

As we prepared to receive communion, she walked up to the baptismal font, which is in the middle of the church, and dipped her hand in the water.  She blessed herself.

Then, she dipped her fingers in again and used the water to smooth her hair back.  She looked into the water, presumably at her own reflection.

I immediately felt peace.  It became clear to me she was just an angel, stopping by to remind me not to get so worked up about things I can’t control, and to calm my imagination and lasso it before it runs completely wild.  To be present, to be thoughtful, but also to pay attention to those around me without judging too harshly.

When I came back from communion she was gone, as I knew she would be.

Rain on, Denver.

It’s been quite the week so far.  And at only Wednesday, I’m not sure how much longer it will feel before it’s actually Friday evening and I can take a deep breath.

We have hired a new nanny to watch both B and my nephew.  I am sad to see our current nanny go and again have to deal with the “newness” of something else.  I am terrible with change — except for accepting B into our world.  He was a fairly easy transition.  The nanny situation is another story.  Leaving my most precious treasure with a complete stranger who is so different from me and from my mom and from my husband and from my mother-in-law is terrifying.  Knowing she’ll have the responsibility of not one but TWO infants is even more difficult to swallow.

In my ideal world, I wouldn’t even be talking about a nanny.  I would be staying home with Sweet B until he’s ready for school.  This is not an option right now, and thankfully, we can afford to do what we think is the next best thing for our babe, which is to put him in a nanny share situation with his cute little cousin.

And, you know, we got used to our first nanny, so I’m sure this will be the same — just transitioning.

It’s rained all night and has continued today perfectly reflecting my mood.  Savoring.  Quiet.  Thoughtful.

A few weeks ago we were at Queechy with B and he was able to play in the water, meet my people who are now his people, and breathe in the Berkshires and Columbia County–some of the prettiest landscape in the world.  I love the rain there.  Today, Denver feels like home.

B is two weeks away from being SIX MONTHS old.  We are floored at how fast the time has gone and how much more we love our boy every day.  He is smart and funny and has quite the charming personality.

B has accomplished:
- Tummy time
- Sitting in the Bumbo chair
- Grabbing glasses off faces
- Picking up toys and putting them directly in mouth
- Rolling over from front to back and from back to front

B is working on accomplishing:
- Napping in the crib
- Getting that first tooth to pop the bottom gums
- Sitting comfortably upright in the stroller
- Remembering how to sleep through the night (toughest on mom and dad)

Though we keep looking for houses to buy, we are snuggled in our apartment and feel happy and content most days.  The “search” continues!

What we really use for our infant.

Right before my sister-in-law had her baby last week, I wrote her an email of things I wish I’d had with me at the hospital.  Namely, an outfit for me to come home in.  Whoops.  I had a friend do this for me too, and it was super helpful.  Still forgot that outfit, though.


I also let her know what has been most useful for us these past several weeks as we’ve transitioned from newborn to infant so she could go out and use her baby store gift certificates to stock up before baby came.

Here’s a list of our faves!

1. Muslin or Bamboo Swaddles – These things are great.  A wonderful invention (ahem, they are swaths of cloth).  They cost anywhere between $35 for four or $45 for three, making the person who thought of whipping up these little blankets and packaging them, a genius.  We used at least two a day in the first few weeks.  We full-swaddled [for the first day or so until little Houdini told us to cut it out] and then swaddled our boy under his arms in the blankets at night.  We use them over the car seat and stroller on warmer days when we need the sun off baby.  We now use them to wipe the drool that has started these past few days (early teething?)  The more you wash them, the softer they get!  We have ten of these blankets.  Can’t picture spending that much on these lightweight swaddles?  You can easily make your own (especially if you are still pregnant with your first child and have time to yourself).  Check out these instructions!

2. Baby washcloths and hooded towels - My girlfriend gave me a pack of six washcloths and a hooded towel when I was about 23 weeks pregnant.  I thought they were adorable.  Then we got another set for a gift.  Then we had the baby.  Now I get that they’re not just adorable.  I use the baby washcloths like they’re going out of style and have purchased more.  Every morning I use one cloth to wash and one to dry his face. Throughout the day I use them to wipe drool, dried skin and sleep from his eyes.  They are super useful and just the right size.  The towels are great because babies get cold and cranky when you take them out of the tub.  We snuggle our boy with a hooded towel right after he comes out of the bath and then bring him to our dining room table to dress and lotion him on another fluffy towel.

3. Baby tub that fits in the kitchen sink - We have two small bathrooms in our home and one doesn’t have a tub.  The sink is the best place for us to wash our babe because we don’t have to bend over and can easily stand next to each other and play while we wash.  We have this one.  We never used the sling attachment because B hated sponge baths with a passion (too cold!) so we skipped straight to the “newborn” side of this tub.  When baby can sit up on his own you may seat him on the other side of the tub, for infants and toddlers.

4. Sleepers – C and I had enough trouble changing a diaper that first week at home together (tag-teaming), so pulling a onesie over our baby’s head was just not going to happen.  B lived in sleepers for the first few weeks before I was brave enough to put him in actual clothes.  Once I started pulling clothes over his head I realized it was no big deal, but it was still much easier just to unzip the sleeper while I was getting used to changing diapers.  We had great luck with Carter’s Cotton Snap-Up Sleep & Play sleepers.

Welcome, baby!

Welcome, welcome, baby Walker Carl!

Isn’t it a fantastic name?

Our sister and brother-in-law, now known as mom and dad, are doing well.  They did an awesome job bringing little Walker into the world.

C and I are thrilled beyond belief that we get to play aunt and uncle to this beautiful little boy.

And Benjamin is the luckiest boy in Denver because he now has a sweet cousin.  It makes my heart swell that he’ll have a little playmate and confidant who lives just a few minutes away.




C is back and better than ever!  We’re so happy to have our husband and Dad home with us.

It was ten days of different for me and my little sidekick, but we had great company while C was gone.  My dad and my brother flew to Denver from opposite coasts and we partied.  We were out and about and had a ton of fun!  B loved meeting his new people and getting used to a newborn seemed easy-peasy for both Dad and brother.  Each morning my brother was here, B and I had to wake him up by getting really close to him on his bed.  ”Hello.  Want to play, Uncle Miggy?”

B practiced taking a bottle from my dad and did well some days and not so well on other days.

It was a joy-filled time even without our C!

The other great news that comes out of C’s homecoming is that we met the nanny who will take care of Benjamin when I go back to work.  It was difficult to find the right person, and we hope she’s it.  I feel much more confident going back knowing that my darling boy will be looked after by a compassionate caregiver.

T minus freakout.

I like(d) my job.

I have to keep reminding myself that before I had a baby, I liked my job.  It was my social outlet, my brain food, my place to wear cute outfits.  But now, I’m not that same person any more.  I have a new job.  And it’s super, super important.

We are interviewing a nanny tonight and Chris has had his radioactive iodine treatment (hopefully now we can say good-bye to cancer!) and is in “isolation” at his mom’s house.  We miss him!  He will be joining us for the interview over Skype.  It’s lame all around.  The nanny, the radioactive iodine, the going back to work.

We are interviewing a nanny because we didn’t get into either day care we were hoping to have B attend after my maternity leave.  We’ve been on waiting lists since August 2013.  Now we’re on several other waiting lists for many other day cares.

Let me tell you, Denver, if there is an infant opening at a day care, you won’t want to take your baby there.  I’ve seen cinderblock homes in Lakewood dubbed “academies” and “teachers” who look like they’ve been dragged out of a back alley and put in charge of wee babies.  The choices out there for infant care are clear to me after searching for weeks; Hire a nanny or get into a top-tier day care (pay beaucoup bucks for each) or stay home with your little babe (and forget ever retiring or being able to send your child to college.)

The United States stinks when it comes to options for new mothers.  Oh.  You’re six or eight weeks postpartum?  Pony up and drop your kid somewhere because you need to get back to work to pay your rent.  And I’m a lucky mother.  I have used five weeks of my earned vacation time for maternity leave.  To complete a full 12 week leave, I am taking the remainder of my time off unpaid through the Family Medical Leave Act (and through choices C and I were fortunate to be able to make).  Not everyone can do this.  In fact, I would wager a guess and say most new mothers can’t do this and are unable to spend this valuable time with their children.  Want more breastfed babies?  Give moms more time to stay home and do it.  I have a feeling there are twenty-five more posts hiding in here…but I’ll stop at this.

It feels bleak!

How can I leave my little muffin in another person’s care?  Especially now that he knows me, it’s even more difficult to think about a future that’s staring me in the face.  I don’t want to fail at this job.

Am I where I thought I’d be?

Actually.  It’s even better that I imagined.

Today is my birthday.  This morning, after nine hours of sleep, B woke up at five with quite the growling tummy.  He went to town, slurping and gurgling and burping.  About 40 minutes later, he had a projectile vomiting session in the living room.  Luckily, C was still home (making me french toast for breakfast) so he helped me spot clean little B.

It’s been a lazy morning since then with some cluster feeding and lots of snuggling and sleeping on my lap.  It’s where he is now, actually.  I’m embracing all of it.

I feel like the luckiest gal in the world.

Pump it up.

As nursing has become more enjoyable, pumping, I’m realizing, is quite the chore.

I mean, I’m doing it.  Once or twice or three times a day to build up a stash for B when I return to work.  But it’s not my favorite thing.  While nursing is a lovely break in our hours together where I can look at the beautiful head and hands and feet I created, pumping is something I do while I’m half asleep, or while I could be napping with Benjamin or getting to the three craft projects I’ve started (ha!).

Two weeks ago we gave B a bottle for the first time.  I pumped into it and Chris offered it to baby.  Once B discovered what was inside, he did wonderfully.  A true champ.

I, however, went into meltdown mode and cried when I saw him gulping so willingly out of that foreign object.  My first thought was, THAT BOTTLE IS PLASTIC!  PLASTIC IS EVIL!  My second thought was, ONE DAY BENJAMIN WILL GO TO KINDERGARTEN.  THEN HE’LL GET MARRIED!  AAAAAACK!  And my life flashed before my eyes and my heart broke in half.

But then I came to again and realized the scene unfolding before me was fantastic.  My husband was able to bond with our baby in the most intimate way–by feeding him.  All because of pumping.

Because I’m able to pump my milk, other special people in Benjamin’s life can also bond with him at mealtimes by giving him a bottle.

I imagine I will learn soon, that pumping will also give me a different kind of freedom to be out and about and offer our baby a bottle when breastfeeding isn’t convenient.

Cheers to that nasty little machine of mine!