Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Six Months Old

Our biggest update this month is that you had your first day of school! There are three other kids in Miss Sam's class with you, all boys, and you are absolutely loving it so far. You're learning a lot, and getting to do all sorts of fun things, from art projects to story time! The best part of all is how big you smile at me when I pick you up every afternoon.

You've completely mastered sitting by now. It'd be hard not to! You're in the 68th percentile for weight but only the 23rd percentile for height, so let's just say you've got a good base of support! Those proportions make you beautiful, though, and everywhere we go people comment on how adorable your little rolls are! You've consistently been a good eater ever since we had your tongue clipped almost five months ago. You've conquered your fear of the bottle (even though you always seem much happier to get the real thing), and you're up to eating solids two to three times per day. You don't have any teeth yet, but you're definitely showing signs of teething!

Your language has developed quite a bit this past month. You know your name, and you respond to words in both English and Spanish. You've even signed a couple of times! Your first word was "all done" when you were eating solids. It won't be long before you're speaking along with those signs. You're always practicing using your voice! You talk and coo and even sing.

We've had a lot of fun over the past month. You celebrated Daddy's first Father's Day (which happened to fall on his birthday!), and you enjoyed a visit with new friends, as well as your Abue! You also enjoyed your first pool day.

You have favorite games, and you love just sitting around and playing with toys, whether by yourself or with a friend. Of course, Chelsea is still your favorite source of entertainment.

You're starting to try to get your legs underneath you when you're sitting, as though you're about to push into a crawl. You're enjoying tummy time more than ever, and you love scooting and spinning around on your tummy! You're always on the move. I think we'll have a crawler on our hands pretty soon!

Finally, I found out on your half birthday that I passed the exam that I studied for all during my pregnancy with you and during the first three months of your life. I'm now a board-certified clinical specialist in neurologic physical therapy thanks to you, my sweet good luck charm!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Great Slumber Party of 2014

When Mommy was interviewing for graduate school, she met Auntie Emily. Auntie Emily had a fiancé who was applying to the same law school as Daddy, who was just my boyfriend at the time. We were so excited about this coincidence that we decided to keep in touch. Sure enough, we both ended up at Emory, while Daddy and Uncle Ryan ended up at GSU. When I moved to Atlanta in 2007, I met Auntie Erin and Auntie Christina, who invited me to be their roommate since obviously the three Gators in our program needed to live together. The four of us became fast friends, and somehow Auntie Em crept her way into our lives, too, because she's much scrappier than you'd expect from such a delicate Texan flower.

{the first photo of the five of us, 2007}

Over the next nine semesters, we became best friends. We studied together and played together. We laughed together and cried together. We prayed together and loved each other at our best and worst. I'm lucky enough to have several women whom I consider best friends, but no other group feels more like family than these gals do.

{photo by H.Photography}

In 2010, Emily, Christina, and Erin moved away. We were reunited as bridesmaids at Erin's wedding just a few weeks later. Later that year, we saw each other at Christina's wedding. The next spring, I was lucky enough to have these ladies in my wedding. Later that year, I left my job at Grady and followed Auntie Em to her clinic. It was so wonderful working with one of my best friends, even if it was for a short while. The next year, 2012, we were reunited again for her wedding. Unfortunately, she moved a few months later, leaving me as the last remaining friend in Atlanta.

2014 began with the five of us living in five cities in four states, with no more weddings to reunite us. We decided to take matters into our own hands and have a reunion! Erin brought her husband Chad, but left their son Samuel at home. Christina brought her husband Evan and their son Brantley. Emily brought her husband Ryan and their daughter Caitlin. Em brought her husband Jonathan. There were 13 people staying in our house for a few days, thus The Great Slumber Party of 2014. I even bought us commemorative pajama pants.

Now that you've got the background, I can tell you about your weekend! Everyone got in late Friday night, so you got to meet everyone Saturday. Mommy made everyone breakfast, and we had a nice lazy morning.

You loved getting to know Caitlin!

Later that day, we went to the pool.

Saturday night, all of the Emory girls went out for a girls night, while you and the other kids stayed in with the guys.

Sunday morning, we went out to brunch at Seed. You and Cate had matching outfits!

We hung out at the pool again, and then we all made dinner together at home. You got to spend lots of quality time with Brantley!

The next day, you got to show off the aquarium to your new friends! The last time you went to the Georgia Aquarium you were almost three months old. Seeing it at almost six months old was such a different experience!

We wrapped up the visit with a little photo shoot with your new friends.

I was sad to see the crew leave, but glad to introduce you to people who mean so much to me and your daddy! Of course, we're already planning next year's reunion.

Your First Day of School

It was Friday, June 6th, 2014. We had dropped off a bin full of your things the day before, and I had packed a bag the night before. I knew it was just practice, but I woke up with my game face on. As I moved your bottles from the fridge to your bag, I prayed that you would accept them that day. When I woke you up, you looked up at me and smiled. I nursed you, got you dressed, and we headed out the door.

Your uncle Mark was with me on the endless 8-minute drive to school.

My heart pounded as we pulled into the parking lot. You smiled as I took the carseat out. I think you recognized where you were, or at least you knew it was some place fun. We had visited a couple of times before, and you had always been greeted by smiling faces, bright colors, fun toys. We walked inside and met Miss Soo, who watches you until your teacher Miss Sam arrives at 9:30. I took you out of your carseat, and held you close as I unloaded your things in Miss Sam's classroom. Miss Soo cheerfully walked me through what would become an automatic routine. You were smiling at us and cooing the entire time. I put you in a bouncy seat, kissed you goodbye, and told you I'd be back in a few hours. You were too distracted by the bouncy seat (it was different from yours at home, so I'm sure the novelty of the situation was far too intriguing) to notice me slipping out the door.

I walked down the hallway with my head held high, but I felt a lump rising in my throat. I had heard over and over again that every mom cries when they drop off their kid for the first time. But I wasn't like those moms! I'd had the privilege of spending an extra three months with you, even when that wasn't our initial plan. I loved my career and was eager to return to it. And besides, I wasn't cut out to be a stay-at-home-mom. It didn't suit me. So why did I find myself pulling sunglasses over my face to hide the tears before I even left the building?

As soon as I got into my car, I broke down. I don't think I'd ever experienced so many emotions simultaneously before. I felt guilty for leaving you, for wanting something more than just spending time with you. I felt worried, about returning to work, about whether you'd like daycare, about whether you'd eat, about the germs you'd inevitably catch, and what kind of disaster could occur to one of us while we were separated from each other. I felt excited about having a life outside of you again. I felt guilty again for feeling excited. I felt relief that the bandaid had been ripped off, that the worst was supposedly over. I felt exhausted just reflecting on everything we had been through over the past few months, from a traumatic birth to our trials with breastfeeding to really embracing my new role. I felt joy knowing that I was making the right decision for you, for me, for our family. And I felt happy, knowing that I would never be more happy to see your face at the end of the day.

I called your daddy far before I had even begun to calm down. He said that he had decided to go into work late and would I like to help make him more late and join him for coffee? Have I ever mentioned how wonderful a guy he is? I met him at a little coffee shop in the Square, and we sat outside in the courtyard. There are few things a chocolate croissant can't fix.

The best thing about early June in Atlanta is that the mornings still feel like spring even though the rest of the day sure feels like summer. (That and the fireflies. But we'll play with those more when you're older.)

Your daddy and I sat there and talked. We talked about how much you've grown, about how much we love you, and about our plans for the future. I went home and baked. It's actually a nervous habit of mine, and it's helpful to keep my hands busy. It reminded me of the time I baked just before you arrived, probably because I had Tangled on in the background again. I pumped, and then I went to my massage appointment. The massage therapist was running late, so she added an extra half hour onto my session for free. This made me late to pick you up, but I decided I was okay with it. This was a pretty big turning point for me. I put myself first again, and it was worth it. The massage was fabulous, and long overdue. (That's an important lesson, my dear. It's important to be considerate of others and even selfless at times, but you must always prioritize time for yourself. And most importantly, don't ever feel guilty for doing so.)

When I picked you up, I felt as though I hadn't seen you in years. You smiled as I gave you a big hug and kissed your sweet cheeks. Miss Sam gave me a full report of how your day went, and I thanked her for being so wonderful to you. You passed out as soon as we got in the car, so I decided to pick up a late lunch at Chick-Fil-A. Turns out I was their 100th customer of the day, so my meal was free. I almost cried all over again. I sat in the parking lot and ate my free meal while you slept. Then, I decided to put some good back into the universe so that my guardian angel would know that I had noticed him. I went back through the line and picked up the ticket for the person behind me. We went home and played as though nothing had changed.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The End of an Era

On Thursday, June 12th, I went back to work. You were just under six months old. I hadn't planned on taking such a long maternity leave, but I'm glad it worked out the way it did. The timing could not have been more perfect. We had planned to have a practice half-day at school on Friday, June 6th. So on Thursday, June 5th, I spent the whole day just soaking you up as though I would never see you again! Really, though, it was just an ordinary day. But since it was the end of my term as a stay at home mom, I want to remember every detail of it. First of all, it was Chelsea's 9th birthday. You were both very excited to celebrate with each other.

We celebrated Chelsea's birthday the night before with a doggie sundae from Bruster's, a family tradition we were excited to include you in this year.

Unfortunately for Chelsea, she started off her actual birthday with a grooming appointment. While a spa day would be an ideal way for Mommy to celebrate a birthday, Chelsea is not too fond of pedicures. But we had company coming into town and she was stinky, so off to Petsmart she went. While we were out, we dropped off your bucket full of stuff at school. Everyone was so excited to see you and they couldn't wait for you to start! We also stopped by my clinic so that I could add photos of you to my desk. I felt a little more comfortable returning to work knowing that I'd have your smiling face waiting for me at my desk! Since we were over that way, we stopped by Daddy's office and visited him. All of the ladies in the office oohed and ahhed over you, and I stole a Coke. We headed back towards Petsmart (since Chelsea was probably almost done) and stopped by Old Navy to pick up a few things. I got the call that Chelsea was done, so we went back over there to pick her up.

I remember marveling at how many errands we had accomplished in just a couple of short hours. I thought about how long it would have taken me to do all of those things before you came along. I've certainly become much more efficient now that I'm a mom, but of course, it takes four times as long to get out of the house. I decided that it probably evened out, and the errands would have taken just as long before you, too. Still, I felt productive either way.

Anyway, the maid service was at our house still (did I mention we had company coming into town?), so I didn't want to head home yet. We had already accomplished everything on our to do list, so I decided to find a pet-friendly patio for us to hang out on. There's a Whole Foods in the same shopping center as that Petsmart and Old Navy, so I tied Chelsea up, and we went over to the salad bar to pick up some lunch. Chelsea got a treat, and you sat on my lap while I enjoyed some garlicky kale and brownies.

I nursed you, and we just sat outside and snuggled and enjoyed the beautiful summer weather. After about an hour or so, we headed home. We played all of your favorite games: mirror inspection, standing baby, looking at the fort, grow big, Elliest bear, Ellie-copter, and pillow fort:

After playing all afternoon, Daddy came home and we did our usual solids/bathtime/bedtime routine. I nursed you to sleep, sang the Ellie Rose song I made up, and kissed you goodnight. I cried a little bit as I packed up your bag for school, but Daddy hugged me and reassured me that we were making the right move for our family. I knew he was right. I know you'll learn so much and have such a great time! I went to sleep, dreaming about all the fun we'd had over the last six months, and all the fun you were about to have bouncing between us and school.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summertime Fun

It's officially summer today, but we've already been playing hard for months! You've watched your daddy play baseball a couple of times. Here you are saying "he's safe!"

You love to be outside, whether we're hiking along the Chattahoochee...

...going for a walk with friends...

...playing on the patio...

...or just having a "picnic" on the front yard.

But I think your favorite of all is the pool. We tried it for the first time about a month ago, and you were eager to jump in right from the start!

We tried the baby pool first, just in case the water was too cold in the big pool.

You loved it! In fact, you loved it so much that we decided to try out the big pool next!

You also have a little float that we haven't tried out yet. Stay tuned for more summer adventures!