Wednesday, May 29, 2013

that time we went to Maryland

So about a million years ago a month ago, I had given myself a week's vacation from teaching and gigs, and a Jet Blue steal of a fare to Washington DC coincided with this particular week.  Since I have two good friends in the DC area, it was only natural that I snapped up that fare and decided to maximize on the time when Nell can travel with me for free as a lap infant.

This was the first time Nell had flown since our trip to California when she was just three months old.  I was a little nervous about how she'd do with the trip, but she was a champ -- even when our plane was delayed on the tarmac for several hours!

We arrived on Monday, and spent the first half of our week visiting my friend Brooke and her husband Daniel.

Daniel plays the bass trombone in The President's Own Marine band, which is an okay gig, I guess, but nothing compared to playing in his living room for Nell, I'm sure. 

She was really interested in the whole process, and kept grabbing the slide to help him out.

Brooke is pregnant right now (!!!), and unfortunately was still dealing with some morning sickness while we were there.  This made a couple of milkshakes from The Silver Diner a necessity (you gotta do what you gotta do, right?) during our visit.  We also got breakfast there one morning.  The Silver Diner is a chain that really ought to have restaurants in MA, because it's so delicious, and they partner with local farms for their produce, and they have lots of vegetarian options!  What more could you want?

Nell thought the table was delicious.  Ummm...

Another place for good food in MD is Busboys and Poets, where we had lunch on Wednesday before Brooke drove Nell and me to our next stop in Virginia.

I had the most amazing falafel.  The kind of falafel you dream about.  What, you don't dream about falafel?  We can't be friends.

Nell and Brooke got in some important bonding time...

And Nell impressed the waitresses with her cuteness.

As far as Nell was concerned, the highlight of the visit was Daniel himself.  She loved him so much that -- and I am not exaggerating, here -- she would cry when he handed her back to me.  It was actually kind of hard on my self-esteem as her mother.

Nell's second favorite part of the visit was a trip to the park -- her first time in a swing!

I know, I know -- what kind of mother doesn't take her baby swinging until she turns 11 months old?!  A mother who lives in a state where it is wet, rainy, and snowy from about October through March, that's who.  

Is it possible to take too many photos of a sweet baby swinging?  I say no.

{Thanks, Brooke, for taking the pictures!}

Nell's heart still belonged to her new friend Daniel that day.  So naturally, when she experienced the winning combination of interacting with Daniel while swinging, well, you can only imagine the squeals of joy that ensued.

Nell also obliged me by sitting in my lap briefly.  Such a sweet girl; I love these photos we got.

Next up is part two of our trip: that time we went to Virginia!

Friday, May 24, 2013

eleven months

Still behind.  Always behind.  And not just in Nell's monthly posts -- in pretty much every aspect of my life.  Can't get ahead.  Will life always be like this?  

I am behind on work emails, studio recital planning, dishes, and laundry, but sitting down and looking back at the pictures I took when Nell turned eleven months old was somehow relaxing.  Useful or productive?  Probably not.  Mood-boosting?  Definitely.

Just look at a few of the many faces of this girl:

Well, back when Nell turned eleven months old, she suddenly became a happier baby than she had been at ten months old.  Ten months seems so long ago already that I can't quite remember what it was that made that time seem difficult.  Maybe it was the two top teeth that emerged between ten and eleven months.  Maybe it was just a developmental thing.  Whatever the cause, she just wasn't quite happy.  She fussed a lot.  It made me feel like fussing a lot.  (Haha.)  Instead, I said to myself, "This too shall pass," and what do you know, it did.  

Nell learned to scoot around very intentionally and get to what she wanted, and I think that helped alleviate her frustrations with life.

She began sliding her wooden shapes with holes in them on and off of their pegs with surprising precision and dexterity.  I was impressed.

Sitting in church one day, Nell clapped her hands together for the first time, something she figured out all on her own.  (Her silly mother plays pattycake using her feet instead of her hands, so I had never really showed her how to clap, I guess.)  She looked up at me with absolute delight at her discovery, and continued clapping for the rest of the day.  She was downright gleeful.  In no time at all, she figured out how to clap when she heard or saw other people clapping, or any time she heard me say, "Yay!"

Nell continued to determine that all food wasn't abhorrent, and became particularly fond of my homemade yogurt with banana and frozen blueberries stirred into it.  In fact, she started eating pretty much anything I was eating.  Black beans, green peas, raspberries, corn, tomato, hummus, avocado, carrots, green beans, cheese, and more.  I think this girl is going to be a good eater after all!  I felt kind of proud of myself for persevering in patiently offering her healthy foods, all while nursing her practically like a newborn until she was ready to eat solid foods.

Fortified by her newfound acceptance of foods, no doubt, Nell perfected her waving technique:

And she learned to give kisses!  Well, loosely defined, anyway.  When I hold Nell close and exclaim, "Kisses!", she will give me an open-mouthed slobber on the cheek, which I say totally counts as a baby kiss.  I love it.

"Dadada" continued to be her most-uttered syllables, with the addition of a new variant: "Duh-nuh."  It crossed my mind to wonder if she might be trying to say, "done," a word she certainly hears frequently enough and might try to repeat.

Her fake coughing diminished in frequency.  I think I'm going to miss it when she stops doing it altogether.  

{At least I'll have pictures to remember it by.}

Her method of scooting around made us laugh - one foot folded in front of her, and the other one behind her, she propelled herself surprisingly quickly and effectively, her hands slapping the floor in unison as she pulled herself forward.

And she's off.

Dear Ellen,

Everyone tells me that once babies are scooting, crawling, cruising, toddling, they begin to lose their baby chub.  We love to see you move and explore, but I'm not ready for those dimpled hands, those rubber band-like wrists, and those thigh rolls to vanish quite yet.  I just... you... words can't... 

You.  Are.  Scrumptious.

Stay my chubby wubby baby a little bit longer, please?


Sunday, May 19, 2013


Everyone hates being sick.  It's awful.  All you want to do is lie in bed, moan a little for dramatic effect, and watch movies when you're not sleeping.

Then you have a baby and you get sick.  But no one else is going to keep that baby alive and cared for if you don't do it, so you adapt your standards of motherhood and just focus on keeping the two of you alive.

Then your baby gets sick, too.  And the two of you just lie in bed, day after endless day, trying to survive it.  And it feels like it will never end.

That's the kind of fog we were living in for almost three weeks over here.   I got sick towards the end of April and finally felt better just in time for Mother's Day.  Nell is still finishing out her round of (sadly quite necessary) antibiotics.  My first symptom was, oddly enough, almost completely losing my voice.  Then a low-grade fever, and a rash on my face, neck, and arms.  A cough that would not quit, that kept me up night after night when I just could not stop coughing.  The kind of cough that leaves you dizzy.  And finally, a sore throat bad enough to make me actually go to the doctor.  (Unheard of.)  The physician's assistant took a look at me, worn out from two weeks of coughing and sleepless nights caring for a fevered little one, and wrote me a prescription for antibiotics.  Said it was almost certain to be a sinus infection at that point.

(Those antibiotics were magical, by the way.  I literally felt better in a day.)

Poor Nell came down with a fever and spent four days vomiting while I was timing nursing sessions of fifteen to twenty seconds, seeing what she could keep down.  She was really so sad and pathetic, a limp, exhausted little baby that just wanted to sleep constantly, slumped against my chest.  Then she got a double ear infection.  And then broke out in a rash from head to toe.  And then got conjunctivitis in both eyes.  And somewhere along the way, her fever went down, leaving her with enough energy to properly complain about her circumstances, loudly and frequently.

I sat up many a night in bed, holding her upright so she could have some relief from the pain in her ears and sleep comfortably.

I felt like this picture aptly captured the misery of my sick baby - caught mid-cough, one eye crusted shut, a rash on her cheeks.

With all this going on, is it any wonder that my blog has been lying here in cyberspace rather neglected?

But I have things to blog about, oh, I do.  Things like an eleven-month-old Nell, a trip to Maryland and Virginia, sourdough bread, gardening, Mother's Day, making Nell a Waldorf blanket doll, and Nell's first birthday!  Stay tuned.