Monday, March 25, 2013

Books and books and books

My husband and I are voracious readers and book hoarders, though with very different approaches.  I love novels and biographies, with the occasional collection of poetry thrown in.  He loves historical memoirs and non-fiction, and I don't think he's read a single work of fiction in decades.  I devour books at a scary pace - he never EVER reads a book front to back, but jumps around back and forth whenever something catches his attention, and usually has a stack of books that he's working through at any given time. Obviously, teaching our daughter to appreciate the written word is very important to us.
Of course she will have the classics - Dr. Seuss, Where the Wild Things Are, etc...  But I've also been scouring the Interwebz for some unique additions to her little library.  Here's a few that I would really love to add to her collection:

A children's book by the man who was president when she was born?  Yes, please!  I also love the synchronicity - Amaliya has an African father and an American mother, just like the president.

A very sweetly illustrated ABC book featuring families with gay parents.  "C is for cookies. Both of my dads know how to make great chocolate chip cookies." "L is for lunch. We always pack a picnic lunch when my moms take me to the beach." And so on.  Celebrating diversity is very important to us, and I want to normalize some of these issues at a young age.  Amaliya will grow up knowing that families can be made up of any combination of genders, races, etc.
Another sweet story about two male penguins who decide that they want to start a family and adopt an egg. Awww....

A story about an African-American mother and white father who are blended together in a perfect little daughter.  Our daughter comes from a unique racial and cultural background, and we want her to see characters that look like her portrayed in media. Its important that she feel comfortable in her own skin and embrace those characteristics that make her different.

The story of a child who visits his American grandparents on Saturdays and his Mexican-American grandparents on Sundays.  I just love stories that emphasize cultural diversity and different sorts of families.

This was my FAVORITE book of all time. I checked it out of my elementary school library so many times that they gave it to me when I graduated.  I'm so excited to pass this cute Chinese fable on to my daughter.
This list will certainly grow as she gets older and we continue to add to her library.  For now, we mostly read board books - Goonight Moon, The Hungry Caterpillar, etc - and I cherish those moments before bedtime, when she reclines in my lap and turns the pages as we enjoy reading together.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The one where I ran a half marathon....

... on December 2, 2012, 4 months after having a baby.
A true testament to how much I can accomplish when I don't have 40-hours of work sucking the life out of me every week. 
Pardon me for taking up space on the Internetz to toot my own horn, but I'm gonna.  See, this was a major event for me.  MAJOR.  But I feel it was totally overshadowed by timing and circumstance (as evidenced by the fact that it has taken me 3.5 months to write about it).  My husband's parents arrived that weekend to stay with us, and I had returned to work the week before.  I crossed the finish line, drove through Starbucks to buy myself a celebratory latte, and arrived home to a screaming baby in need of breastfeeding and a long list of chores to tackle.  Anticlimactic?  Just a bit.
Running 13.1 miles, though, was about the most challenging, rewarding experience of my life (second only to childbirth, of course). 
Saturday night before the race was somewhat disastrous.  We left Amaliya with her grandparents that evening and went out to my husband's office Christmas party, only to get a call at 9:30 that she had woken up screaming and refused to go back to sleep.  We had to leave the party early to get home and tend to her, so by the time I got to bed it was nearly midnight.  Amaliya woke up twice to comfort-nurse in the 5ish hours till my alarm went off, and consequently I arrived at the starting line on less than four hours of sleep.  Not ideal.

I met up with my running group and the race began.  I don't really remember much of it, to be honest.  Miles 1-5 are particularly blurry, since I doubt I was technically awake.  After that I started to feel good!  Another woman and I broke off from the group and ran ahead, since we were feeling energetic and wanted to increase the pace a bit.  We ended up running the rest of the race together, talking about everything from kids to our upbringing, our husbands, sports, music, you name it.  A beautiful thing happens when you spend hours running with someone - your body is so exhausted and your mind grasps desperately for some distraction, so you end up talking about things you wouldn't otherwise dream of sharing with strangers.  There's a bond that forms with other runners on the road that is unlike anything I've ever experienced before, and it is part of why I love the sport so much.  I fueled with two Gu gels (one caffeinated, one not) on the way, and drank Gatorade or water at every water stop.  My body felt nimble, fast, amazing... nothing hurt until mile 12, but even then I could still keep running.
We finished in 2:56, well ahead of our pace group.  My new friend was greeted at the finish line by her husband and cheering kids.  I was on my own, and more or less okay with that.  Training for this half marathon was extremely personal for me.  I needed to prove something to myself - that having a baby would not entirely redefine my life, that I could still be valuable as a person and not just as a mother, that the level of fitness I worked so hard to achieve was not destroyed by pregnancy and childbirth, and that I could take on the incredible challenge of adjusting to life with a new baby, taking three graduate classes, and training for a half marathon while not going totally crazy.
Though the race itself was amazing, training for the race was undoubtedly my salvation.  Having something to pour my energy into was vital to me during those first four months of Amaliya's life.  The sleepless nights, the screaming baby, the hours and HOURS spent nursing on the couch and fighting nap wars and the upheaval of having each and every one of my personal relationships redefined by motherhood... well, I can't imagine how I would have dealt with all that if I couldn't literally run away from it.  For that first four months, the only time I felt like I was really and truly MYSELF was out on the road before dawn on Sunday mornings.
And, you know.... getting a medal was pretty sweet too  :)


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Amaliya - 7 Months

7 months!  Honestly, there haven't been a lot of big changes in the last month.  No new skills mastered, nothing jaw dropping... but we have noticed a lot of little things.  Overall, her personality has becoming much more distinct.  She is definitely a unique, quirky, sweet little individual.

Amaliya likes:

  • People.  She smiles at everyone, is happy to be held by anyone, flirts shamelessly with strangers.  She loves glasses, and if you're wearing a pair, you are guaranteed a smile and perhaps a giggle.  She's hyper-aware of people in her environment.  If we listen to music with strong vocals - Bocelli in particular - she whips her head around trying to find the person singing.   She's happy hanging out in our laps or sitting on the floor and watching us talk to each other.  
  • Being outside.  Even a short walk seems to brighten her mood when she gets the pre-naptime grumps.  She's generally pretty content to ride in the stroller - our record is 2.5 hours and 7 miles!   Cars and trees are especially fascinating, though she still prefers people-watching to any other activity.
  • Being whacked on the head with stuffed animals.  Especially her Nemo and Dory fish.  I'll bop her on the head or give her "fish kisses" on the neck, and she loves it.
  • Food!  She gets super excited when she sees her bowl and spoon, or when we bring containers of food out of the fridge.  If we don't shovel it in her face fast enough, we're chastised with angry squawks.  She's been known to burst into tears when a meal is finished.  So much of her personality so far reminds me of my husband... but her appetite?  That's 100% inherited from mama.
  • Her daddy.  He is still the only one that inspires squeals of joyful baby laughter.  She's such a serious little girl most of the time... the rest of us make absolute asses of ourselves for her amusement, and we seldom get more than a smile and a "courtesy giggle."  But just one look from daddy can send her into hysterics.  Her favorite game is to chase him up and down the hallway.  He'll walk away, then suddenly turn back and make a face at her.  She flails her whole body around and laughs like a maniac.  Yes, it's as freakin' adorable as it sounds.
  • Everything she shouldn't.  Hot mugs of coffee.  Placemats that happen to reside under full plates of food.  My work badge.  Cell phones.  Ears (ouch!).  Television.  Her little grabby hands are lightning quick, and we have to be more careful carrying her around these days, lest she snatch up something she shouldn't.

Amaliya dislikes:

  • Playing independently.  She generally doesn't have much interest in toys.  Leave her sitting by herself with a pile of awesome, colorful, age-appropriate stuff?  It's not happening.  We bought her a walker/rocker with a toy tray so that we could, theoretically, put her in it and let her play by herself while we do things around the house.  Ha!  She's way more into people than things, and her attention is only held by phones, necklaces, cups... all the stuff she sees mama and daddy "play" with.  Is this just a normal phase at this age?
  • Developing her gross motor skills.  She has no interest whatsoever in learning to roll over, finding her feet, or trying to crawl.  She sits up like a pro when we plop her down on the floor, but doesn't seem remotely inclined to go anywhere - she just looks around, babbles, and shrieks to let us know when she wants us to sit with her and have a conversation.  She's super strong and her physical development is right on track, so I'm going to assume this is a consequence of being an only child with a doting family who has been in someone's arms consistently since birth. 
  • Being tired.  Seriously.  Girlfriend seems to need a lot of sleep, and pity the fool that comes between her and nap/bedtime.


Amaliya decided to show me some LOVE on Valentines Day this year by sleeping for a straight 12 hours without waking!  I was afraid it was a fluke, but no - she did it for six nights in a row.  She woke up refreshed, my dark undereye circles disappeared, and I felt like we were officially out of the proverbial wilderness and on to a new reality in which I could enjoy my baby AND feel rested simultaneously.  A world of possibilites opened up before me.

Then she came down with a terrible cold, as did the rest of us, and we were back to being up every 2-3 hours.  She wanted to sleep, but her coughing and congestion kept her awake, poor baby.  Luckily she's recovered, and for the last week or so she's only been up once a night between 1 and 4 (and I think she would sleep straight through again if she could just shake this cough!  WHY do colds last so long in babies??)

Out of nowhere, right around the 7 month mark, her naps regulated.  She now naps like one of those mythical textbook babies - 2-3 hours in the morning, from 9am to 11-something, and 1-2 hours in the afternoon.  It's miraculous.  Now when we put her in the crib in the morning, she immediately sticks her hand in her mouth and knocks out for a least two hours without so much as a whimper.  Bedtime in the evenings is also a no-nonsense affair; We put her down.... she goes to sleep.  Easy as pie.  She doesn't even require a swaddle anymore!  I could do a happy dance, just thinking about it.


This kid is a ravenous beast.  She *loves* her solid foods and, as noted before, gets quite excited at the start of each meal and occasionally devastated at the end.  Foods she's tried so far include: peas, carrots, butternut squash, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocado, zucchini, tofu, apples, pears, blueberries, kale, bananas, garbanzo beans, red beans, and lentils.  All have been in pureed form, most I've made but also quite a few jars/pouches.  We've been making them chunky and she seems to like the texture - we'll probably try some puffs and soft finger foods soon.  She eats three meals per day and, except when she was sick and didn't want anything but milk, is always a very enthusiastic eater.

We're still going strong with breastfeeding, though to be honest, my body is getting tired.  She's eating 5-6 times a day and sometimes one half-hearted, more-for-comfort feeding at night.  I've been pumping enough for two 5oz bottles a day while I'm at work, but I'm thinking of cutting that down to one and replacing her 2pm bottle with a meal of solids and some water.  I don't mind pumping 4 times per day (oh hell, that's a lie. I hate it), but my body just isn't responding so well anymore.  I do plan on breastfeeding her past the one year mark if she's still down with it.  It will be a sad day for me when she finally weans - breastfeeding has become such an integral part of our relationship.

She's such a sweet little girl, really.  She loves to hold hands in the carseat or when she's about to go to sleep.  She adores being held or riding in the carrier, and is constantly making eye contact, bursting into smiles, and making her favorite "boof boof boooooof" sounds.  She'll occasionally open her arms and mouth and throw herself at my face, gnawing on my cheeks and jawbone - which I am convinced is the baby equivalent of hugs and kisses. 

She is not shy, by any means (no stranger-danger here, for now), but she's very reserved.  She observes.  She is cautious.  She is very easy-going - nothing upsets this kid too much, she just watches and absorbs the world around her.  I predict she's going to be just like her dad in that way, a very in-her-own-head kind of person who marches to her own beat and has a unique perspective on the world.  

She's quite a character, this girl.  I'm excited for a lifetime of getting to know her better.