Monday, April 29, 2013

Amaliya - 9 Months

First things first - YAY ME! I have kept a tiny human alive for nine months! 18 months, technically. Nine in, nine out. It's hard to believe she's gone from this:

... to this:

... in so short a time. Now I know a lot of moms wax nostalgic about how their little ones used to be so close and helpless and dependent and, now that they've been out in the world for longer than they were in our bodies, they're suddenly grown and independent and don't need us anymore and waaahhhhh oh god my baby's not a baby anymore! Yeah. I'm not going to do that. My baby is very much still a baby, needs me more than ever, still doesn't have much interest in moving around, and is turning into the sweetest snuggle bug I've ever known.

Amaliya Likes
·  Standing up, pulling herself to standing by holding our hands, and bending over to pick things up.
·   Puffs. We go through 2 containers a week right now.
·  Mama. She whimpers when anyone else holds her, and if I walk near she lunges at me. When she is tired she sucks on her fingers and lays her head on my chest, occasionally arching her back to look me in the eyes, grab my face, and grin, then it's back to snuggling on my shoulder. It's tiring for me (I'm a very touchy person, but not the sit-down-and-snuggle type) but I really enjoy how easily she expresses her sweetness and love. She's an intense, but gentle little soul.
·  Cloth, cords, ropes, paper - anything that changes shape in her hands when she manipulates it. I usually sit her on the floor with a paper towel while I make dinner - it can keep her entertained for 15-20 minutes.
·  Giving kisses (she opens her mouth, says AHHHH, and lunges towards your face - it's either a kiss, or a budding interest in cannibalism. I'm going with kisses)


Amaliya Dislikes
· Being put into, or taken out of, her carseat.
· Someone else holding her while mama is in her sight.
· Being dropped off at daycare.
· When we don't shovel food into her mouth fast enough.
· Being woken up (it's pretty funny actually, she wakes up like an adult - looking fuzzy and sheet-creased, blinking and grimacing, rubbing her face and complaining loudly).
· Getting dressed/undressed.
· Teething. I mean, no baby likes it I'm sure, but she's had four top teeth make their way through in the last month and she has been MISERABLE.
· Tummy time. The battle continues.... well kind of. We've mostly given up. The ladies at daycare, who were so determined to work with her and get her crawling a couple months ago, even told me that they don't think it's productive for her at all. She hates it, and just lays on the ground crying and sucking her fingers. She's getting really good at pulling herself up with her strong arms though, so whatever. Crawling is overrated, anyway. We'd much rather stand.

Oh dear, I don't even know anymore. She's sleeps through the night - 12 hours - as long as she's not sick, teething, going through a growth spurt or a regression, or feeling otherwise extra needy. Which means she's slept through the night once in the last month. Sigh.

It's okay though. On occasion she only wakes up once - around 2am - to eat, and goes right back to sleep. Most nights she's up around 12am and 4am to eat. Each time, the feeding only takes 7-10 minutes, and I'm so used to it that I can go right back to sleep afterwards. We're managing.

Of course, then we have weeks like last week, when she's up every hour or two, including 1-2 hours of insomniac behavior from 10pm-12am. I think it was equal parts teething and loneliness, since she seemed happy as a clam if I curled up on the couch with her, and would only go back to sleep after 30-45 minutes of cuddling. This caused me to reevaluate our bedtime situation - I'll admit, I tend to rush the routine occasionally so I can make it to the gym, or to the kitchen to make tomorrow's meals, etc. Now we snuggle on the couch for 15 minutes in the evening to breastfeed, I read her two or three stories in her room, and dance around with her while singing endless rounds of "twinkle twinkle little star" until she relaxes in my arms and smiles up at me with sleepy eyes. It helps - she's slept much better since we started the new routine.


All experiments with finger foods have failed miserably so far.  Pasta was a waste of effort.  Bananas were a bust.  Pancakes nearly traumatized her for life.  She's basically hooked on puffs - she can scoop those things up and shove them in her mouth (five at a time, if we're not careful) with a quickness.  But, try and slip her something that's not a puff?  She's drops it or spits it out like the texture absolutely disgusts her.
So, while she works on getting more comfortable with picking up her food, we're experimenting with flavors!  I've mixed curry powder into her garbanzo beans and sweet potatoes, and cinnamon into her oatmeal, with resounding success.  She also enjoys bites of food off our plates - mashed potatoes, moi moi, spaghetti sauce, etc. 
I refuse to raise a picky eater.  I don't care if she doesn't sleep through the night until she's 20, so long as she eats with gusto and a healthy sense of adventure.

As for breastfeeding, we're still going strong - 4-5 times per day, and 1+ times at night.  She's fast now, and feedings only take a few minutes.  I am pumping 2-4 times per day, and she gets a 4oz bottle while I'm at work.
I'll be honest, I used to give a mental eye-roll to people who would go on about how their babies "looked so much like so-and-so," or how they "take after their old man!" I mean, come on folks - they're babies.  They look like babies.  They act the way babies act.  Personality is something that develops later.  Or so I thought.

Let me apologies now for those eye-rolls and condescending thoughts.  The universe shut me up when it blessed me with a daughter who is exactly like her father in every imaginable way.  If I hadn't pushed her out of my own body, I'd be asking for a maternity test.  These loves of my life, their energies are so strange to me sometimes, but they vibe together in the most perfect, fluid way.  They share a look of intense concentration when they're absorbed in something.  They love their books.  They love peace, quiet, and being close to the ones they love.  They are physically strong, but have such a slow and sleepy energy sometimes that you wouldn't know it.  They expend most of their energy thinking, observing, processing, analysing.  There is brilliance behind their eyes.
And me?  I'm like a hyper Dalmatian nipping at their heels, encouraging them to get up!  Go!  Help!  Clean something!  Go somewhere!  Crawl!  Walk!  Yes I'll snuggle with you but I can't sit down right now because there are so many THINGS we could be doing!  Why would anyone want to spend all that sitting down and thinking?!?!
... I'm so glad they have each other.

Nine months old already, my sweet beast, my quirky girly, my snuggle bug.  I wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Yesterday was a good day.

I enjoy my birthdays the same way I enjoy New Year's Eve and anniversaries - I like marking time, setting goals, reflecting.  I like to sit down and think about where I was last year on this date, and where I want to be next year.  I'm a planner by nature, and while I don't love all the hoopla of birthday parties, I value April 21 as a time of personal reflection.

This year is different though.  I have never felt much trepidation about getting older - life gets better, and I become more comfortable with myself and more like the person I want to be, as time passes.  I try my best to live in the moment and and never worry too much about the future.  So why do I find myself frantically pumping the brakes this year?  Why am I so thoroughly freaked out to be 28?

Having a kid really does change everything, in ways you can't anticipate.  Staring at her innocent face while she sleeps, late nights holding her when she has a fever.... and yes, the hormone-induced anxiety that still causes me to jolt awake at 3am and rush to her room, convinced that she's not breathing.... all of it has altered my perspective in ways that I have struggled to put into words.  What it comes down to is this:
My life does not belong to me anymore.
Each year that came and went, before Amaliya, belonged only to me.  I had a husband and family, yes, and responsibilities, but I still felt free and emotionally unencumbered.  I could reflect on where I had been and where I wanted to go, and saw nothing but possibilities before me.  That person slipped away from me the moment my daugther entered the world.  The person celebrating this birthday understands on a very different level how fleeting life can be.  How a baby enters the world, blinking and crying, and is suddently sitting and eating and trying to walk and almost saying mama and will soon cease to be a baby at all, really.  The last 9 months have passed in what seems like a second.  And now I understand, the next 5, 10, 20 years are going to go by just as quickly, and it scares me.
I have always looked forward to the future because I know that it will inevitably be better than the present.  Now?  I find it hard to imagine anything better than being who I am, with my family just as they are, right now.  The older I get, the older she gets, the more she knows, the more I worry.  Our lives are one life right now, and she's dragging me forward.  I would like her to slow down, be content to relax, reflect, stay a baby until I'm good and ready for her to move on to the next stage.
But of course, she can't.  This birthday has been all about learning to be okay with that. 
I did have a wonderful day, though.  I ran a 5K in the morning, met my husband and daughter at the finish line, and walked to Panera for a cup of coffee.  Amaliya gave me a wonderful gift - a 3.5 hour nap - and we went to my parents' house in the evening for dad's barbeque, mom's potato salad, and ice cream.  I stopped worrying.  I stopped thinking about all great things that have passed me by and started thinking about the wonderful adventures that await us.  Maybe my daughter will run a race with me one day?  Thoughts like that make me feel nothing but excitement for all that lies ahead.
Bring on 29.

Monday, April 15, 2013

6 years later.... the April rains

I have been blogging off-and-on since 2005, and kept a fairly consistent record of my time living in Kenya from 2005-2007.  I've been going through some of these old entries and thought it might be fun to share some of the more interesting posts.  It's really fun looking back on this time in my life.  My husband was then my boyfriend, we shared an apartment in Nairobi, we were 21 and 24 years old, working on our Bachelor's degrees... silly kids, really.  Enjoy a little snapshot into life abroad (and forgive the writing... I was 21, after all):

April 12, 2007
Finals have come and almost gone... Spanish went exceptionally well, as did law, history was okay... statistics later, but I could care less... so, life is good! I doubt I'll be on the Dean's list again, but that's okay. Poor Kunle had three finals in a row last night... that's 6 straight hours of writing O_o
The rains have started! Like, for real this time. Last night was incredible, it was raining so hard that nothing outside was visible; wind, thunder, lightning, the whole shabang! And me being the stupid Californian wanted to sit out on the balcony and watch it, until Kunle dragged me in and explained the dangers of lightning. To illustrate his point, lightning then proceeded to strike our neighbor's wall:

It was crazy! We happened to be looking that way at the time, it was like *flash* *boom* no wall! No one was hurt thankfully, and all the goats survived :) So that scared us shitless (especially since our building is much taller, and of course lacks a lightning rod. Genius). We watched from inside... until massive winds started driving in the rain and flooding the apartment (we are very ghetto... our clothesline on the balcony broke, so to fix it we wired the door to the railing, and tied the clothesline to the door... so the door is permanently open).  Kunle decked himself out in rubber and snuck out to unwire the door, though he jumped back inside every time we heard thunder. It was fun! I'm not used to this extreme weather stuff!
Not so fun: we had six hours of reading ahead of us, and the power was out. Kenya has reinforced a very important lesson on procrastination: never do it. Inevitably, if you wait until the night before something is due, the electricity will crap out, rendering the computer useless, and trying to read by candlelight sucks. But I thought this was pretty (it may be too dark to make out, but that's Kunle in the background trying to study):

Oh, and he now wears glasses. Cute, huh?:

Let's see, what else of note... Friday Kunle and I went to town, wandered around and pub-hopped until the wee hours. Saturday.... nothing. Sunday, Easter... we cooked and cleaned, I took a walk and got lost for 2 hours in the rural wilderness behind the apartment (Kunle kept calling: "Where are you??" "I'm on a dirt road... there are trees... and cows..." "That's everywhere!" "I know!!"). That night Henry and Kunle's friend Camille came by, we made dinner and talked for a while. Monday I felt like death, we both had head colds (though I must say, I get sick much less now. Maybe a pseudo-cold every 2 months or so, and it only lasts about a day.) Anita came over, she was sick also, so we all watched Ben Hur and swapped germs:
Mmm... oh, and Stephen the security guard came up for dinner the other night. We boozed it up and listened to grandfatherly tales about all 9 of his children and 20 million grandkids. (And yes he is as short as he looks... I'm a full head taller):

So that's what I've been doing. I'm petrified that this holiday away from school is going to be painfully boring, because we're far too broke to do anything beyond grocery shopping. Though, our birthdays are coming up in a week or so, I insist we do something... probably head out for dinner somewhere. It's nice that we're four days apart, get it all over with at once :) 
And I will leave you once again with a breathtaking Kenyan sunset:

Love to you all. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Daddy and daughter

Is there anything sweeter...
Than the sight of a father doting on his little girl?

I think not.

It's a big consolation, knowing that even though I'm not around for 40+ hours a week, Amaliya is being cared for by the other people who love her most.  My mom watches her on Mondays, and my husband is home with Amaliya 2 days out of the week.  He excels at caring for her.  He is patient, firm, flexible, energetic, and so, so loving.

He gets her up and dressed in the mornings, makes her breakfast and lunch, puts her down for naps, and changes all the diapers.  They take several walks together every day, him carrying her in his arms and narrating the sights and sounds and smells of the town.

I can imagine how their relationship is going to develop as she gets older, and it fills me with joy.  I believe the most important bond a little girl can have is with her father - so much of how she sees herself, and what she looks for in a future partner, is being formed by the relationship she is developing her with dad.  The way he loves on her, encourages her, respects her, goes out of his way to make her happy every day... I know that she's going to grow up to be a confident young woman, who knows that she deserves the best from those around her.

I am beyond fortunate, to be able to come home to my two loves every day.  My cup - my heart - overfloweth.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Amaliya - 8 Months

My sweet girl has had a rough month!  She's been sick more or less consistently since February 20 with a cold, ear infection, another cold, and so on.  Her nose perpetually runs, her fever comes and goes, and the cough!  There's no sadder sound than a tiny baby hacking up a lung!  We've been to the pediatrician.... 3 times?  4 times?  I've lost count.  Often enough that I'm starting to feel like THAT mom though.  The paranoid first timer that runs to the doctor for every sniffle.   But what can you do, when daycare calls and tells you that your kid has a fever of 104?  You peel out of work like you were shot out of a cannon, call the pediatrician en route to pick her up, put your hot, stripped-to-the-diaper baby in the car seat, and make tracks to the doctor's office.  That's what you do.

I love her daycare, really.  The ladies that run the place are sweet and loving, they hold Amaliya and pay attention to her, they challenge her to work on her developmental skills, they celebrate her successes, they track her schedule down to the minute in order to satisfy my neurosis... and they CLEAN that place constantly!  I have to wear paper shoes every time I enter the infant room!  Yet, somehow, it is still an incubator for every germ known to man.  I hate it.  I hate hate hate it. I'm only hoping that she'll develop a superhuman immune system and be impervious by the time she enters preschool.

Amaliya Likes:

  • Sucking on the index and middle fingers of her left hand.  As soon as she gets tired, those fingers are in her mouth.
  • Laying her head on my chest and sucking her fingers when she's tired.  She's become quite the cuddle bug in the last week - instead of screaming when she's ready for a nap or bed, she'll snuggle up with me and let me lay down with her or rock her for a while before putting her in her crib. 
  • Books.  We read a story or two every night before bed, and she's very content chilling out in my arms and listening.  During the day she loves touching her books and flipping the pages.
  • Music and dancing.  She still giggles and flails when we dance with her.  When we play her YouTube videos of orchestras, they catch her attention for a relatively long period of time. 

Amaliya Dislikes:

  • The NoseFrida, clove gel (for her gums), menthol rub, having her nose wiped, and all of the many things we do to/for her to keep her comfortable while she's been sick.
  • Getting dressed.  Or undressed.  Or having her diaper changed. 
  • When we check her teeth.  I think it's because her gums are sore - she used to love us sticking fingers in her mouth.  Now I have to dangle her upside down and tickle her (or make her mad so she screams) in order to see what's going on with her gums.
  • Having her hair conditioned and combed.  It has gotten so long that I have to comb it out in the bath while the conditioner is still in.  It's a necessary evil, but wow, being shut in an echoey bathroom with a baby shrieking at the top of her lungs is a special kind of hell.
  • When I leave her at daycare.  She used to be fairly cool about it and would smile at me until I left.  Now she bursts into tears and has to be immediately distracted.  Sometimes Miss 'Cedes brings her to the window, and I drive away while the saddest little baby face in the world watches me go.


I've given up.  She hasn't slept 12 straight hours since February, due to being sick and teething and my unwillingness to try the cry-it-out method again because I never know if she's awake because something hurts and she needs me or if it's just habitual waking.  Sigh.  She has good nights, where she's only up once or twice.  She has bad nights when she's up 3-5 times (usually when she's really sick and congested, or when we screw up her daytime routine too badly).  All in all, though.... it's okay.  This is a kid that takes her sleep seriously, so I know that as soon as she's ready and able, we'll go back to uninterrupted nights.
Her nap schedule is still wonderful - she gets 3-4 hours of sleep during the day, divided between 2 naps.  Sometimes the morning nap is longer, sometimes it's the afternoon.  She barely naps for the two days a week she's at daycare - she'll have 3 or 4 short spurts of sleep, likely because it's so loud and active there - so the two days afterwards are spent catching up.  This past Thursday, she slept almost 14 hours overnight, was awake for two hours, then took an epic 4.5 hour nap! 
I've read that the "typical" baby her age gets 14-15 hours of sleep every 24 hours.  My kid averages about 16-18.  She loves her rest! 


 We sucessfully (kind of) cut out her 2pm bottle and replaced it with a meal of solid foods.  Her schedule now looks something like:
6:30am - Breastfeed
7:30 - Breakfast
9:00 - Bottle (4oz)
12pm - Breastfeed
2pm - Lunch
4pm - Breastfeed
5:30 - Dinner
6:30 - Breastfeed
This schedule is not working too well, though, for obvious reasons.  Lunch is too late, and within 4 hours in the afternoon she is being breastfed twice and having two meals of solid foods - too much!  I don't know how we're going to fix it though, since it very much depends on my work schedule.  I really can't pump enough for two bottles a day anymore. 
Right at the 8 month mark we started introducing finger foods, with limited success.  She likes puffs, but has trouble actually getting them into her mouth.  Bananas end up squished in her fist.  She managed to successfully gnaw on a piece of pancake this morning, but the look on her face confirmed that she was NOT impressed.  We'll keep working on it.

What's New?:

 Still no rolling over or crawling, but she's getting closer.  When she's on her tummy she can kind of scoot around and is starting to push away from the ground with her feet.  She might crawl after all!  She also likes to grab our hands and pull herself into a standing position.  She sits up so well now that we gave her her first bath in the adult bathtub a couple weeks ago (she was not a fan, but that's another story).

The most fun thing this month has been watching her learn to communicate with us.  She's becoming more vocal, with more consonant sounds and less random growling.  She also seems to understand us more now.  If I say "kisses!" and point to my cheek, she will lunge in and plant a big, slobbery kiss on me.  She raises her arms when she wants to be picked up.  She snuggles up to me when she wants to go to sleep.  Little things, really, but it makes things so much easier.

This post is ridiculously disjointed and rambly - you can blame the Daycare Plague.  I have managed to contract tonsillitis and a sinus infection simultaneously.  Awesome.   Bed.... now....

Happy belated Easter, friends  :)