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Almost Over

I cannot believe that my maternity leave is almost over.  How has three months gone by so quick?!?  It seems like just yesterday that I was bouncing on a ball and walking my feet off to get baby girl to come and now I am already going back to work.  It is bittersweet for sure.  On one hand, I know that I will be a happier mom in the long run as a working mom.  On the other hand, Reese is starting to get more playful and fun to spend my days with and I am sad that we won’t  have as many together.  I’m very grateful that I am going back on a part time basis to start and really think that will help the transition and still give me a few sweet weekdays to spend with my baby girl.

I’m probably a bit biased right now because Reese literally didn’t cry one time today and was the baby of my dreams…but we have been having more and more of those days recently.  Sleep has regressed slightly in terms of length of sleeps at night but ease of putting her down at night has drastically improved and is a breeze now.  Her bedtime routine seems to really work for her.  And reminiscing about my maternity leave, here are some of my favorite things we’ve done or what I will remember best:

Slow wake ups in the morning.  Unfortunately, Bryan has had to wake up early but in the morning Reese and I spend about an hour or two together in bed.  Probably forming a bad habit but I really enjoy the cuddles.

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To Texas and Back

Our second trip is in the books for little Reese and we survived, enjoyed it and have recovered from the traveling.  Reese was fantastic during all of the traveling and I really appreciated getting to see my Texas family after going too many years without seeing them.  It was a fast and furious trip but one well worth taking.

I got to volunteer at FareStart for my first time since just before my due date and enjoyed my time, although I couldn’t stay that late to get back and finish packing and get a nights sleep before our flight.  We had another 7 am flight and set out for the airport at 4 am.  We had two two-hour flights and a three hour layover in Vegas both on our way there and back and Reese was great for all of it.  We finally arrived in Lubbock at 5 pm and met Chad and my parents in the airport.  We packed into our rental mini van and set out for my Granddad’s house. We were greeted by the whole family and introduced Reese and caught up over barbecue.  After a minor hiccup with our hotel reservation, we settled in for the night in a very nice suite room a short 6-minute drive down the road.

Saturday morning we got ready and headed over to my Granddad’s house.  We spend the morning watching football before getting lunch of Chikfila and then heading out to walk campus for a bit.  We had tickets for the Texas vs. Texas Tech game that night and my dad, Chad, Bryan and I went, dressed warmly for the weather and cozied up with a blanket.  We had great seats.  The game started out with Tech looking strong but then Texas started to turn things around with a couple turnovers.  At the end of the game Tech made a great comeback and made things intense but Texas came out with the win.  Meanwhile at home, Reese was in good hands with my mom.  It was a fun night without the baby in tow and nice to come home and see Reese sound asleep, granted she wasn’t asleep the whole time!

Sunday morning we all met at church for service and all were in our Sunday best.  My granddaddy greeted us at the door and Reese did great throughout service.  After church we managed to get a picture of us all dolled up.  We went to get lunch at Abuelo’s after church and had a large and delicious Mexican lunch  with Reese sleeping again the entire time.  Sunday afternoon involved more play time with Reese, the Seahawks nailbiter lose to the Rams and a nice walk around Higinbotham Park with the family.  Mom and Dad made pita pizzas for an easy dinner and we had one last sleep in the hotel with Reese.

Monday was our long day of travel back to Seattle but not before saying our goodbyes to Granddaddy.  This was hard to do for me for sure and I’m really  glad that we got to visit with him and  introduce him to both Bryan and Reese.  My parents and Chad had a flight four hours before us so we dropped them off at the airport and then went to the mall to kill some time and retreat from the chilly and windy weather.  It worked out well because we got to walk around, got a coffee and bought Bryan some new shoes and slacks for his new position at work (and because prices are cheaper in Texas than in Seattle).  We had another two two-hour flights and one was delayed an hour making our layover in Vegas four hours long.  We got dinner in the airport and Reese was still an angel baby.  She slept the entire last flight as it was past her bedtime.  We got home safely just before midnight and got her to bed immediately.

Reese in a good mood on her way back to Seattle

There has been no slowing down this week until now.  Bryan enjoyed happy hour with Philipp on Tuesday and I enjoyed a walk with three other moms from our childbirth class in the Arboretum before getting a nice dinner with me at Duke’s via mystery shopping.  Wednesday afternoon we went for a walk around Green Lake and then that night was PEPS and we talked about sleep with the other couples.  Thursday night Bryan was back at FareStart volunteering and Reese and I were back in dining.  This was after going to baby story time at the library and then introducing Reese to my coworkers at the office and then visiting with Polly to kill some time at her office.  And Friday I went for another walk in the Arboretum with three other moms from our couples PEPS group and that night we went to our last winery party of the year at Novelty Hill Januik.

It’s good we have not much on the calendar this weekend.  Still working on our child care situation for my upcoming return to work.  Hopefully we will have something locked in soon.

Chelsea

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Reese’s First Fall

Upon our return to Seattle I was very much dreading what seemed to be a horrible weather forecast for being trapped inside.  However, we have been very fortunate to have milder temperatures and breaks in the day (or none at all) of the rain to get out and do stuff.  Thank you, thank you!  And all of us have really had quite a busy week and a half since being back to the daily norm.  

Reese and I have dined in twice to FareStart with Bryan finally back in the volunteer rotation.  Reese has done superb both times and I swear I am going to record the noise at the restaurant one of these times to create my own version of white noise for her because it works!  Both meals have also been exquisite; squash soup, a refreshing salad, pastrami brisket with amazing brussels and potatoes, lamb with a ragu and crispy onion straws, pear bread pudding and quite possibly the best little donuts of my life with a cream sauce.  Bryan has enjoyed the normalcy of being a volunteer again and enjoying a dinner to talk among adults.  Plus, Boeing was this past week’s volunteer group, from his group in Renton, so he got to show little Reese off and enjoy a very rare dinner with coworkers.

Reese and I have gone to the downtown library twice and she loves the library!  On the first visit we just happened to be there for baby story time and after awkwardly watching and debating to join in with the other 20+ mothers and their older babies, I decided to just do it.  And I am very glad I did.  Reese enjoyed taking everything in and since it was mostly songs and dancing, I got to expand my repertoire.  But Reese has taken to books and now gets very excited with colorful board books.  It’s pretty fun to see and just one more thing that I think she is way too advanced to be enjoying already.

I’ve been downtown twice this week for lunch or brunch.  I went back to get the baked eggs for a treat to myself on Friday, along with coffee, at the new Starbucks bakery.  We also met Bryan for lunch at Red Robin in Renton on Tuesday.  Reese slept through the entire meal but was wide awake walking daddy back to his office.  It was fun to be able to see him during the day again and hope to do it a few more times before going back to work full time.  

We had both of our PEPS meetings this week, after missing both from the previous week.  After being one of the few on Monday without a baby costume for Reese I picked up a costume last minute (for $5) for our couples meeting on Halloween night.  Glad I did because all the babies were dressed up again.  Our little football was so well behaved during our group meeting and we enjoyed getting to know the other families better and enjoying a chili dinner and views of the Sound from the hosting family’s apartment building in Belltown.  I also went on a walk with one of the moms from my group one afternoon and met another two moms for the free day at the Museum of History and Industry, where I took in none of the exhibits (which I didn’t care to see anyway) but got to spend a few hours talking with the other moms.

We had a busy day last Saturday, first with our birthing class reunion and then dressing up to celebrate Marika and Randy’s marriage.  Three of the other babies made it to the reunion, all girls, and we spent a few hours comparing notes on labor and our first few weeks (or months) with our little ones.  Marika’s celebration was a ton of fun.  It had been a while since we had dressed up and we really enjoyed seeing the newly married couple but also a lot of my coworkers and friends who got to meet Reese for the first time.  We also got to spend some good quality time with Polly at the party and enjoyed some drinks and heavy appetizers and a delicious cake.

And to round out all of our activities we had a great Sunday with church followed by a Seahawks watching party at our friend’s Tina and David’s house.  We enjoyed great game food and Reese got to hang out with everyone, including her BFF Rosalie.  Seahawks lost but oh well, we blew off steam afterwards with a walk around Green Lake.

This October has been a whirlwind and I can’t believe it is already over.

Chelsea

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Introduction to Michigan

Time is flying and there has been no down time to post.  Our time in Michigan came and went pretty quickly unfortunately.  This means that Reese’s first round-trip flight is in the books, my first solo flight with her is in the books, and the next time my family will see Reese she just might be walking around.  We had a great trip and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.

The week leading up to the trip, after a great couples PEPS group on Wednesday night and then dining in together at FareStart for a delicious ahi tuna dinner, we managed to all get to bed relatively early Thursday night for an early wake up Friday morning.  This ended up being way easier than it used to be with waking up for Reese’s only feeding at just about the right time to get ready and head to the airport.  We got to SeaTac with plenty of time to get some food ourselves, feed Reese, and snag an empty seat next to us for the carseat.  All was already going smoothly and then Reese slept the entire flight through, save 45 minutes for a bunch of smiles to her parents, and managed to sleep through the two-hour car ride to East Lansing thanks to construction traffic.  We were elated as parents; as well as sleepy parents can be.  Upon getting to my parent’s house, Reese was held for the first time by Uncle Chad which was an awesome sight and then my grandparents and aunt and uncle came over to meet Reese.  Reese was still a bunch of smiles that night, which was amazing after such a long day of travel.

The very next day was the Michigan vs. Michigan State game at Spartan Stadium so we set out to tailgate.  Or at least we tried to.  We weren’t able to find Chad’s tailgate but still enjoyed nearly a two hour walk, seeing the crowds, getting oohs and aahs from the fans for both Reese and Sophie dog (Aunt Sophie) and Mom got to carry Reese in the Ergo.  We made it back to the house for the start of the game and fortunately this year Michigan was victorious (sorry Mom).  Reese was cranky pants so Mom and I ran some errands to get her to sleep in the car and we enjoyed Topopo salad at home.

Sunday was a fantastic day and one that I will remember for a long time.  For the first time in 8 years I got to enjoy my birthday celebration with my grandma like old times and this was only the second time that I was home for a birthday gathering.  Everyone came over around 1 pm and Mom made a great meal of ribs, brussels with bacon, cornbread, coleslaw, beet salad and caprese salad.  Everything was delicious and I got to sit next to my grandma like we did for the first 24 years of my life.  We had a delicious double chocolate cake and opened presents.  It was a real treat to be home for this. 

The next few days were nice and relaxing days at home.  Mom took time off of work and I immensely enjoyed having someone to talk to during the day; maternity leave can be lonely at home at times.  Bryan was heading back to Seattle on Monday night and wasn’t feeling his best so I think it was good for him to take it easy too and for him to get some good sleep sans Reese back at home in Seattle but we sure missed him for two nights in Michigan.  I got together with three of my best friends from high school for a sushi lunch one day and it was great to catch up with them; me on Reese, pregnancy and labor and two of them on recent engagements.  It was a long and enjoyable lunch.  We also saw my grandparents one last time when they came over for a short visit and we had our great friends Tom, Pam and Madison stop by to meet Reese another night.

I truly felt relaxed and at ease with Reese in Michigan and it was a really great trip for all of us I think.  Bryan needed some rest, I needed people to talk to and see family, and Reese needed to meet everyone.  All was accomplished, and I left feeling fulfilled.  Our journey back to Seattle just the two of us began with meeting Dad at lunch to get my last fill of Middleeastern food and then we started our drive to the airport.  Then the flight saga begins: I needed and received tons of assistance getting through TSA with baby Reese by myself, I found the nursing room in the airport but then Reese went bonkers on me and wouldn’t feed and soaked her outfit and required a change, we arrive at the gate after that ordeal after boarding had begun so no preboarding for us, I get a row to myself only to then get an older gentlemen decide to change his seat to sit next to us and take the aisle seat blocking me in, Reese has a near blow out and requires a diaper and outfit change in the teeny airplane lavatory, and I spend five hours and all my energy keeping her entertained and prevented her from crying or screaming the whole flight.  Bryan was there at the airport to pick us up, got our bag for us and drive us to PEPS.  We made it to PEPS and then were there all of ten minutes because Reese loses it and had enough of the day so we hightailed it home where she immediately switched back to angel baby.

I can’t believe we already have another plane trip to take but at least I feel like I know a little better about what we are doing this time.

Chelsea

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Highs and Lows

A lot has happened in the past week I just can’t keep up with posting about it, what, with all the free time on my hands these days… But little miss Reese has transitioned into a more alert, seemingly happier, and ever growing baby.  She is into her “2nd Leap”, meaning cognitively, a lot is advancing for her in these two weeks ahead.  And you can tell.  

This was also the week that Bryan was travelling to SoCal for work, meaning Reese and I were flying solo for the three nights and four solid days he was gone.  I wasn’t really worried about being by myself but little did I know how that was about to play out.  Our PEPs groups go through our highs and lows each week and I have a good many for each category to share…

Highs:

  • She is getting good at holding her pacifier in her mouth using her hands and getting it back to her mouth.  She has also found her fingers and thumb so I’m going to try to hold back on the pacifier when she is self soothing by other methods.
  • She has gotten a lot better at car rides, so long as that car is moving.
  • She has gotten a lot better at sleeping through meals in her car seat while dining out.  Even when awake and alert I think busy restaurants are interesting to her for their sights, sounds and commotions.
  • She rolled stomach to back now four times.  The first I think was a fluke but then she repeated it three times today.
  • She has started lip smacking.  I had no idea what she was doing; if she just liked making a noise, if she was trying to kiss or what but have read it is another sign of hunger sometimes or sometimes just a way for a baby to communicate.  It’s cute and cracks me up and she will literally do it for several minutes.
  • She slept a 7 hour stretch one time that was amazing.  She still averages about 5 hours for her first snooze and then the following ones are much shorter.
  • She is much more smiley.  And she likes new people, which is a good thing.  Anytime anyone comes by to our table or a friend visits she smiles almost right away.
  • We met new friends at our first couples evening PEPS group this Wednesday.  Fortunately, this meeting was literally around the corner so that was an easy commute.  I really like the group leader and the other couples seem pretty cool so that is promising.
  • She enjoys her rock n’ play and that is nice because it is easily transportable and light weight to move around the house.  She’s content in it while I shower, she will watch us make stuff in the kitchen or while we eat at the table.
  • We had one amazing night at our house with Anne, Phillip, and Rosalie the last weekend.  We made ribs, salad and cornbread and they brought over vegetables for the grill and a homemade cheesecake.  We enjoyed cocktails, wine and beer and the babies were so well behaved.  It was also nice to be able to trade stories and tips with new parents.
  • I’ve enjoyed a few walks in the Arboretum and once around Green Lake, taking advantage of this rare fall stretch of sunny weather we have had.  We had a few rainy days thrown in there that make me appreciate the sun that much more.
  • I’ve enjoyed spending a few good hours being able to sit and talk with Valerie while Ainsley played at the park and with Giuli from church as she invited me over while Bryan was gone and sent me home with food.  And several hours with Marika and David when we went to the Indian buffet for lunch downtown and then for coffee and truffles at Frans.
  • We have also enjoyed dining at FareStart twice now (well once for Bryan) and introducing Reese to the crew.  Both meals were extremely delicious and it won’t be long now that we will be swapping out who volunteers and who dines with her.
  • And I treated myself to a three course early prix fixe dinner at Palisades with a view and with a $20 credit for the month of my birthday.  Even not feeling well, this meal tasted delicious (the entree should basically be called Chelsea on a plate).  Reese slept the ENTIRE time.
  • And to cap it off we had our first date night last night thanks to the magical Marika.  Our friend was home sick with a cold and didn’t want to get Reese sick and Marika offered.  And Marika somehow got the girl to sleep practically the entire time we were out.  We went to see A Thousand Splendid Suns at the Seattle Repertory Theater for the first play of our five pack series this year and the first Club 20s/30s hosted pre-show and intermission event.  Free drinks and snacks and a really captivating but very intense show.  I personally loved it (I read the book in high school but didn’t remember the plot)!  It was a great night out and we both felt refreshed afterwards.  I especially needed the break.

So as you can see there are plenty of highs.  The majority are highs but there are still some lows of the week, of course.

Lows:

  • I missed Bryan while he was on his trip of course.  There is something just reassuring having a second hand at home at night.  We did pretty good talking and FaceTime-ing everyday though, when normally we are not.
  • I got sick.  Like felt completely incapable of doing anything and that was so scary for me but also knowing that I was solely responsible for the little one.  I know now that I was SEVERELY dehydrated.  I would probably roll my eyes if someone told me that prohibited them from functioning at all, but it did to me.  I was so low on energy I could barely get up from the couch and then I had to lug and carry Reese around, play with her, and feed her.  I had extreme chills that left me shivering while breastfeeding and then sweating through the sheets at night.  I didn’t know what was going on and assumed it was a fever.  I finally figured it out on Tuesday night before bed and tried to drink as much water as I could without spitting it up or sending my body into shock and it quickly started taking effect.  I was so glad because I was starting to think I was going to need to go to Urgent Care or the ER to get an IV.  I’m 100% now but those 48 hours took so much of a toll on me physically and emotionally that the rest of the week still made me feel spent and worn out.
  • We are still trying to figure out the best way to Reese down for naps and at night.  I’ve tried a lot of things for the afternoon and evening naps but I think the only thing that really works is babywearing and/or going for a walk.  
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Mom Therapy

The past week of being back to flying solo has been a good one I would say, and again, one with continued growth in the parenting know-how and experiences.  There have been a lot of things that we have successfully (successfully being a broad term these days) accomplished to make me/us feel more whole and like ourselves.  And she/we celebrated her one month birthday the best we know how.

We have successfully now dined out a total of three times; the first two at Eastlake Bar and Grill, taking advantage of the patio in the late summer/early fall weather and open air to drown out a crying baby, and  the last, indoors at Macrina Bakery in Belltown for brunch after church.  Every time we have been able to fully finish our meals, partake in some adult conversation, and not piss off other diners.  And every time has made me feel more like our old selves and every meal has been delicious.

We have successfully made it to church two weeks in a row.  Angel baby slept through the entire last service and we got to enjoy an adult table talk conversation at service this week with Pastor Bill and his wife Sue at our table, which was a fun treat for us (we relate to the two of them pretty well).

Reese was WAY more awake and alert at PEPS this week but still did pretty good.  As we talked about ways to encourage our baby’s development, Reese fed twice and stared around the room for the full two hours.  Needless to say, my arms were tired of holding her though after two hours in a hard dining chair.  I did get some good ideas for things to do with her now that she is awake more.  And probably the biggest takeaway for me this week was when another mom (with a 10 week old baby) said that she just started pushing herself to get out of the house more and do things she enjoys like getting lunch with a friend, going to her favorite coffee shop, just sitting in a park.  Her words were pretty much, “You only get this maternity leave once and you shouldn’t waste it sitting around the house.  Plus, the baby gets bored sitting at home looking at the same corner of the couch.  I think it is good that they get out and see new things, smell new things, and feel new things.”  I totally ate this up and want to start doing that for my remaining maternity leave.

We got a free coffee out and about at Top Pot on Friday

So, step one was to go out and do something for me I would have done anyways.  I went to an afternoon hour-long Yelp food tour of the Pike Place Market.  For a little over an hour, Reese tagged along with me hearing more about the history of the market and its vendors while tasting a variety of its products including:  Ellenos Greek yogurt with rhubarb compote, dried apple and okra chips, smoked salmon, Uli’s chicken and apple sausage with German-made mustards, Beechers cheeses, curds and notorious mac n’ cheese, and then the famous Pike Place chowder.  Reese slept the whole time and it was actually sunny and beautiful in the market and uniquely  quiet in terms of market-goers.  I had a good time getting out for something other than a walk.

Furthermore, we have made some great dinners to enjoy at home and continue to work on getting to eat at the same time together at night but that is still a work in progress.   Reese has really taken to her Wubbanubba pacifiers and her Rock n’ Play to allow me a little bit of freedom during the day and a better way of soothing her.  I picked up a book from the library, when we went to checkout the Wednesday afternoon Baby Story Time, and I found a new Netflix show that is now a guilty pleasure for me to watch about an episode a day (is really all I have time for).  I sent out an email requesting a Girls Night soon so that is going to happen, with Reese in tow.  And now I just need to figure out if it is at all a possibility of Bryan and I going solo to the Seattle Rep for next Friday’s Thousand Splendid Suns 20s/30s event (something I’d like to do for my birthday weekend) but have no clue how we might make that happen at this point.  

We are slowly working on getting back to the things we enjoyed before Reese.  The remaining week and weekend will include our first dinner back at FareStart (dining in, not volunteering) a walk around Seward Park for me with a fellow mom, and a little bit of hosting dinner with some friends on Saturday.

This mom is slowly starting to feel like herself again…and it feels good!

Chelsea

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4 Weeks and Firsts

Reese turns four weeks today and I cannot even believe it.  Though I can, because she feels immensely heavier to me and has learned a lot of things the past few weeks.  This past week she got to meet and spend time with her Papa and Grandma Miller and I think she grew quite fond of them during their stay with us.  We were grateful to have them in for a visit and an extra set of hands from Thursday through our goodbyes to them this morning and they were able to witness a few of these firsts:

Four weeks today!
  • First social smile (and its adorable)
  • First time to acceptably take a pacifier to soothe her
  • First time she found her thumb
  • First dinner out to a restaurant
  • First time being watched by people other than mom and dad around
  • First Sunday at church

As Reese is growing, so are her parents who continue to learn her cues, wants, and needs and how to manage themselves as parents.  For me, I made major headway last week on being a sane mom at home by myself with her while her daddy is at work.  From Tuesday on, it was all about routine and sanity for me.  I read this hilarious post Tuesday night as I sat on the couch feeding her (my only downtime that day came in the form of feeding her) that literally made me weep tears of laughter because it was so relatable on that particular day.  So my mission was to find a way to survive the weeks at home with a baby by myself…and I did.

Wednesday and Thursday meant that I was going to be patient at our times of feeding so that she was well fed but not needing to constantly feed all day long.  Good feedings led to good naps that I rely mostly on naps in the wrap.  Naps out of the wrap still are short little cat naps that don’t provide this mama a break.  And post napping we did a lot of tummy time, walks around the house taking things in and playing on her activity mat.  I was feeling like Super Mom by the time that Lon and Trish arrived Thursday morning but was still glad to have loving family members to hand her off to in the morning to shower and let nap on them for hours on end during the day and cook us delicious dinners.

In the past week with the grandparents Bryan and I were glad to enjoy a few dinners at the dining room table (cue pacifier to the rescue for dinners these days).  We also enjoyed a pizza and movie night and our first dinner out of the house with Reese at our favorite Eastlake Bar and Grill.  Thanks to the chilly and empty patio we were able to walk her briefly in the Ergobaby before she fell sound asleep for the rest of the dinner and I was able to enjoy a great schnitzel from their Oktoberfest menu.  We also successfully took this little girl to church on Sunday to meet some people, be announced in front of the church audience, and only fuss a little just to check out the nursing room in the basement.  And the grandparents watched the little girl long enough for me to get out of the house and get a mani-pedi on Tuesday afternoon.  This mama is getting her groove back and it felt so good!

Bryan and I have continued our bedtime routine with Reese and will continue to do so for the indeterminate future.  Reese loves her bath time and no matter how fussy she seems to be becoming at night she quiets down instantly in the bath.  Although we have started said bath time anywhere from 7 pm to 9 pm, our little girl seems to fall asleep around 9 pm every night.  And this girl is a great sleeper!  She has slept for six hours straight the past two nights and I’m learning that is not the norm from my PEPS group mothers.  Our PEPS meeting this past Monday was actually discussing sleep, and while my little girl slept the whole two hours through (again), I was really feeling lucky as I was hearing stories from the other moms, many who have yet to string together three hours of sleep at night.  Baby girl really has yet to have trouble falling asleep at night, its the daytime hours that sometimes require a little finesse to get her lights out.

Reese continues to be a beautiful bundle of joy and we still feel like very lucky parents (and grandparents) as the weeks continue.  

Chelsea