First (non-furbaby) Father's Day

Yesterday was a great day.  J was off work and it was nice to be home as a family doing what families do on any given Sunday.  It's a rare occasion in our household for mommy and daddy to have the WHOLE day off together.  We slept in and finally got up and had a nice breakfast of bagels with lox and coffee.  J opened up his cards from me and my mom and Libby and was happy to receive new "daddy gear"...two pairs of cotton, lounge pants (his favorite) and a funny t-shirt that says, "I like a big rack" with a drawing of baby back ribs grilling on a kettle grill .  The double entendre is quite fitting given my current status as a nursing mother who before pregnancy was already a 40E.  Whoa mama!

Speaking of grilling, yes, J made his own father's day dinner.  Let me preface this by saying the man LOVES to cook.  I mean adores it and well, me?  Not so much.  I mean, we won't starve if I am in charge of the meals, but they're usually quite utilitarian and not the creative works that he puts into it.  We had steamed broccoli, grilled chicken and garlic sausages with mustard and roasted garlic potatoes.  YUM.  He also whipped up some thick, gooey brownies.  They came out of the oven and smelled divine.  In order not to torture ourselves while they cooled we went for a walk at dusk.  I wore Libby in the wrap carrier and J and Libby, me and my mom went for a warm summer's stroll around the neighborhood. We had fun spying fireflies and little cotton tail bunnies.  Whew, it's been H-O-T and humid this past weekend.  Nearly 100 degrees and probably 70-80% humidity, which of course, makes it feel hotter.  So it was nice to get outside, even if it was nearly dark.  We got home and the brownies were still warm, but cool enough to eat.  We topped them with a dollop of vanilla ice cream...delish!

And so it was.  A perfectly delightful Sunday with the family.  A wonderful first Father's Day...although don't tell Regina, Luigi and Bella...they've been given Daddy cards for years and it might hurt their feelings if they knew that it didn't "count" until Libby arrived.  We've always known that J was an awesome Dad and now that Libby's here, it just confirms what we've known all along.

Rest In Peace

I have been avoiding the blog because this week has just been one of the worst in recent history.  There's a lot going on right now but the only thing I can share right now is this...on Monday morning, June 14 we lost J's older brother, at the age 46.  His death came quite unexpectedly and we're still don't not sure what the cause was.  We're awaiting the results of an autopsy, but will be holding a small memorial service with family on Tuesday afternoon.

Here is the only photo we have of Libby with her uncle.  It was the first time they had met and it was taken on April 16.  Sadly, we didn't know that we'd never get another photo of them together.  You just never know when it'll be the last time you see someone.  Tomorrow is never guaranteed.  And the events of this week have made it really clear that the most important thing is to embrace your loved ones, each and everyday.  Show them your love.  Hug and kiss them.  Clear up hurt feelings quickly.  Do not dwell on the past.  Be in the here and now because that's all you've really got.  Tomorrow?  You can hope and pray it'll be a better day, but really, you just never know. 

I know that no parent ever expects to lose a child, it's unnatural.  Our children are supposed to outlive us. It the law of nature.  Most of the time, at least. So I know my mother-in-law is especially hurting right now.  She has lost her first baby, her eldest son.  He had come into this world under tough circumstances (his father was killed by a drunk driver two months before he was born) and he lived a hard life, but in recent months had turned the corner and it was starting to look up for him.  And then, gone.  I know she's really struggling with this.  So please pray that her heart finds peace.  And rest in peace brother Dan.  Until we meet again may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

What's on your list?

Found this list at JanineB's blog and wanted to play along too. 

The things I've done are bolded:

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondla
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been inside an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90 Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Eaten lunch on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
101. Lit candles at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
102. Been stopped by the cops for making out in my car
103. Been threatened with arrest
104. Had surgery
105. Played on the beach at Malibu
106. Been a bridesmaid
107. Caught the bouquet
108. Been engaged
109. Broken off engagement
110. Acted in a play
111. Directed a play
112. Been to Las Vegas
113. Been to Euro Disney
114. Been to Disney World
115. Been to Capri
116. Seen a snow capped mountain only from afar
117. Been to the Atlantis in the Bahamas
118. been given a kiss that makes you weak in the knees
119. participated in an international student exchange
120. kept a juicy secret for a good friend no one else knows
121. shared a juicy secret with a good friend you haven't shared with anyone else

How many can you check off? What would you add?

I’m adding:

122. Been to Greece
123. Sung at on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera
124. Picked wild blueberries in Alaska
125. Owned a convertible car.
126. Been on television
127. Got a tattoo
128. Divorced
129. Remarried
130. Visited Fiji
131. Camped in Yosemite
132. Hiked to a waterfall
133. Met royalty
134. Ridden in a hot air balloon
135. Stomped grapes into wine
136. Won prize money

Insert eye-roll here

So in the brief four months we’ve been parents, apparently we’ve made a slew of choices that are less-than-conventional. I guess. I mean, in the online parenting forums I frequent, they seem quite “normal” but I guess in every-day-life they may not be. Hmm. I suspect there’s been a lot of eye-rolling from the every-day people in our lives.

First off was the decision to cloth diaper. People came out of the woodwork to tell us we were nuts. That surely, we’d regret it and find ourselves bleary-eyed in a big-box-brand-name-store at 3 a.m. desperately purchasing disposable diapers within a week of bringing our baby home. “You’ll see…” I heard time and again. Well…here were are…four-plus months later and loving the decision we've made to cloth diaper. It’s super convenient and totally budget-friendly. Not to mention that we’re always just one laundry load away from a new supply of diapers for our little one. It is also better for her health and for the health of our planet.

Second was the fact that my exclusively breast-fed baby refuses to take a pacifier or a bottle. I am fine with her not wanting a paci…but others have an issue with it. She’s keen to suck her thumb instead (although has not fully worked that out just yet) and somehow that’s a bad thing. I dunno. If it helps her to self-soothe, I am all for it. It’s right there, whenever she needs or wants it. And for the record, I sucked my thumb and didn’t go off to college still doing it. Sure, I needed orthodontics, but it wasn’t because of the thumb-sucking. It was due to genetics.

And although we introduced the bottle at the “right time” of four weeks and she initially took it, eventually she decided she wanted nothing to do with it. At first I thought it was because I produce excess lipase and discovered that my stored, pumped breast milk had an “off” taste. But even once we worked that out (via scalding all pumped milk as recommended by Kelly Mom and LLLI) she still refused to take the bottle. And we tried them all. Including this fancy-schmancy one that actually looks and supposedly feels a lot like a breast. So, with the impending date of my return to full-time work looming, we got creative and tried feeding her expressed breast milk from a cup. Well, really the top of one of the many bottles she’d refused. And you know what? It worked! So since she was eight weeks old she gets her “cup milk” from daddy or grandma while I am at work. People still don’t believe she can drink from a cup. Others ask why we don’t just make her drink from a bottle. (As if I could make her?! They suggest, “if you don’t offer her anything by the bottle, eventually she’ll HAVE to take it!”). Why on earth would I do that when she’s already drinking from a cup? People need to learn to drink from a cup. They don’t need to know how to use a bottle. So, she’s just ahead of the game.

Here's a video of J cup feeding Libby when she was 10 weeks old:

Speaking of being ahead, that leads me to our latest “unconventional” choice to use infant pottying in our household. Also known as Elimination Communication or Diaper-free Babies, it basically is learning to read your babies cues to know when they need to potty. And once you notice them, you begin to potty them over the toilet or sink or receptacle of your choosing rather than let them go in their diaper. Sounds pretty down-to-earth to me. After all, people need to use the potty anyway, right? So, very casually, we’ve begun to observe when Libby needs to pee or poop. It’s become fairly easy to pinpoint, especially her pooping schedule, which is just once a day now and usually in the early evenings after feeding. Pee has been a little trickier to catch, but again, she usually lets us know immediately when she’s wet and we’ve been able to figure out her signals just before then, namely squirming and vocalization. So we’ve been able to get her to tinkle on the potty (our household toilet is now outfitted with a kiddie potty seat that I picked up for $3) by offering her “pottytunities” before and after her naps, after feeding, before baths, etc. We cue her with “pssss” and sure enough, she pees in the potty. It’s so cute!

She loves it because she’s not in a wet diaper. And we love it because it means less diaper changes (and laundry) for us. Especially the poopie ones. I’ve only changed one poopie diaper in the past 5 days (and that’s because she surprised me with a early-afternoon poop). We have no intention of having her be diaper-free (she’s still in her cloth diapers) save for the 15-20 minutes of “naked time” she has each day. Nor are we pushing her to “potty train” anytime soon. It’s more about teaching her that she has options when it comes to her personal hygiene. Knowing her, once she really figures out that she doesn’t have to be in a wet or dirty diaper I suspect she will be wanting to use the potty more often than not. She smiles every time we sit her there. And she loves that it’s faster and cleaner than getting a diaper change.

That said, we’ve already gotten the side-eye about it. And of course the lecture that it’s “too soon.” Yes, if we were potty training her, it would be WAY too soon. But what we’re doing is potty learning and offering her options, which is perfectly fine. In many cultures they don’t even use diapers on infants because they practice this method of infant pottying. And it’s not like she’s being scolded if she goes in her diaper (which is an old-school tactic used by parents in potty training). Oh well…I guess to many people teaching your baby to use the toilet is weird. To us, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. It’s a skill she’ll use for life so why not start now? I did have to laugh though when we were asked, “well how does she get to the bathroom?” Um, the same way she gets everywhere else right now. We carry her. Duh.

Finally, I am sure that more eyes will roll in a couple of months when we begin introducing solids to our daughter. We’ve already been asked more than once why she’s not already eating rice cereal. We’ve had to let people know that we’re going with the AAP’s recommendation to wait until she’s six months old before introducing solids. (Oh and I’ve also been asked why I plan to breastfeed beyond six months since she’ll be eating solids by then and will most likely have teeth. I cannot believe how clueless people are about breastfeeding. You should have seen the reaction when I said I have no intentions of weaning at twelve months, let alone six. Oy vay.)

We plan to let Libby self-feed solids (also known as BLW or Baby-led Weaning) when she shows signs of readiness. Most likely that’ll be later this summer. I am sure people will ask why on earth she’s not being spoon-fed jarred baby food or even purees we make ourselves. I am sure they’ll question the risk of her choking. I am already scheduled to take an Infant CPR class later this month so at least I can let them know that if on the remote chance she did choke, we’d know what to do. But I am sure they’ll still roll their eyes. Oh well, I guess that’s okay. It certainly won’t be the first time.

Pro Pics: Three Months Old

Shot by Malisa Morgan Waldop at Morgan Street Studios Photography in Broken Arrow on April 26, 2010 and Woodward Park in Tulsa on April 21, 2010.

Second Mov-i-versary

It’s been two years since we packed up our lives in California and moved here to Tulsa. It seems longer than that in many ways. So much has changed in the 730 days we’ve lived here. And for the most part, it’s been for the better. But there are days when I wonder if I’ll ever really feel like this is home. And if so, when?

I miss our friends and family back in the golden state. I don’t miss the high cost of living and heinous traffic though. I do miss being able to sink my toes into the Pacific Ocean whenever I pleased. And spending a lazy day touring the little vineyards in wine country. But I don’t miss the uncertainty that came with living an artist’s lifestyle in a techno-driven economy. Where making a living-wage means you have to pull in six figures. How ridiculous is it that a single person earning $30K/year is considered near poverty-level?! But sadly, it is when you live in one of the most expensive places on earth.

Being in Tulsa has been interesting to say the least. Tulsans are quite friendly, but at the same time, not very welcoming. By that I mean people here smile at you in the grocery store and wave to you when you’re driving down the street, but they’re not the sort to invite you over for a visit or suggest that you hang out. Maybe I expect too much of people. Kindness should be enough, but I crave connection.

I want to get past the polite, perfunctory exchanges and get to the personal and profound conversations. We’re friendly folks. We can strike up a conversation almost anywhere with anyone. But I still cannot figure out why we’ve been here for two years and not made any friends. I mean, real friends. Not people you’re friendly with because you work with them or see them from time to time out in your neighborhood and the right thing to do is to be nice and friendly. I mean the kind of people you connect with about real stuff that goes on in your life. Friends who you want to spend time with after work and on the weekends. Someone you can call at 2 a.m. if need be. We just don’t have that here. And we did when we lived in CA. And for the life of me, I cannot figure out why. Shared experiences, I guess.

When you’re an artist, it automatically connects you with people in a different way, I suppose. Not that all of our friends back home are artists themselves. But most of them are and those who aren’t appreciate those who are and want to befriend them. Here? We’re just normal, everyday working folks with two cars, two dogs, a cat and a kid. There’s nothing beyond that right now to connect us to others, I guess. We’re not religious and only attend one church in town, on occasion. And when we go there, the people are nice. They say hello or smile from across the pews. But that’s it. They’re just nice. Just friendly. But not really looking to connect or make friends. At least it doesn’t feel that way. And I guess that’s why, after two years of living here, I feel like I am just visiting. Nice and friendly are perfectly swell when you’re visiting. But if you’re going to stay, it takes more than that. I am on a search to find it. So that this time next year I can say that Tulsa feels like home.