Friday, August 31, 2012

I Hate Charles Schulz (Two Month Dr. Appt.)

I am scarred by these Band-Aids for-ev-er.

Wednesday was really hard. Emma Vance had her two month doctor's appointment in the morning, and to put it simply, it did NOT end well. Thankfully, the appointment was good overall, or I'd really be upset.

To begin the day, I was responsible enough to remember that our doctor's office was moving buildings in between our one and two month appointments, so I was really proud of myself for my good memory as I drove to the new location...only to find that they had been delayed and hadn't actually moved in yet. (The construction guys were a bit surprised to see me walk in first thing in the morning, baby in tow!) So I had to re-pack the car to drive back to the old location, then joked with the nurse as to why I was a bit late. (NOT my fault, right?)

No harm, no foul, though, and Emma Vance was in a fabulous mood for the appointment, which always makes things easier and more enjoyable. (She even was kind enough to skip her usual pooping-on-the-scale-so-that-mom-has-to-clean-it-up-while-being-embarrassed routine!) In fact, she was babbling and talking away while being looked over, which made the doctor laugh and mention that E.V. talked an unusual amount for her age (a characteristic she got from Ryan); actually, I believe the words she used were, "She's the most talkative two month old I've ever seen..." which may have been a compliment as much as an sympathetic warning for her teenage years.

"Oh, why hello doctor! Fancy meeting you here..."

"Yes, doctor, I am very aware that she's chubby and talkative."

E.V. weighed in at a whopping 11 lbs. 12 oz., gaining 2 lbs. 1 oz. in four weeks! She's a healthy eater, which we all knew, but it's been driving me CRAZY not knowing exactly how much progress all that time spent feeding her has made. Her weight is now in the 70th percentile, compared to the 75th percentile last month. She grew just over an inch, coming in at 22.25", putting her height in the 55th percentile versus the 50th previously. And, of course, my big-brained beauty's head grew a full centimeter to 39.4, but it's slowly entering the realm of "not huge" now that she's in the 80th percentile versus the 95th last month. Overall the doctor was pleased with her growth over the past four weeks, and that made me breathe a sigh of relief. We are on track!

Growing, growing, growing!

Then, of course, it was time to check her development, and as the doctor lifted her off the table to see how well she holds her head up, E.V. thought that it was exercise time and rolled her little body up to do a "standy" like we do at home. This alarmed and surprised the doctor, who I suppose thought that a two month old wouldn't be interested in holding her little body upright like a mini human, but she clearly isn't familiar with my daughter, whose desire to be mobile either through crawling or walking is second only to her desire to eat like a linebacker. The doctor exclaimed, "Oh gosh! She is STRONG!" as Emma Vance easily stood upright on the examination table with just a little help from the doctor. Atta girl!

And then when she plopped E.V. down on her stomach to check how long she could hold her head up while on her tummy, Emma Vance did well, moving her arms in front of her for leverage and kicking her legs behind her. There was a crack about her crazy hair thrown in there as the doctor checked out her neck strength, followed by, "Despite all this hair, at least her head is perfectly shaped..." (Consolation prize.)

Then came the bad part. Vaccinations. I've been locked in self-debate and agony over the proposed vaccination schedule, but have recently decided to follow it *almost* to a tee. The main reasons are as follows:

1. The point was argued to me that the vaccines have been studied only in the proposed manner, and have thus far not shown any actual significant clinical proof of causing the major problems people worry about (autism, etc.).  (As far as I can read, the "scary" stuff is all anecdotal, and I found that there are dozens of studies world-wide showing lack of statistical correlation between vaccinations and things like autism...) However, if you mess with the way in which they have been studied, you can't look to that research for reassurance; you've changed the circumstances.

2. Herd immunity! In talking about the impending vaccinations with the nurse, I mentioned this term, and he looked at me like I was crazy--so much so that I told him it was a real term. "I know," he responded. "I've just never heard a parent use that term before." Dang straight! I do my research. Basically, if all or almost all of our population doesn't get vaccinated against certain diseases, then we can't wipe those diseases out. Thus, the less of the population that has immunity, the more the ENTIRE population is at risk. Although I do believe that every parent has the right to refuse or adjust their child's immunizations, I also feel good about my contribution to society by having E.V. vaccinated fully and on schedule. So, you're welcome, herd!

3. The doctor mentioned having "less Bad Days" by following the schedule and not spreading out the shots, which meant little to me before yesterday...but now it's a big factor in my future decisions.

4. I was watching a documentary about the vaccine debate,which featured a video of a baby with pertussis. It was horrifying. Absolutely, mind-numbingly horrifying. An EMT in the documentary took it upon herself to record all of the cases of life-threatening, vaccine-preventable diseases that she came across in order to raise awareness. (Many people--including me--are numb to the horrifying reality of many vaccine-preventable diseases since we don't deal with them in modern times, making us more cavalier toward the necessity of their corresponding immunizations. I later talked to my grandma, Mrs. Emma Vance, who recounted the horrors of being a nurse during the polio epidemic. Scary stuff.) Thirty seconds of watching a baby literally suffocate from whooping cough was enough to seal the deal for me. I was convinced.

So, after everything checked out okay with E.V., it was time for her shots...and it was hell. No, really. She got one shot last time, so I knew they'd have me hold her little hands while they did it. She disliked the one shot last time, but at this appointment she needed FIVE. (Plus did I mention that by the time she was getting her shots it was 10 minutes into her normal nap time?) Poor girl. I held her little hands, and she had been in such a lovely mood, I knew it was going to be bad. After the first shot, she looked at me, screaming and with big, salty tears as if to say, "MOM! Help, did you see how the bad lady hurt me?" The unfortunate thing was that I was still holding her hands and looking directly into her desperate little eyes as they continued the shots, and I think she realized that I was in on it. She looked so....betrayed. I NEVER want to see that look on her face again! Seriously, it broke my heart and I had to hold back my own tears. Three shots in one leg, two in the other, a dropper full of a sixth vaccine, and Emma Vance's little spirit was broken.

I sat in the exam room for a while afterwards, just holding her and trying to get her to calm down, but I had this sense that she knew I had helped cause her pain. It was terrible. All I could do was stare down at those stupid Band-Aids covering my baby's legs, marking where she was sore, and think how much I hate Charles Schulz. Stupid Snoopy. The Peanuts will never be the same to me again.

The doctor had warned me that she was going to be cranky and want to sleep all day, which proved to be accurate. We threw our normal schedule out the window, letting her sleep peacefully and deeply all day. After a few hours I did wake her to eat a little bit, and then I spent the late afternoon and evening holding her while she was passed out, mostly because I felt so guilty and I know that she loves feeling the warmth of being held while she sleeps.

When she was awake, she just bawled. Whether it was the cruel world or her achy legs I'm not sure, but it was heart wrenching. Now that we've been through our first tortuous round of immunizations, I understand why the doctor had used the "you'll have less Bad Days" argument on me, and moving forward, I'm glad to group the shots together. Right now we have her four month check up set for the end of October, and the first thing I did was schedule Ryan to join me. No mom should have to suffer alone, and if Emma Vance's going to have repressed memories of being vaccine-abused as a baby, you better bet that I'm not going to be the only face she recalls looming over her... :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dear E.V. (Month Two)

Dear E.V.,

Your dad and I were finally looking at pictures from the hospital the other day, and I can't believe how much you've changed in just two months. You look like a completely different person now, as if the tiny newborn we met just eight weeks ago doesn't even exist anymore. It's amazing that your little body is just sprouting up like a flower in the spring and that your personality is blossoming more each day. We LOVE the person you are becoming: funny, outgoing, social, adventurous and smart. This month has shown us how perfect God has made you, and how wonderful watching you grow can be.

The strangest thing happened a few weeks ago: All of a sudden, your newborn-sized clothes were too small! It seemed to happen overnight, as if in your little baby prayers you asked God to make you a big girl by the morning and He obliged. It was such a surprising occurrence, so much so that I had to call your dad into the room the first time your pajamas didn't fit. It's both equally exciting and heart wrenching to see you move onto the next phase of life (being an actual infant and no longer a newborn), and I can't think about it too much or I get weepy. I want you to stay small so that I can protect and snuggle you always, but I know that it's your right and desire to grow up and become the person God intends you to be. I still refuse to pack up those newborn sizes, though, as if holding onto them a little longer will make you slow down just a bit...

E.V., you are strong. So strong. Even since the beginning you've always had a strong grip (like most newborns), but this month you've proven that you are a determined little baby who's eager to be mobile. You love doing "standies," practicing standing up while we steady you on our legs. On occasion we have you do standies on the floor, which cracks me up because I imagine you walking around like a mini human. You also love squats, instinctively knowing you need to build up your tiny leg muscles in order to move yourself. Holding your head up is very easy for you now, although after a while I try to give you a little support because you get wobbly but refuse to put down your head to rest. (Whether it's stubbornness or determination, we're not sure yet...) Sitting is the best entertainment for you right now; you often sit yourself down on our tummies after a long workout, looking us right in the eyes as if to say, "Well, what's the news of the day, guys?" And, of course, you are still in love with doing "mountain climbers" up your dad's chest, pushing off on his hands as you do a basic crawl up his body. This month you added arm movements to your mountain climbers, and I'm sure you'd be scurrying right across the floor if your head-body proportions were more manageable! You always squeal with excited determination when you climb, so much so that it alarms visitors and we have to reassure them that you're okay. We encourage you by telling you that you're a "big girl," which makes you smile with pride.

I've tried to let you have more time to yourself this month, which is so hard. I feel terribly guilty if you're awake and I'm not entertaining you, although I know in reality that you're perfectly content exploring the world around you alone. You love your play gym now that you can bat at things; your favorite is a hanging red and black lady bug, and I'm sure it will be the first toy you actually grab onto. I adore those little roving hands of yours; they're so "flubby" (not chubby, but loosely plump) and oh, so tiny! They love to touch everything within reach, and you love to tickle me when I hold you. They're so small compared to your head that when you hold your cheeks it cracks me up! (And, yes, you often hold your fists at your cheeks and grab your ears and rub your eyes with those flubby little hands of yours, which is adorable!) We've sat you under the play gym mirror before, but you've never seemed very interested until recently when I caught you almost looking with surprise straight up at yourself, and with much curiosity you've been enamored ever since. Usually the dogs consider your play gym time their play-with-E.V. time, putting their paws on the edge of the mat and staring down at you as you stare right back up at them. Oscar also loves to nap with you, and Olive likes to lick you. You are nonplussed by them usually, but have started to bat as Oscar when he lays next to you, which always surprises and amuses him.

In your second month, we've tried to be more mobile with you, taking you out into the wide, open world with us. We've discovered that you love the hustle and bustle of restaurants, which initially excites you and then eventually lulls you to sleep. You are amazed at the sights and sounds of people and things around you, and rarely cry in public due to this amusement. (And when you do fuss, a firm rocking of your car seat usually puts you right out.) We usually leave you in the car seat, unbuckling it once you're settled in a chair or on the floor, but you don't love the confinement (nor do I for you), and it makes you a little overheated when you're in it too long. We tried using the Ergobaby carrier once, and you enjoyed it for a while; in the coming months, especially as I venture out with you more by myself, I'm sure it will become a comfortable and happy place for you, allowing you to see the outside world from my point of view.

When someone meets you, you win them over immediately. You already have this uncanny way with people; it's like you look at them and can communicate without words. People love you, and when you're in a crowd, they often argue over getting to hold you. They always talk about how pretty you are, and, of course, your hair...Man, it is still crazy! In fact, it's even crazier than last month, and even despite attempting to calm it down with hair product, it seems to have a mind of its own. It makes people laugh, which makes you happy, and so perhaps that's why God gave you such an obviously wacky head of hair. (You have a good sense of humor about yourself, a good quality to have!) Someone suggested we cut it off, and I thought your dad was going to faint at the thought because he loves it so much! (As a woman and your mother, I try to help you tone it down by having you wearing distracting headbands, although a headband can only do so much...)

You LOVE being on a schedule, and the days when I help you stay on a three hour cycle seem to be your happiest. I wake you up at 8:30 a.m. to eat, and then it's mommy and Emma Vance time as we watch "Dinosaur Train" (we sing the theme song together, which you love) and then "Sesame Street." (Daddy's usually asleep still; don't you pick up that habit!) Then you sit in your bouncy seat while I shower; you hate the bright lights of the bathroom (or any bright light for that matter, you little vampire!), but seem to be enthralled with the sights (probably because of the contrasting white cabinets and dark fixtures). On the occasions when your dad is up, he loves playing with you in our bed while I shower...although you usually spit up on him during your play time! In fact, the other day he hollered for help, and when I came into the room, you had spit up a TON all over his chest, and it ran down to his belly button! Yuck! (You were amused and grinning, of course, which amused me since you had spit up UP my nose only a few days earlier.) Then it's nap time, and you fall asleep easily. You usually wake up after one REM cycle, about 45 minutes into your nap, but I can usually get you to go back to sleep with white noise, a paci or rocking. (You take the pacifier a little bit nowadays, but you still prefer those fingers when you can catch them!) Then after an hour and half, it's time to start all over again! You're relatively consistent throughout the day with your timing (you almost always start to yawn 15 minutes before nap time), although we did have a few days toward the end of this month where you were just "off," not wanting to nap; and, of course, there was the opposite earlier in the month where a growth spurt made you a sleepy head. Mainly, we take it day by day and you let us know what you want to do. You often skip your last nap after eating at 8 or 8:30 p.m., choosing to stay up with us for dinner and prime time television. It's fun to have you sit on the couch with us while in your footy pajamas, unwinding from the day. If you fall asleep for that nap, we wake you up around 11 to eat, and if you skip it, you eat around 10:30 p.m. Then you sleep until about 6:30 or 7 a.m., although on occasion you've woken up a little earlier this month. I struggle to figure out a way to get you to last that extra hour or so until 8:30, but I know you'll do it when you're ready. I'm thankful that you're such a good sleeper; it makes life very enjoyable!

When you do sleep, you're most often in your pack 'n play bassinet in our room. Just as you've grown out of your newborn clothes, you're quickly growing out of your bassinet. In fact, in my heart I know that it's already too small for you, but I'm still holding onto it; you're clearly ready for a big girl crib. We've started laying you down for naps in the nursery occasionally, but it makes me sad to see the little indention in your bassinet empty. I also miss hearing the little sounds you make as you sleep; they don't sound the same through the monitor. I never thought I'd be so attached to having you close by, but I am, so it's going to take some strength on my part as we transition you to being in the nursery all the time this month. I just love when you're sleepy; you're able to lay your head down on my shoulder purposefully now, and so when I carry you to you bassinet, your heavy little body and head feel so good. And then as you grin and laugh while falling asleep, my heart is happy.

Many times you wake yourself up pooping, which is a laughable event. You can pass gas with the best of them, and the bigger you get, the bigger your messes get! We use a TON of diapers ("diapies") with you--up to 20 a day! We've tried letting you really mess them up before changing them, but you get SDS (Swollen Diapy Syndrome), which makes me feel guilty. You love having a clean canvas to mess up, so often you pee or poop as soon as we change your diaper, making the whole process start over again.

You've begun smiling purposely, and it makes my heart melt. Your grin could wash away any sadness or fear in an instant; it's as if you're saying with your little smile, "I'm here, world, and everything's alright!" The first time you smiled at the sight of your dad, it brought him to both laughter and tears, and every time since he's still in wonder that you love him. I can't wait until you get your first teeth and that smile becomes toothy! You are so content in life, crying rarely, and I pray all the time that your demeanor thus far is an indicator of the person you'll grow into.

Everyday is a new adventure, and as you are more and more aware of your surroundings, you are more and more eager to explore. You love to stare at things in wonder, and this month I've grown to love your eyes the most. They're blue still, and we hope they stay that color just like your dad's! In the sun they sparkle brightly; in the shade they look more gray-blue, and at night I swear sometimes they look deep brown. I love looking into them as you stare back, seeing your little pupils dilate with excitement as I speak to you. My first memory of you was of your eyes; after the NICU team had bundled you up and covered your head, they placed you in my arms, and the only thing that I could see was your little blue eyes looking up at me. When you wake up early to eat and the house is dark and quiet, you look up at me with those same little eyes, and I know that you're telling me you love me. They say that the eyes are the window to the soul, and yours are beautiful.

Those blue eyes of yours come alive most when you look up at the painting above our bed; it's of a tree-lined road, and no matter how long or often you stare at it, it seems to engulf your tiny mind with wonder. Your dad and I always talk about what you're thinking about as you look at it, what your imagination is doing with that scene, and I'm sure it's become your favorite place to dream of at night. It's your own little forest, and when I tell you stories, it's always your home, complete with a fairy castle and lots of forest friends to play with. Truthfully your dad and I had intended on replacing that painting soon (it's been in our room for seven years now, and we thought we wanted a change), but now I can't imagine parting with it. It would seem to be a crushing blow to  your tiny world, and I could never do that to you...

I love telling you those stories, and you, in turn, love telling them back to me. This month you've found your voice, babbling and cooing all the time now. I swear there are moments when you're saying words, "okay," "yeah," and so on, but when I get excited, my logical side kicks in and reminds me that you're still only two months old. The other night you learned to hiss like a snake and found it so amusing that you hissed all the way through your bath and being dressed. You were a little serpent, and all I could think of was Harry Potter being a parseltongue! (We'll read those stories when you're a bit older.) Your dad and I are so eager for you to learn to speak; we can't wait to hear your thoughts because your expressions already tell us that you have tall tales to share. I have an inkling that you are going to be a great storyteller in your day, and I will always sit by your side to listen to them.

Emma Vance, the best part of this past month has been seeing your dad's personality show through in you. I love him more than anyone else in the entire world (yes, dear, as much as it pains me to say so, even more than I love you, which you will one day appreciate once you have a family of your own), and although I inherently wish to see myself in you, seeing him in you is even more fulfilling. I chose your dad because of the person he is, and so even though I love you instinctively and didn't actually choose you, always know I like you because you are so similar to him. (It just means that we're going to be easy friends, just like your dad and I are.) There are moments when I swear I'm looking at the baby version of him--in looks you give me, in the way you stretch when you wake up in the morning, in how much you are energized by being around people... You are a lucky girl to take after such an amazing man. Don't ever forget that, okay?

Thank you for the best eight weeks of our lives, girl. We can't wait to see what you're going to do next, and although we're sure you'll surprise us in every stage of life, thank you in advance for embracing the wonderful person that God intended you to be. Our love for you is immeasurable.

Love you always,
Me (and Dad)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Farmers' Market and a Walk Off

Saturday night and the ladies are up!

Saturdays aren't really "Saturdays" around here. Since Ryan and I work for ourselves, Saturdays sometimes become working days, so the idea of the "weekend" doesn't hold much clout around the Shove household. (In fact, we often find ourselves in conversations that begin, "What day is it again?") However, on the rare occasion that we have a true weekend and Ryan's not traveling, it's as exciting as Christmas morning. We love to join the masses in celebrating NOT working by venturing out into public places where the energy is high. Man, people are happy on the weekends, and it feels so good to be a part of that shared human experience!

Friday night as we drove through downtown Alpharetta, contemplating what to do with our actual weekend-weekend, we were reminded of the Farmers' Market the following morning. We decided we'd stop by, but with early afternoon plans already set, I was secretly dreading getting Ryan out of bed in the morning (a daily struggle since I, a morning person, married the king of the night owls). In an odd twist of fate, at 9 a.m. I was changing Emma Vance in her nursery while Ryan slept soundly in the other room when she decided to release the biggest super squirt yet. In fact, the little imp tricked me with a mini super squirt mid-diaper change, so that I, thinking it was the main event, was lifting her bottom up by her feet when the true super squirt occurred. Thus, not only did I get it ALL the way up my arm, but I was unwittingly aiming it OFF the changing table and onto our brand new carpet (which has finally been replaced per my earlier post). Needless to say, I yelped and cried out for Ryan's help, who groggily but quickly came to my aid. Thanks, Emma Vance. That was the quickest wake up that Ryan's had in a while! (Worth the clean up in my opinion!)

Once she was cleaned up (did I mention that she then spit up ALL over herself as we tended to the super squirt mess?) and I had showered, we were off to the Farmers' Market. It's been a while since we've attended, and we were surprised at how crowded it's gotten. (Plus I think it might have been a dog-themed day because there were a LOT of puppies running around...) The sun was a little too bright for E.V.'s vampire tastes, so she and I tried to stick to the shade of the tents, and eventually ended up parked under a honey stand while Ryan made a few purchases. The nice bee man let us look at his bee box (technical term), and E.V. was both interested and confused. I was too, as I tried to spot the queen bee, who apparently had a yellow dot on her back. She, unfortunately, refused to make a public appearance for us.

We started off with a headband, but it was WAY too hot...

...and the sun was way too bright... we ended up in the shade, which made E.V. happy.

"Hey mom, what's that over there?"

"It's a bee box." (Mom's smart.)

I see no yellow dots.

Our trip was a short one because Ryan had to run downtown for a mixology course with his buddy Taylor (which apparently went very well and now Ryan's eager to try out his newfound skills...), and E.V. and I were meeting Grandma for lunch at Panera. (I really ought to invest...) I was a bit more excited than Emma Vance to be eating at my go-to restaurant, so she passed out halfway through lunch. (Or perhaps the excitement of seeing her grandma caught up to her? :) )

Passed out completely...

When our little family reunited in the early evening, E.V. practiced her sitting up, an exciting development that she's very proud to be attempting. (Right now that big ol' head is just a teensy bit too big for her to last very long...)

We finished off our Saturday with a late night dinner with Taylor and his wife Katie. (E.V. stayed home with Nanny.) It was a fun meal with a lot of laughs, and we ended with a night cap back at home with the baby. E.V. loves new faces, and the Cases were no exception. She was enamored with Katie, and when Taylor rocked Emma Vance to sleep, she was in heaven. Afterwards, we got into a lively conversation about a variety of funny topics, including PCD (Perfect Child Syndrome...wait a minute) and "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," which may or may not have ended with a "Toddlers and Tiaras"-style walk off (which I may or may not have won).

I did NOT want to leave this little miss!

(I mean, would YOU want to leave this face?)

Madras dress compliments of Miss Katie...wait. Are they wearing matching seersucker? Katie...

E.V. LOVED her!

Overall it was an eventful day, and I woke up this morning with the strangest feeling... Then I realized that weekends are TWO days long! Ahhh. Here's to Sundays!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bowl Full of Cherries

Five minute photo shoot!

We had a few visitors yesterday, and while awaiting their arrival, Emma Vance asked to have her picture taken in her cherry-themed outfit. Not one to disappoint an infant, I obliged.

I did mention to her that perhaps her flowered headband was just a tad oversized for her at the moment, but she insisted that it detracted from her mohawk, a feature of which she is equally proud and embarrassed. There's a long road ahead, girl, before that hair is heavy enough to lay down on its own...

(Is it totally obnoxious to always want to photograph your baby? Yeah, probably. Oh, well. :) )

Crazy hair in all its glory...

Oh, that button nose!

Shifty eyes...

(This is her melancholy look.)

And cue giant flower!

Blowin' bubbles (her latest skill)

Dad's blue eyes are stickin' around so far...

Love this little lady!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paleo Week

Grocery time!

Silly girl hammin' it up, wearing a lollipop-themed outfit from grandma,
watching me cook Paleo. She's so ironic...

We've been working on our diet (i.e. the whole "organic groceries" New Year's resolution that I'm proud to say we're still sticking to), and since the Paleo diet has been gaining so much momentum, Ryan and I decided to give it a try for a week.

A lot of our friends and acquaintances have adopted the Paleo diet and love it. For those of you unfamiliar with it, basically the diet consists of veggies, healthy meat, fruit, healthy oils and spices and anything a caveman would be able to eat. (Funny, right?) On the no-no list? Grains, dairy, processed foods, etc. Every school of eating that exists and claims to be "healthy" really has similar ideas to this diet: Eat the good things, avoid the junk. Easy enough, right? And since we're already on board with the eating organic aspect of this diet, it seemed like a natural jump.

So, like any sane modern day woman, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. I ran across the blog "Once a Month Mom," which I've seen  in the past but largely ignored. However, a post for a Paleo 10-meal mini menu that you prepare and freeze in advance caught my eye, and when I saw that it included a grocery list, quantity-adjustable recipes, and no-fail instructions, I figured it was a sign. I'm a terrible cook (mostly because I like boring food, so recipes with more than a couple ingredients are wasted on me), but with a dummy-proof plan in my hand, how could I fail?

I failed.

Okay, so maybe I didn't fail per se, but since I only needed to cook for two people, I couldn't bring myself to buy "0.08 sprigs of thyme" or a jar of chipotle seasoning to use only "0.0047 tsp." So I skipped a couple of sue me! (Turns out that ingredients in a recipe aren't "optional"...who knew?) And, of course, I didn't think to read the recipes ahead of time, relying on a "one step at a time" philosophy, which landed me with energy muffins instead of energy bars ("batter" does NOT need to be blended apparently) and beef stew with no celery or onions. Plus, two of the recipes required a grill, and btw ours was out of propane all of a sudden. Oh, well. After FIVE HOURS of straight cooking, I opted to ditch the last two recipes and call it a day. Eight out of ten sounded pretty decent to me, and now we're enjoying the fruits of my labor...

And it isn't so bad. We're just finished Day Two, and so far we've had the aforementioned energy muffins, lime-marinated chicken, beef stew, and hawaiian skewers. After dinner tonight we both confessed that we'd like to cheat already (I miss cheese, glorious cheese!), but we're in it for the duration. We opted for the 85/15 philosophy to allow us to have dinners out with friends this weekend, and the chance to cheat makes it easier for us to stick with it. Although we're only doing seven days, we're open to going longer if we see any benefits (in weight, energy, strength, etc.).

So wish us luck. Five days left and counting...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Vampire Baby Sleeps

I will take this version of Vampire Baby any day of the week!

Truthfully, Ryan and I are very blessed to have a baby who's been so easy thus far. We've had two sleepless nights (Vampire Baby's two brief appearances), and beyond that, she's been relatively content, sleeping well and eating easily. In fact, E.V.'s been sleeping six to eight hours a night since she was a month old, allowing us to be functioning adults during the day; I would like to take credit for her desirable sleep schedule, but the reality is that we'd be clueless without Babywise.

For those of you who've been reading along, before we even had E.V., we knew we were going to follow the Babywise/Baby Whisperer school of parenting, which advocates a flexible three-hour schedule of eating, activity and sleep. Although not everyone loves Babywise, it's been an UH-MAZING philosophy for us, and we credit Emma Vance's wonderful demeanor to it. (Plus good genetics, right? :) ) After six weeks of "practicing" Babywise, we can pretty much discern why Emma Vance is crying or being fussy at any given time and predict when she's going to fall asleep or be hungry. In fact, if we work really hard at her "activity time" (actually playing with her and making her exercise, not just leaving her to entertain herself in a bouncy seat--which I must admit is VERY tempting at times), then she's almost like a tiny baby alarm, yawning and getting tired at exactly an hour and a half after waking, then sleeping for another hour and a half. You could set your clocks by it!

You can imagine our surprise, then, when Tuesday rolled around and E.V. could barely keep her eyes open during her first activity time. I was a bit perplexed, but Babywise is also about flexibility, so I let her pass out--and yes, that's literally what she did, passed out like a drunk frat guy--after only 30 minutes playing. I was a bit worried that it'd just screw up her whole schedule, but to my delight, she just kept on sleeping...and sleeping...and sleeping. Throw in a few voracious feedings and it suddenly occurred to me: Another growth spurt!

I should've been able to predict it. Here we are at the end of her sixth week, when she should have a growth spurt, and like my little on-track lady, she hit the ground running (or, rather, "hit the bed sleeping"). In fact, Sunday night I dressed her in the footy pajamas she wore to her one month doctor's appointment and could barely zip them up. (Chubby bunny.) Chris Farley singing "Fat guy in a little coat!" came to mind as her tiny toes stretched out the bottom of the pajamas which had plenty of room only two weeks ago. When I realized how big she must've gotten to actually grow out of them, I was tempted to take her to be weighed, but one of my goals for Month Two was to worry less about her weight since she's been fine thus far. (I am, however, super anxious for the end of the month so I can see exactly how much she's grown!)

As you may remember, our last growth spurt was characterized by Vampire Baby's nocturnal schedule. At the time, I looked to Google to diagnose her spurt and read that either babies sleep like crazy or sleep, like, never during periods of growth (NOT the most comforting thing to hear when your baby is currently falling into the latter category!), and this time around we seemed to get the lucky end of the bargain. Like a little vampire sleeping in the light of day, we had 48 heavenly hours of Vampire Baby napping continuously. Tuesday and Wednesday were perhaps the two most productive days we've had since June 27th, and since Emma Vance was so sleepy, I didn't even really tried to coax her to stay awake. I mean, we went shopping, ran long-ignored errands, ate out--and not one peep! The only hitch was that, in true vampire fashion, E.V. seemed to grimace every time sunlight came anywhere near her sleepy eyes. Indulging her vampire tendencies, we simply draped a blanket over her car seat and proceeded with our normal daytime activities.

Despite the seemingly insatiable appetite that came along with it, Vampire Baby's six week growth spurt was heaven. Her daytime hibernation was so relaxing that I was sad yesterday morning when sleepy Vampire Baby disappeared and regular ol' Emma Vance showed up, ready and eager to play and exercise during her allotted activity time. Not that we mind because, of course, we LOVE seeing those little eyes alert, but, man, those were a couple of nice days off! Here's to the next spurt--and to sleeping Vampire Baby gracing us with her presence again (preferably during a UGA home football weekend)...

Wednesday night...our last night of sleeping Vampire Baby.

Vampire Mom and Baby

Oh those lips!

Doesn't every kid love being carried to bed by Dad?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hangin' with Dad

Sometimes I get to hang out with just my dad, and those are my favorite times. (Isn't he dreamy?) I'm happy that he works from home so I can steal a few minutes here and there with him.

We like to lay around in bed because it's super comfy. I don't even mind if I'm naked when we hang out because, well, to be honest, I spit up a lot anyway. 

Yesterday, my buddy Oscar joined us in bed. (Since he's a boy, it was okay--instead of Daddy/Daughter time, we had Daddy/Daughter/Dog time.)

Then I got chilly and asked for a blanket. I mean, I was naked, so what did he expect to happen? When he covered me up with my lovely, hand-knit baby blanket from Mrs. Emma Vance, I decided to taste it. It tasted...well, you can guess from my expression.

Then we settled down for a quick show on the computer, which I love. Bright colors and lots of movement and interesting sounds--oh my! 

Overall, we had a fun time together, as usual. What a nice dad to let me hang out with him--I hope he had as much fun as I did because I love him a A LOT a lot.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Announcing Miss Emma Vance

Compliments of Paisley Papers :)

I'm dwindling in my baby-announcement-sending I thought I'd just share it via online for anyone we inadvertently missed. :) She's official--enjoy!