Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn (Carley)

Future besties? Crossing fingers...

Emma Vance and I braved the tornadoes this morning to meet up with Scotty and Brooklyn (who's six months older than E.V.). Scotty and I have been lunching at La Madeleine ever since our high school days back in East Cobb, and it's extra special now that we're able to include our girls in that tradition. I love that one day we'll look back at these pictures (on their graduation days perhaps?) and see "where it all began."

With La Mad being a little closer to Scotty's corner of the world and traffic being extremely unpredictable (especially with inclement weather), we left extra early this morning, meaning we got to the restaurant extra early (considering no one was out and about today). We used the time to have a bottle and some Baby Mum Mums...yum! 

I can't believe she's already eating like a big girl. Time flies!

She hearts Mum Mums.

(So do I!)

(Can you call it a "selfie" if someone else is in the pic? :) )

Then the Carley girls arrived, and as Scotty was grabbing our lunches, our little ladies hung out for a bit, you know, just catching up and stuff. :) Brooklyn really is a big girl, so E.V. had a hard time playing it cool around her. 

"Mom, do I have to play with the baby?"

Emma Vance said "hi" with a wave...

Scotty's attempts to get Brooklyn to smile worked...on E.V.!

(Apparently E.V. really thought Scotty was hilarious...)

Brooklyn: "See, I've got this finger here, and I can grab stuff with it..."
E.V.: "Whoa. And I thought fingers were just for scratching!"

(This is indicative of most of what occurred; E.V. jumping with joy while Brooklyn was a play-it-cool big kid.
Hey, my girl can't hide her emotions!)

Enter Sofie la Girafe...

(Sofie appreciated Emma Vance's energy!)


Finally Brooklyn wants to play...with E.V.'s glitter shirt. I can't blame her!

Toward the end of lunch, it was closing in on nap time, so E.V. started laying down her head on the table...actually "into the table" is more accurate, which signaled it was time to go home. After we left, the tornado warnings were getting scary, so we rushed back to Alpharetta to be with Ryan and the dogs. I was too afraid to put Emma Vance down for a nap in her nursery upstairs but not so concerned as to hole up in the basement for a few hours. The result? A confused baby who assumed that it was playtime, not nap time, since we were hanging out in the living room. So she giggled and played (with Oscar) and had quite a fun time during a usually restful time of day. A full two hours after her nap was supposed to begin, I gave up and put her in her crib...and she slept for a loooong time. I suppose lunch with Brooklyn wore her out gooood. We heart the Carleys!

Emma Vance playing with Oscar...

...and by "playing" I mean eating his fur. Geez.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Snuffles + Snuggles

Sick day with Dad...

Sometimes the sweetest moments, like this one where Emma Vance "helped" Ryan with his video editing, can be so rewarding and precious...

Babies make the best child laborers. :)

...and sometimes they end up spreading germs. Two Shoves down, one to go. Ryan and E.V. are stuffy and runny, and me--well, I'm just trying to avoid the stuff and run away from germs! Today I feel like a man on death row; the spread of sickness is seemingly inevitable, and so now I wait...and worry...and convince myself that I can fend off germs with Emergen-C and sheer will power. Crossing fingers and staying away...well, kind of. Could you pass up being near these guys? (I didn't think so.)

The consequences of being close when one of you is an incubator for germs?

Snuffles and snuggles in bed!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Old Man Shove Can Walk!

Ryan had a shoot with Condoleeza Rice while still in his cast--and she signed it!
#she'sanAXO #lovethatshehasasenseofhumor #mostfamouscastsignatureever #yeswekeptthecast

Ryan's cast free!

The doctor removed the cast ten days ago with the instructions for Ryan NOT to bear weight on it for one week. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty sure that it was the longest seven days of his life while waiting to ditch the crutches. I'd catch him sneakily putting his foot down under the guise of "stretching it," but I'd play mom, begging him not to push his limits. (Unfortunately I think being on those dang crutches for another whole week pushed him to his psychological limits!)

Then, last Thursday, Ryan was like a kid on Christmas morning as he stood up on his own for the first time in over a month. I can imagine how horrible that month must've been--sore underarms, achy hips, lack of independence...ugh. The doctor told him to begin by hopping along with one crutch at first, but of course he's been just straight-leggin' it around, crutch-free instead. (Men...) He's been using the crutches when he's going to be standing for long periods of time and when in public places, but around the house he's almost back to normal. When he's outside he wears the boot (Robo-boot) to help his balance and walking ability, but around home takes it off to let his muscle-less calf get some daylight. :) I'm continually reminding him to take it slow, but he's eager to feel independent again. (Oh, and he can actually carry the baby now--yay!)

On another note, I have a confession. Yesterday I officially had the WORST day ever, and most of that day consisted of running (failed) errands. (Don't you hate that? You make a special, well-planned, efficient effort to get stuff done, and the world laughs at your effort and says, "Yeah, right. Try again some other time!") I had E.V. with me, it was freezing, and my errand-running was going so badly that when I discovered Ryan's handicap parking pass in my car, the little devil on my shoulder won out. I figured that as long as there were plenty of other special spots available, my failing day counted as a handicap. So I used it. And I was soooo paranoid. I used it at the mall and at Target, and both times I felt like people were glaring at me. So I did what anybody else would do. I reparked my car. I limped a little as I walked into the buildings. (Sheepish grin.) No kidding. And then, when I was packing my stroller into my handicapped car after my Target trip, I realized that I had a pair of leggings for E.V. that didn't make it onto the checkout counter. Crap. So I did what anybody else would do. I unpacked the baby, walked inside and paid for them. I drove away. Hey! I'm not a bad guy--I called and tried to pay for them over the phone. Turns out that Target doesn't take payment over the phone. Nor do they hire people who care if you confess your thievery to them. The girl told me to just bring them to any Target location next time I was there...which was today. (Addicted.) And I forgot them. Crap. I swear I'm going to pay for them NEXT time. So there you have it. I'm a liar and a thief. (But, man, it sure was nice to park so close!)

The moral of the story? Ryan's working on his freedom, and I'm working on my incarceration. :)

E.V. Seven Month Weigh-In

What a naughty little girl! :)

Emma Vance is stuffy and congested, and so I figured that a quick drop-in at the doctor's office to weigh her couldn't do any harm; sick is sick, right? So we kept our heads down and hands to ourselves and braved the germiest of places today to check in on how she's growing, and man, is she growing!

We started giving her solid foods about a month ago, but she's been somewhat inconsistent on how much she'll eat at each meal, which is both confusing and a bit frustrating. I also read that most babies' milk consumption goes down with the introduction of solids (since there's other stuff in their bellies), but since in December E.V. seemed to be eating considerably less than I thought she should, her bottle schedule hasn't changed much; we just ADDED solid food. Thankfully, despite her inconsistency in appetite, it seems to be paying off!

Emma Vance weighs 18 lbs. 4 oz. at seven months old, gaining a good two pounds this month. I tried to measure her height, but she was so giggly and wiggly, the best guesstimate I got was about 27" (versus 25.5" last month). In fact, she was so naughty that she kept grabbing everything, squirming around, and eventually flipped over onto her belly to practice her pseudo-crawl. I couldn't help but laugh at her--until she peed. Mind you, we didn't actually have an appointment; we just showed up unexpectedly to use their scale, and she peed everywhere. It's been a while since that's been a problem, so I just winked at her, shuffled the dirty papers into the trash and crossed my fingers that no one saw. I figure that they can always bill me later, right? :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Holding a sleeping baby can be so rewarding...

I don't know what it was--a stuffy nose, a potential first tooth, a refused nighttime bottle--heck, maybe even the full moon is to blame!--but last night was tough.

Yesterday evening we went out to dinner with our old couples' small group, and shortly after we came home to a soundly sleeping baby, Emma Vance started to stir. I knew instantly that it was going to be a long, bad night. I could just feel it. And I was right. (Unfortunately.) Around 11 p.m. it started: Every half hour or hour that would go by, she'd be up, crying out for us hysterically. She seemed hungry and stuffy and just unsettled in general, but each time I'd get her to go back to sleep--for at least a little bit. Then, at 3 a.m., I finally gave in, scooped her up, resolved to hold her for as long as it took. If this was to go on all night, then at least I could keep her quiet so that Ryan could sleep, right? (He does make the money, so this is my small contribution to the family.) So I sat there. For four hours, I sat. My back was killing me, I was exhausted, my legs were numb, but Emma Vance was happy and sleeping for the longest period of the whole night, so I sat and I sat and I sat.

And I thought.

I thought all about our lives and how they've changed. I thought about the first night we brought Vampire Baby home. How vivid that image still is in my mind--the one of Ryan holding her in the very same rocker as dawn crept up on us, brand new parents with no clue what to do. I thought about how if this were any other baby in the world I'd be miserable and cursing her. I thought about how this wasn't just any other baby in the world, how this was Emma Vance, and how I'd gladly hold her 'til kingdom come if necessary. I thought about all of the stories we've lived through over the past seven months. I thought about how these moments are so fleeting; in just a couple of years I won't ever be able to do the privilege of holding her in my lap throughout the night ever again. Then, eventually, I thought about my legs, full of pins and needles...and of how cold the room seemed...and how exhausted I was...and how heavy she was...and how dry my throat felt...

And I started trying to have a telepathic conversation with a sleeping Ryan.

"Ryan. Wake up. I can't call out to you because I'd wake the baby. I can't stand up and walk in there because I'd wake the baby. I can't call you because I left my phone in there. Ryan. RYAN. RYAN! Wake up. I'm so thirsty. Soooo thirsty. You want to wake up and bring your wife a glass of water. Wa-ter. Now. Right now, before she panics. She's so dehydrated, and she's taking care of your daughter so that you can get a good night's rest."

(In recounting this one-sided conversation the next morning, Ryan swears he woke up at one point, saw the empty bed next to him, thought, "Oh man, am I thirsty! Oh well, I'm too tired to get up and get a drink of water right now. Time to roll over and go back to sleep..." Geez. All of that psychic energy wasted! :) )

I was almost at my breaking point, contemplating if waking up every half hour or hour would be better or worse than sitting there any longer, and it happened. E.V. sleepily flopped herself backwards a little bit, which awoke her momentarily. She looked up at me with half-closed eyes that widened as big as they could get, trying to take in everything she was seeing. In an instant I saw her recognize me, and she said very clearly and distinctly "Mama." Then she grinned, closed her eyes shut and was out faster than the whole incident took. Best moment EVER.

It was totally worth it. Up until now she's been babbling "mama" and "dada" pretty consistently, and we pretend that she's referring to us by name. And, truthfully, I think she's learning what those words mean, but Ryan and I always ground ourselves by reminding one another that she hasn't really shown a distinct, factual understanding of them. She cries out "mama" when she's upset and whispers "dada" in the mornings before Ryan gets up, but it's not like she's ever reached out for one of us and said the correct word, you know? But this was it, folks. It was so innocent and honest. It wasn't a mumbling of "mamamama;" it was my name. And it was wonderful.

Eventually I gave in, carefully took E.V. into our room to get some water, and made a little seat for me in our master bed to give my legs some relief. At 7 a.m. she woke up for the day, and so I put on my happy face, went downstairs and did our normal morning routine. After her first nap my wonderful husband took her for an hour so that I could pass out FINALLY, and after a day filled with trying to get her back on schedule, she seemed much better at bedtime tonight. 

I do have to say, though, that even if it's a terrible night again tonight, it's okay. It might just be the lack of sleep talking, but I'd happily give up my peace and quiet tonight to relive that moment...

The dogs love to trade off keeping us company. :)

Dear E.V. (Month Seven)

Dear E.V.,

I know I say it every time, but SEVEN months?!? I really can't comprehend how time keeps marching, sprinting forward without my consent. A lot has happened this month, and yet you're still on the verge of so much more...

The biggest change you've experienced this month has been eating solid food. (Yay!) You like to be in your high chair, at adult-level, playing with your toys while I make dinner or put away the dishes; it's one of your favorite places to be right now because (I think) it makes you feel like a big kid. You took to eating solid foods easily, and then, just as easily, you learned that you could resist eating them (the yucky ones, of course). Oatmeal is by far your favorite food--especially if it's super liquid-y. Unfortunately, there isn't one single fruit or vegetable that you seem to really, really LOVE; in fact, none that I've given you have excited you. We started with peas, then green beans, then apples and pears, squash and sweet potato...and you were NOT impressed with any of them. In fact, you HATE bananas, which is sad because your mom lives off of them. :( It got so bad that I dropped the "only introduce one food every three days" rule because I was desperate to find something, anything that you'd be eager to gobble up. The closest we've come has been mango, but I think you enjoyed it because it was the first food I let you have from a squeezy pouch, and you find the novelty of how you eat more interesting than the actual food you eat. Then we moved onto rice cakes (Baby Mum Mums) and teething biscuits, which you like. You do enjoy Mum Mums a lot, mostly because I break them into small pieces for you to pick up, and you love to feed yourself. Since you're spending so much time in your high chair, we're working on your table manners already--saying a blessing, having a napkin in your lap, signing "please." (You're still the messiest eater I've ever encountered, but, hey, A+ for effort!)

You're still nursing and drinking formula with each of your meals and a little bit here and there throughout the day as you get thirsty. Your largest bottles are in the mornings and right before bed, where you take four to six ounces happily. When you're in the highchair I give you a sippy cup to practice with, and you love to bang it around while I pull together your meals. Truthfully, you're still a bit confused how to use it; it's very different from a bottle! So, after you've had your fun for a while, I usually end up removing the top, tipping it up and letting you drink like a grown-up. It can be messy, but it works. 

All of that feeding is paying off (considering it feels like that's all I do now that we've added in solid food!) because you're growing right on schedule, gaining another two pounds this month. Your little thighs are so chunky, girl! Let me just say in advance, before you become an adult who curses your genetics for big thighs, I'm sorry. :) They're so thick that we've jumped up to size four diapers early (three pounds before the recommended weight) just to be able to comfortably latch them closed around your legs. I love how chubby you are, though, how flubby your little hands are still, how round your big belly is, how soft your little behind is...

As for sleep, I'm thankful that you're transitioning to two long naps instead of those yucky 45-minuters. However, this second half of this month has been mostly about transitioning to that two-nap schedule, making the past few weeks a little unpredictable. You follow one of three patterns everyday: three 45-minuters, long-short-short, or short-short-long. I can usually tell which pattern you've chosen for the day by mid-morning, so we just adjust our daily schedule accordingly. I have to admit it, though, that the few days you've taken two long naps have been heavenly, so I'm eager to get through this transition and into a permanent schedule! Some of my favorite moments during the day are being able to hold you for the few minutes before you go down, singing you a song or two and calming you down. Then, when I place you in your crib you either pass out immediately (which is awesome!), or you are eager to play for a while. You crack me up when I watch you fall asleep through the monitor; you roll around, banging you legs on the mattress and attacking your toys (always seeming to go for Cookie Monster in particular--hmmmm...), typically ending up in some crazy, seemingly uncomfortable position with your arms all akimbo or your leg tucked up underneath you--until I come in and gently try to move you to a better position. And, then, inevitably you wake up with some big, red lines across your face where you slept on your hand or blanket, and I just smile. You are always at your best first thing in the morning; your eyes are so bright and big, and you just seem so alive in those early morning hours. 

During your waking hours, you're more active than ever. The world around you is your playground, and it always seems to be recess! You are struggling so hard and acting so frustrated at your lingering inability to crawl. You've been trying since the day we brought you home it seems, and now that it's a true possibility within your reach, you can't stand it! You fuss and flail about on your belly, eventually pushing up on all fours but too unstable to move forward. I'm always there, encouraging you, "Crawl, girl, crawl!," but inevitably you revert to rolling yourself around the living room, exploring all four corners and every "toy" that you can scratch or pick up along the way. (Speaking of scratching, it still continued this month in full force...) You've also been trying to pull yourself up, which isn't going to well. :) Instead, I've been helping you pull up to lean on the couch, which you love. You, of course, still need help staying on your feet, but you are so, so strong! Now that you can sit up on your own for long periods of time, you love to be at your piano and bang on it like a pro. Right now you have two exersaucers, and you're as happy as a clam to play in them. You LOVE to jump, and just like you used to kick even when you weren't laying at your piano, now you jump even when you're not in your exersaucers. You are so stinkin' smart that you immediately figured out all of the little bells and whistles on them and now make whatever noise or light work as you choose. It's truly amazing and encouraging to watch. No matter how fancy the toys get, though, your favorite "toy" right now is a pack of baby wipes; the crinkling sound it makes when you roll around with one is insanely entertaining for you, and, hey, it's a "cheap" thrill for me! You also love to play patty cake, to sit and wave your arms up and down and be tickled. In fact, tickling your belly actually makes you laugh now, which is a new development this month. I guess it's the anticipation that makes you squeal and giggle so much, but I'm tempted to tickle you all the time because it's so endearing! You also think it's the most hilarious thing in the world when I kiss your feet, so almost every diaper change is accompanied by foot smooches and baby laughs.

There are two main things that occupy your fascination these days--dogs and electronics. Oscar and Olive are the ultimate entertainment in your world, and they are always happy to put on a show. Olive loves to sit with us as we're on the floor playing, although I suspect she's in it for the attention :), and Oscar can't get enough of you. I've caught him several times gently nibbling on your clothes and pulling you around by the foot of your pajamas--no kidding! He's so gentle and careful (how do dogs know things like that?), but he's SO eager for you to play back soon. I always kindly ask him to leave you alone, but he adores you so much. You return his adoration and eagerness by pulling out his fur, which he likes, despite it hurting a little bit. (Hey, attention is attention in his puppy mind!) One day this month you were in your exersaucer, sitting still and staring down Olive, who was seated in front of you. Oscar must not have realized that you were actually in there, because when you broke Olive's stare and did one jump, it alerted him to your presence, and he got so excited he pounced at you (good-naturedly). I saw the whole thing, and it was amazing--as Oscar started to jump up INTO the exersaucer to play with you, Olive lunged toward him, intersected him and threw him to the ground! She wasn't mad, but she knew Oscar had no clue that he was going to hurt you; so she protected you. Oscar was a little confused ("What, E.V.'s NOT a puppy that I can pounce on and play rough with?!?"), but you had Olive to watch over you, thank goodness!

As for electronics, you must've gotten your dad's genes because you are fascinated by them! Sadly, we've stopped watching "Sesame Street" and "Dinosaur Train," and most TV altogether. I started to get paranoid that it would scramble your brains, and now that you eat solid food, we're in the kitchen way more than the living room nowadays. However, anytime you can get your little hands on a remote, a phone, or a keyboard, you squeal and act like you've just won a million dollars. It seriously cracks me up--although your little hands have sent a few odd text messages here and there! Oops. Sorry friends! Maybe you're trying to text some of your baby friends to set up play dates? :) 

Bath time is definitely your favorite time of day, so we've been spending extra long in the tub, splashing and playing with rubber duckies and such. When I run your bath, you love to grab at the splashing water from the faucet and to put your head under the spout or to try stand up in front of it. You always seem so sad when it's over, and that makes me so sad, but prune-y hands are not a good look for you, little lady. When we dry you off, I'm always amazed to see that little mohawk pop up as quickly as the water pushed it down. Your hair is getting long--and scraggly!--and your mohawk is slowly falling down. It's not AS crazy as before, but it's still pretty awesome (along with your rattail, which is super long itself) and garners you much attention as ever. In fact, we were at the grocery store the other day, and all of these grandmas kept coming up to you and oohing and aahing about how cute you were, how wonderful your temperament and how fun your hair was! One grandma stayed next to you the whole time we were stopped at the deli and began talking to the other little old ladies as if you belonged to her! I would've been mad, but how could I blame her? :)

You're latest and most exciting new activity is actually sitting up in shopping carts and restaurant high chairs. You LOVE being strolled around stores, grasping at whatever I put in the cart to try and chew on it; you also love being part of the table conversation at meals, sitting big and tall, eating your Mum Mums and watching the grown-ups talk. It's like you have a whole new perspective on life--literally! You also adore being in your big girl stroller, sitting up as we walk around; in fact, this month the weather's been crazy so we've actually gotten to go on walks outside this January, which is the first chance we've had to use your big girl stroller outside. You've always loved being outdoors, but now that you can look around more easily, you're especially in awe of everything around you; it amazes me how aware you are at this age. We stroll the neighborhoods around our house, listening to music or talking about what we see. Speaking of the odd weather, it was so nice one day that we even took a blanket out into the yard and sat for a while; you pull out grass and tried to eat pinestraw; it was so fun and made me eager for when you're really able to play outside. You also "played" at church and at the gym for the first time this month, making new friends and enjoying new toys (especially the swing at the gym). Everyone who babysits you says that you're an angel, happy and excited to be with other babies, too social to ever take a bottle while in public of course! You always leave your time in the nursery exhausted and smiling. I know that one day you'll be so excited when I drop you off; you'll wiggle out of my arms, run into a big group of your friends, yell "Bye, Mom!" without even looking back--and, as for me, I'll be equally happy and sad in that moment. (I am both eager for and dreading that time to come...)

Emma Vance, as I write this, you're sitting (or rather rolling around) on the floor next to me, happy as can be, grinning that big ol' toothless grin at me, flailing you legs and arms around, desperate to crawl. I could watch you every second of every day and still be enthralled with every little thing you do, every little discovery about this world that you make. And I love this age, because, well, it seems that you feel the same way about me, and I never want that to end. I'm desperate to capture every small moment in your life because each one is so precious to me, because you are so precious to me. I love you, your dad loves you, your dogs love you--but, most of all, I love you. :)

Love You Always,
Me (and Dad)

Also, on a side note, these shoots are getting a little more complicated as time goes on and Emma Vance becomes more active... :)

Wiggle worms require a mom AND a dad to keep them in the right spot!

"Put that down and smile for the camera, lovey!
No, seriously. Put that down. Put. It. Down

Friday, January 25, 2013

If It's Not One Window, It's Another...

All bundled up for a freezing cold day outside!

I have absolutely no pride in the "niceness" or "coolness" of the car that I drive. Ryan and I differ completely on this subject (hence the '76 Scout), but both of our everyday cars aren't very high on either the "nice" or "cool" scales. We are lucky enough to both be car-payment-free, so even though our 2001 and 2003 SUVs are dying a slow death, I've vowed that we'll drive them into the ground. I get the feeling my Durango knows its fate and is thus making that slow death a painful one as well.

The only issue I've really had with my car over the past TEN years is that the driver's side window motor broke in 2008.  It was annoyingly expensive to fix, so when my passenger's side window disappeared in October (amidst the selling/moving/settling/holidays/surgery madness), I decided to hike it up, tape it up, and ignore it. And it was fine--until the four-day bout of rain we had last week, when my window decided to slip into the door permanently. Ugh. Wet, frozen car interior? Not. Fun.

So I bit the bullet, had the window fixed, oil changed, emissions done, and SEVEN dead lightbulbs replaced (oops...cue nervous, embarrassed laughter) on Tuesday. Hurrah! My car lived again, and after a shampoo and a good scrubbing, we were back on track. (Minus the huge, rusty bald spot on the roof, of course. Whatever--I have no pride, it's just cosmetic, and it's WAY expensive to fix.)

Then, for whatever reason against logic, Ryan and I decided to brave the freezing rain today to make a vendor meeting. We had rescheduled twice already; plus, it was a baby-friendly meeting, so we didn't have the "no babysitter" excuse to fall back on. So we bundled the baby up, got in the car and headed up north. Big. Mistake.

About five minutes from our destination, the freezing rain CRACKED my windshield straight across. I don't know if it was the tension between the heated interior and cold exterior or what, but it split out of nowhere. Thankfully it didn't break into a million pieces (and into our faces!), but dangerously cracking across most of its length is a close second.

Seriously? This is what I get for actually taking care of my car this week? :) Go figure. Isn't that how life always works out? I suppose it's officially time for a new windshield as well--and while they're at it, Ryan's demanded we fix the rusty spot on the roof. Oh well, Baldy. Time for a new 'do!

(sleeping baby)

"What was that sound, Mom?"

"That did NOT sound good!"

"No, Emma Vance, it did NOT sound good."
(cracked horizontally near the bottom)

Oh, well. Back to cute babies!