Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It's My Choice

Within a few months of dating Chris (five years ago!), I confessed that my greatest desire was to be a mother. To stay at home and raise my children. No one told me how difficult that would be. I'd seen my mother do it and several friends do it. Sure they had hard days but no one gave me much warning as to what I would be getting into.

When we started talking about starting our family, I knew we were not in a place financially where I could quit my job. At least, not yet. But I knew that my job was do-able from home. A co-worker had done it for years with three kids so I thought, "it can't be that hard with just one!"

Of course, my job is a little different from my co-worker's; my tasks are different, I also work for two different departments and have on-site meetings. When my maternity leave was over, I decided to start out with 30 hours and build my way up to 40. Again, no one really told me how difficult that would be (until after I started).

There are days that go really well. William naps for long periods of time, eats well and plays contently allowing me to get my work done before dinner. But most days aren't smooth or easy. Most days are irregular at best, starting before 5 a.m. and not finishing until after 8 p.m. I try to get outside once during the day, and shower and eat, but I rarely get to do all three.

We are still not sleeping through the night, although we are working on it much more seriously now. By the end of the day, I'm tired, the house is a mess and dinner isn't ready. I do try to take a break from work after William is sleeping and get ready for Chris's arrival home. I put away the toys, wash any dishes and bottles left out and get dinner started. But not always.

It's on days like today, where we woke up too early, didn't nap at all and I had a meeting to go in for, that I feel the stress of what I do. Where I acknowledge to myself that what I do is hard and much harder than I anticipated. And then, I take a deep breath and remind myself that this is my choice. I wanted to stay at home with my baby boy.

It's easy to get frustrated at him for the irregularity of my day, but I always feel guilty afterwards. He is my priority. I love that I get to be with him everyday. But the reality of fitting in those "extra" 30 hours of work do weigh on me more than I'd like.

I don't want to complain about my job. I'm so thankful for it and the ability to be able to work from home. But tonight, I just needed to admit you that this is hard.

Monday, April 28, 2014

For My Man on His Birthday

Today was my husband's birthday. Every year, I try to do something really special for him. He deserves it. Sometimes it is a surprise, most often not. He's a great wish-list kind of guy. But he also loves "shared experiences" as gifts, which is usually the route I try to go with. We've been to a couple of concerts in honor of his birthday and last year I planned a huge brunch with 15 friends at a very trendy-hipster restaurant in the mission (that laughed - and then freaked out - when I told them how many people were coming).

This year, I had adventure in mind. We used to go biking together on the weekends but hadn't gotten to do that since last year (when I quit biking to protect my baby-bump). I asked some friends to watch our growing baby boy for the entire afternoon. I have wonderful friends who gladly agreed. 

My original plan was a little ambitious and once we saw how windy it was, we changed our course. Rather than exhaust ourselves and face the wind on the Golden Gate Bridge by biking to Sausalito for lunch we decided to bike the city instead. In the end, the weather cleared up and it was the most perfect day for a bike ride. We still put in more than 12 miles and got to visit some of our favorite places. But most importantly, we had a great time together!

Our first stop: Dandelion Chocolate. They make the chocolate right in their shop, its single source, small batch chocolate. It's delicious. We enjoyed cups of hot chocolate and got a few bars to go. Oh, and we had shared a chocolate cookie, too. 

Next up, was a ride through downtown to the Ferry Building for lunch. On Saturdays they have a farmer's market and quite a few food stands to choose from. We hadn't been there in years. It's such a great atmosphere and it's always fun to sample the produce.

After lunch we couldn't really decide where to go next. We started up the Embarcadero headed for Fisherman's Wharf because its such a great bike ride but decided to stop short and head to Coit Tower which I had never been to.

It's on a hill, so getting there involved climbing a bunch of stairs. Close to 300 I think. I love the hidden staircases in this city. This trail led us through really beautiful gardens and had great views. 

The tower was actually under construction so once we got to the top, we snapped a few photos and started our trek down. And then we headed for home.

Getting outside and getting a little exercise while spending the day with my husband was probably a bigger gift to me than it was to him (since I rarely get out of the house these days). But I know that he loves biking - and he's commented more than once on how much he likes biking with me! 

We live in such a beautiful city and rarely get to experience more than our own neighborhood anymore. We've lived here for nearly 4 years and have loved it from the start. Days like this, where we can get out of our routines, remind me of why we love it and why we want to stay. 

So, to my husband, who adds adventure to my life, who enables me to be the woman and wife I want to be, who loves me even on my worst-didn't-even-get-to-shower kind of days, who is a better man than I could have prayed for -- Happy Birthday. May this year be another year of adventures together.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Easter Weekend

For Easter this year, we drove down to Fresno, California to visit some of Chris's extended family who had not gotten to meet William yet. It was a three and half hour drive making it William's longest car ride yet . . . and he let us know exactly what he thought of that on the way there and back!

Our usual accommodations were booked up (Pat & Mike had their family staying with them) so we stayed with Joyce and Bryce at their friend's home who was out of town. When we drove through the gated entry, I think my jaw dropped at beauty of the homes. And when I saw the "backyard" of where we were staying, well, I just about fell over. I felt like I was on some resort vacation. Even if I only got to enjoy the view for a few hours - and only 2 minutes by myself - I felt refreshed. It's interesting how a place can bring about a specific feeling of calm and peace.

We rarely get to be outside in short-sleeves! 

Everyone got together for dinner on Saturday and a late Easter lunch on Sunday. We haven't seen these relatives in two years so although it was a quick weekend trip, it was much needed. We also met our cousin's daughter who is just two months younger than William!

While we failed to get a whole family photo, we did snap a few of Willam's first Easter.

We hope you all had a blessed Resurrection Day!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Friendships through Blogging

A while back, a friend asked me if I had gotten to meet any interesting people through my blog. I had to think for a moment because although I read a lot of other people's blogs and feel like I "know" them, I don't think my blog reaches any further than the people already in my circle of friends. If you take a look to your left, you'll notice that I have been sitting at 30 lovely followers for about a year now.

I have really enjoyed blogging and at one point had put a lot of effort into learning about expanding, even making money. But the type of blogging I do is more or less journaling my life, which is not exactly demanding a high readership! I'm okay with that.

What I wanted to write about today, is that although I might not be able to say that I've met new people through my blog or being a part of the blogging community, I have developed a friendship of sorts with several people from my past.

There are three women that I knew back in college, none of them very well, but we knew each other none the less and may have even called each other "friends" at the time. After college, we lost touch. We remained "friends" on Facebook but nothing more than that. Then we each started blogging. I'd follow them and in turn they would end up following me. A comment here or there to encourage one another or a quick Facebook message to ask questions/share more privately has led me to feel that a bond of friendship is forming.

Because the format of blogging isn't limited to a number of characters or quick status updates, it allows for a deeper level of communication. It may be one sided until the reader engages, but there are opportunities for transparent and real, vulnerable thoughts to be shared.

I followed Sarah and Leah because they were living the life I wanted. You know the saying "the grass is always greener." Well, to me, they had the greener grass. Their families were well under way. Babies and more babies! I appreciated their "mom" blogs because they were real. I couldn't get enough. But I found myself being hit with how difficult their reality was. Being a mom is rarely, if ever, easy. Their openness kept me in reality. I also loved reading Leah's ideas in keeping her children active and entertained. So many of her ideas went in my "I need to remember this for my future" folder.

When I was looking for answers to my cloth diapering questions, both of these mamas gave me great advice. I was so thankful they were a part of my circle of friends and had the experience to share!

Tracy blogged off and on about a few different things. I first started following her when she began running. I was intrigued because I NEVER run. Then came her son and her Shaklee business and now she's blogging and video blogging (and running) like crazy. And she's hilarious.

I was reflecting back to my time in college and how Tracy and I met. We had several classes together as we had the same major, but it wasn't until we were processing our photos in the dark room together during photography class that I realized I wanted to get to know her. Our assignment had been to take photos that expressed our identity. I had tried so hard to create an image with my favorite things but couldn't get it to look the way I wanted. Tracy had done something similar with her name and her's turned out great. I watched the image appear in the processing tub and although I may have been a little jealous, I actually thought "I need to remember her name!"

A semester later we ended up working together with the Campus Activities Board as well as having classes together, but outside of those events, we never really hung out. After she graduated we lost touch.

Anyway, now she blogs and video blogs and I check in with what she's posting on an almost daily basis. She still has the same laugh she did nearly ten years ago and still has really great, creative ideas and makes life look like fun (all things I admired in college). We've had a few conversations about sleep training and cleaning supplies and I think now, through our blogs, if I were to drive thru her city, I'd give her a call and stop by. (I'd like to think that she'd answer!)

Of course, you don't have to follow people you already know, which really opens up endless possibilities for who you can meet and the things you can learn.

Who do you follow? Have you met anyone interesting through blogs or social media? 

African Quilt

I can't believe I actually finished this project! Usually I aim for getting these quilts in the hands of the mamas-to-be before the baby is born, but that just wasn't going to happen this time. Finding time to quilt or do anything crafty has been a challenge for me since William was born. But it was really important to me that I finish this particular quilt for this particular little girl. And I was only three months late!

This quilt was really special to me and hopefully to the little girl who received it. The patterned fabric used was actually material that I had purchased in Gambia,West Africa eight years ago. I had kept it, but really didn't know why until now. One of the girls in our community group grew up in Senegal, which if you're not familiar with African geography, neighbors Gambia. When I went to her house for the first time, I saw that she had a lot of African elements in her decor. From the photographs on her wall to the fabric used for her accent pillows, you can see Africa was and still is an important part of her life. 

When she told me that her baby girl's nursery was a safari theme it all just clicked! I knew what I had to make! I dug out my "African box" with all my memorabilia and got started. 

I wanted the fabric to be the primary focus of the quilt but I also wanted it to look a little more put together than a random patchwork pattern. I found a few brightly colored solids to compliment the patterned pieces and chose the diagonal rows for the quilt pattern. 

I chose to make the back a little simpler but also bright and fun. Also it gave me an opportunity to use a larger piece of fabric to see the real pattern of the fabric. 

I think it turned out pretty well; it's bright and fun for a little girl and her tummy-time and maybe she'll cuddle with it as she gets older admiring the bright colors and special fabric. I was so happy to use this fabric for someone I know will love it.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Weekend in Napa

Chris's parents came to visit us again during the last week in March. The last time they were hear we made a day trip up to Napa, but this time, we stayed for the weekend! It was fun to get a way and spend the time with family. I had to remind myself that getting away with a baby isn't really the same as without a baby. We tried our best to make sure he got his rest during the day but its challenging when the environment is different and you really want to get out and do things. And although the resort suite was bigger than our apartment, it lacked the baby friendly toys we are accustomed to at home (because we didn't bring them!)

We were treated to a night of rest as the grandparents offered to take him for the night. What an amazing gift! It had been six months (well, more than that if you think about the discomfort of sleeping while pregnant) since I slept so well. We were so grateful for a "night off." 

We stopped for tastings quite a few wineries (William and I made it to about half of them in between naps) The first one, Paradigm was fantastic. It was small and not quite built up (fancy) as a lot of them that we saw along the way, but the wine was by far the best I've tasted. NOTE: I'm a novice, my opinion only really matters to me! But seriously, delicious. We took a tour of their winery with a really down-to-earth but very knowledgable man. He reminded me of an auctioneer friend I had back home; he could talk to just about anyone and be comfortable. (He didn't talk fast, but for those of you back home, you'll know who I'm talking about!) I'm always amazed by the science and skill behind making wine. The process is long and very specific. They use so many different types of barrels to enhance certain aspects of the wine and it's not guess work. They know what they are doing! (And I just taste it and say "yum!" Ha)

The last winery we stopped at was Hess. The vineyard is actually one of the oldest in the area. And their story goes back to the prohibition. The wines were very nice and they had several to choose from. Unfortunately, now I can't remember which I liked best. Their property was really pretty and it was a gorgeous day (the previous day it was cold and rainy).

We also enjoyed their company a few days before the drive up to Napa. They spent some time with William when they arrived on Wednesday before his bedtime and then joined us for dinner. On Thursday night we went out to eat and then went to the California Academy of Sciences for their "Night Life" event. And on Sunday evening we ordered take out and played games until it was time for them to head back to the hotel before their flight home.

We loved having them visit - and getting to see William again after 5 months! We'll be seeing them again in a few months when we fly to San Antonio for another cousin's arrival!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Baby B: Six Months Old

April 1st will no longer be "April Fool's Day" but William's Half Birthday. Can you believe this little guy is six months old already? I can't! (Yes, I say that every month, but I'm not kidding.) He weighed in at 15 lbs 8 oz. and is 28 1/4" tall/long. Although he is still a tall and lean baby, he has filled out a little.
(Can you tell my block idea isn't going to last?)

William started moving around a lot more this month. Not crawling yet but he is able to squirm his way across his blanket and reach for his toys. He is rolling over a lot more, often as a way of moving to his desired destination.

We started introducing solid foods this month (not technically solids, but real food--pureed style). I am attempting to make homemade baby food, most of which is fairly easy and straight forward. Oatmeal was my first attempt and although the first serving turned out well, reheating it the following day was more than disappointing. I decided to purchase his grains for the time being. So far he has tried oatmeal, avocado, banana, squash, green beans and rice cereal. His favorites seem to be banana and squash, but likes playing with the spoon more than actually eating the food.

We didn't travel much during March, but finished the month with a weekend away with "Nana" and "Papa" Babiak in Napa. More on their visit later!

His sleep routine has come a long way since his 4 month check-up, which is when we were quite desperate for help. He now wakes up 2 to 3 times a night often going for 4-5 hours at least once! Believe it or not, this is a huge improvement. His day time naps are a little more predictable but they change just about as fast as he grows.

We are enjoying our little boy. He is certainly starting to feel less and less like a baby (especially since he's no longer the youngest baby in our circle of friends).