Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What do you think that Natalie Portman will name her baby? I am so excited to see what she chooses, I think it will be awesome.

What do you think that Natalie Portman will name her baby? I am so excited to see what she chooses, I think it will be awesome.

Answer here

Friday, December 10, 2010


That "CRUNNNNNCH" was the sound of the stress-monster gnawing on my head.

In the next two weeks, Aaron and I have to:

-finish Christmas shopping
-get married
-go to two doctors' appointments
-pack all of our belongings
-move said belongings to new house
-clean up our old, filthy, messy house
-unpack stuff at new house
-pack for austin
-work 176 hours between the two of us
-drive to Kansas City with an almost-fourteen-month-old who hates riding in his carseat
-fly to Austin with an almost-fourteen-month-old who hates sitting in our laps

And it's such a paradox, because I am SO EXCITED!!! for all of these things, but at the same time, I'm dreading having all of them put together.

I guess that's the thing about the holidays. As a kid, you're like, "No school! Yeah! Cookies! Yeah!" But as an adult (especially as a working parent), it's just "I have no money, but I have to buy presents. I have no time, but I have to do a bunch of extra stuff. I have no energy, but I have to be jolly. Great."

Don't get me wrong, I freakin' love Christmas. Seriously. It's my favorite. ("I just like to smile! Smiling's my favorite!" "Make work your favorite. That's your new favorite.")

Christmas has just taken on a whole new facet, now that we have to travel - and by have to I don't mean "UGH. I guess we have to." I mean, "We do not have an option. It's Christmas, and we HAVE TO be in Austin. Duh."

Another new facet - the MONEY! Dear God, presents get pricey when you add them all up. Yeah a $15 might not sound like much, but when you have 25 people to buy for? That's $375! Besides, not everyone gets a $15 present. So you're lookin' at a good $450 when it's all said and done.

Sidenote: My dear, darling cousin Becky just shaved a significant amount off of that number! I luff her!

Anyway, enough complaining. This is my fave holiday. The smell of Christmas trees, sparkling ornaments, yummy food, cider, COOKIES, and most of all, family and friends. I cannot wait to give every one of my family members GIANT hugs. And to sit around the table with them, playing a very enthusiastic game of Apples to Apples. And to fit as many cousins & siblings as we can on Grandma's couch. And to drink wine (legally!) and give Declan his first tastes of macaroons, pecan balls, gingerbread, bourbon balls (NOT, haha, those are for ME!). Maybe even cheese cookies! Please, Mom? :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh Hi

Declan is going through an adorable phase of saying "Oh, hi!" all the time. We wake up in the morning to baby breath on our faces, Declan's eyes an inch away from ours - "OH HI MAMA DADA HI DADADA HI!"

We're moving into the new house on the 17th. Yay! I love fresh starts. And I hate this house. So it's win-win.

Work is good, but crazy. Working with a bunch of girls can get old. The speed of gossip in that place is amazing or disgusting, depending on which side of the gossip you're on. ESPECIALLY regarding pregnancy. We have six pregnant girls (out of about 30 total) and everyone is *obsessed* with figuring out who's next. I have been asked about twenty times in the last two days if I'm preggo.

Nope. Just too much Thanksgiving food, people. Leave me alone.

On a happier note, thing's I'm loving right now:

Raising Hope.
Christmas shopping.
Planning for the new house.
Plain White T's "Rhythm of Love".
The Boden and MiniBoden catalogs that arrived today.
Getting back to writing again (I was up til midnight last night, starting a new story. It felt wonderful!).
My Pandora station that I have customized so much that I'm thumbs-upping EVERY song.
Teaching Declan to catch snowflakes on his tongue.
Whole wheat chocolate chip waffles.

Oh yuck. Why is everyone in love with this stupid song that's on Glee? "Time of my Life?" Give me a break. I mean I love me some Glee, but this song is cheesy and overdone.

Way to ruin my happy list!

Better redeem yourselves with the next song, New Directions!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Baby's First Stomach Flu

We've been through a heck of a week here at the little white house. At the end of last week, Aaron came down with some weird tummy bug... but he's forever having tummy issues, so I kind of blew it off. I mean, I could name five things off the top of my head that Aaron ate that day that could have made him puke (a whole box of graham crackers, raw eggs, a half gallon of milk, questionable leftovers, outdated hot sauce... I could go on.)

But then, in the wee hours of Monday morning, I woke up to vomit on my shoulder, courtesy of Declan. Change the sheets, stay up with him for a while, back to sleep. He seemed fine, except some weird messy diapers here and there.

And THEN, Tuesday night, I woke up from an afternoon nap with Declan and felt super queasy - BAM. It hit me hard. I was head-in-the-toilet for hours. And Declan thought it was the funniest thing. He stood there beside me, laughing, pulling my hair, patting my back, trying to reach in and play with the potty water... hey, Mommy was playing in the potty, why couldn't he?

But we're through it, it's over, and I'm glad. I don't know how parents deal with any sickness longer than 24 hours. Of their own, I mean. Sick kids, they're a pain. You feel bad for them and cuddle them. Sick parents? They still have to do all the work! I had to boil raviolis and heat up veggies for Declan while gagging and heaving. I had to get him ready for bed, put him to sleep, brush his teeth... Before Declan, I would have just been curled up miserably on the bathroom floor all night.

On a happier note, we're all starting to get really excited for our trip to Austin! Aaron's dad has ever-so-generously offered to drive us to and from Kansas City, so we changed our flights - we're now arriving in Austin at 5:30 pm on Christmas Eve!!

Aaron's requirements for the trip are - watching football, sleeping in, The Salt Lick, playing with Daisy, and lots of cookies. My requirements are - spending lots of time with family and friends. Luckily, I think that all of these things are probable!

I have a very tired baby who only took one nap today, for less than an hour. Off to bed!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


(Relatively) late night nostalgia.

My favorite eras of the past 2 years.

Christmastime, 2008 - Home from college, sleeping late, staying up later, talking to Aaron on the phone allll the time, seeing friends, basking in family.

Late summer, 2009 - I hated bedrest while I was on it, but now it sounds like a dream. Lounging at the pool, on Sue and Becky's couch, watching Dexter snuggled on the futon, feeling Declan squirm in my belly.

Late winter, Early spring 2010 - Getting into a fabulous routine, babysitting Beck, walking to the store, jamming to KGSR, nursing, watching the baby blossom

The past couple of months, 2010 - Even better schedule, steady job, a walking, babbling, clapping, laughing toddler! Cuddling up in bed at night after splashing in the bath.

Right now. A sleepy baby pointing to (read: poking) my eyes, nose, mouth, ears, as I write.

Small Things

- We're pretty much well again... finally. I had a tonsillitis flare-up for a few days, but they're back down to normal. Declan still pulls at his ears, but no more runny nose and we finished the antibiotics tonight. Friday we go back to the doctor to see if all of the fluid is gone from behind his eardrum.

- I am so excited that it hit 70 degrees today, November 9th! Like Texas all over again. But I heard that we're in for snow in the next couple of weeks, once this heat wave moves through. Darn.

- Work is crazy hectic, but I still like it. Every once in a while it hits me how valuable all of the adult interaction I get at work is to me. This time last year, I was basically a shut in. I would have killed to just casually chat with a group of friends for a few hours every day.

- Also at work, we have FIVE pregnant women. Well, one is the wife of a male employee, but he's having a baby, so that counts. They say births and deaths come in threes, so everyone is on the edge of their seats waiting for a sixth to make the announcement. It will NOT be me, but I'm excited to see who it is! (Although that rule of three thing hasn't held true at all from what I've seen.)

- The dad on Raising Hope (which is my pick for best new TV show this year) is really hot. The mom is very pretty. The son, eh. The dad? Yeeeeah.

- Tickets are booked for Christmas! Flying from Kansas City to Austin on December 24th, arriving at 8:45 pm. Austin to Kansas City on December 31st, leaving in the afternoon, I don't remember the time exactly.

-Now Declan is throwing a giant screaming fit because I won't let him have a SIXTH graham cracker. Jeez.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Not looking forward to winter. Hence the title. Also because Declan has learned to shake his head "no." He can't say it yet, thank goodness, but he's pretty clear about shaking his head.

Okay but the main purpose of this blog post is to sort out my feelings about house hunting. You know, when you're car shopping, there are obvious things everyone wants - the safest, nicest looking, best gas mileage, newest car for the lowest price. I'm sure I forgot something there, but you know what I mean.

Anyway with houses, everyone wants different things. Even Aaron and I, looking for a house for the same family with the same stuff, want different things.

So I decided that the best way to do this would be to make a list of the things that would be in/at our dream house (for right now, and for our budget, not our real Dream House) and then when looking at places, we just get as close as we can to this list.

Our dream house would actually be a ground floor apartment (to lessen heating / cooling bills).
It would have a little fenced area outside the back door, just a patio and a small grass area for Bruce to pee in.
Inside, it would have hardwood floors throughout (or at least in the main areas), modern appliances (including a dishwasher!), and quality countertops.
Central heat & air is a must.
It would have two bedrooms and one or one and a half baths.
It would have lots of big, nice windows that shut properly.
It would come with good blinds / curtains!
There would be good water pressure and no stains on the bathroom fixtures.
It would have modern, non-flourescent lighting.
It would accept big dogs, without a huge pet deposit.
Utilities (electricity, gas, water, sewage, garbage) would be pain by landlord.
We would have a one or two car garage, with room for some storage (out-of-season clothes, strollers, baby items to save).
Rent would be less than $800 / month.

Of course there's lots more that I would love to have, but then we start getting into the realm of wishful thinking. Aaron wants to go look at an apartment this week that's in a great location (just east of downtown, closer to my work, the elementary school, the park, Lindsey, etc.) and is 2 bed, 1 bath, but I highly doubt that it has a fenced area (that was probably wishful thinking, too) and it's probably carpeted and a little outdated - every apartment around here is.

Oh well, we'll keep searching! It's so much easier in a big city, there are *always* apartments available, all over the place. Here, it's like no one rents. No one at all. Except us.

Boo hoo.

Okay, see ya! Off to bed, finally.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Declan and Aaron are taking a pre-trick-or-treating nap right now, then we'll roll out! I'd like to take Declan by St. Francis first, there are a few residents who wanted to see him in costume.

Then we'll meet up with Holly and Spencer for real trick-or-treating! Oh, Declan still needs a plastic pumpkin to put candy in! I forgot all about that. Well, it's not like he'll actually hold it...

Then we're going (in costume!) to Allyson's for dinner. Unfortunately their town's trick-or-treating was last night, so we won't be handing out candy. I love handing out candy!

Well, better get a move on. I have to get dressed, clean a little, get Declan's dragon costume ready (pictures to come!) and let Bruce out to pee.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sick With a Capital S

Boy, we have been through the wringer this past week with Declan's ear infection. The Friday after his birthday, we went back to the doctor, and the infection did not seem to be getting better with the amoxicillin, so he was prescribed Sulfamethoxazole. Saturday evening, I noticed some hive-like red dots on his lower back, but blew them off as a heat rash because he was dressed warmly and running around outside. He gets heat rashes easily, no big deal. When I got home from work on Sunday, he was covered in spots. Literally covered, head to toe.

We called the doctor, he said to stop using the Sulfamethoxazole, Declan must be allergic to Sulfas. Okay... so then on Tuesday he was prescribed a new antibiotic, Cefdinir. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this one kicks that infection in the butt. Because during this whole ordeal, Declan has been running high fevers on and off (102-103).

I am so ready to have a healthy kid again!

Grandma emailed me the other day, and a good half of her letter was about the various illnesses that my extended family is dealing with. I don't know if it's being a parent or being an adult or what, but it seems like I'm hyper-aware of every single little bug that's going around. Coworkers mention that their kid has such-and-such symptoms, and I'm like, "Oh, yep, that's what so-and-so had last week, it should be gone in 3 days. Now please go bathe in Purell because I don't want your germs."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Letter To My One-Year-Old

Dear Declan,

You are passed out on the couch right now, snuggled in your Boppy pillow. You have a fever because of an ear infection, on top of a cold, on top of teething. You are a total mess.

But despite all of those things, you've still been a wonderful, joyful little boy today. I took you to St. Francis, the nursing home where I work, to pick up my paycheck and visit with the residents. You smiled so big at all of the old ladies who wanted to kiss on you (showing all five of your teeth!) You toddled down the halls, tried to push wheelchairs, and even played peek-a-boo with Darlene through the legs of her walker. You brought so much happiness to so many people today, baby.

I love to watch you explore new things. You are all boy - if there is something you can knock down / push / pull / rip / roll... you're bound and determined to do it. Now that you're walking it's gotten even worse! When we tell you not to do something, you give us the most mischievous grin. Then you keep doing it, usually. And when we pull you away from it, you scream and growl and kick. But once we distract you with a toy (or food, that always works) you're all smiles again.

You're officially done with "baby stuff". Formula, bottles, baby food, nursing... the only holdover is your pacifier, which I am terrified to take away from you because how else would I get you to sleep without screaming? You're taking two naps a day, but we can get by with one nap if we're out and about. No naps is not a pretty sight, though. We don't like no-nap days. You're eating three meals and two snacks a day, plus a bunch of sippy cups of water and milk. Your favorite foods are the four Ps - Pasta, peas, pickles, and puffs. I could add plums in there, too, you love to gnaw on a whole plum, juice running down your chubby little arms.

You are a daddy's boy, for sure. When Daddy is home, you follow him around the house like a little shadow, mimicking everything he says and does. It is too cute. People ask me if I'm jealous that you're so attached to your dad. Of course I'm not. For one, it melts my heart to see you two playing, cuddling, and being best buddies. Second, you were attached to me (literally) for nine months, and then you were basically attached to me through nursing for another eight months. It's about time your daddy had a turn as the favorite parent :)

Declan, we love you so, so much. It's really crazy. When you were born, we were in love with you. But this, a year later, is a whole different kind of love. We don't just love you for being our son, we love you for you - for your personality, for the way you crawl right up to our faces and, with a big grin, yell "DADADA" when you wake up the morning, for your determination, your stubbornness, your friendliness towards *everyone*, for the excited, proud look on your face that you have when you're walking, for the way that you stare into our eyes like you're trying to read our minds. And for so many other things. I couldn't write a letter long enough. This first year has been so much fun. So full of changes for all of us.

I love you, Declan River. And I can't wait to see what the next year brings.


The Other Side of the Birthday

Well, that's it, he's one! No going back now :)

We had a good time celebrating, and it's not over yet. Sunday night we had a party at our house for Aaron's dad's family. Just pizza, cake, and presents. Nothing fancy. On Tuesday (the birthday) it was just me and Declan, chilling out and playing with his new toys. This coming Saturday, we'll have a party with Aaron's mom's family, out at their place.

I am really glad that this birthday didn't work out the way I'd hoped. If it had, I'd be way more stressed and way more broke. Know what we ended up getting him for his birthday? A board book from the dollar store and a 99 cent playground ball. Yup. And guess what his favorite present from his whole birthday is? The 99 cent ball. He and Bruce chase that ball around the house all day long.

But not tonight, because the poor one-year-old is running a fever. He is such a mess right now. Fever, ear infection, runny nose, teething, super gross blowout diapers, angry red diaper rash - it's times like these that really test your confidence in your parenting skills. And I KNOW it's all connected somehow. Like, the teething somehow lowered his immune system, he caught a cold which gave him the ear infection, and one of those things is causing the diarrhea, which is definitely causing the diaper rash. Or something like that.

Anyway, I can't wait for all of those things to disappear so that I can have my happy one-year-old back.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Due Date, One Year Ago!

One year ago, I was due! But as you all know, Declan decided he was way too comfy in there to come out on the 15th. Actually, I'm grateful that he stayed in. Here's why:

His birthday is special. Even before he was born, October 19th was special, because it's St. Aaron's day! I didn't find this out until my induction date was already set, but that just sealed the deal in my mind. Of course he wasn't early or on time, because he was meant to come on his daddy's feast day! And even better, St. Declan's day is my birthday. That's how I knew we picked the right name, too.

If I had gone into labor on my own, it probably would have lasted a lot longer than it did. I know a lot of people hate it, but I think Pitocin is a wonder drug. I had a nine hour labor! I've heard that with first babies, to expect 12-24 hours of labor. Nope! Going in pain-free, not having to second guess "should I go to the hospital?" "are these contractions?" etc. was totally worth the i.v. drip.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Noooo... I think Declan may be sick for his birthday. We're on the mend from a cold we got a couple of weeks ago, I'm totally better, Declan was just dealing with the last of his runny nose... Then all of a sudden today Declan is hacking up a lung and totally miserable. Aaron made him a doctor's appointment for tomorrow, we're crossing our fingers that it's not bronchitis AGAIN.

I love that Declan looks just like Aaron. But I hate that he has obviously inherited his breathing / lung / sickness troubles. Aaron was in and out of the hospital as a baby with bronchitis, asthma attacks, etc. Declan is way, way healthier, but I think that if put in the same situations as baby Aaron was (milk allergy, born in the dead of winter, colic, reflux, blah blah blah) he'd probably be in and out of the hospital, too.

Anyway, looks like we're gonna have a sickie on the big b-day. Best case scenario, he'll be feeling all better tomorrow morning and the doctor's appointment will be a regular ol' one-year check up. I don't even want to think about the worst case scenario, because God knows I have a wild imagination.

We have two competing ideas about why his cold suddenly threw in in reverse and came back with a vengeance.

1. We just had a cold front come through, Aaron thinks he got cold in bed last night because *I* didn't put pajamas on him (usually he sweats like crazy and cries because he's overheated, 99% of the time he goes to bed in just a diaper.) I suppose this could be a contributing factor, so he'll be wearing pjs from now until next summer.

2. Aaron insists on sleeping with a fan on. This irritates my throat under regular circumstances, not to mention when I have a cold. Why it would have suddenly made the cold worse when it's *always* on, I don't know. Mostly I just wanted to bitch about waking up with windblown hair.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Year Ago Today

This was me:

I remember how that felt. Heavy.

I still find myself resting my hand on my stomach sometimes. Not that it's anywhere near as big as it was last October, but it's still a little bit... there. But it's empty. Every once in a while, I'll have a gas bubble that feels just like a baby squirming and it is so cool.

For all I complained, I can't wait to be pregnant again. A friend at work is trying to conceive, and I am on the absolute edge of my seat every day that I see her. We're close enough that she lets me know if she started her period / got a positive ovulation predictor test / is having some weird symptoms etc. I am living vicariously through her until I finish my degree and can TTC myself. I think that it will be awesome to have a baby on purpose! Seeing that positive pee stick and being excited, hearing the heartbeat and feeling nothing but joy, making the big announcement to family and friends without shame or fear... Must be nice!

Seven days until my baby turns one. Yipes! I have to go tomorrow and buy some paper plates, napkins, streamers, etc. We're having THREE separate dinners, in order to keep them small and conflict-free. Saturday is Lindsey and her kids, Allyson, Randy and Reid, Holly, Chad, and Spencer, Pete, and possibly some other friends that Aaron has invited that I don't know about. Sunday is the pumpkin patch, then dinner with the Smith family - Kevin, Ronette, her grandkids Kaiden and Braelyn, Tricia, Hawkeye, Logan, and Lauren, Grandma Patsy, and probably more. Then the next Saturday, we're doing a barbecue at the Phipps's. We were going to have another one at our house, but they were already planning a family dinner since Melodee will be in town, so we just combined events. I'm way glad, because our house is kinda little. And by kinda I mean really.

Okay, being way distracted by the new hottie on Glee. Am I getting too old to say that about guys portraying high-schoolers? I'm going to go look up his real age to make myself feel better. .... Oh thank God, he's 21. I don't feel bad at all now.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

One-Year Postpartum Body Check

So it's been just about a year since my body went through a major trauma - childbirth. I'm running a systems check. And whenever I feel like I want another baby in the next 3 or so years, I can ready this, and motivate myself to hold off.

- Difference in pounds between February 2009 (8 weeks pregnant) and now: +10.
- Difference in pounds between October 2009 (40 weeks pregnant) and now: -25.

- Same.

- Have returned to pre-baby size, but a vastly different shape. At least all of my cute bras fit again!

- Looks like Freddy Kreuger's face. Also saggy. But better than a few months ago. I'm hoping in another year it will bounce back even further.

- 1/2 size bigger. Stupid.

So that's that. Still feeling anxious / sad / resentful about this big birthday that's coming up. Of course I'm excited, too, mostly for Declan - he's learning so much, walking so well, having so much fun. I know that the next year is going to be a big hilarious adventure.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Today Declan and I joined his Aunt Lulu and cousin Delana at the Grinnell homecoming parade! I swear, the entire town was there. It was very quaint.

Here's the psychological mystery of the day: why do marching bands make me cry? They don't make me sad, or nostalgic, or any other strong emotion. I was never in one, nor do I particularly *adore* their music, I mean, it's alright, but nothing to cry about... And yet, every single time I'm within 20 feet of a marching band, I tear up. I was lucky that today I could just blame it on my cold. Actually, now that I think about it, the same thing happens with large choirs. The mystery deepens.

Okay, anyway. Our colds are getting a little better, but last night was the worst sleep I've had in months. Declan woke up screaming every half hour or so. When Aaron came home from work at 2:30, he took Declan for a drive so that I could get a little bit of sleep before work. Ugh. It was like having a newborn again! Except harder, because now the magical boobies have run out of magic. Plus he's like 15 pounds heavier, louder and super strong, so when he thrashes around, hits, bites, screams, etc, it actually hurts.

On that note, it's off to bed with us. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

End of the Road

Our days of taking long walks, playing at the park in the evening, and hanging out in the yard with the neighbors are numbered. I feel it in my bones. There's a cold breeze at night, and even during the day, it's not exactly shorts-and-t-shirt weather.

I know it's super early to start whining about this, but I just hate winter. I hate not being able to comfortably spend time outside. I hate having to think about my outfits more than "Is this sundress clean? No? This one? No? Well does it smell okay? Yes? Okay. On it goes."

Declan and I both have bad colds right now. Between that and PMS, I woke up the worst mood EVER. It's a good thing I was off today, because I would have been useless at work. My head is throbbing and full of snot, and my tonsils are rubbing against each other and feel like sandpaper. I can't blame Declan for being fussy, if he feels how I do. I'm fussy, too.

Aaron was kinda sick yesterday, but he felt much better today, and he was such a good sport while I was wallowing in self-pity / kleenex / fleece blankets and being extremely lazy this morning. He definitely had plenty of ammo to start an argument, but he was super nice and kept Declan mostly entertained so that I could vegetate on the couch.

So in return, I got off of my ass this afternoon, went to the grocery store, cleaned out the fridge, and did like five loads of laundry. There are still dirty dishes in the sink, but hey, I have to leave something for him to do, right?

I'm about ready to brush my teeth and crawl into bed next to my snoring snuggle bug. Tomorrow I will try to upload the video I took of him tonight - right after he got out of the bath, we were playing patty cake (he usually just claps the whole time, while I do all of the other motions) and he decided to join in on the "roll it" part! So cute. The video also has him making out with Bruce, and some walking. Yay!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Number Two

No, not poop.

Although I wouldn't be surprised if I did blog about poop one day.

But today, I'm talking about baby number two.

I've been asked about 1,763,245 times when we're planning on "giving" Declan a brother or sister. And I always answer, "It'll be a while!"

I want Declan to be potty trained. I want him to be able to grasp the concept of sharing his parent-time / toys / space with a sibling. I want to be finished with my schooling. I want to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight or below. I want to be financially stable. I want to be older.

Basically, we are looking at 3-4 more years.

While we're on the subject of the next baby, Aaron and I have been discussing names more lately. I hate to ruin the surprise so early, but here are some that we're thinking of:

Archer (almost certainly our next boy name - no stealing!)
Beckett (middle name only, to avoid confusion with cousin Becky.)


Just felt like putting those out there. We're totally open to commentary and/or suggestions, since we have tons of time.

And number two won't be our last. Three is my minimum. Five is Aaron's maximum. We're pretty settled on three, but I might be able to squeeze a fourth in there (out there?) once he sees how fun three is. :)

Eleven Month Update

Blog redesign! Why? Because I caved and got a Formspring (http://www.formspring.me/natalie7s19), and I linked it to my blog, and I had to make it nice and bright around here juuust in case I get more traffic!

Anyway, Declan is officially eleven months and one day old. And he is getting so freaking smart. Just earlier, I was opening the bathroom door (which we keep closed because Bruce is a total trash-hound so the garbage is in there) and carrying Declan (because God knows he has to go everywhere Mommy goes) and he reached out and knocked on the door and said, "Dadadada!" He must have seen me knock on the door while Aaron is showering (captive audiences are the best!) one too many times.

He loves to make motorboat sounds with his lips, he can take up to (but not more than) five steps by himself, he eats all day long, and he's still crazy about bathtime.

His nose scab fell off today :)

Still working on planning his party. I have given up the ordering-super-cute-themed-decorations idea, because it was just going to cost too much money. I'll try and con Aaron into going to a party store sometime, so that I don't have to resort to Walmart paper plates.

Also, family that's reading this, will you put Aaron and me in the name draw for Christmas, and let me know when you draw names? And can we (you) do it kinda soonish? Because there's not that many paychecks before Christmas. Yikes!

More importantly, the new season of House premieres tonight.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Nevermind about the presents. Turns out I misunderstood - Aaron actually wanted to drive an hour to Toys R Us in Des Moines to get gift IDEAS. So we go through the whole store, I'm thinking we're here to buy stuff, then Aaron's like, "Ready to go?" It was confusing and a little frustrating. But honestly, I think I want to order him stuff online. Because I was sorely disappointed in the selection of age-appropriate toys at the store.




Declan is walking!

I've seen him standing on his own a few different times today. So tonight, I was sitting on the floor, he was standing at the toy chest, and I held out my hands... he took three steps! I was thinking it was a fluke, so I tried putting him a few steps away, and he did it again! And again! It's so exciting. He's not too steady, and I think five or so steps is his max right now, but it is coming!

The Presence of Presents

Today we're going birthday present shopping for Declan. Yes, we know it's a month away. However, with our crazy schedules, we're not sure if we'll have another full day to make the trip to Toys R Us and back.

So our only definite buy (in my head, anyway) is a little picnic table. I remember loving mine. Other ideas include a play kitchen, play food, shopping cart, puzzles, books, a toy laptop, and musical instruments. We'll see.

On one hand, I can't wait for his birthday. I can't wait to make a cake, see his face when he opens presents, and celebrate with friends and family. On the other hand, I am really struggling with the idea of not having a BABY anymore.

I am already feeling like I have a little kid. Yesterday he fell down on the sidewalk and scraped his nose. Babies don't scrape their noses. Toddlers scrape their noses. Anyway, he looks silly.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We're On?

Okay, we have the internet again. I hope it lasts this time. It should, since we're paying for it ourselves.

Declan is almost 11 months old now! I am busy planning his first birthday, and I think I've finally settled on a plan: After I get off of work (2 pm), we'll meet up with family and friends at the local pumpkin patch, which has hayrides and stuff, then for dinner we're reserving a room at a pizza place and we'll have pizza, cake, and presents.

In the meantime, we're enjoying our baby while he's still a baby and not a toddler (which will be very soon!) He has four big ol' teeth, he babbles all the time, and when he's not babbling, he's eating. I swear, it's like he has the body and brain of a baby and the stomach of a teenager. Tonight for dinner he ate like 25 mini ravioli, half an apple (diced), and he's on his 3rd graham cracker with no signs of stopping.

Declan is starting to bite us for fun. I don't know what to do, because he doesn't understand discipline at all. Any tips would be great. I've tried yelling (not at him, just like, "OW! That hurts!"), ignoring him, picking him up and putting him on the other side of the room...

Anyway, more later. I forgot how to blog without rambling. If I ever knew how.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A New Era

Since the beginning of college, my life can be divided into very distinct eras.

August 28, 2007 - October 28, 2008: The Party Era
October 28, 2008 - February 4, 2009: The Dating Aaron Era
February 4 - May 22, 2009: The Secretly Pregnant at College Era
May 22 - October 19, 2009: The Waiting for Declan Era
October 19, 2009 - April 30, 2010: The New Mom in Austin Era
April 30 - August 14, 2010: The Cut Off from the World in Iowa Era
August 14 - Present: The Re-Connected Era!

The neighbors gave us their wireless password so we have rejoined the modern world. I am so excited to start blogging again, to share pictures, to keep in touch better... Even the little things like Mapquesting directions, comparison shopping for baby items, and reading the news!

I was able to get online here and there, but with a baby to entertain and / or keep an eye on, I couldn't do much more than check my Facebook and my email. If he was in a really good mood, I might have gotten so ambitious as to Skype someone. But blogging? Posting on forums? Playing games? No way.

And now, I can wait until Declan is napping, or playing independently. No packing up the diaper bag, no walks through the scorching heat, no sitting awkwardly in a public place trying to keep Declan from yelling while I try to connect to unreliable public networks.


Long-story-short update:

Declan is almost 10 months old (on the 19th).
He's crawling, clapping, waving bye-bye, saying Mama, Dada, dancing, eating table food, drinking from straws and sippy cups, and cruising around on all of the furniture and walls.
He's had his first haircut, his first busted lip, his first taste of dog food, and his first round of antibiotics.
He even sent his first text message, when Mommy wasn't watching.
He has two teeth (bottom ones) and one on the way (top one, days or hours from busting through the gum).
He loves goldfish, yogurt, macaroni, lima beans, banana, and chicken fingers.
He's in 18 month size clothes and weighs about 25 lbs.
His eyes are almost totally brown, but these still a bit of green, in the right light.

In family news,

I am working full time as a nurse's aide at a local nursing home. I walk 1.5 miles to work at 4:30 every morning except Saturday and Sunday, which are now my favorite days of the week.
Aaron is working 3 pm to 2 am at a factory making wheels. We see each other for less than an hour a day on weekdays.
We are making good money, paying our bills, and saving up for birthdays and Christmas (when we will be making our big trip to Texas!)
We are thrilled to not have to put Declan in daycare. And honestly, as hard as my job is, it's been really beneficial for me to be forced to be a "real" person - one who gets dressed, showers regularly, and interacts with other adults on a daily basis.
We have a dog named Bruce. He's a 1.5 year old Springer Spaniel. He's hyper and jittery and always underfoot, but he's also great with Declan and a generally good boy. I s'pose we'll keep him.

So that's that! I hope from here on out you'll be getting regular updates and pictures from me. Crossing my fingers that the neighbors don't move before we do!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mommy Tip #6,291

If you're taking the baby in the bath with you, do not expect to get clean. Especially do not expect to shave your legs.

You will be sorely disappointed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

6 Months

For Declan

I am typing this from a letter that I wrote Declan yesterday, so forgive the chronological inaccuracies. I figured I'd better have an electronic copy, knowing how well I do with keeping track of pieces of paper (read: not well at all.)

Dear Declan,

Today is your very first half-birthday. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that you are six months old. For some reason, six months feels so much older than five months did. I know it's cliched, but I get a little teary when I think about how fast you are growing up. It seems like just yesterday I was lounging in the hospital bed, examining all of your tiny parts and realizing that you are mine.

Grandpa and I threw you a little half-birthday party this evening. When you woke up from your nap (which you conveniently took while Grandpa and I ate a celebratory steak dinner), I ground up some green beans and rice and made it into a little patty. We stuck a candle in it and sang "Happy Half Birthday," but I had to help you blow out the candle. Then I tried to feed you your "cake," but that was a disaster. You gagged and made faces, and green beans ended up everywhere.

In general, though, you love food. I feed you one serving of "big people food" every evening, and you get a new food each week. So far you've tried rice, peas (your favorite), carrots, apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, squash, and green beans. Tomorrow night we're either doing pears, blueberries, broccoli or spinach, I haven't decided yet. Anyway, you're a great eater. It's one of my favorite parts of the day, sitting you in your high chair and watching your little face light up as the spoon comes toward you. And after dinner, I always give you a bath, because you like to get your food all over yourself. I'm sure that won't change for quite a while.

Declan, you are such a good baby. You love to babble and squeal, and your belly laughs are literally the best sound I've ever heard. You should see some of the ridiculous things I do to get you to laugh. You're a big chunky boy, at just over 20 pounds. Everyone who sees you, even strangers, want to squeeze your squishy round thighs and pinch your chubby cheeks. I'm sure you'll lose this baby fat when you start to crawl and walk, so I'm savoring the rolls while they last.

You've hit every milestone ahead of schedule, especially sitting up. You're an amazing sitter, and have been for almost a month now. You still tip over sometimes because you're stubbornly determined to get that toy that's just out of your reach. You're not crawling yet, but you're pretty close. Grandpa likes to play with you on the floor in the evenings and help you crawl by lifting your big belly off of the floor. You love to chew on anything and everything that you can get your hands on. All of your toys (and your hands, and my hands, and the couch pillows, etc.) end up covered in drool. You're still toothless, but I think they'll make an appearance soon.

At the moment, we're living in a condo in Austin with Grandpa. Daddy went to live in Iowa almost two months ago, and we miss him a lot. He's working nights at the wind turbine factory, trying to save up money so that we can all move back to Austin when you're older. In ten days, you and I are making the long trip up to Iowa to join Daddy in Grinnell. I can't wait for him to see how big and how smart you've gotten.

You look just like your daddy, Declan. He is so, so proud of you and it's killing him to be away from us for this long. I think you've even inherited some of your dad's personality... sometimes you will whine and pull my hair, and then when I say, "Declan, no," you'll give me this big mischievous grin. But people say that you're most like me, personality-wise. Laid back, and very happy as long as you're being held, talked to, or played with. We will just have to wait and see what kind of a kid you develop into.

Declan, I am so happy to be your mom. I would suffer through those first few weeks of no sleep one thousand times if I knew that I would end up with such a fun, joyful, wonderful baby six months later. I love you.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Calm and Collected I Am Not

Top Five Nerve Wracking things I've done in the last six months:

5. Go canoeing with Declan on my lap
4. Pinch the baby's nipple in the pacifier clip
3. Survive Declan's first bad cold
2. Deal with a horrible, blistery diaper rash on my 1-week-old
1. Give Birth

So number five happened today (and bumped "Getting pooped on while trying to change a diaper in the car" to number 6). It really wasn't that bad once Declan fell asleep in my arms, but my crazy mom brain was going nuts with worries. Is he getting sunburned? Is his hat going to fly off? What if he flings himself backwards hard enough that we tip over? What if when I'm swimming to shore, holding him over my head, my feet get tangled in seaweed and we both DROWN?!

He had a lifejacket on (which he haaated, but of course I wasn't about to take it off of him) so I wasn't going quite as berserk as I might have otherwise. But it was still a relief to hand him off to Uncle David when the canoe landed on shore.

In other news, we're going to Mount Pleasant! I've been trying to finagle a trip up there for months, but my family has always been too busy and / or forgets to call and make arrangements. But now it's official, next weekend Declan will take his second ever out-of-town trip! I can't wait to see everyone up there.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Single Babies

New favorite hobby: making up new lyrics to "Single Ladies" for Declan.

My favorite version so far:

All the single babies! (x7)
Now put your hands up!
Up in the highchair,
Just so hungry
I'm droolin' all over myself.
You decided to feed me
Mushed up peas,
So I stuck my hands in them.

I'm trying to eat them, they're all over me,
You're not paying any attention,
But you had your chance
To keep my onesie clean
So you can't be mad at me.

If you liked it then you shoulda put a bib on me,
If you liked it then you shoulda put a bib on me,
Now my onesie's gonna be pea-stained,
But if you liked it then you shoulda put a bib on me,
Oh oh oh...

My second favorite version (and my new go-to lullaby):

All the single babies (x7)
Put your hands up!
Up in the Boppy,
It's time for a nap,
But I can't go to sleep.
Decided to cry, and you asked why,
I won't stop screaming.

Don't want a blankie, don't want you to sing,
Aren't you paying any attention?
There's only one thing I want,
And I better get it,
Or I'll just keep crying.

If you love me then you gotta put a paci in me,
If you love me then you gotta put a paci in me,
Don't be mad when I scream in your ear,
Cause if you love me then you gotta put a paci in me.
Oh oh oh...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Close Call

Yesterday my computer crashed, and I really thought that it was dead for good. It was giving me "no" symbols, and flashing file folders with question marks in them. It all started when I went to edit some photos I had taken on Picnik - I edited one just fine, but then when I went to upload the next one, the browser kept crashing. And when I tried to open it in another program, the whole computer froze up and turned off.

Luckily, a good man at the Genius Bar started it right up with no problems this afternoon.

But here's what I've discovered. Somehow, 22 of the pictures that I loaded onto my computer yesterday are poisonous. When I click on them, any program that I'm trying to use quits. Which is totally weird, because how many hundreds of photos have I taken from my camera onto my computer with no problems? And for some reason, these 22 are crazy. It's not even all of the photos from that batch, it's just numbers 62 through 84. Number 61 and number 85 work just fine.

So, sorry about the lack of pictures, but I have a cute one to tide you over!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

No Longer

I was changing Declan's diaper on our makeshift changing table (aka the futon). He was just laying there peacefully, letting me wipe his butt, very calm, so I went really quick to throw away the incredibly offensive diaper. I cam back, and he was still laying, calm and peaceful... on the floor.

No more leaving Declan alone on a raised surface. Although he didn't cry - must have gone feet first and slid off. Still, it made my heart leap into my throat when I walked in and he was on the floor. My brave little explorer boy!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The New Mom Excuse

You know how the general public mostly forgives women for looking like a hot mess when they're also toting a little baby around with them? Instead of thinking, "Wow, that lady has terrible personal hygiene and looks like she bought her clothes at a yardsale in 1992. What's wrong with her?" They think, "Poor thing, she probably hasn't had a wink of sleep or a shower because she's raising our future. And it's understandable that she's still wearing her maternity clothes, which are covered in spit-up and baby pee. But look at her adorable new baby!"

Well, now that Declan is five months old, and has reached the size of a toddler, I'm starting to doubt that I can use that excuse anymore. As much as I love my multiple pairs of stretched out yoga pants, it's time to confine them to the house. Along with my paint stained t-shirts and my worn-so-thin-that-I-can-feel-the-texture-of-the-sidewalk flipflops.

I felt stylish today for the first time in a while. I mean, I've made honorable attempts at putting together outfits, but it's tough when you have to consider the lactating boobs (some tops don't fit when they're empty, others don't fit when they're full), the easy access for nursing (must have a low neckline that can be pulled down, otherwise I have to wear something under it), the squishy belly (yes, still) and whether or not I've shaved my legs that morning. All of these combined with ever-changing weather and my poor laundry skills make for a very limited wardrobe.

But today, thanks to a very generous gift from Marcie and some inspiration from my new hobby, browsing style and design blogs, I put together an outfit. I put on jewelry. I brushed my hair! I wore cute shoes. I put on perfume. And I walked to the grocery store with a little more pep in my step because I knew that people wouldn't be wondering why I smelled so funny or why my boobs were totally hanging out.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tough Guy

Declan just had his four-month checkup! Yes, I know he's already five months old. We've been trying to sort out insurance and pediatricians, on top of the moving-to-iowa fakeout, so he's a little behind on doctor's appointments.

He's 20.3 pounds. Twenty point three. Wow. I mean, I know I was guessing he was twenty pounds, but for it to be real... He's huge! And 27 inches long. That means he's in the 90th percentile for height, and off the charts for weight. Woo hoo!

Declan was so cute at the appointment. When the doctor came in he was sitting up by himself on the exam table, and he gave the biggest smile. Dr. Getman said, "Well, I'm happy to see you, too!" He passed all of the baby tests with flying colors. The doctor said that he was very strong for his age. Aaron would be so proud.

Dr. Getman said "The only problem you're gonna have with him..." and my heart dropped. He finished, "Is that people are going to ask why he's not doing things that an older baby should be doing, because of his size. You'll be asked why he doesn't have teeth, or why he's not crawling, but he's only five months old. He shouldn't be doing those things yet. He just looks like he should!" This is true. I even find myself doing it. I mean, he's practically the size of a toddler; sometimes I look at him and think, Why are you acting like such a little baby? Oh, wait. You totally are a little baby. Sorry.

Then the nurse came in and gave him two shots, and he barely cried at all. Just kinda whimpered. My tough little man. I strapped him back in the carrier for our trip home, and he immediately fell asleep. All that showing off takes a lot out of a kid, I guess.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Favorite Things

In spite of my totally jangled nerves, lately I've been really good at remembering to take time and appreciate the things that are not going wrong in my life. Thought I'd share.

My Favorite Moments Of Each Day:

-- Our morning routine: half-wake to baby stirring, pull him close to nurse and cuddle. Fall back asleep. Wake up later because he's kicking me in the stomach, babbling "ABABABAMAMAMA!" Haul myself out of bed, put on a shirt, potty, brush my bangs into a hairdo fit for a sane person, brush my teeth. Go get Declan from the bed, who acts like he's never been happier to see someone in his life. Diaper change, kisses, plop baby into Exersaucer. Make breakfast, eat, retrieve baby, start day!

-- Taking off restrictive clothing at bedtime. Seriously, there is no better feeling. (I obviously don't get out much.)

-- Carrying a dead-to-the-world baby to bed, crawling in next to him, and pulling the comfy comforter over us. (Hmm... so far all of my favorite moments involve the bed. I do love me some sleep...)

-- Baby bathtime. He was in a terrible, cranky mood this evening, so I stuck him in a bath. All smiles! Got him out... back to crying. He was just too tired.

-- Kisses. This isn't really "a moment" because it happens at least 20 times a day, but my heart leaps every time Declan dives for my face and slobbers all over it. Baby kisses will never get old.

Riding the Silly Bus

Today Declan and I went on a big adventure. (Mom - Thanks again for lunch, and I'm sorry that I forgot to regale you with these tales when I got to your office. I was so distracted by everyone doting on Declan that they slipped my mind!)

I got bored and started going stir crazy this morning. I needed to get out of the house or I was going to have to resort to cleaning my room or something. So I got out of the house.

Now I am a planner. I may not seem like it, because I'm also scatterbrained and lazy, but I if I don't have a plan before I embark on an adventure (especially if I'm alone) I will probably end up crying. No joke. Anyway, so I gathered up all of our stuff, looked up how to get to my mom's office on the CapMetro trip planner, strapped the baby into a carrier, and set off to introduce Declan to the wonderful world of public transportation.

We were on the bus for maybe three minutes before a woman boarded who was babbling to herself. As she walked toward us to take a seat, she yelled to the driver, "Don't go yet! Let me sit down first! There's a BABY over here!" She said it the same way that you would yell to your friends, "Guys! Come back! My foot is caught in this quicksand!" I mean absolutely panicked.

Without missing a beat, she sat down next to me and said, "It would have been a shame if he'd started the bus while I was standing. I would have fallen and squished your kid."

I promise. Those exact words.

I just sat there, half in shock, half in fear, as she launched into a rant about how nutritionists and dietitians are all anorexic and bulimic themselves, and have no right to tell her what she can eat at buffets. ...Yeah, I didn't get it either. She then spilled everything that she was carrying - at least one full newspaper, a photo album, and a shoebox full of miscellany - all over the floor of the bus, bent down to pick it all up, looked up at me and said, "Well, are you going to help me?"

More shock. More fear.

It was hard for me to bend down with Declan strapped to my front, but I picked up a few things. I tried to hand them to her. She asked me to hold onto them for a second. So I'm sitting here holding this less-than-sane woman's eraser collection and photo album full of bus passes, comics cut out of the newspaper, and shopping lists. She's telling me all about the time that she graded TAAS tests. I wonder if she actually did grade tests, if she was sane enough once that they let her have some say in children's futures. Her story morphs into a tale of her old boss, a black woman who went to Duke University. I was only half listening - I was busy giving help-me eyes to the normal looking people surrounding us - but apparently this Duke woman stifled her (crazy lady's) creativity. I don't know.

One girl, about my age, caught on to my help-me eyes and tried to butt into the conversation, asking how old Declan was. I told her, smiling. But I wasn't going to avoid the crazy lady that easily. Oh no. She started telling me about the time that she was a college professor. I won't give you all of the details, because she seriously talked at top speed for a good ten minutes about this. But the dead giveaway that she wasn't actually a professor was one word - Syllabus. The first couple times she said it, she said "sibilus," which was funny enough. The subsequent 400 times (okay, maybe four) she said "SILLY bus." Made me giggle. I wasn't scared of her anymore, just amused and still kinda shocked.

I finally got off at Guadelupe and 14th, ready to transfer to another bus which would take me to Mom's office. Unfortunately, the bus that I was supposed to take was unmarked. And we all know how I do without very clear instructions - Not Well. I would prefer it if the buses I'm supposed to get on have big flashing signs on them that say "NATALIE! This is your bus!"

Anyway, I ended up walking from 14th and Guadelupe to 6th and Lamar. I interacted with a few people on the way, but they mostly just wanted to see Declan / talk to Declan / compliment Declan's hat / awkwardly reach out to touch Declan and be DEE-NIED.

At one point, walking down 6th street, I was racing this couple. They were super rich and skinny, and smelled like they bathed in Chanel perfume. I was sweaty. And kinda waddling. I let them get ahead of me, but then at a crosswalk they were too busy chatting about whatever rich, skinny, beautiful couples chat about as they meander downtown, and they didn't see the walk sign. So I breezed by them and took the lead. A couple of blocks later, they passed by me, one on either side. For a split second I was engulfed in a thick cloud of perfume and pretentiousness. Yum. Then they turned into Whole Foods and the race was over.

We had a pleasant visit with mom and the Office Ladies, lunch at Sweetish Hill, and a completely successful and uneventful ride back to the house.

And that is the story of our great adventure.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hello, Norco, My Old Friend...

Yesterday evening, pressure started building up in my ear. At first it was just annoying - sounds were muffled, it kinda hurt. By the time we were done kicking off Becky's birthday season with our family dinner at Rudy's, my ear hurt pretty bad. I could hear my heartbeat like the drums of war.

Back at home, I writhed on the couch, pouring warm olive oil into the offending ear. We went on an emergency 10 pm run to Wheatsville to get some herbs. My dad made me eat a tortilla doused in Rooster sauce, a spicy Asian hot sauce. I will never eat Rooster sauce again.

By midnight, the pain was sharp. Nothing had worked. Well, the Rooster sauce had momentarily taken my mind off of the ear pain, but only because my mouth was on fire, and hurt worse than my ear. I knew I wasn't going to get any sleep. Unless...

I dug that miraculous orange bottle out of the back of the medicine cabinet. The super-strong painkilling narcotics the hospital had given me after I had Declan were going to come to the rescue. Sure enough, I took one and was out like a light.

I woke up around 4 am, when it wore off, to a searing pain on the side of my head. I stumbled to the kitchen, popped in another Norco, grabbed some crackers (those drugs are brutal on an empty stomach) and went back to bed.

At some wee hour of the morning, I woke to a loud POP. My ear started leaking all over my pillow. My eardrum had burst. If I hadn't already been pain-free, I'm sure that would have been a great release of the pressure. But the drugs were still in effect, so it was less miraculous, more just icky. I grabbed a cloth diaper that I keep next to the bed for spit-up, stuffed it under my head, and went back to sleep.

Now I'm deaf in one ear, but no longer reliant on narcotics.

And that is my tale of why I am forever grateful to the nurse that convinced me that I shouldn't forgo the Norco prescription just because my hoo-ha didn't hurt that badly.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Sorry I've slacked. Life has been crazier than usual.

Aaron was planning to come down and get us yesterday, pack up today, and we'd all drive up to Iowa tomorrow and live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, Aaron ate at a not-so-reputable Chinese buffet on Monday night, and fell terribly ill with food poisoning. Then to top it all off, he wrecked his truck yesterday morning trying to avoid a deer while he ran to get medicine. He's not hurt, but the truck sure is.

So now we have a huge repair bill, a sick man, and no way to move to Iowa. At least not until we save up a bunch of money so that my dad can rent a truck and drive us up there. Or until Memorial Day, when Aaron has a three-day weekend.

So send some prayers / positive thoughts to my sick puppy up in Iowa. He's feeling very discouraged right now.

The good part of this debacle is that I'm in Austin for a while longer. I get to spend Easter with my family, and the prettiest time of the year in Texas. So lets make plans, have a picnic, take advantage of my unexpected extension!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

One Week

Out of necessity (read: $$$), the process of moving is on the fast track - I'm leaving in one week.

Seven days to temporarily say goodbye to Austin and everything in it. Seven days to pack up my life, to put everything in boxes and bags, load it in the truck, and drive it 17 hours away, to our little house in a little town where the only store is a Wal-Mart and everyone drives Pontiacs.

(By the way, if anyone has a good answer for the Pontiac mystery, I'd love to hear it. I just cannot figure out for me why Pontiacs are SO popular in the midwest and so unpopular in Texas. These are the things that keep me up at night.)

Aaron is driving down next week, we'll pack stuff up, say our goodbyes, hopefully get one last night's sleep, and drive back. It's going to be tough on him, all the driving, but the end result is us all being together.

In the meantime, I'm packing down here and Aaron is getting our house set up there. We're renting a little fixer-upper in downtown Grinnell. It doesn't sound too bad from what he's said on the phone, but I have a feeling he's sugar coating things a little bit. It's 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, beige carpet, screened front porch, nice back yard, peeling white painted exterior, 1 car garage... your basic little old Iowa house. We're going so start saving up a "fixing fund," so that we can repaint the exterior, rip up the carpet, install central AC/heat, etc.

I am so nervous about moving into a house I've never seen. I trust Aaron completely, but his standards of houses and apartments are considerably lower than mine. So when he says "It's nice," I have to wonder exactly how nice it is.

But I don't have time to waste on being nervous. I have to do so much in the next week, I know it's going to fly by. I have to transfer the lease to my dad's name, call about giving away my porter job, try and get Declan in to see the doctor, pack all of our stuff, and say goodbye to everybody. The first two sound quick and easy but they take up a lot of space in my brain because I'm nervous about them.

Luckily, Declan is going through a wonderful, angelic phase of his life right now. He's all smiles and giggles; he brightens my day and makes things easy on me. He'll be five months tomorrow and is learning so much every day - yesterday he sat up all by himself for almost a minute before tipping over!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Guess who's asleep on the couch?!

It's so nice to have him back.

Also, he got the factory job in Iowa! It pays really well. We're psyched. But we're also talking about Declan and I moving up there to join him. Less psyched about that. But with this new job, we'd have money for me to go back to school. And eventually, we'd come back down here. I made him promise.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Prodigal Daddy

He's on his way!

Aaron left this afternoon, he's going to stop and sleep somewhere and then arrive here in the morning!

I can't wait to see how Declan reacts to being back in his daddy's arms. Every time he hears Aaron's voice on the phone or the computer, he lunges toward it, smiles, and tries to eat it. So I'm expecting a similar reaction to him in person. Lunging at, smiling, chewing on.

Aaron said that his interview went very well. He expects them to call sometime next week. Woo!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Well That Was Fast

At eight o'clock, I was feeding the baby cereal, Skyping with Aaron, and feeling just fine, except for a little tickle in my throat.

At nine o'clock, I was all but passed out on the couch with a fever of 101, hacking my lungs out, and so weak that I could barely pick up Declan to nurse him.

At ten o'clock, I was deliriously chopping potatoes, carrots and onions WHILE nursing the baby (very dangerous, bad idea, never again, I know) because I needed to start the pot roast. Still feverish, still hacking.

At ten fifteen, I was crying because the giant frozen hunk of meat won't fit in the crock pot. So I scooped out some of the potatoes and shoved it in there. It looks like a frosty red iceberg, sticking up sideways and jagged from a sea of veggies.

Dude. Told you I was delirious.

Luckily, Declan is only coughing a little bit, and I know he's not so feverish because his head feels like a cool little bowling ball resting in my inferno of an elbow.

I'm hoping that this sickness disappears as fast as it appeared.

Mommy Guilt

It was a good weekend.

I gave myself bangs. I was trimming my hair (cutting off those crispy ends!) and decided that I needed a change. Bangs it is.

Went to Nadia's 5th birthday party. It blows my mind that she's already five. Feels like she was born just the other day. Watching all of these little cousins grow up os so fun. I feel like I haven't changed all that much since Gabriel was born (I was almost 13 when he was born... so I hope that I have changed, it just doesn't feel like it) but these kids have grown so much.

Sunday I hung out with my mom and Katherine. It's so nice to relax somewhere other than my own house.

Then last night Declan started coughing. I was near tears because I felt so guilty for taking him to Sue's and the party when Gabriel was running a fever and coughing. The whole time we were around Gabriel, my mommy alarm was going off, but I ignored it. Just like I ignored the mommy alarm when I had Declan around Beck while Beck had a cold (in my defense, I was told it was allergies). Now my poor little man has a low fever and a cough, although it's better this morning than it was last night.

Declan was so fussy this morning that he kicked my computer and bowl of oatmeal off of the table during a fit. The bowl shattered, the computer cracked (only minorly, and it seems to work fine, but I was panicked), oatmeal got everywhere, and I had to take a deep breath and count to three. I know it must be hard to be tired and kinda sick, but the flailing and kicking is so not necessary. And then as soon as I got over my stuff being kicked, I felt guilty for being mad at him. I looked down at the screaming, red-faced, frantic little baby, and my frustration faded to a dull roar. I just wanted to comfort him, shush and sway, anything to make him feel better.

Will I ever have a day in which I don't feel guilty for something I've said, thought, or done?

I find myself wondering how much of a difference in Declan's childhood it would actually make if I could go back and do things the way I wish I had done them.

Would he be sick less if I didn't bring him around sick kids, washed my hands more, took him to the doctor more?

Would he grow up to be a calmer person if I didn't get angry when he kicked?

Would he be a happier child if I didn't let him cry a little while I finished my shower?

I think that the answer is probably no. That in the long run, these kinds of things won't be influential, they won't scar him for life. I hope I'm not just making excuses for myself.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Midnight Ramblings

Can't sleep tonight. I had a fun evening over at Julie's house eating pot roast and watching the old Alice in Wonderland. No wonder I didn't like that movie as a kid, the entire thing is one long, creepy acid trip. But it was fun to see it again after many years. And of course, great to see Julie. Declan loved it, too; he smiled a lot and chewed on their whisk. I think whisks are his new favorite toys.

Anyway, seeing Julie again got me thinking about the people that know me best. And it's a tough call. I'd put them in this order, roughly.

1. Declan. Don't know if he counts, as he's not really conscious of my "personality," but he definitely sees the real me, 24-7. I mean, he sees me in all states of undress, crying, talking to myself, swearing and jumping around like an idiot when I stub my toe on the playpen for the four thousandth time...

2. Aaron, duh. Lower than Declan because I do sometimes try to act sane around him. Aaron witnessed my full turn around from college party teenager to stay at home mom, up close and in person. I'd say he's seen me at my worst. Which means for all of you who think you've seen me at my worst... it gets worse.

3. Julie. Higher than my other friends mostly because of the length of time we've known each other. We're going on ten years now, which means that she was around to see me go through an awful lot of awkward phases. And an added bonus for going to camp together, because I am super genuine at camp.

4. College friends. I think I really came into my own during college. Became comfortable with my personality, my body, became more confident and had more good friends. We lived together, we ate together, we had many a deep, philosophical discussion. We also had many an argument, many a drink, and many a OMG-please-help-me-make-flash-cards-or-I-will-for-sure-fail moment. While I have changed a TON since leaving Grinnell, the person who I was while there is still a big part of me, even if I don't let her out of her cage very often.

5. Family. I am pretty much myself around my family, but I'm usually not put in situations in which I do anything noteworthy. I feel comfortable around them, but I definitely censor myself somewhat, and, lets face it, there are just some topics that I do not want to discuss with the same people who changed my diapers. Also, I never ever talked about boys with family until college. Sometimes I wonder if my parents thought I was a lesbian or something, and if they were surprised when I started talking about boyfriends. Because of all the things about myself that I have questioned, my sexuality was never one of them. Just, um, FYI.

6. High school friends. I honestly wish I could go back and have a do-over of high school. It wasn't terrible. But it could have been so much better if I had the confidence that I gained in college. I feel like high school friends got the watered down version of me.

Other people fit in there in-between numbers. Like, I thought camp friends were probably a 5.5, because I was more genuine and outgoing at camp than I was at school, but still pretty straightlaced... then I remembered that one trip to the beach, which bumps a few camp friends up a couple notches. Ah, the beach.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cooped Up

Our first week of Aaronlessness has been... uneventful.

He's keeping busy in Iowa (where it is 12 degrees right now - I'm not allowed to tell him how warm it is here!) building a brooder for the chicks to live in.

Declan and I are just hanging out at home. I'm learning to cook, after being cooked for my whole life by Mom, then Grinnell College, then Aaron. I'm not bad at it, I just need to learn some of the technical things. Like "don't stir rice while it's cooking." And "freezer burn is a real thing and it's not tasty."

Tonight my dad and I are going to Golden Corral because they sent him a coupon for a free buffet since it's his birthday on Thursday. Mine will be like, nine bucks, but that means we'll be eating for $4.50 a person. We spent a good chunk of time last night thinking of other dinners that are about $4.50 - Sonic double cheeseburger and fries, large Thundercloud sub, box of Chik-Fil-A chicken strips - we're definitely eating like kings for the price we're paying. So I'm pumped.

I'm also probably pumped because it will be the first time I've left the house since yesterday afternoon (okay, not the house house but the condo complex, all of which I consider mine). Sometimes I feel like I'm getting cabin fever. I can't wait for it to warm up so that I can spend hours by the pool, which is by far the best part of the condos. My bed with the down comforter comes second, and then it's a tie between Sue's and Grandma's couches for third.

I'm worried about all of the earthquakes. Haiti, Japan, Chile... Texas? We're on a big fault line, ya know.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Putting on my Party Dress

It's party day! Tonight I'm going to my friend/neighbor Marilyn's birthday party. And as un-fun as a 60th birthday party might sound, I'm totally pumped, because it's my first opportunity to dress up and get out of the house in months.

My mom is coming to babysit Declan. I know I'll miss him after approximately 10 minutes, but I'll make myself push through and go to the party, or I'll regret it terribly later, when I'm drowning in dirty diapers and feel like I haven't talked to another adult in days.

Aaron is doing well up in Iowa, though I still wish he was here with us. Even though I know that he would be a total pain in the butt about going to this party. Party! Yay!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back to Bed

Funny story.

Today I was babysitting B, our 3-year-old neighbor. He loves to take all of the liquor bottles out of his parents' cabinet and organize them, talk about them, and just admire them in general. So he was doing that today, but he got frustrated because the plastic handle of tequila had a dent in it. He pushed the tequila away, picked up a different bottle, and announced, "I'm going back to bed, and I'm taking the Crown Royal with me!" And stomps off to his room.

I followed him in, and found him curled up in his toddler bed, hugging the bottle of Crown Royal.

So advanced.

Sometimes I feel like stomping off and going back to bed, too. (And sometimes I feel like curling up with a bottle of liquor, but everyone knows that babies are such a nuisance when they get drunk...) Today I laid down for an afternoon nap, but just as I got comfy and started to drift off, Declan was ready to get up and play. I even asked him nicely if I could take just a tiny power nap, 10 minutes - he said no. Well, he said "baahhgaaauuuoh," but that meant no.

I talked to Aaron. He's been holed up in his motel room all day, watching the WE channel and crying. No joke, he told me that himself. Apparently WE is having a marathon of some tearjerker show.

The baby is about to fall asleep again... I think we'll go for afternoon nap, attempt number two. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day Two

Our second day without Aaron has begun. Not trying to be melodramatic, but it's... a big deal.

I talked to him last night - he was laying down in his backseat nest, parked at a rest stop somewhere in southern Iowa. He said the weather was fine, just really cold. He asked if I was sure that I didn't want to move up to Iowa with him. It took everything within me not to say, "Yes! Turn around! Come get us!" Gotta listen to my head, not my heart, on this one. If we moved up there and chicken farming didn't work out, we'd be stuck.

I actually have a lot to do today, luckily. Keep myself distracted.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Too Quiet

Blogging again, because I couldn't fit all my thoughts in a tweet.

^ Lame. Totally lame. Calling myself out on that one.


Even though there's only one less person, it feels like the house is five hundred times emptier. Aaron is a big person with a big personality. My life has revolved solely around him and Declan for the last two months, since he's been jobless. He has strong preferences, lots of ideas, random outbursts... and now, what do I do? As much as I love Declan, conversations with a four-month-old tend to be one-sided.

I tear up at every little thing. You'd think he died or something. I cried the first time I had to use the bathroom after he left, because I actually had to put the baby in his bouncer rather than just handing him over, saying "Hold him real quick."

This would be easier if Aaron had been gone at work all day for the past few months, but instead we've been attached at the hip. For two months, I literally have not been alone with the baby for more than a couple of hours. We got to share every cute thing he did, argue over every diaper change, collaborate at bath time, everything. I feel like I should be recording every second of Declan's day to send to Aaron, so he doesn't miss out. But I know that he would just laugh at me.

He just called, from outside of Wichita. Says he's bored so he's going to pull over to read and play Scrabble on the iPod that I so graciously let him kidnap. I got a lump in my throat. I wish he were here. The house is too quiet.

Really Gone

Aaron actually left this time. It's been half an hour since he drove away, 30 whole minutes that I've been waiting by my phone, willing it to ring because he came up with a new reason to stay. No luck.

The worst part is that Declan has no idea. He's just napping away, probably thinks his dad is at the gym like usual, coming home in an hour or so. I wonder if, when we go all day without Daddy, he'll be sad. Or worried.

I know we'll both adjust, but it's going to be a rough few weeks.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Baby Model

I just love the faces that Declan makes, but I can never seem to capture them on camera.

Well, this morning, I caught two of the elusive Declan faces.

The "smile-so-big-that-his-whole-body-squirms":

And the "Am-I-allowed-to-be-chewing-on-this?":

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Well, then, nevermind.

So on Monday morning, Aaron packed all of his stuff, stocked up on sunflower seeds and soda, and set off to become a chicken farmer in Iowa. As soon as he pulled away, I sat down and typed out a long, lugubrious blog post about how much I was going to miss him, blah, blah. And just as I was about to click "publish," he called to say that he was coming back home because he forgot to file his taxes.

He says he's leaving on Sunday, after the snowstorm in Iowa is over, but we'll see if that holds true. I think he's just delaying leaving so that he has an excuse to keep making "last suppers" and compelling me to be extra nice to him.

I'm sure I'll write that tragic post again when he really does leave, but for now, I'm going to go snuggle in bed with our sleepy baby.

Oh, also, Declan's eyes are officially turning brown. Just wanted to document for future reference. There's just a small ring of brown around the pupil right now, but I'll bet that it grows in the next few months. Pictures to come soon, when I get the energy to hunt down my camera cord.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Future Chicken Farmer

We went out yesterday to our local free-range chicken farm, to scope out their operation. It was... interesting.

They were having "processing day," which is when they kill, de-feather, chop up and freeze a whole bunch of birds out of this kinda open-air shed next to their house. It was all very hillbilly, with dogs in the yard and scrap metal laying around and chicken guts on the ground.

Aaron is really committed to becoming a chicken farmer, now. He's going up to Iowa this week to get everything set up so that he can get chicks as soon as the snow melts, and start raising his first batch of chickens. Declan and I will stay in Austin, holding down the fort, because our cheap, nice, furnished condo is too good to lose. We'll miss Aaron terribly, though. Once he gets enough money from the chickens, he'll come back and we can hopefully buy a little bit of land, so we can do chickens here.

In the meantime, we all still have the dreaded cold. We're almost over it, but Declan has a lingering cough and yesterday he blew nose bubbles a couple of times. What fun!

Also, I got super bored when I was up with my coughing baby in the wee hours of the morning on Friday and I made a Twitter. So if anyone reading has one, I'm NatAndDec.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Declan has his first cold. It sucks. And I've discovered that the only thing worse than having a sick baby is coming down with his sickness yourself. Trying to blow your nose with one hand while holding a screaming, coughing infant in the other is really quite tough. Last night we got up twice to steam up the bathroom (this poor, lazy mom's version of a humidifier!) because neither of us could breathe.

Sorry, I'm trying not to have a huge pity party here. I'm just bitter because when we finally fell asleep this morning after steam room session #2, Aaron came bouncing in, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, laid down next to me and woke up the baby. On purpose. GAH! The he decided to take Declan in the shower with him, and I was thinking, "Okay, this is good, I'll get some sleep while he showers with Declan and plays with him, I forgive him..." Not four seconds later, I hear banging on the wall between the bathroom and bedroom. "NAAATALIE! He's ready to get OUUUT!" It took all of my strength to heave my exhausted body out of bed to retrieve my now wide-awake baby.

All of the positive energy I have left in my body is being sent to the Goodriches. After a weekend of ignoring my phone, I turned it on and received a text (which I think was part two of two, as it didn't make much sense) asking for my prayers. So I've been sending prayers, vibes, and any other form of energy I can muster up out into the universe.

Friday, February 5, 2010


I remembered the other piece of news that I wanted to say earlier. And all but one of you will be disappointed, because this is only relevant to Julie.

Julie - I finally finished Dexter! I was watching the last episode on the edge of my seat, because I knew from the way you talk about it that something big happens, but it was pretty calm until the last 5 seconds of the episode! And then I was like, "AHHH! Yuck! Poor baby. Geez. So that's why Julie was all worked up about it." So now we can discuss! Sorry I'm so slow.

Belly Laughs

I had two pieces of news, but I forgot one of them. Oops.

The one that I remember is great though: Declan learned to laugh! Last night Becky tickled his tummy, and he let out the cutest chuckle. I tried all evening to make him laugh again, but he wouldn't do it. Then this morning, I was blowing raspberries on him, and he laughed! It is the most wonderful sound in the world.

I made a wonderful dinner last night for Sue, Becky, Grandma, Aaron and myself. Seared and roasted salmon with lemon-ginger butter, mashed sweet potatoes made with apple cider, and swiss chard with raisins, garlic, and pine nuts. Oh yum. And tomorrow I'm going to attempt to make Rick Bayless' Santa Rosa plum galette. It looks simple enough, but I know better than to underestimate the amount of frustration baking can cause.

I promise to take more pictures and video soon, especially of the laugh! Baby D is waking up and I must go change a diaper.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Making a Splash

Today, Declan went swimming for the first time!

I wish I had pictures, but it was just the two of us, and there's absolutely no way to handle a slippery wet baby and a camera at the same time unless you have 4 arms.

Aaron took us to the YMCA, and while he lifted weights and such, Declan and I chilled in the kiddie pool. It was unusually warm (read: bathwater) and full of senior citizens doing their water aerobics and gossiping. Declan absolutely adored it. We will definitely be doing that more often!

The only hard part was showering off afterward. Here's a puzzle for you all to solve: if you have a baby wrapped in a towel, and you need to wrap yourself in a towel, but all surfaces that you could possibly set baby on are sopping wet and probably germy and unsafe, how do you dry yourself off? I came very close to asking the nice naked woman loitering around the shower area if she would hold him for a split second, but she was just so... naked. She kept talking to me about babies and stuff, and I was like, I'm trying really hard to look at your face and not your boobs, lady. It makes it difficult for me to respond appropriately to your stories.

I think the best part of swimming was how quickly Declan passed out afterward. I had barely strapped him into his carrier when he was out like a light. I could tell it was that lovely, waterlogged kind of tired that you get when you tire yourself out swimming, then dry off and get into comfy warm clothes and take a nap. Ahh. Feels good just typing that.

I have one random, unrelated pice of advice for everyone, and myself. Do not fall asleep with a cherry cough drop in your mouth. You will wake up with bright pink drool-stains on your pillow, and a half-eaten cough drop stuck in your baby's hair. Ew.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Want a Bouncy Seat Too, Please.

Declan's "doorway jumper" - known affectionately around our house as the "bouncy seat," "bouncy," or "bounce-a-baby" - arrived this Tuesday. The UPS truck showed up at 9:50 and I had to babysit at 10, so for two long hours I was left itching to open that package and show Declan his new toy! When we got home, Aaron had already set the bouncy up (Sidenote: For some reason Aaron setting up Declan's toys and gear makes me go all mushy inside. It's like the quintessential "daddy" task.) Declan is still a little young for it, as he doesn't yet grasp the concept of jumping, but he does like hanging out in it. And it has a little tray on the front, so we load it up with some rattles and plastic keys, and he's good to go (AKA, throws them all over the kitchen floor in a rousing game of Make-Mommy-Fetch-My-Toys!)

Aaron had an interview at the Omni today. He gets nervous before interviews, and didn't know where the Omni was, so I went with him and waited in the car, parked at a meter on San Jacinto. Declan screamed pretty much the entire time that Aaron was gone. He really did not want to take a nap. I got some weird looks from the pedestrians walking by, partially because I had the window down so they got to hear Declan's wail in full force, and partially because they probably thought that we were homeless and living in my truck or something. I felt like posting a sign on the window that said "We have a house, and the baby is fine. Please don't call CPS."

I've started doing 30 minutes of pilates every day. Pilates is great. It's like combining yoga and mom's old exercise videos. I found a good 20 minute intermediate routine, which is just right for me except when they do sit ups, which I cannot do at the moment because my abs are still SHOT TO HELL. They do not work. I am working up to sit ups. Then on top of that routine I add a 10 minute "focus" routine, either concentrating on belly, thighs, or butt (My upper body gets plenty of workout carrying my 17-pound chunky monkey around all day, I think.) I think these are beginner routines, because even the belly-focused one doesn't ask me to do a sit up. Which is good. Because I can't.

I wish that they made grown-up sized bouncy seats. It looks like a pretty good workout. Maybe I will invent that. And take it on Shark Week to get investors.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Talent Show

Things that I am an expert at:

- Putting a cloth diaper on a squirmy baby
- Buckling complicated car seat buckles
- Picking out baby shower gifts
- Typing with one hand
- Sticking my boob in baby's mouth, in the dark, with no hands

Things I am NOT an expert at:

- Cleaning the house
- Giving baby vitamin drops without him spitting them out or choking on them
- Remembering to put the dirty diapers out for diaper service pickup day
- Rinsing baby's hair without getting water all over his face

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Three Months

Things that Declan can do that he couldn't do before:

- Throw things off of the changing table
- Scoot around on the floor by arching his back and pushing with his legs
- Laugh! Today he actually giggled when I blew a raspberry on his tummy
- Grab his toy keys and shake them
- Projectile spit on purpose - this happened today with the yucky vitamin drops
- Splash hard enough in the bath to get me soaking wet

It's the dawn of a new era... Baby is no longer a newborn, but a little person, who is learning things so fast it's mind boggling. Such as, "When I drop my toys on the floor while sitting in the high chair, Mommy will put them right back on the tray! So I can drop them over and over again to keep Mommy playing with me instead of cleaning the kitchen!"

I had so hoped we could hold off a little on learning that lesson.