Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hap-hap-HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

"Happy Birthday to yooouuuu, Happy Birthday to yoouuuuu, Happy Birthday to Nick, Danny, Marie, Phillip, Dad, Josh, Kim, Kaitlyn, Jason, Katy, Joshua, and E-mer-son... Happy Birthday to you!".


This summer has been an amazing string of birthday celebrations. From Nick's Pirate Party to Phillip's surprise party at our pool, to Joshua's rained-out but very fun lego themed party, to Kim's birthday weekend trip to the lake shore to Emerson's dinosaur Party, it has been a very eventful summer! Thank you for inviting us to celebrate with you and your children, and we are thankful every day that you were born and that we get to be your friends.


Above: the dinosaur I painted for the "Pin the party hat on the dinosaur" at Emerson's party, and below, Kim's birthday dinner at the uber cool Top of the Hill restaurant in Chapel Hill.

Taking the Baton

This is Sharon, my gorgeous boss, and the Director of Recruitment, Admissions and Financial Aid at the UNC School of Social Work. Do you see those gifts around her? Just another reminder that our three weeks of job overlap have come to a close, and that from next Monday on, she will be off to the wonderful world of motherhood while I cry and wave good-bye and cry some more.


Well, okay, not really. It's more like a high-five as we trade places: she goes out for maternity leave and I return from mine to take on some of her responsibilities part time for the year. And I can honestly say that so far, I love her job. I have had many people ask how work is going, and I can't think of any other work I'd rather be doing. The fall is very recruitment heavy (in preparation for the application deadline at the beginning of next year), so much of my work so far is interacting with prospective students, participating in recruitment activities and events, and working on strategic new advertising techniques. Come January, we will be in the throws of admissions, with rating applications, sending out acceptance letters, and working on the financial aid packages and scholarships we can offer particularly competitive students.

Some of my favorite things so far about working where I work are the extremely nice people I work with, and the fact that a lot of my job is interacting with interesting people who are passionate about making some change in the world. Whether we have that ambition or not, I think there has got to be something said for people who take up the formidable task of tackling social problems.

Some of the hardest things about working have been leaving Gigi, having her refuse to eat from the bottle until just this week (yes, she finally got it!), and trying to funnel down a full-time job into my half-time hours. I am trying very hard not to set a precedent of working more than 20 hours a week, because I want to be a mama bear and protect my time with Giovanna.

And finally, the most unexpected thing I have had to learn about working half time is that my days off are like gold: whether I choose to do fifty errands and visit people and play all day, or whether I choose to kick up my feet and watch movies or nap all day, I want to make a conscientious choice as to how I use those hours. When a lazy day rolls by and I haven't been mindful about my freedom, the evening comes and with it the feeling like I've just let something good slip through my fingers...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Head Tourniquet

Gigi's not much for oversized flowers on her headbands, but our friend Nicole makes littler felt flowers that match our little girl. With that headband and her poof of wavy hair, Gigi looked like such a big girl. Slow down, Sister!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pinapple Princess

Giovanna has grown into the most amazing little girl. We liked her before, but she is seriously starting to surpass any expectations we had. She laughs and smiles and interacts so easily, and she makes it hard to be unhappy around her. She is mellow, and content, and loves to talk. It is amazing how different she is than she was even just a few weeks ago. This whole parenting thing is just getting better and better...


Recently an elderly woman told me, "I like her because she and I have the same thighs".


And if you want to hear Gigi's voice...

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Little Lady

Guess who got her toe nails painted? Yep, little Miss Gigi. We showed up at our friends the Bramwell's house last night for dinner, and Susan was armed with a brand new bottle of pink nail polish. Gigi's toe nails are half the size of the brush, so precision wasn't our first priority, but I think that she did a great job considering that she had a moving target the size of a lentil bean. I paint my toe nails all of once every three years so it wasn't on my list of "to do"s for Gigi, but I have to admit, seeing those cute little pearls at the end of her feet is kind of fun.


Look at those little sausages! They can barely stay parallel! Love it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Jordan Lake, aka Why Did It Take Us So Long...?

Why did it take us all summer to get to Jordan Lake? No idea. Our friends invited us to meet them for a day at the lakeshore on Saturday, and when we arrived after a scant half hour drive, we were really disappointed that this is the first time this entire summer that we have ventured out to Jordan Lake. In fact, it was our first time to the lake since we moved here three years ago. We really need to get out more.


It was a bit warm and muggy, but overcast for most of the day, which offered us the added convenience of getting a sunburn without even noticing. Even Gigi got a little patch of pink skin on one shoulder.


Kinsey and Eliza were very busy digging in the sand. The lake shore had a very gentle slope to it, which made for perfectly shallow swimming for the little ones. Below, Marcos, Camille, Sharon, Kim, Kaitlyn and Jason start on lunch. My goal before we left was to avoid spending a lot of money on an ornate picnic, and just use up what we had at home. From our CSA box of fresh local produce, we had the perfect makings for ratatouille! Not exactly picnic food, but it did the job.


Beautiful Kim and Kaitlyn. Watching Kaitlyn sit contentedly in the sand made me wish that Giovanna could sit up on her own, and run her fingers through the sand too, but maybe next year. Then again, next year we'll probably be chasing her down the beach.


But Giovanna wasn't exactly missing out on the fun. Bedecked in The World's Cutest Bathing Suit, Daddy took her in the water for the first time ever. We have a pool at our apartment complex, but we've avoided taking her in yet, because the chlorine seems a little harsh for her tender skin.


Cellulite on a toosh has never looked so good! Marcos and Gigi scoping out the waves.


And the verdict was that Gigi was awesome in the water! She didn't splash and giggle like older babies do, but she was happy enough and totally unfazed by the slight difference in water temperature. All in all, a happy baby and a great trip to the lake!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I really like Marcos

I really like Marcos.

I really like Marcos because he has stepped up as Mr. Mom this week because I have started working.

I really like Marcos because when Gigi decided not to take a bottle today while I was at work and when despite calling me three times he couldn't reach me, he simply left her in her crib to cry until she fell asleep, and he only felt sad but not angry.

I really like Marcos because after he brought baby to me at work and I stepped out of my five-hour long meeting for an emergency feeding, when I called him a few hours later and he said "Guess where I am" the answer was, "I'm at Gymboree looking at the 60% off sale".

I really like Marcos because even though he completely forgot to bring the diaper bag on his Gymboree shopping trip, he picked me up after work in a great mood, with a happily sleeping baby in the back seat.

I really, really like Marcos.


video

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Stuff. Stuff. Stuff.

Last year I had a home-decor-blog-reading stint. We were getting set up to move into our new apartment and I was shopping for ideas, so when I had a few minutes of down time, I would browse my favorite design blogs to see who around the world was shuffling the things in their house in the most attractive way.

But it didn't take me very long to notice something frightening: suddenly, I had wretched cravings for a bunch of really pretty, but completely non-essential stuff.

Stuff.

Stuff.

Stuff.

Stuff.

Stuff.

Luckily for me, and my husband, and my pocket book, I shop by putting pretty things in my basket, rounding the store, and putting them back on the shelf. I really only need to hold onto things for three minutes before I'm satisfied.

A friend recently wrote on facebook that she read somewhere that people who spend their money on experiences and memories are happier than people who spend their money on stuff. I think we plan on having enough money someday to do both, but right now we have too little money to do either, so we find our happiness in...


...laughing at our baby's silly faces, and enjoying our thrift store treasures.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Four Months and a visit with the Doctor

Today we visited our pediatrician Dr. Goldbach for Gigi's four month check-up and immunizations. If you want to feel good about your baby's looks, I'd highly recommend a trip to the southern damsels that work as nurses in the Chapel Hill Pediatrics office: they will make you feel like you gave birth to a celebrity.


One of the highlights of the visit was finding out how much our chunker weighs! We have tried to do the luggage weigh-in system of having Marcos stand on our cheap bathroom scale, read the weight and then have him hold Gigi to see the difference, but we were wary of its accuracy and so we have been looking forward to seeing how much she weighs on the Doctor's scale. The reading shown below is in kilos, but she is nearly 16.5 pounds! Even I was shocked! At 16.5 pounds she is in the 94th percentile for weight, and with 25.5 inches of cuteness, she is at the 90th percentile for length. We have just got a big girl on our hands.


In other news, everything checked out completely normal. Dr. Goldbach was surprised when we told him that she hasn't rolled over yet, because when he was moving her hips around she had all it takes to start being mobile. However, he said that often babies will flip over initially on accident when they are really mad and flailing, and since Giovanna has started sucking her fingers, she only fusses for a few seconds before she pops her fingers in her mouth and calms herself down. But maybe someday soon...

Monday, August 9, 2010

First Day of Work

Today was my first day of work, and I have a really good feeling about this... When I showed up this morning at the School of Social Work my boss Sharon was also wearing a green shirt and a knee-length black skirt, and I took it as a very good omen.


Sharon and I met with a prospective student in the morning, and I was able to sit back and try to open my brain so that Sharon's information could pour in. It was exciting to be part of the recruiting process for the UNC School of Social Work, but also humbling because frankly, I have a lot to learn. Being on the student side of the program has given me experience as a recipient of the education, but being on the other side of the table requires a lot of context that I don't yet have. Luckily, Sharon was wise enough to give us a few weeks of overlapping time, so that I will be competent when it is time for her to go into Mommy mode. I find myself hoping to bits that her amazing little boy finds womb dwelling very comfortable.


Oh, and the rapture of getting to see Gigi at lunchtime! When I got to hold her and snuggle her and rub my face on her soft cheeks it was the most amazing feeling... I was busy enough at work that I didn't sit around experiencing baby withdrawals, but the reunion must have triggered the release of copious amounts of dopamine in that brain of mine, because I was so elated to see her again. The schedule worked out very nicely today, and when Marcos picked me up for a break we were able to eat together to celebrate my new job, and I was able to feed Giovanna at home. Miraculously, even though I had brought the breastpump to work disguised in my little lunch cooler, I didn't have to use it at all. I highly doubt that every day will be so lucky, but I was grateful to have the transition roll in so smoothly...

Fancy fannies...

It's that time! We just switched Gigi over to cloth diapers this weekend. This has actually been in the plans since before she was born, but we were waiting until her pee schedule was a little more regular, and we were a bit more courageous. Turns out that it's not half as hard as we had envisioned, although she still has lovely little mustard squirts for poops. When she starts eating solid foods our minds may change, but like my friend Becca said, "Once it becomes your 'normal' it will seem as easy as any other system". What do you think? Total fashion statement, or what?


These cloth diapers are the BumGenius 3.0 diapers with fandangled snaps that adjust to fit your baby until she or he basically moves on to the potty. At my baby shower ages ago, I suggested these diapers as a good "group gift" for anyone who was looking for ideas, and my friend Jesica who was organizing the gift reported that the best reactions came from the older generation: people who raised kiddos in a time when they didn't have the option of disposable diapers pretty much think we're crazy for choosing the "inconvenient" road. But crazy or not, I can't tell you how fabulous it is to think that we don't have to take grocery bags bursting with nasty diapers out to the dumpster anymore. Some people opt for cloth for ecological reasons, and some for financial reasons (cloth ends up easily saving families over a thousand dollars per kiddo), but with how great and spiffy the modern day cloth diapers have become, my reason is pure aesthetic value. Just kidding, but thanks Heaven we have come far from prefolds and large safety pins.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Addicted!

The other day, Marcos had a song going through his head for hours on end.

He looked up the song on youtube to try to figure out who sings it and what those darned lyrics were.

It was Feist, and the song was "1, 2, 3, 4". Our favorite version was the one she recorded on Sesame Street.

Gigi heard the song, and we could not peel her eyes from the computer screen! It was the first time she had ever focused so intently on the boob tube. Since then, we've had to pause movies we're watching if it is time for her to eat, because I feed her on the couch and the couch is across from the computer monitor. She lays on the boppy with her body turned towards me, but with her neck craning to see whatever we are watching!

But I'll be darned if this song ain't catchy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

T minus one week...


In one week from today, I am going to start working at the UNC School of Social Work. Some part of my brain keeps telling me "Do a ton of fun things this week, because next Monday your life is going to end", but when I back up a bit mentally, I am confident that after the initial adjustment to being in a professional setting and away from my little love, this is going to be just the thing for me. I love my life as it is: happy, social, full of wonderful friends, a beautiful family and steady personal growth, but I think that I can handle 20 hours of professional development a week and that it will have important implications for me down the road.


Interestingly, one of my greatest struggles concerning this whole "work" thing has not been about being a good mom - because I think many moms are made better by having a bit of their own thing besides their children - but my greatest struggle has been questioning whether or not I will be able to do this job well. During my graduate school education I was an intern in two separate social work settings, and one of my supervisors was total poison for my confidence. Her feedback to me was so measured and staid that it always left me wondering how she really felt about me and my work, and I find it so interesting that her influence is reaching me even now. I even find myself wondering if I will be organized enough to do this job well: organized? Get real, Voice of Doubt... As a child I used to rearrange the canned food in my Grandmother's pantry in neat rows according to their categories: meats, soups, veggies, fruits... and this was what I did for fun. I can be the epitome of organized! WOMAN, GET OUT OF MY LIFE!

There, I feel better already.

So, just a few things left to do before next Monday. One of the funner tasks is to watch "The Devil Wears Prada" again, just to practice the feeling of a young woman with horrendous fashion sense moving into a high powered work setting where looks matter. Okay, so social work and the fashion industry may not be the same thing, but my wardrobe is a far cry from "business casual" and I am kind of excited to have a reason to dress up. Did I tell you that I will be stepping in for the Director of Recruitment, Admissions and Financial Aid for the Masters of Social Work program ranked #8 in the nation? Yep. Just a wee bit excited...