All “Eleanor” Posts

1 whole year

I meant to post this yesterday, but, as you can imagine, I was too busy celebrating my daughter’s first birthday! I don’t know how this year flew by so quickly. I remember Eleanor’s arrival like it was yesterday. How is she already a 1-year-old?! All the countless pictures and memories tell me it has been a whole year, but it doesn’t feel like it. It’s just scary how quickly the time goes. Needless to say, it’s been a very bittersweet past couple of days for me.”The days are long,” say other mommas who see me toting my baby around. “But the years are short,” they always add. I’ve heard this a lot this year.

Between lifting her out of her crib in the morning and laying her down for the night, I feel like I’m chasing down the clock.

They mean carpe diem, or something like it: this time won’t last forever, so enjoy the moments while she’s still small. But in my experience thus far, I feel like the days AND this year have flown (no fair). Between lifting her out of her crib in the morning and laying her down for the night, I feel like I’m chasing down the clock. I pull her from the crib, change her diaper and her clothes (sometimes twice, if I’m unlucky), and head for the kitchen. I’m always surprised: eight o’ clock already? But the glowing green numbers on the microwave don’t lie. So I scarf down some toast and we’re off for a walk, and in no time it seems, to sleep again: morning nap. If I’m disciplined, I write, read or do laundry or some dinner prep. Otherwise, I twiddle the time away on blogs and emails.

Either way, the wake-up cry or talking always comes sooner than I expect, and I head her way for diapering, nursing, errands, play, and another nap in the afternoon. And those have been my days since my sweet girl has come into my life. Well, other than the first 6 months. Those were basically spent in the nursing chair. There was a time when I thought that chair might just be my new permanent place of residence. A new place of residence that was not always easy to accept, to be honest. I would have moments of missing my “freedom.” But then I quickly remembered that in a blink she will be 5 and then 13 and then gone and it would immediately cause me to snuggle her closer, grieve a little, and swear to never have a moment of such selfishness again.

Anyway, I’m rambling. All this to say, it has been a bittersweet few days. I miss my sweet, delicious smelling, soft, newborn. I even miss the fussy newborn that we would swaddle and bounce and nurse for hours…There was a real sweetness and intimacy and rawness about that time. My baby-blue, hormonal, momma self would never have said that, but this momma today says it—with all her heart. And then as much as I miss newborn Eleanor, I am so in love with 1 year old Eleanor (she’s amazing, people. amazing) and excited to see more of who this lovely person is this next year and the year after that.

It has been my greatest privilege and adventure to be your momma, Eleanor. Each step of the way I couldn’t imagine loving you any more than I already did, because I was bursting with love, loving as much as I was humanly capable of—and then I do, I love you even more everyday that goes by.
Happy birthday, baby girl.
P.S. Daniel finally finished his side of Eleanor’s birth story a few months ago and he agreed to let me share it here on the blog, so be looking for that post in the next few days!

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Mama Essentials

 

Now that it’s been almost 1 whole year (!) since my sweet girl was born and I became a momma, I thought I’d share some of the things that have gotten me through and been essential to my experience as a new mom thus far. Hopefully some of you new moms/moms-to-be will find this helpful.

1. Milkmaid tea or Mother’s milk tea (tasty and helps with milk supply) or something good and caffeinated after a high-needs, sleepless night is just what the dr. ordered. It’s also just nice to cozy up with some tea at the end of the day, when baby is sleeping, and have a little “me” time.

2. American Apparel (Saves the day again. I’m addicted to that place) bras. I never got into nursing bras. They were too expensive for my blood (at least the good ones that won’t fall apart on you after one wash). So I just got a ton of these and these they’ve worked great for me. Super easy to pull out the boob and put back, so comfortable AND sexy. I also love wearing these at night.

3. Nursing Pads: I liked these disposables and these reusables the best. Please excuse the ridiculous name of the latter. They worked really well! The other kinds of reusables I would still often leak through onto my shirt, but these were super absorbant! P.S. Around 9 months postpartum my milk really started to regulate and I have not needed to use nursing pads much anymore. So there is an end to them, don’t worry!

4. Flats and Clogs- They were my best friends over the summer. They’re practical and beautiful. Two absolutes, especially for a momma. Oh and these. I’m hoping, badly, saltwaters are back in style for awhile (comfiest. sandal. ever). I’m looking forward to bringing these shoes back into rotation come spring and warmer days. For the fall and winter boots, boots, and more boots  have been my faithful friends. Again, practical, comfortable and pretty.

Don’t you miss these warm days?

And a fall/winter shot + a deliciously, chubby baby foot…

5. Loose fitted tops like these (AMAZING t-shirts. Feel like $50, but only $15. Win! Also they just came out with a long sleeve that looks the comfiest) or this cozy sweater (I live in that thing) or this darling blouse to dress your look up a bit- You can easily and discreetly nurse in public without those nursing covers that were such a hassle to me. If you’re shy about the whole thing (which I totally was at first when I was still learning) they didn’t really make me feel any better. I was fumbling around with it like an idiot and to me they scream for attention and practically yell, “Hey everybody! I’m nursing my baby!” I’d rather flash my boob if I wanted to shout it to the world than mess with that thing. Not only did the covers not work for me practically, but they weren’t working for my convictions either. It made me feel like I was trying to hide one of the most natural, important things in the world: feeding a baby. Those of you who love the nursing covers, I mean no disrespect, if you feel most comfortable using one then by all means use one. I just wanted to share my experience with them and and encourage the mama’s out there who would like another option. Feel proud to nurse your sweet babies in public. As you can see from the photo below, it’s really modest (I bet, for those of you who follow me on instagram, you didn’t even know she was nursing in this picture!). At this point, I’ve ended up breastfeeding Eleanor all over Portland, and it has been a wonderful, freeing experience. Now I barely think twice about it!

6. A flattering, comfortable pair of jeans- Mobility is key when you’re a momma so jeans are a must. And the flattering factor is just as key. I live in skinnies and straight legs. I’ll love levi’s forever (affordable and timeless) and I have a new love for J.Crew jeans. I have these and wear them daily.

7. Mascara: It does wonders my friends. My current favorites are MAC’s new In Extreme Dimension Lash in black and Buxom lash in black by Bare Escentuals. Oh, and I only put it on my top lashes—not my bottom ones. Inspired by the 60s originally, but now I just think it has a way of making me look less tired.

8. Another easy beauty essential in my book is bright lipstick: It transforms you look with ease and brightens up your whole face. One of my all-time favorites is J. Crew’s Poppy King. Over the fall and winter season, I’ve especially enjoyed going a little darker with this fantastic shade.

9. Baby carriers- I love, love, LOVE my Sakura Bloom sling. They are gorgeous, easy, comfortable, and Eleanor loves it too! You can wear it easily with a newborn all the way up to 35 lbs! I often wear Eleanor on my hip in it now that she’s bigger. The Ergo is also a favorite. Daniel especially loves it because it fits his frame really nicely.

A shot of the sling in action…

And here’s a not so great shot of the Ergo but too sweet of a picture not to share…

10. Wine- I love having a glass before bed. Now that Eleanor sleeps through the night I feel more free to have a glass (or two, lets be honest) at the end of the day curled up with a book or my laptop writing blog posts and browsing the web. It’s such a relaxer for me.

11. Baths- They were essential in pregnancy and remain essential now (you momma’s out there know what I’m talking about). I like to put a little lavender bubble bath in mine.

12. Date nights- some with your partner and some with just yourself. They are vital for your sanity, and being a good mom. Being a momma is all-consuming. By far the most demanding thing I’ve ever taken on. So making time to fill myself and my marriage has become just as necessary as air. It’s more important now than it ever has been and yet its harder to make happen than it ever has been. I think its also important for your child to see you take care of yourself and see his/her parents love and nurture their relationship. I think that has a way of growing security in your child and sending them the message that relationship with others and yourself are priorities. Knowing that makes it easier to leave Eleanor when I feel like I can’t or don’t want to. 

The husband and I on a movie date a few months back…

13. The Moop market bag-  This is what I have used for a diaper bag. It’s not really a diaper bag, but it has worked perfectly as one. I loathed the idea of getting a diaper bag. Overpriced. Ugly. Clunky. Ugh. Then my friend told me about Moop bags, I looked them up and I was sold. They’re pretty, handmade, and made of quality long-lasting materials. The market bag, specifically, is big, deep, and has pockets—making it perfect for all that baby stuff! I’ve loved it.

Well that’s my list (or most of it anyway) thus far as a new momma. What have some of your go-tos/essentials been? I woud love to hear from you other mommas!

Also, my pregnancy essentials for all of you pregnants!

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Connection

One of my most favorite things that Eleanor does these days is how she looks up at me from time to time when we’re on a walk and she’s right up close to me in the sling. We’re just walking, both of us looking around at all the golden trees, breathing the cold, crisp autumnal air and then, suddenly, she tilts her little head back and looks up at me. Like she’s just checking in, making this intentional effort to connect with me. And then she’ll just hold my gaze for the longest time. It amazes me. Adults don’t do that. We don’t really look at each other. At least not for very long. It’s too vulnerable; intimate. But babies don’t know that. They just see you and want to connect with you. They’re unself-consciousness is beautiful. It’s got to be in the top 10 most wonderful things about them. Sometimes I envy her for it but, mostly, I just feel incredibly grateful that I get to learn from her and experience (even if just a taste) again what I lost by the time I was 4 years old…raw, honest, uninhibited connection with someone. A timeless gaze with no awkwardness or fear attached. She’s so free. I can’t help but think how different my relationships would be if I could let go of myself like she does. And it makes me sad to think about her losing this ability. I don’t want her to experience the bite of self-consciousness and fear. She’s so lovely and perfect and worthy of being known. God, may she not learn anything but that from me.

Eleanor has taught me more about human connection in 9 months than I could ever teach anyone in my whole life. And I have a feeling that’s not the last important thing I will be learning from my daughter.

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Some scattered thoughts on being grateful

Sauvie Island,  October 2012

I’ve been in a bit of a funk the past few weeks. Eleanor has three teeth coming in right now, so she hates her life. Maybe that’s why. When she hates her life, I hate mine. That’s kinda how motherhood goes I suppose. But, no, I don’t think that’s the real reason for the funk. It’s just been something that I’ve notice happening when the only thing I’ve heard all day is my own voice conversing with a baby. That and the quiet. That cruel quiet that can so easily invite my self-doubts and feelings of loneliness to the surface. I feel ashamed of those feelings when I have so much to be grateful for in my life. But there they are, nonetheless.

What do I know about loneliness anyway? Nothing.When I think of single mothers and fathers, orphaned children, those in nursing homes, and all the forms that human loneliness takes on that I know nothing about, my feelings are made obsolete. Instantly.

But you know, one of the wonderful things about being a mama is that most of the time, there is no time for indulgence in self-doubt and loneliness. There’s a little someone always reaching her chubby arms up for you because she’d always prefer to be held by you than sit and play by herself…and though there are times when my arms would like a break and I would like some space and I’m feeling drained I give myself a mental slap in the face and tell myself, “Give her a few more short months and she’ll be walking (or crawling…this little one doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to go anywhere) and her cuddles will be rare. She’ll be walking and then she’ll be driving and then she’ll be moving out…and that sweet, constant need to be with you always will be gone. Forever.” It’s far too short …this time I have with Eleanor. And that makes the lump in my throat grow so big I can hardly breathe.

The fall has reminded me of this heartbreaking reality. Because that’s the thing about fall isn’t it? It’s far too short. And as sad as that makes me, I think that’s why fall is so wonderful. Because of it’s scarceness. Our indian summers always bleed  pretty far into it and then the winter rains flood in too soon, leaving us with this gorgeous scarcity. Nothing about fall can last, not the colors nor the crispness, because in reality, fall is dying. And the irony is, it’s so beautiful.

Eleanor will be 9 whole months come November 6th. Oh how it pains my heart seeing her grow older and older by the second. But fall reminds me…it is so precious and wonderful because I know I can’t keep it. For hardly a moment is here, chubby cheeks and delicious rolly-polly thighs and then they’re gone…its finally cool enough for cute sweaters but before long you’ll have no idea how cute it is because it’ll be hidden under your raincoat and won’t that be a shame.

But we do the best we can…and today I choose to be grateful. Grateful I get to be with her every second of every day, especially the teething ones. Grateful that death can be beautiful.

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6 whole months

“And how could we endure to live and let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back-if we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole life with expectation and memory and that these are that day?”

― C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet

I can’t believe it. 6 whole months. She’s sitting up, exploring grown-up food (carrots, celery, avocado, and blackberries so far…we’ve decided to go the baby-led weaning route), and apparently forgot how to roll over and hates tummy time again (I think we’ve got a late crawler on our hands…which is fine by this mama!).

I remember the day Eleanor turned 1 month old. It went by so fast, that first month. I knew it would, because everyone tells you so. But somehow I thought maybe it wouldn’t. And it always leaves this lump in the back of my throat knowing that she’s a day older, a few ounces bigger… if I could hit pause, well I’d be hitting that button all day long. There is something about that newborn smell, that tiny newborn stretch that they do as they are waking, the quivering chin after a good cry, their constant need of wanting to be held and cradled close. It just ends too fast. Fortunately, it’s true what they say, it just keeps getting better and better. 6 months is my favorite, but so was 5, and 4, and…you get the idea.

Eleanor, I knew I would love you before you arrived, but I wasn’t prepared for you to steal my heart the way you have. I know people say this all the time, but I really can’t remember life before you. A selfish, boring mess of tidyness, I guess.

I love you, sweet. I hope we only get closer as you grow up, because I just can’t get enough of you.

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Ticklish

So here’s something unbearably adorable to start off your week. My daughter is totally ticklish and it has got to be the cutest thing in the world. See for yourself…

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Am I right, or am I right?

 

P.S. I took this like a month ago and she’s already SO much bigger and different. They really do change so fast. It’s a horrible, emptying reality. I try my darn-dest every day to soak her up. Every inch of her fat, rolly-polly, beautiful self.

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Currently.

 

Reading: East of Eden. Two words: Freakin’. Amazing.

Watching: Breaking Bad. It is terribly addictive (ironically). If you haven’t seen it yet, just don’t. Trust me, it’s for your own good.

Working on: Art for the mother’s room at my church. If you have any ideas please shoot them my way…My creativity seems to be running on empty these days.

Thinking about: How to get my daughter to sleep until she’s actually rested without psychologically and emotionally damaging her…it’s real rough bein’ a momma sometimes. One thing I’m learning being a momma is every baby and momma are different and therefore need different things. Shame on me for ever being a judger.

Listening to: Some Animal Collective, but mainly The Roots, “Undun” specifically. Eleanor loves them. I know, I know parent- fail…but we get the the biggest smiles out of her when we turn it up and dance to it for her. And we gotta live that up before our dancing is just downright embarrassing to her.

Eating: Various kinds of veggie bowls and berries (thanks to our CSA)…and a lot of dates lately. Gah, I love dates. A treat that’s not so bad for you. Oh, and they are an amazing, healthy way to sweeten a shake or smoothie by the way. This recipe looks AH-mazing.

AnticipatingD’s and my 2nd year anniversary this September. We’re thinking a mini-vacay somewhere warm, by water, and family-friendly…Any suggestions?

Especially loving: (Other than the obvious) Summer and wearing sandals all the time.

What are your “currently’s” these days?

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5 months

There are huge changes in Eleanor every day now. Maybe there always were, but I was too tired to notice them as much as I do now. Her main activities currently are nursing, grabbing her feet, making raspberries, bubbles, grunts, and all sorts of lovely noises, laughing/smiling, new and improved sour puss face (this girl has got some expressions!), chewing on her Sophie, and actually reaching out with her delicious little sausage arms for me. She did it a couple days ago and it made my heart jump into my throat.

Things (even the sleep thing…slowly but surely) are getting better every day. It’s getting easier. People kept telling me that I just had to hold on until month 4 and everything would get easier. I always thought they were patronizing me or something. But I remember about a month ago, shortly after she turned 4 months it was like she looked at her little baby calendar and and said, “Oh, maybe this new home isn’t so bad.”

Another thing I’m noticing is that I’m much less worried all the time—a lot of things are no big deal now, whereas in the beginning everything was. For instance, now Eleanor can go for a few days without pooping, or can poop like 5 times in one day, without my automatically thinking she has some terrible intestinal blockage or a food allergy and I need stop eating everything and live on water and potatoes.

She’s becoming so grown up before my eyes. It’s so painful. It leaves a huge lump in my throat. I want her to stay this age forever.

I just have to be grateful. Terribly, terribly grateful.

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4 months

Four months is my favorite so far…
  • She laughs like crazy
  • She’s ticklish now!
  • She intentionally snuggles us and buries her face in our chests. Gah, I love that.
  • She LOVES her Papa (seriously, when D walks through the door and she sees him her whole face lights up. It makes my heart swell)
  • I love how much she loves people. She really prefers them. Every baby does I’m sure, but perhaps some more than others. For example, I give her a toy to play with and that lasts for about 2 minutes, but she could look at someone or sit on my hip all day. Eleanor and I took our first road trip together this month with some of my girlfriends and I think she about died and went to heaven. A bunch of girls holding her and giving her attention 24/7 = Eleanor’s dream come true.
  • She looooves it when we sing to her. Even when she’s cranky, singing to her will bring a smile to her face. Especially “You are my sunshine.” I sang that to her when she was in my belly, maybe that’s why.
  • The girl finally rolled over. Apparently she’s not in any hurry to go anywhere (no complaining over here)…she’s seems real content just laying and looking around or being held. Plus, that is a lot of chub to have to move around. Probably not worth it to her most of the time.
  • She’s maybe starting to look like me too. Maybe. I see myself mostly in her eyes. Overall though, Papa is still winning on that front. I mean, just look at this picture.
  • Now when Eleanor knows there’s a boob in her future she is downright inconsolable. All I have to do is sit in the chair I usually nurse her in or start to lift up my shirt and she loses it until it is in her mouth. It’s quite sweet actually.
  • She really has “woken up” like they say they do at 4 months. It’s like she’s stopped missing the womb and really starting to fall in love with her new home.
I wonder how many of these things will stay the same about her and how much will change. I still can’t believe I get to take care of this little gem and watch her change, grow, and eventually live and work out her own story. I get to witness a life—so intimately. Every day is like Christmas now (well almost…some days I’m just tired out of my mind). Every day I get see what’s new about her or enjoy what’s the same. Each day of motherhood, whether it be exhausting, mundane, or magically rewarding…it’s all this crazy gift I don’t deserve and for that I’m grateful. So terribly grateful.

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Mama Style: 4

So this post should be titled “Baby style” because it’s really about Eleanor’s adorable little outfit more than anything. Eleanor’s dress was a $7 vintage find. I know. It was a lucky day.

Please forgive all my style posts with my hair up in a nice rats-nest of a bun. I chopped my hair off after Eleanor was born and I’m kind of regretting it…So up it goes most of the time these days. I was blessed with hair that grows fast so I’m counting on that. However, all of it is falling out now (one of the many post-partum joys) so we’ll see. A new series of how to cover up post-partum bald spots might be happening in the near future.

These pictures were taken probably a month ago…she is seriously so much bigger now! I tell her everyday she can’t grow anymore. Guess she hasn’t learned the importance of listening to mamma yet.

This last picture cracks me up…

Oh, I love her.

On Mama:

Pale pink sleeve-less button up: American Apparel

Skinny jeans: J Brand via Anthropologie  (two years ago)

Gold sun-burst posts: Anthropologie (No longer sold, but these are super cute too, don’t you think? Such great colors)

And on Eleanor:

Sun dress: vintage (from a local vintage shop, but check out this adorable little vintage number. P.S. Etsy is awesome for vintage baby clothes)

Bonnet: Local baby boutique, Polliwog

p.s. promise more recent style posts will be coming soon!

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