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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two Months Old

Athena is two months old today and is currently napping in her swing before we head off to New Moms Group in Mountain View.

This week we learned that vaccines are hard. Friday she had her two month appointment where she weighed in at 9 pounds, 8 ounces. She's just shy of 22 inches long and is generally developing in all the right ways for a happy, healthy baby. She's strong. She coos. She smiles. She stretches these big full body stretches down to the tips of her toes when she wakes up in the morning.  She got three shots and an oral vaccine. This led to four days of diarrhea and two days of sad, achy baby. Some infant Tylenol helped with the aches, and some extra laundry is the only other real consequence. She's back to being a happy baby. Sunday night she went to her first Spaghetti Sunday at Josh and Magenta's house. There was another baby there who was only 1 month old, and I remember her being like that, but she's very different now. She is very engaged in her environment. While changing her diaper, she noticed the mylar balloon floating above her and reached out to swat at it a bit. I'm totally going to buy her a balloon to play with. Meanwhile, Kai is still the sweetest little boy ever. He kept helping her reach it and then kissed her gently.

After Moms Group today (yeah, it's been hours. Welcome to my baby life.), we went to see Rachel so that she could play with her new camera. She fell asleep *just* as we got off the freeway, so I drove around a bit, looking at properties in the neighborhood. In an ideal world, Erik would get a full-time, tenure-track position at Foothill College and we'd be able to magically afford a house that magically became available next down to the Fox/Lendvay collective. This weekend, a house on Valcartier was open. It was a 2 minute walk from their places, so we all walked over, just to see. And once again, I'm reminded of what a million dollars will buy in the area. Sigh. Don't get me wrong - it's more house than we need, but it's older, needs some updates, and reminds me a lot of the neighborhood I grew up in before my parents got divorced. It's not my idea of a million dollar house, and in Sacramento it would go for about $200k. But, it did get us to thinking. We talked to our financial advisor and we're going to talk to our favorite mortgage broker and see what we can reasonably afford going forward in the 1-3 year time frame, and what we need to save to make it possible. I picked up a few flyers as I drove and Athena slept and got an idea of what is nearby. I went over one wrong bump in the road though, and naptime was over. Off to Fox Hollow for photos!

Athena was being shy with her smiles, but she's still adorable. Rachel's new camera (Nikon D800) got a workout while we tried to coax her to smile.
I'm off to run through the shower. Athena sleeps about 8 hours every night. Just don't try to convince her to do it before 11 p.m. She's a night-owl like her mama!

Monday, March 19, 2012

7 Weeks

Athena hit 7 weeks on Saturday. We spent the day around the house, then headed out to the Stanford Ceili St. Patrick's Day dance. It was wonderful in so many ways. First there's the part where a couple of years ago, this little blue haired girl named Danya wanted to learn more ceili, so she encouraged Bob and I to help her get a group started. In the concrete common room of the new design building, we started teaching a few folks to dance. Several of those faces from the first summer were still there, plus friends I've danced with for the last 18 years, plus a dozen musicians, plus newer dancers, plus folks trying it for the first time. At one point, there were at least 80 people there. From the most humble beginnings, we've built something wonderful.

Second, Erik and I worked together beautifully to keep Athena happy and fed. Also, she got her first waltzes. I held her in my right arm, bundled up in her swaddle to keep her warm in a room that was comfortably cool for sweaty dancers. My left arm on my partner's shoulder, we waltzed around the room and she looked entranced. First I danced with Jing, and then later with Erik. At the end of the night, we came home, fed her once more, and put her to bed. She slept for her normal 7 hours, woke briefly to eat and change diapers, then slept for another 3 hours. She is seriously a truly awesome baby. Third, Kat, Jordan, and Elinor came down from Sacramento for the ceili and stayed the night. Elinor is adorable. It's wonderful watching friends I've known so long bloom and grow, now as parents. We made a slightly ill-fated journey across San Jose with two strollers and a pregnant lady, planning to walk 20 blocks in weather that was threatening to rain to try the Flames restaurant. For better or worse, they have have bottomless mimosas on Saturdays and Sundays til 2, and they border SJSU. The place was packed. So we waited a bit, then checked into other options, heading off to Old Spaghetti Factory, as they said they had no wait. We got there and waited half an hour before giving up and going across the street to Sonoma Chicken Coop. On the plus side, Sonoma Chicken Coop was lovely and none of else felt remotely bad about the calories as we'd walked far further than planned. On the way back, with Jordan and I a few strides ahead of our partners, both of us pushing strollers, Jordan says to me, "All those years ago, who thought we'd be here." I said, "Yeah, I was just thinking the same thing." If you'd told me that a lovely Sunday afternoon activity would be pushing baby strollers around downtown San Jose, I'd have told you you were cracked. And yet...

For Christmas, Erik got me "three months of housekeeping," and after researching our various options, today was the first day of housekeeping. Now, I've had cleaners here on occasion for little 2 hour blasts. I also tend to keep things fairly tidy on my own. But after over 3 hours of cleaning, this place is CLEAN. The little cart that holds our laundry soap had dust and spills collected over time. It's now spotlessly white and clean. The area under the kitchen sink had everything pulled out and wiped down. The bed had everything pulled out and swept and vacuumed underneath. It's magnificent. And better yet, she'll be back in two weeks to keep it up. On the one hand, I could get seriously used to this. On the other hand, I now see projects I've put off for so long and I don't think, "after I get through the basic maintenance." Instead, I think, "hey, maybe I'll tackle this one today." I suspect I'll willingly pay for the next three months. After that, we'll be starting to pay for daycare, so we may have to go back to our own cleaning, but this may be the little luxury I fight to save going forward. We'll see.

And finally, Athena is smiling consistently now when she's happy.

Sometimes it's while I'm changing her diaper and telling her a story. Sometimes it's when she's nursing and she looks up at me. Sometimes it's when she first wakes up and sees me there. Sometimes it's in the car when I'm sitting next to her in the back seat making silly faces or telling her a story. Whenever it happens, however it happens, it's just magical. For so long, I only got feedback when I did something that was unacceptable. Now, she lets me know when I'm doing something she likes. I can't limit the world to only the stuff she likes, but it's awfully nice to know that she sure seems to like me and like Erik. It certainly goes a long way when you're doing the 10th load of laundry this week after stripping out of pajamas covered in spit-up one more time. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Google asked me to upgrade Blogger, and now line breaks and other things are not being retained. I shall endeavor to fix this, but in the meantime, GRRRR. (Because I have so much free time to fiddle with formatting twice these days!)

St. Patrick's Day!

This year I'm taking a light approach to St. Patrick's Day and attending/hosting only one event. Crazy talk, I know! But, if you want to dance ceili, this is the place to be. If you want to meet the baby, this is your big opportunity as it's likely her grand debut on the dance scene. Hell, even if you just want to listen to Irish music while drinking a beer and complaining about a celebrating St. Patrick's Day, sure, whatever floats your boat. But this is the place to do it:

Stanford Ceili's 2nd Annual St. Patricks Day Ceili!
Saturday, 2012 March 17,
8-11pm Graduate Community Center (GCC) Havana Room
750 Escondido Road, Stanford, CA 94305

Stanford Ceili celebrates St. Patrick's Day with a night of Irish ceili dancing! EVERYONE is welcome. Whether you did step dancing as a child or danced with local groups in Alameda or Berkeley or have never tried Irish dance before, there’s something for everyone. This is a great opportunity to dance or try it for the first time in a fun and festive atmosphere. We’ll be dancing easy dances taught on the spot, dances for those who’ve been learning with us weekly, and rounding out the night with waltzes. If you can walk, you can enjoy dancing with us! Now with live music!

This year, the band is led by Dave Price and Anselm Engle. Additional musicians welcome! Bring your instrument and join in. We want EVERYONE to celebrate St. Patrick's Day!

Snacks and drinks provided; hot meals and more next door at Ray's Grill:

For more information on Stanford Ceili, you can check out our website, at 

And as usual, we’re dancing every Tuesday from 7-9 p.m. New participants are always welcome and lessons are always free! See the web site for more information:

Hope to dance with you soon!

Six Weeks

Athena is sound asleep. After eating all day for the past four days, she's woken up just long enough to eat today, then goes back to sleep for several hours. This is her 6-week growth spurt I was warned about. Just when I felt like I'd fallen into an abyss where every waking moment was spent feeding the girl, I finally got a few hours free this morning to do wild and crazy things like dye my hair and finish entering my tax data online. I'm just going to say right now that this was at once really pretty awesome and also sort of bizarre how far my standards have shifted in such a short amount of time. Oh the wild and crazy life of the new parent!

I went to a New Mothers group at El Camino hospital this week and once again feel intensely grateful for my easy journey to pregnancy, my very active and healthy (if sometimes painful) pregnancy, my relatively easy and totally satisfying delivery, my wonderful husband who seems to think this is as much his responsibility as mine, and our amazing baby girl. We've had it so good compared to so many others. She eats well, sleeps well, and her only real issue seems to be a propensity to spit up.

Breastfeeding has gone really well and I'm supplementing as needed with formula, which isn't very often. Well, except the past few days when she's wanted to eat for 12 hours a day, and let's just say that eventually the taps run dry and the flesh needs a break. At those moments, 2 ounces of formula is my favorite thing in the whole world. Meanwhile, in the last week, she's also learned how to get her hand to her mouth. I suspect she'll soon be sucking her thumb, but right now, it's usually her whole fist. She's even occasionally worked her left hand out of her swaddle and I've woken to the sound of her slurping on her hand.

Athena has the most determined frown. There are times when she looks at me like I've just done the dumbest thing in the whole world. That's when I see my face reflected in her little furrowed brow. She's also working toward a real smile. It's not consistent yet, but sometimes she looks up and just beams. Of course, then I do something really stupid like unfasten her diaper and let her get cold, and well, furrowed brow says I'm an idiot. I went to my postpartum ob/gyn appointment this week and got the all clear to go on with the rest of my life. We talked birth control and almost made a big misstep. The NuvaRing is just not suitable for breastfeeding moms, which is a bummer as it's definitely my favorite method. However, seriously impaired breast milk production, plus estrogen passing to the breast milk causing jaundice and enlarged breasts in the baby was a whole world of bad idea. We're back to the drawing board on that topic for now while I decide on whether or not to do a pill or an IUD or what. Erik said, "Seems like it would be awfully nice for the guys to have an option here that wouldn't screw up the breast feeding." Ya think?

Meanwhile, the U.S. seems to have gone crazy over birth control, what with Rush Limbaugh calling anyone who wants to use the pill a slut. States are passing laws requiring an ultrasound before an abortion and fighting laws requiring health plans to cover birth control and I'm just wondering what century we're in. Just so we're clear, if there's one thing that's made me more pro-choice, it's being pregnant and having a baby. That was the single most life-threatening thing I've done in my life so far, and it's certainly not anything you should be forced to do if you don't want to. Just read up on preeclampsia and tell me pregnancy isn't risky. And let's not even talk about the pain that still keeps me from sleeping on my left hip. I fear I've done something semi-permanent to it in this process. I'm still hoping that exercise will fix it eventually. We'll see.

Speaking of exercise, I did manage to get out a week ago and go to both Irish Ceili at Stanford and Friday Night Waltz. It felt so good. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my body was relatively cooperative. I didn't get winded while dancing and I didn't find myself sore the next day. Yay! My big accomplishment this week was to make it to the thrift store to get some new tops and dresses that accommodate breast feeding. Stretchy necklines and v-necks will be the height of fashion for me for the next year. The sleepy baby stirs. Time to go be a food source to my favorite little parasite.