Keeping It Clean

>> 2.26.2010

Bath night.

There are so many things I could say.. but I think I will let the images (and Liam's expressions) speak for themselves.


Whoa, Buddy

>> 2.23.2010

So, Emily over at Last Train to Pooksville gave me this pretty button:

Thank you so much, Emily! It made my day.

Getting such a pretty button made me realize that I never got around to following the rules of these two pretty buttons:

These were provided by Lindsey and Toni at Memoirs of a Housewife and Carrigan's Joy respectively. Gah. I am a terrible and ungrateful blogging buddy. I am so sorry, ladies. I really do appreciate the consideration. I just forget to pause, take a breath, and follow through.

So, here I am following through. (Please excuse the lack of fun, exciting pictures in this post--I'm at work. No photo stash. Le sigh.)

- The rules for the Beautiful Blogger Award are to share 7 interesting things about myself and nominate 7 bloggers.
-The rules for the Lemonade Stand Award is simply to nominate 10 blogs with great "attitude and gratitude."
-The rules for this newest Sunshine Award is to list 6 things I love and 6 blogs I love....

So, I am going to throw all of that in a pot and stir up 6 things I love, 7 interesting things about myself and 9 blogs/bloggers I love (3 for each award).

Here we go!

6 Things I Love
[I am sticking to actual physical things here because if we get into people or places... we could be here all day]:
1. Books. [Books, books, books, books, books] That is books six times over.. and if it wouldn't be cheating I might just leave it at that because I love books so very much. I do.
2. Coffee.[ okay, you get the picture]. Yes, I am a coffee addict.
3. Baby feet. More specifically Liam feet. I nibble them often and they are delicious.
4. My engagement ring. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever owned. I have been wearing it since June of 2008 and I still look at it daily and smile.
5. Candles. I am a candle junkie! Seriously. We have 28 candles in our bedroom alone. (Really.. I just counted.) I love how simple candle-light turns the ordinary into something romantic and exciting. And they are pretty. And they smell good.
6. The (infamous) Baby Wrap. I know I have already dedicated an entire post to my baby wrap and how happy it makes me.. but.. really.. it is pretty much the best thing that has ever happened to me mommy-related. It gives me butterflies.

7 interesting things (this is tough; I am boring):

1. Ryan and I have a "bucket- list" that we created not even a month after we met. We have done several things on the list... including going to Chicago so that Ryan could propose to me in front of the Newberry Library (it was written down as a big question mark-- yep, he claims to have already known then).

2. For a little over 2 years I lived in a pool house the size of a large closet.. jam packed with awesome IKEA furniture. For free.

3. Ryan and I got married, bought a house and had a baby all within 10 months. I also graduated from college during that time. And as you know.. it wasn't your typical baby-having experience.. so I think that's pretty interesting. Well, it was interesting for me.

4. I memorized an entire book of the Bible in the 7th grade. I was the only one who did not pick a one page book. Go me.

5. A project I did my Sophomore year in college is now part of the course description in that class. Yeah.. I'm awesome.

6. I've been blogging since I was 15. All my various blogs are still active. I have no earthly idea how I come up with that much to say.

7. My name is misspelled on my college diploma.. because for the first 20 years of my life.. I was misspelling my middle name. True Story.

9 blogs I love:

For the Beautiful Blogger Award.

Okay.. so... I love reading these blogs! I mean, really love it. These women are funny and uplifting and their posts are often exploding at the seams with adorable. They are definitely beautiful bloggers.

1. Gretchen at A Bitty Blog (Devin is possibly the cutest little boy on the planet aside from Liam. Seriously.)
2. Lindsey at Memoirs of a Housewife (Hunter is here! She is beautiful. Go meet her.)
3. Emily at The Last Train to Pooksville (Check out her blog. Now. I mean it. You will not be sorry.)

For the Lemonade Stand Award

1. That's My Baby (Julia is taking a little break, but she will be back! She better!)
2. Green Leaf Baby (So, this kid? This kid right here? He will steal your heart.)
3. Blue Ridge Baby (One word: precious.)

(Three precious babies-- three awesome blogs! Heh, heh.. I couldn't resist!)

For the Sunshine Award.. because reading these blogs about thriving preemie boys make me so happy!

1. Our Little Birds
2. The Peanut Blog
3. Multiple Miracles from Above

So, I know I sort of twisted the rules but.. what are rules for, if not for breaking [um.. unless you are Liam Eliot- in which case, rules are rules for a reason, bub.]

Now, I am all caught up with my blogger award posts. Whew.

p.s.- I am supposed to go around and tell everyone that they have gotten an award on my site but... I am lazy. So.. I am just chucking this rule out all together. Yeah, I'm a rebel.



A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.
Bertrand Russel

Ryan is a writer. I am a reader.
Needless to say, we value the quiet.

Our home is a peaceful one. And this is largely due to the absence of one small, generally accepted element of most households: cable television.

We do have a television set and will often watch movies or a series on DVD (my current obsession: Dexter) but unless we are purposefully watching something, our television is not on. I do not see television as evil, only... unnecessary. Liam will be allowed to watch things from time to time, but I do not see it being a large part of his life. There are much more interesting things to do.

I often listen to music or NPR but these are both lacking in the quick transitions and constant chatter found in commercials and many programs. Ryan and I are quite comfortable with silence... and can often sit with each other quietly for extended periods of time; each of us lost in our own thoughts or activities.

The calmness of our home is often commented on; particularly those who are used to the television playing constantly in the background. What is funny to me is that it is often viewed negatively. "Your house is so QUIET," they will say. Or my personal favorite: "If you don't have television... what do you DO?!"

Well, as I previously stated, we will often watch a movie together (we are Netflix junkies). But we also read. And talk. And have people over. And go out. There is laundry to be done and dinner to be cooked and floors to be swept. We play with our dog(s). We spend time with our baby. I am sure as Liam gets older, his antics will be plenty entertaining. Often, it feels like there are not enough hours in the day for all that we do and I find myself wondering exactly how people have any time to watch television at all!

What do I do? Have you seen this face? It is the perfect sort of face for gazing in wonder.

The quiet stillness of our home is most evident during the day when it is just Liam and me. I am enjoying it while it lasts. I know that little boys are "busy" personified.. and I am honestly looking forward to having our home filled with toddler giggles and silly conversations, but I do hope that Liam will glean some appreciation for the quiet and the creativity that can be found there. I hope that he finds a sense of peace from living with his Papa and me.


Of Man and Dog

>> 2.22.2010

The more I see of man, the more I like dogs.
Mme. de Staƫl

I am a dog person-- always have been, always will be.

However, Fezzik the Great, our beloved schnoodle, is not your typical dog. He reminds me more of a cat: only having any use for you when he needs something.....whether it be food, water, a walk, food, a belly rub, toys, food, treats, a potty break, food...

We accept him for who he is and, in return, he allows us to remain in his good graces. He can be very sweet and playful when he wants to be and we really do love him a lot.. but I have missed the undying affection and sweet cuddles of your more typical pooch.

Enter Marlo:

This weekend we headed to Target to pick up a few things for Liam's nursery. As we passed Petsmart, I suddenly remembered it was Saturday: adoption day. I asked Ryan to stop..... "just to look, you know..."

We have actually been open to the idea of another dog for awhile, after hearing repeatedly that two dogs are easier than one. *ahem* Excuse me, I had been open to the idea of another dog for awhile.. Ryan... took a bit more convincing. But, he had been won over and we have stopped numerous times before "just to look" and actually did just look.

Now.. I believe in love at first sight.

We stopped at the first dog in the row of pens and began chatting with the volunteer, when a shaggy little pup in the next pen over caught my eye. A female terrier mix named Dana. While petting her, we heard what a lover she was-- every staff member who walked by had something wonderful to say. Having worked as a volunteer at an animal shelter, I know that when doing off-site adoptions, your goal is not to sell the dog to whoever happens to walk by throwing an, "Awwwwww.." over their shoulder. Spontaneous adoptions rarely stick. You want the potential owner to know what they are getting themselves into. You want them to make an informed decision-- not fall hard for a dog, get it home and realize *gasp* it is actual work.. and *sigh* the dog is not perfect. So hearing all the great things the staff had to say really meant something.

I looked at Ryan.
I gave him the lip.
We got an information sheet.

After a few more minutes, I asked if we could take home an adoption form.. just in case. And the next thing I know, we are filling it out, arranging a meet and greet for Fezzik... and trying to decide on a new name. I mean.. Dana... really?

Fezzik and Dana hit it off much better than I even expected. Fezzik is very particular about his friends and can be kind of a grouch, but he tolerated Dana in his aloof way...paying no mind as she frolicked in front of him and even allowing her the honor of being marked as his territory as he gracefully peed on her ear. So.. we arranged to pick her up the next day.

She seems to be settling in quite nicely.

We have named her Marlo.. but are still working on the middle name (Marlo Kimber? Kinsley? Annabelle? What do you think?)

She and Fezzik have had only one little spat in which Fezzik oh, so gently reminded her who is boss around here. She sleeps beautifully on her bed and seems to only need a slight refresher course in potty-training. She is very interested in Liam; greeting him the first time with a great big smooch. (Fezzik generally ignores our furless puppy.) She loves to be outside. She is quite playful, sweet and curious. She just makes you feel happy inside.

Welcome to the family, Marlo!


Spring Fever

>> 2.19.2010

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
Mark Twain

What a beautiful day! Warm enough to make you earn for spring:: warm enough for Liam's first outdoor adventure. We only ventured into the front yard-- baby steps, you know. Liam has taken many walks in his stroller, but generally snoozed through the whole thing.. and has never really met the earth, you know?

It will not be long before he is well-acquainted; having tasted it, dug in it, ground it into open wounds. I hope they will be the greatest of friends.

But today they were introduced gently.

After a few brief moments of alien space monkey fussing which I believe meant something along the lines of, "What is the meaning of this woman?! You dare to Put. Me. Down!" Liam really seemed to settle into the out of doors. He took in all the new sensations with wide-eyed wonder and was quite patient as his Mama snapped a few (okay.. perhaps about 173) pictures. I just could not help it. He was looking mighty cute. I will spare you the redundancy.. but here are a few:

This baby is so very precious.

And badass. Did I mention badass?

I definitely have a bit of the fever. While I have always enjoyed the quite stillness and general coziness of winter (we readers like anything that gives us the excuse to stay in our pajamas all day with stacks of good books to munch on)... I am also eager for the warmer months and the freedom that will accompany them. I have oh, so many plans.

But for now.. we will take the little slivers of Spring thrown our way and savor them while they melt on our tongues. These days I am not wishing away a single moment.


Take Me to Your Leader

>> 2.18.2010

We are dealing with a multidimensional paraphysical phenomenon which is largely indigenous to Planet Earth.
Brad Steiger

Just in case you were beginning to think that life with Liam is all unicorns and sunshine...... don't.

We get plenty of this:

Followed promptly by this:

And a little bit of this:

Yes.. as evident in these photographs, we do, in fact, torture the child. Look at that little fist raised in indignation. Sigh. Honestly.. if the kid wasn't so darn cute I'm not sure we would put up with his nonsense. Score one for natural selection.. or you know, whatever it is in science that makes us want to take care of cute little things that squeak.

I am beginning to think that living with an infant is much like living with royalty... from another planet. They have strange customs, they do not speak your language, and they expect to be waited on hand and foot. And I'm sorry [MOM] but Liam did enter this world looking slightly like... a monkey from outer space. Let's just be honest here.

I find further proof in Liam's attempts to communicate: hands waving aimlessly in front of his face, punctuated with shrill shrieks, clicks, grunts, and an occasional coo. The coos are my favorite. But.. slightly space monkey-ish. I'm just saying.

Ah, well.. life with the prince of the space apes isn't so bad. I'll take it.

And one for the road:

No press, please!



>> 2.16.2010

Blues means what milk does to a baby.
Alberta Hunter

[Note: the following post contains images of breastfeeding. Please navigate away from this page if you are offended by such images.]

Liam is breastfed..... Liam. Is. Breastfed.

I cannot begin to tell you how challenging the creation of that little three word sentence has been. Just seeing it on the screen makes me smile because there have been so many times I did not think--perhaps even knew-- that I would never be able to say it.

When Liam came early I had absolutely no working knowledge of premature babies. I knew he would be small and I knew he would have some pretty big obstacles to overcome. When doctors are attempting to convince you that slicing your two pound baby from your body 11 weeks early is the best thing to do... they do not tend to focus on those obstacles. They focus on survival rates (upward of 90%.. which is not nearly as close to 100% as it sounds when referring to your child) and on the awesome medical technology that is going to keep your baby alive. I never considered how this would affect my decision to breastfeed.

To be perfectly honest, I gave very little thought to breastfeeding while pregnant. It never occurred to me to weigh the pros and cons. I never stopped to ponder the challenges breastfeeding mothers face or wonder if it would be worth it. It just did not make sense to me to purchase food for my baby when my body produced food for him. That was basically the extent of my consideration and in the midst of the disaster that was Liam's birth, breastfeeding fell even farther from my mind. Had the lactation consultant not stopped by my room with some encouraging words and a breast pump, I do not think it would have even occurred to me that, at some point, this baby was going to be ready to eat.

For a couple of days after Liam was born I was not even allowed to sit up in bed. I wanted to pump because I was suddenly very aware that providing breast milk was basically the only thing I was able to do for Liam, but my blood pressure was too high. I was worried this would cause problems but on the third day they allowed me to sit up (it was also the day they allowed me to go see Liam for the first time) and I pumped a fair bit of colostrum. My milk soon followed.

At that point, I had no idea that for the next couple of months the pump would become my most intimate friend. We began meeting for a private encounter every 3 hours and the NICU freezer was soon filled with our labors of love. Liam was still exclusively on nutritional fluids but it made me feel good to know that when he was ready, my milk would be waiting for him.

Introducing Liam to food through his feeding tube was a slow and daunting process. We encountered several false starts before his body was ready, but once he got going, things went great. And then came the fateful day that my stockpile at the NICU dwindled to nothing, as did my milk supply. I was literally getting mere drops at every pumping and I just knew the end was near.

Liam was given formula for the first time and did not handle it well at all. Once again all feedings stopped, tests were done, ultrasounds were taken... and as I watched my sweet little one squeak in hunger (IV fluids do not fill empty tummies) I felt like I had a second chance. I spoke with the lactation consultant, bought a 64 oz water bottle, started taking fenugreek, and got a prescription for Reglan. I began pumping every 2 hours and slowly (very s-l-o-w-l-y) my supply returned and Liam was able to return to breast milk.

That was a happy day.. but not the end of our problems. Liam did great with bottle-feeding.. but putting him to breast was a challenge. He did not latch well and I was constantly worried I was starving him. When he came home, I was breast-feeding, pumping, and bottle-feeding every 2-3 hours and soon became exhausted. Once again, I thought our time was up. I was not producing enough to feed Liam and pump... so.. as a last ditch effort, I decided to try a 24 hour exclusive breastfeeding experiment and drop the bottles.

Liam started eating hourly and I was convinced every sound he made was due to hunger. It was extremely stressful. I started attending a weekly breastfeeding support group at Parkridge East and I know that I would have given up if I had not decided to do this. Both the knowledge of the lactation consultant and just hearing the other moms face similar obstacles and have the same concerns with their full-term babies, plus being able to weigh Liam weekly and see exactly how much milk he receives has been completely priceless. That support group, coupled with the advice I received from message boards and this blog, kept me going. And...we made it.

That isn't to say that we have not faced any more challenges; every time Liam's growth slows, every time the exhaustion from getting up every 2 hours starts to catch up with me... I get tempted to stop. Even just being aware that Liam will never really understand how hard it was to breastfeed him and listening to other moms who have made the decision to formula feed, always know that their little one is getting enough to eat and have the option of getting a little extra rest is difficult sometimes.

But then... Liam cries to let me know he is hungry. I settle down with him and watch him root around and latch like a pro, grunting in satisfaction as he drinks his fill. I stroke his little head, rub his little back and watch his little toes curl and uncurl. I think about the future: how I will watch this baby grow into a little boy.. and that little boy grow into a man. I think about the fact that this is the only time in his life that he will be solely dependent on me. Soon he will be squirming out of my arms and then he will be too big for my arms at all. I think about the antibodies he missed out on by entering this world before he was ready and how my breast milk is providing a little extra protection; how this is still something I can do for him...and how hard I have worked to come this far-- what a shame it would be to give up now. I think about these quiet moments that are shared just between Liam and me.. and I know I would not give them up for the world.

Liam gained 8.4 oz this week. That is his largest gain since coming home from the hospital. He is growing so fast. Every ounce he puts on feels like a job well done.

And...I cannot help but pat myself on the back... just a little.


How Do I Love Thee...

>> 2.14.2010

I don't understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine's Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.
Author Unknown

There is a good chance that Valentine's Day was created solely for my entertainment. I am wild for all things cheesy.. and, let's face it, Valentine's Day is one of the cheesiest.

Cheesy.. but, oh, so fun.

Today, Ryan and I celebrated with pink frosted cinnamon twists and cuddles watching Netflix in bed until 1:00 p.m. (with baby and puppy to complete the love-fest, of course). It was the perfect day.

However, last night my sweet valentine surprised me with a dinner cruise on the Southern Belle. We got all dressed up, Ryan's parents lovingly came to watch the wee one, and we had a grand time! I have never been on a dinner cruise before... It was quite an experience:

It was a lovely time. The boat was pretty, the views were spectacular, the food was amazing, and the company was entertaining. It was a generally fantastic evening--- deserving of many positive adjectives... and containing just the right amount of cheese.

Happy Valentine's Day, Ryan Lee!
Thank you for a lovely day of love.


Monthly Photostream

>> 2.12.2010

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.
The Wonder Years

To appease the masses (aka my mother) we have decided to start releasing a monthly photostream at the end of every month including all the snapshots of Liam we have taken in the preceding weeks.

I hope this will turn into a neat way of updating our family and friends on both Liam's progress and the goings-on of our family each month.

I threw together one for January. It is pretty rough and only includes 17 pictures but.. it gets the job done.

Check it out.

Following slideshows will hopefully be much more sophisticated.. and will certainly include more photographs, but you have to start somewhere!

[And to answer your question: Hell, YES-- we will be whipping out that last picture when Liam heads to prom. I mean, what kind of parents would we be?!]


Allow Me to Introduce You....

>> 2.10.2010 the newest member of our family.

The Nikon D3000.

Ryan and I have always had a mild interest in photography. Many a date has been spend with one of our eyes behind a lens, eager to capture the magic of the moment. And I absolutely love to return to those photographs and remember. However, we have never invested in a really good camera. We've talked about it often.. but generally could capture what we wished with Ryan's Kodak and could not really justify spending a large sum of money on another technological gadget.

Leave it to our little gremlin to spur us into action.

His adorable face must be documented.

We have so far greatly enjoyed our investment. It feels like it has already paid for itself tenfold in beautiful moments forever frozen and we have only owned it for a couple of weeks. We are both still learning its entire potential (and ours)- we still have a long way to go. I would love to take a class someday.



Milk Drunk

As we gain more photography skills, I think it will be quite interesting to return to these early posts and see where we have come from. I hope that we will have learned a lot- that our photographs of Liam will evolve as he does.


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