Eight Months of Elise

Another month has gone by, so yet again it's time to document!

This kid's middle name should be Active. She very rarely wants to sit still, because there's so much to explore and she's developed a bunch of skills to do so. She was crawling awhile ago, and shortly thereafter learned how to pull herself up, and she has never looked back. She pulls herself up on e v e r y t h i n g, ranging from our media console to the coffee table to the kitchen island to the couch to her crib rails to our legs, etc. She's gotten really good at balancing and it's not an uncommon sight to see her loosely pressing a single hand against her latest support. Pretty soon I suspect that she won't need the support at all and will stand up anywhere! 

DSC_0413.JPG

She suddenly developed a fondness for eating solid foods, which is great, and for most meals she wants to be in my lap, eating whatever is on my plate. So far she has yet to encounter a food she doesn't like, although she was a little surprised the first time she tried a green bean. She proceeded to chow down on a few more after that, so that apparently didn't hinder her appreciation for them. She's a big fan of eggs, oatmeal, broccoli, guacamole, and prunes, of all things. She also very much enjoys every flavor of Puffs, which is a great way both to get her used to different textures and also work on her pincer grasp, even though they have very little actual nutritional value. When she's not eating food, she's trying to eat everything else, so she might be on teething round 2...

DSC_0389.JPG

She seems to have hit another round of somewhat unpredictable night wakings, so we're all a little tired. However, she makes up for it by being a napping champ during the day, so that, at least, is great. I'll take what I can get when it comes to baby sleep! Eight months of this parenting gig has taught me that everything is a (usually short-lived) phase if nothing else, so we grin and bear it when it's sometimes a little tougher, knowing it won't last forever. 

She's also discovered some very fun tricks, including kissing (albeit very wet and with a wide open mouth) and dancing to music. She'll stop what she's doing and start bobbing her head along with the beat. We think it's one of her more adorable stunts, and it makes me remember to turn music on more often while we're at home.

DSC_0415.JPG

She quite despises getting dressed and having her diaper changed these days, presumably because both activities require staying still more more than 0.5 seconds. She's generally become rather skilled at voicing her opinions over such things, but she counters that by being delightfully content and smiley when she's doing almost anything else.

DSC_0385.JPG

I feel so lucky to be her mom. I hope she always knows how loved she is, and that we think she's the bees knees, forever and always.

A Love Note to Clogs

Dear Clogs,

Some people say you are clunky and ugly. Others say you are only good for work. But I am here to tell you that I think you are beautiful and one of the greatest things to ever grace the world with your presence.

Your comfort level is unparalleled. Your convenience cannot be matched. Your cuteness factor is debatable to some, but to me, you are the loveliest. I will adore you forever and I will not be ashamed. Although I may choose to not wear you to work for fear of being shunned by more fashionable personages than I. 

 Clogs being splendid on a Thanksgiving walk in the woods in 2015.

Clogs being splendid on a Thanksgiving walk in the woods in 2015.

You have served me so well through the tumult of 4th grade, the academic rigors of college, the snowy winters of New England, several garage construction projects, and many a voyage through airport security. 

20151030_084404620_iOS.jpg

And let's not forget the late pregnancy and early postpartum days. So comfortable! So convenient! So easy! So little bending over!

20151212_220640423_iOS.jpg

Heels, wedges, boots, booties, sneakers, flats, sandals, and heck, espadrilles all have their places, but I challenge anyone to find a more functional, comfortable, and, if your taste even remotely correlates with mine, dare I suggest...cute shoe than clogs. Paired with the right clothes, I say they are adorable. I'm not sure my pictures actually do that, but I loved them nonetheless. 

And, dear clogs, I have my eye on a few more pairs of you for future purchases. Just look at these! Clogs WITH HEELS:

  Lotta from Stockholm  knows what's up.

Lotta from Stockholm knows what's up.

Or these, also from Lotta from Stockholm:

If they weren't out of my price range (I mean really...all of these are a little beyond the average price range, but humor me), I'd be all over these Sven clogs with a braided strap...

Braided Clogs.jpg

Not only because I like them myself, but also because they also have KID'S CLOGS. I can imagine almost nothing better. 

And so, dearest, loveliest clogs, I want to thank you for your many years of service. Thank you for filling an important gap in my wardrobe, for lasting forever, for your amazing durability, and most importantly, your encouragement for me to stand by my somewhat questionable shoe taste. I hope you become a trend nationwide so that I no longer have to justify my opinion to anyone who doubts your superpowers.

Love always,

A Clog Aficionado 

The Best of 2017: A Highlight Reel

It goes without saying that the best thing that happened in 2017 was Elise's arrival. Hands down, no question, duh. But curses. Now I've said it. So I'll just leave you with a Day 1 picture and a Today picture so that you can imagine how much goodness was in between the two.

20170529_224428420_iOS.jpg
 Lest you mistakenly assume she sleeps all the time, I counter that assumption with reality: we were up at 2:30, 4:30, 5:40, and 6:45 last night. I think she's teething.

Lest you mistakenly assume she sleeps all the time, I counter that assumption with reality: we were up at 2:30, 4:30, 5:40, and 6:45 last night. I think she's teething.

And now that we've gotten that out of the way, I hereby give you my best-of list for 2017. You know...now that it's 2018. I should have written this a week ago.

Best Location

I/We traveled several places this year, both pre- and post-baby. These places ranged from Vermont to New York to Washington to Vienna to Prague to Budapest, and Budapest took the cake. I was 19 weeks pregnant and it was cold/snowy/icy in January, but it was beautiful, and I loved walking around the city in all its wintry loveliness with my wiggly (internal) baby as company. The food is delicious, the cost of living is inexpensive, the people are friendly, and the history is fascinating. 

20170111_154453664_iOS.jpg
20170113_002749292_iOS.jpg

Best Book(s)

I read a lot of things until May 28th. After that my reading rate went WAY down, but I'm hoping to pick it up again in the coming months. That should technically be easy since Elise currently prefers to nap with me rather than in her crib...but I'm getting off track. Unsurprisingly, my favorite books were on the topic of home and/or motherhood. 

I've loved The Lifegiving Home for a couple of years now, and I've definitely recommended it here before. It's a book that really gave me a vision for how I want our home to be, and it has lots of practical ideas presented in a warm way that is both encouraging and inspirational. Since the second half of the book has a chapter for each month of the year, I reread through those sections from September onward. I'm hoping to continue that as we move into 2018. 

My other favorite book, The Magic of Motherhood, was a recent discovery that I purchased on a whim during a ridiculous Amazon sale (where else could you get a hardcover book for $7.50?). It's written by a group of authors who collectively contribute to the Coffee + Crumbs blog, and it's organized into several short essays. I found that it was best enjoyed during nursing sessions, since I could read a couple of the essays in the amount of time it took Elise to eat. It's beautiful and uplifting while at the same time not shirking away from harder topics. Two thumbs up from me.

Best TV Show

We waited all year for this one! The Crown (season 2) is a show that we anticipated for 11 months, and then watched in about a week. It went by too fast! 

As an unabashed British royalty fan, it was right up my alley. We enjoyed season 1 last year, and enjoyed season 2 just as much this round. And both Chaz and I liked it, which is saying something about a British period drama! This also relates to my next category...

Best Website

I heard about this one on an episode of the Federalist podcast that focused on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's engagement. I don't really know how to describe www.gofugyourself.com, so I will just tell you that it has lots of articles on the royals (well beyond William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan), TV shows (The Crown!), and a HOST of things including unusual celebrity fashion choices, award shows, and other bizarre things. I'm very much looking forward to their coverage of the royal wedding in May. I realize that listing this website as my favorite of the year may reveal my shameful interest in celebrities rather than just the royal family, but...there it is.

Best Photos

These are all pretty much baby-related. I'm not sorry. As a result, they're not actually the best *quality* photos, just my favorites.

fullsizeoutput_1.jpeg
20170715_213620045_iOS.jpg
IMG_2240.JPG
DSC_0896.JPG
20171118_231611839_iOS.jpg
fullsizeoutput_666 (1).jpeg

I think that's it for my highlight reel. Onward to 2018!

Grand Plans

I had this idea recently that it would be very fun to take a group trip to London. Babies included, of course. It would be great to get a group of friends together, hop on a plane to a European location that is literally closer than the other side of the US, and gallivant around the city together, taking babies' schedules into account. This seems like a reasonable idea to me because several of my friends have babies around the same age, so it's the perfect opportunity. Most of them are still considered lap infants and would therefore be free on flights.

Behold...

This idea first came about due to a dream. I had a lovely morning dream between Elise's 5:00 nursing session and her 7:30 wake up that some friends and I (plus family) were hanging out in London. It was so lovely that I immediately texted my friend around 8:00 and told her we should do it. I laughed at myself until I forgot all about it later that afternoon.

However, later in the week the idea leapt back into my (let's be honest...probably delusional) brain over lunch, and I turned an unlikely scenario into searching for air fares. 

PEOPLE. YOU CAN GET FROM BOSTON TO LONDON FOR $99 (per direction).

Just consider it. YOU TOO could take a crooked selfie in front of the gates of Buckingham Palace.

20151030_130450054_iOS.jpg

Suddenly, my idea no longer seemed impossible, and I am convinced that I need to do it. I'd be happy with a family trip, a girls' trip, an extended family trip, a solo trip, ANY KIND OF TRIP. But trust me when I say it'd be more fun to go as a group. I've done the solo London touring thing and while great, it's more exciting to share the experience. Plus I know Elise can conquer a 6-hour flight, so we've got that covered.

20171116_135908605_iOS.jpg

So please, someone, sign up to come with me to England. It would be merry, I'm sure. Perhaps if we're feeling especially adventurous and the baby/babies is/are feeling particularly compliant, we could even take the train to Paris for a day. Let's hear it for the Eurostar. WHO'S IN? I've been bitten by the international travel bug and I will not be restrained. BYOB(aby).

And this time, I promise not to get stuck in traffic 45 minutes before the plane is supposed to leave. It wasn't my best moment.

20151027_115352665_iOS.jpg

Seven Months of Elise

Well, we've arrived at yet another month marker. This one snuck up on me. In all other months, I've started thinking of Elise as the upcoming month's age a week or two prior to the actual date. But this time? I thought she had a couple more days to go at least before she graduated from a half a year to a month plus a half year. 

This month brought with it a host of changes! She started crawling at six months plus three days, something I only remember with such specificity because the month change had happened so recently prior. While very exciting, I had rather been looking forward to the "potted plant" stage where she would happily sit on a blanket while playing with toys. No such luck for me. We went from stationary lying to very non-stationary moving in the blink of an eye, and there was no turning back. 

DSC_0323.JPG

Our house converted from being quite safe to extremely hazardous overnight, and we're in the process of baby-proofing everything at the moment. In the meantime, we watch her like an overprotective hawk while she zooms around every conceivable area all the live long day. 

Within a week or two of crawling, she also decided she'd like to pull herself up to a stand, and we lowered the crib mattress ASAP. In lieu of having an easily accessible crib rail, she finds many a surface with which to serve her standing needs. The current favorite is a box of Costco wipes waiting to be stocked away.

DSC_0332.JPG

She babbles all the time, alternating between syllables and growls to her heart's content. She's also sampled some "real" food this month, trying her taste buds at such exotic flavors as plain yogurt (with a touch of maple syrup), peanut butter (hooray for no allergies!), Thai massaman curry (hey, the doctor said to mash up whatever we were eating...), butternut squash and apple soup (sampled at our work's Christmas party), and avocado (which she despised). It seems that she appreciates many a flavor but hates any and all textures other than liquid, so we'll be introducing textured things later. That said, she does enjoy a good chomp on a whole carrot when the time is right. 

DSC_0307.JPG

When she wants to sit still for long enough, she loves to read books, and I frequently watch her crawl over to her bookshelf to pat each book on the binding, apparently to signify her approval of the contents. As a result, several baby Bibles have made their way to the most easily-accessible shelf. 

DSC_0311.JPG

She has a few favorite toys at the moment, and thoroughly enjoys time spent on her play mat.

DSC_0320.JPG

However, she typically finds the tag on said play mat as interesting (if not more so) than the actual toys. 

DSC_0316.JPG

She had her very first Christmas this month, and in spite of dealing with a bit of a cold during the festivities, she enjoyed herself and loved having her Nana, Papa, and two uncles around for the occasion. 

DSC_0317.JPG

As previously stated in every month post since she's been born, we love her to pieces. She's the most marvelously delightful little girl and we think she's just the best. 

DSC_0342.JPG

A 6-Month Report on Favorite Baby Products

When Elise was two months old, I made a list of my favorite baby products so far. I still stand by my list! But it was great for a newborn, and now we have a 6-month old (almost 7, actually!), and the list has changed a tad as a result. Thus, here is my list of current favorite baby products for a 0.5 year old kiddo.

1) Fleece booties: Winter in New England is cold. When cold, humans, babies included, need foot coverings. And babies in particular need ones that aren't easy to take off. These fit the bill, and they look so cozy that I wish they had them in my size. Elise wears them practically every day, and now that she's pulling herself up to a stand on the regular, we added some with grippers to her Christmas list. Be gone, cold feet! Only warm ones for us!

2) Wearable blankets: I don't know if this can count as an official "product" since I made it myself, but a rolling baby (or if I'm honest, a stomach-sleeping baby) made swaddles a thing of the past and we moved on to sleep sacks. There are some great ones out there (Halo! Aden + Anais! Hanna Andersson! Carter's!), but I wanted an especially warm one since we let our house get pretty cool at night, and I wanted one that wouldn't break the bank. Ahem: I'm looking at YOU, Anthropologie. And so I crafted one, lining it with both batting and flannel, with a cotton exterior. We use them every night and they successfully fend off the cold. 

20171125_130513992_iOS.jpg

Given enough time and a bit more practice, I might consider selling them on Etsy, but we've got a way to go before we get there. And rest assured...mine will not be $90.

3) Nuk Pacifiers: After a solid five months of refusing any and all pacifiers, Elise finally decided these were ok. I should put a disclaimer here in case anyone is taking my highly subjective word as law. Just because my baby ended up taking these doesn't mean another baby will. But they're going on my favorites list anyway, because they were hugely helpful in getting Elise to go to sleep more easily at night, at least until she discovered her thumb. 

4) Columbia Snowsuit: As previously stated, it's cold in the winter, and thus going outside requires some gear. This snowsuit keeps Elise nice and toasty, so her first snow experience was a great one. We got ours at the end of winter last year (before she was born!), so it was on super sale. I highly recommend going that route if you're particularly adept at forecasting clothes sizes. 

5) AngelCare Movement Monitor: This one is decidedly an investment, but for me it was 100% worth it. SIDS is a terrifying thing, and like a stereotypical first time parent, for the first few months I checked on Elise's breathing multiple times every evening and then every time I woke up at night while she was still asleep. After I started having nightmares about waking up and finding her not breathing, I knew I had to do something. This monitor entirely took away the nightly anxiety for me, and while I might be able to equally attribute that to a rather fantastic reduction in postpartum hormones, I love the peace of mind that it provides. It works even with my little non-wiggly stomach sleeper, so I'd say it's pretty effective. It also helped me feel a LOT more confident about putting Elise in her own room, which has been hugely beneficial for getting consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep for all three of us. 

6) Baby Boden tights: There's clearly a theme going on here. Yet another thing that keeps a baby warm...these tights are so great. They're thick and wonderful and they, like many other things, periodically go on sale. We have two pairs and they are on regular rotation multiple times per week. I'm hoping they grow with her so that they last forever. Most Boden stuff is out of our regular price range, but these are very, very much worth a little extra.

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 8.51.57 PM.png

Here are the tights (in the cream color, obviously) in the wild. 

Exhibit A: 

20171123_191251641_iOS.jpg

Exhibit B: 

20171128_162538359_iOS.jpg

7) A cardboard box: This one isn't linkable since it is what it is. Elise loves sitting in an empty diapers box, and it's great because she's delightfully stationary. I recommend a box to everyone. And look! She's so pleased!

20171215_000317462_iOS.jpg

So there you have my current list. Honorable mentions go to the Bumbo Multi Seat, an Ergo baby carrier, the BundleMe carseat cover, and this extraordinarily baby-entertaining musical octopus toy, as they are used on the daily. Oh, and Elise's own thumb. Her discovery of her thumb as a self-soothing device was a sleeping game changer, but it's not exactly something that's available on the market. And of course, what would a baby product recommendation post BE without yet another nod toward the Solly Baby Wrap. I will proclaim my love for it for all eternity. Anything you think I missed? Tell me your top picks!

Six Months of Elise

At this exact moment a half a year ago, I was lying in a hospital bed with a 16-minute old baby in my arms. Upon her arrival sixteen minutes prior, she had been whisked over to the warmer to be evaluated by the neonatologist to make sure all her bells and whistles were in good order, and when she was declared perfectly healthy, they handed her to Chaz, who handed her to me. And after that turn of events, our little family's world has never been the same, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

It's hard to believe that was only six months ago. Every single parent on the face of the earth says, "I can't remember what life was like before Baby arrived," and we all just chuckle and carry on, but as with almost every saying that is repeated 'round the globe, it's completely true. That IS why it's a common saying, after all. But that doesn't stop me from repeating it once again. I can't really remember what life was like before Elise arrived. Heck, what did we DO with all of our spare time? 

In other news, Elise is six months old and is a ball full of energy. 

fullsizeoutput_3bc.jpeg

She's gotten significantly better at holding herself in seated position once placed there, although she hasn't quite mastered getting there herself. She's trying on the regular though, so I suppose that will come in no time.

She rarely cries, but she has zero tolerance for being on her back and will flip herself over on to her stomach and get up on her hands and knees before you can say Jack Robinson. 

fullsizeoutput_3c8.jpeg

She's pretty proud of herself, too. 

She talks most of the time, and has expanded her vocabulary to "Babababababa," "Bwahbwahbwahbwah" (I promise that's different from babababa), "Mamamamama," "Dadadadada," and "Brrrbrrrbrrrbrrr." She still enjoys both squealing and growling, although more often than not those sounds include syllables as well. What excitement!

Speaking of excitement, when she finds something particularly thrilling, she'll make a funny sort of inhaling gasp/squeak, accompanied with curling up into a ball and enthusiastically clutching the shoulder of whoever is carrying her. This combination of actions is usually brought on by walking down the stairs after waking up for a nap, going outside, or whenever someone says something excitedly. 

fullsizeoutput_3d5.jpeg

She seems to be within days of figuring out how to crawl, as she is able to move her knees while on all fours, and often rocks back and forth trying to get herself to move forward. Once she figures out her hands need to move as well, she'll be off to the races.

fullsizeoutput_3d1.jpeg

And last but not least, she cut two teeth while we were in Washington for Thanksgiving, and she is suddenly back to (mostly) sleeping through the night. Insert praise hands here. 

fullsizeoutput_3e1.jpeg

Other fast facts to note:

  • She took her first flight and handled it like a champ.
  • She had her first Thanksgiving and ate no Thanksgiving food - still on a fully liquid (milk) diet!
  • She's started sleeping in her own room at night, now that she's more consistent in not waking up. 
  • She's working on moving up a clothes size, and as a result has a rather inflated closet since she fits in 3-6 month but also in 6-9 month outfits.
DSC_0090.JPG

And we love her to pieces. 

O Christmas Tree...

I think Christmas just got infinitely more exciting. I mean, Christmas has always been exciting, but with a baby, it became even more so. I'm not sure which is better: being a kid at Christmas or having a kid at Christmas. Perhaps we'll never know. Or at least I'll know after a few Christmases with a kid are under my belt.

Needless to say, I'm pretty pumped about this coming Christmas, and so we got started with the Christmas decorations a little earlier than usual this year, beginning with the Christmas tree.

In a perfect world, we'd go to the tree farm and cut down our own tree. I have such great memories of doing that for years as a kid and I'd love to pass that down, but it turns out that somehow cutting down our own is significantly MORE expensive than buying a pre-cut one. Someone explain that to me, please. Someone has to do all the labor of cutting, moving, arranging, selling, and attaching the trees to cars, but it's $20 less expensive than me going to the farm, sawing, transporting, and attaching everything on my own?

I digress.

Long story short, we got Elise's first Christmas tree at the local garden supply place down the road, but as far as pre-cut trees go, they had a really good selection and it was still fun. 

We headed to the lot on Saturday afternoon and perused the various tree options. There were several good ones! 

20171125_195354907_iOS.jpg

Our living room has limited options for tree placement, so we knew we wanted something not too tall and not too wide, but not too short and not too skinny. Basically, it had to be just right. Fortunately, we found the perfect one within a few minutes and then we made sure that Elise approved. 

20171125_195643091_iOS.jpg

When we couldn't get her attention to take a picture, we knew that was it. And so we played it like the millennials that we are and took a family selfie, then paid for our tree and got it on top of the car. 

20171125_195721980_iOS.jpg
20171125_200153775_iOS.jpg
20171125_200142034_iOS.jpg

As one does with Christmas trees, we brought it home, set it up, and filled it with decorations while Christmas music played in the background. Midway through we made breakfast for dinner, and then finished it up after we ate. 

We tried to take one more picture along the way, but it's a little tough while baby-wrangling and this is pretty much what we got:

20171125_204954884_iOS.jpg

And finally, because Christmas with a baby is magical, I took a few photos while she played with some lights to round out the evening. 

DSC_0012.JPG
DSC_0019.JPG
DSC_0027.JPG

Since Advent starts later this year, we have an extra week to enjoy the season. We're celebrating at our house this year for the first time, and I'm quite looking forward to slowing down, savoring the preparations, the decorations, and the holiness in which these weeks are steeped. And I can't wait to watch Elise take it all in for the first time, since there's something especially lovely about introducing holidays to someone who's already filled with wonder over the regular day to day life. May we all anticipate Jesus's birth with such childlike amazement. 

Five Months of Elise

Somehow, another month has passed already and I'm back here to document. Usually I like to have a few posts between the month by month ones, but...here I am without other filler. Besides, a regular dose of Elise updates is all anyone ever wanted, right? Ha.

DSC_0968.JPG

This month, Elise finally decided that rolling from her back to her stomach is her new favorite activity, and if you put her down on her back, she'll be on her stomach within the blink of an eye. Occasionally, typically in the morning when she has the most energy, she'll do a few barrel rolls and go from back to stomach, stomach to back, back to stomach, etc. until she's reached the opposite side of whatever surface she's lying on. Needless to say, it has become even more difficult to get a non-blurry photo of her while she plays, since all she wants to do is move around. 

DSC_0991.JPG

She continues to expand her repertoire of sounds, from the bottom of her range with growls, and the very top of her range with extremely high pitched squeals. The growls are particularly endearing, while the squeals could be considered ear-splitting. Upon experiencing them during a 3-hour car trip, Chaz said, "I think it's time to invest in some ear plugs."

DSC_0963.JPG

She's got a little more peach fuzz on top of her head, and it looks like she's going to be blond, at least for now. With two brunette parents, I think chances are good that she will one day join the club. 

DSC_0945.JPG

She has just started to be able to sit up by herself if put in position, although it's pretty hit or miss whether she'll stay up or tip over on her side. I'm guessing by the time six months rolls around, she will be doing it all on her own. She's also showing some signs of getting ready to crawl, pushing herself backwards in order to get up on hands and knees. 

DSC_0954.JPG

All the changes have been pretty exciting, except that she has gone back to waking up a few times a night rather than sleeping all the way through. Nevertheless, we think she's the greatest, even when we're getting a bit less rest.  

DSC_0978.JPG

With everything that's changed this month, we're so excited to see what next month brings!

Four Months of Elise

Things have been a little more...distracted around here these days, seeing as I'm writing this a solid two weeks late. Elise is four months old! She's growing like a weed! She's learning new things! Per usual, we must document.

DSC_0843.JPG

My photos weren't as good this month because she was wiggling all around, exploring the world around her. Or at least her own fingers. At the four month mark, she is able to consistently roll over from front to back, and occasionally roll from back to front. However, she still prefers to reserve this particular activity for the most special of times, namely when she doesn't want to sleep. As with last month, her most favorite activity while spending time lying on her stomach is to try to propel herself forward, so far to no avail. She is an absolute pro at rotating herself in a full circle when she has the room though, so it's only a matter of time.

DSC_0855.JPG

She talks all the time while at home or in her car seat, but when we're out and about she would rather observe everything than say much. Her favorite sounds include "Ummmmm," "Mmmmm," "Maaaaaa," and if we're really lucky, "Mama." I'm 100% sure that she does not associate the word with me at all, but it's rather gratifying nonetheless.

DSC_0853.JPG

Her four month checkup revealed that she has grown a full six inches since birth, and she's off the percentile charts for height. However, if there were a percentile chart for hair growth, that would be incremental at best, seeing as she still gets called Baldie every once in awhile by perfect strangers. Let it be known that she does indeed have hair, but it's very light and very short. And it is growing! Just very slowly. 

And last but not least, here's a smattering of non-month-specific photos from the last month that deserve to be published just because we think she's the sweetest. 

fullsizeoutput_258.jpeg
 Is there anything better than a pajama-clad baby? I say no. 

Is there anything better than a pajama-clad baby? I say no. 

IMG_6726.JPG
IMG_2240.JPG
 Blurry, but her face is too good to not post.

Blurry, but her face is too good to not post.

 She thinks standing is the coolest. Some balancing assistance is required.

She thinks standing is the coolest. Some balancing assistance is required.

We love you, little bean! 

Apple Picking and the Start of a Tradition

When I was little, one of the key indicators that fall had arrived was going apple picking. Chapin Orchard was a couple towns over, and we'd visit the animals, take a hayride, and of course...pick apples. I don't actually remember what we did with the apples we picked, but they definitely all got eaten one way or another!

By the time I got to college, the yearly outing was treasured enough (and similarly loved by friends) that we made it a priority to go to a nearby orchard in the fall to continue the tradition despite being away from home. We added on apple cider donuts to the animal visiting, hayride, and apple picking, and that became as important as the other aspects. Perhaps more so, if I'm being honest!

I don't know if I really thought about it as a tradition until lately though. But this year, with a tiny human with whom we'd like to establish some annual traditions, it suddenly felt more important. So when my friend Meghanne suggested apple picking with our respective families, the idea was irresistible. 

DSC_0786.JPG

So we loaded up our babies and met at the farm, and headed out to the orchard to gather our apples. 

DSC_0789.JPG

Elise is still a little too small to get excited about the picking process at this point, but she did enjoy spending time in the wrap while Chaz and I did all the gathering work!

DSC_0794.JPG

We stopped picking long enough to take a few family pictures, which is great since I have precious few photos of all three of us together. I mean, 99% of the pictures I take these days are of Elise and Elise alone, so it's nice to mix it up every once in awhile. 

DSC_0803.JPG

We got some good ones of Meghanne's family as well! 

DSC_0801.JPG

We each gathered a half a bushel of Cortland and Red Delicious apples, making sure to only grab the good ones. That turned out to be harder than expected, because many of the apples looked like they'd been afflicted with some sort of apple-y disease, but we managed to find some spot-free ones without too much trouble. Several of the good ones were high up, so Meghanne and I stood back and let the taller ones among us grab those. 

DSC_0816.JPG

And before we left the orchard area, we made sure to get a group photo, because it didn't happen if it wasn't documented, right? Right.

0-eus-d3-c073899cc2a535cffa6c2cf7eab07211.jpg

As we walked back to the farm center, we found one of those...cut out things where you can poke your head through a hole. I'm sure there's a name for those, but I'm not educated enough to know what it is. So Wooden Hole Thing is the official term for now. Obviously, more pictures were in order, because when a Wooden Hole Thing is available and babies are present, such an opportunity should not be missed. Behold, a series of photos: 

DSC_0821.JPG
 Elise wasn't too sure about it. 

Elise wasn't too sure about it. 

DSC_0827.JPG
DSC_0830.JPG
DSC_0834.JPG

All the modeling tired Elise out, I suppose, since she cuddled right up and proceeded to fall asleep. 

DSC_0836.JPG
DSC_0808.JPG

We ended our adventure with apple cider donuts, since we had already established that the donuts were the secondary goal of apple picking. This farm did not disappoint - I'm pretty sure they were the best apple cider donuts I've ever had, and I've eaten quite a few in my day. 

IMG_6624.JPG

In short, we had a grand old time. Elise definitely won't be old enough to remember this trip, but it's something I hope to repeat year after year so that we can start establishing traditions of our own. 

I love fall - I mean really, who doesn't - but it isn't just because of the pretty colors on the trees, the crispness in the air, or the sumptuous food that ends up on our tables with the change of season. Instead, it's the gathering in, to pull an idea from The Lifegiving Home (frequently mentioned here of late). I love the feeling of the pull homeward, the desire for warmth and stocking up, preparing for winter, and making things cozy. And so I made 11 jars of applesauce with our apples while Elise slept this afternoon. I took a little break when she cried a bit in her sleep, taking more time than usual to snuggle with her and breathe in her freshly-bathed baby smell before settling her back in her crib to snooze the afternoon away. Gathering in doesn't just have to be about stocking a home pantry. I gathered Elise in my arms, knowing that she won't be small enough to gather this way forever. I gathered memories of our apple adventure, storing them away for years to come. We're slowly gathering traditions throughout Elise's first year, hopefully giving her an anchor in life as she grows.

We're already planning on doing an apple picking trip next year, because traditions are important. They gives us the peculiar opportunity to gather both memories and hopes all at once. 

Three Months of Elise

Today, Elise is three months old! Insert a paragraph here about how fast time is passing and oh-my-goodness-HOWWWW. But all of that has been said before both here and by every parent in the history of ever, so I'll spare you the redundancy. Just please note that all of it - every last jot and tittle that you've heard from everyone - is 100% true. 

fullsizeoutput_124.jpeg

Three-month Elise has recently discovered her vocal cords and has been putting them to good use, having full-on conversations with us on the daily. Fortunately, she has not decided to use her newly discovered skills in places slightly less familiar than home, which is good news for us during church. I suspect those days are coming to an end, however, and we'll have to adjust our church service strategies to accommodate. 

DSC_0783.JPG

She has also become the Drool Queen and enjoys chomping on her hands, making a bit of a mess wherever she goes. Toys occasionally find their way into her mouth as well, but at least for now, she enjoys looking at them more than playing with them. Her favorite toy is a stuffed cow from a school I visited for work last year, probably due to the dramatic color contrast between the black and white spots on his body. 

fullsizeoutput_127.jpeg

While she hasn't yet mastered rolling over, she does manage to get from tummy to back with only a tiny bit of assistance, so the day is nigh! She loves tummy time and prefers to spend it attempting to move forward in a sort of crawl rather than trying to flip herself sideways. 

When it comes to routines, we've been following her cues, and within the last two weeks she's established an astonishingly consistent bedtime between 7:30 and 8:00. She spends the first part of the evening sleeping in her crib, and then we feed, change, and move her into our room when we go to bed. She will sometimes give us a full night's rest, but most nights she wakes up between 3:30 and 5:30 looking for food and a clean diaper. She usually goes right back to sleep, though, so we don't complain! 

fullsizeoutput_11d.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_11f.jpeg

She has about 1000 nicknames, ranging from the formal Miss Elise to the much less formal Bean, Nugget, Goober, Grumpkin (when fussing), Peanut, and the list goes on. We think she's the coolest, and with every new achieved milestone, I'm both celebrating her achievements and begging time to slow down. After all, a quarter of a year (already!) is nothing to sneeze at. 

fullsizeoutput_126.jpeg

We love you, baby girl! We're so blessed to be the ones who get to watch you grow.

Levain Bakery Follow Up: The Homemade Version

If you recall, when we went to New York, I tried the famous Levain Bakery cookies and decided they were alright, but not hands down the greatest cookies of all time. Remember? I even made a preposterous claim that I liked my own cookie recipe better. 

As a result, I decided that I needed to turn the flavor of my cookies into the size, shape, and texture of the Levain cookies, and set to work. My two biggest peeves with the Levain cookies were a) the walnuts and b) the (lack of) a good dough flavor, so that's what I set out to "fix." 

There are a number of food bloggers on the interwebs that have already undertaken replica Levain recipes, so I started there. This one looked good, but a friend had already tried making this one and declared it was amazing, so that's the one I ended up using as my base recipe. That one turned out to be a good one, since the baker had already done the hard work of figuring out how much flour and chocolate chips were required to make up for the removed walnuts. And so I got to work. Here's what I did:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup frozen salted butter (grated on a cheese grater)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the grated butter and the two kinds of sugar until smooth.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated into the butter and sugar mixture.
  4. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix until smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. (I do this step in three batches.)
  7. Once all the ingredients are fully mixed, remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the chocolate chips. (There are a lot of chocolate chips, so don't be alarmed.)
  8. Scoop the dough into baseball-sized dough balls and place them on a cookie sheet lined with either a baking mat or parchment paper. There should be no more than four per sheet. Do not flatten the dough balls.
  9. Bake the cookies for 11 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are the perfect shade of golden brown.
  10. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them sit on the cookie sheet for 15 minutes to finish the baking process.
  11. EAT THOSE COOKIES.

And oh. my. goodness. These were actually the best cookies I've ever had. My husband said, "I don't know how anyone could finish one of those in one sitting. I had a half of a half and I'm full!"

20170807_020349119_iOS.jpg

Well, folks, I'm here to say that I CAN finish one in one sitting, although I will also say that I probably wouldn't want to eat anything else until the next day, so if you make this recipe, eat at your own (delicious) risk. My friend Rachael and I sat down and consumed them alongside a glass of wine and the finale of The Bachelorette. They were, as she posted to Snapchat...

IMG_1673.PNG

The Great Mouse Hunt of 2017

Can something still be called great if it took place over the course of less than 12 hours? I say yes, but based on the following account, let me know if you agree.*

For the past several days I had been hearing scurrying noises in the walls. I'm not one to freak out too much about the prospect of rodents in my house, as long as they don't STAY in my house, so I didn't think too much of it. I told myself I should probably buy some mouse traps soon, but I wasn't sure where to put them since I didn't know how a mouse, chipmunk, or other small creature could have invaded the premises. 

Yesterday started passed mostly uneventfully. I heard the scratching/scurrying again while sitting (and nursing, as I do on the daily several times), and then forgot about it. I am well aware that a normal person would not forget about such a thing, so I suppose that makes me abnormal. 

That all changed when I saw a pair of my shorts that I needed to put away. I grabbed them from the chair upon which they sat, turned around, and started climbing the stairs, and that's when I saw him. THE MOUSE. He was sitting at the top of the stairs, apparently playing dead, since he wasn't moving. 

IMG_6424.JPG

Again, a normal person might have had a normal reaction, like a gasp or a flight down the stairs. I did not. I said to myself, "I must get rid of this mouse RIGHT NOW." So I crept back down the stairs, headed for the kitchen cabinets, and grabbed a mixing bowl from the lazy susan where all our bowls are stored. Armed with a capturing implement, I headed back up the stairs to find that the mouse had moseyed its way along the baseboard on the landing and waltzed into Elise's room. Please note that Elise was sleeping in her room, which added a niiiiiiice layer of complication.

I got as close as I could, but before I could get the bowl over him, he scampered behind her bookshelf and was out of reach. He proceeded to disappear as I tried to access him from the other side. And so I declared a truce for the night and went to bed, vowing to myself to buy mouse traps in the morning.

HOWEVER.

The next morning arrived, and while Elise swung in her swing and I ate my Corn Flakes (don't judge - they're tasty), the mouse reappeared just beside our living room chair. "Aha!" I thought. "MOUSE, YOU ARE MINE." 

IMG_6425.JPG

I grabbed the same bowl from the previous night, tiptoed my way over to the chair (approaching from the other side, of course), climbed onto the seat, leaned over the side, and quickly set the bowl upside down over the mouse, trapping him underneath. 

I swear he must have been the world's dumbest mouse, because I'm pretty sure normal mouse behavior would have him running away from humans as fast as possible. The mouse and I are evidently compatriots in abnormality. Let's just hope it's on different scales. 

Since I still had to dispose of the (live) mouse, I took a flattened cardboard box from our recycling bin and slid it under the bowl. The mouse was now transportable. I lifted the whole contraption up, took it to our screen door, and went outside.  

DSC_0727.JPG

Once outside, I took a very quick jaunt down the rail trail behind our house, set the cardboard-plus-bowl on the ground, and flipped the bowl off the box. 

DSC_0728.JPG

He was temporarily paralyzed by fear and stayed stock still, but quickly recovered after I tipped the box to get him to move (and to get myself back inside the house). 

DSC_0734.jpg

Zoom lens. Don't think I'd get that close without one.

After taking one more mouse portrait, I bade him farewell and headed back inside. Please, dear mouse, STAY AWAY FROM MY RESIDENCE FOREVERMORE. 

DSC_0736.jpg

*Other potential titles included Mousepocalypse and MouseGate.

Tea Time with Friends

Well, I blinked and two weeks went by. Just call me Rip Van Winkle already, ok? It feels like a lot of things are going on but at the same time not much is happening. Part of it might be because I'm used to feeling somewhat stressed at this time of year due to the busy season at work, and that is only something I'm hearing about (rather than experiencing personally) this year. In a way, I feel a little guilty getting together with friends during the work day since I know that so many of my coworkers are under the summer pressure, but that's when I try to remember that I have a tiny human depending on me to stay alive 24/7. I guess that's its own kind of stress, but decidedly of a different sort.

Speaking of friends, a couple of my best ones and I decided to get afternoon tea along with our small offspring. A daunting thought, to be sure, but made easier by the fact that two of the three babes aren't mobile yet and are fairly content to sit in our laps, and the third is still in the womb for the next 11 weeks or so. It all sounded rather proper and lovely, and so we decided to risk the possibility that the babies could lose it while there and went anyway.

Fortunately, both babies were well behaved (though mine required a snack toward the end) and we had a grand old time. Initially we were headed to the Wenham Tea House, but we realized at the last minute that they weren't open every day and had to change our plans. Instead, we hightailed it to Salem and tried Jolie Tea Company, and it was well worth the extra couple of miles to get there. They offered over 80 kinds of looseleaf tea on their menu, and had a variety of either individual pastries or small combinations of pastries and pots of tea at very reasonable prices. For example, all three of us chose to get "La Petite Tea," which came with a pot of any kind of tea on the menu, along with a scone, a madeleine cookie, and a French macaron for $9.95. Considering some of the teas were around $7 a pot, I consider that a pretty good deal.

IMG_6327.JPG

It was so nice that we all declared we wished we could do it once a week. While that isn't really feasible, we'll definitely make it a regular event, and it inspired me to try to make time for creating that type of thing at my own home. Especially as Elise gets older, I think it would be fun for her to have a real, delightful tea party every once in awhile!

It also reinforced how grateful I am for this group of friends. What a blessing it is to have seen each other through the college years, first jobs, boyfriends, engagements, weddings, and now babies. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and they're a big part of mine!

IMG_6364.JPG

A Trip in Review: NYC with a Baby

Now that we're back from NYC, I figured I'd put together a summary of our trip because I'm sure everyone else is just DYING to hear about how it went. Could you get any more excited? I think not.

We went back and forth for a couple of days when deciding if Elise and I should go or not. Our last vacation with her (at one month) included rather a lot of fussing and sickness, as you may recall, so we were a little hesitant to risk that again, this time with fewer helping hands available. But Elise was a full month older, was sleeping better through the night, and was not coming down with any form of sickness, so we decided it was worth a try. And so off we went! 

We planned to head down Tuesday afternoon and return Saturday afternoon. Chaz was working on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning, so I planned two days worth of activities I could do by myself with a baby, and a family excursion to the Statue of Liberty. I knew I wasn't going to be able to do my typical traveling-solo style mad dash touring, but I also wasn't entirely limited to two-hour journeys only because I had a) the wrap (making yet another appearance on ye olde blog) and b) the necessary devices/body parts for diapering and feeding a small human. That essentially meant that I could do one major thing per day. 

But first - the travel! A couple of important points:

Packing: my usual rule of thumb is PACK LIGHT. Not in this case. My new rule was PACK COMPACT. In other words, pack more than you probably need so that you are prepared for anything. I packed a whole package of diapers (sticking them all in the zip pocket of the suitcase lid), two outfits per day for Elise (since I didn't want to end up having too few clothes thanks to spit up/poop/various other body fluids), and tools for evaluating sickness (in case she came down with something like she did on the last trip). We also brought her Dockatot, since she sleeps really well in it and we also wouldn't have to bring something bulkier like a Pack & Play. Between all of her stuff, the Dockatot, Chaz's work clothes, and both of our regular clothes, we had a lot of stuff, but I fit it all into one suitcase and one backpack, which doubled as our diaper bag for the days. 

 Suitcase Layer 1

Suitcase Layer 1

 Suitcase Layer 2

Suitcase Layer 2

Did we overpack? 100% yes. Did we have everything we needed? Well...Elise did. I should have packed one more pair of shorts for me, because I was NOT planning on sweating as much as I did thanks to excessive walking + over-80-degree weather. But apart from that, we had everything we could possibly have required. And when it comes to taking care of a baby in an unfamiliar place, being over prepared is better than being under prepared, and we'll be even more on top of things the next time we travel. 

Traveling: We took the train from South Station in Boston to Penn Station in NYC, and it was the perfect way to go with a baby. It was easy to get up and walk around if needed, there was no change in air pressure due to elevation, and there was no airport security with liquid restrictions. I call that a win. Plus, Elise loved looking out the window when she wasn't eating or sleeping. Added bonus: there was a changing table in a fairly large bathroom. 

Hotel: King-sized bed. Insert the praise hands emoji here, please. I'm slowing becoming convinced that we need one of those at home too, because HOLY SPACE. Amazing. 

Alright! That's how we got to New York. Here's what we did:

Day 1: Levain Bakery! I won't recap that whole trip again since it was already done here, so instead I'll give you a slideshow:

 Setting off for the day...at noon. #morningnap

Setting off for the day...at noon. #morningnap

 Post-cookie-purchase rest in the park (to eat said cookie).

Post-cookie-purchase rest in the park (to eat said cookie).

 The Cookie.

The Cookie.

 What a smirk.

What a smirk.

When we got back to the hotel, Elise took her afternoon nap, and then when Chaz returned from working, we walked to a nearby Mexican restaurant for dinner. It was delicious, and Elise had the courtesy to fall asleep on the way there and wake up just as we were finishing. That was a one-time deal. Future meals were not quite so easy.

Day 2: Brooklyn Bridge (viewing) plus Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory! Yet again we set off in the late morning after Elise's morning nap, although we started the whole day an hour earlier and so were out of the hotel by 11. I took a second stab at navigating the subway and ultimately decided that nearly every other city in the world has a better labeled, better mapped, easier to navigate metro system than New York. It's possible to get around, but only if you have a pretty good idea of the layout of the city in your head. And definitely don't count on there being a subway map once you've gone beyond the entrance to the station. Once you're past the fare collection, you're toast until you actually get on the train. Nevertheless, we persisted and eventually found our way to Brooklyn. 

When we got there, we took yet another selfie on a park bench. 

You'd think we could come up with a better pose, but I was feeling more overheated than creative and so it's the best I've got. My original plan was to walk over the bridge, but the heat persuaded me to cut my losses and instead just satisfy myself with eating ice cream while taking pictures of the bridge. In the end, I'm not actually sure that counts as a loss, because...ice cream.

 Elise spent much time munching on her wrap.

Elise spent much time munching on her wrap.

 This was taken shortly before it started melting ALL over my hand.

This was taken shortly before it started melting ALL over my hand.

We called it a day, headed back to the hotel, and yet again, Elise took her afternoon nap. When Chaz got back from work we decided against going out again for dinner and instead got pizza and brought it back to the hotel. Elise approved and got ready for bed early.

Day 3: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island! Moral of the story - we should have packed a lunch. But regardless, it was still fun. Chaz finished up what he needed to do for work in the hotel room, and we got out of there, breaking our record by 1.25 hours and leaving at 9:45. We took the subway down to Battery Park, then hopped on the ferry that would take us to both Liberty Island and then Ellis Island.  

Elise was very enthused/interested in the whole thing.

20170804_154128400_iOS.jpg

We saw the statue and thought about climbing up, but again, it was very hot and we decided we were fine with taking pictures...from down below. 

And so after a quick feeding, we hopped back on the boat and headed over to Ellis Island. 

Ellis Island was is an interesting museum at this point, made more interesting that my then-17-year-old great grandmother went through it when she came over from Norway in 1913. Look! Here's her ship!

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 4.38.09 PM.png

After seeing the sights in the museum, we went outside to the Wall of Honor and found her name...

...then hopped back on the boat and sailed/motored back to Manhattan. 

We were all pretty tuckered out but made it to a restaurant for dinner, but Elise had had enough and made sure that only one of us could eat at a time. But the burger was good! And bed followed shortly after our return to the hotel.

Saturday was spent visiting friends (but we didn't take any pictures, sadly) and then traveling back home by train. The longer we're away from home, it seems, the more Elise wants to be home, so she was delighted when we walked in the door. And so here we are, back at our regular routine, until the next time we decide to hit the road!

NYC Eats: Levain Bakery

We're currently in NYC. Chaz needed to travel here for work, so Elise and I decided to come along for the ride! We'll save the "Here's how we traveled with a baby!" post for another time, since not EVERY post on this here blog should be baby-focused. Instead, we'll turn our gaze toward my other great love: cookies. Though I don't have extensive familiarity with NYC (having only been here twice and only walking around at night), I have lots and lots of experience with cookies, and while I wouldn't use the term connoisseur, per se, perhaps we can consider me something close to it. In other words...I freaking love chocolate chip cookies and will seek them out if I get an opportunity.

That opportunity came knocking on this trip. When we arrived at the hotel yesterday, I spent our initial couple of hours soothing an overstimulated, travel-weary baby into slumber while Chaz went out and got us some chicken tenders for a quick dinner. While he was out, he took it upon himself to look up some things for Elise and me to do during the day, since he would be working. What he found was a bakery with a claim to the world's greatest chocolate chip cookie. Since he knows me well, he sent me the link, and I immediately added it to our agenda for the next day. Truth be told...it was the ONLY item on the agenda for the next day.

Well, today was "the next day," so after Elise took her morning nap, we set out on a mission to try the world's greatest chocolate chip cookie. Things started well. I put Elise in the wrap (looking at you with allllllll the heart eyes, Solly Baby wrap!) and stuck the diaper backpack on my back, so I probably looked like a turtle with a shell on both sides. What a sight. Speaking of...we happened to find a turtle on our excursion:

Moving on.

I could either take a bus, walk + subway, or just walk for 45 minutes. I went with the last option, because a) walking is good for me and b) I didn't feel like figuring out the bus system. Since the walking + subway option was going to take me as long as just walking, I figured that if I needed to change a diaper midway there, it'd be easier to do it on foot rather than on a train.

Off we went! We hit up Starbucks for a late breakfast, and then made our way west...until five blocks later, when I'd already developed a blister and it had started to rain. Not the most auspicious start.

IMG_6140.JPG

We bought some bandaids, prayed that the rain would stay a sprinkle and not convert itself to a downpour, stopped to take a photo of some lovely flowers, and found the nearest subway station.

40 minutes later we had emerged from the subway and found the bakery. From a visual standpoint, it wasn't much to look at, but I had high expectations. 

 My most sincere apologies for the lack of an artsy picture.

My most sincere apologies for the lack of an artsy picture.

We went in, evaluated the choices, and selected two cookies: chocolate chip (obviously) and chocolate chocolate chip. At $4 a cookie, I wasn't getting any more than that. Off we went with our cookies to Central Park, and since around 2.5 hours had passed since both of us had eaten, I found a spot where both of us could snack. 

So! My entire tale boils down to this moment. If you're still reading, I applaud you. HOW WERE THE COOKIES, you ask? They were decent. But I would not say that I keeled over in ecstasy because I'd just encountered the worlds greatest chocolate chip cookie. In fact - and I'm about to make a very bold, very daring, highly suspect claim here - I actually think my homemade cookies are better. Shoot me.

I liked the chocolate cookie better than the chocolate chip cookie. And that's for two reasons. First, the bakery includes walnuts in their chocolate chip cookies, and while that's probably a feature for some people, it's a bug for me. I'm a bigger fan of a walnut-free chocolate chip cookie, because there are no distractions from the cookie dough plus chocolate flavor. Second, and more importantly, I was expecting the dough to have more of a substantial flavor. They were good - don't get me wrong - but if you're claiming to have the world's greatest chocolate chip cookie, I want a dough that is a little more complex rather than just a sweet base that suspends the chocolate chips.  That said, they did a couple things very well: 

1) It's hard to get a giant cookie to have a just-right crispy outside with a soft inside, and this cookie delivered. 

2) The chocolate was still nice and gooey even though the cookie wasn't just-out-of-the-oven warm. I'm not sure how they did that, but it was great!

IMG_6171.JPG

And so, with both of our stomachs full, we traipsed back to hotel just in time for Elise's afternoon nap. This time, it had stopped raining and the blister was remedied with the bandaid, so we walked. 

And in case you want my chocolate chip cookie recipe, here you go:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the brown and white sugar with the butter. (Cold butter will yield higher-rise cookies, but I always end up nearly melting mine because I'm impatient and I want it to mix easily.)
  3. When the mixture is smooth, add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg addition. Then add the vanilla and almond extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix with a fork. 
  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in three installments, mixing after each batch. I'm pretty sure three installments are unnecessary flavor-wise, but it makes it easier on your arm while stirring.
  6. When fully mixed, add the chocolate chips and stir to disperse them evenly in the dough.
  7. Drop the cookies by rounded teaspoonful on to an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9 to 11 minutes.
  8. Take the cookies out of the oven when the bottoms/edges look browned but the middle still looks nice and gooey. Let the cookies sit on the top of your stove for 10 minutes or so while you watch a show or something so that they continue to set.
  9. Eat all the cookies. ALL OF THEM. Or if you don't want four dozen cookies in a single sitting, put them in an airtight container and eat them over the course of the next three days.

For fear of someone disagreeing with a "world's greatest" cookie, I make no claims in that regard. I just happen to like them the best.

Lactation-Friendly Wardrobe Choices

Another baby-related post. My apologies. My life has taken a drastic turn toward domesticity.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune...wait. Not that. The universally acknowledged truth among nursing mothers is that dresses that are nursing-friendly are hard to come by. This is a particularly unfortunate truth if you are fond of wearing dresses. I happen to fall into that camp, so I recently went on a hunt for dresses that would work. 

Since the jackpot of dresses seems to be ASOS, I turned to them first. They had so many options available that I just didn't know where to start. Take this dress for example:

It comes with an amazing benefit. Nursing a baby would actually make you MORE covered up than you would be when wearing the dress sans kiddo. What an idea! Revolutionary, I say!

My next find also had some obvious benefits in terms of accessibility. 

However, the downside appeared to be the same as the upside, so it was nixed.

The third one came with an extra special feature: no part of the dress would have to be removed in order for a baby to eat! That must have been what the designers had in mind when it was created, right?

So thoughtful of those designers, really. 

I found a few more, one of which looked like it could double as a maternity dress. Thankfully I'm out of the woods on that one, so I have no need for such an attribute.

Another dress had a cutout in the perfect location for nursing, although the goth style might not be for everyone.

And last but not least, this dress boasts unparalleled convenience. I can't believe it's not advertised as a nursing dress. 

I can't believe I thought it was so hard to find a dress I could nurse in. I mean, look at all these possibilities! And this search was all with an under $40 filter, so just think of what the options might include if price were no object! 

Thanks, ASOS. You've restored my ability to wear dresses while feeding a tiny human.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: if you think I'd be caught dead in any of these dresses, you probably don't know me very well. 

A Newbie's Report on Favorite Baby Products

At two months on the job, you could hardly call me an "expert" at anything baby-related. I mean, with literally any other job, I'd still be in the training phase, so take this whole post with a hundred grains of salt. BUT. I do have a number of favorite baby products, some of which were absolute lifesavers in the first two months, and some of which I just really like and was glad to have on hand. And so in an effort to both list these things for myself because...who knows if/when I'll need a list of the things that helped me most in the newest of newborn months...and to list them in case anyone else is a first time mom in need of a minimalist's list of things to put on a registry, HERE GOES.

1) Solly Baby Wrap: This is hands down my most used, most favorite, and most baby-approved piece of gear. I started using it the day after Elise came home from the hospital and have used it almost every day since. She loves it, and if she's fussy it almost instantly calms her down. It can be used with a newborn without any fancy inserts, and it's soft, cozy, and lightweight, which is great for the summer months. I have the Charcoal Swiss Dot patterned one, but I've been drooling over the Fig and Fern colors as well. I totally need more than one, right? I mean, the thing has to be washed SOMETIME, and what on earth will I do while it's being washed? 

Kidding. Sorta. I'm sorely tempted.

 My mom, me, and Elise, who's taking one of many wrap naps. Day 9.

My mom, me, and Elise, who's taking one of many wrap naps. Day 9.

2) Dockatot: This was something I didn't know I needed until Chaz's cousin (hi, Kristine!) let us borrow it. We didn't choose the co-sleeping life; the co-sleeping life chose us. In fact, if you'd asked me prior to Elise's arrival if I supported the idea, I probably would have laughed and declared that OUR baby was going to sleep in HER OWN BED, because I said so. Funny how things change once the kid actually arrives on the scene. After several very sleepless nights that resulted in me giving in to Elise sleeping in my arms in bed, we pulled out the Dockatot and have never looked back. Elise slept a thousand times better, which meant we were sleeping a thousand times better, and so better times were had by all. The only downside is that Elise is pretty tall, so she's going to outgrow it fast. We will use it to the hilt until that day arrives. Here's a photo of Elise in the Dockatot getting ready for bed:

3) Hanna Andersson (Non-Footie) Pajamas: Ok, these don't have to be Hanna Andersson. Hanna Andersson items are far too expensive for my liking, but we have an outlet nearby and I never buy anything full price, so I waited until they had a sale. Thus, Elise has a pair of (outlet) Hanna Andersson jammies, and they are theeeeee best. At first I wasn't a fan of the fact that they didn't have feet, but as my tall and lanky baby grew three inches in two months, I quickly realized that not having feet meant that she'll be able to wear them for much longer than her other already-too-short pajamas. If her feet are cold...I just put some socks on her and call it a night. Bonus: who can resist a baby in stripes?

 Snoozing baby bean.

Snoozing baby bean.

4) Little Unicorn Hooded Towel: We have a couple of hooded towels, and this one is by far the best. It's thick and warm, and it's got a pretty pattern to boot. Elise doesn't always love bath time, but she does love being wrapped up, and while very biased, we think she's adorable when sporting a towel. 

 Snuggled up after her first bath at home.

Snuggled up after her first bath at home.

5) Little Unicorn Muslin Swaddle Blankets: Same company again. These swaddle blankets are great. We use them all the time, whether it's for wrapping Elise up to get her to sleep, tucking her in her car seat, or draping over her while nursing. They wash and dry well (no fading!), and just get softer over time.

 Coming home from the hospital!

Coming home from the hospital!

6) Gerber Cloth Diapers (for use as burp cloths): While we use disposable diapers for actual diapering, these make the best burp cloths. They're fairly inexpensive and we don't care if they get spit up or any other inescapable body fluids on them, because they just go straight into the wash. We started with one pack, and then quickly realized we used them for everything, so we went to Amazon and ordered two more packs ASAP. 

7) Gap Nursing Nightgown: This is both a maternity nightgown and a nursing nightgown, which means I've gotten a ton of use out of it. Gap almost always has sales as well, so I'd never recommend buying it at full price, but if/when it does go on sale, it's a good thing to have. While pregnant it was also one of the few things that made me feel like I looked nice (even if it was pajamas), which is a valuable thing when feeling like a beached whale!

8) OxiClean: Count this one in the "lifesaver" category. Babies = stains, so a stain remover was absolutely necessary. We've used it on Elise's pajamas, sheets, my clothes, and (happily only once...so far) carpet. We have both the powder version and the liquid version, and we use both on the regular. 

I should probably round out this list and add two more things to get to 10, but these are definitely the things that I've loved and/or used the best/most frequently and I don't want to add things that we haven't used as much. I also skipped the obvious things like a car seat, diapers, and wipes, because those are a given. In all honesty, the only items you really NEED for a baby are diapers, wipes, a car seat, a place for him or her to sleep, and a way to keep him or her clean, warm, and clothed, but these are the things that have really helped with making life more comfortable for both Elise and us during her first several weeks. I think this list is also bound to change as she gets older, so I'll probably revisit it down the line and come up with the 6 month or year version to see what's different.

And if none of this applies to you at all...well, at least you got to see a couple pictures of a cute baby?

2 Months of Elise

It's hard to believe that we've had a baby in the house for two full months now. Some days it seems like no time at all, and other days (honestly, most days) it feels like she's been here forever. It's hard to remember what life was like before she arrived! 

I meant to write down everything when she was one month, but I only got so far as taking a few pictures. Right around that time she hit a developmental leap (read: a week of fussing), we went on vacation, and she caught a cold. But she was still cute!

We made it back from vacation, her cold (plus conjunctivitis) went away thanks to some lovely Erythromycin ointment, and life carried on, and here we are at two months!

Elise, at two months of age, smiles a lot. She's happiest in the morning when she wakes up and after eating, and likes to talk, presumably telling me all about her dreams from the past night. We lucked out and she typically sleeps at least one six-hour stint every night, and occasionally sets records by going for 8.5 hours. This sleep schedule is a vast improvement from her first month, when she predictably woke up at 1:30, 4:30, and 6:30. I'm expecting that schedule to return around her fourth month, but we'll enjoy the longer stretches while they last.

fullsizeoutput_b3.jpeg

While she hasn't quite rolled over yet, she's very, very close, getting frustrated when she can't twist herself in quite the right way get all the way over. Her favorite activity is practicing standing. She'll put weight on her legs, wave her arms like she's trying to do a crawl stroke in the air instead of a pool, and do what we've come to refer to as "standing face" - opening her eyes very wide and opening her mouth to match. We didn't get the greatest picture of it, but it has been documented nonetheless! 

She's a happy, content girl unless she's tired, hungry, or uncomfortable due to digestion, which was a little tough for her during her first month. This month has seen a vast improvement in that department though! 

fullsizeoutput_b8.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_b5.jpeg

She also loves hanging out in her wrap, and has taken to munching on the part of it that is in closest proximity to her mouth. Since her other most favorite pacifiers are a) nursing and b) sucking on my pinky, eating the wrap gives me a nice break! 

She's our favorite girl - since we only have one kid it's ok to say such things - and we're so glad that she's here with us. We love you, Elise! We can't wait to see how much you grow in your next month of life!