Monday, December 31, 2012

Soon 2012 Will Be Behind Us

I love these liminal days between Christmas and New Years, especially when they are quiet and peaceful like they have been for us this year. The twelve days of Christmas start on Christmas and go until Epiphany on January 6, and these days do feel like feast days, like holidays, even like holy days of rest and family and celebration, in many respects. I've been thinking about the year ahead of us and what might come, and the year that we are leaving.
  • This winter has already given us more snow than we had all last year. The skiiers and snowboarders are so happy! Maybe I'll try the snow sports again in 2013?


  • I saw one movie in a movie theater this year. Maybe in 2013 I will go all crazy and try for two!
  • I re-joined the world of paid work after four years away and I am VERY happy. I like thinking about astronomy and education again, and it is very nice to be paid for thinking such thoughts.
  • Robert and I celebrated our 10th anniversary; we have been married a decade.
  • I read about 15 books, give or take, which is not very many by my lifetime standards. Grace, on the other hand, read probably 50 books, from just the summer when she really started reading independently until the end of the year. (Hers are SO MUCH EASIER than mine, though-- really, I swear.)
Old books
  • I have had moments of fairly intense grief at the state of the world; there was the election and the stomach-turning "discourse" surrounding it, there was the shooting at Sandy Hook (which happened pretty near where we lived in Connecticut, to children who were in the same grade as Grace, and which just knocked me over with its horror), and that was just in the last two months of the year, in my own country.
  • This past growing season was amazing here in Utah; there was so much abundance at the farmers markets and our CSA and even just friends' yards. One set of friends have an apricot tree that was just ridiculous this past year; I lost count of how much jam I made and even did liqueur.
The first stage of apricot liqueur
  • I played piano at church, I drove Grace to ballet, I helped run my local MOPS chapter, I went to my once-a-month Friday-night book club, I went to yoga and Pilates, I went running, I half-heartedly tried to eat healthfully.
  • I did not leave the state of Utah once, although we did explore some lovely parts of our state through the summer and fall. Maybe I will venture further afield in 2013.
  • Lewis turned 1, Violet turned 4, Grace turned 6, I turned 34, and Rob turned 36.
  • We replaced some windows, had some painting done, and moved around where all the children sleep. I always have grand house plans and it felt so great to put some of them into action this year. Maybe we'll finally xeriscape this coming year?
Goodbye, 100-year-old windows

Hello, yellow
  • Violet started preschool, Grace finished kindergarten, Grace started 1st grade, then Violet left preschool in not-ideal circumstances. We are about to start the preschool adventure again with Violet in January at a new place; I'm full of uncertainty and hope about it.
That's probably a pretty sensible way to approach the entire new year, isn't it? 2013 does not make us any promises but I turn the page to a new year with hope for the days ahead.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!


Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace; 
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name;
Christ is the Lord,
Oh, praise His name forever!
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!

All of us together on Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Four Years of Violet

Yesterday was Violet's birthday and now she is four years old. When she woke up yesterday, we wished her a happy birthday and told her she was four now but she didn't believe us; it took a good number of minutes before she wrapped her mind around the fact that this long-awaited day had finally arrived, that she could stop explaining that she was still three, that her day of presents and cupcakes and celebration was upon us.

We had such a fun day. We opened her presents in the morning, then had a bunch of friends over in the late afternoon for a joint Robert-Violet birthday party (as he turned 36 on Friday) with snacks and cocktails and cake. This might well be the last year that we'll do a joint party like that, and I am so, so thankful for the people we live life with here who came to celebrate these two people that I love so much. I just love throwing parties; I love having a house full of laughing, loud people and kids running around pulling out all the toys and good food and drinks and so forth.

Violet is 4!

It has been a hard year for Violet, and for us as we work through how to help her and how to be her family. I did not see this coming a year ago at her third birthday, although in hindsight, who she is now is just who she has always been. There are aspects of life that are such a struggle for her, and so on Monday we finally had our first appointment with a therapist-type person to do some evaluations, to see if we can figure out where to go from here and what to do to ease her struggles. And oh, how I want to ease those struggles... Just plain because I love her but also because she is amazing and beautiful and wonderful and I so intensely want to untangle that amazingness from her struggles so she can flourish as she walks through life. Violet is so creative and bright and focused, so full of imagination and intelligence and a crazy long attention span and radiance.

My favorite 36-year-old with my favorite 4-year-old

Happy birthday, beautiful. May this new year of your life see you thrive and blossom, see you full of joy and peace.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Today is the first day of Advent. Last night we got our tree up, the 10th tree that Rob and I have decorated together. Violet was nearly apoplectic with excitement about the "jewels" we hung on it and Grace tried to hang every ornament at her own eye level. Lewis tried to grab every ornament off within his toddler reach.

This is the 10th Christmas tree Rob and I have decorated together

My observing of Advent has changed a lot in the last several years, and I am so thankful for the people and churches and organizations that have helped me to make changes and in the process to find peace and joy and meaning in this season of the year. I first saw a video for Advent Conspiracy when I was hugely pregnant with Violet in 2008. I literally sobbed, partly because I was a hormonal crazy person, of course, but also because I was hungry and thirsty for a different way to observe Christmas and Advent. The narrative our dominant culture gives us about how to observe Christmas is not sustainable or healthy or good for us as holistic human beings or OK.

There is a better way to celebrate this season. There are better gifts to give, and a better place in the world to make for all of us.

The light has come and is coming.
The darkness cannot overcome it.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

15 Months

Lewis is 15 months old today and he is such a toddler now; the baby in him shrinks every day and is replaced with more and more little boy.

Playing in the leaves

He has graduated from just being a walker to climber extraordinaire. If the chairs are not pushed all the way in to the dining table, he will climb to the top of it in no time at all. He also can climb to the top of our upright piano, and is getting quite steady on the stairs as well. He loves to empty drawers and the house is often littered with the contents of kitchen drawers, the book basket, the toy bins.


He calls me "mama" now, and he will hold pretty much anything up his ear and say, "A-yo? A-yo?" An actual phone, a block, the cherry pitter, just his hand. He is starting to copy our intonations when we say certain things, not quite ready to say the actual words yet but still learning to connect with us.

Rolling along

This has been a month of big transition for Lewis as we have moved the girls upstairs to their new bedroom with bunk beds and have moved Lewis into the room downstairs that the girls have been sharing since we moved into this house. (Yes, I admit it; Lewis slept in our room for over a year.) With a tiny baby, I always sleep better with the baby in the same room as me, and I like not having to really get up and go anywhere for night wakings. With Lewis, we went hard-core hippie and just accepted that he was going to be in our room for a good long while, not even decorating a nursery. Somewhere around the one-year mark, some hormonal switch in my brain flips and then I WANT THE BABY IN ANOTHER ROOM. It happened with both of my girls (who had nurseries, but didn't really spend much time in there for their first years) and it happened again with Lewis. In the past few months, I have been SO SO READY for him to move out into his own nighttime space and the week of Thanksgiving we made the big move! It has gone really smoothly and he has been doing very well transitioning to being in his own room at night. I know it will be a while before he is there the whole night through, but even just sleeping on my own for the first chunk of the night has been great for me.

Sweet angel baby

I feel like my sleep has vastly improved since we moved Lewis to his own room and I am happy about it, but an era in his life has ended and he will never be that little baby who sleeps in our room again. Realizing how fleeting Lewis' present self is makes me want to soak up who he is right now and imprint on my memory forever his cheeks, his lips, his funny shrieks, his toddler waddle, his chubby hands. I don't want to miss any of who he is and who he is becoming.

Sweet cheeks

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Still Feeling Thankful

I've been contemplating our autumn and how much there has been to be thankful for. Both sets of grandparents came to visit, it was a harvest season full of bounty and deliciousness, my astronomy writing job is going well, and we explored Utah outside of our own city more than we have before.

Hiking in the mountains

We left the girls overnight for the first time with our friend Haley and Rob, Lewis, and I went up to Park City for a little mountain getaway. We stayed at a really lovely hotel (fancy hotels are SO NICE; that is a very creative thought of mine, isn't it?) and rode up a ski lift to do a little hiking and had such a fun time. It blows my mind a little that it won't be that long before we could leave ALL THREE CHILDREN with friends and actually be away just the two of us.

Up another ski lift!

Riding a ski lift in summer or autumn is my new favorite thing. Grace and I did it again during our visit from Rob's parents when we took them up to one of the ski resorts. That was a LONG ride, over an hour roundtrip including the little bit of walking we did at the top, and it was amazing. It's crazy to realize that this is all covered in snow now; maybe this is the year I will give skiing or snowboarding another try. ALL FOR THE SKI LIFTS. Seriously, they are the best part.

Heading back town to the valley

Not that the scenery is too shabby in the city itself:


Seriously, you guys, Utah is amazing. That is just the view on one of my running routes from our house.

Pear + vanilla bean jam

This was my most productive year yet for preserving, and also the year that might convert me to finally labeling my jars with what they contain. I have enough jars this year that I'm not entirely sure which jam is which. I also might try to do some non-sweet foods next year; I've realized that I pretty much just did jams and fruit and apple butter and that kind of thing. Considering that I'm trying to shift away from eating sugar regularly, this might not be the best plan for me. Oh well, the girls like it and it all makes good Christmas gifts. And it is SO SO SO FUN.

Bird + fairy

We had a fun Halloween, with our sweet birdie and fairy. (Gotta love hand-me-downs, right?) I wasn't sure how that bird costume was going to turn out while it was still in process. When I was sitting there cutting out those feathers from my bins of fabric scraps, I was pretty sure she was going to look like she was wearing a quilt. By the time I'd gotten about halfway up sewing them on in layers, I felt more OK about it, and the overall effect with the mask is good. I did show it to a few friends without telling them what it was supposed to be to ascertain if it was obvious, or just crazy looking. And then I never know what to do with all the candy; maybe we'll become one of those buy-back-the-candy families.

Our autumn has been full of things to be thankful for, but it has been hard too. Life with Violet is hard right now. She is amazing and beautiful, creative and super smart, but she is so frustrated so much of the time, and coping with life does not come easily for her. We did decide to give her a break from preschool for a while and that has helped, and we also decided to get a professional perspective on what kinds of changes we should make. That's still a few weeks off but I have hopes that it will help. And then Lewis is, well, a toddler-- a normal piano-climbing, drawer-emptying, house-trashing toddler. It's a challenging convergence of intense needs that has me struggling, I admit. At the same time, I am fiercely thankful for this season of my life. It's flashing by like autumn rushing into winter.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hello There, Bloggy Blog

  • Last night for dinner we had this pumpkin-coconut-kale curry thing for dinner that I ate over spaghetti squash. It was Squash Inception!
  • There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the girls about dinner, even though I gave them rice into of spaghetti squash. Why do I feed them such terrible food?! Don't I love them?! This is in contrast to the night before when we fed them Costco pizza (I had been sick with a stomach bug and didn't feel up to cooking yet) when they sat there in serene happiness, cleaning their plates and asking for more.
  • For Lewis, I picked out chunks of pumpkin and slices of chicken from the pot and rinsed off the curry sauce. As one does.
  • I am working! Although actually not that much this week, between our babysitter being out of town and me having that stomach bug. Recently I have been working on questions about tidal effects in the Solar System and spaghettification.
  • We have a parent-teacher conference for Grace tomorrow and in preparation, her teacher has asked her to come up with an intention for the rest of the semester, like in a yoga class. I think her intention should be to get ready in the morning quickly and independently; she thinks it should be to learn to go really fast on her scooter.
  • This week is also parent week at her ballet class, which means we are allowed to go into the class and sit and watch. She is taking ballet at the school associated with Salt Lake's professional company and it is kind of hard-core. They all wear the same leotard and are required to have their hair in a bun and aren't allowed to wear earrings or nail polish. I'm not sure if she'll want to stick with it beyond this year but she likes it, being the rule follower that she is, and I like that everything is in good taste and non-skanky.
  • We are going through a tough time with Violet, mainly preschool-related. She's been there since January and seemed to like it pretty well at first, but things have been going downhill. Now she says that she doesn't like school, doesn't want to go, school makes her sad, etc. Her teachers sat down with me recently and we had a hard-to-hear conversation about how she doesn't participate with the group, sits off by herself a lot, has pretty drastic trouble with transitions between activities, and often turns non-verbal and withdrawn when she's upset at school. MY HEART. We're still processing, trying some new things, and thinking through our options-- give her a break from school for a while? get some kind of professional help/opinion/evaluation? try a different style of preschool that would be a better fit for independent Violet with her long attention span, maybe Montessori? push through at her current school? I don't know. I do know I broke down crying while describing her current struggles during a visit to a Montessori school last week, so that's awesome.
  • And Lewis? He has moved from the high chair to sitting at the table, he says "nigh nigh" when it's time to go to bed  and "allo" when he puts a phone to his ear, he gives wet open-mouthed kisses complete with "mwa!" sounds, and I really really really want to get him into his own room at night. We have to move the girls upstairs to their new room first, so we are still in process on that. I did buy bunk beds yesterday, though-- hooray!

Friday, August 31, 2012

One Year of Lewis

One year of Lewis

One year ago today, before the Sun had risen, Lewis had arrived here in the world after a much longer labor than I would have predicted. And then he was here, his beautiful amazing self was here, on the very morning that Grace started kindergarten and our family changed and grew and became what it is now.

Lewis' Zeroth Birthday from Julia Silge on Vimeo.

And now Lewis has made his first trip around the Sun and we have spent the past year seeing him get gorgeous and big, opening up to the world, becoming everyday more who he will be. I love newborns, I love babies, and when I watch that video, I feel absolutely in love with the tiny squashy newborn Lewis was and so happy for one-year-ago me to get to hold his curled-up body and kiss his wrinkly old-man fingers. But there is so much joy in the future of one-year-ago me too, as the newborn in that video turns into this gorgeous happy baby who is toddling around the living room right now.

Such a big boy

He is walking, just within the past two weeks or so, and stomps unsteadily around the house like a cheery drunk person, arms waving, little diapered butt hitting the ground when his balance fails him. It happens so fast, over just a few days, the transition from not being able to walk to it being the preferred method of locomotion. He still occasionally drops to all fours for his super-fast waggle-butt crawl, but its days are numbered. He says "uh oh" and "dada", with an occasional "mama" that he doesn't quite use appropriately yet. He claps his hands and says "yayayayayaya", and he waves goodbye, repeating either "nana" or "dada" while waving (apparently there are no "b" sounds yet, and no long "i" vowel sounds either). He still has just the eight teeth he's had for months now, apparently believing in the "all at the same time" school of teething. He likes to eat fruit and cheese and books (all paper, actually) and sticks. And dirt. And rocks too, if we're being honest. I did finally put all the crayons up high so at least they're not a regular part of his diet anymore.

Sweet squishy Lewis

He is a joy to be with and his presence in our lives is a gift. Today my parents are coming in town; we'll have a party with cake and a few presents and grandparents. I am so glad to be celebrating this milestone.

Happy birthday, my delicious blue-eyed boy.

Blue eyes

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Good Book Is Hard to Find

Nothing like a good book

Apologies to Flannery O'Connor.

Grace's reading has blossomed in an amazing way this summer since kindergarten ended. She actually sits with a book and just reads independently, by herself, absorbed in book after book after book. It is such a joy to see her become a reader; it makes some deep part of me happy to see her become totally engaged with a book and just want to READ. Also, I will admit to a bit of jealousy as I am not reading as much as I want to be, or as much as I did as a girl, or a single person, or a woman with no children. In this season of life with my three little ones, I read for fun about as much as I did during grad school, which is not really enough.

We've always done reading aloud and we stick to lovely worthwhile classics for those, books that we love that we are so glad we can share for the first time with Grace. Right now Rob is reading through the Narnia series to her, a chapter a time, before she goes to bed. We can't wait to start Harry Potter, and Ballet Shoes, and The Cricket in Times Square, and so forth... I am having a harder time finding books that are just right for her to read by herself, though. She is just at the cusp of being able to read chapter books. The early reader books we have (you know, those paperbacks that star a character like Amelia Bedelia or Eloise but are not the original works) are starting to lose their appeal for her, and she occasionally still enjoys plowing through a pile of picture books, but those options not really challenging to her or moving her skills forward. On the other hand, most of the classic children's chapter books that I think are so wonderful are still a bit too hard for her to read independently. I feel like she's in a challenging in-between place right now.

The great discovery of the summer has been the Magic Tree House series. I think I saw these books mentioned briefly on someone's blog as a good introductory chapter book and BOY, was that person right. They are somehow perfectly designed to appeal to Grace at her current reading ability and developmental stage. She LOVES them. She has finished the entire first series since school let out and is well on her way to catching up to all the ones in the second series that are currently published before school starts again at the end of August. They aren't what one would call great literature but they aren't junk-y vacuous books either. (Ask me sometime about the Barbie book that Grace brought home once from the school library. ANGRY PARENTS.) I have taken to requesting about four at once from the library and depending on how busy our schedule is, she will finish all of them within 48 hours of us picking them up at the library.

So here I am, crowd-sourcing some suggestions for books for her to read. What else would be good for a newly-independent reader just taking her first steps into chapter books? The Magic Tree House series is about as far as I'm willing to go when it comes to lack of real literary merit. I'd prefer for her to read books of real value and beauty, but age-appropriate appeal is important too. I got some of the non-fiction "research guides" that the Magic Tree House people put out to go along with their books but she struggled to get through those and did not enjoy them at all; reading became WORK again. I know that eventually we all have to read things that are hard to get through but that is not what I'm looking for right now for Grace. I really want her to love Frog and Toad and Little Bear but much to my (hopefully well-hidden from Grace) disappointment they just haven't grabbed her in the way Magic Tree House has. I guess a related question to my main one above is how can I make Grace love Maurice Sendak?

Monday, July 30, 2012


Lewis is 10 months old (well, 11 months as of tomorrow) and I think he looks so much like Grace at the same age; what do you think?

Lewis at 10 months

10 months old

I feel like Lewis reminds me so much of Grace at the same age in his mannerisms and expressions and whatnot as well. Genetics are so interesting! And here is what Grace looks like now, about six year later, with her adorable lack of front teeth:

Goodbye, baby teeth!

There was such DRAMA involved in the removal of these teeth. Grace is very sensitive about physical pain and does not have a lot of toughness in her. When she lost her bottom front teeth, she let us "help" them along a little but she really freaked out about the pain and the little bit of blood and whatnot. This time around, she would barely let us touch them and she basically waited until they fell out, but in the meantime there was lots of drama about how they hurt when they wiggled and so forth. And oh, how sickeningly loose they were at the end... The second one to go could rotate almost 90 degrees on the last day. SHUDDER. I much prefer her now with her charming big gap.

I do love taking photographs of people, my small children or whoever. I went to a portrait photography workshop that our friend Mike organized last weekend and had such a fun time. We talked about making portraits for a while and then went outside and shot a bunch of portraits of each other using just our phones. I brought Grace with me because Mike had said it was open to all ages. When I first broached the idea to her, she said, "Mom, I already know how to take pictures of people," but when I explained it a little more she decided she would like to come. She took my new profile picture up there in the corner. Here are some of my favorite ones that I shot that day:

Portrait workshop -- Grace

Portrait workshop -- Mike

Portrait workshop -- Molly

Portrait workshop -- Nash

Portrait workshop -- Mike

Portrait workshop -- Grace & Isabella

What a fun day...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Is Saving My Life Right Now

This post is part of the synchroblog that Sarah Bessy is hosting, inspired by this lovely post she wrote yesterday.

My gorgeous squishy baby boy. I give him baths in our kitchen sink and he splashes in the bubbles with his sweet beautiful bare arms and legs. I nurse him to sleep at night, his ears perfect pink shells and his breath even and deep. We had rain the other night, something you really stop and notice in this arid valley, and we could both smell the summer rain through the open window as he drifted off to sleep. 

Rob's daily presence in my life. I really can't say enough times or with enough emphasis how wonderful it is to have Rob finished with his medical training. He is available, home, here more now than he has been since before Grace was born. We went from years of 80-hour work weeks to suddenly when we moved here he works 4 days a week. I am still so thankful, now two years into this phase of his career.

Organizing, cleaning, purging. Baby boy clothes are ready to go to a friend with a littler baby than mine, little girl clothes are packed in a box to send to a friend one state away who doesn't think homemade clothes are strange, my email inbox seldom contains above five items, and I did a giant cull of my RSS reader to only keep the things that matter to me, the things that really make my life happier.

Employment. It's looking like I will soon join the ranks of the gainfully employed. This week I was offered a job writing astronomy content for an online education company. It's part-time, flexible hours, working remotely, etc and I think it is going to work out.

The pleasures of summer food. Cold-brewed coffee, apricots and berries, rosé wine, lemon cucumbers, slaws and salads, anything grilled outside.

The promise of honestly cool weather in another 6-8 weeks. Summer in Utah is beautiful in ways summer has never been for me elsewhere, and it is blessedly not too long.

Reading a summer-y novel in stolen minutes here and there. It was great. I need to read more.

Beautiful children's bodies in swimsuits, full of joy, utterly lacking self-consciousness.

Grace sprawled on the couch absorbed in book after book from the library.

The way Violet pronounces "marshmallow".

Playing piano.



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Days Can Be Long But the Years Are Short

We are nearing the end of July and the summer is swimming by like Grace swims by me in her lane at the community pool at her lessons. Life with three little ones is so FULL-- full of noise, full of neediness, full of demands, full of joy, full of love. The days can stretch out so long, and when one or more of these children has a particularly bad night I sometimes get out of bed in the morning looking forward to going to sleep that night. On the other hand the months are speeding by so quickly that it is a challenge to actually notice what is happening, who these small people are, who I am. Have I over-scheduled and over-committed the summer? Is this just the season of life I am in? Will I ever feel caught up on sleep EVER?

We have less than one month until Grace starts 1st grade. This will be her first year to be in school all day and I predict that a) she will thrive and do well and b) I will miss her daily company. She is returning to our neighborhood public school after a lovely kindergarten year there. Her kindergarten teacher sounded surprised that we weren't looking into the magnet schools again but Grace had a great year socially and the academic side was acceptable for now, so we'll try another year there and see what happens. It was lovely to see her and her tiny classmates in their construction paper mortar boards as they wrapped up the year. When is the next faux graduation ceremony? After 6th grade when they leave the elementary school, I think?

Grace's last day of school

Kindergarten graduation

We will not travel at all this summer but our home city is providing more fun things to do than we could possibly take advantage of. We've been to the aviary and the zoo, Grace did a science camp at the Natural History Museum, both girls have done yoga and art and dance at little morning sessions at the preschool that Violet's been going to, there have swimming lessons and sports camp through the city rec centers, and some days we have to do normal things like shop for groceries or get hair cuts. We have gotten out of the city a little bit, most memorably out to a lovely state park with our church for a weekend of swimming, campfires, and time together. Grace and Rob camped and I drove out for the day Sunday with the two little ones.

Bird girls!

Haircut time

Singing outside

Time for swimming in the lake

I've also been preserving a lot of apricots in various forms: jam galore, halves in syrup, and a first attempt at apricot liqueur. We had a very mild winter followed by an early, warm spring and now a hot summer, so the growing season is about a month ahead of where it was last year and everything is going GANGBUSTERS. I should have kept track of how many apricots I've preserved because it is truly madness. The trees here in Utah are just going crazy this year.

Apricot-rosemary jam

It's good for me to reflect on the things I do enjoy about summer (like all the amazing food) because UGH, it is not my favorite season, especially when it is particularly hot like this year. I am thankful for the gorgeous stone fruit and cucumbers and corn and greens, and for the fact that our house is quite a bit more comfortable than last summer thanks to the replacement of a bunch of windows. We had the original windows on the ground level of our 1917 house (the basement windows are newer) and they did next to nothing to hold the air conditioning in. We replaced a bunch of them on the west side of the house with fancy new ones earlier this month and afternoons are so much more pleasant now. The new windows are pretty cool; the glass has this coating that blocks almost all the infrared radiation but lets almost all the light through. You can stand in a patch of sunlight and feel almost no heat at all. Yay!

Goodbye, 100-year-old windows

Things are moving forward with some of the job possibilities I'm looking into; they're all part-time astronomy education jobs. I will admit that on some of the longest, most tiring days I wonder if I am crazy to be considering returning to paid work right now, if adding another responsibility to my life right now will leave me with even less time to think and energy to cope. However, I feel like the timing (with us settled in Salt Lake, both girls in school/preschool in the fall, and Lewis emerging out of infancy) is good. And sometimes I think structuring my life so I get to do a bit of science education and thinking about astronomy and work for which I am paid genuine US dollars might actually help. I guess we'll see.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Today is my birthday and I am 34 years old. Half my life ago, I was here:

Old times

Look at 17-year-old me opening a present! It looks like it might be a CD.

Back in the day

And here is 17-year-old me with my friends from 17 years ago (most of whom I still love and hold dear and am in contact with, amazingly) at my birthday party. We have all just finished our junior year of high school and we are playing Taboo.

My mind can hardly wrap around the fact that it's been as long from when I was born to these pictures and it has been from these pictures to now. Does my hair look disturbingly similar to how I have it cut now?

Since my birthday fell on a Sunday this year, I declared this to be birthday weekend and we have been celebrating for several days now. I had a massage (which is, SERIOUSLY, one of my favorite things ever) and we went out to dinner last night at Mazza (here is a blurry Instagram picture that Grace took while there) and tonight we are grilling burgers with Brie and grilled onions and dried cherries and drinking delicious Cabernet that Rob's parents gave us last Christmas. I am having a lovely day.

So what will this, my 35th year here on the planet, bring to our lives? No one can say, but I am thinking these days about the concept of going back to work. Lewis will turn one at the end of the summer and I am starting to feel myself coming out of the fog of his babyhood into the relative clarity of regular me. When Grace turned one, I was teaching as an adjunct in Connecticut and realized that working was finally starting to feel more doable and less stressful; I said to myself that if I could, I would try to take an entire year off if/when we had more babies. When Violet turned one, we were deep in the throes of planning our escape from Dallas so returning to work was far from my mind. Now I'm thinking about it, though, and pondering what my options are here in Salt Lake. My first choice would be to teach as an adjunct again, maybe just starting with one class the first semester back. I've opened up my CV to update it and have been looking into what connections I have to the physics departments at the various universities around town and WE'LL SEE. I'm not sure if this will all come together for the immediate fall semester but perhaps this will be the year that I step back into the world of JOBS.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nine Months

Lewis is nine months old today and has been out in the world for about as long as he was inside of me. What a gorgeous, joyful baby he is and how lucky we are to know him...

Blue-eyed boy

He shrieks and vocalizes and babbles "dadadadadadada" and "bababababababa" and sometimes even "vavavavavavava". He grins right up to his bright blue eyes when we copy his babbling, full of glee at communicating with us. He's a peaceful sleeper at night for 11-12 hours (still nursing a couple times, but sleepily and peacefully-- he's still in our room so it's no big deal to us) when illness or teething are not in the way and takes two long naps each day. He has eight teeth, four on top and four on the bottom, which is about what Grace had at the same age but double what Violet had.

Up on all fours!

He is sort of gradually starting to put those teeth to their intended purpose, although GOODNESS he is very bad at eating. He apparently started out with a really strong gag/tongue-thrust reflex. It's a protective reflex that newborns have to keep things from choking them but his was strong. For a while, when food would get into the back of his throat, he would gag theatrically and then throw up the entire contents of his stomach. Gradually he moved to gagging without throwing up and managing to choke the food down, and now at 9 months he doesn't gag very often anymore. In fact, he likes to take EVERY TINY THING he can find and put it in his mouth. He pooped out crayons yesterday and the day before I pulled a dead bug out of his mouth. SHUDDER.


His growth has slowed way, way down. He grew from 9 lbs at 2 weeks to a tremendous 20 lbs at 4 months but since then has only gained a couple of pounds. At his 6-month check-up, the doctor said he was concerned about the steep drop-off in his rate of growth (from the 99th to the 75th percentiles in a couple of months) but I think it is probably fine and he is adjusting to his genetically-determined size, which I am going to predict is somewhere between the 50th and 75th percentiles, given the sizes of Rob and me and our other two children. I don't think we need to stress out trying to keep him at the 99th percentile. Also, the doctor was using the CDC growth charts which includes all healthy U.S. infants; if you plot Lewis' growth on the WHO growth charts which only include healthy breastfed infants, he dropped from the 90th to the 80th percentiles, which is no big deal. Anyway, there's not much we can do to "fix" the issue that we aren't already doing. We're doing the best we can with getting him to eat more solid food and he's still nursing well/frequently. I have been more deliberate about not rushing his nursing sessions and not trying to stretch out the intervals between his feedings (both tempting things to do when life is so busy) but if I try to make him nurse more than he wants to, he just tries to bite me (8 teeth!) and roll away. I'm sure that if I started supplementing with formula, it would just reduce the amount he is nursing. I really don't think he is hungry; I think he is growing fine.

Pulling up

He has been doing an army crawl down on his belly for a couple of months now, pulling himself along with his two arms, with one little foot pushing to help and one little foot poking up in the air. In just the past few weeks, he has shifted to a real crawl, up on all fours, although he still switches back and forth some. He is finally a more stable sitter; he had an efficient crawl well before he could sit up, which is reversed from the order the girls reached those two milestones. Recently he's started pulling up on furniture to standing, but then he gets stuck and starts to panic and needs help getting back down again. In the past week, he has learned how to climb stairs which means we need to get the baby gates up, like, yesterday. He likes to sit with his legs tucked under him in a splayed W shape; this is how I sat as a baby and toddler but he is the first of our babies to sit like this. Being surprised at what Lewis does is an unexpected joy, as he's our third baby and all, as is being able to see him open up and become more of his own amazing self with every passing week.

Sweet boy