Friday, June 27, 2008

Endings and New Beginnings

Today marks the end of my tenure at Calvin, and the end of full-time work for me. Starting Monday I'll be a SAHM (I really feel like a "mommy blogger" when I use abbreviations like that). I have seriously mixed feelings about leaving. When Calvin first became a part of my world I was eighteen years old and about to begin four years that would change how I thought about almost everything from my faith to relationships to what I was supposed to do with the rest of my life! I also learned practical things like how to be a better communicator, improve my reading and writing skills, and all the things that a solid liberal arts education is supposed to teach you. When I came back to work for Calvin, friends in my graduate program cautioned me that working for the institution you went to school at can be tricky - sometimes you are disillusioned as a student and can't see the problems and pitfalls of a school. There were, on occasion, times that I was completely and utterly frustrated by institutional policies and departmental protocols. By and large though, I came to love Calvin even more and have a deep respect for the school and for those with whom I have worked. I'll miss the work that I do and my colleagues with an equal passion.

It will be strange to be at home on Monday morning with no plans, no one to talk to except a smiley little baby girl who says only one word (and it's questionable whether her "da da" babbling can even be considered a word at this point)! I know it will be an adjustment, and I know that I'll keep looking for part-time work to help me achieve the balance that I need in my life. In the meantime, I will try to be content in the knowledge that I am spending precious days with my daughter that I will never be able to get back (as much as I may want to once she becomes a teenager). And, who knows, maybe with our extra time together I can work on her arsenal of words and someday soon can wake up to cries of "ma ma". That will, by the way, definitely be considered a word - the most precious one I'll ever hear.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Is there a doctor in the house?

This past weekend, Eric, Emily, and I traveled to Ann Arbor to celebrate with our good friend Jason as he completed his medical residency. Before the ceremony, we enjoyed a lovely afternoon relaxing at Heather and Jason's house with their daughter Anna, our good friends Peter and Susan, and various other friends and family members. Emily enjoyed all the new faces. Here she is exploring the wonders of a hammock with Jason (yes, he's really old enough to be a doctor) and Anna right before her nap.

As the evening approached, we started to get ready for the big event. Susan and I appreciated the chance to get all dressed up since those opportunities are few and far between these days. I even gave myself a manicure and pedicure for the occasion. (And, then I remembered why I don't do this very often. Painted nails, babies, and dishes don't go together very well).

The ceremony - complete with adult conversation, food, and beverages - was very enjoyable. And, it was fun to hear Jason give his speech. In it, he thanked all of the attending physicians for the things they had taught him and listed the qualities he wants to emulate in each of them. I'm quite certain that Jason will have all of the talents and gifts they have and more!

At one point in the evening, I remarked that this would be a great time to need a surgeon - there must have been at least a couple dozen of them in the room, though the setting was lacking the necessary equipment for any sort of procedure. Some of the other highlights were Peter sniffing everyone's cocktails (he has a compulsion to smell things), the vegetarian pasta dish, and a few hours to see Eric as my husband again (and not just my partner in crime in this parenting business).

Congratulations Jason!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Establishing Allegiances

Even though she's young, Eric and I have wasted no time letting Emily know which teams she will one day root for.   We both went to Calvin College for our undergraduate degrees.  It's where we met, established our relationship, and spent our formative college years.  Additionally, I have worked at Calvin for four years, meaning that it's been a HUGE part of my life for eight years now.  Maybe that's part of the reason why I'm having a hard time with the fact that I'll be leaving my job at the end of next week.  At any rate, we really enjoy going to Calvin basketball games and when Emily was only a few weeks old, we began taking her to an occasional game.  Granted, she slept through most of them, but she was there.  That was when she was so young she would sleep anywhere through any amount of noise - ah, how I miss those days!  Here she is in her first (of many, I'm sure) piece of Calvin wear.

Also, I grew up in Pittsburgh, which means it's a given that I am a HUGE Steelers fan.  One of the hardest parts of living so far from where I grew up (aside from the obvious missing of family) is that I can't get the Steelers games on television every week or make it to very many games.  But, Emily has already been to her first Steelers game.  My mom and I went to a game last fall when Emily was still in the womb.

She's obviously going to root for them as passionately as I do, and here she is sporting her first jersey (well, it's more of a onesie, but close enough).  Don't you think someone should pay her to model this stuff?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Trying Out Some Words

I'm very much looking forward to when Emily says her first words, so recently I've been trying to teach her to say "Da Da". I'm hoping these will be her first words, and it looks like she is making good progress, even if she doesn't know what she's saying yet.


Friday, June 13, 2008

10 Things I've Learned About Emily

Though it's only been five and a half months, I've learned a whole lot about what makes this little girl tick! Here are some of my observations:

1. She loves being on her tummy. When she was only about a week old, she would try and roll on her side to sleep. We eventually got a sleep positioner - a device to help her rest on her back - but once she was able to roll from her back to her tummy, there was no stopping her from playing and sleeping like this as much as possible. And, at just over five months, she even scooches around a bit (mostly backwards) on all fours!

2. She's going to be one active toddler. She doesn't like to sit still very much, and won't cuddle unless she's a) really, really tired or b) really sick.

3. She's really interested in her surroundings. When I'm holding her, she has to be facing out so she can see everything. She'll even push my cheek away if I'm trying to hug her because she isn't able to look at all the fascinating things in the living room that she's already seen about 200 times. Sigh.

4. She prefers to get her sleep at night. I'm a big fan of sleep; I'd get nine hours a night if I could. Thankfully, Emily's been sleeping 9+ hours most nights since she was eight weeks old. Naps however, are a different story. Some days, she could take or leave anything lasting longer than 45 minutes. But, I know there are people with more sorrowful napping woes than me so I choose to be thankful!

5. She's a darn cute baby. And I know I am her incredibly biased mother, but I can't go out in public without someone expressing (often in a high pitched voice) how adorable she is. I thank them and tell them I agree wholeheartedly.

6. Our pediatrician has a theory that babies are either grunters of spitters, and Emily has definitely done her fair share of spitting up since she exited my womb and began taking bottles. It has never seemed to bother her much, but I've had to do a considerable amount of laundry because of it, and I've come to really appreciate changing bibs as opposed to whole outfits.

7. She is one of the most social babies I've ever come across. Doesn't matter who it is, but if someone smiles at her, she smiles back and is endlessly entertained just by looking at faces. This makes it really easy to take her on errands, especially when she can people watch from the comfortable (for her, not my aching back) perch of her baby bjorn.

8. She's a mixture of her parents, and other family members. Some babies come out looking exactly like a miniature version of one of their parents. Emily though, has features of both of us. She definitely has my big eyes, Eric's general face shape, and several people have said she looks like my sister or Eric's grandmother. She's a hybrid! I just hope she gets her daddy's long legs!

9. She gets bored easily at home. Toys of any kind can only entertain this child for a few minutes at a time, and then she begins to make her fussy cry sounds. It's as if she's asking us, "Do you really think a rattle with only six colors and three textures is going to be all that stimulating for me?" So, we take lots of walks and do lots of errands together.

10. She has the ability to melt her daddy's heart like nothing I've ever seen. The other day Eric was just completely devastated when he rushed home from work to find Emily already asleep for the night. And, though it takes a lot to get Eric out of bed and moving in the morning, her cries and coos from her crib can occasionally do it. Then he'll bound back into our bedroom and exclaim "you should have SEEN the SMILE she gave me when she saw me"! Your daddy loves you, peanut, and so do I.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Balancing Act

I didn't know how I'd feel about work after I had Emily. Before becoming pregnant, I had a job that I loved and had just accepted a promotion. Each time someone asked me if I was planning to return to work, I said yes, at least for awhile I would go back. I wanted to give myself time to see how I would feel as a mom before making any major life changes.

Those first eight weeks at home with Emily were HARD - some of the hardest times I've experienced. Turns out, being a first time mom is scary business and in some ways, returning to work was a relief because I knew how to do my job. I was pretty good at my job and it gave me confidence instead of causing me to question my sanity at least a dozen times a day. But, I slowly realized that by being gone 40+ hours a week I was missing too much. I made the difficult decision to resign from my full-time job, but I must admit that I still want to work. I'd like to find something that fits within my career path, is somewhere between 15 and 30 hours a week, and offers some flexibility. Is that too much to ask? Stay tuned! But seriously, how could I stay away from this face for too long?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Dream Come True!

When I was in high school, I was (and still am) a big fan of college football.  In particular, I enjoy watching the Big 10 conference games.  Since I went to the University of Michigan for graduate school, I almost always root for them.  But I'm originally from Pennsylvania, and when I was younger (and as my brother-in-law Jeff would say, didn't know any better) I was a huge Penn State fan.  That is, until I developed quite a thing for a certain red headed quarterback from Ohio State named Joe Germaine.  My grandma got me his jersey for Christmas one year and when I went to college, I made sure to take a few photos of him with me.

After Joe graduated from Ohio State, I think he went to the NFL for a year or two as a third string back-up quarterback and then I completely lost track of him.  But, this past weekend my friends Sarah and Andy invited me to an arena football game (Grand Rapids is the proud home of the Rampage).  Imagine my surprise when they called the name of the opposing team's quarterback.  Yep, it was none other than Joe!  So naturally I decided to see if I could catch his eye after the game and what do you know, good old Joe was nice enough to pose for a picture with me.  I'm guessing he doesn't get a whole lot of attention from fans these days, so I would think he could have looked a bit more excited!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Five Months Old!


You are five months old today!  Coincidentally, this is also your Aunt Elsa's 20th birthday (don't worry, I signed your name on her card).  As I write this, you are playing happily in your exersaucer, a toy that you have come to really cherish.  You try to put each and every one of the multicolored objects around you in your mouth.  Who cares if it's cloth or plastic?  If it's within arms grasp, you will try to eat it (or at least slobber on it a whole bunch).

You are such a contented baby, and your level of happiness seems to grow with every passing week.  When I think back to those first few weeks when you would scream for no good reason at all (or so it seemed), I am so glad that your temperament is so pleasant now.  I remember actually asking the pediatrician when you would be both awake and happy - how far we have come!  You are making more noises all the time, and you discovered how fun it is to squeal in a really high pitched voice.  You also like to blow bubbles, and often resort to this when you're bored and there is nothing better to do.  I think you are starting to babble conversationally too, because you will be quiet when I talk to you and then try to talk when I'm done.

Another thing on your list of likes is being outside.  We take walks almost every night - either in the baby bjorn or your stroller - and you love to watch everything as we go by.  You also really like to watch your daddy shoot baskets, and we often pass you back and forth as we attempt a game of horse after dinner.

You and Oscar have finally started to bond as well, and you will reach for him whenever he's around.  When you first came home, Oscar was afraid of you - well, more accurately, the loud crying you produced - and now he seems to tolerate you, and even be mildly curious about you.  Your daddy and I joke that he's finally earning his keep because he'll keep you entertained, even if only for a couple of minutes.

You aren't now, nor have you ever been, a cuddly baby.  No, you are way too squirmy to sit still long enough for that!  I think you get that from your daddy.  When you weren't feeling well last week you would just sit in my arms forever, and though I enjoyed having you there, I'm happy to see you back to your normal self now.  You also are really trying hard to both crawl and sit by yourself.  You look quite like a fish on dry land when you try to crawl, thrashing your arms and legs to no avail, but I trust you'll figure it out soon.  You also sit for the briefest of times on your own, before tumbling sideways or backwards (don't worry, we always catch you!).

Happy five months!