Strong Mom & Blueberries

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First, blueberries.

Ever since I knew we’d be moving to Michigan, I was excited about picking berries. AZ is great for a lot of things – hiking, sunsets, bat watching – but its produce is abysmal. Still, we made the 2 hour trek out to the orchards every fall just to pick apples and pretend it wasn’t 90+ degrees.

July hit and with it the realization that, well hot beans, summer ain’t gonna be around much longer. Last year the warm weather stretched well into October, but I know the north is fickle and there’s no guarantee we won’t get an early frost this year. Plus, berries are only in season for a few short weeks (see: weekends). So we’d better hop on it.

We hit up a patch that was supposed to be an hour away, but due to random construction, ended up being two hours. By the time we got there, the clear day the weather forecasters had promised had become cloudy and misty. We pulled into a muddy parking lot still speckled with other cars and figured we wouldn’t melt and, well, it was better than a hot, humid day.

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Aside from my shoes getting drenched, it was perfect. We took turns holding Lady Jr & an umbrella and picking blueberries. It misted and rained and misted again. There were a few mosquitoes, but far fewer than there could have been.

The blueberries were perfect. Lady Jr kept stretching for the leaves, so I guided her to a clump of blueberries and she pulled one off and ate it. Then she ate another one. And another. She just kept plucking blueberries and eating them and I was so amazed I didn’t stop her. In hindsight, I should have, because she ended up puking blueberries all over my shirt. Whoops.

Chubby baby arm

Oh well. I bundled her back to the car, cleaned us both off, then put her in the carrier. Together we walked up and down the rows of blueberries and she fell asleep with her head back and her arms crossed under her chin.

Two hours later we were home again and I was rinsing off the blueberries (nine pounds!!). I offered one to her, but apparently it wasn’t fresh enough. Fair.

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And now, a strong mom update, because finding time to update in general has been tough, y’all. Mostly I just wanted to say

I ran a 9:13 mile! Aaah!

I haven’t run a sub 10min mile in easily 2 years. I am not a speedy person. I am a lifter and I am tall and I am big. So getting that close to 9min is a big achievement. Now to hit my goal of 3.1 miles in 31min, I just have to do that twice over. Considering I had to warm up with a 10.50min pace and then had to walk for a bit after, I’m still a ways off, but…

That’s what goals are all about, right? Pushing your limits and being surprised at what happens.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to stuff my face with blueberries.

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Diary of a Strong Mom: June Recap

Omg Speck, where have you been?? I’m still doing my thing, I swear, just blogging got a whole lot harder to fit into my days. Now I understand how people can disappear for months at a time.

ANYWAY

I’m still doing strong mom stuff. I won’t recap every run/lift, but there were definitely a lot more runs than lifts. Last month I managed to run every week 2-3 times. I lifted a total of 3 times. ^^() So far this month, I’ve run twice a week and finally lifted again for the first time today. That has got to change! But June was stressful as heck and running helps relieve stress as well as helps me untangle plot problems, so I just went with running when I didn’t feel like lifting.

But even though I’m beating myself up for missing out on lifting, I really am doing better overall with fitness. Running 2.5+ miles is a breeze. 3 miles is becoming more comfortable, although I’m not quite there yet. In general, I’m feeling more confident about my body.

So much so, that I decided to set myself a new challenge. My 31st birthday is coming up next month on the 31st – what do they call that, a golden birthday? I don’t know, but I’m not letting my birthday pass me by as easily as it did last year. To stop it from getting away so fast, I’ve set myself a pretty big goal (for me):

Run a 5k in 31 minutes. For those keeping track, that’s 3.1 miles in 31 minutes.

I’m currently around 33min for my 5k time, but that’s at a casual, comfortable pace. Can I shave 2min off in the next 5 weeks? I don’t know! But I’m going to try. That’s pretty much a 10min mile. I’m currently riding comfortable at 10:30.

I’ll be happy just to run the 5k and have fun, but it’s also fun to have a goal to reach for. I’ve been running more and faster, now I just need to put those two together. And also hope that Lady Jr doesn’t go through another sleep regression any time soon.

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Nine Months, Wot Wot

New Things !!:

TWO TEETH! They’ve broken through and if you peer closely, you can even see them in our gaping smile. It’s so good. She’s starting to figure out how to use them to tear chunks of food apart, which is great. Today peaches, tomorrow – the world.

Crawling is happening. She’s got arm-over-arm army crawl and can progress in a straight line when she’s sufficiently motivated (see: mommy has her laptop open!). Occasionally she gets her butt up in the air, but hasn’t coordinated that with her front yet.

Standing is not so much. At her 9 month appt, the dr encouraged us to hold her and help her stand more, but she just isn’t interested. I have to hold her by the armpits, even though I can tell she’s clearly strong enough. Every baby in their own time, I guess.

Favorite foods still include eggs and sweet potatos, fish and chicken and pork. But now: watermelon! She friggin loves watermelon. It’s so pure.

Sitting?! Sitting!! Finally!! I don’t know if it’s from practicing in my lap or what but this weekend I just propped her up on the floor and she managed to stay that way for several minutes, correcting herself without over-correcting. She still gets super excited and topples backwards sometimes, but she doesn’t tripod or really need to hold herself up with her hands any more. She also can’t get to a sitting position on her own, but one thing at a time.

Sleep regressed for a while between the teething and the traveling and then an ear infection. But she’s getting back to two easy wake-ups again and is no longer waking up at 5am for the day, so I’ll take it.

– Her 9 month appt went really well. She’s up from the 3% for weight to 15%. Which, you know, we guessed once she seemed to gain a pound in a week and now that her ribs no longer show. They had us fill out a little questionnaire to see where she was and that was actually really helpful, because I’d been worried about her being behind, but mostly she’s only behind on gross motor. Her fine motor skills, her social, everything else she’s doing really well. And now, of course, she mastered sitting since that appointment, so she must be working on gross motor finally.

– I don’t know what’s happened (hint: solids), but she went from little to no change for three months to chugging along towards toddlerhood like a friggin freight train. Is that normal? I knew there’d be some leaps and bounds, but this feel like one huge month-long bound.

– She’s eating so much and progressing so fast that I can’t help but wonder if she was getting enough calories before she figured out solids. I’m trying not to feel guilty, but should we have been supplementing? :/ Oh well. What’s past is past and I won’t be breastfeeding again.

– Speaking of, my supply is dropping like a rock. We started supplementing a bottle of formula at daycare a month ago because I was having difficulty keeping up with 3 bottles a day by pumping, and now I’m barely able to get a bottle a day. My original goal was to make it 6 months, then 9, and stop by 1 year, but I suspect I may stop pumping pretty soon now. It’s pretty demoralizing to only get 4oz over 3 sessions, especially when each one takes 15-20min. That’s an hour out of my day for a single bottle and change. Granted, continuing to pump means I can still feed her on weekends etc, but actually… even then it doesn’t seem like she’s getting enough. :/

– Anyway.

– As far as my non-baby-related life goes, things are slightly less hectic after turning my book in. I have another book to write, but I’ve got till April, so easy peasy, right? 😛 Before things get crazy again (and my editor drops edits on me), we’re going to take a few weekends and actually, you know, try to see some of Michigan. Maybe even go berry picking, since Lady Jr can sit up now. I’d love to plop her on a blanket in a blueberry field.

Now that you’ve survived all of that, have some pics:

9 Months

Great Omaha Weekend 2017

Great Omaha Weekend 2017
(Lady Jr with her cousin, who’s only 9 months older)

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Leaps & Bounds

Quick & dirty because I am supposed to be at work:

1) Somebody has TEETH. No, not me. Lady Jr’s naps were shittier than usual last week and Sunday morning Dr Lady noticed that what she’d thought were those little white cysts had grown and were unusually sharp. As of the last time I was able to peer into Lady Jr’s mouth, two bottom teeth had broken through her gums, forming a little ridge like mountains. And she is NOT happy.

Thank goodness she can have ibuprofen now, because the tylenol is no longer cutting it. Of course, teething coupled with several days of very late night and very loud fireworks (wtf is wrong with you, Michigan??) have made us all crotchety as fuck. Poor baby was up for 2 hours sobbing and pulling at her ear last night, and after we finally got her down it was just loud booming firework after firework until 12.30. I officially hate this holiday.

2) But in less cranky news: Lady Jr has consonants! As of Saturday she’s started going “mwa mwa mwa” and “dadada” and, occasionally and to Dr Lady’s absolute delight, “BWAH!” It’s kind of really freaking adorable.

3) Lady Jr is very haphazardly army crawling. She would reach with one arm and push herself up on her toes and kind of topple forward, but now she’s coordinating that into two, even three topples and is making movement forward. She fixates on computers and phones, probably because, aside from her, that’s what her mommies pay the most attention to. ^^()

4) We’re up to three meals a day and she demolishes pretty much anything and everything. She’s now eating a meal at daycare and I am pleased as punch at how impressed the daycare ladies are with her and her eating. She may be behind on everything else (or at least it feels like it sometimes), but at least she eats. One daycare worker tried to cut up her chicken for her, but Lady Jr grabbed it and shoved it into her mouth before she could and then it was gone.

5) Probably because of all the solid food, she has chunked up and definitely gone through a growth spurt. Yet she’s still the runt at daycare. Her 9 month appt is next week and I am super curious to see how big she is now.

Have some baby pics:

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I cut & dyed my hair last week, so figured it was time for some updated author photos. Of course, what do you do with a baby during pics? I held her through all of them, although not always as prominently as here. This was just one of my favorites:
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Siblings

The question of whether or not we’re “one and done” has been on our minds a lot lately. Now that Lady Jr is less of a handful. Now that we can think. Now that Dr Lady is feeling her own biological clock ticking. Every year we pay for storage for other vials, we face this choice. Will Lady Jr have a sibling? Or will she be an only child?

There are a lot of things to consider, not least of which are my own feelings about siblings. Every time I’ve seen someone argue that by having an only child, the parents are depriving their kid of a lifelong friend I want to lash out. Anger surges in my chest and my throat tightens and it takes all of my willpower to walk away. And before I can properly give this question, for us, its due, I need to ask myself why I have such a visceral response to that statement. Where am I coming from, and how does that color my choices?

Because, to be brutally honest, my brother and I have a horrible relationship. With age, it’s faded from hate and disdain to an uneasy truce. I thought I’d moved past whatever happened between us growing up. I finally have the life I’ve dreamed of, I finally have something to be proud of, so much to celebrate –

…yet not one word from my brother. No sign he even knows I exist. And out of all the congrats and love I’ve received, I noticed that. And it hurts. And I’m surprised it hurts. And yet I shouldn’t be surprised it hurts.

I idolized my brother growing up. Fuck, I can’t help it – I still kind of do. When I was in fourth grade, I tested in to the gifted program after having failed the test before. I barely passed. My mom told me I had a choice – I didn’t have to go into the program. But I insisted – because my brother was in it.

I followed him around the neighborhood, played with him and the other boys on bikes and with supersoakers. We ran behind houses and crawled through bushes together. Discovered the Florida swamp, climbed up giant mounds of dirt at construction sites, kept secrets together. Then, one day, something changed. He and the other boys chased me away. He blamed me for everything. He closed his door and shut me out. He got violent. Once, I walked by him sitting on the couch and he grabbed the flesh of my elbow and dug in his nails so deep he drew blood. For no reason except that I’d walked by.

He resented me and I still don’t know why. And to this day, I still want his approval. I brag about my cool, helicopter-flying, Navy brother. I ask him what he’s up to. I befriend his wife. Yet…

So yeah. Maybe that’s why I get such a visceral response when people make it out like having an only child is akin to abuse. And maybe that’s why I’m a little afraid of having another. I can’t help but wonder: if we have a second, will it ruin Lady Jr? Will she resent us and her sibling? How can I possibly make sure whatever happened between me and my brother doesn’t happen to her when I don’t even know what happened?

I don’t know. But I do know I need to work through this before I can make a rational decision. Thankfully, we still have some time.

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A Breath of Relief

Guys. I did it. I wrote a book in eight months with an infant and a job and very little sleep.

I have frequently bemoaned how lonely I’ve been in MI, but that had a lot to do with Getting This Done. I spent every morning and evening and any free time on the weekends working on this. If you’d asked me in January or February or March or April or even May, I wasn’t sure I’d make it.

But I really, really wanted to. I knew it wouldn’t take too much to ask for an extension, but I wanted to prove I could meet a deadline. Because if I could do it now, while sleep-deprived, taking care of a newborn then infant then baby, handling Everything when both baby and Dr Lady were often sick, work 3 days a week, and also somehow find time to eat and shower and exercise – then I would 100% know I could do it and no excuses would ever be enough.

I wanted – no – needed to prove to myself I could do this. And to handle all the daily stress and panic while still enjoying the process. And yes, I didn’t enjoy the process the entire time. Sometimes I just wanted to cry. Sometimes I did. Sometimes I wanted to sleep in, instead of crawling out of bed to the sound of my alarm only an hour after I’d been up with Lady Jr. Sometimes I did. Usually, though – I didn’t.

But I did it. I’m not 100% sure how, not even now, but I’m even a week early. What.

Anyway – I just really needed to get that out. I’m still a little shell-shocked. And now I have another book to write, and there will be edits, and I’m sure new and different and familiar challenges. And – this is my life now. I get to write books! If it sells well when it comes out in 18(ish) months, I’ll get to write more books!

;;.;;

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Eight Months!!

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Day in the Life with an Eight Month Old

1.30am Baby starts babbling to herself. I go in and nurse her back to sleep.

4.30-5.15am Baby starts babbling to herself. I get up and pump lefty, waiting to see if she’ll go back to sleep. 80% of the time, she rolls around for 20 minutes and then goes back to sleep. If she’s still awake when I’m done pumping, I go in and nurse her back to sleep.

5.30am-6.30am I write/edit, keeping one eye on the monitor. If Lady Jr wakes up before 6, I let her talk to herself for a little while – unless she starts crying.

6.30am-7.30am I make breakfast and prep bottles while Lady Jr hangs out with me in the kitchen. Usually I have to find something for her to eat while I’m still making her breakfast. She friggin loves sweet potato and soft egg yolks. She’ll eat almost any kind of protein, but fruit? Bah.

7.30am-8am The last hectic push to get Lady Jr and Dr Lady out the door by 8. We have a pretty flexible schedule, but life is easier if we get Lady Jr to daycare before 8.30. This push involves everybody getting dressed, nursing Lady Jr, changing her into a disposable for daycare, and Dr Lady packing up. We’ve been getting better at it with practice.

8.10am-9am With Lady Jr and Dr Lady gone for the day, I finish cleaning up the kitchen and get some exercise in. T-F, I alternate runs and lifting.

8.50am Shower.

9am-6pm Work at home. On Tuesdays, I write, so my day is a bit more free form and interspersed with chores for breaks. W-F, I work for my day job and spend 90% of my time chained to my desk for meetings (okay maybe not quite 90%).

5.30pm Dr Lady picks up Lady Jr and brings her home. I pretty much stop working whenever Lady Jr gets home, but some days Dr Lady takes her into the kitchen and starts dinner time while I finish something up.

6pm – 7pm Winner winner chicken dinner! We try to give Lady Jr whatever we’re eating that night, but she’s been getting pickier, so we have some backup veggie purees in case she refuses everything. After dinner, we clean her up and start bedtime, which is some version of boob-bath-book, not always in that order. Then we put her in her crib, kiss her forehead, and tell her good night.

7pm-9pm 90% of the time, Lady Jr rolls around for 10-20min talking to herself before falling asleep. We usually return to the kitchen to do dishes and clean up. If she’s not asleep by the time we’re done – or gets upset – we go in and check on her. After dishes are done, we sit together on the couch and – you guessed it – work. I write/edit, Dr Lady runs generations and/or annotates genomes. I’m in bed by 9, if not sooner.

11pm-12am Lady Jr wakes up and I go in and nurse her.

 

New Things I’ve Noticed:

– Lady Jr has developed Intent. She does things with focus and purpose now and has invented a method of rolling and rotating to get to things she wants.

Crawling is still in the proto leg kicking stage. Lady Jr appears to have 0 motivation to learn how to crawl since she can already get wherever she wants to go by the aforementioned roll & rotate method.

– She’s making more and varied sounds, although I don’t hear any consonants yet.

– No teeth.

Sleep is pretty darn good. She goes down really easy and usually only wakes me up twice. Once a week, she only wakes me up once.

– Her core strength is pretty awesome. She loves being flown around the room.

– She is so friggin happy. She smiles and laughs and sticks her tongue out all the time.

– She also flips to breathless sobs without any warning. Most of the time she just doesn’t want to be put down.

– I didn’t know I could love her more than I already did, but I do, and I continue to love her more each day.

 

My life right now in a nutshell: work work work. But there’s an end in sight: July 1st is a major deadline for both my day job and my writing. Once that’s passed – and I turn my book in – I’ll be able to breathe again. Just don’t remind me that July is right around the corner. I might just hyperventilate instead.

 

And now, for some baby pics:

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