When you really love someone, you have to take up the causes they think are important…

…which sometimes means attending multiple baseball games in one weekend, with a newborn, in million degree heat, because the Pirates are in town and we turn out for James’ team.

I remember feeling a little daunted when we found out we were having a boy, a little left out of the more feminized mom culture. I wondered if having a baby boy would be as fun as a little girl, if it would feel as much like I had a little sidekick.

I was so stupid. The wonderful thing about babies, is  that I’m pretty sure that everyone ends up being thrills with what they end up having. If we had had a girl, I know I would be GUSHING. But as it is, I could not be more pleased with my baby boy. I was texting with my friend Fran who also recently had a boy, and I told her that I felt like having a tiny boyfriend that you are obsessed with and everything he does is perfect. When I go out with Henry, I feel like I have my big strong boy there to protect me, which is RIDICULOUS, since he can’t even roll over yet, and I am pretty capable of protecting myself and resisting gender stereotypes. BUT STILL. My hormonal feelings know no logic.

I know that if we have a daughter someday, I will absolutely melt over watching James interact with her, but for now seeing him with Hank is my favorite thing. My boys,doing guy stuff. The Pirates came to town a couple weeks back, and we made sure to hit 2/3 games — only missing the third because of a rain delay that moved it back further than would be enjoyable with a baby who is slowly developing a more solid bedtime.

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Henry is obviously ecstatic about America’s greatest pastime, baseball, and his mother’s greatest pastime, matching clothing.

Of course, I can neither confirm nor deny that the entire weekend wasn’t just so that Henry could wear his entire array of Pirates gear that one of my students gifted him. (CONFIRM). In general, I am not a fan of baby boy clothes with lots of logos or words on them, but I make an exception for fanware so that we can all match, because massive groups of people matching and experiencing excitement in unison is maybe my favorite thing — no impulse for individualism over here.-17There is nothing more summery and perfect to me than the ballpark on a Sunday afternoon. I ate lots of hotdogs and fries and just felt so darn American all weekend long. I also reveled in the glory that is the nursing mothers room at Nats park. IT WAS MAGICAL. AC! Tiny curtains you could pull around your plush chair while you watched the games! AC! Clean changing tables! A to the C! Samples of various products! AAAAAA CCCCC! Getting to it sneaks you into the posh area of the stadium and no one notices if you don’t leave ! THAT AC THOUGH!

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That logistics of a baby at a ball park are something we are slowly mastering, as we have now [mostly] successfully done three games. We found that wearing Henry was vastly easier than any other sort of carrier, and I also brought a bottle for easy stadium feedings if I didn’t want to trek to the nursing lounge.

Basically though… we are ever and always winging this baby thing. Henry loves heat, noises, crowds, and his bottle, so it happened to be a winning combo. What was slightly less winning was how wired he was Friday night after the first game, resulting in a crying/screaming/refusing to sleep fiasco of EPIC PROPORTIONS. Rookie parents, that we are, and the ensuing meltdown on my part showed us that it is time to develop a more solid bedtime routine, hence the missed second game.

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Baseball is SERIOUS business.

But in spite of any exhaustion from the weekend, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a second of it. Being with my boys at the ballpark was the absolute best.

PS: Sometimes when you love someone it means letting your husband pick the toaster (even if it broke after like 2 uses), or cheering for a sworn enemy, or jumping on a bandwagon. (Sidenote: Spring of 2012 was also the best my hair has ever looked – whyyy won’t it do that anymore?)

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Four years.

WegmannWedding164Today marks four years since we stood in that bright chapel and committed to life together. This anniversary seems momentous, because it feels like the first where we aren’t newlyweds. I have always adhered to the idea that you are newlyweds until you have children, until you hit that milestone that drastically changes your lifestyle even more than marriage. We are going into this anniversary way more tired, way more distracted, and way more happy than any of the three that preceded it. We will make it out to dinner tonight, thanks to kind friends who babysit, but we happily accepted the 6:30 reservation, and won’t spend the whole weekend celebrating like we have sometimes in years past. That’s ok. Life is full now, but it is good.

I always write a blog post on our anniversary, some sort of reminiscence mixed with whatever realization about marriage I am reveling in at the moment. On year one I proudly rebuked the idea of soul mates, which means that James still has people address him as “not the soul mate.” On year two I waxed poetic about a love that is useful and durable like cotton, weaving into this image all that we learned in the fires of 2014, which was not our easiest year. Last year I was able to compile a lengthy list of the true and the beautiful that I have learned from marriage.

And this year?WegmannWedding202

This year I am writing bog posts in stolen snatches of naptime when I really should be working on my dissertation. Henry spit up in my hair and down my back yesterday and I did not even clean it off because it had dried by the time I could actually get to it and it just seemed pointless. I somehow wore my pants inside out all day on Wednesday. The light-bulbs in our dining room are slowly burning out one by one and I just can’t seem to get it together enough to change them. I have no clue how I will go back to cooking balanced meals when we finally reach the end of the food that people have been bringing us, which will probably happen sometime next week. We have been dangerously close to running out of all sorts of household essentials for weeks now, but never fear – there are 4 types of ice-cream in our freezer.

This is life this year. And it is messy and hard and so, so good.

And so often, instead of addressing all the things in that paragraph that need addressing, James and I just sit on the couch instead. We watch stupid shows, or talk about all of Henry’s varied accomplishments of the day, or we tickle Henry’s tummy over and over, trying to provoke the smiles that he just started doing this week. We eat on the couch in shifts, one of us holding Henry while the other shovels in food, because even though we know that we could put him down – we just can’t do it. We worry about all that the future holds for our world and our kid. And at the end of these exhausting, messy, disorienting, and mundane days, I look over at that man and I am filled with a deep and abiding peace that he is my forever partner.

The other night we decided that it was time for Henry to start sleeping in his own room. We set up the Rock-n-play in there and put him down, and he quickly fell asleep. We too headed into bed, congratulating ourselves on our success…only to sit in bed fretting about him sleeping a whole 15 feet away. I know that he was fine, but we missed him, and so we finally decided to delicately move him back into our room by just picking up the whole Rock-n-play, carrying it across the hall while we bobbed in time to mimic its rocking. Henry growled at us in his sleep, and we stifled hysterics as we almost folded the whole thing in on him before settling it back in its proper place beside the bed.  I was able to then easily fall asleep, there between my two boys.

This is life this year. This is our marriage this year. It is ridiculous, and full of impulse decisions that come from a whole lot of emotions, and it is so, so good.

And so, instead of an articulate post about marriage and love, I just have this:

If I had to do it again, I would choose James. Every single time. There are many things I no longer know at the end of the day, many things that are slipping out of my fuzzy sleep deprived brain these days.

But I do know that one, beautiful truth, every minute of every day. It is enough.WegmannWedding379

Photos by Whitney Neal Photography.



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Henry goes to Kentucky!

Last week Henry and I headed to Kentucky to spend some quality time with my family. My mom spent two weeks with us after Henry was born, but my dad and grandparents only got to see him at the wedding, and that just wasn’t enough time. He won’t be as wonderfully squishy by the time I make it home for Christmas, and I just couldn’t handle the idea that some of my nearest and dearest would miss out on these perfect newborn snuggles.

So! We said goodbye to James and Henry and I headed west for a week.

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Behold, an ideal spot to chill with a newborn for 6 hours, while they decide to not nap so much. SAID NO ONE EVER.

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I did not actually get to read much of that book, but at least I have a picture to show that I tried.

I imagine that flying with a 7 week old is probably way easier than flying with a baby any older. They are still in the “potted plant stage,” to quote a lady from my church, where they may scream – but they can’t move. Henry was truly awesome during both flights, which was a miracle, considering our flight was delayed for 6 HOURS on the way there. Dealing with a baby by myself in an airport for an extra 6 hours was not exactly something that I was planning to do, but we survived. And at the other end of survival, was Kentucky — the best place there is.

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Totally made my dad pull over on the way home from the airport so I could hop out and snap this pic. Yes, Henry started crying in the backseat, but I’m pretty sure he was still impressed.

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All the heart eyes for fields of flowers and dirt roads.

I mean really, so beautiful. I’m sure that Henry was way more touched by his mother’s homeland than he let on. In fact, it is probably what he was considering during an especially pensive tummy time session one morning.

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Ah yes, finding a way to phone it in during exercising. Truly, he is my son.

Lest you think that Henry was the only one working out to strengthen his muscles, I celebrated extra hands on deck by getting in some runs – my first since 34 weeks pregnant. Unless you count the desperate jog I went on to try to induce labor at 38 weeks. I think that every person in Lincoln Park held their breath as I jiggled my pregnant self around in laps, nobly trying to move things along.

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My first run was up and down this driveway enough times to get to a mile, all so I could run while playing chicken with Henry’s nap. Gotta start somewhere.

Henry spent most of the week in the arms of his adoring public, specifically my dad and grandmother. He slept almost exclusively in someone’s arms all week… which made nighttime really fun when mean old mom made him go to sleep in the Rock n’Play.

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“One does not simple go to sleep. One must first refuse at length and demand all sorts of favors.” -Henry, the tiny [AND FREAKING ADORABLE] tyrant.

But even if we undid some of the awesome sleep habits that we have been cultivating, it was totally worth it. Henry isn’t going to get to know my beloved grandparents like I do, but I hope that someday I can tell him about the hours he spent in his great grandmother’s arms. I want to tell him how she would just stroke his tiny hands over and over, marveling at their perfection. At how she said that she had never gotten as much time to just study a baby. At how she got out of the pool early just to gaze at him in the shade. This visit was just part of cultivating the circle of love that will wrap around our boy all his days.

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Multi-generational snuggles!

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Don’t let his face fool you – Henry LOVED my dad and would pretty much fall asleep and snuggle instantly into his neck. This face is surely directed at me for disrupting his nap for a photo.

Kentucky, you were good to us. Till next time!

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Your husband is not a babysitter.

Summer2016-52Recently I went out with some girlfriends. It was a Sunday night, I left the baby and a bottle with James, and I met some friends for an evening of good food and conversation not interrupted by feedings or crying. I didn’t worry about how I would breastfeed in public, and we talked about things beyond baby schedules (though that is a topic for which I have ENDLESS stamina these days).  It was wonderful. Henry was about a month old, and I wasn’t gone for more than a couple hours, but those couple hours of focus beyond myself, my baby, and my home had me returning relaxed and rejuvenated.

In  the course of conversation, I mentioned that it was the first time I had really left Henry just with James for more than an hour, and I hoped that everything was ok, that Henry was taking the bottle and staying calm. Of course, I laughed, James is perfectly capable of keeping him alive and safe for a couple hours, so I don’t know why I feel like I have to be there all the time. We talked about this phenomenon, about mothers who hate to leave their kids with their fathers because we don’t want to impose, don’t want our darling husbands left with screaming babies. We feel bad when we ask our husbands to babysit, because we are fully aware of the difficulty our babies often present.

But that’s the problem: your husband is not a babysitter.

It is a dangerous linguistic falsehood birthed from a very practical reality. During the parenting of young children, there is often one parent who acts as the primary caregiver, and frequently, it is the mother. This is normal. I am with Henry almost all the time. I feed him, spend hours analyzing his every action and discerning his responses. I get to know his moods, habits, and predispositions, detailing nightly for James the advances of our baby and my observations on what is and isn’t working. In terms of sheer hours in the day and abilities (read: breastfeeding), I am far and away the dominant parent.

But I am not the only one.

Henry has two parents – not a parent and a babysitter who sometimes watches him. He has two people equally invested in his life, even of one’s investment is primarily earning the living that sustains us while the other puts in more hands-on daytime hours.. He has two adults committed to his well being and the real question is which one is on duty.

And so, I never ask James to babysit. We look over our weekend schedule together and decide if it is easier for him to stay with Henry while I run errands, or we discuss if there is a time when I could slip off and go running or meet girlfriends for pizza and sangria, or a night that it is better for him to work late or attend some event. We work together to juggle schedules and needs, but we do not go into those discussions with preconceived decisions that one of us has a lesser responsibility to our baby.

I never ask him to babysit, but I do ask him to watch our baby. Why does it matter, this slight difference in vocabulary?

It matters because words matter, because words create reality, because words convey so much more than we realize. Because the way that we talk about people and what they do — especially when discussing something like gender roles — has a direct impact on what our culture expects.

By talking about our spouses “babysitting,” we relegate them to a lesser responsibility in their child’s upbringings. We elevate motherhood to the sad detriment of fatherhood. We imply that a woman’s care for her children is a perpetual given, but a man’s care for those same children is a special occasion that falls outside his normal responsibilities. In that word, we rob our husbands of the right to fully parent, aligning them instead with a teenage girl who follows a list of instructions and gets paid at the end of the evening. This idea of father as babysitter is entrenched in society, whereas we staunchly fight against other misnomers every day. I for instance [happily] do almost all the cooking and the laundry, but if James referred to me as the cook or laundress, I hope we would all agree that that is insulting.

Furthermore, I think it is valuable for fathers to get some time alone with their babies and their children so that they fully feel the truth of their right to parent. James often asks me what he should do with Henry in certain situations, not because I am the authority, but because I spend the most time with him and I am working on establishing norms and habits during the day. He wants to parent alongside what I work all day to implement. But I would never want him to feel incapable of making his own decisions about what our boy needs, or insecure about his parental judgement. I want Henry to grow knowing that two parents are coming together to raise him.

And so, when I go out sans baby, I don’t ask James to babysit and I try to remember not to tell my friends that I’m free because James is babysitting. I’m free because Henry has two parents, and I am currently the parent off-duty. I’m free because James recognizes this and enjoys time with his son. I’m free because marriage is a glorious partnership of unequal tasks, but equal commitment. These are the truths that we support when we stop calling our spouses babysitters. Let us rethink our words to talk our way towards a society with a better understanding that it takes more than just mothers to raise children.

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Maternity Capsule.

If you’ve been around here awhile, you know that I love a good purge and the concept of a capsule wardrobe. But there is one huge problem with a true capsule implementation, and that is that we have no place to store the out of season capsules. The idea of packing away off season clothes so your closet is breezy and empty sounds great, but it ironically requires you to live a life with a big enough house to have storage. We have 2 closets, 2 dressers, an armoire, and under our bed for the storage of everything in our lives. Baby clothes, our clothes,  games, DVDs, winter jackets, sheets and towels, suitcases, shoes, scarves, tools, odds and ends — they all have to squeeze in.

But the one true capsule I can boast is a maternity one, and it is now carefully washed and packed away in a plastic bin under my bed — other than the maternity clothes that I am still rocking and plan to never stop wearing because I have decided that all shorts should have an elastic inset on the side. I borrowed or received secondhand more than half my maternity wardrobe, and now it is waiting to be passed around to the next pregnant friend who needs some clothes and wants to avoid one time investments.

I was by no means an exceptionally fashionable pregnant woman. Or at least, I wasn’t compared to Kate Middleton, who showed up on the baby bump scene and single handedly redefined maternity style in a way that obliterates all attempts by us mere mortals to keep pace. I also had the luxury of only needing to look truly presentable a couple times a week, as I worked from home the majority of the spring.  And though I didn’t do a weekly bump-date on social media, I did bombard my near and dear with grainy cell phone snaps of my growing belly, which I have kindly assembled into that fancy grid. You’re welcome. Obviously I need to up my selfie game by the next baby, and potentially invest in a better mirror. As you can see, nothing revolutionary in my maternity style. But I did have some staples that really made me feel equipped to take on the world, and some things I learned about dressing a changing body. First, the lessons.

You don’t need maternity cloths and then you DO. At least for this first pregnancy, I just kept demurely smiling and proudly announcing that my clothes were not maternity clothes until close to 24 weeks, feeling smug and like I would maybe go full term without having more than a tiny bulge. HA.  And then one day you wake up and can’t see  your feet and have the unfortunate realization that yes, it sucks to buy clothes you will only wear a couple months, but it is that or never leave the house looking decent. Almost everyone will get mildly huge. Deal with it and find some jeans with an elastic panel.

Borrow. Lots of women have maternity clothes they aren’t wearing. I was given tons of hand-me-downs and I also borrowed heftily. I think people genuinely like loaning out maternity clothes because it makes us feel better about buying them.

You don’t need much variety. Yes, you need to get some stuff, but sticking in similar color families or styles allowed me to stretch my wardrobe really far.

It is worth it to invest a little more on one or two pieces that really make you feel good. A dear friend wisely saw through my early insistence that I didn’t need maternity clothes and gave me a generous giftcard to spend on some nice maternity clothes, so instead of buying only things on sale to stretch it as far as possible, I bought fewer but nicer things, including a shirt that was almost twice what I would spend on any non-maternity shirt. But I loved it, wore it on constant repeat, and always felt confident and beautiful in it.  I actually bought this dress postpartum to have something cute while I am still round and squishy and nursing and I really wish I had had it for those last bump weeks too.

Here are some of the staples that filled my maternity capsule:

These workout tops. Really most workout tops would work, but as I am crazy tall, I found that maternity ones had enough length to help me out.

T-shirts. Again, Target for the win! I had a couple of the Liz Lange Tees and they were blissfully long, whereas some lines like H&M maternity barely cover my whole torso not pregnant. Plus, I am still rocking these without shame, as they can easily be pulled down to nurse.

Old Navy BodyCon Dresses. Old Navy was my go-to for inexpensive and simple dresses, and the Bodycon style tended to work best with my bump. They are always having sales, and I picked up a couple jersey dresses that I wore on repeat the last trimester.

Loft Pants and Blouses. Loft had a small, but wonderful, selection of maternity clothes. I got a beautiful silk blouse, jeans, black slacks, and and a couple nice short-sleeved tops from there to constitute my entire professional maternity wardobe.

A good pair of maternity jeans. There are lots of brands, but the two that I had were one from Loft and a pair by Indigo Blue that my mom found and they were soooo comfy. I am considering not returning to regular jeans now that I have seen the light and discovered that zippers and buttons are totally unnecessary.

Belly Band. Around 30 weeks, I got really tired of my wardrobe and finally tried the Belly Band that someone had loaned me. MAGIC. I was able to add some of my non-maternity pants back into the rotation. It has also been great for easing my postpartum hips into jeans that don’t quite button with ease yet.

Maternity Spankx. Ever wonder how some people have those perfectly round bumps with shapely legs and no lines? MATERNITY SPANKX, THAT’S HOW.

Long Camisoles. Any brand, so long as they are stretchy and long. I found that towards the end I just needed a tad extra coverage in everything and a camisole helped. They are also great for the nursing wardrobe.

Most of these clothes are packed away now, awaiting the next bump to fill them out. Any maternity staples that you found helpful for not feeling like a total frump for 40 weeks?

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Watermelon coolers.

Let’s talk about two things: Bath & Body Works, and naptime.Summer2016-49I spent a large chunk of my middle school years worshiping at the body spray shrine, as did many of you, I imagine (I hope? please tell me I wasn’t alone!). The average middle school girl owned a horrendous cornucopia of scents, and our zealous over-application had the effect of making us collectively smell like a rotting produce stand. Country Apple, Sun-Ripened Raspberry, Cocoa Cabana, Sweet Pea – and the zenith of scents: Cucumber Melon. We went through life in a haze of strange odors and rolling glitter sticks that could be applied to any part of the body to enhance it.Summer2016-40Summer2016-42Yet if these smells were cloying and oppressive, the impulse was right, because what is more sublime then the combination of crisp and cool cucumbers, and juicy sweet melons? Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew- it doesn’t matter. The two produce families belong together and the packaged scent that we anointed over our middle school years does not adequately express the glorious combination of these two ingredients.Summer2016-41Summer2016-44My life is currently a series of naptimes, during which I either snuggle my babe and binge watch TV or try to do something productive. Almost every day Henry takes one stroller nap, where I wander Capitol Hill and let him enjoy the balmy 100% humidity. These are some of my favorite naps, as they feel both fun and productive. I usually have a goal in mind, some tiny treat that serves as the climax of our wanders. It might be a cookie from Union Kitchen Grocery (best chocolate chip cookie ever) or a Lavender Lemonade from Ebenezers (LAVENDER IN ALL THE THINGS PLEASE!).  But most often it is a watermelon cooler from Le Pain Quotidien. Sweet, juicy watermelon with a perfect hint of cucumber to give it a crisp edge.Summer2016-45This is the very taste of summer, stripped of any ingredients that might weigh us down or make us feel any more lethargic than the heat already has us feeling. And they are so easy to make, with just a couple ingredients, a flexible recipe, and they are Paleo! Whole30! Gluten Free! DUH. Because it is fruit and water. Sometimes I see labels on things like that and I think that our real problem isn’t gluten, it’s the fact that we are so far from real food that we have to tell people that things like fruit, vegetables, and meat are gluten free.Summer2016-48If you want to drink summer, you should make these. If you want a guilt-free drink to replace sugary lemonade or cocktails, you should make these. (Though for the record, they would probably be tasty with a little dash of something bubbly too!) If you sliced up a watermelon for July 4th and the remnants are getting mushy in your fridge, you should make these. And most importantly, if it’s naptime, and you are sitting contentedly in the AC, binge watching Gilmore Girls and congratulating yourself on a sleeping baby who might just wake up any second but not before you think back on your youth and your body spray and how did we get here? and how am I adult enough to have a baby? and you miss those carefree summer days of watermelon running down your chin even though you love these days with all their cares — you should make these.Summer2016-47

Watermelon Coolers

  • 4 cups cubed watermelon – very ripe
  • 3 cups water (or to taste)
  • juice of one lemon
  • mint
  • cucumbers, sliced thin
  1. Using an immersion blender or standard blender, blend the watermelon, water, and lemon juice.
  2. Put it in a pitcher and add mint leaves and some sliced cucumbers. Chill for several hours.
  3. Remove mint and cucumber (they will have gotten soggy in the process of giving up their essence to the drink) and serve with fresh mint and a cucumber slice.
  4. You can also muddle or blend mint into the drink, but some people don’t like actual chunks of mint in their drink.Summer2016-46


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Taking Stock.

Summer2016-11Summer2016-4Summer2016-7Summer2016-12Summer2016-15Summer2016-18Summer2016-29Summer2016-36Summer2016-39Making : Photo albums from our first four years of marriage. I started this project on our first anniversary… and never got around to actually ordering any of the books.
Cooking : HA. I haven’t cooked more than just simple reheating since Henry was born, thanks to the generosity of our friends, family, and church. The endless string of covered dishes that people have brought our way might be one of my favorite parts of new baby life.
Drinking : Watermelon coolers – recipe coming soon!
Reading: Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, but when my “maternity leave” ends next week, it will be back to critical sources for my dissertation while I nurse and rock.
Wanting: .
Looking: Back through the pictures from when James’ family visited this past weekend and met Henry for the first time.
Playing:  Bachelorette recap podcasts and the “4th of July” Pandora station that James has carefully curated over the years – American music at it’s finest.
Wasting: Time when Henry naps and I should be doing productive things, but instead I do things like paint my toenails and read magazines.
Sewing:.Not actually any, but I did contemplate taking in the sides of Henry’s clothes since he is crazy long and skinny. But as that is madness, I am just feeding him lots and willing him to fatten up.
Wishing: Both for Henry to fall asleep quickly for every nap wherever I put him, and for him to only want to sleep in my arms.
Enjoying: Silicon Valley. James and I have really struggled to find a show that we like watching together, especially a good comedy. SV, is proving pretty funny.
Waiting: For Bachelor in Paradise to start- I’m kind of over this season already, in spite of my initial high hopes for JoJo. (Wells- I loved you. I wanted you to be the dark horse contestant, à la Jef from Emily’s season.)
Liking: The period each morning before his first nap where Henry and I just lay in bed and converse about the day, even if I do all the talking and he just makes big eye movements.
Wondering: When he will start smiling at us in response to the many antics that we already do all around him.
Loving: These lactation cookies, partially because they are delicious, partially because they work, and partially because when you call them lactation cookies, no one will try to eat them.
Hoping: That I can get some pool time in sometime soon- my pasty self is in desperate need.
Marveling: At Henry’s tiny hands and how the latch onto my fingers.
Needing: Sleep- always more sleep.
Wearing: Whatever fits- which changes by the day.
Following: Instagrammers who live in Alaska. Not sure why, but their feeds have my heart these days.I especially love this one.
Noticing: That my wardrobe is woefully  not nursing friendly and that my hair is falling out in chunks- thanks, Henry.
Knowing: That all the things that drive me crazy about these newborn days will be over all too soon.
Thinking: How thankful I am that August Recess starts early this year, and that means we get James home a lot more.
Feeling: All of the emotions, all of the time, but mostly feeling happy with how life looks right now. I am exhausted, there is so much stress looming on the horizon, and some days I get overwhelmed with the enormity of the responsibility of parenthood. But in the midst of it all, I am deeply happy.
Bookmarking: Information about flying with babies… Henry and I are taking his first trip next week!

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