Just a couple things.

Happy long weekend! We are headed to the beach in a couple hours, though it appears the weather took offense at my declaration that Fall better stay far off, and it might be chilly and rainy. Hopefully it will change, but if not, all of us (13 adults + 5 babies/toddlers) will play a whole lot of games inside.

Should you need some reading for your long weekend, here are the things that have kept me entertained lately:

After my last post, someone shared a link to Chandler’s blog, where she has had a bunch of moms share a day in their life. It is marvelous, especially because the moms don’t share their ideal schedule, but an actual day, complete with discipline and failures. I devoured all of them and am really hoping for more!

Have you been following Mary’s self-care series? Bethany wrote the last post this week and it is a winner! I’m also selfishly pleased that Mary’s baby held off coming early so that she could finish the series.

I think I might have already shared this, but this is my favorite summer carry-in dish these days. It bears repeating, both on the blog and in real life.

Anne of Green Gables coming to Netflix! Between that and the Gilmore Girls reboot, it’s a good season for streaming. Though I am just a tad worried that they plan to make Anne “edgy.”  Sidenote: The corpse flower referenced by Lorelai in the trailer bloomed in DC last month and I am pretty bummed that I didn’t have the stamina to wait in line and see it.

I am pretty excited about Nick being the next bachelor. It’s not that I like him necessarily, but he is fascinating. It is kind of hysterical that ABC is trying to pretend like they picked him out of sincere desire for him to find love, but I don’t care. It shall make truly good television.

And obviously,I can’t do a random roundup post without a picture of my favorite squish.Summer2016-144

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Daily Rhythms.

Recently my friend Bethany blogged about her typical day, and she and I discussed how much we both LOVE blog posts that are “a day in the life of _________.” I have a deep fascination with knowing the details of people’s daily schedules. This sets me up well for parent talk, as I have always wanted to hear about peoples’ sleeping and eating habits, and there is nothing that new parents want to talk about more than that. I especially love when moms write posts about how they fill their days, and I hope that someday our schedule will finally become regular enough that I could detail it.

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Obviously this is not my house. But surely I would be more excited to get up early if my room was full of designer textiles, right???

But for now, we are still treading water in the land of routine, but far from the safe shores of a predictable schedule where things happen at the same time every day. They might happen in the same order, there might be similarities, but life looks less regular for us than it ever has before. And to be honest, that is really hard for me. I love endless repetition, thrive on schedules, and love for my days to fall into identical order. Just when I think we are on the verge of sliding into a schedule, things change again. This is normal – it’s reality with babies.

Yet it has me thinking. My semester started this week, Henry turned three months, and I went back to work. These things have me thinking that ok, we are out of that foggy newborn stage, that hazy “fourth trimester.” It’s time to find a rhythm that we can dance to daily even if it can’t be an ironclad schedule. I might not be able to always control our days, but I’m trying to look over our weeks and find repetitive gestures, moments, and activities that I can structure our lives around. Henry has a set wake time and bed time that never changes. I have two set days with the nanny when I go to work. The other days I work from home while he naps (or doesn’t nap – still working on that). I feel really blessed to get to have flexibility that allows me to be home with Henry, but the downside is that I have constant pressure to be making work happen when I am home with him. A week of crap naps also means a week when I am behind in work, and that is hard. In the absence (hopefully temporary) of completely predictable naps, I just mentally divide my day into “tasks I can do during wake-time” and “tasks that require full attention.” As soon as Henry goes down, I drop everything and try to work intently. Because when he is awake, I get some stuff done, but I also try to just be present in loving on my boy.

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If a Norse fairy would like to come and lay out coffee for me every morning, that couldn’t hurt.

There’s a lot that I want to be happening in my days that isn’t happening right now. I’m running a half-marathon in November, and I need to start training. I want a set time each day for prayer and scripture, instead of the scattered minutes I found this summer. These things are abstract priorities, but I just need to find the concrete time in the day to make them happen. I have a sneaky suspicion that they might involve… gulp… getting up before Henry. Good thing I started drinking coffee this summer.

September feels like a good time to work on finding our rhythm, full of newness and responsibility and fresh starts. It feels like a good time to stop treading water and start swimming. A good time to embrace the unpredictability in our days while still finding my footing. A good time to balance productivity and play. September is always my fresh start and this year it feels especially necessary.

(But for real- if you have recently blogged the tiny minutia of your daily habits, by all means, post a link below – I love that stuff.)

Images via here and here.

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Ice Cream in the District.

Summer2016-151Summer2016-152Summer2016-155Summer2016-156Summer2016-158Summer2016-160Summer2016-161Summer2016-163We are pretty serious about ice cream around here. We try not to keep it around all the time, since one of us (me) just can’t resist a little afternoon snack straight from the carton. Don’t even pretend like you don’t love eating it straight from the carton too, or if you genuinely don’t enjoy this blissful snack – we probably shouldn’t be friends. The only thing better than ice cream eaten straight from the carton is going out to grab an ice cream cone or a shake or a sundae or whatever. An outing for ice cream is the edible embodiment of summer that can be enjoyed year-round.

Walking around the city to enjoy ice cream is one of our favorite treats. Of course, we aren’t above going for a shake in the dead of winter, but grabbing ice cream in the summer is especially fun. This past weekend was perfect, meaning we spent the whole thing wandering our city and taking in some things we have been talking about doing all summer. One of them was walking down to Navy Yard for ice cream. We’ve been eating pretty clean at home most of the time for the past couple months, but what’s the point of eating clean if you can’t blow it from time to time? We last made this trek a couple days before Henry was born, when it was freakishly cold and rainy for May and we walked for hours trying to get labor started, taking refuge from the rain to have an ice cream cone. This time it was warm and we ate our ice cream and then wandered the waterfront. There was a local band given a concert and kids playing in the splash pad.We pre-gamed dinner with ice cream (not the first time!) and it felt like the perfect activity for late summer.

So if you are determined to continue enjoying summer, or if you just really love ice cream, here are some of our favorite spots around the District for some delectable dairy.

For a classic cone: Thomas Sweet. It’s everything old timey and delicious and is right near where James lived for two summers in Georgetown, so it makes me nostalgic.

For a shake: Good Stuff. We are loyal Good Stuff goers, and their toasted marshmallow shake will always have my heart, even if I really wish they would take a number from Burger, Tap, and Shake and have wider straws with their shakes.

For an ice cream sandwich: A Baked Joint. I am very pro this artisan ice-cream sandwich thing that is sweeping the nation. MORE PLEASE.

For a sundae: Pops Old Fashioned Ice Cream in Old Town. One time I had an amazing sundae from there… and I dropped it after two bites. I’m still distraught.

For unique flavors: Ice Cream Jubilee in Navy Yard. All the pictures in this post are from there and they truly deliver on quirky flavors.

And favorite DC ice cream spots that I missed?

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I want August to last forever.

Summer2016-107Summer2016-108Summer2016-109Summer2016-111Summer2016-113Summer2016-114Summer2016-117Summer2016-120Summer2016-121Summer2016-124Summer2016-125It’s started and I hate it.

People are all “Fall is in the air!” and “I am sooooo ready for chunky sweaters and PSL!!!” and I am over here yelling “GO HOME NO ONE WANTS YOU AND CAN AUGUST JUST LAST FOREVER???”

First of all, fall is most decidedly not in the air in DC. We had two cool-ish mornings recently, but today the high is back to 95 and the mere thought of a chunky sweater makes me want to die. Don’t even get me started about that Pumpkin Spice Latte and its evil plot to steal the last couple weeks of summer.  I genuinely love fall, and will welcome it when it is supposed to come… at the very end of September. But every year I get more addicted to summer, and every year I am more in love with August, mostly because August Recess means we get James around more.

This summer that is especially exciting, as I have no clue where the rest of the summer went. One minute it was May, and there were months of relatively commitment free baby-snuggling days ahead of me… and now it is the end of August and my semester starts on Monday and I am freaking out because there are so many of our favorite summer things that just haven’t happened yet. We finally made it to picnic at our favorite spot at the Tidal Basin last week, and James and I have been sneaking in milkshake dates and breakfast outings whenever possible. But sometimes I start panicking because I know that there just isn’t enough time and the beach days, outdoor movies, pool visits, that I look forward to all year. Fall is not here, but summer is just starting to slowly pack itself up.

What I want is for August to last forever, an eternal summer of longer days less full of work than usual in a city that is uniquely sleepy this time of year. I want to put off indefinitely September, with its return to stressful normalcy, and hold on to the giddy carefree spirit of summer. While I do love the idea of someday not sweating through my clothes the second I walk outside, I am in absolutely no hurry for August to end and take these perfect summer days with it.

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From the trenches: Naptime.

I have all sorts of things on my heart and mind that I want to blog about, but at the moment my brain is mush because this week was on the more difficult end of the baby spectrum. So today, a brief update from the trenches of parenthood.

Lesson learned: Never count your naps before they happen.

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Henrybadger don’t care, Henrybadger don’t want to nap.

On Monday I was on the phone with my mom gushing about how sweet and easy Henry is. Because he mostly is. He is pretty chill be nature, and he accepted the Baby Wise schedule concept pretty easily, so that at 12 weeks we have a baby who is fairly predictable, goes down easily and self soothes remarkably well, sleeping 11 hours at night with one quick snack at 4 am, and rarely just cries on end for no reason.

At least, that’s the baby we had on Monday.

Sometime during the night he morphed, and we all woke up on Tuesday to a baby who fights every nap and then only sleeps for 30-40 minutes, which means that we have a crabby baby and a desperate mama by early evening, frantically texting James “ARE YOU ON YOUR WAY HOME YET????”  On Friday I finally caved and just hit the sidewalks, pushing him in the stroller, as not even a mighty nap striker can resist the stroller. I grabbed an iced coffee from my favorite neighborhood coffee shop and walked, crying as I listened to this podcast that gave me the encouragement I needed.

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Nap strike essentials.

It’s tempting to count on naps before they happen, to game out how you will fill the time, what lofty things you will accomplish. But until a nap has happened- you do not have it. You can count on nothing, trust in nothing, believe in nothing. You will experience the full range of emotions during these non-naps. Smug contentment when the baby goes to sleep quickly, followed by calm and joy as you pour that cup of coffee and settle into the quiet house. This will change to anxiety and fear as the minutes pass, every slight sound a potential wail, and you tiptoe back to the room and peak through the crack in the door to assure yourself that the tiny tyrant sleeps. And then they come, the wails, and you jolt back and forth between anger and fear and sadness and panic and this is parenting from the trenches. Finally the resignation sets in, and the nap is over.

I’m not putting this up to ask for advice, or to be reminded that this too shall pass (unless you have a totally foolproof solution, then by all means DO SHARE). I know that. And the Internet has no lack of advice, all of which has been tried. I’m just giving you an update from the trenches, lest you too are there.

I started the week turning to Baby Wise, convinced that they would have a solution. Instead, I just found “By 12 weeks your baby will be taking 1.5 hour naps,” and elsewhere “Make sure that your baby naps for 1.5 hours.” Baby Wise – you are delusional and fired.

Sometimes, James and I try to control the narrative. Like if Henry woke up after 26 minutes, we would let him fuss a little, as last week, he would fuss for five minutes then sleep for another hour. This week he proved that he has ENDLESS stamina, and there would arrive a moment where we knew the nap needed to be over, but we didn’t want to “reward” him for crying. Our solution? Wait for the first pause and then burst in, all smiles, saying things like “Henry you had SUCH A GOOD NAP! Don’t you feel so rested???” That’s right, we try playing mind games on our baby.

One time, I got him up from a nap that lasted all of 32 minutes and as I pulled off his swaddle, that cheeky little baby stopped crying, looked me in the face, and then laughed at me for a solid 3 minutes. This was the same response he gave when he produced a spit up of epic proportions all over James the other evening, only to follow it with a deep belly laugh at his ability to soil clothing.

And it’s moments like that that I lived for this week. That resignation I mentioned above, the final emotion in a gauntlet of highs and lows? It is so often replaced by gushes of tenderness and joy at the little baby who is so happy to be done napping and back with his mama. When you’re in the trenches, sometimes success doesn’t look like lengthy naps. It looks like baby grins that light up all the registers of your brain that has slowly been shutting down from sleep exhaustion. It looks like frayed nerves instantly soothed, not by peace and quiet, but by baby giggles and coos.

Now then. Back to the trenches. Further updates as warranted. Send caffeine. I’ll just be over here rapidly rotating between laughter and tears, frustration and elation, exasperation and love.

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Naughtiest, sneakiest, cutest, most lovable baby there ever was.

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It is not well with my soul.

Henry 8 weeks-11For the first couple months of his life, Henry had this tiny squeaky cry that sounded like you were stepping on a kitten (I assume at least- I don’t go around marching on baby cats). It was objectively not very loud, and kind of cute.

But then two events happened in close succession that changed his cry. Ok, so really I’m sure that it was just him getting older, but it coincided with first – his 2 month shots. A couple hours after that round of shots, he started crying a cry we hadn’t heard before. A deep cry, a loud, mouth-opened-in-pain cry that just about killed me as I rocked my sweet boy. The only thing that made it better was knowing that the pain he felt was ultimately for his benefit, as those shots delivered vaccines that will protect him against much greater dangers.

But the following week, Henry had his first experience where someone deeply wronged him and caused him pain.

And it was me.

As happens to many parents, I was trimming his nails and I cut too deeply. The blood gushed at an alarming rate, I froze, and Henry’s eyes opened wide in shock. For one split second he was too stunned that someone had hurt him to respond, and then he screamed for a solid 45 minutes before drifting off into fitful sleep. He bled through multiple Band-aids, causing frantic internet searches for “can my baby bleed out from his finger.” He will surely forget this event, but I never will.

Ever since that traumatic week, he has maintained this new cry, this cry that sounds like it knows pain like it has seen things. He cries with less innocence now, if that is even possible for a baby.

Obviously I am overthinking it all, because that is what mother’s do. But still.

When I sit in his rocker for the millionth time each day, I sing hymns to him and I always come back to “It Is Well with My Soul.” So much is not well with my soul right now, so much evil in the world, so much pain among my friends that I fluctuate between anger and sadness. And then I look at my baby, with his newly educated cry, and I know that it will get so much worse as he grows. He will learn to mourn and have deep sorrow- of this I am sure. The world will teach him pain and suffering and injustice and I can’t prevent it. I sing the words of that hymn over and over and I wonder if Spafford actually believed it when he wrote it, if he actually watched all his children die and reflected on his lesson and then wrote a hymn. I doubt it. I think he wrote it in an effort to believe it. Like, if he sang the words over and over enough — maybe they would teach their truth to him. Maybe they could act as an incantation that convinces. Because even though I know that I believe all the things in that old song, my heart rebels against the idea of calm acceptance of all the things that are unwell with my soul. And I think that’s ok. I think our souls should be bothered by a lot of what they experience in this world. They should need reassurance that there is something beyond what we are living now. Our souls should grieve and grow angry and cry out that things aren’t the way they should be. Because they aren’t. But if we repeat truths back like the ones in this song, we have something to cling to when everything is profoundly not well with our souls.

In the meantime, I’ll just be here rocking and singing and teaching my boy a truth that often won’t feel true, and that is the most important time to cling to it. Summer2016-55

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5 things I love today.

  1. Iced coffee. You know I hate coffee, but I have gone from almost never drinking coffee unless it was heavily laced with chocolate and whipped cream, to desperately needing a big glass of iced coffee midday, only laced with a tad of almond milk. I even mastered making the coffee myself when James forgot to make a pot earlier this week. Because babies=coffee, and it started as necessity and now is a ritual that I really look forward to.
  2. This compression tank. Yes, the longterm goal is to actually lose the baby weight… but the short-term goal is to fit into clothes, so helllllooooooo compression cami. Yes, I think I will have to be cut out every time I try to wriggle it over my head. Totally worth it.
  3. This music video. Whereas the “Happy” song that was big a couple years back made me want to gouge out my eyeballs with pencils, this song actually makes me infectiously happy. That man in the grocery store dancing? That’s basically me when I get to go grocery shopping without Henry, which brings me to….
  4. Grocery delivery. Glory be. I may never go grocery shopping again. It is decidedly more difficult with an AC hating baby, but even if the store part is successful, getting lots of groceries to our second floor apartment when I sometimes have to park a decent distance away always ends poorly. Not only does Peapod do free delivery for 60 days, but you get 20$ off your first order, and I was able to more effectively shop sales and avoid impulse buys. It also saves all previous orders, meaning I can quickly add repeat items. Grocery shopping this week took me all of 15 minutes, and I did it without wearing pants. I saved major time and major money, and someone else carried my groceries up the stairs and deposited them on my counter. GLORY BE.
  5. Watching Henry make serious faces and wave his tiny fists around while James narrates his thoughts as if he was a post apocalyptic dictator à la Mad Max (a movie which I absolutely hated, for the record). Because we are now those parents, who are pretty much enamored with everything this tiny redheaded human does.Summer2016-100

What are you loving today? Happy weekend!

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