8.27.2014

iMoments

Life's little moments as captured on my iPhone
^^I live for these cuddles^^
Lessons on gentleness.
And sharing.
This amazing husband and father <3 <3
Almost crawling!
It's a grand event over here when Huckleberry eats a carrot stick ;)

As much as technology has gotten a bad rep these days (all the videos and articles telling us to put our phones down and live life), I have to admit I am so grateful to have such easy access to all these photos and memories (okay, okay, I confess... and Scrabble). Without my phone I doubt I'd have daily pictures of my little man and I know I wouldn't be able to capture those special, spur of the moment memories like the ones above (and I wouldn't know the meaning of words like "quag").

Technology is pretty cool. (And Scrabble is very addicting.)

Check out more iMoments or follow along on Instagram!

8.22.2014

Jack | 6 Months

I cannot believe my baby turned 6 months old last week. SIX MONTHS. How is that even possible.. 
Little Jack has experienced a lot of new things this month and has grown so much! 
He's such a fun little boy to hang out with.
6 month old Jack loves...
his dino paci
Huckleberry and Herschel
being outside
playing with his toys
rocking
music
reading books
6 month old Jack dislikes...
nap time
when his momma leaves the room
Health: No wellness checkup until next Thursday, but I'm so thankful to say Jack Jack is one healthy boy! He even survived two cross-country flights without getting sick. I pray every day for God to provide a hedge of protection around this little one and am so grateful for his good health. I'll update with his height and weight after his next checkup.

Food (Nursing): Jack is still nursing every 2 1/2 to 3 hours during the day, translating to about 6 times a day. He has been pretty consistent with that for the last few months. He has been waking up more at night to nurse but I know it's due to him teething (he just cut his third tooth and is cutting three more! Poor buddy!), and I usually comfort nurse him until he drifts off to sleep. I don't mind. I genuinely enjoy our nursing relationship and know I'll miss it when he weans himself.

Food (Solids): Jack got his first tastes of solids on Sunday Aug. 10th! You could definitely tell that the new texture was a little strange for him, but we gave him carrots and I think he really liked them after a few bites! Since then he's tried bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocado. After that first week of solids though he has been very uninterested in anything but nursing. I'm not sure if he isn't a fan of the new food or if his disinterest has to due with his teething since I know that often plays a role in a little one's appetite. Either way, I offer him solids at least 2 times a day even though he really isn't thrilled with it.

Sleep: When Jack came to NY with me for two weeks his schedule (and sleeping habits) got a little wacky. Since getting back, I've been working really hard at trying to be consistent with a sleeping schedule for him. He goes to bed for the night at 7-7:30 and usually wakes at 6-6:30. Two nights ago was the first night I put him in his crib to sleep rather than in bed with me. My heart broke a little bit, but it didn't last long because after an hour he awoke very upset and I gladly put him in my bed and snuggled him all night. ;) I know!!! I am a terrible human being with no backbone. For naps, he pretty consistently takes 3 naps a day.

Doesn't that sound lovely? Well, it's not. Jack fights me tooth and nail for naps and bedtime. He does not want to go down (especially in his crib!). It's hard, and many days we both end up with tears of frustration. I give in and allow him to nod off in my arms where I'll continue to hold him for as long as he'll nap (usually an hour to an hour and a half) or put him in my bed if it's nighttime.  But I really don't think it's his crib that's the problem.. I think it's just sleep in general. While in NY, Jack slept in a different bed from night to night, but he never slept in my arms for naps. But as soon as he gave me those sleepy cues and I would try to put him down the tantrums would begin. He is a happy, alert, and curious baby most of the time and my gut is telling me he's just fighting sleep because he doesn't want to miss anything. When he does finally go down he is SOOO exhausted. He simply just cannot fight it anymore. I feel like he's going to be one of those kids that goes, goes, goes until he passes out on the floor surrounded by all his toys.

It's not ideal, but this too shall pass ;)

New this Month: So much! Jack has really discovered his voice and gives many squeals (or screams) of delight. He laughs, a lot! Huckleberry's panting always seems to bring a giggle fit out of him. He's ticklish on his sides and inner thighs. He loves playing with his toys (or anything really. toy or not). He likes music and especially when people sing to him. He is trying so, so hard to crawl and can get up on all fours and then rock back and forth. I think it will just be a few more weeks until he figures it out. He holds up his arms towards you when he wants to go to you or for you to pick him up. He has learned that when he hears the jiggle of Huck's collar that Huck is walking his way and looks for him in anticipation. It's so stinkin' cute! Started solids (carrots, bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocado). 1 new tooth (top, right lateral incisor), that makes 3 total! Flew all the way to NY and back and was a CHAMP on both flights. Such a good little traveling companion. :)
Happy 6 months, little man!
You are growing and learning so quickly!
You make each new day exciting and fresh. 
I feel so blessed to be your momma!
Love you, Jack Jack!

8.15.2014

The Day Work Thought it Kicked My Arse

TGIF because, well, worked kicked my arse today and I would probably drop dead of exhaustion if I had to do it all over again tomorrow. Work kicked my arse so hard that I got a little crazy. I felt frazzled, overwhelmed, and (dare I say) impatience with my little one. Yes, I admit it. I got impatient with the cutest baby boy on the planet. You didn't think that was possible, did you? Well, it is only possible on crazy work days like today.

But then all of a sudden the work day is over and my sweet baby is asleep in his crib (oh, NOW you sleep in there!!), and I get the chance to reflect a bit. It doesn't take me long to realize that today was actually not that bad. For instance, let's take the following into consideration and see who really did the arse kicking today (that was the last time I'll type arse, promise. [okay, now that was the last time])...

1| I was able to edit and proof 7+ proposals today while watching my child. 4 of which I did one handed since he refused to nap anywhere but in my arms. My son did not drop dead of neglect like I so often worry he will when I have to give my attention to work. Boom. That's 1 point for Danielle.

2| I remembered to eat a meal today and that meal contained spinach. Spinach, folks. That's a solid 2 points for me.

3| In hopes to entertain my son, I played with the cat. (Poor Herschel is truly the one who might drop dead of neglect one day.) I found a piece of yarn and ran all around the kitchen and living room with Herschel trailing behind trying to catch it much to Jack's delight. That's another point for me.

4| I worked out (see above). +1

5| FedEx came and dropped off one of Steven's Christmas presents I bought while visiting family in New York. I forgot I had bought that for him and arriving today was perfect timing because I realized I already have some Christmas shopping done... 4 months in advance. I believe that translates into 4 points for me.

6| And I even found the time to snap a few dozens photos of this little man. +10
I believe that makes 19 points for me. 
All work today has to boast of is getting me a little frazzled and taking my patience to the edge.  
But I survived another crazy work day and found time to care for my son and eat some spinach.
So there, work. Take that. 

I do believe I kicked your arse.
(LAST TIME, PROMISE!)

8.11.2014

When Maternity Leaves Ends

**I have attempted to write this post numerous times yet it never comes out as I intend for it to. I decided to go ahead and hit the publish key anyways in hopes that my transparency is beneficial to someone else out there who may have experienced something similar. But be warned, this is practically a novel. You probably shouldn't read it. I included pictures in hopes that you'd hate me less for writing such a long post**

If you remember this post, you'll recall that I was pretty heartbroken about my maternity leave ending. Heartbroken doesn't really do justice to describe how I was feeling, though.  Devastation, severe panic, even depression probably sum it up more accurately...

I viewed the end of my maternity leave as dooms day. And I cried. A lot.

I expected many things from motherhood and felt (foolishly) prepared for them. I expected the sleepless nights, a spit up ridden wardrobe, going many hours without eating, and even many days without a shower. I expected changing endless diapers, reading the same books and singing the same songs again and again. I even expected possible struggles with breastfeeding. What I didn't expect, and what no baby book or blog post could have ever prepared me for, was the intense emotion I would feel. Motherhood is emotional and I was in no way prepared for it. 
I dreaded my return to work so much that it became an obsession. I spent countless hours crying while rocking my baby boy; pinning over the milestones I would miss, sobbing into his blonde hair wondering if he'd miss me, if he'd need me, if he'd know I loved him and that he was safe and well taken care of while I was away.. Maybe all women who have to return to work have these thoughts? I don't know. But I do know that the intensity of my emotions frightened me. It also embarrassed me and became something I was ashamed of. Something that I didn't want to talk about to anyone --even my husband until I would simply explode with grief and sob helpless, chest heaving, hard to breathe sobs into his arms, "I can't leave my baby... I can't leave my baby..." over and over and over again.

I didn't feel like I could survive the separation, and that's when I realized something was wrong. I was so heavy with grief that I no longer recognized myself. I couldn't get through a sentence without exploding into sobs. I felt dark, bleak, and hopeless. I felt like a failure -- as an employee, as a wife, as a mother, as a women.

People kept telling me, "Oh, it's just hormones!," and I desperately wanted to believe it. But these were more than just mood swings brought on by sleepless nights and leaky boobs, these were dark moments that left me feeling frightened and alone. Something was off with me. Emotionally, things just weren't right. And instead of the passing of time making me feel better, I simply got worse --more anxious, more confused, more sad.

What I thought at the time was just a bad case of separation anxiety over leaving Jack I now realize was a postpartum struggle.

I remember standing in my kitchen telling my friend Kristen that Steven and I thought that maybe I should talk to someone... maybe what I was experiencing wasn't normal... maybe I needed help. I tried so hard to not let the tears that were pooling in my eyes spill over. I wanted so badly to be strong and not sound like I was losing my mind. But the truth is, I was! And as soon as she left I lost it. I. Lost. It.

That's when I knew I wouldn't be going back into the office.
Writer David Sedaris has this theory that your life is like a stove top with 4 burners. One burner represents your family, one your friends, another your health, and the last one is your work. In order to be successful you have to turn off one of your burners. In order to be really successful you have to turn off two.. For me, emotionally, I had too many burners on. I chose to cut one of them off.

I quit my job that following Monday. I simply called my boss and said I couldn't leave my baby. I love my job. Heck, I even love my boss and the other guy I work with, but I felt then (and I still struggle with it now) that I was emotionally incapable of leaving my son. I know I wasn't able to be mentally present at my job in the emotional state I was in. I knew I would be a better mother, wife, and friend if I let my work go.

Within a few short days I felt a huge weight gradually be lifted from my shoulders. My head felt clearer and my heart felt lighter. I knew I had made the best decision for my family. The fog I had spent the last 3-4 months in was beginning to clear.

It all sounds so simple when I write it down, but it wasn't. Career wise... I enjoy my work and know I'll have a hard time finding anything like it in the future. Financially... Steven and I are taking a huge lifestyle cut and may even have to consider getting rid of our home down the road. Socially... I feel like I failed. I feel as though I let down my co-workers who thought I was going back to the office. I feel like I let down other women who do work outside the home and do so successfully. Honestly, a part of me envies those women. And, to be totally transparent, I let down myself in a lot of ways by just not having it all together. I wanted to be able to throw on my skinny jeans, step back into my high heels and march into the office. Superwoman, right? But I just wan't ready.
Turns out, I am still working (but from home) until they find a replacement for me. The last thing I wanted to do was leave my job on bad terms, so I agreed to stay on so that there is a smooth transition from me to the new technical writer. Working from home and taking care of my little man these last 3 months has proven to be the most difficult thing I've ever done, but I feel very fortunate to be able to do it and much, much happier.

I am so thankful for my amazing and supportive husband, family, friends (and even my employer!) who have all played a significant part in where I am today and how much better I feel! And I am beyond excited for this new season in my life!

If you made it to the end on this Monday morning.. Bravo!

8.07.2014

26

Hiya, from West Virginia! Just wanted to check in to remind you guys that today's my birthday and I will accept pretty much any and all gifts (preferably in the form of cash money, yo). But seriously, I'm 26... And what a crazy year it's been!

This year has definitely been a huge transitional year for me and full of a lot of hard decisions. But I can honestly say that I am very happy with where I am today and excited about what the future holds. I feel so blessed to have such a caring and supportive husband, who happens to be the best daddy ever, too, and the happiest baby that brings me so much joy every day!
And although it's always nice to travel back east to see family and friends, I have to admit that I am missing spending my birthday with my man and pup this year! Jack and I are feeling ready to head back home and see Steven and Huck in just a few short days. But until then, I plan on continuing to stuff my face with all the delicious foods I can't get out west (i.e. Chick-fil-a).

Happy Birthday, to me!
nom.nom.nom.