Friday, December 31, 2010

Hello 2011

2010 is over.
I am a little late with this entry. I've already had time to make progress on some New Year's Resolutions and to break some other ones...Happy New Year to all.

I like the year 2010. It is nice and round and even. I had been looking forward to its arrival throughout the first years of the millennium. I couldn't have foreseen what a big year it would be.

This year...

We moved 2,000 miles. On New Year's Day 2010 we piled in a packed car, stopped by the home of some friends for farewell croissants, and drove from Fairfield, Iowa to Napa, California.

Celebrating my 27th birthday in Napa

I received my MBA in Sustainable Business from Maharishi University of Management.

I got super pregnant and big. My body transformed. We spent hours watching the tiny feet and other body parts pushing out against my belly. Wesley was a very active baby during pregnancy.

Wesley's Due Date (July 9)

Casey ran a half marathon. We are inspired to be active and hope to model a healthy lifestyle for Wesley. We aim to run the same half marathon (or perhaps the 10K version) with Wesley in the stroller at the Avenue of the Giants in 2011.

Casey & his brother Jesse after a successful race

We found jobs and a home. I started working temp and Casey got the job he was hoping for--as a counselor at a Residential Treatment Center for adolescent girls. That brought us to Petaluma, which is where we were hoping to live. I love Petaluma. I don't know if I have ever felt so at home in a city. It fits just right,at least for now.

Going for a walk to town, New Year's Day 2011

We had a baby. A healthy, wonderful little boy. Parenthood has shifted so much in me. I am learning every day how to be a mother to Wesley. We are learning how to be a family. Watching him master skills and grow amazes me. He has transformed from a tiny newborn to a boy who can sit up on his own, laugh, and play.

What huge changes! 2010 has been an great year.
I often ache for the people and for the creative juice that flows so vibrantly with the friends we left at the start of the year, but I cherish the joys that 2010 brought us.

I wonder what this year has in store for us. I am excited for the new year and am sure I will be amazed at its happenings...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wesley's First Christmas

Last year on Christmas Day we told our parents that I was pregnant. We sat in the frozen car in Iowa calling long distance parents and we told my Mom in person. We fielded reactions from relatives as we experienced the disorientation of making our happy secret known to others. We tried to imagine what a five month old would be like this Christmas. We were very excited, and had little idea what to expect. We thought he'd probably be too young to enjoy Christmas. Boy were we wrong...

On Christmas Eve we woke up and opened gifts at our house. Wesley ripped open some presents, played with wrapping paper, and took some naps. It was fabulous.

I loved watching Wesley open his presents. I loved imagining him playing with all of his new toys. I loved our first Christmas as a little family. It was full of joy and cuteness. Wesley is so happy to be able to sit up and interact with the world. It gives him a lot more independence and is much more comfortable. It came in handy for the holiday fun.

Wesley got so many gifts. Was showered with love. Our house is still recovering from this...

Late afternoon we headed over to Grandma Damery & Grandpa Harms' house to spend the night. It was Wesley's first night away from home. It was a big success. We all slept well. Norma came over and we all spent Christmas Day opening presents and eating well. We had a great time, and then returned home late evening in time for Casey to go to work for a few hours.

I felt so much joy during the holiday season. I have spent innumerable hours singing songs to Wesley. He loves Christmas carols, I think because they have such great rhythm, rhymes, and repetition. I sang him to sleep to The Twelve Days of Christmas so many times I'll never forget the words.

This Christmas, our little boy was sitting up and wildly ripping open gifts and mouthing wrapping paper. Last year at three months pregnant, I had little idea of what to expect, but I was hoping it would feel like this. Like magic that makes me want to sing and hang up decorations.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Month 5 *Here and Gone*

I don't mean for this blog to just be a monthly update of Wesley. But this month has brought a couple weeks of lost internet and a couple weeks of a lost camera cord, so that's how it is a glimpse at the month, which has been a big one.

As I write this, it feels inappropriate to do a month in review because this month I had the biggest death I've ever experienced. My grandpa passed away. I have been thinking of him a lot this past month. This is what I wrote which was read at the funeral:

I just want to share these thoughts with you all, with Grandma, in celebration of Grandpa's life.

I wish that I could be with everyone there sharing stories. Wesley is still too little to make the trip, but we're thinking of you all. Casey and I are thinking and talking a lot about Grandpa, about the times we all shared together and about memories from my childhood.

Together for my High School Graduation

I've been thinking a lot the last two days about how thankful I am that Casey and I got to live nearby for a year and a half. Before, when I had visited Grandma and Grandpa, it was usually for the holidays when many people were around. My time with Grandpa was generally spent sitting across from one another at the card table (and we spend many wonderful hours there, more than most people wanted to, but Grandpa was always up for a game. I think he's the only one other than myself that never groans at the mention of Shoot the Moon). Afterwards, he'd retire to his chair--he was usually quiet in these large group settings. In the past couple of years when I lived in Fairfield, I saw a different side of Grandpa. The side of him that was a great storyteller. I learned more about his childhood, his days in the Navy, and his early years with Grandma. It was wonderful.

Many of my memories of Grandpa involve wood. As a child, he would show me the sawmill. I would venture into his private workshop which smelled so special--like sawdust and mystery. I would gaze in amazement at the things he would make. I'd run marbles down the marble mazes he'd carved, I'd stare impressed at the wooden chains hanging in his office, and when I was slightly older, I would delicately place my jewlery in the beautiful box he'd made for me.

Now I gaze at my first real Christmastree--the first Christmas tree for his only Great Grandson--and the beautiful wooden ornaments stand out--everyone who sees the tree marvels at their beauty. He has left many beautiful things behind. I wish I could be there with you all. To give you all big hugs and to mourn and to celebrate together. You are all in my heart.


And here is the little man I wish could have met his Great Grandpa...

We had Thanksgiving...

We went on some beautiful walks...

My sweet love turned 28 years old on November 28 (with 28 gifts on his Golden Birthday). We had a birthday breakfast in Napa with a gorgeous walk...

We spent the day with Godmother Norma and played with her toys...

We enjoyed the Holiday Open House and a Lighted Boat Parade...

We got a Christmas Tree, and presents began arriving in the mail (there are now more than are pictured)...

We moved to a larger diaper size...

Wesley learned to support himself while sitting and playing (with supervision as he falls over very frequently. He doesn't seem to mind capsizing. He's getting better at catching himself, too)...

Wesley is trying so hard to crawl. He can pivot to get his toys. He can push up with straight arms, he can reach and play with his toys when his arms are straight. Occasionally (like, a couple times) he has inchwormed forward. On his five month birthday was the first day I saw him trying out a new technique of bending a knee up, which may prove more successful than flapping his arms and legs which has led to some frustration this month...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Four Months Old

Wesley was born four months ago.

We love him. He's sweet and playful. Here are some things about him.

Smiles & Laughs

He's full of them.
He smiles when he first sees us. He smiles if we make little noises at him, his favorites being "boo" and other short one syllable sounds. Sometimes when we're walking around, he'll just start laughing and it's hard to figure out why, other than that he's in the mood to laugh. He is so delighted when we look at him if we have been occupied with something else (like cooking dinner). He sometimes smiles at strangers when they say hello to him.

He is full of laughs when one of us is holding him and the other entertains him. He loves to watch us dance. He laughs at his reflection in the mirror, or at our funny acts in the mirror. He likes to be tickled. His ribs are particularly ticklish. Raspberries on his tummy can also throw him into fits of laughter.

Grabbing Stuff

Wesley grabs everything he can, and tries to grab even more. He's pretty adept at grabbing anything that is skinny, and he still scoops many other things toward his mouth. He grabs things with his feet, such as toys if they are out of arm reach. He can m
anipulate things and hold on to them tightly using his feet.

His use of his hands has greatly improved but is still not perfect. Large, bulky items sometimes get blocked by a hand on the way to his mouth, or are dropped on the first few attempts. Pretty much everything he grabs goes directly into his mouth.

He loves to grab our faces, clothing, and especially my hair. He is quick! He can reach out and grab something (including hair and earrings) before we see it coming. Before he falls asleep with us, he grabs onto a security object, usually either our hair, clothing, or finger. It is precious.

Rolling Over and Tummy Fun

He rolls from tummy to back (which he did last month) and from back to tummy (which is a new thing). He doesn't like to roll from tummy to back as much as he did before, it seems as though the trick is now of little interest. He reaches his arms out into a full extension in front of him, grabs toys, and sometimes pushes up a little bit with straight arms.

He likes to lay on his tummy and play with his toys or look at his books propped in front of him. He is content to play by himself with his toys. He gets tired after awhile.


He watches us enter and move around the room. He will smile upon sight of us, even if we aren't looking at him. He recognizes his Moby and smiles when he sees it. He anticipates diaper changes as we go into the back room.


One of his favorite games is during outfit changes. When we try to get his arm in or out of his sleeve, he will curl up toward it, put his fist in his mouth, and squeal with delight. He thinks this is a really fun tug of war game to see who can get control of the sleeve/hand. He is right, it is hilarious.

He often comes up against his physical boundaries. He wants to keep playing with his toys, but gets tired on his tummy and can't sit well, yet. He strains to scoot or crawl forward. To help with this, he likes to be held out hovering over his toys or supported in the sitting position while he plays.

He often wants to keep playing though he gets overwhelmed by an object or his inability to properly manipulate an object (i.e. get it in his mouth). Also, he will start crying if we take away his play toy. This includes my hair, when it is being used as an object of play.

He gets excited and smiles, and his entire body dances with anticipation at a toy is shaken in front of him. Then he grabs it.

He also adores playing airplane.


He's a talker. He babbles to himself, he talks to his toys, he often talks on walks when he's looking at stuff. His volume increases and noises get more throaty when he is more tired. He has happy-talk noises and displeased-talk noises which have distinctly different tonalities. His language changes rapidly with new sounds entering the scene every few days. He plays with the spectrum of lip smacking and raspberry-blowing. He talks to get our attention and can get upset if we don't notice him from across the room if he is talking to us. He is especially vocal in the mornings and at night.

What will be in store for Month 5?

Sneak preview: This week, Wesley scooted!

We were playing on the bed (I think the bed gave him a little added traction) when...
He rolled over from his back to his tummy.
Then, he scooted the length of the bed toward me.

This is how it went:

He put his arms down by his sides.
He buried his head in the bed.
He bent his knees and stuck his bum in the air.

He pushed forward like an inchworm.
He scooted right up until his head was in front of my face.
I moved back and he did it again, for the length of the bed.

He gave the sweetest laugh and smile upon reaching me each time. Very proud of his accomplishment.

Do all babies scoot like inchworms?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friends in Far Away Places

I move around a lot.

I lived in six cities growing up. Casey and I haven't lived in any location for more than a year and a half since leaving college five years ago. In that time, we've lived in eight different residences not including tr
avel abroad, numerous house-sitting gigs, and repeated extended stays with Casey's parents.

As such many of our favorite people live far from us.

It is not the length of time living near someone that creates the depth of friendship. Some of my strongest bonds have been formed in short periods of time. I think about these friends often, they are part of my daily life. My thoughts turn to them when I need to find hope and inspiration. Because I am horrible (at best) with phone contact, stretches between communications is often far too long.

We realized this week that we only lived in the same location as our friend Joel for one sweet year during college. Seven years later, we continue to fantasize about extricating him from Spokane, and having him nearer to us. Until then, we will cherish the visits like the one we just had.

The men share the traditional New Baby cigars

We made good use of our extra daylight savings hour.

This is what they were wearing when Joel arrived

Wesley thought Joel was hilarious.

And comfortable.

Joel's visit was so special. To have our friend see our lives as we transition to parenthood, to have him come from so far, and to have him meet Wesley felt amazing. I hadn't foreseen how powerful it would be to see one another in the context of motherhood. It felt grounding, like a placeholder amid of all of my internal rearranging.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ins and Outs

Since last week's teething adventures when he needed extra comfort, Wesley has been letting me hold him facing inward, sometimes. We haven't done this since he was two months old. I have even cradled him in my arms, which hasn't been comfortable since Month One. It feels so sweet.

Soothing his lower right gumbump (while watching Casey)

I love that Wesley is strong and alert, and that from an early age he was active, looking around, and wanting to participate in the world. He wanted to be flipped outward with others after a month and a half, with me at two months. He had this preference before he had the strength to fully support his own head. We gladly helped hold his head for him.

His facing forward adds amusement to our walks as he provides commentary on the things he sees. Wesley's active interest in the world makes engagement easy and communication lively. His physical strength increases his ability to engage in happenings, and his interest in the world has led him to push his physical boundaries. His intensity is evident in play this week. He has begun yelling at his toys. It is great language practice, but sometimes slides into self-induced overstimulation.
We try to find balance between helping fulfill his desire for stimulation and his need for time to process all he's absorbed.

Sometimes now, in the quiet moments, it is nice to hug my baby chest to chest. It's a soft moment. It feels like the world is melting around, enveloping us in comfort...

I am enjoying this new phase, for however long it lasts...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wavy Seams

Three days before Wesley's first Halloween, we still didn't know what he was going to be. I thought, "Maybe I could sew him a costume".

I have not sewn anything since an American Flag pillow in seventh grade Home Economics.
I do not own a sewing machine.
I did not bother to use a pattern.

With every eyeballed snip of the fabric and every quick stitch of the seam, I thought, "I'll just do this really fast and see if it looks anything like a {sleeve, leg, hood} so if it doesn't work, at least I haven't invested much time". It was a liberating, free flowing way to work.

And it did work. well enough. And I had great fun doing it. Sewing without the meticulousness of sewing.

I used a dress that was in the "go to Goodwill" box, and a helmet. And Wesley the Turtle emerged...

No trick-or-treaters came by our house, so we hit the streets carrying a bowl distributing "Candy On The Go". Three blocks from our house the streets were so full on both sides of the avenue that we had to walk on the street. Shoulder to shoulder for blocks and blocks and blocks...adults dressed filing up Victorian steps to get candy...

But, the biggest hit of the night, if I'm honest, was the candy bowl itself...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Smells like Halloween

When I took the lid off my pumpkin, it smelled like Halloween. It was a pleasant scent surprise full of memories.

The last time Casey and I carved a pumpkin together we were sophomores in college. It sat on the counter in my dorm room for a couple of weeks. We were still best-friends-that-everyone-thought-were-secretly-dating. This was it:

Now, we have a whole family of jack-o-lanterns...

I went and found the college picture after I started writing this post. Casey's current pumpkin looks a lot like it...he must have stored the design in his brain under "best pumpkin carving ever" and unwittingly recreated it.

Here is our little pumpkin eater....

Around town nobody else has carved pumpkins. We are new to the outdoor pumpkin carving scene. It is possible we will have green spotted pumpkins by Halloween. I have no clue when you're supposed to carve a pumpkin.

People in this community do, however, take their Halloween decorations seriously. This house has entirely converted itself into a pirate ship...

I love living in a community that dresses up for the holidays. A community where it is easy and safe to walk around and see all the skeletons, and pumpkins, and crows, and witches...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blushing Beaches

We went to the ocean.

Casey went to the same beach when he was young. He figured if he'd last visited at age 8, it'd have been 20 years since he was there.

Two decades.

I used to be horribly embarrassed when adults said things like that. Blushing
for them. Didn't they know how old it made them sound? It seemed lewd and improper.

I thought adults did it to shock themselves or others with the span of time. We say it, a
nd then we marvel at the passage of time...

We say it so we can step into time and feel the weight and texture of two decades in a moment. We try to hold its mass in our minds, turn it over, and see the space it takes up from different angles.

In sharing the moment with another, we say, "this is the span of my life". It is an intimate act.