Saturday, September 27, 2014

An open letter to parents of fine arts students

Dear parents of fine arts students,

Bravo! Your child has decided to invest his or her time in a meaningful and worthwhile pursuit. Fine arts are wonderful, and I know from personal experience that the time invested in artistic pursuits is time well spent. But you probably already know that. That's probably why your child is involved.
My intent in writing to you is not to praise the arts. The beauty of creative endeavors should be a self-evident truth by now. Rather, I'm speaking as the wife of a director. It's fall and school is back in full swing, and that means my husband is MIA a lot of the time. This is the first Saturday of many this year that he will spend the entire day helping your children hone their musical abilities. He's really good at what he does, and he loves his chosen career. But those Saturdays add up, as do the late hours most evenings spent rehearsing and performing.
I'm not writing to complain, fellow parents. I'm writing to ask that when you speak with your children's teachers and directors, you do so with me in mind. You see, my husband became a dad this summer (not so coincidentally at the same time that I became a mom), so those long hours are a little bit harder this fall. 
And sometimes when you fight for your kid or ask for special help for the fine arts student who lives at your house, you keep him from coming home to us. Please don't feel like you can't ask for help. As I said, he loves his job and he wants to do everything he can to help your kids succeed. But maybe you can keep your requests within reason and  remember as you choose the words and tone of voice in which you speak to him that he's a dad too. And the irregular hours he works are hard on his family. I like to think I was appreciative of teachers before (especially the awesome ones who put in extra hours blessing their students with "extracurricular" time), but I have a whole new admiration for them now that I'm the one waiting (and waiting) at home for my favorite teacher to come back to us.
My husband leaves before we wake up in the morning, and usually only has a couple of precious hours with our baby girl in the evening. And those are not her happiest hours, my friends. So, all this to say, fellow parents, maybe you could offer some understanding and perhaps a word of gratitude to the next teacher you speak with and remember that he or she is dedicating time to enrich your kid that is time away from his or her kids.
I know I would appreciate hearing that someone acknowledged how hard my favorite fine arts teacher works. And it might even make it a little easier to give up all those Saturdays and evenings together this fall.
Wife of an Orchestra Director

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall Favorites

I decided to take a break from blogging about all things baby, even though my life is currently 99.9% baby-centric. As luck would have it, one of the blogs I follow (Hannah's) had a post about fall favorites and a link up option, so this is my response to the fall favorite questions from The Circle.

1. Favorite fall fashion/clothing item?
Boots are always one of the first things to come out of my closet once it's officially fall. And this year, since my wardrobe is based around nursing-friendly attire, I'm looking forward to being able to throw on a nursing tank, scarf, and slouchy cardigan. Who am I kidding? I have three slouchy cardigans and a dozen scarves, and I look forward to wearing them every year.
2. Favorite fall drink?
This is super stereotypical, but I really like Pumpkin Spice Lattes. And salted caramel lattes and all the lattes. I have a recipe for a PSL that I need to try soon (with decaf coffee). I'll let you know how it works out.
3. What's something on your fall bucket list?
I'd kind of like to take a picture of my baby girl in a carved out pumpkin. Is this practical? No. Will I actually do it? We'll see. :)
4. Favorite fall recipe?
Pumpkin walnut bread is my go-to fall recipe. I usually try to bring a few loaves to Thanksgiving because I am one of many women in the family who like to cook, and the moms, aunts, and grandmothers always take care of the main courses, dessert, and side dishes. I try to contribute something, so breakfast bread is my thing.
5. Halloween candy or Pumpkin Spice Latte?
Can I have both? I am sustaining another human life here, so I think I deserve both in small portions. And be sure to include a mini Twix and Hershey bar in my Halloween candy allotment.
6. Favorite fall scent?
Cinnamon and pumpkin. Anything with either of those involved smells good to me. Oh, and if we had cool, crisp fall air rather than muggy humidity, that might be my favorite scent.
7. Favorite fall holiday?
I am looking forward to taking our little pumpkin to the Halloween event at her grandparents' church, but Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite. We get to see both sides of the family, eat lots of good food, and Husband has a week off of school. What's not to love?
8. What is fall (weather) like where you live?
Eh, the weather here is starting to cool off, which means our highs are in the mid-80s. We've had some rainy days, and those are nice when we don't have to go anywhere, but I'd prefer a bit more crispness in the air and highs in the 60s. We also have the lovely advantage of high humidity year-round where I live, but we get to spend the holidays in cooler climes, so I'll try to focus on the positives.

Have a blessed Fall day! And let me know what seasonal stuff makes you smile in the comments or by joining the link up. Just for fun, here's baby girl all dressed up and ready for fall.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New mom wisdom

I know, I know. There are too many baby "experts" in the world, and a lot of baby wisdom turns out to be common sense or hogwash. Do people my age say hogwash? But I digress. I have learned a few things in the past few months, and I think moms are the real experts. Each mom is an expert on her baby/babies.
So, here are five things I never knew or wish someone would have told me before I became a mom.

1. All the well meaning people say to sleep while the baby sleeps. Sometimes that is impossible. While hyped up on postpartum hormones/new baby euphoria, I couldn't sleep. And, trust me, I wanted to with all my being. My mom and Husband had the baby completely cared for while she slept peacefully, and I just couldn't sleep. I was expecting to be exhausted because I had to be up at all hours of the night taking care of the baby, but I didn't expect to not physically be able to sleep when she was asleep.

2. Little girls pee while their diapers are off, too. And it goes everywhere. Like, up her back and sometimes even into her hair. There have been a few "emergency" baths because of this phenomenon.

3. Expectations are sometimes much more stressful than reality. I have gotten worked up about almost every big milestone that involves leaving home: her first road trip, shots, plane ride, etc. And she has been wonderful for every big event. She takes things in stride that I spend weeks planning for and imagining the worst case scenarios. And if any of those worst case scenarios were to come to pass, we would still survive.

4. A baby requires going with the flow. Or, as Husband put it, you can't manipulate a baby. She wants to do things in her own time, and we are on her schedule. Life is much smoother that way for now. When she needs to eat/sleep/bathe/be diapered, that is what we need to be doing. Being on time places is an overweening western notion anyway, right?

5. I have a love/hate relationship with how much she needs me. I love that some of her first smiles were directed at me and that sometimes the only way she will calm down is with her head resting on my shoulder. But, at the end of a long day or week, I just want someone else to stand in for me. And no one else is her momma, so sometimes I'm the only one who can make her world right. How awesome/exhausting is that!

Some of this may seem obvious or be common knowledge, but the extremes of the newborn stage were news to me. Hopefully this will help some new momma-to-be or at least be a testament of solidarity with other moms in the same phase of life. Have a blessed day!

Bonus: Showers are wonderful for so many reasons. The hot water feels good after having a baby, being clean makes you feel like yourself, and, as I told my mom, no one can hand you a crying baby while you're in the shower. :)

Three months

Dear child of mine,

We made it to three months, and it just keeps getting better. You are an absolutely delightful chunk of a girl. The last time we weighed you, you were right around 15 pounds, which Momma's back and shoulders can attest to. You are still generous with your adorable smiles, and you love being held by just about anyone. Except right before bedtime when only momma will do.
You've started rolling onto your side from your back consistently, especially when you have your paci in your mouth. It's like you're trying to protect the paci from prying hands or from falling out. You roll over, hunch your shoulders, and fold your hands over your chest like you're praying. It is adorable (can you hear my enunciation? Ah.dor.ahble).
You also love playing with your monkey bird, which is a ball-shaped monkey that jingles with crinkly arms that look like wings. Daddy named it because it looks like an angry bird/monkey hybrid, and the name stuck. Regardless, you adore the monkey bird except when Momma makes it attack you like a flying monkey. That was a lapse in judgment on my part, but once the flying monkey morphed back into the monkey bird, you recovered.
You had your first flights, trip to west Texas, and first time in the church nursery this month. Momma went to Ladies' Bible study last week and left you for the first time with a non family member. As expected, you charmed her and then took a good nap. Because, as I tell you often, you are the best baby and my favorite baby in the whole world. We also discuss that when you have future sibling(s) they will usurp that title, but you will always be my favorite oldest daughter. :)
You are extremely blessed with lots of people who love you, and you have logged lots of Skype and FaceTime hours. We are so proud to be your parents. We will do everything in our power to keep you safe and introduce you to Jesus. We pray that you will continue to be joyful and kind as you grow and that we have the wisdom and grace to parent you well. Daddy and I are head over heels for you baby girl, and we're loving seeing your personality develop more every day.

All the love,

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor Day Weekend

Our little lady took her first (and second) flight this weekend to surprise my grandfather for his 80th birthday. It was a jam packed weekend, which is why the aforementioned little lady has been catching up on sleep today. :) I took approximately 2 pictures on my phone: one at the airport before we flew out and one once we arrived back home. That is the new measure of a busy (and wonderful) weekend for me. I was too busy visiting with family as they doted on my baby and then resting as they continued doting to take pictures. Thankfully, my sister and Husband took some for me.
She loves her great aunts!
We flew to Dallas on Saturday where my parents picked us up at the airport and then we all made the short drive out to west Texas to celebrate my Granddad with steak. As all great men and women should be celebrated.
Two of our little lady's great-grandparents
Baby girl was wonderful on both flights and the drives to and from Dallas. Although, she did poop all over her changing table at home while the diaper was off, requiring a bath right before heading to the airport. Because, of course she did. That was the most ornery thing she did all weekend, so I realize I have no reason to complain. She was all smiles and coos most of the time.
Four generations of Kelley women
She got lots of love from my family on Saturday and got to meet 3 cousins, a great aunt, and a great uncle for the first time. On Sunday, we got to visit my grandparents' church. I joked with my mom that I am officially on a tour to try out all the nursing rooms at various churches because baby girl ALWAYS needs to eat during service. In case you were wondering, the nursing room at their church is delightful and had all the amenities I needed.
My sister loves her niece, and I think the feeling is mutual.
After a BBQ lunch, Husband and I got to take naps while our little one was happily tended to by my sister, two great grandparents, and two great aunts. One of my aunts bought her a precious turquoise and silver baby bracelet, her first piece of jewelry, which made her smile. Watch out, Daddy! She likes to accessorize. 
Look at my pretty bracelet!
We then loaded up and drove back to my parents house to visit with them and get baby girl in bed, where she slept from 9 pm until 9:30 am without opening her eyes! I did a dream feed at 10:15 and another at 7:30, but she was a sleepy girl from all the travel and excitement. We had breakfast with my parents, and my other set of grandparents and aunt, uncle, and cousins came over to cuddle the baby before heading to the airport again. We may or may not have cut it too close with getting to the airport and had to switch our flight, but it worked out better with her feeding schedule to travel half an hour later anyway. :)
It was a whirlwind trip, but I'm so glad we could make it happen! Our precious little girl is so loved, and we love spending time with all our wonderful family members. The next big trip is to meet lots of Husband's family at his annual family reunion, and we're excited for that! In the meantime, I hear the piles of laundry calling, and soon my little sweetheart will need to be fed. The birth story posts are almost finished, so I hope to have them up here soon. Happy post-Labor Day week!