Your mommy and daddy already love you very much.

We love you so much, in fact, we want to share our journey and the beginning of your amazing life with you, our friends, our families and any strangers who happen upon this blog.

Hi strangers, it's weird that you're reading this.

We have so much to learn from each other and we're so proud to be your parents. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let's get going littlest Chew...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Eighteen (and a half) months of Mabel

At this point anyone who has ever read anything I have written knows there isn't much rhyme or reason behind what ends up on whatever sort of page I'm writing on.

Today I found myself with a free hour and I thought I'd try to get some Mabel blogging in. Jenna did a fantastic job recapping the 17 months and who Mabel has become as a little individual. Rereading her last letter to Mabel reminded me of how lucky we are to have such a great connection with our little bean. Everything Jenna wrote last month is still true, only some of it is bigger, brighter, louder and even more clear.

No two days with Mabel are ever the same. No matter how hard we try, she just constantly decides she's going to adjust on a day to day basis. One day she loves bananas and can neatly and cleanly carry it around and mow down the entire thing. The next day, bananas happen to be the most disgusting thing in the world, which needs to be proven by rubbing them all over anything and everything within reach.

The most helpful advancement in response to this is her massively accelerated communication style. Two word indications are still around, but more and more each day she's adding full phrases with proper emphasis and even opinion added in. Somethings saying things are "ew" is just funny for her, but she's rarely joking when she says "no fanks" or "no please" (she's sorta very polite). When she's in a good mood she's very articulate and will tell you exactly what she wants to do, where she wants to play, what she wants to eat and drink, or how involved she wants you to be in her activities. Sometimes she'll go full whine. When she goes full whine, she embraces it. She does this fake cry that is so forced it's almost funny. It's actually really funny until it gets frustrating because we know she can tell us what she wants and she just chooses not to. That mind of hers gets made up and it's not easy to change it.

These are the things I'm most thankful for. I  know it sounds crazy, but I am. She's becoming her own little
person. She knows what she likes and what she doesn't. She goes to the bookshelf and brings back the exact book she wants you to read. She fills in the blanks at her favorite parts and sings along with her favorite songs. Seeing her become comfortable in her environment is heart-breakingly joyful. I jealously love when she gets shy around new people. She nuzzles in as close as she ever gets and has a secret little smile while she's deciding if she is going to like this new friend. It's only a matter of time before she warms up to most people, but in the meantime Jenna and I get to be her safe spot. She knows she's safe and she knows love. Hearing her little voice say "I love you" is the best thing that's ever happened to anyone. Ever.

So, between almost 17 and 18 1/2 months not a ton has changed, but everything seems to be on overdrive. It's moving so fast and each day is something completely new and exciting. It just happens to be a new and exciting version of something that happened in the last few days. She keeps us guessing and keeps us on our toes because even though she's done it before, we never know when she's going to do what and what she's going to add to her little toddling toddler equation. I think she likes it that way. That sweet nuzzle and that secret smile warms your heart. It makes her feel protected and free to blow our minds in a new way each and every day. I think that's her plan to begin with. She's a sneaky little fox.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Seventeen months of Mabel

Dear Mabel,

It has been way too long since your Dad or I have sat down to write to you, telling you what you’re up to at this stage of your busy little life. Since it’s a rainy early afternoon and I can’t spend your nap time out in the gardens (or cleaning up the remnants of your Dad’s HUGE surprise garage tear down project…I hope you know that you have an amazing Father!), I decided it would be a good day to catch up on the neglected blog. I spent much of this morning observing you with the intent of capturing your personality and our day-to-day life with words in this entry. I know its not going to be easy because you are a complicated and busy little being, but I will try my best because I have a feeling that you’ll enjoy reading about your toddler self years from now.

At the tender age of (almost) 17 months, you are bursting with personality. Let me use some adjectives to explain this to you.


Curious. You’re so interested in the world around you. You are constantly on the go…playing, discovering, learning, fixing, doing, running, searching, digging, scooping, dumping, pretending, dismantling, locking,  building, putting, climbing, dancing, singing, stacking, noticing, drawing, looking, listening and chatting…constantly chatting! Which brings me to…

Communicative. In all my years of early childhood education, I’ve never seen a toddler as talkative as you. It’s frighteningly impressive and as much as your parents would like to take sole credit for teaching you and working with you every single day, I think so much of it comes from your personality. You have so much to say and you want to be heard. You understand the world and you love to share your new connections with us. Your communication has allowed us to understand each other so much better. You narrate your day for us, giving us glimpses into your thoughts. You’re now able to tell us your needs; when you’re hungry you say “eat”, when you’re thirsty, you tell us “wa-wa”, when you want to be picked up you say “hold you”, when you’re frustrated with something you say “help you” and when you’ve had enough you say “all done”.  You being able to tell us your needs has transformed our job as parents. Of course we still play the “What does Mabel want” guessing game but you’re so capable of identifying and relaying your needs that that game has become much simpler. We can ask you complex questions and we can feel pretty confident that your response aligns with what you truly want. We can have REAL dialog that helps us navigate our days better than ever before.  But don’t let me mislead you; even though you have so many words to tell us what you need, want and how you feel, you can still be very…

Whiney. In my years as a nanny, I was warned by parents that I would one day experience the torture that is toddler whining. When parents would lovingly complain about their whiney child(ren), I would look at them in disbelief. Their children were always sweet little angels for me, never irrationally whiney like they claimed they witnessed. But boy, am I relating now! I can only hope that you save all of your whining for your parents because you know that we will love you unconditionally regardless of the unnecessary bellyaching. You also say “no” a lot. Even when you mean “yeah”.  Sometimes its cute, other times its not so cute. I am a very patient parent, Mabel, but I hope this whiney, “no” phase ends soon because it sure is testing!   But enough about your less than redeeming qualities …Because there are so many other characteristics that describe you more fully.  Like that you are so…

Thoughtful.  I could think of so many examples of caring things that you do but a few in particular come to mind. On our recent trip to see our Arago friends (Jess, Robby and Gabriella) in Orlando, you developed an adorable friendship with 18 month old Ella. Every morning when you woke up, the first thing you said was “Eh-yah!”… then you followed with “Chess!” “Ya-beee!” and doggy “Mo-gan!”. You were genuinely excited to wake up and see them and would get the biggest smile when you did! And any time you saw Ella’s favorite blanket laying alone, you would bring it to her because you knew she loved it. When you did, she would reply “take-you!” and you would say “fanks!” back to her. Actually, you’re very great at delivering items to their owners. If your Dad’s shoes are by the door instead of on his feet, you are sure to bring them to him (and demand he wears them) because you’re sure that he’s missing out by only wearing socks! And when we checked our bag at the airport, it made you so upset to watch the man wheel away our luggage. How dare he take our belongings! It’s these little actions that show me how much you understand and are taking in, all the time. You’re always watching and you’re already learning and understanding what makes others’ happy. That type of awareness is going to be useful throughout your life. Going along with your thoughtfulness is your ability to be very…

Sweet. I say “ability” because you aren’t pure sugar. But you have many, many moments that could make even the hardest of people melt. Like yesterday morning, when your Dad left for work and you yelled through the window “mich you! (miss you)” over and over until I had to take you outside to say goodbye again. Or when your Dad comes home at the end of the day and you run to him with a huge smile and give him a hug. Or when I ask you for a snuggle and you say “nuggle” and rest your head on my shoulder. Or when I get you out of bed in the morning and you say “Hiiii, Mama!” or when  we tell you we love you and you say “yav ya” back to us and tell us “nigh’, nigh’” at bedtime. All the whining in the world could never take away how happy it makes us to see the sweet person you are growing to be.  Speaking of growing, you’re also becoming incredibly…

Independent. You love to do things your self. We try to encourage and foster your independence as much as possible, …because we are realists and know that we’re not always going to be there to help you. We take the approach “If she’s going to keep doing (this unsafe thing), let’s teach her the safe way to do it.” So, you now can walk down stairs alone. It’s scary, I know.  But we taught you to hold the railing and go slowly. You listened and watched while we showed you and then you practiced until you mastered it. The same happened with climbing on to and off of the couch.  You’re beginning to develop a cautionary fear of heights, which has thankfully made you much more careful in your independence. You’re also a master utensil user. You poke single black beans and have picked up single grains of rice with chopsticks. You should be proud because I didn’t learn to use chopsticks until I met your Dad! You love to feed yourself and we can see a sense of accomplishment when you scoop a big mouthful of food. It’s quite adorable. You also love independent reading time. One of my favorite times is when you’re in another room and the house goes quiet and when I go to check on you, you’re sitting next to the bookcase reading.  It’s so precious to see and I hope you continue to love your books. While on the topic of reading, I should add that your attention span when it comes to listening to stories has increased drastically. Our 3 books bedtime routine takes much longer now that you’re demanding full length Dr. Seuss books and boycotting the short Sandra Boynton board books! But the day you become too independent to enjoy listening to us read to you will be a sad day and I must admit, as much as we love your independence, it sometimes leads you to being a bit…

Naughty. You’re mischievous! Sometimes in a very funny way. For example, you love keys (did I say love? …LOVE!) and you’re pretty good at spotting them out (hanging up or in the diaper bag). And when you get your hands on some, you almost instantly go for the lock buttons, which makes the car beep over and over. When you do this, I feel compelled to take them from you as a way of sparing our neighbors and neighborhood dogs from the noise. But you’ve figured this out and you know that when the beeping starts, I’m going to be in the room within seconds. So what do you do when you hear me? You RUN! And laugh and laugh. Because you’re actually pretty fast and it usually takes me a few seconds to do a lap around the house to catch you!... Other times you do purposefully naughty tricks, like feed Daisy your dinner over your highchair. (Daisy and you have become BEST friends!) Or sometimes you ask for a specific food (that you typically love) just to chew it up and spit it out in hopes of catching my attention. And when I calmly tell you that what you’re doing is a little naughty you say “Naunny Mama!”  (Naughty Mama!) and laugh! And sometimes we laugh too because at the end of the day, you are a toddler…a little unpredictable person who learns more in a day than I do in a week. You are wild, dramatic, silly, free-spirited, loveable and carefree and you are…



Ten Months of Mabel

...And what a month it has been.

So, currently, at this very moment, on the 10 month anniversary of her birth, our little bean has a fever and is cuddling with her Momma. It's awful. She also almost definitely got whatever she has from me, since I'm trying to get over a cold myself, so that makes me feel even worse. Long story short, sick baby is the saddest thing in the history of history, but she's still adorable.

This last month has been all about leaps and bounds. Sometimes literally. She is getting very brave with her standing. She is always up and about and has taken to letting go and just standing there and hanging out. When she is particularly brave she not only lets go, but throws herself toward wherever she is going. We're going to have a walker on our hands before we know it.

The biggest leap has been with language. She has been mimicking sounds and responding to certain cues for a while (Cow says... mmmmmm, doggies pant and grunt, froggies open their mouth over and over), but her first confirmed word is also her new favorite toy. She recognizes, says, and has so much fun with the word "ball". This happens to have been her cousin Elijah's first word four and a half years ago as well.

Signing has come a long way too. Milk (milky as we say) and please are regulars. A lot of her new language comes from a new adoration with books. She used to just rip them off the shelves because it was fun, but now she rips them off the shelves, brings them over to us and makes us read the same books over and over again. It's the best. She tries to turn the pages sometimes, but just as often that turns into trying to rip the pages out.

The balance hasn't been easy this last month. Jenna is insanely busy with school and work combo and I seem to never stop being busy at work. They're great problems to have, we know. It's moving so quickly and she's getting so big. She's the best baby and I think she knows it. She always seems to smile and get excited at just the right time. She really loves us... which I know isn't a big deal, it's our baby and we give her so much love, so of course she will love us back, but it feels like a big deal. She is this little thing and she is excited about seeing us and about new experiences and about life. She loves her friends (she plays with the baby Jenna nannies for and gives him kisses), she loves her family, and gets so excited to see people.

Two more months until the big birthday... we'll be doing something, but who knows what that is. We'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nine Months of Mabel

This. Is. Crazy.

Nine months have gone by. Nine months of growth and progression and changes and surprises and joy and fear and yawns and giggles and tears and everything. The only things I can say for sure, when I try to really break down the last nine months, is that I have no idea how this has happened and I’ve never been happier about the unknown.

I’ll tell you about all the changes. I’ll tell you about how much she has grown and how funny she is. You’re going to read the stories that have made our hearts swell and made it so easy to forgive and forget all the petty shit life tries to bog you down with. The strangest part is I can’t remember it any other way. I went back through and reread some of the old blogs. I remember it like I was still living through it (must be a really good writer, huh?), but I only as a memory. The Mabel we know and love now is the only Mabel I can really conceive of. It’s hard to fathom a time when she couldn’t crawl; when she only wanted to bounce; when she hadn’t loved dinner time, breakfast time, or any other time we give her as much food as we’ll give her.

So let me think about the big stuff.

There’s her teeth. I don’t know why I’m starting with her teeth, but they’re just so damn cute and I love them. The bottom front teeth have been hanging out for what seems like forever. They were the shining standouts every time she smiled or laughed. One of her top teeth showed up a little ways back and just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Her mouth seems to perpetually swell as if new teeth are on the way (she handles it like a champ. Get’s fussy sometimes, but it’s nothing a little stern discipline and liquor can’t take care of). Before long I’m sure we’re going to have the best Bugs Bunny mouth in the world.

The crawling was delightfully hilarious. She struggled for so long up on her hands and knees just rocking back and forth. Most of the time she shot backward only to start all over again, but every once in a while she lunged forward and was so proud of herself. She was already getting into anything and everything. If she saw it and she wanted it she would roll, tuck, bounce, whatever it took until she had it. She has her Momma's determination. The first couple of days, once the real crawls started, were also really funny. She didn’t quite have it and sometimes forgot to use her legs, forgot to use her arms, or just couldn’t put more than two or three “steps” together. Right away though, she loved getting around and working her way up or onto whatever was close. It could have been weeks, I really don’t know, but once she had it down she was gone. Everywhere! We walked out of a room for a second, there were Mabel’s little crawl grunts following us. She loved the bouncer, more than anything it seemed, until the crawling took over. No more bouncer. No more walker. She was going to crawl there, pull herself up, smile, fall, do it again. She learned quickly to fall on her butt and we haven’t had many disasters. She does forget to let go every once in a while which sends her spinning whatever direction away from where she still has a death grip. I think she thinks it is fun. It’s hard to tell, she genuinely seems to think most things are fun.

The sleeping. Granted it has always been better for me, but now that her sleep routine is the same basically every single night, it’s hard to remember what it was like waking up in the night, even for a few minutes at a time, three times a night. Jenna was the one who sacrificed the most sleep and I know she's thrilled to finally be getting some real zzz's at night.  The napping is still day by day, sometimes 25 minutes and sometimes two and a half hours but we've got a routine established and the consistency seems to be key. She freakin’ loves the dogs.. I don’t quite think the feeling is entirely mutual; though Maizy throws her a kiss every once in a while before resuming her mandatory two foot Mabel radius (Mabius?). I know that’s a strange transition, but the dogs are always there at bedtime and she gets excited to see them when she wakes up, so I made the connection

That’s something else too. She learns and changes so quickly. For a little while she was pointing to noses and mouths on command; she loved giving huge wet awkward kisses that melted every part of your heart. The bouncing went away. These learned skills and adorable things came and left. As soon as she mastered them, she was on to the next thing. She’ll still hit you up every once in a while, but for the most part I think she’s really just expressing her independence. I don’t mind. I’m already so enthralled by her little personality and what she’s going to become that I’m happy to just be along for the ride. Clapping is her new thing and if the last two nights have been any indication, so is peeing on her parents during nakey/bath time.

I’d say her favorite food is chicken. Jenna is still primarily nursing her and Mabel realllly loves milk, but she really does eat (or at least try) anything we put in front of her.  Some things she will pick up and try to share with us and that's her way of telling us that it's not really her favorite. The stuff she really likes, she is focused and set on getting it down. She gets this determination from her dada. Our goal was always to have her eat whatever we ate and we vowed we would try our damnedest not to fall into the habit of making a "kid meal" and an "adult meal" every night. Rice cereal didn’t sit well with her so we moved to the babyfood grinder and puffs. That went well for a very short while but the grinding got old quick and Mabel wasn't a huge fan of mush or being fed. We jumped right to "real" food and since we’ve been giving her portions of whatever we have (properly cooled and cut into baby size, of course) she has just done her thing at dinner time. Dinner time growing up was always one of my favorite times. The whole family at the table eating together is important to both Jenna and me and we are able to do it almost every night. More often than not Mabel makes a damn mess of herself, which is always adorable and the dogs like that too. 

I feel like I’m going on and on, but even though I live with it every day it’s amazing to think about and reminisce. I’m trying to skip over some of the sentimentality and sap because I’ve shared all of that before, but I really can’t tell you enough how it just keeps growing. Jenna and I are so busy. She is back in school full time, working full time and has Mabel all day long. I’ve been working on some big projects at work so I’ve also been insanely busy. We don’t always get as much time together as we’d like, but every second we get is just amazing. The remnants of “remember when we used to…” are gone. It’s Mabel and it’s amazing. Happy hour is fun. Happy hour with the baby is better. Football Sundays are amazing, since it’s the only TV she ever watches, Mabel is particularly fond of them as well. We still do our best to make time with our friends and family, but it definitely isn’t easy. We’re delightfully needy and I don’t mind asking people to come to us. We’re good hosts and Mabel’s smile is worth any number of miles. If you’re out of town, consider this an open invitation.

I really don’t know what to say, but you have to see this girl. She’ll brighten up your world like she does for us every single day. The smiles aren’t fall off. The giggles are just behind. She’s cuddly in the morning, but it’s even more fun to watch her explore. No drawer or cupboard is safe and her million and 8 books probably aren’t going to last all that long. We’re still trying to teach her how to be gentle. She’ll get it. She’ll get everything. I’m in awe of her. I’m in awe of who she is and everything she does and how much she loves people and new places and trying new things. Everything is so much more exciting in life. Watching someone soak it up and breathe it in is revitalizing. Have you heard children’s music lately? Shit’s awesome. Life, life in general is just amazing. We really do our best to be open and loving parents, but Mabel, probably unknowingly, has given us so much more than we could ever give back. It’s scary to think about and it’s so hard to understand, but the future is going to offer us so much. It won’t all be good, we know, but it’ll all be worth it to watch our little bean get bigger and bigger and learn more and more. It’s heart-stoppingly beautiful and I’ve never been luckier or happier in my entire life.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Seven Months of Mabel - Five Years of Family

Little Mabel-

Five years ago, on this day August 16th, 2008, your Momma and Daddy stood in a beautiful little backyard grove and said some vows that ended in some "I do's". Leading up to that day, your mom and I felt an inexplicable draw to each other that ended up forming a bond that eventually led to you, our little peanut. I want to tell you a few things I've learned in that four years and five months before you joined the family:

1 - Time matters. How you spend it, where you spend it and who you spend it with are all remarkably important. Being conscious of that time and acknowledging it doesn't come easy or natural to most people, but when you learn to do so, it changes everything. That time we spent over those years taught us how to love each other better than we ever did before we were married. It taught us how to talk to each other, sometimes how to fight each other, and it taught us to appreciate the mere fact that we were together. We have grown as people, we have grown as a couple, and we have grown as friends to each other and to your vast web of grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles.

All that time, I don't think we realized we were just prepping for you. It's easy to love you and your perfect giggle, gorgeous smile, and everlasting loving looks, but the time and love your momma and I have spent cultivating makes it so much easier to see all the joy and beauty through the times that aren't always easy. Your first cold (which you're just getting over) is nothing compared to watching you roll over on all fours and rock back and forth, prepping for that first crawl. The sleepy mornings after long nights are nothing compared to what we're pretty sure is waving when we say hi and barking when you see Daisy.

2 - Talking matters. By the time you read this, I'm sure you'll have a pretty good idea of your old man's propensity for chattiness. It's easy for me to talk and to give fun speeches and to address large groups, but it hasn't always been easy for me to talk about the important stuff. Your mom either. Five years ago, we had remarkably different approaches for dealing with our conflicts or sharing what we really wanted to get out of our relationship. We worked through it through eventually breaking down those barriers and because we never stopped talking to each other and we kept loving each other.

Learning how to speak to one another, which hopefully we will pass on to you, took a lot of time, but after five years, hopefully we have a pretty good grasp of it. Sometimes, especially now, when I'm frustrated or I know your Momma is frustrated I think of you and I think of five years ago and I smile knowing that it's such a minuscule moment in our lives and I get less frustrated. That all came about through time and talking and just pure love for you and your mom. She does the same for me. More than I acknowledge, but I'm so proud of her. I fell in love with a person years and years ago who has grown into one of the best people I know. She just keeps getting better and better and you get to have her as your Momma and we get to share all this love with you.

3 - Love matters. Your Momma and I have been married for five years today because we love each other. We love each other for the people we were, people we are, and the people we're still becoming and will someday become. In these five years, those three words haven't always been easy to say, but they have always been the port we come back to. We say them to you every day and we want you to grow up to know what love is because you saw it every day of your life. We want you to learn how to talk, how to appreciate life, and how to love by giving back to you what you have given us.

We have spent five years become better people with and for each other, little Mabel Jayne, and now, seven months into your already amazing life, it's even more evident than it was on day one: We were learning to love each other better so we could love you and our new family the best. Thank you for giving us all that you have given us and thank you for helping me appreciate who your parents are as people, as individuals and as a couple. I don't thank your Mom enough out loud, but I thank her every day in my heart and in my life by saying those three small words and knowing she is the best part of me and has given me the best part of us, which is you.

I love you little girl. Thanks for making us better and thank you for helping me realize all the amazing things I get to teach you. I'm the luckiest Daddy, the luckiest husband, and the luckiest person I know. That's all because of the last five years with your Momma, and the last seven months with you.

Thank you, both.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Six Months of Mabel

Even as I type that title I can't believe it's true.

Five months came and went without a blog update. Sorry about that, wedding season and summer in general has us pretty busy. Not to mention a little bean rapidly becoming a big bean and jumping into (and onto) everything!

So much has happened in the last two months. I am struggling to wrap my head around it, but I'll do my best.

DEVELOPMENT: 5 Months Vs. 6 Months

Last month Mabel started trying to roll over. It was adorable. She would throw her body to the side and get stuck on her legs or with one arm underneath her. She would eventually roll back or get frustrated. So we'd help her out and she would do some tummy time until she got fussy with that. Watching her actively try something new and work toward something was mind blowing. It wasn't just a coincidence. She was learning. She was trying, failing, rarely succeeding... her physical actions had a purpose and you could see them slowly getting better.

Until they got better... then boom... pop... pow... gangbusters. Girl is a rolling over master. She got it once and then struggled. Twice. Struggled. Still didn't love being on her belly. Three times. Still had a limited shelf life. Four. Five. Six... I don't know when it happened, but the girl just doesn't care anymore. If she wants something, she'll roll to it. She'll army crawl on her belly, roll two or three times to get what she wants. She's a determined little girl.

Sitting up is another accomplishment we're really proud of. I can't remember when it happened, but she started to like sitting up and playing with her toys in front of her. At first, obviously, we had to watch her closely and hold onto her to keep her from falling down. Then a pillow would do it. Then it didn't matter at all, the girl's a pro.

Pictured: Sitting tall and pretty

Her attention to detail, things, people, and especially the dog are new and exciting. Nothing seems like an accident anymore. She watches people or things and knows where they are and when they're coming back. She gets excited when I get home and nothing is funnier than her momma. Jenna can make her crack up just by looking at her and we finally found the tricks to keeping her from freaking out after bath time (still loves nakie time, bath time with daddy, and eating... always with the eating. More on that later). 

The only thing she hasn't embraced were her old sleep habits. We knew we were lucky when she was sleeping through the night after a month. At some point the sleep luck wore out and she started waking up once or twice. Then two or three times. Sometimes more. Her rolling has definitely effected her sleep, as well as her curiosity. She is so into watching everything that it's harder to feed her during the day, so maybe she's hungry in the middle of the night? I don't know, you gotta keep that low center of gravity in check, how else is she going to be break dancing by 10 months?


I wish I had a better sense of time or had the dates tattooed to my arms, because Mabel's milestones seem to be sprinting toward us lately. Besides the rolling over and the sitting up, she has also started eating food. We tried to start with sweet potato and banana, but they were a little too flavorful. She did much better with rice cereal and even seemed to enjoy it. Mixing fruit with the rice cereal, with the help of the baby food grinder (thanks Grandma Carol) is a revolution. Who wouldn't love peach rice cereal?

As her aunt Melissa said, steak is right around the corner. Little Bean got her first tooth! Teeth now, Jenna just told me the second bottom tooth just poked through. She wasn't all that fussy through her first teething experience except for one day. She started doing a new face where she sucks in her bottom lip. It was obviously adorable, but it was not easy to see her so uncomfortable. I'm really looking forward to her little toothy grin, I can't wait actually!

Pictured: New cute face
It's not really a milestone, but she also has a new scrunched up face she does when she is really happy. It looks like she is sniffing something, so whenever she does it we inevitably copy her and start smelling her. Parenting is weird.

Pictured: Workin' the sniffer

She's also finding her voice. It so happens to be the voice of a lion or a twenty-year smoker, but it's hilariously gorgeous to hear her roar. When she gets chatty she gives it all she has and I swear she's actually said the words A-Goo and Dad on purpose (not dad, that's a lie). I'd have to say the voice comes out most often while she is bouncing. It took a little getting used to, but the Bean is a bouncing machine! We have a Jolly Jumper/Johnny Jump up that is guaranteed to put a smile on her face. It started off as swaying around with a bounce here or there and has evolved to constant bouncing for 20-30 minutes at a time. It's exhausting to watch, but she just doesn't get sick of it. It has also gotten her closer to Daisy. She reaches out for her and somehow the dog doesn't run away terrified. Even while you're holding her she lifts her legs up and kicks off to try to get you to bounce or throw her. Who needs a kettle bell or gym membership when you have an almost 18 pound baby?

Pictured: What does a lion say?
Mabel also proved how much of a champ she is by doing an amazing job on her first extensive road trip. We were terrified of the 4+ hour drive into Pennsylvania for her Great Grandmother's 80th birthday party, but we had nothing to be scared about. It was a great trip and we all got to see a ton of people who met Mabel for the first time. She got some great naps in on the van ride and everyone agrees that she's the best thing I've ever been a part of... mostly me.

Pictured: Family at GG Chew's 80th birthday. New Wilmington, PA

It honestly seems like she was just born. Jenna was pregnant yesterday and we started using cloth diapers this morning. She laughed for the first time this afternoon. By bedtime she's going to be married with kids and it is terrifying.

The constant love and joy we get from this relationship is remarkable. Even after the worst nights or the napless days or the Pukey McPukerson moments, there is always a smile and always just pure love. They do grow up so fast. They do change before your eyes. You will not know where the time has gone. You will cherish every second of it.

Whenever you read this, little Bean, I just hope you can tell how proud we are to be your parents. I hope you can see how much the world loves you and how much love is in the world. Sometimes you'll have to search for it and read between the lines, but you never have to go further than your parents, your grand parents, your real aunts and uncles, your pretend aunts and uncles and all of the amazing people in your life to find someone willing to share their love. That's the world I want you to live in and hopefully that's the world we're creating for you. I love you so much. We all do.

Friday, May 24, 2013

On Breastmilk Donation


One day you'll read this and it'll start a conversation about how when you were a baby, you drank human milk from me and it gave you the most luscious cheeks, plentiful arm rolls and adorable leg dimples. Then I'll tell you all about how the very same milk that helped you grow also helped nourish other babies around the United States.  Here's a little testimonial I wrote about my experience with milk donation, The National Milk Bank and Prolacta Bioscience.

"It’s an amazing and empowering experience to provide nutrients for your child and I feel incredibly fortunate that my body is able to supply my daughter with all of the nourishment her growing body needs. While pregnant, I extensively researched breastfeeding and all of its irreplaceable benefits.  I knew that I wholeheartedly wanted to breastfeed, but also knew that many complications can surface that may hinder a mother’s ability to exclusively nurse her baby.  After giving birth to my daughter and beginning our nursing relationship, it was quickly apparent that I was producing much more milk than my daughter would ever need or want. Knowing the incredible benefits of breast milk, I researched milk banks in hopes that my extra milk could be put to good use.  I was impressed with The National Milk Bank’s mission to provide precious human milk to micro-preemies and was in awe of the technology used by their affiliate Prolacta Bioscience that would allow my milk to be pasteurized, fortified and distributed to hospitals.  I immediately contacted them in hopes of starting the application process.  Qualifying to become a donor is a multi-step and thorough process and the level of detail that goes into donor screening should be comforting to any parent of a child using donated human milk. The team at the National Milk Bank works hard to ensure the process is smooth for donors and that only milk of the highest quality is accepted. I am so happy to be part of the National Milk Bank family and am honored to be helping babies across the nation through breast milk donation. I look forward to the day that I can tell my daughter that she shared her nourishment and helped save tiny lives!"

Thanks for being such a great sharer already, Mabel. Mama loves you so much!