Monday, July 30, 2007

Welcome Home, Sookie!

Dominic and I had always said that when all four of our dogs had passed away, we would wait for a while before we would get another one. Well, all that changed last week when Marie was at the vet's being observed, again, and for the first time in many, many years, I came home to house with no dog to greet me. It was rather depressing.

A couple days later I went back to the vet's to pick up a refill on one of Marie's medicines. While I was there, I noticed a flier on the bulletin board advertising the sale of Whippets. I had no idea what kind of dog they were, so I started asking questions. As the entire veterinary staff started to come out to talk to me, I found out they were great pets, good with kids, and that the breeder, Sleeping Fox Farm, happened to be the daughter of my vet.

So, I called her the next morning and Grayson and I went to meet her and the puppies. We fell in love. We had to wait a few days before we could pick up the puppy, which turned out great because Dominic and I were able to get things ready. Plus, I could read up on what it meant to have a puppy again. I hadn't had one for almost 14 years!!!

Sookie came home yesterday and she has been an absolute dream. She's very good natured and loves to snuggle - which is great because that's exactly what I needed. She had no problem sleeping with us last night and this morning, she's eaten some of her food and started playing with her toys. We also think Marie is happy to have another dog in the house. She had never been alone and after Madison passed away, we could definitely notice a change in Marie's personality. Overall, Sookie seems to be adjusting very well!!

For more pictures, click here.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Other Five

It took me a little longer to get back to the blog than I planned, but here are the remaining five of my top 10 list:

Comfy Easy PC – Many of you who know me well, know my feelings regarding children watching television. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to watch TV, but I’m pretty picky about what Grayson watches. I don’t want him turning into a couch potato. So, when I started searching for a game system (for lack of a better word) for Grayson I was very upset to find that most of them have to be attached to the TV. I wanted something that could attach to the computer so he would begin to relate learning with the computer, not the television.

And then I found the Comfy Easy PC. This is the one thing that can keep Grayson’s attention for up to 45 minutes. I’m amazed at how well he interacts with it and the things he has learned from it. I recommend this to every parent! My only complaint is that they don’t have more games available.
CDs with songs that include your child’s name – One of the things I wasn’t looking forward to when it came to motherhood was listening to children’s music. I always seemed to find it a bit cheesy. I have been able to find some great music, especially from Putumayo Kids, but Grayson’s absolute favorite is any CD that includes his name in the music. His favorite bedtime CD is from Sister Song called “Glimpse of Heaven” (actually, I cried the first time I heard it) and his favorite anytime CD is from Mediak called “Jesus Loves You.” This company actually has a bunch of CDs available, some in Spanish.

Straw Cups – Grayson stopped drinking from a bottle by around 11 months old and I think using straw cups really helped with that. I believe he learned to drink from a straw when he was about nine or 10 months old at my sister’s store. Even though he had been exposed to sippy cups from the time he could start holding things in his hands, cups with straws were a lot easier for him to handle because it didn’t require him to tip the cup. After we started using them, a bunch of his playgroup friends started as well, making it difficult to determine which cup belonged to whom when we got together!! I’m always on the look out for other versions, but so far our favorite is the Gerber Soft Straw cup. We also have a great cup from Catluna Enterprises, but I can’t find it on the Internet (it was given to us). Either way, neither cup leaks!!

Taggie/Lovey/Blankie, whatever you want to call them! – I don’t think there is any way to predict what will become important to your child, but my recommendation is that once you do, buy a back up!! Grayson received a taggie with his name embroidered on it at one of my showers. From that day on, he usually rested his head on it when he slept. I thought this would become important to him, so I purchased a back up shortly thereafter and started switching them right away and I’ve been doing it ever since. But, this wasn’t his most favorite “lovey.” That became Jerry, as we like to call him.

Jerry was also a gift at a shower and I started giving him to Grayson very early in his crib. Jerry was one of those Carter’s blankets with the knots at the corners and a giraffe head in the middle of it. Unfortunately, I waited a little too long to buy a back-up and Carter’s no longer made them, so I paid a small fortune for the one I found on eBay. Oh, well, it was worth it.

Wearable blankets – My final installment into the top 10 would be the sleepsack, or the wearable blanket. We tend to keep our home on the cool side at night, especially in the summer, and I was always concerned about Grayson getting too cold. Obviously you can’t put a blanket on a baby, so these were the perfect solution.

So, there you have it. Honorable mention also goes to the use of cloth diapers as burp cloths – don’t get the cheap ones, we recommend the ones made by Kushies Baby. These were critical to us when Grayson was a baby because he was constantly spitting up. We also love our diaper pail – buy one that can use any type of trash bag so you don’t have to get anything special. It probably sounds strange that I love a diaper pail, but I lived without one for quite some time and it was awful!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My Top 10

The other day, I was in Toys R Us buying some new toys for our church nursery when I noticed a woman registering for baby items. She had brought a friend along who was helping her decide what to put on the registry. I thought to myself, “Oh, how I wish I would have had that opportunity. The chance to think through the items I would need for a new baby and to have someone help me.” And then I heard the friend’s advice. It stunk. She was randomly having her friend register for baby rattles and toys – items she’ll get plenty of without the help of a registry – and seemed clueless herself, although her friend clearly trusted her opinion.

I was very lucky, overall. The day after we found out we had been chosen by Grayson’s birthmother, my nephew’s wife went out with me to Target and helped me get the basic essentials. She was an absolute blessing and gave me excellent advice! After we brought Grayson home, we were given three different baby showers and we received perfect gifts. I really didn’t have a clue what I would need and what I didn’t need, but I got rather lucky because I received items I would use later rather than those items you only use for the first couple months of a baby’s life.

So, I was inspired to put together my Top 10 Baby Item List (they aren’t ranked by importance). I didn’t include the basics like bottles or diapers because every parent and every baby has a preference for those. I just included those items I wouldn’t have wanted to live without, as well as those items I continue to use. I’m sure many of you will have your own opinions, and if you so desire, please share them with me in your comments. I’m sure I haven’t remembered everything that has been so helpful during these 20 months of motherhood.

And here you go…

The Maya Wrap – I always knew the Maya Wrap was something I wanted when I brought home my baby. Unfortunately, you can only purchase them on-line and I didn’t have the chance to do that before Grayson came home. I bought one a couple months later and used it continually. I still wear it every now and then, but Grayson is so big, it’s a little difficult. I definitely plan to use it with our next baby. Oh, and as an FYI, I got the adjustable pouch not the full wrap because I didn’t want all the extra material.

The Bumbo Seat – I really can’t rave about this thing enough. If you are short on space, the Bumbo Seat is the best thing to use instead of a high chair. And really, even if you have plenty of space, you really don’t need a high chair. We’ve never had one (see the Booster Seat). Also, I took it with me everywhere. Grayson sat in it at three months old and he sat at tables with us in restaurants, I used it at our church nursery, I used it when I made dinner and he watched, etc., etc. This was one of the best things ever!!!

A booster seat – It probably doesn’t matter which one you use, we have this one, but the booster seat is the greatest thing as soon as your baby can sit by himself. Grayson has always eaten at the table with us, a great habit to start early. I also have an extra one that I keep in my truck so he can sit and eat wherever we go. Having one on the go has really come in handy for me because it allows me to sit and eat without having to worry about him. As an FYI, my sister and I just discovered a very cool travel version. I can’t say anything specific about it since I’ve never used it, but I wish I had found it way back when.

Plastic bibs – Grayson was always in a bib when he was a baby because he was usually spitting up and when the spit up is only formula (or breast milk) those cloth bibs are just fine. But as soon as he started eating baby food and I needed something that actually protected his clothes from actual food, the cloth bibs were no longer any good. They stained very easily and since babies are pretty messy in general, that was a pain. One of my friends at church introduced me to the plastic bib. We have the Dura-Bibs. I can easily clean them and the ones I use have a fold down bottom, so you can get to all the food that builds up. I also throw them in the top of the dishwasher occasionally.

An Exersaucer – This gift was one of the best I received!! Its purpose is pretty self-explanatory, but Grayson was able to stand or sit in it and he played with all the toys. Even after he no longer needed it for support, he continued to play with it from the outside. Its “usage life” may not be as long as everything else I’ve mentioned, but it was still a great thing to have and I wouldn’t want to have a baby without it.

This has gotten a little long, so I think I’ll wait to post my other five. I’m sure you’ll be waiting on pins and needles!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Fun Weekend

Maybe I'm a little mushy right now because I just lost my dog or maybe it's for some other reason, but as I reflect back on the weekend I've had, it just brings a smile to my face.

When Dominic and I moved out of Baltimore City and into my parent's house (after they moved, of course), the only people we knew in the area were my family and a couple friends who were still here from high school. That's it. I was still driving down to Baltimore a few times a week to help at Legg Mason, so I was able to be with my friends regularly, but all that ended when Grayson came home just a few short weeks later.

I then felt very alone. Of course I had my son and Dominic. But suddenly I was staying home with a baby and had seemingly lost all contact with my previous "adult" world. It seems so strange to look back on that feeling now.

This weekend brought together a number of new worlds I have found since moving out of the city. On Saturday, Grayson and I went to the birthday party of a high school friend's son. Grayson had a great time, we even rode on a little steam engine train in the neighborhood, and he ate. A lot! It was great to spend time with my friend and to watch the boys play.

Sunday morning, Grayson, Dominic, and I were in church. Growing up, my church was a very important part of my life. I'm now heavily involved again, as a member of the board, a nursery helper, and a member of the women's Sunday School class. I'm so glad Grayson will be able to grow up in the same community - feeling very loved.

Last night, however, was the perfect ending. One of the friends I met through The Little Gym hosted a picnic in a park in Frederick as a thank you to those of us who had recently made meals for her and her family after the birth of their second child. I watched Grayson play with his friends and the rest of us just talk and I was very happy and amazed at how much had changed in just 20 months.

Do I miss my previous adult life? Sure, every now and then. I miss the freedom of coming and going whenever I wanted. I miss living in the city and walking to the restaurants and shops in our neighborhood. I miss sitting on the couch all day and watching Lifetime every now and then. But do I love my new "grown-up" life? Definitely!
Chilling in the Park!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

All About Madison

Normally, this blog is completely dedicated to Grayson, but today I need to write about my first baby, Madison. Sadly, Madison died in my arms Tuesday night. She was a miniature dachshund who had been with me for almost 14 years. This post isn't about her death, however, it's about her life and how much she was a part of mine.

People who don't have animals probably think those of us who get so upset about the loss of a pet are crazy, but Madison was a part of my life for well over a decade and mourning that loss is perfectly normal. As one of my friends pointed out, I may very well have another pet who lives just as long or longer than Madison, but I will never have another one that was with me through so many changes in my life.

I got Madison when I was a sophomore in college. I had recently moved into a townhouse in Columbia with a few roommates and realizing I was on my own, I decided to get the dachshund I had always wanted. I fell in love with Madison the moment I saw her, she was so tiny and sweet. We had driven north of Baltimore to meet her and on the drive home, she slept in my lap.

Over the years Madison has lived in six different homes with me. She has watched me graduate from college, start a career, get married, finish graduate school, and start a family. She was with me through it all and she was the one consistent thing during those 14 years.

I will miss her dearly, but I'm so glad she was a part of my life. Madison, thank you for being my first baby!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

A Rough Couple of Days

Just last Sunday at church I was talking about how sick I was during Grayson's first year. I was constantly picking up something and feeling pretty miserable. I mentioned that since his first birthday I've been very, very healthy which is a definite blessing because I would no longer be able to just lie on the floor while Grayson played around me like I used to do since he is now such an active little guy.

Well, all that changed Thursday night when I picked up Grayson out of his crib to change his diaper and pulled something in my lower back. I've had minor back pain in the past, but never anything too severe. Until then. The pain was so awful that every move I made was pure torture. The next day I was still in tremendous pain but could still run some errands. When I got home and tried to rest Grayson wasn't going to have it. This had to be one of the most miserable days I've had with him and I could tell I was definitely not myself.

Since then, the pain comes and goes. I'll have moments when it feels much better and then moments when I'm in agony again. I've canceled a few plans, which is terrible for me because I hate being stuck in the house, but I thought it would be best to try and rest my back.

I did have a good day on Saturday morning, which was great because my friend Erica came to visit for a playdate with her son. Not only did we have a great time, but I actually got a picture of Grayson and me together - which so rarely occurs because I'm usually the one taking the pictures. So, here you go...