Family Photos

“There’s only one thing more important than our time and that’s who we spend it on.” – Leo Christopher

 

The past year had flown by as a family of three and we were starting to think about another baby. It had been the most transformative year of my life and I was feeling the fleeting nature of these days. I had never hired a professional photographer, but wanted to catch some of these magical days before they were gone. I love these images and how beautiful they turned out!

 

Change of Season

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” – Oscar Wilde

We wanted to continue our new traditions with Indra so we sought out an apple orchard in Iowa and took her apple picking. If you’ve only done something once before, can you still call it a tradition? This orchard was quite beautiful. Grandpa Dave had been before so he told us of some of the good baked treats and we all went on a tractor ride to the fields.

I think we may have each consumed a pound of apples before we left. But how else are you suppose to figure out what you want? These two are buddies!In early September we headed out to Champaign to celebrate Robb’s tenure/40th birthday party! We were so proud of him, turning 40 is kind of a big deal. Just kidding. He has worked so hard for so many years – Sammy and the kids were also part of the equation, supporting and encouraging him to fulfill this dream. We were happy with the chance to see them.

Indra making herself right at home in Zoe’s room. She’s sort of a little snoop.Watching the kids play soccer and getting some snuggles with Auntie.
Getting all sorts of love and attention from the Lindgrens. My bald little baby was loving it!Having “special time” with the kids. We swapped offspring for a few hours. The three of us played mini golf and had paletas (aka: delicious Mexican popsicles) after sweltering in the sun. Sammy and Robb took Indra to the park.Getting the hang of this smelling thing.Back in Iowa I was trying to get crafty about making Indra like her crib. Since she was born, we only had a one bedroom, so we all piled into bed together. While it worked for us, it wasn’t always convenient. I felt like we had such a special bond from all this touching, but to be honest, sometimes I was jealous of the parents who could just plop their kid in bed and go on with their night. And also, not always have all that touching! This little Baby Einstein gadget was a bit of an amusement, but never got her to like her crib.

We share a close DNA with chimps?! No way, I don’t believe it!
Celebrating three years married and fifteen years together. I swear this wasn’t posed. I guess making her sleep in a crib makes this sweetness a lot harder to capture.Loves Grandpa’s green smoothie. Even if sometimes her little ‘stach looks a little like Hitler.Getting ready for family pictures and just hanging out in Iowa.Sweet little dress that Zoe made for Indra.Walking in the woods with Grandpa to scout out a location for Grandma’s bench.Some of Indra’s favorite activities these days: sorting, being blown around by the fan, kangaroo-in-a-box, and talking on the phone.We went apple picking with Nana, but ended up just looking at goats and taking cute pictures of Indra in her new winter hat. Meanwhile, I ran after her trying to keep those little fingers away from sneaky goat mouths.That’s all for now!

Summertime 2017

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” -Charles Bowden

 

Our move to Iowa was a slower pace of life. We would see beautiful sunsets in the country and deer wandering the yard looking for apples. Ezra was around more, either working from home or from a coworking space. And of course we now had a third parent. Grandpa Dave and Indra were quick to play and bond.  Unfortunately, those first couple weeks were painful to watch Diesel slowly slip away from us. We tried everything and resisted the inevitable. In the end we said some prayers to him and drove in town to peacefully put him to sleep. We buried him in the backyard by the tree we planted for Laurie. I had Diesel in my life for 16 years. He had a good life and it was an emotional goodbye.We spent Indra’s actual birthday by being lazy and just hanging out. We went for a nice little stroll in the woods and dinner out at a brewery afterwards. Just what every one-year old dreams of on their birthday! Just hanging out dowtown Iowa City at the Ped Mall, splash padding and going to more breweries on this hot day.
So, trying to catch this final 12-month picture with her bunny was a little more difficult than in the months past. I guess this is what being one-year-old looks like!
Finally giving her a birthday gift. Just a book, because we still couldn’t decide what to get her. Parents of the year!Proof that at one point, I was actually putting some effort into potty training. Summer sweetness! Laurie and Dave would take a trip in the summer to the North Shore or more recently to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. So we decided to all go together this year. I had no idea how beautiful this area was. There was a lot of beach time, but also, never enough.
Some favorite activities of the week were spending a ridiculous amount of time in the sauna, then jumping in Lake Superior. I think I only managed the frigid waters once. But the sauna I did do.
Follow up our pretty intense activity with drinking, games and serious vacation reading. Indra modeling her new clothes from our German friend.If you ever need to find Soren, just look for him fishing by the water. Morning, noon, or night. Always. Scary Uncle Josh!
Celebrating our birthdays with a booze soaked cake made by monks. They know how to party. I’m turning into my mom. Forcing family pictures. One of the reasons we went on this vacation was to spread some of Laurie’s ashes. We wanted to take her to the places she loved. I don’t know if I should have taken this picture. I guess I was happy we were together, and wanted to remember this moment. I was sad and wanted a distraction. Either way, Laurie would have been so happy for us all to be here together. After we spread her ashes we saw the Northern Lights. Another thing that Laurie loved. Laurie would be so proud of Dave. He is such a loving Grandpa. Last morning in our beach rental.
As we were leaving town we stopped for lunch. At lunch, a couple beers were consumed. We discussed how none of us wanted to go home and what about if we got a hotel and stayed another night? The vote was taken, it was unanimous. We checked into a hotel, went back to the beach and called this our “vacation chaser.” It’s exactly something Laurie would have approved of. Back in Minneapolis, these brothers got ready to run Ragnar. Learning to smell flowers?Meeting the guys at the finish line.Ez’s birthday Back in Iowa I started getting a taste of what the toddler years would be like. In Michigan, with all the prompting and cheering from family, Indra really stepped up her walking game. Her first steps were really around the 4th of July. But she took it to a whole new level with this newfound confidence. Running away from me at the library. Running away from me at the park.I finally figured out a gift for Indra. I’m trying to get better about buying more sustainable and socially conscious gifts. I’ve got a long way to go, but I really wanted to get Indra a special doll. I found this company that trains and gives women refugees a livelihood. And the dolls are so incredible. The packaging was pretty cool as well! It came all the way from Dharamsala.Farmer’s market with Grandpa.

And that sums up our summer.

The Lake and 1st Birthday Party

“Time wasted at the lake is time well spent.”

Summer seriously is the best time of the year. Especially when you live someplace where winter occupies the other half of the year. This was our first time taking Indra up to the lake. As I’ve gotten older, the lake has lost some of its luster for me. It doesn’t hold quite the same appeal as when we were kids running around with our cousins. However, this year I was excited to bring Indra. It would be a week of a lot of firsts.
How many cousins can you fit in a kiddie pool?I cannot remember exactly why Ezra surprised me with this beautiful bouquet of flowers but I was really touched. It probably had something to do with how difficult the past few months had been. Either way, flowers for no reason are always a nice surprise! Worthy of a picture for sure.Indra, is like “who the hell is this guy again?”Taking a bath in the same sink we did as kids. It comes full circle! First time boating!First time swimming in the pool! I think she liked it! haha First time in the lake. I told you there were a lot of firsts! Sneaking off to nap with Indra. I was getting over a nasty cold.

And then we arrived back in time for Indra’s first birthday party. This was meant to be a casual affair. But I found these incredible looking cupcakes on Pinterest which spurred a garden party idea. Then I had finally lost some of my baby weight and this dress finally fit. So a simple one-year-old birthday party got a little fancy. Ezra saw us in dresses and insisted on dressing nice too. I had been counting on him to bring the casual to the party. But he thought he’d be out of place if he wore jeans. So fancy we all became!

I cannot take credit for these cupcakes. I bossed my sisters into making them. They had better skills than I, and also, I had planned poorly how time consuming these would be to decorate. Luckily, they put up with me, but not before calling me a “dictator” or some other such term of endearment. I totally deserved it.Opening gifts!Bench from Grandpa Bernie.So proud of this gluten, dairy, processed sugar free cake.It may look like Indra enjoyed this soulless cake. But actually she gagged on it. What a surprise, right? It was so dense it sort of felt like a brick.Finally free from that dress and god-awful cake!Baby buns, just because.

            Wearing off some of that food.

Not sure if I took this picture totally posing or if Nana snuck in and took it. Either way, love laying with my little sweetie.

Getting ready to head out of Minnesota and drive to our new home in Iowa.

Spring in the Cities

“Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” – Rumi

This post is honestly just for Ez and me. I’m putting it together almost a year later. This was a difficult time in our lives and I lost interest in this blog. After Laurie passed we decided to pack up our apartment in Minneapolis and Alexandria and move to Iowa to be with Dave. I was quite alright leaving Alexandria but Minneapolis was challenging for me. I had so many memories there because of Indra and our place was just starting to feel like home. This was a time of nostalgia and sadness. I just wanted a place to put together pictures so that I could remember some of the sweetness as well.
I never took Indra to a photographer for 3, 6 and 9 month pictures. So every few months I’d try to capture some of her sweetness on my own.Celebrating Ezra’s cousin’s wedding. Indra loved all the attention from family and the dancing!

Daddy-daughter dance : )

Just hangin’ out and playing at Nana and Papa’s.

We made a concerted effort around this time to spend more time together as a family. Walks in the evening and grabbing a drink or food. At one point Indra actually liked avocados (in the form of guacamole) but this crazy kid has since changed her mind.Imbibing in our drink of choice at our neighborhood brewery.The day before Mother’s Day I got four hours to myself. It was magical. I got a massage and drank green juice and sat on our balcony and (almost) didn’t know what to do with myself! Ez took Indra out to watch one of the boys’ soccer games.Mmmm, she makes that food look good.My first Mother’s Day! Walk around the lake with coffee, a hillbilly pool on our balcony and a picnic at the park. What more could you want?Naked cuteness. Indra, not Ezra!Say “cheeseballs!” Checking out the rain.10 months!Cousins!Indra’s first professional soccer game. Not a fan of all the noise.Just wanting to remember what our apartment looked like.Loves climbing on the gate and looking outside.Enjoying Lake Harriet.
Sometimes I get sad thinking about how this sweet cuddliness will end all too soon. So I take pictures to remember this sweet chubbiness. Do you think these were posed? Ez was a little bit reluctant, I think he would have preferred to actually nap, but I wanted some photos of these two before Father’s Day. He may have fallen asleep while I was taking these.They have a coffee date on the mornings I sleep in. They’re regulars.At the zoo, watching the monkeys.This may be my favorite picture of the two of us.
Indra’s favorite book.Eating Nana’s camera.
Upgraded from our hillbilly pool.How is she almost a year?
Babes, brews and books.
Don’t let this picture fool you. She absolutely hates being in the crib. We pretty much use it for decoration.Helping me pack.One of our last trips up to Alexandria. Thank god.First Carousel ride, despite the smile, she was a little freaked.A trip with Nana to the conservatory followed by a sleepover!
May not be a five star hotel, but it’s a bed.New carseat! Such a big girl.My daughter, who needs to touch at all times.
11 months!We all went to Iowa for Laurie’s birthday. We spread some of her ashes around the yard and in her gardens. When we were finished this butterfly came and landed on all of us individually on the deck. She stayed with us for about 45 minutes. Even flying with us as we walked across the yard to the tree we planted for Laurie. It was one of the strangest and most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed. Almost packed up.Pals
Low key first Father’s Day.

Poor Diesel is not doing very well. Indra was one of his only sources of joy.


Since our bed is packed and we’re sleeping on the floor, it’s hard to keep this one in bed. Sneaking off the read books. Stinker.Picnic on the dock. Enjoying one of our last family strolls around the lake before we move.Indra’s friends from the birth class and ECFE.

Feeling so damn nostalgic, which is not usually how I roll. Taking a last walk on the trail with Indra.

Getting ready to check-out for good. Last nap, last bath, last glance at our empty apartment. This is where I labored and brought my baby home. 
Diesel is not doing good. Ezra went and bought just about every kind of food available trying to tempt him to eat.Although this time was melancholy, having family around made all the difference. Letting go can be hard and moving forward some times looks a little different than what you imagined.

laurie

 “The idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Can you ever be prepared for something so completely unexpected and devastating? The past couple years Laurie had been struggling to heal from Lyme disease, and ever the stoic and positive woman, you rarely heard her complain. She did not let on how poorly she was feeling, and when she did she, downplayed it with affirmations of how she was healing and would be stronger than before. We all knew she was trying to overcome this obstacle with positivity, and naively, there was a part of me that believed her. Or maybe I just wanted to believe her, not wanting to entertain that these could be permanent symptoms. I wanted to believe she would always be strong and healthy.  When she started having pain in her chest we thought, the doctors knew. We trusted them too much. This was exactly the same mistake Laurie had felt she’d made with others, and now it seemed we were doomed to repeat it with her. It all seems so foolish in hindsight. Ezra drove down to Iowa to be with his parents when she had a stress test. The doctor didn’t pursue further tests, or thoroughly investigating as we now know, and instead moved on to try and find another culprit for the pain.

All of this does not matter in hindsight, except that it was her heart. Her beautiful heart. It was this heart that made everyone fall in love with her. A heart that could encompass so much love and make everyone feel so special and cared for and respected. She made you feel like the most important person in the world. It’s hard not to look back and wonder if I made her feel the same in return. She was my mother too and best friend and did I take that for granted? I’ve heard about the regret people feel after a loved one passes, but I’ve never experienced it before. Now I know. Its pointless to dwell, but I have regret from that last weekend we spent with her. Ezra and I were so exhausted from our trips back-and-forth to Alexandria. We were unusually out of sorts and wrapped up in our own exhaustion and world. Months later we still talk about how strangely we both felt that weekend. But how could we have know this was the last precious weekend we’d spend together. I thought we’d see her again the following weekend, again, how foolish.

Laurie passed away early on April 6th, 2017. Writing this is surreal and feels empty. The woman that I would spend hours on the deck with, confiding in and drinking wine. We could connect in such a soulful way. She told me I was her daughter, and I believed she meant it. She thought I was way better than I am. She thought I was spiritual and calm and peaceful. She thought much more highly of me than I deserved. She was the person I looked to for guidance, one of the few people I really trusted. She was the one who was spiritual and peaceful and giving. I’m not sure she ever quite knew her worth. People like Laurie are just so heartbreakingly rare. I have never met anyone like her. I see so much of her in Indra and this gives me immense peace and comfort. My daughter got to meet her Grandma, although, she will never understand just how incredible she was. That is what makes me the most sad. That she will never know and remember her Grandma’s love. But it was also having Indra in our lives during this time that lightened our hearts and offered a welcome distraction.

The following month was a blur and hard to look back on. That first week we stayed at Josh and Jill’s with Dave. We were all together, day in and day out. We needed to be together, and has since bound us more closely.  We had Laurie’s Celebration of Life of life in Iowa. It did not feel like a celebration even though I know Laurie would have wanted it to be. It was a time to get through and survive, and then try to figure out how to move forward. Ezra and I decided to move to Iowa to be with Dave for awhile. The decision felt good. Healing.

As a family unit we all bonded together, each others’ anchors as we sorted through the grief and shock. None of it felt real. How could our Laurie be gone? Going through every possible scenario and trying to figure out where we went wrong, or what could have done differently never made it easier. We never got answers. We just had to accept that our lives were forever changed. The woman we love so dearly, our rock, had passed on. Now it was up to us to honor her through her memories and the valuable lessons she taught us all.

Her three grandchildren in the matching pjs she gave.

Laurie’s ashes. Indra started touching the box and kissed it.

Writing messages of love on these lanterns.

   

Finding joy amongst Laurie’s daffodils on Indra’s first Easter.Nine Months

First Winter

“Of this be sure: you do not find the happy life, you make it.” -Monson

 

Winter has always been the season I dread and complain about all year long. It can be the middle of summer, but on occasion, you can still catch me whining about the upcoming cold. Not exactly a positive outlook. The past couple winters we’d managed to escape the most frigid months and so this winter I was trying to prepare myself. This time I had a new baby and we were driving every week, two hours north, to an even colder climate. I am writing this after the fact, and so my memory may be skewed, but I think we did pretty good. Perhaps it was the excitement of being a new mom or just being busy with this role, that did not allow me the luxury to think about it too much.

 

We decided to take a trip to Des Moines to visit Ezra’s grandma, whom we hadn’t seen in quite a long time. It ended up being fortuitous timing. When we arrived we learned her health and just started to fail and we were grateful to get a few precious hours with her before she passed the following week. She was a woman with strength, courage and kindness. Her family only had the utmost respect for her and the stories were ones that made you realize how rare she was. It was special to have her and Indra meet, as they were passing through different phases of life.

In early January Indra started rolling over like crazy. I think she just needed to gain the confidence and motivation. She loved when we’d clap for her and smiles really big, which may be why she is rolling so much! She is getting more coordinated and observant. Watching my hair blow and when nursing helps to get everything situated and to her mouth.

My mom started coming up one day a week to watch Indra for a couple hours. I could go have a couple hours to myself, but it was hard for me. At first I’d only leave for an hour but eventually that time increased. It was good for the two of them to spend time together and bond as well.

Getting out and soaking up all the green and humidity at the conservatory.Why do I have a Christmas picture in here? Well, I made this little tutu and forgot about it. By the time I realized it it was after the New Year. The tree was still up so… why not? My little sugar plum ferry.Six months old! Sweet and chunky as ever! Nene and Indra hanging out.Getting some Diesel cuddles. Also know as cheating on tummy time.

Funerals are always an unfortunate reason for a family gathering, but it was nice to be around everyone who loved Grandma Dorothy and to celebrate her life.

Indra’s first teeth broke through on January 20th. She hadn’t seemed too bothered all except for an alarming amount of poop and blowouts! She’d also been tired but not sleeping very well. It could’ve been from all the traveling down to Iowa, or teething. I’m not sure. I also noticed her hair starting to get a little thicker and she’s been raising her arms to be picked up when I come over to her. She moves them really excitedly, we call it the little fish! 

Having a daughter makes me so conscious of the inequality in the world and our society. Ezra and I took her to the Women’s March. We want her to grow up feeling strong, capable and able to speak up. Having a child makes you so much more aware of your own behavior and actions. If we want equality, we need to stand up for it. She makes me laugh. Recently she tried eating/kissing my cheek. And sometimes she snorts when she laughs! Here she is, such a helper with the laundry.

This next month I noticed some new tricks. She does this thrashing thing with her head, I guess she’s figured out its attached to her!  She’s starting to grab at Diesel more roughly, but he doesn’t seem to care too much. It makes me nervous though because he’s old, but he’s patient. She put his ear in her mouth and then tried for his tail. I think I got it before it completely went in but his tail was pretty wet. I was pretty grossed out!

Grandma and Grandpa babysat so we could have a date night. We weren’t really in the mood and didn’t have anything planned, so we grabbed a bite and then just walked around a liquor store nearby our apartment. I refused to go back after just one hour, so we killed a little time. I know, so romantic. haha.

She’s starting to hit her music box and figure out that it will play. Grandma is such a patient teacher.Snuggling with Papa.

Ever the cautious mom, I made Indra wait about 7 months to have solids. She didn’t seem that interested so I didn’t feel rushed. I kept trying to remember that “food before one is just for fun.” She finally got some delicious sweet potato mash in her mouth and was less than impressed. Modeling her pretty outfit from Grandma!
Little winter bunny.Riding in the shopping cart for the first time at Joann’s… such a big girl!Cuddling with Nana while she babysat. Nana dressed her up in some of her old baby clothes.I love watching these two snuggle together. Ezra is such a good dad.I mean, like the very best Celebrating Valentine’s at Chevy’s was a little overwhelming for this tired one. Lately when she’s overstimulated or exhausted, it’s like all of a sudden she can’t keep it together anymore, her face will just crumple up and she’ll start crying. She bit Nana on the nose too! It’s not just you mom, she just bit me on the nipple for the first time.

She’s starting to give lots of kisses. I got like five in a row  – open mouthed, a little tongue, and slobbery but pretty sweet! She loves giving Soren kisses, she always goes right in for a smooch with him! Unfortunately, she cried when she saw Josh, which is the first time she’s had any sort of stranger anxiety. Hopefully it’ll pass quickly.

I’m trying to get pictures of her every three months or so. It’s so hard for me to notice the little changes because I see her every day. Ez will be gone for a few days and then comment on how different she looks. It sort of blows me away, because I can never tell. Plus, I have a horrible memory, so I figure it will be fun to look back and remember how little and sweet she is.  These are about 7-month old pictures, I must have missed my 6-month reminder.           

 

Trying to get her attached to this bunny. It was her birth gift from Ezra and I. It’s an organic handmade bunny made by a family in a lovely hamlet in Germany. Basically it was super expensive and I want her to love it!

This picture was totally posed! She did not fall asleep with the bunny like this! haha.

Sometimes when she’s asleep I’m torn as to whether I want to snuggle her, nap or go take a few minutes for myself. Napping usually wins out, but not today, it’s photoshoot day.

Celebrating her first Valentine’s day. Ez was gone so we celebrated a day late, but no matter!Her delicious new book from our Hawaiian friend.7-month old pictures!Absolutely beautiful weather in February calls for a walk by the lake.

I took Indra on her first flight, solo. It was a rough day. What should have been a short flight to Champaign took us about 10 hours and we both ended up with a cold… her first cold with a low-grade fever, congestion and cough. It was pretty horrible. I was worried to be away from Ez and her doctor. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. Sammy was helpful in calming my anxiousness and helping me to know what was normal. We got very little sleep these few days, but I’m still glad we went and visited my sister.  

There’s nothing better than cousins, except perhaps matching cousins!
A lot of love going on in this picture.We went to the park one day and she sat in a swing for about 30 seconds, she wasn’t into it.I remember when Zoe was this little and I would give her baths. Where did the time go?

Thankfully the return flight went much more smoothly. No delays, no missed flights, no rude airline attendants. It was such a relief to return home to Ez. We all missed each other.

All of a sudden Indra seemed to change, even though its hard to pinpoint how exactly. More of her personality is coming out and she seem less like a baby. She’s funny and plays a lot with her toys, she likes hitting blocks together. Ez thought she started looking different too – more defined features. She’s talking a lot saying “mamamamama” and “bah bah.” When she’s really tired she’ll cry dramatically and then just stop, nurse and fall asleep. 

           I’m biased of course, but I think she is just the sweetest.

Indra’s has been a little more attached lately, needing extra comfort and touch. She always sleeps with her legs on top of mine, but lately she’s been sort of crying in her sleep. She gets up in the middle of the night then wakes every hour whimpering. She also did this during her 4 month sleep regression. I’m wondering whats happening in that little body of hers.

Ever since she was little, she’ll smiles up at you and sort of blink her eyes. It’s pretty cute.

    Ever the sense of humor with this one!She just noticed she can see me by turning around in her carseat if I peak over at her. This seems to bring her a lot of comfort. All of a sudden it seems like she knows her name too… at least sometimes.  She’s lunging forward – not crawling yet, but she’s getting close. She ends up on her belly and will sometimes move side to side with her arms. She thinks touching noses is funny and  loves watching me stick out my tongue. She’s trying to do it too. She squawks at me when she wants to be picked up and held, and when she’s excited she’ll raise her hands up and flail them. 

I woke up and saw these two dancing to “Landslide.” This is one of my favorite pictures and moments captured. It gave me such a sense of melancholy. Being a mom makes you realize how fleeting it all is.Learning to drink from a straw.Hey mom, I’m just loungin’.Sitting for snack at ECFE.My baby is 8 months old. How can that be?Other tricks – she’s trying out a new laugh and a cluck/tsking noise. Cords, phones and computers are the bomb. She loves them. She says hi, but it sounds like “heee” and she’s trying out “dada.” It also looked like she waved, but sometimes I wonder “did she?”

Uh, why is this guy holding me? A little nervous around Papa these days.

She’s been lifting her arms up and grabbed Nana’s hands to be pulled up. She tried to pull herself up on the bed rail too. She’s going to be mobile before I know it.

She’s a little weary of guys right now, especially those with facial hair. It’s pretty scary!She sits and clicks, she just loves clicking her tongue.   

Indra likes to lay back and lean against me sometimes. She is starting to act like a kid. Her milk sign is looking more and more like a milk sign. She got upset when I stopped nursing her to cook. She fussed at me and then made the sign twice very clearly. I’ve been doing baby led weaning although it makes me a little nervous and trying to get her to drink from a real glass, she’s pretty good until she decided to dump it all over.

 She’s been ducking her head and looking sideways at things quizzically and sits with her legs in a V shape and kind of taps her feet playing around.Reaching out for Nana and it made her day!When she’s nursing sometimes she’ll grab my hand and hold it.I know these days of her sleeping in my arms are numbered. I gave her broccoli this week. Mmm, you just suck on it right?

 It’s been hard getting Indra down for naps and bed lately – she’s not quite ready to drop a nap but its at the point where its about every other day. She’s been getting really wild at bedtime. She’ll make a “bah bah bah bah bah” sound or start clicking. That’s when I know she’s getting close to sleep. She also discovered she can fake cry. Like a newborn fake cry. It’s horrible. Her eyes will even get red so its really hard to tell if its real. But she can turn it off in an instant – I’m not a fan.

 Birth class playdate!

She’s starting to make a blowing sounds.       

 The weather is finally nice and so we’re going out for walks! It’s fun to all go out together! We also just discovered Indra has two more teeth up top.

Indra loves kids, she starts clapping her hands she gets so excited. I feel bad that I don’t have more kids for her to be around. Driving back to Mpls I saw her clapping and practicing the milk sign in the mirror. She’s also getting better control of her body. She fell backwards but did it in slow motion and caught herself on her elbows. She propped herself up on her hands from her tummy and it seems like its clicking that she needs to get her legs under her. She laughed when she saw me watching her, she was really proud of herself. She’s not quite crawling yet, but literally any moment!

Jill noticed a third tooth poking through up top and then we noticed a fourth the next day. Just hanging with the boys.Grandma was teaching Indra patty cake and spoiling with gifts. She really started clapping after all the practicing.Grandma and Grandpa let us out on another date! I had a Martini in the afternoon… what a treat.

It’s almost too much for me to write, but this was the last day we saw Laurie and the last good picture I have of Indra with her Grandma. I suppose I am writing about Indra mostly in this post because the winter was challenging and while I didn’t really enjoy it, nothing much happened either. Ez and I were apart a lot because of bad driving conditions. We were looking at a new apartment in Alexandria trying to make the situation better for me and Indra. This last weekend we spent with Laurie and Dave.Last few days of blissful existence before all of our lives would change.A dad and his sweet girl.

 

Indra’s First Christmas

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” – Mabie

This little cherub face brought me so much joy over the holiday season. As I’ve gotten older sometimes I feel like I’ve lost some of my zest for life. That raw enthusiasm and unapologetic wonder and delight. But this year was different, I was reminded of how the world looks through new eyes, and to be quite honest, it seemed a little magical.

The first half of the month we saw some new little changes with Indra. She would see herself in the mirror and just go wild with excitement. She loves babies. She finally debuted her roll from belly-to-back and decided why do it just once, when you can now repeat it.

Two of my favorite things! The only things that can brighten my day after a long and mostly sleepless night.

I can’t help but to take a million pictures of Indra. I have gotten so far behind on these posts because of the sheer amount of pictures to go through. And, as you can see, I’m not very good at narrowing that number down. But it’s all these little firsts that I just cherish. For example, it felt like she hugged me for the first time. She was holding on so hard I probably could have let go. She rubs my stomach when she’s nursing, its the beginning of what feels like affection. I love her so much. I love her for the sake of loving her, it’s almost a surprise to feel like I might get some of that love back. I don’t need her to reciprocate, but it makes life so much happier.

We took her to the European Christmas market and happened across the best Santa and some cold nippy weather.She is becoming more interactive. It seems like she tries to give kisses and to use signs. When I ask if she wants milk she starts to move her hand. Her teeth are starting to bother her and we’ve been getting a lot of dirty diapers – she is not a fan. Chamomile tablets seem to help, or maybe its just wishful thinking.

Here Indra is helping me with laundry!

A girl and her cat!

I was having a bit of a hard time this month. Ezra was in Alexandria and because of weather or various other factors, Indra and I stayed home some weeks. I never used to mind being at home alone, but with a baby it made me nervous. It was just me, the sole caregiver during those times and I felt anxious. It was hard for me to relax. Perhaps it was lack of sleep, perhaps it was still hormones, I don’t know – but I had a couple nights of intense feelings. Ezra surprised me by making the two hour drive home. He had to leave early the next morning, but that surprise was one of the best in my life. And one I desperately needed.

Trimming the Christmas tree!Wanting to create some new family traditions we all boarded the Polar Express for a ride through the North Pole. We are a family that loves trains.

Trying to force this bunny on her (emotionally). It’s so easy to let the days pass quickly, thoughtlessly. These moments holding my daughter are the essence of what life is all about. Having her makes me slow down and be present. It makes me want to be better, and to breath that moment in before it disappears. We have snow!

Hearing that Macys was closing I wanted to go to the 8th floor one last time. It was something my mom always took us to do. We decided to take Indra to see Santa there. He was perhaps the most uninspired Santa I’ve ever met. I don’t think he even cracked a smile once. For parents who don’t plan to teach their child about Santa, we sure saw a lot of them this winter!

The Holidazzle. We arrived right before closing time, so we found the most important tent, a beer tent, and settled in for a bit.
I had a renewed desire for Indra to take a bottle. It never really happens.Five months!!
Bonding with great-grandma Sandy at Grandpa Dave’s retirement party. It’s Christmas in Iowa! Let the party begin! Lots of snuggles from Grandma. She couldn’t love her grandkids any more if she tried. This may be my favorite picture of all time. Snug in Grandma’s arms on a chilly winter morning. There is so much love captured here. Putting money in her Elephant Bank.Our little family celebrated on Christmas Eve morning. Forging some new traditions with Creme Brulee french toast and mimosas of some sort. Do you really need anything more than that?  Indra got a little Red Flyer wagon and we were all pretty happy. Off to Nana and Papa’s to celebrate on Christmas Eve. Indra and Ez stayed behind when we all went to church. Ezra talked about how special that time was. Holding Indra in the quiet house. I don’t quite grasp what made that time so special, but I understand how those moments happen. What a wonderful peaceful moment. Isn’t that truly the spirit of the season? Aunt Nene is silly.Christmas morning. My two sweeties. Presents, and more presents.Back at our apartment that night we did our other tradition. Fettuccine alfredo and I had to dress Diesel up. I knew this was probably his last Christmas and I just needed to see him in his hat and beard one more time. Cousins are the best! They really got a belly laugh going out of Indra.

By the end of the month we’re noticing how much more she notices. The ceiling, the lights, her hands. She is sitting upright better, more sturdy, it won’t be long until she sits on her own. She has started dropping her ball and book. Sometimes it seems like she forgets and then sometimes she reaches for them. She pulls at our clothes and reaches for our faces. She peed three drops in her toilet today and took a bath in the little tub without the insert. She played with her duck in the water and is crying more to express herself. Basically, she is growing up. 

I finally sold her bassinet. But not without one last nap and first documenting how big she’s gotten.

New Year’s Eve! May 2017 bring joy to us all!

First Fall

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.” -Naeem Callaway

Indra is three months old now and so much has changed. I’m feeling more secure in this new role. I’m making mom friends and joined an ECFE class. Because we don’t know how to keep things simple, Ez took a job in Alexandria, which means a two hour commute back-and-forth every week. Indra has a hard time in the car, so for the two of us, this was a three to four hour drive. After all, it takes some time to stop and shed tears together! There were weeks we were unable to go to Alexandria, so with some trepidation, I stayed home alone with a three-month old. Despite these obstacles we are hoping for the best, grateful that Ezra had this opportunity, and know we were working towards our future. Living in a one bedroom and taking this job was for a purpose. We were working towards our dream, and that dream was now even more important with a baby.

Birth Class friends

Not a fan of tummy time, but more enjoyable at ECFE.
Fall photos at Nana and Papa’s.
  This little chick’s first time trick-or-treating!    In just this one month Indra changed so much. She became so observant and aware. She’d watch me eat pineapple is complete fascination, or watch feathers above her swaying, or notice Diesel walking by. She began to hold on to things. She likes to stand and started to put her hands on my face. When I’d say “kiss” she opens her mouth. She’s wants to be more mobile, trying to roll over and scoot out of her chair. She did finally complete a roll from back to front! She does the boat pose which everyone finds hilarious. It’s her pilates move. She has a crazy strong core and will lift both legs up and slap them down, like a whale tale. She is starting to grasp at her toys and holds rattles and found her thumb. She makes this “kheeee” sound. She slept in a crib for the first time! She started a sleep regression. She got sick for the first time – just a low-grade fever but enough to freak me out. She does a little fishy move with her arms. She holds onto me when she nurses and makes a “hmmmm mmmm mmm” sound. She likes to scratch at the mesh in her bassinet and loves the Regalo label on the toddler rail. She notices everything! 

Buds

But the best change is seeing more and more of her personality coming out. We’re starting to see who she really is. She is the happiest baby. Everyone, and I mean everyone, comments on it – strangers, relatives, friends, everyone. When someone smiles she smiles back, its just an automatic reaction. Her eyes light up and a smile flashes across her face. Even when she’s tired she will (almost) always reward you with a sweet smile. Even Diesel is drawn to her. A grumpy old cat that seeks her out. As soon as we lay her down, he runs across the room and plops down next to her. He loves to nuzzle her with his head or place his paw on her.
A collage of friendship!

First time volunteering at ARC! Dancing and doing affirmations in the mirror.
Four months – how did that happen! Thanksgiving – BonEash style.   As her mom, I want to remember everything. But since I have a bad memory I need pictures. I even want to remember her sad and tired faces. 

I always thought it sounded so cliché, but seriously where has the time gone? Every moment feels like such a gift, I try to focus on how lucky I am to have this precious time, not on how fleeting it is. Its like a mandala, these beautiful little moments that I can’t hang on to. They’re impermanent. Being a mother makes me in the moment like I’ve never been before.Just snapshots of our days.
Hanging out at Target. No crying and just chilling in the cart to her white noise.

Its official, Indra is a snuggler. She never wants to be put down. Carry her, wear her, lay down with her, its all fine. We traded the bassinet for the crib, but she still sleeps with us. I worried for awhile about doing everything all wrong. Then I read something that resonated with me – babies were happier when worn and slept with their parents. I decided right then and there that I would just go with my intuition and take her lead. My goal as a mother is for Indra to trust me. So much development is happening in her brain these first three years, I want those happy neurological pathways to be formed and reinforced! If my tiny baby wants touch and reassurance, well then I am happy to give it to her. No more second guessing and questioning.  It seems to make us all happy. In our ECFE class Ezra and I said our favorite moment is when Indra wakes up and looks between the two of us and just smiles. We’re a little unit of love and happiness.

Hanging out by the lake in Alexandria. Trying to soak in some sun and good spirits.
Hey look, I have a thumb!A sunny fall weekend with Grandma and Grandpa. Time to buy a crib! Officially outgrown the bassinet she never sleep in. We don’t want to say goodbye.

Baby cage!

First time voting – We’re With Her! One of our favorite pastimes is simplifying and minimizing. During this pursuit we found some technology from the past. Sambusa Sunday with the Somalian community. Showing our support!I don’t like tummy time, but I can’t help but smile anyway!

 So happy to see my Illinois cousins!  First grainy Thanksgiving family picture!Grandma’s girl Because baby butts are cute… and funny. Bathtime!

fourth trimester

“Meeting you was like listening to a song for the first time and knowing it would be my favorite.”

The fourth trimester. These first three months with Indra were pretty incredible. After that first month at home we took her out into the world. Okay, maybe not the world but our little corner of it, and it was exciting. Everything was a new adventure to be experienced for the first time. We were reminded how the world looks through a child’s eyes. We introduced Indra to our family and friends and complete strangers. It took some getting used to, having random people stopping to chat all the time – but I’ve come to love it. What ground is more common and an immediate connection than children.img_0993img_0765Indra's first month (3)-1IMG_0926-1Indra's first month (2)-1Indra's first month (5)-1Indra's first month (10)-1
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Our first foray out in a month – celebrating my birthday with a cafe, walk along the river and a trip to Target.

img_8535img_8538img_8545Going to lunch with Nana and Papa.img_8591One month old – how can that be?img_9807-1img_0948img_9562-1-collage-1After two weeks of paternity leave Ezra went back to work. There are ideal jobs and then, drag-yourself-out-of-bed-with-dread jobs. This job was the latter. So we were giddy with joy when, serendipitously, the opportunity to leave came. Yes, we were a little nervous to have a new baby and both be unemployed. But we are masters of frugality, and also, if there ever is a time to use credit cards, now was that time. The next month-and-a-half had its stress while Ez looked for a new role, but most mornings he’d spend a couple hours with Indra and let me sleep. He could actually be home for dinners and the weekends were mostly ours. It was beautiful how the timing happened. Those days were fleeting and precious. The memories are already a little hazy, but were so special, and we were lucky to have so much time together.img_8571Celebrating Ez’s 40th with family, bars, breweries and a walk.
img_0975img_8602 img_8610Daddy’s girlimg_8620 img_8632-collageSo many hours spent looking at this sweet face.
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img_1012First time walking along the trail to the grocery store. Only a minimal amount of crying. It felt like a mom win! img_1015This was the first time it felt like she was holding onto me. It deserved a grainy picture, right?img_1017-1img_8654Wanting desperately to remember all her sweet and silly faces.img_1021-collageimg_8656img_8661 img_1072-movEverything Indra did was important to us. At a week we were surprised when she found her thumb and started smiling. We gave her her first bath around three weeks. I noticed she started touching me more while nursing and pushing off of me with her little feet. We tried a pacifier but to no avail. We would continue trying and she would continue to resist. Then there was the bottle, which like the pacifier, was met with skepticism. Why take a bottle when you can get it straight from the tap?img_1074At about four weeks we thought we saw her first real awake smile. Followed by a steady stream that seems to never stop.
img_1088Except for when it does!img_8707-collage img_1091img_8713-collageLabor Day at the beach with family.
img_8723Happy little Buddha baby.img_1099So many precious hours spent holding and rocking this little being.
img_8768img_8786-collageWatching her puffins.img_1121 img_1128Our attempt to keep her warm while bathing always made her look a little like a friar or Leonardo da Vinci. She didn’t seem to mind.img_8754-collageGoing out as a family I felt proud and happy, and slightly overwhelmed figuring out all the ins-and-outs of parenting… and all this baby gear. There was a bit of anxiousness navigating the new role, but like anything, it just took a little time to gain confidence.  We started venturing a little further afield.img_8836img_8840img_1141

We discovered that she really didn’t like the being in the carseat. Perhaps there is nothing more stressful for a new mom than not having the ability to immediately pick up their crying baby. I would frantically pull over and get in the backseat to nurse, and start sobbing too. If there’s one goal I have, it’s for Indra to trust me. When she needs me, I always want to be available and present. This foundation is built young. What this means in terms of my actions, will of course morph over the years. However, right now, when she cries – I respond. 
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img_1140Every baby is so different and we were learning about ours.img_8879She has a spirit that immediately struck us as special (we are unabashedly biased). She was so aware right from the moment she arrived. Being a first time mom you don’t know what makes your baby unique, you don’t have anything to compare it to. Everyone who meets her, or just walks by for that matter, stops and comments on how aware she is. How could she be so young and taking everything in that way? She is a sweet little girl that would prefer to be held at all times, snuggling in, touching and smiling up at you. She has a smile for everyone – it’s an automatic reflex. Even when overly tired – if you smile at her, she will reward you with one back. Except when in the aforementioned carseat, of course.

img_8888 Walking with auntie Jill and Levi.img_1197img_8898-collageimg_9134I hadn’t given a ton of thought to what our sleeping arrangement would be, but our little snuggler decided for us. And we would resume “the position” every nap and every night.

img_9151img_9157img_9174 img_9172Two months!
img_9256First Annual Apple Orchard trip.IMG_9720img_9744img_9358-collageimg_9393img_9794img_9406At about six weeks we noticed her cooing and babbling, and we thought we heard her laugh in her sleep. She was getting strong and already trying to sit up in her chair and holding her head up. She’s started following people with her eyes. We started hearing her laugh – all the time. She’s so happy. 
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img_9420img_9437img_1291She started experimenting with her sounds and likes having conversations. She babbles, I talk, then she babbles some more. She cries less, and instead, is using different sounds to try and express what she wants. She resists tummy-time so we started working on it more. A baby cobra started to emerge – although mastery is still far off.