Friday, June 24, 2011

Adventures in Sippy Cup

Today Zoey is 9 months old!! Not even realizing it, last night we had her try a sippy cup for the 2nd time (the first was a few months ago when she was forced to because Daddy took the bottle out of the diaper bag and didn't tell Mommy). Her doctor said we needed to start practicing with a cup so she gets the hang of it. It also helps babies transition from sucking in liquids to drinking, and aids in learning how to use other eating utensils. Unfortunately, her sippy cup is of the novelty variety, having been purchased from the ASU Bookstore, which we didn't learn until Zoey used it to bathe herself in formula.

First, we tried a Nuk waterbottle of sorts. I think it's supposed to be a combination of a bottle and sippy cup because I think a certain amount of sucking is still involved. She didn't quite get the hang of it, which I have a hard time believing. Apparently, she holds her bottle all the time while at Auntie Rachael's house but adamantly refuses while at home; so we aren't really sure if she can do it or not.

Either way, the little Princess wasn't up to holding the waterbottle thing so we moved on to the sippy cup.

Jacob fully expected to have to bring her arms up to the sippy cup and help her figure out how to use it. But we discovered long ago that she is already way smarter than us. Nope, she popped out knowing exactly how to use a sippy cup. The only thing now is to buy a proper one so she doesn't think a shower of formula will be the result. Even still, she was quite a refined sippy cup-user.

 With her pinkie in the air.

 Showin' off her mad skills, already. Look, Mom, one hand!

She looks like she's just enjoying her morning cup of Joe.

It looks like sippy cup will be added to our shopping list for the weekend! :-)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who Knew "Fat n' Happy" Was a Real Thing?

If you're among the 9 unfortunate souls who follow me on Twitter (I'm sorry), then you know I'll talk about pretty much anything. It's not a narcissistic belief that anything I might have to say might help someone else, but I suppose you never know; it could be a byproduct of my narcissistic belief that people even care what I have to say at any given moment (I mean, it does take effort to punch in this website, right?). This space is for us to share Zoey with the people closest to us even though they aren't able to be physically close. But it's also our lives and it's not all happy babies and silly stories (last night, for example, Miss Crabby Pants emerged. And, no, I'm not talking about me). It all started with the birth of the baby......

My OB/GYN informed me that the baby weight would melt off with my first baby, be a little more difficult with the second, and be downright impossible with my third. Good thing we aren't planning to go beyond two. But I hadn't expected quite the melt-down I experienced.

Given my intense morning sickness through the 4th month of my pregnancy, I dropped 20 pounds in the first 3 months. Days before giving birth, I weighed in at 187-pounds, a total gain of 71-pounds. But considering my extremely low tolerance for processed foods, once I have birth, I immediately lost 15 pounds of water weight.

As my body steadily went back to pre-baby shape, the weight continued to melt off. And melt it did until I almost vanished into thin air (PUN!). I noticed my appetite change only in the fact that I could never finish a meal; I'd always reach that point of nauseating fullness before I could even see the china pattern on my plate. And although I continued to eat, I also continued to lose weight; approximately 2-4 pounds every 2 weeks. Once I returned to the weight I had been at my sickest during pregnancy, then dipped below, I thought medical intervention might be necessary. So the day after Zoey checked out beautifully at her doctor, I had my own appointment.

My doctor was less-than friendly, with a poor bedside manner. But since I'm not one of those "doctor people" (i.e. those who go for every sniffle), I decided I didn't much care. This was the first time I went to the doctor without having a human growing in my belly, or needing a physical in order to try out for cheerleading. It was an interesting thing to answer, "So, what are you in for today?" with, "I keep [unintentionally] losing weight." Most everyone I told scoffed at me and told me what an actual problem is, including my doctor (well, not really the second part, but she did act like I'm the lamest person to walk the planet).

Taking a cue from Glamour magazine, I wrote down my "symptoms" so I wouldn't leave out anything to discuss. I opted out of pointing out my constant ingrown toenails, that just didn't seem real important. She asked me a series of questions and took a variety of notes, and after drawing some blood to determine nothing was physically wrong with me, came to her conclusion. Drum roll please.............


We discussed my food intake and she fought back a smile as she told me I just wasn't eating enough to support my height and the calories I was burning off. So now I have homework - to keep a food journal, and suck down my new happy pill at the same time every day. I make light of it because it's a very interesting malady to have to face.

For starters, depression is not all it appears on the commercials. Sure there are a plethora of mopey moments, but the majority are uber-emotional, a heightened sense of being aware, and caring way more than anyone should. It's really rather stressful, I can understand why anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand. Compounding the problem is that being diagnosed with depression is depressing in and of itself. Now, not only are you a statistic, but you're admitting, mostly to yourself, that you're not happy with your current state of living. I have to conclude that most of the struggle comes from just admitting that you have a problem and that you aren't the same person you used to know. AND that you need medication and counseling to fix problems in your life that you can't physically grasp a hold of.

Whether you, the guy down the street, Brooke Shields, or Tom Cruise believe it or not, Postpartum Depression exists and can be diagnosed up to a year after giving birth. My OB/GYN feared I was suffering from this based on my 6-week postpartum check-up. Given the court cases splashed all over the news for mothers murdering their children as a result, my doctor hounded me for months but I never followed up. I have to admit that this whole time I was living inside of my head and out - knowing I felt irrational and erratic but succumbing to it anyway. Finally, when I scared myself with my own weight loss, I decided I had to talk to someone other than my husband, who probably wished there was still a semblance of the woman he married still in there somewhere. Mostly, though, I was just pissed none of my clothes fit.

So, like I said before, I am to journal everything I eat while taking an anti-depressant every day. I have another appointment the beginning of July, and my blood work all came back fine, concluding I'm physically healthy; my brain just doesn't work right. I've been taking my Puppy Uppers (or Doggy Downers, depending on how you look at it) for almost 2 weeks. I could slowly start to feel the effects, and I noticed a definite shift in my temperament, especially in dealing with things that generally displease me. I'm more clear, able to communicate my thoughts and feelings better, and can better understand what people are saying to me without thinking every syllable is meant as a personal attack. It has helped with other things as well, like limiting how much control I feel I should have; I no longer berate myself if the house still looks like a disaster after the weekend. And as far as eating goes, well that was like night and day. I woke up one morning FAMISHED and my appetite has been slowly returning to normal, so I am on the fast-track to non-emaciation. Regardless, I was afraid they would become the cobblestones on my path to unfeeling and uncaring but that has been far from the truth.

I found it beneficial that I was able to feel the effects of my new pills relatively quickly. And perhaps I was lucky enough to find a pill that works with my body (others can be less fortunate and have to try a variety of different medications with their corresponding side-effects), but I was most pleased with learning that they didn't take me directly to Unfeeling-ville, and that I'm still able to care about what is most important and feel anxious at appropriate times; operative word being appropriate.

Initially, I wanted to avoid any and all synthetic medications that ultimately messed with the chemicals in my brain. But I realized I couldn't continue on the way I was - emotionally unbalanced, stressed, tired, and dangerously closed to malnourished. So, in the end, I'm happy I was able to find something to right my system. The eventual goal is to be weened off the medication, your brain having been "taught" the appropriate levels of chemicals and hormones to release and when. I'm sure it will happen just as I'm ready to have another baby. And, you know - truth be told - I probably should have been taking anti-depressants long before I had a baby. :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


When did summertime become synonymous with being too busy to take a shit, except in the morning? It used to be wake up when you could no longer ignore the sun, stay in pajamas as long as possible even if there is yard work to do, lazily tackle the to-do list taped to the refrigerator, catch every episode of Saved by the Bell that ran, followed by California Dreams, and hurriedly do the dishes before Mom got home. Now, I find myself counting down until winter so we have some time to breath in and out.

It seemed that as soon as it hit June 1st, life as we knew it was over. I met my book club friends for a non-book-related meeting at The Rockpile, which always proves to be a good time and an excellent way to unwind. I even impressed myself by staying out until 9:04pm. The following week, Zoey and I both had doctor's appointments, hers more routine. She received vaccinations which she was only pissed about as they were happening, but otherwise checked out beautifully. She's about 20-pounds and, I'm sorry, I was too busy holding Miss Squirmy Squirm to notice how "tall" she is. But the doctor compared her to 9-month olds (she was 8 and a half months) and she was in the 75th percentile for height and weight.

To kick off our summer of being insanely busy, Jacob and I spent most of the beginning of June celebrating our best friends' impending nuptials; just not together. His best friend was getting married on June 18th so a bachelor party was in the works from the 16th through the 17th, of which I still haven't caught the full details of (but I was pleased to learn the bride had banned strippers). At the same time, my best friend in Denver was celebrating her final days as a bachelorette, so Jacob and I had to separate for a few days. But that also meant I had to separate myself from Zoey.

When presented with an opportunity to visit Denver, I never turn it down. I felt that if there was ever a time I needed to recharge my batteries with "home," this was it. Unfortunately, I was just a tad wrong. My "home" had turned into a concrete jungle of buildings, freeway off-ramps, parking lots, and medians. I hadn't spent a whole lot of time in Denver before so I was used to feeling lost. But Conifer looked the exact same way. I called my mom from Starbucks. In Conifer. In one of the many strip malls that now pepper the small, mountain town. It made me quite sad, actually since I didn't recognize a single thing. It definitely wasn't the home I had remembered. It was nice, however, to see that Evergreen hadn't changed much.

 Good, old Denver, slowly being swallowed up by concrete, cars and pollution. I was actually one of those people that comment on the Brown Cloud, having gotten so used to the minimal pollution in Billings; even with the oil refineries.

 The last familiarity of Conifer.....

 This is really the only part of the old Conifer left. Even still, it's now a Staples....I just can't get over that....

Like I mentioned before, Evergreen remained relatively the same, minus the traffic light which no one really knows how to use. It is rather complicated for a mountain road intersection.

This is the very old building in which my mother used to have her clothing store, which shared the building with the gift store I spent some time working in during high school. The building had been there for over 50 years. It may have had a fresh coat of paint on it but that was pretty much the only thing holding it together. That and raccoon poop. I don't remember what happened - if anything. I'll have to ask my mother. But both the clothing and gift store needed to vacate the building while it was to be remolded. Instead, it was condemned 3 years ago and they aren't sure what is going to ultimately happen to it. For now it's just a place for the Evergreen City of Commerce to post event advertisements.

I only spent a little time in Denver, and passed through Evergreen on my way to the airport to go home. It was, in all honesty, a little depressing. The last time I was in Colorado it was to meet up with Jacob after 16 years. Without him I felt like I was having a less than stellar dream; something I can tolerate but ultimately making me feel uncomfortable.

I had no idea what was wrong with me during this trip. Well, that's not true; I knew exactly what was wrong with me: I was a new mommy away from her baby and hubby for the first time. But I thought it would be like riding a bicycle to jump back into the way I used to live my life, flying (oftentimes solo) to some corner of the country or other. I could navigate any airport I encountered. This time, however, I could barely get my driver's license out of my wallet.

The groups of girls I went on this trip with were busy bees who were just up for some serious relaxation. Me with my new motherhood, Liz with her med school, Jess with her businesses, and Danielle with her classes and work, we all had serious trouble making any sort of decision because we all probably would have been happy just sitting and staring into space. Or maybe that was just me. At any rate, as we drove to our locale - Santa Fe, New Mexico - we engaged in sporadic conversation amidst long moments of silence spent enjoying the scenery, and the fact that we weren't doing what we should have been doing at that hour of the day.

I arrived in Denver on Tuesday and we left Wednesday morning for New Mexico. With the raging fire closing the interstate, we took a state highway, probably a pretty scary highway if you're not at all familiar with mountain roads. In fact, whenever I have a dream where I'm driving, it's always taking place on 285. The drive took about 8 hours but we made more than a few stops, and we got caught in more than a few construction zones. Either way, it was still enjoyable. We listened to music, chatted, or just enjoyed where we were. But for as much as I was enjoying myself, I was just as anxious.

When I came home, my mom told me she could hear my nerves were frayed every time we spoke on the phone. And I did have an intense moment of anxiety during dinner one night where a phone call to mom, who prescribed Starbucks, was the only cure. I of course missed Jacob and Zoey, but I knew they were safe and taken care of. I felt I was able to relax, and I even allowed myself to once or twice, but it never quite took. Even still, I had a lot of fun and laughs with some of my best friends, and we made great memories. That is ultimately what matters.

 This picture doesn't even do Santa Fe justice. It is by far the coolest city I have every seen. It reminds me of an offspring between Costa Rica, Mexico and Tucson. The architecture is amazing, the shopping is incredible, the food is equally incredible, and every person you encounter has taken their happy pill. I seriously can't wait to visit again.

 The fabulous dinner where everyone got something so out-of-this-world-fantastic. The vegetarian plate - something I wouldn't normally go for - (and didn't) was incredible.

 I gave this man a dollar, is that cheap or steep? I don't know. But he played Mexican music with the harp and it was so beyond cool. It was like nothing I had ever heard before, and I actually preferred it to traditionally Mexican music.

 Before I had to leave early (I had to be back by Friday to attend Jacob's friend's rehearsal and dinner), we had lunch since we failed at finding a Mexican restaurant the night before.

 Ohhhhh definitely!! Something from here is definitely a Sign of the Pampered Maiden!! Jessica found the most beautiful purse ever made, but just couldn't justify it. ;-)

Jacob had fun during his bachelor outing as well. Although camping turned into walking back and forth between the groom's dad's house and the one bar in town, Jacob still had an enjoyable time. Like me, he wasn't all that excited with leaving Zoey; my mom said he wasn't in too big of a hurry to get out the door. But while I was feeling anxious, so was Jacob, his stomach in knots the entire time I was gone. I learned that when I got home, after I found it impossible to eat a brownie, I had been clenching my jaw the entire time I was gone. And I guess you could say that Jacob and I missed each other an extraordinary amount. You never realize it until you dissolve into a puddle of tears when you're picked up from the airport.

We only got to spend a little time at home and Zoey napped through most of it; we had to drive to Reed Point for Jacob's best friend's wedding rehearsal and dinner. We were late and ended up missing dinner but made it for the rehearsal. Jacob is so cute, I swear!!

 The bride is in the grey sweatshirt, directing everyone. She made them do it three times. :-) Totally worth it as the ceremony turned out beautifully!

 Apparently, part of the bachelor festivities from the night before had been to construct and erect (heehee, erect) the altar.

We didn't stay long but figured Zoey would be in bed by the time we got home Friday evening anyway. We were wrong. She stayed up just long enough to visit with us before conking out in her crib. She was up early the next morning and antsy to be out of her crib. I can't quite decide if she wakes up to the extra morning light and fears she's been left behind, or something, or....what........And, unfortunately, we did have to get ready and leave, which she fussed through most of.

Even though the wedding wasn't supposed to start until 3:30pm, the bride wanted us to arrive around noon so Jacob could don his best-man tuxedo. *swoon* I didn't really know what to do, so I just followed them around all afternoon. After hanging with girls for 4 days, and then hanging with just boys, it was quite the shock to my system.... :-)

 The groom demanded two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so Super Groomsmen to the rescue! The one who isn't Jacob decided it was a great idea to put a chocolate chip cookie in the sandwich. It wasn't.

 You ever wondered what the guys do before the ceremony? Well, now you do.

 Bein' sexy men; especially one in particular.

 Pre-wedding and cocktails, anything to stay away from the house where the bride and her girls were getting ready and having their picture taken.

 The officiant, who also happened to be the bride's sister. It was a beautiful ceremony and even included the Apache blessing Jacob and I had in our wedding.

 The groom.

 He didn't look to thrilled to be doing this. But he spotted me in the crowd and gave me the 6th grade grin I knew and loved.

 The bride. She wore her mother's veil from the '70's, which looked stunning, and reminded me of my own mother's veil.

Jacob is seriously the best husband ever. Here he is, eating his dinner with his fellow groomsmen who are, by law, allowed to go through the buffet second the bride and groom. As I waited in the long line behind him with his family, he showed up to my table with a plate already made for me. :-)

I'll admit, Jacob and I were quite the spectacle at his friend's wedding. People remarked to us throughout most of the day on how much in love we were, and how it just radiates from us. One woman - ok, so what if she was drunk? - asked when our special day was. Oh, we said, we're already married.

We stayed long enough for the speeches, the cutting of the cake, the first dance, the dollar dances, and long enough to sway in a circle to half of that Garth Brooks song about a river and it being a dream...or something.....

We didn't make it home in time to tuck Zoey into bed; saying goodbye at a wedding often takes about an hour. But we got to spend the entire next day with her as we went up to Columbus to spend Father's Day with her other grandparents. At the same time, Jacob sold one of his cars, and my mom spent some more time with her inlaws. All in all, it was a perfect way to unwind from our super-busy week - a lot of easy-going laughs and family. All we needed was Dad but he was on his way back from Arizona on his motorcycle. He was close but still wouldn't make it to Billings before Monday afternoon.

Monday evening my parents went to the home opener of the Billings Mustangs baseball team (double A, quadruple A, step up from little league, I have no idea.....) while Jacob and I spent some quality time with The Zoe. Tuesday we went to dinner at The Vig where our friend is the executive chef. He was awesome enough to cook us dinner and it turned out amazing!

For now, things are back to normal, except that Mom and Dad are borrowing our dogs for a week. They miss having dogs but aren't able to own them because of all the traveling they do. They especially would want one for their time in Wyoming, but it won't be made a permanent residence. So Louis and Durbin are spending this week at Summer Camp, AKA Spoiltown and MyParentsSuckville. I already miss them. I told Jacob I turned around to yell at one of them but no one was there. Just now, Jacob heard a dog barking and had the urge to run to the door and yell, "Durbin! No barking!"

We're happy to have things calmed down for a bit. This weekend I'll make another attempt at my garden, and we desperately need to go shopping, but I intend to just enjoy the days.....Oh, and also catch up on DOOL. 

Before this week even began, I sat on the futon one night and thought about how much my life had changed.....I like it. :-)

Friday, June 10, 2011

SUMMER!! Well, for a second

We didn't get a Spring this year. It was washed away during the month-long rains. Thankfully, they stopped just as the Yellowstone River spilled into every fishing access parking lot, and the Cooney Dam was about to break. Fortunately, it didn't but it will still be awhile before the dogs can go swimming again.

Most of last week produced sunshine and actual summer weather. Unfortunately, this week - after the major storms that blew through on Monday - we had more of the same rain, rain, rain. We had been dealing with a leaky roof in the addition part of the house, but I think even it got bored with the rain so just sort-of stopped. Last weekend was absolutely beautiful, though; two perfect summer days.

I still had housework to do but I didn't want it to interfere with being able to spend some time outside. As my husband likes to call me, I'm a sun baby. My mother is a sun baby too, we're always seeking out the sun and where it is currently directed. When it started to get warm last year, I liked to spend my days outside with a book, a pot of macaroni and cheese, and a gallon of milk while Jacob worked on his cars. And whenever I sat in the sun (with out without food) Zoey would kick me like crazy. I hear babies love to be outside in general, but I'd like to believe she is next in a long line of sun babies.

Jacob is thisclose to having the engine in his Honda rebuilt and ready to go (ok, with some other minor tweaks here and there, I'm sure). And with it being so nice out, I figured it a good opportunity to start from scratch yet again on my garden. The downside is that my tomatoes didn't make it since they had to spend so long in their little containers. And then, ok, they sort of got a tad neglected during that stint of nice weather. Oopsie! Regardless, I missed the optimal time to plant anything. And since I spent most of the day re-doing what I had done a month before, I didn't have time to plant last weekend either. I guess keeping it weed-free will be my foray into gardening.

If this looks a lot like my previous 'before' picture, it's because this is my second 'before' picture; post 4-week monsoon.

What will have to constitute as my 'after' photo for now. Obviously, I grossly underestimated the amount of white picket fence I would need, and it looks rather ridiculous with just that slab. I still may plant the flowers just in case nature is a few weeks behind like me.

That was Sunday. Zoey's naps are pretty all over the place so we can't count on any certain time we have while she's sleeping to do anything. And, of course, we aren't going to deprive her of whatever we might be doing if there is some way she can be involved, so we brought her outside with us. Sun baby to the fullest, the loved every minute! I took her playpen and plopped her under a tree with a large, densely shaded area with a bunch of her toys and let her have at it. She played while I gardened and Jacob worked on his car for a solid 2 hours. She watched every car that went by, stood up and sat down and walked along the edge of her playpen countless number of times, chatted with her toys, and chatted with us. She is always so much fun to have around.

 Just loving being outside.

 Loving watching the cars go by.

(That's the driveway, not the street corner, just to be clear)

Such a diva! <3 My little drama queen!

Like I said, that was Sunday. Saturday was just as nice and I wanted to - at least at some point during the weekend - get out of the general vicinity of the house and take in the sights of summer. Jacob is always down for a drive so I suggested we take one when we had the time and since the weather was so nice. After I had cleaned the bathroom, kitchen, and made a dent in the laundry (of which Jacob helped), we packed up every article in the house and were on our way.

 With the sun finally shining, we of course needed our shades!

 Talk to the hand.......No autographs, please.

We didn't really know where to go. We ended up driving around the city for a good hour before Jacob decided to show me the town of Rapelje, MT, where he had started high school, and where his sister had graduated. We take the road there pretty often, using it as a back-woods go-between between Laurel and Billings. As it happened, just two days later, the very almost-tornado that I spoke about before threatened to touch down on the very same road we traveled on. Life is spooky sometimes...

This small farming town in Montana is about as interesting as you might expect. But I'd like to think that city people (such as myself) find country towns to be rather interesting; very Rebbecca of Stoneybrook Farm and what girl didn't want to be her? If nothing else, I find them very Norman Rockwell, especially in the summer.

The K-12 school Jacob attended.

 We stopped a little ways outside of Rapelje for some diaper changin'. And in this family we learn to drive early!

 Then we decided to take the long way to see what Cooney Dam looked like with a week of warmer temperatures and little to no moisture (minus what hung in the air).

 Turns out, it looks about the same. Let's see if I can adequately describe this picture: right in the middle of the picture, the water is spilling over a shore of rocks, then continuing down a hill not far from where the photo ends. If not for whatever that structure is called to divert water under the road instead of over it, the road would have been completely washed out. But it's like the mighty Colorado running under that dirt road. This is Cooney Dam, where we take the dogs swimming. From the very right of the photograph, all the way to the other side is where the beach used to start.

 This is further to the left, the lake that has always been there as part of the damn. From here, turning clockwise to about 3 o'clock is the picture above. Also, the water didn't used to come up this high. Where the grass ends is a huge drop-off, so ordinarily you'd have to walk to the edge of the grass to see this much of the water.

We wound up in Columbus but stayed in town before taking the long way home. The last time we were in Columbus, Itch-kep-pe park was flooded and closed, so we decided to see if it had since reopened as the Yellowstone had gone down considerably. It was, in fact, open and many people were camping, fishing and boating. It was a very nice day to be in the park by the river. There were a lot of bugs, but not as many as there could be since most of them didn't get the memo on our sudden surge of moisture.

The YooHoo Chocolate "drink" - aka Yellowstone River - running through Itch-kep-pe park.

 Enjoying the outdoors with Daddy.

 Exploring the outdoors with Mommy.

 Looking at and picking the flowers. We figured out real quick they were not tasty.

 Mommy and sun baby enjoying the sun.
 Yup, that's about right...

 Blowing dandelion seeds.

Naturally, it went into her mouth first. Something else not so tasty. I guess we learn more than one knew thing a day. She did enjoy them very much, even if they didn't taste very good.

That was like the calm before the storm; literally and figuratively. Tornadoes blew through town, and all throughout our daily routine. But it was just the pre-storm of things to come; new, exciting, and fun things, of course, but crazy-busy nonetheless. Jacob and I will be celebrating our best friends' nuptials; our mutual friend, Matt and Chelsa, and my best friend, Liz's. Irreplaceable memories will be made, but I really wish I could just sit down for awhile! :-)