Friday, April 30, 2010

15 Months

Kate is now 15 months old--25% of the way through her second year. Holy cats. Her monthday was on Wednesday (the 28th) but since we just went for her checkup this morning, I figured I'd wait and report the stats:
22.5 pounds
31 inches tall
(both 50th percentile)
and her head is still 90-95th percentile. :0)
The doctor obviously knew how to talk to parents, since she immediately said "that just means she's smart"--exactly what a parent would say (not us, though, of couse... ahem) though not medically valid.
(Oh, and of course we had a slight ear-infection. boo.)

Here's what Kate is up to at 15 months:
  • climbing on everything--the coffee table, the hearth, the kitchen table (via a kitchen chair), us, and as you see above--her giraffe ride-on
  • babbling (or "jargoning," as I've heard it called when it's really close to human speech) but not saying real words yet
  • sign language: please, thank you, more, snack, milk, and eat
  • crying and putting her head to the ground when we take something away she wants to play with (or take her away from the situation)
  • She's started getting mad at us too sometimes--backing away and rejecting hugs when we tell her "no"
  • She loves school, getting very excited even as we pull into the parking lot of her day care, and running over to her teacher and friends when we get to her classroom
  • She loves seeing us at the end of the day too, though--smiling and running when Daddy picks her up at day care and when Mommy walks through the door at home.
  • She drinks whole milk at school, but is still on breast milk in a sippy at home. We still have about 300 ounces left in the frozen stash.
  • Fruit, cheese, and crackers/bread are still her favorite foods, but she'll occasionally eat veggies or meat
  • She's working on using a spoon. It's a messy cup of yogurt (and face, hands, floor, etc.) but she enjoys learning how.
  • She's apparently gaining a memory for bad experiences, as she was much more weepy and clingy at the doctor's today than usual. She forgives her shot-givers quickly, though.
  • Her favorite toys include blocks, cars, books (playing with them more than sitting still to listen), and her big toys--her riding toy giraffe, her wagon, her zebra bouncy toy. She also likes climbing into her alligator camp chair, sitting for a second, then getting out.
  • She wears size 12-18 month clothes, and a size 4 diaper (though I think I moved up too soon--she could still wear a 3). Same with shoes--wears some 4s but her size 3 Pedipeds still fit too. Gymboree, polka-dots, and Pedipeds are still her "look," and she's been trying out pigtails lately. They're nice because she can't pull the rubber bands out as easily as her normal hair clippies, which she removes almost as fast as I put them in.
Happy 1.25 birthday, Kate! You get more awesome all the time!

Big Girl

Kate has had a few "big girl" moments this week as she proves again and again that a) she's watching our every move and b) learning how the world works--it's harder than it looks!

The other night, one of Kate's shoes came off and she refused to let me put it back on for her. Instead, she spent fifteen minutes trying to put it back on herself. She tried sitting down on the floor to do it. She tried standing up and stepping into the shoe. She tried sitting on the hearth and reaching down. She tried climbing up on the coffee table to do it. She tried sitting on the stack of towels on which I had been sitting moments earlier (to keep her from unfolding the just-folded towels). She tried every position she could think of to try and put the shoe back on.
She never did get it back on, but I admire her tenacity!

Earlier in the evening, I was vacuuming, and Kate was curious but keeping her distance. Then, she came walking into the room with her popcorn-popper toy, dragging it around and pushing it back and forth like I was doing with the vacuum! I wouldn't have thought about the fact they they are kind of the same shape, but to her, they looked alike enough that she could be "like Mommy" and do some vacuuming too!
The whole idea of kids learning to recognize the "forms" of things amazes me. Like when a picture book shows a chair as curvy and blue, and our kitchen chairs are straight and brown, but one still knows they are chairs (is this making any sense?)
The other day, she grabbed my keys and started poking them at the doorknob on the back door. She was using my car key and the doorknob was a button lock, not the key-deadbolt above it, but still. She had seen us unlock the door enough times that she knew how to do it too (on some level, at least).

I know this all must seem crazy to a non-parent, but when a child starts out as just a little potato-lump (sorry--newborns sometimes look like potatoes to me) unable to do anything for themselves and the whole world is new and overwhelming, it really is amazing to watch her learn these things that we take for granted. For instance, the extreme intentionality with which a baby will reach out for an object, practically going cross-eyed to calculate the angle at which she needs to move her arm to make contact--it's an absolute miracle.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The End of Books

In the airport on our way to Chicago, my mother-in-law and I saw someone reading on a Kindle—Amazon’s e-book reader. Working in the publishing industry as I do, I had seen Kindles in the office before, but this was the first time I’d spotted one in the wild.

My MIL and I started talking about the notion of e-books and what that meant for traditional bound-paper books. I told her about the “smell of books” people who insist they will never read on an electronic device because the “experience” of reading a paper book is so sensual and whatnot. (As a congenital anosmic, I can’t appreciate the “smell” of books, but I definitely go wild over a velvety matte-finish cover, stroking it over and over and telling people, “just touch this!”)

Some people worry that e-readers mean “the end of books.” I disagree—a book is about content, not just packaging. Authors will still write stories and chapters of insights—you’ll just read them on a screen.

When we landed in Chicago and Matt’s cousin drove us back to his house, we saw a giant ad for the Apple iPad on the side of a building. (We saw iPad ads all over Chicago, actually—I guess that market is a bit more tech-savvy than Nashville). “It’s going to be the end of newspapers,” he said. But news stories will still be written—you’ll just read them on a screen.

“Nah, I would miss the smell of paper,” my sister-in-law said.

The next day as we shopped on Michigan Avenue, we popped into the Apple store, crowded with people trying out iPhones and Notebooks and all that jazz. I got to play with an iPad for a few minutes, and I sent Matt an e-mail from it—with great difficulty, since I am not too adept with touchscreens (not having an iPhone or anything myself). Despite the learning curve, however, I had the unmistakable feeling that I was holding the future of media in my hands. That one day—one day soon—we will all have a digital tablet on which to write e-mails, take notes, read books, watch movies, and access untold amounts of information through the Internet and various applications.

I don’t think paper books will ever really go away (just as bound journals and notebooks are still around, despite the popularity of blogs and Microsoft Word) but do I think e-books will definitely grow in popularity and become the norm. Though I’m not an early-adopter with any technology, I can definitely see getting on board with e-readers once the price comes down a little more. Easy access to countless titles and no additional bookshelves to babyproof—sounds like a win-win to me!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How to Make a Diaper Cake

I made my first attempt at a diaper cake for my cousin-in-law's baby shower last weekend. If you're not familiar with the concept, a diaper cake is basically an arrangement of diapers that looks like a multi-tiered cake. (As opposed to a cake that looks like a diaper, though I suppose that would technically also be a "diaper cake.") Here was the finished product:I started by arranging diapers (a half to two-thirds of the ones I'd bought, since this was the bottom, biggest layer) on their sides, in a radial formation. I had assumed one just arranged them going straight out of the center, but I found that curving them somewhat in a slight spiral helped maintain the overall shape better.
If you don't have to transport the finished product anywhere, and the color of the diapers goes with your color scheme, you could just tie a ribbon or affix a strip of paper around the layer, but since I was covering each layer with tissue paper and having to pack the thing up in a box for transport, I just used Scotch tape to hold it together. Since you want the parents-to-be to be able to dismantle the cake and actually use the diapers, make sure the tape you use will come off without ripping the diapers.
Do the same thing for progressively smaller layers to create the size cake you want. (The pic below is the top layer before I curved and secured the diapers into the tighter spiral formation.)
Since I didn't want a green-and-blue color scheme (though that would be cute for a boy shower), I covered each layer with white tissue paper. It took several sheets in order to not be see-through, but I just laid them together and wrapped each layer like a present (a very oddly-shaped present, being essentially round and all).
Make the wrapping as smooth as possible (not very, if my experience is any indication) but it doesn't have to be perfect. You can also smooth down or hide the imperfections with your decorations.
I opted to go minimalist, since I had these nice ribbons that worked with the party's color scheme, but I've seen some that are decorated with strips of scrapbook paper and 3-D flowers, birds, or butterfly embellishments, and some decorated with small toys and supplies for baby--pacifiers, loveys, toiletries, etc.

It turned out alright, I thought, and I bet my next attempt will be even better! In any case, it works for me!

PS: does anyone else find the photo-uploader on Blogger's "updated" post editor extremely un-user-friendly? It's driving me nuts! Any way to make it easier, besides going back to the old version?

Project Life (Apr. 19-25)

Monday 4/19: I had pre-ordered Angie Smith's I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy a while back. It arrived Monday and I devoured it in two evenings. Angie's blog, Bring the Rain, was among the first blogs I started reading regularly, back in early 2008. Even though I already knew the story of Baby Audrey's brief life, I still cried during Angie's retelling of Audrey's two hours on earth and read with interest and awe how she and her husband led their older children through the process of grief.  

Tuesday 4/20: Picky eating is a pet peeve of mine, so I'm hoping Kate will be an adventurous or at least well-rounded eater.  I've read that offering kids bold flavors, they will become more adventurous eaters, so we happily offer Kate artichokes or garlicky hummus or whatever we're eating, and sometimes she tries it and likes it. Though she tried olives twice before and spit them out, this time she ate several!
Wednesday 4/21: Since I had to clear off the dining room table for Easter dinner, my scrapbooking was on hiatus, but I recently ordered a bunch of prints from Easter weekend, St. Patrick's Day, and our 14-month photo shoot, so the papercrafting fun was in full swing again! This page features Kate and my mom trying out the crayons Kate got in her Easter basket.
Thursday 4/22: I guess you know the honeymoon is over and life is moving on when you replace framed wedding photos with framed baby photos. Just kidding. It's just a natural and wonderful progression, and I'd rather look at Kate's sweet face than our own any day!
Friday 4/23: Getting ready to go to Chicago for the weekend. I took Kate's suitcase since we were only going for one night and it is smaller and lighter than my own carry-on!
Saturday 4/24: My mother-in-law and I flew to Chicago for Matt's cousin Christopher and his wife Viktoria's baby shower. They are having twins in June--one boy and one girl. How perfect! We had a lot of fun (and I'll post more pics of the shower later this week)!
Sunday 4/25: After brunch with the family, my MIL Debbie and SIL Alexis and I went shopping along Michigan Avenue. Though Kate is still too young, we had to go to American Girl Place. It was unbelieveable. I had Felicity and Samantha when I was little, and just love the historical characters. Here, Debbie and Alexis are entering Kate to win a Molly doll.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mr. Brightside

(or Ms. Brightside, but I've had that song by The Killers in my head all day)

As I was washing my hands in the ladies' room today, a coworker rushed in, clearly frustrated, and after making sure all stalls were empty, proceeded to vent about the meeting she'd just left. Some change to a product was making her have to redo at least several days' worth of work, and she was understandably miffed. What had really bothered her, though--even more than the extra work--was how the person breaking the news made light of the issue, saying it wasn't a big deal and wouldn't take much time at all. My coworker has a good work ethic, and despite the annoyance of it, would be able to redo the work just fine... but she wanted validation. She wanted understanding. She wanted some empathy.

I was happy to oblige, and told her "that really stinks." No one could accuse me of being a Pollyanna, but in a situation like this, I think that's okay.

Optimism is a good thing. Hope is a very good thing. But sometimes, looking on the bright side isn't helpful. When someone is on the dark side of a situation, sometimes they don't want to see the bright side. They just want to know that it's okay for them to be on the dark side right now.

I once asked a counselor how to respond to someone's constant self-deprication. I had tried repeatedly telling the person how wonderful/smart/attractive/worthy they were, refuting every bad thing they said about themselves, but it never seemed to help. The counselor told me to stop negating everything they said, and just say "I'm sorry you feel that way." In most cases, you're not going to change their mind, just make them dig in deeper. But empathy will go a long way to defusing their pain.

What do you think? When you are upset, do you feel better when someone points out the silver lining, or would you rather they acknowledge the cloud and help you hold your umbrella?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Heirloom Dress

When my mom was born in 1951, her Aunt Grace made her a silky, peach-colored dress with a lace yoke.
Thirty years later, I was born, and I wore the dress on this sunny day in spring/summer 1982.
Twenty-seven years after that, Kate was born, and she too wore the dress on a pretty day in our backyard last September.
This little gown is such a family treasure. Maybe one day (in the 2030s--holy cats!) a fourth generation will don the heirloom dress. Wouldn't that be something?

What heirloom items do you pass down in your family?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Project Life (Apr. 12-18)

I always feel dorky to say how much I love my job as an editor at Abingdon Press, but since three of my seven Project Life pics this week have to do with books I've edited or will soon edit, I thought I'd forewarn you: I love my job and am very proud of the books I've worked on. :0)

Monday 4/12: Matt and I had a little basketball tournament in our kitchen with Kate's Fisher-Price basketball goal. It's only about a foot off the ground, but the rim is only about five inches wide, so it's kind of tough! We sat in one place and moved the goal back incrementally until neither of us could make the goal (with unlimited chances). Though Matt took more do-overs overall, I think he won, since I couldn't get the final challenge and gave up.
Tuesday 4/13: I was really touched by all the sympathy cards I got after my grandfather's death a few weeks ago. Kate and I were looking through them (i.e. playing with them) before bed the other night. She loves paper. 
Wednesday 4/14: Our semiannual sales conference is going on this week at work. That is the time when we "launch" the next list (this time, Fall 2010) and present those titles to our sales reps so they can effectively pitch them to Barnes & Noble, Lifeway, etc. Mike Slaughter (one of "my" authors) spoke at the launch party, so I had a very busy day hosting him. We have a great author-editor relationship, and he gave me a signed copy of his most recent book, Change the World: Recovering the Message and Mission of Jesus.
Thursday 4/16: Speaking of "my" authors, blogger Kristen Welch of We Are THAT Family just signed a contract to write a mom's devotional with us, due to come out next spring! Kristen proudly posted this pic on her blog this week, and I am proud to share it as well!
Friday 4/16: Kate developed a fever Thursday evening (up to 104) and while it was lower by Friday morning (99-101) we still had to keep her home from day care, and since Matt had some appointments, I stayed home from work with her. She seemed chipper enough by the afternoon that we stuck to the plan of her and I accompanying Matt on the "all-church retreat" at Beersheba Springs this weekend.
We stayed in the Turner Family Lodge. A lot of things in Nashville and middle Tennessee are endowed by and named for the Turner family, led by Cal Turner Jr., founder of Dollar General. All these Turner namesakes have extra significance for me since I actually know Cal, and edited his book, Led to Follow: Leadership Lessons from an Improbable Pastor and a Reluctant CEO.
Saturday 4/17: Matt, Kate, and I, and several of the teens on the retreat went for a hike at Stone Door near the retreat center. I carried Kate down, and Matt carried her back up, and neither of us have ever stepped so carefully along the rocky path, or given the cliff's edge such a wide berth!
Sunday 4/18: After a closing worship in the morning, we packed up and headed toward home, but Matt, Kate, and I stopped in Nashville along the way to walk in the March of Dimes' March for Babies. We were part of "Itty Bitty Becca's Team," honoring our little friend Becca Hill, who was born after only 6 months gestation, weighing only 13 ounces. Our team shirts illustrated Becca's 9 1/2 inch length at birth.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lettin' It All Hang Out

It’s a generally accepted rule that we act the worst with the people closest to us, right? We say things to our spouses, parents, children, that we would never say to a boss, friend, or even total stranger (anonymous angry blog comments excluded), because we know our close family members will continue to love us and maybe even like us in spite of our bad behavior.

This would explain why I was a total brat to my parents between the ages of 12-14 (though my mom would probably expand that range by four years on either side), while being perceived as a perfect angel by teachers and neighbors. I know this is true of me now with Matt, as I nag and gripe while being (mostly) sweet to (almost) everyone else. I feel like a hypocrite, hiding my true colors, but I think most people can probably relate to this “rule” of life and relationships.

I am amazed at how early children learn that rule. I’ve read articles saying how kids that are perfect in school will suddenly morph into rabid iguanas on their way out to the car with Mom or Dad, and that that is totally normal because kids know Mom and Dad will still love them even when they act that way. They can let their guard down and express even the less-appealing sides of their personalities. It doesn’t mean they are “bad” kids at home, or that they are being fake at school, just that they’ve learned to control their lesser impulses when out in public.

Even toddlers seem to develop their “public personalities” as they amaze everyone with their sweetness at church or in a store, while throwing crazy tantrums at home. Sure, they occasionally still have the meltdowns in the produce aisle that we all wish we could have some days, but the major fuss-fests are usually reserved for parents’ eyes only.

This all came to mind around noon today, when I thought of Kate going down for her naptime at school. At home, if we put her in her crib when she’s not really tired, she will stand up, jump up and down, rattle her cage, and scream. At school, surely she is not always tired when the teacher declares it is naptime, but even without two-foot bars to hold her in, she always goes to sleep on her cot without much fuss. I picture her toddling over to her cot and laying down quietly while the teacher sits and has her lunch in peace.

“If only she knew!” I think. But I’m sure her kids are the same way, and the truth of the matter is I’m glad Kate feels confident enough in our unconditional love to let it all hang out when she’s upset.

Now if I can just remember that when she’s thirteen.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Marching for Babies

This afternoon, we walked in the March for Babies at Centennial Park to benefit the March of Dimes' research on prematurity and other neonatal issues. Our team ("Itty Bitty Becca's Team") was centered around this little bit:
Cute, isn't she? Here's her family's blog about their journey through premature birth, a long NICU stay, and all the progress Becca has made!

Becca and Kate make great playmates, and it was fun to see them together today. Thanks to those who supported our team. We had a great time hanging out with the Hills and the rest of Becca's fan club, walking the two-mile loop around the park and adjacent blocks. Great fun for a great cause--that's a great day in our book!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's Exhausting, Changing the World

Yesterday was a super-busy day at work. I didn't sit down at my desk once, and at the end of the day, I was exhausted. But it was a great day, because I hosted author Mike Slaughter, who was with us to speak at the launch party for our Fall 2010 list. (His most recent and best book yet is Change the World: Recovering the Message and Mission of Jesus) 

I always love meeting with Mike, from breakfast in the morning, to meetings about his next books, to introducing him before his talk (so nervous beforehand I thought I would faint--I do fine with public speaking once I'm up there, though!) I love Mike's work at Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio, where he leads his congregation in being the hands and feet of Jesus, living out their faith in numerous social service ministries (a food pantry, clothing thrift store, furniture, medical equipment, and car ministries, etc.

Their biggest, boldest ministry, though, is The Sudan Project, through which Ginghamsburg has invested close to $5 million in Darfur, Sudan, providing schools, water yards, sustainable agriculture, etc. The commitment and self-sacrificial attitude the people at Ginghamsburg have--about all their missions, but the Sudan especially--is amazing. In a blue-collar town devastated by the loss of automotive jobs in the last couple years, the people continue to give sacrifically in Christlike love to the people affected by poverty, war, and disease in Darfur.

Mike is especially proud of how other agencies have gotten on board since Ginghamsburg started its work in Sudan. In 2006, Ginghamsburg made up 100% of the United Methodist Committee on Relief's presence in Sudan. Now, it's like 9%, I think he said, not because Ginghamsburg has reduced it's presence, but because so many others are participating in this mission relieving the suffering in what the UN called the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time.

PBS's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly program did a great segment on The Sudan Project last week. I wish I could embed the video here, but it doesn't look like it is on YouTube yet, so please click the link!

Hearing about this great work, a cause advanced by Mike's writing, is encouraging to me (and my colleagues too!) as we participate in his ministry through publishing. I went home, poured a glass of wine, and put my feet up last night, tired from a very busy but worthwhile day.

(Sudan photos courtesy of Ginghamsburg and included in the book Change the World: Recovering the Message and Mission of Jesus.)


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