June 29, 2010

my camouflaged cutie

Some things in life can not be hidden.

For one thing, time after time, my love for all-things-science keeps rearing its nerdy head. That would (hopefully) explain the focal point of today's fashion feature: Malcolm's phagocytosis-themed onesie.

Just to clarify for anyone that is unfamiliar, phagocytosis is the process in which one cell engulfs another. In this case, the big, blue cell is about to swallow the little, purple cell ... And the purple cell is thinking: "Oh, no!"

Totally dorky, but cute, right?

Hat: The Children's Place (thrifted for $0.50)
Onesie: CafePress ($10.00)
Shorts: Wonder Kids (hand-me-down)
Socks: Walmart (pack of ten for $6.00)
Shoes: Everlast (thrifted for $1.50)

June 28, 2010

a walk down memory lane

Yesterday was my brother-in-law's high school graduation party. While it is mind bending to simply accept the fact that he is a high school graduate, it is equally strange to recognize that it has been ten years since my own high school graduation!

Since having a child of my own, I have really noticed that time has this weird way of simultaneously flying and crawling along at a snail's pace. On one hand, ten years seems like a long time ... A full decade! On the other, it seems like only yesterday that I said goodbye to high school and all the drama therein. Even so, after all of the experiences that have come since then, it is somewhat difficult to put myself back in that moment ten years ago ...

What I do remember are three main things:

I remember being excited about going to a new place, on my own. As the only one from my high school heading to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, I knew that I wouldn't know any of my new classmates (and no one would know me), so it was truly a new beginning. It would be up to me, and only me, to find my way. I wouldn't have any of my old high school friends to fall back on. I couldn't just tag along and hope to connect through others ... I'd have to actually go out and get it done myself. A challenge, for sure, but one that I was ready to tackle.

I remember looking forward to studying my major. Originally, I had planned to study Communications, but, almost on a whim, changed my mind at my campus visit. It would be easier to start at Biology and change from there without losing any ground, our guide had insisted. She made sense, so I went with it and never looked back. As one of the earliest decisions I had to make, choosing a major was both fun and frightening. This one thing would impact so much of my college experience ... Science would certainly be no picnic. Chemistry (both introductory and organic), Physics, Anatomy and Physiology, Genetics, and many other difficult classes would follow. Could I handle them? I would have to ... And, looking back, I am so glad that I did!

Lastly, I remember the anxiety of leaving my then-boyfriend (my now-husband) behind. We swore that we'd continue dating, that we'd make it through four years of phone calls and weekend visits, but we knew that it wouldn't be easy. It wasn't. Probably even more difficult that my most demanding science class, our relationship would test us. It would test our trust in each other, our resolve to persevere through all of the difficult moments, and, probably most profoundly, our love ... A love that would grow from high school puppy love to something much deeper ...

All of these snippets of long ago, these three experiences that still seem so vivid, have shaped who I am today. As I sit in this current "now," I wonder how things will seem ten years from this point ... Again, on one hand, these coming ten years are a long distance to travel. On the other, they are merely a blink of an eye.

In either case, I am ready and excited to see just what they hold!

June 24, 2010

small potatoes

My little peanut is just that ... Little.

At his nine month doctor's appointment, it was determined that Malcolm is now in the 60th percentile for height and only the 6th percentile for weight! For any non-percentile readers out there, that means that he is taller than 60% of kids in his age group and only heavier than 6% of them. Although it certainly makes sense when you look at him, both of these numbers are a big drop from his six month visit (where he was in the 75th percentile for height and the 25th percentile for weight). While I'm happy as long as he is healthy, there is a small part of me that is disappointed when his numbers get closer to the average or when he begins to drop toward the bottom of the charts.

I know that a baby's growth and development isn't a race, but it can be difficult to avoid turning it into a competition. It's a thrill when your kid is taller, sleeps through the night earlier, rolls over sooner, or says a more complicated first word than another person's kid. Reactions from friends or family about a new milestone only add to the excitement ... Who doesn't like to hear that their kid is amazing? Gifted? Incredible?

Funny thing is, though, that milestones (aside from giving insight into the presence of developmental disorders) aren't really that big of a deal. At some point, every kid will reach them ... Each at his or her own pace.

Yet, why do we feel like our kid is better for getting there first?

I don't know if it is a societal thing, but there is this push to be the biggest and best at everything. I know from personal experience that, in anything I do, I strive to do it well. From mundane chores like making the bed or cooking dinner to wrapping a present or taking a photograph, I must give it my all. I must be the best that I can be. Anything less would be bothersome ... A disappointment even. Although I certainly don't want to be the kind of parent that puts undue stress on her children, I know that I will expect the best from Malcolm and any siblings that may follow after him.

There will certainly be situations in which "average" just isn't good enough ... But, then again, there will be times where "average" is okay, too.

Like right now.

Whether he is big or small for his age, Malcolm is perfect just as he is.

He is the perfect first child for us and we wouldn't trade him for all the extraordinary children in the world.

June 22, 2010

my little explorer

Now that he is mobile, Malcolm is constantly getting into everything ... And this "everything" that I speak of is not reserved to areas inside of the house, either. Indoors or outdoors, my baby boy wants to see (and touch and taste) it all.

During our recent family vacation to Florida, I made sure to bring a lot of cute outfits for the little guy. This one had been waiting in the wings for some time, and just seemed very appropriate given our lush, green surroundings. The whole day, I couldn't shake the thought of how cute it would be to get a picture of Malcolm in the middle of some tropical plants ... Too bad Malcolm had different ideas.

Instead of sitting still, he took off across the graveled walkway and attempted to climb the stairs ... Who ever said vacation was relaxing?

Polo shirt: Baby Headquarters ($6.00 as part of a 3-piece shirts/shorts set)
Shorts: Sonoma ($1.00 from the sale rack at Kohl's!)
Shoes: Old Navy ($5.00)

June 21, 2010

a happy father's day

When I first told him that he was going to be a father, I was met with a mostly blank stare.

"Here. Look," I said, thrusting the pregnancy test in his face and holding back my tears of joy and excitement. I had been waiting all day to show him. It didn't help that I had had the day off from work and was alone the whole time, just me and my big secret, ready to explode.

"What is this?" he asked quietly. "What does this say?"

"It says we're pregnant," I replied, lunging in to hug him. "We did it!"

He was still a little stunned ... Obviously at a loss for words as his mind processed the complexity and enormity of the situation. Even when he understood what I was telling him I realized that he still didn't quite get it. His mind was too busy processing all of the little details that come along with having a child:

How would we adjust to life not as a couple, but as a family?

How would we afford all the new expenses?

How would he be at being someone's father?

Looking back, I completely understand his lack of enthusiasm. I see now that there was an inherent difference between our treatments of the news: I was thrilled with what a new baby would bring and how it would enrich our lives ... And he was downright terrified.

I can in no way make generalizations for all men (just the one that I am married to), but my husband was utterly consumed by the fact that things would change ...

His wife would get fatter.

His house would feel smaller.

His free time would be cut shorter.

His wallet would become lighter.

Our life as we knew it would be totally different.

"What if I can't do it?" he asked me one night, deep into the pregnancy.

I assured him then that he could, that he would, do it ... And that he'd do it well. It might not gel immediately, and it would take some getting used to, but I married him because I knew he'd be a great father when the day came ...

And I'm never (well, hardly ever) wrong.

As Father's Day approached this year, it was so good to see him growing more comfortable and confident in his role as someone's dad. With each day, he, just like Malcolm, grew leaps and bounds. While he is not quite the "seasoned" pro yet, he is getting there. You need look no farther than the smile on the little guy's face to see that he absolutely adores his father.

And, you know what? I must admit that I do, too.

Happy Father's Day, Dearest.

June 17, 2010

the other half

I've just realized that I spend so much time gushing about my son that I've completely bypassed the one topic that directly impacted his existence ... My husband!

We met in the spring of our junior year of high school. I was a participant on a youth retreat, and he was one of the "team members" that was putting it on. To be more precise, he was the "leader" of the table that I had been assigned to.

I will always remember the first thing he said to me during that fateful weekend.

It was lunch time on the first full day and, after getting my lunch, I went to sit down at the table I had been assigned to. He was already there, and to make sure that he realized what an independent girl I was, I recall saying "I'm only sitting here because my name is on the table," before I sat down.

What a way to set things straight! I certainly didn't want him to think that I was sitting down because of him or anything ...

He didn't really respond. He probably just nodded, and then we continued to eat in mostly silence.

"*NSync sucks," he eventually piped up, referring to the (awesome) tee-shirt that I was wearing.

That was it.

No lead in or follow up. Just a quick, matter-of-fact comment and he was done.

I should take this moment to just come clean and fully admit that I was a huge *NSync fan. I had all of the merchandise, went to all of the concerts (even one that was taking place in the city that I happened to be on vacation in) after camping out for the tickets, and I seriously believed that I'd somehow get Justin Timberlake to marry me ... I was one of those obnoxious boy band fans. But I certainly wasn't flaunting my *NSync love that day. I had just decided to wear my shirt.

Anyway ... Being the independent girl that I was, I pretty much ignored the statement. I probably just laughed it off.

But I (obviously) never forgot it.

How many people can say that the love of their life, their husband and partner in all of life's challenges, used an insult to get their attention?

I guess the backwards nature of it all sums up our relationship pretty well. We were never the typical couple ... We did things our way (or, probably more accurately, my way) and on our own time. We didn't really succumb to the pressures from our friends or from "dating" in general. I think that is the main reason why our relationship survived the ending of high school, four years of me being away at college (while he stayed home), and the nearly five years of marriage since then. Things were never easy ... It is in my nature to complicate them, I think ... But we persevered.

All of this gives me hope that as we raise our son, we will continue to be true to ourselves and our values and what we think is important in life. Maybe he will have a different experience than many of his peers, but hopefully he will be better because of it.

I know his father and I are.

June 15, 2010

surprise cuteness

I love when I go into Malcolm's closet and find something that I completely forgot about ... The overalls in today's feature are an example of such a find.

I purchased them a while back ... Back when the weather was still cold and snowy, and Malcolm couldn't even roll over. They looked so big back then, but now they are perfect. In fact, there is a bit of room to grow so he will probably get many, many wears out of them this summer.

Not bad for a thrift store find.

Tee-shirt: Kid Connection (thrifted for $1.00)
Overalls: Old Navy (thrifted for $3.00)
Sandals: The Children's Place (thrifted for $1.00)

June 14, 2010

cuddles and kisses

The sight of these two boys makes my heart skip a beat every time ... Especially when they are together in sweet, little moments like this.

More about the bigger one later this week ...

June 9, 2010

out with the old, in with the new

As of yesterday, I am officially a "stay-at-home mom."

It was the last work day before summer break at the high school I left in September, so I made it a point to appear and turn in my resignation. While I knew in my heart that I'd be staying home the moment I laid eyes on the little guy, the decision to leave my job was still a difficult one to make.

Although I'd only been at the school for one full school year before having a baby, I forged a lot of friendships with the other high school teachers and administrators. Being a small school, there was a real family atmosphere among the staff, which helped to make difficult weeks a little less stressful. It's hard to think that I won't be seeing any of those people again on a routine basis, let alone an intermittent one. I'm sure I'll keep in touch with some of them, but it won't be the same. It seems that the things that bond coworkers together are experiences that happen at work ... Experiences that I will no longer be a part of.

In a strange way, I will also miss the students ... Well, some of them. I always thought that I'd be there to see some of my favorites (who will be seniors in the fall) graduate. I mean, I could certainly show up at the ceremony, but I won't be around for all of the senior year fun. Again, I will be missing out on all of the things that make teaching so worthwhile ... All of the little moments between class where the real lessons are taught.

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that I'm being given the opportunity to stay home with Malcolm! I just feel like I'm losing half of my identity in the process ...

When asked "What do you do?" in conversation with new people, I will no longer be able to describe my life as a teacher. I will no longer be able to talk about my work day or share funny stories about class occurrences. Instead, I will be relegated to tales of my day at home.

What did Malcolm get into?

Did he have a good day, or was he crabby?

Did he do anything cute?

How much house work did I actually complete?

What did I make for dinner?

Not exactly the most interesting conversation starters.

And, besides, I don't want to be one of those women that only talks about her children or her life at home. While I am a proud mother, there is so much more to me than just that.

Oftentimes, I feel that "stay at home moms" carry a stigma along with them ... That they are uneducated, complacent baby-making machines.

This is not me.

I have a Bachelor's degree in Biology and almost a Master's in Education. I love learning and I love furthering myself by expanding my mind with new information. I'm not the type of person that is happy doing nothing. My best days are ones in which I feel productive ... Ones in which I know that I have accomplished something. To me, there's nothing worse that sitting around and being bored! I honestly can't wait until Malcolm is old enough to appreciate places like the zoo, or the library, or museums of all types ... Then we can visit some of these places and learn together.

I feel like I have done too much for myself to allow others to put me in a neat little box based on a single aspect of my life.

I don't want the phrase "stay at home mom" to define who I am, even though I am proud and privileged to be one.

June 8, 2010

movin' and shakin'

As has been documented, Malcolm is now a "crawler."

This means that his fashion (just like his mother) must adapt.

Although it has been nice and warm in Cleveland lately, shorts mean red, rug-burned knees ... And long pants are a little too hot. So, I have compensated by utilizing his leg warmers when I know he'll be on the move (any time he is put on the floor) and pulling them off when it won't be an issue (when he is in his doorway bouncer or taking a nap).

So far, this has worked well for us.

Tee-shirt: Old Navy (thrifted for $1.00)
Shorts: Genuine Baby (thrifted for $2.50)
Baby leg warmers: Home made ($2.00)

And, as you can see, Malcolm looks pretty cute, too.

June 7, 2010

playing favorites

Over the weekend, Malcolm seemed to pick up a new mantra ...

When crawling across the floor: "Da da da da da!"

While eating his meals: "Da da da da da!"

While kicking on his changing table: "Da da da da da!"

From his car seat during a ride in the car: "Da da da da da!"

During a shopping trip to Target: "Da da da da da!"

Even in his sleep over the baby monitor: "Da da da da da!"

Well, the last one might be a bit of an exaggeration ...

At any rate, why is it that the child that I spend nearly every waking moment doting over, is well on his way to saying "Dad" instead of "Mom?"

Is this someone's idea of a cruel joke?

June 5, 2010


Malcolm started crawling three days ago.

At first, it was very tentative and purposeful, nothing to be too alarmed by ... He only moved if there was something he really wanted just out of his reach. He would move in a straight line, fall back onto his butt and contentedly begin playing with whatever object he had acquired. Now, only three days later, it's full blown "Hey! I can do it, so gosh darn, I'm going to go for it!" crawling. He is moving in circles around the living room, following me where ever I go, grabbing at anything and everything that happens to be within his reach, getting faster and faster and feeling quite proud of himself. There is rarely a moment where he isn't squeaking and squealing as he goes.

It's quite a sight to see.

A sight that I realize I wasn't fully, emotionally, prepared for.

As I swell with pride for him, I also find myself saddened by the fact that my little baby isn't a baby anymore. Like it or not, he is growing. Life as we know it is changing. This is an exciting phase of our lives, that is certain, but it is so hard to believe how far we've come in such a short amount of time.

Last summer, I was still pregnant ... Preparing for my baby shower and, ultimately, life with my new baby. At that time I didn't even know what I was having (although I truly felt like I was having a boy). I was filled with anticipation over what life would bring. How would things change for my husband and me? How would this new child behave? Would he/she keep us up all night? Who would he/she look like? What sort of personality would he/she have? How would I adjust to being a mother?

As each of these old questions is answered, a part of me wishes that I could set back the clock (if just a little bit). I miss the cuddliness of a newborn. I miss how Malcolm would snuggle up on my chest after a meal and peacefully drift off to sleep. I (already) miss the simplicity of a kid that was happy staying put. The other part of me, rightfully so, knows that life must go on. I can see that, as one question is answered, another is posed. As one milestone is reached, another is just around the corner. Today it is crawling. Tomorrow it will be walking. Later still will be the utterance of first words ...

It would be an understatement to say that I'm loving every moment of being a mother.

While I never felt very maternal leading up to the birth of my son, I must admit that anything that was lacking then has increased by over one hundred percent now. Being with Malcolm day after day just feels so natural, and it makes me happy to know that I must be doing something right. He is so well-adjusted, very easy-going, and he is very obviously happy. The smile he has for me each morning when I enter his bedroom is enough to make my heart explode into a million little pieces. His laugh is infectious and his goofy faces are a sight to behold. There is nothing about this kid that I do not love ... Honestly. I can't think of a single thing. Even his messiest poopy diapers or his crabby, tired whining is lovable.

It's hard to believe that my little baby is getting older at such an alarming rate. The crawling (and any other milestone) only serves as a visible reminder.

Even so, Malcolm will always remain my "baby" no matter how old he becomes ...

June 2, 2010

traveling light

The first indication of the amount of space an unassuming little baby will occupy occurs at the Baby Shower. It is at that moment, that the new mother realizes just what she is in for. She receives gift after gift after gift ... Breast pumps, Boppy pillows, seats for bouncing, eating, traveling, and everything in between, diapers, baby bath tubs, more toys than can be counted, clothing, blankets, and even furniture.

The word "shower" doesn't really sum up the quantity of gifts that are ultimately bestowed on the new family. Baby Downpour (Deluge, Torrent, or Typhoon) would actually be a more appropriate title.

Eventually, there are so many gifts that it takes two or three vehicles to return them all to the house. Then, once there, it takes an entire room to hold them all. Even after sifting through the spoils and separating them by stage of development, the thought of what is to come, of how the new little human will actually need all of these items (and more!) can be daunting.

Seriously. How could a baby use so much stuff?!

You see, I like to think of myself as a minimalist, as the type of person that lives an uncluttered life in an uncluttered home ... So, incorporating all of the things that came with my baby was, in many ways, a bigger adjustment than the baby himself! Almost nine months in, I thought that I had gotten past that overwhelming stage of parenthood ... But I was wrong.

One of our most recent adventures, a five day trip to the Carolinas, brought it all back to the forefront. After packing and piling up all of the items we would need to take to keep the little man happy, I was in disbelief. All of his goods could have filled the trunk of a small car on their own!

Was I just being an overzealous first-time mother?

Did Malcolm really require all of that stuff?

Now that the trip has ended, I have to admit that we did, indeed, use everything. While I'm sure I could have gotten away with leaving the whale tub or the feeding seat at home, both items made my life easier ... So they were worth the space that they occupied. I probably could have packed fewer clothes, but you never know when a simple bite of prunes is going to go horribly awry or a diaper is going to explode.

With this first journey (successfully) out of the way, I get to set my sights on our family's next vacation to Florida.

It will last about twice as long ...

Hopefully that doesn't mean I'll be bringing twice as much!

June 1, 2010

baby beach bum

This year, part of our Memorial Day weekend (and the week leading up to it) was spent traveling to the Carolinas. First, we went to South Carolina to visit some family friends and attack the beaches of North Myrtle Beach for a couple of days. Then, we attended a wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Today's fashion feature is all about that first stop ... The beach!

Having never been to an ocean before, Malcolm was in awe. He spent most of the time staring at the water, watching it advance and recede, or looking at the people that were hanging around. It was hard to get him to look at my camera (let alone smile at it)!

Swim shirt: Circo ($8.00 from Target)
Swim shorts: Gymboree (thrifted for $2.00)
Sandals: The Children's Place (thrifted for $1.00)
Beach hat: Unknown brand (thrifted for $0.50)

All in all it was a successful trip!