Christmas Card Reveal

It's time!  The cards are out, they've been received.  It's time to reveal the cuteness to the world.

I present to you, EH's Christmas card debut!

We Tell It Like It Is

There are a lot of extremes in parenthood, full of incredible highs and depressing lows.  The swings between positive and negative make it hard - I think - for a person to give a totally impartial perspective.

It's easy to dwell on the negative - the lack of sleep, the screaming, the crying, the poop (oh my, the poop), and the exhausting, repetitive tasks of child-rearing.  Parents who only talk about the negative aspects of having kids can quickly convince those who are child-free that they should keep things that exact way forever.

Then there are the parents who focus only on the positives.  They make having a baby sound like FUN! and RAINBOWS! and PUPPIES! and OMG ONLY GOOD AMAZING WONDERFUL THINGS ALWAYS!  It's not that these parents have lost touch with reality, but they do wear rose colored glasses, and they try their hardest to not come off as sounding negative or to scare other potential-parents-to-be from having kids of their own.  After all, if there's one thing that new parents want, it's for their friends to have babies as soon as humanly possible. I appreciate the positive attitudes of these chipper parents, but man, they can be annoying too.  Nothing is perfect and wonderful all the time, no matter how cute your kid is.

In trying to share my story I've tried to find a balance between these two sides of things, acknowledging that for every frustrating moment there is a charming smile.  For every night of crying there is one of 10 hours of straight sleep.  There is an ebb and flow of happiness and frustration with babies, and while it can be utterly exhausting, in many ways it keeps things interesting.

The weekend after Thanksgiving we were talking to a group of friends.  Of this group of friends, we are the only ones with a child, so they were asking us a lot of questions about what life is like now. I find it hard to answer these sorts of questions on the spot, because so much of my response is colored by the events of that day - was he good? was he fussy? did he do something super cute?  - whereas DH, who normally tries to put a positive spin on things, switched characters for a moment and went straight for the negative including a statement that went something like "newborns are useless."  The horrified looks on the faces of some of these friends was priceless and honestly I can't blame them - DH made it sound like he hated our baby, (which I know is absolutely not the case, so I wasn't concerned, but I can see why these friends were.)  He was taking such a negative stance without presenting the other side - a side that definitely exists and creates a necessary balance.

So below is my attempt at telling both sides of the story, explaining the ups and downs, the highs and lows, and everything in between.  This is - of course - just one parent's perspective, but I do believe that many other parents can or will relate to what I'm saying here...


"How It Is" with a newborn

When your child is first born, there is nothing more amazing or exciting.  Hearing your baby cry for the first time will bring tears to your eyes.  You will be flooded with emotion, and it is the most amazing feeling ever.  You won't be able to believe that you have a baby, and that you made him (or her, but for the purpose of this post, him.)  You will spend hours upon hours upon hours for days on end just staring at your baby; this amazing little creature that is as cute a button and 100% perfect.

Then you get home.  You are still sore, drugged up, and tired.  You will be more tired than you ever knew possible. So tired that you're delirious and crazy things start happening to your body.  You'll skip every meal for the entire day and then eat at all hours of the night.  You'll feel twitchy and irritable.  You'll be so tired that you say things that you regret, have thoughts you wish you could take back.  You'll wonder what you were ever thinking when you decided you wanted to have a child.  Humans don't function well on little to no sleep, and add to that a tiny screaming child that relies on you for it's survival and the fact that you feel like you've been mauled by a bear from the waist down and you will officially lose all sense of control over your mind, body, and emotions.

You will sob from exhaustion; you will feel like screaming at the top of your lungs. You will feel like you are literally losing your mind. You will understand with blinding clarity why they make you watch those videos that repeat over and over "never shake a baby, put your baby in his crib and walk away."  You wonder for a moment if the hospital nearest you will take drop-offs. You'll feel like a horrible parent for thinking those thoughts and you would never admit out loud to thinking them.

If you're breastfeeding then all of this is magnified by at least two, because you will feel like you're the only one that can feed your baby, even though the societal expectation that a woman who just went through childbirth or cesarean surgery can handily and happily manage the demands of a newborn on her own is ridiculous. Your nipples will be chewed raw by your baby in those early day, your chest will probably be painfully swollen and since newborns eat all. the. time, you're going to literally feel like a milk machine.  If you're struggling then hopefully you've realized that it's not the end of the world to give your baby a bottle or two every day, and the relief that this gives you will be overwhelming.

But even through the cloud of sheer exhaustion you still check on your baby every 5 minutes when he's napping, even though you should be sleeping yourself, because - damn! - he's just so cute and peaceful when he's sleeping.  You kind of wish he would wake up so you could squeeze him. But of course when he does wake up 10 minutes later you panic and spend all of your mental energy trying to telepathically get him to go back to sleep so that you can just have a few more minutes to yourself.

During his quiet and alert moments (which are admittedly few and far between in those early weeks) he'll look up at you with his big dark eyes and you'll lose your breath for a moment when you remember that he is yours, and that you made him.  You will understand why they say the eyes are the window to the soul.  You will see yourself, your husband, and oh-so-much potential in those eyes, and you'll be sad when a blink or a sneeze ruins the little bonding moment you were just having with your child.

You will marvel at how quickly your little one grows, even though you know it seems so cliche to say so.  You will quickly realize that your baby is the cutest baby around, and no other baby compares.  You'll develop "the voice" that you talk to your child with, and you'll develop little quirks and secrets that only you and your baby share. You mentally acknowledge that if anyone else heard you saying half of things you say to your baby, they might try to have you institutionalized.

Things will slowly start to get easier, but the change will be so gradual that you won't notice it until you're suddenly startled by this weird feeling that you haven't had in a long time - relaxing.  Your baby will stop feeling so much like work as he gets older and is able to play.

You will squeal with delight the first time your baby moves his lips in such a way that you're absolutely sure that he just smiled at you.  The first time he reaches out to touch something that is hanging from his car seat handle you'll do a double take, watch him for five minutes hoping he does it again, and then when he doesn't you call your husband, your mom, and your sister to tell them all about the big event.  The first time he makes a cooing sound back at your baby babble, you'll probably pick him up and squeeze the breath right out of him.  When he laughs you squeal with delight.  And when he starts making movements that look like they might be the start of rolling or crawling, you cheer him on like he's your favorite team during the Super Bowl. After weeks of give, give, giving to your baby, you'll think that these "gifts" are the greatest things you could ever receive.

Your mom and aunts and older friends and anyone else who has kids who are about 4 years or older will gladly take your kid off your hands anytime you'd like, and while they're squeezing him they'll say things like, "Oh my, there's nothing like a baby."  You'll think they're even crazier than you were after 42 minutes of sleep in a 24 hour period.  But then, after an hour of other people holding your baby, you realize that you want a turn now, but you won't say that because after you've bitched and moaned so much about needing a break from your baby you don't want to look stupid for admitting that you already miss him and you just want a baby hug. 

Being a new parent in those early days is all about reminding yourself of the potential of your little bundle of joy.  They don't give a lot back in those early days.  It's all about what's to come.  Those first smiles, coos, words, the first time he holds his head up on his own, the first time he sits up in the Bumbo seat.  All of these little things.  Every day things get a little better.  And there will always be set backs, but you'll become more flexible, you'll learn to go with the flow.  You'll recognize that this is your new life, and you'll notice that you've stopped clinging to your past life with desperation like you were in those early weeks.

You'll forget how hard things were in those early days, and even if you do remember, you'll tell yourself that it was all worth it to get to the point that you're at now.  And after a few months or years of that, you'll be ready to turn around and do it all over again. 

Because you're a parent now, and you know that's just "how it is."

Baby Literacy

One of DH's favorite things to do with EH is read him books.  He wants his baby boy to be smart and well read.  For the first couple of weeks of EH's life, DH read him a book every single day.  Although he's missed a few days here and there since then, he still reads to EH rather regularly.

Sometimes EH doesn't seem to care about the books.  But other times he actually seems to be mesmerized.  I thought that these pictures were just too adorable to not share.

Looking at the bright colored pictures

Admiring his daddy's excellent reading voice

When he's into it, he's sooo into it, and it's just adorable it's another one of the many things that makes me melt with love for these two.

And although we definitely want to instill in him a love of books and reading, we're going to do our best to get him more interested in science and math, since as these two English majors will attest, English is not where the money is.  I'm thinking engineer, maybe?  Or perhaps a scientist or doctor?

It's always something, right!?!

Life can be complicated at times, but when there's a baby involved it seems like everything becomes just that much more complicated.  There are new factors to consider, the biggest being that you can't leave a a baby.  Ever.

Take this morning for example.  DH was all ready to leave this morning.  He goes down to the garage, gets in his car and tries to start it.  But it won't start. It's not the battery because you can hear it trying to start.  DH came inside to let me know about the car.  "What are we going to do?" was the primary question.  We no longer have a third vehicle, since the brakes on DH's truck died a couple of months ago.  So we're down to one car, and DH do not work anywhere near each other.  Add on top of that the fact that we had EH's four month check-up appointment this afternoon that DH was scheduled to take EH to.  DH tried the car again, and it started for a moment - enough so to get it out of the garage and into the driveway - but then it died again.  He suspected the alternator.

What in the world were we supposed to do?  I couldn't take DH to school because he needed the car in the afternoon to go to the doctor.  And DH couldn't take me in to work because he was already running late. 

My only hope was a co-worker of mine, who has given me rides to work on occasion in the past.  So DH left, taking my car and leaving his car seat base behind.  I called my supervisor to let him know that I would either be late or not in at all.  About 20 minutes later my co-worker called me back.  She agreed to not only pick me up, but to take Evan to day care as well!  I'm not sure that things could have possibly worked out better than they did.  We got to work about 40 minutes later - she was already running late and then add on the extra pick-up and day care drop off - but we got there, and I didn't have to waste a vacation day.

I can't help but thinking, "It's always something, right?"  Yesterday, I had a migraine, today the car died.  Neither were the baby's fault at all, but when there's a baby involved, everything becomes more complicated.  In the past when I had a migraine I would just sleep the day away without a second thought.  But you can't do that when you have a baby.  When the car died, it was definitely a complicated situation but with a baby?  Twice as much to think about.   Not only do I need to figure out how to get to work, but how will we get the baby to day care?  You need a car seat base to transport a baby. It takes an extra 15 minutes out of the way to go to day care.  When DH picked the car up from the dealership instead of just running in to get the keys, he had to park get the baby out, carry him in, get the keys and then load the baby back up in the car.  So many more steps than life without a baby. 

And the car? Well, that's a funny story.  They called DH to tell him that they couldn't find anything wrong with his car.  It wasn't the alternator.  It wasn't the battery.  They said that "maybe" it was bad fuel in the line.  So hopefully that's actually the case.  Because I am not looking forward to the prospect of another day with only one vehicle!


I am finally starting to feel better.  On Tuesday I woke up and no longer had a fever, but I still had a horrible sore throat.  The doctor's office called me back that day to tell me that I didn't have strep or rhumatic fever, and thus it was probably "just the flu."  There's nothing "just" about the flu.  The flu sucks.  It sucked the life out of me for nearly 5 days. 

So now that the sore throat is gone I'm left to deal with this awful, thick, nearly impossible to swallow sinus drainage in the back of my throat.  I choke on it multiple times a day it's that bad.  I have to stop whatever I'm doing and make a conscious effort to funnel all of my energy into swallowing as hard as I can to get that crap to go down.  It's nasty.  And no drugs seem to be helping (at least the ones that I'm allowed to take.)  Today I had a major headache, which was a migraine for a very short period of time, but the migraine aspect of it went away fairly quickly.  The headache in general really ruined my day though and made it very hard to concentrate at work. 

But it's progress in the right direction, so I'm going to be thankful.  What I am NOT thankful for though, is the fella who was responsible for deciding which strains of the flu went into this years' vaccine.  FAIL, FELLA. Major fail. 

One of our only family photos!

In other news, our holiday stamps arrive today, so Christmas cards go out tomorrow!!! That means that on Monday of next week I will unveil the card here for everyone to see.  I absolutely adore it and am actually excited to send out Christmas cards this year, something that I have not felt in a long, long time.  I can't wait!

The other thing I can't wait for? This week to be over.  It's been one of the worst weeks for me in recent memory... I know it's cliche, but I am sooo glad it's Friday tomorrow.  I need a reset.

Fantastically Sick

When I was pregnant I was almost never sick.  I had heard that pregnant women have weakened immune systems and are thus more likely to get sick. On top of that, you're not really allowed to medicate your symptoms when you're pregnant because most drugs can affect the baby (or there's not enough evidence to prove that they're safe.)

But that was not the case for me. I actually feel like my immune system was stronger when I was pregnant.  I never had a single full-blown illness during my pregnancy.  I would start feeling symptoms coming on, and then within a day or two they were gone.  I had a couple of horrible migraines during my pregnancy but they were SO much fewer than before I was pregnant.  Fortunately - knock on wood - I haven't had a migraine since EH was born.  A good thing, since I'm not allowed to take my prescription migraine medicine while breastfeeding.

In any case, all of that luck - since that is what I believe it was - is over.  I  am sick.  Sooooo sick.  So sick that I cannot remember a time when my throat and ears hurt as bad as they do right now.  It feels like I'm swallowing thumb tacks every single time I swallow.  In addition to that pain, but ears give a painful pop with every swallow and I haven't been able to hear well out of my right ear since Saturday.

I went to the doctor yesterday and while she thought for sure that I had strep throat based on looking at it, the "fast results" test came back negative.  They're sending it "the lab" for confirmation on that.  I could have the flu or perhaps rhumatic fever (not even sure what that is) but whatever I have, there's not much they can do for it.  I was sent home with instructions to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and take ibuprofen for my throat pain.  Stupid ibuprofen doesn't even make the tiniest notch in my throat pain - I have been taking 3 every 4 hours and I swear it's doing absolutely not good. (So, I guess I should probably stop taking them.)  They're supposed to call me tomorrow.

Anyway, I left work at noon today, using a 1/2 vacation day as a sick day because I just couldn't continue to function.  It hurts to talk and talking is a big part of my job.  I don't want to take off again tomorrow though, so I might so in and see what I can do about eliminating most - if not all - of my need to talk for most of the day, and work on other things, like some of my reports and budgets.  We'll see. 

I really hope that EH and DH do not get whatever I have.  I am miserable. More miserable than I have been in a long time.  Sometimes the mere act of swallowing makes me want to cry, the pain is that bad.  I can't imagine a baby having to deal with this level of throat pain.  He's still on antibiotics until tomorrow, so hopefully those are helping to ward off anything that might be floating around and contagious.

I just hope I start feeling better soon.  I was definitely taking my health for granted, and I am now reminded that being sick sucks.

Christmas Card Cuteness

I decorated for Christmas this past weekend and in the midst of all of that we decided to pose EH and take some pictures for a potential Christmas card that we were thinking of creating and sending out.  I spent some time setting everything up, and let me tell you - they turned out SO cute.

But of course, I can't show you any of the pictures, because that would spoil the cuteness for those who are going to receive one their mailbox.  I assure you though, they are super cute.

Here is one from a series of photos that did not make the cut - the lighting was bad by this time of day and none of them really turned out the way I had envisioned.

I'm not really the kind of person who sends Christmas cards most years, and in fact haven't done so in a really long time.  But now we have this really cute kid, whose mug looks great in print, and who is incredibly photogenic, so although I doubt we'll do a card in future years, we've decided to do one this year for a handful of family and friends.

Don't worry though - even if you're not the recipient, I'll make sure to post the final product here so that you can see it in all of it's glory!

Baby Bonanza - Pictures

We are so grateful for all of our friends and family members that came to Baby Bonanza, and I have ALL of these great pictures of people who were there, but they didn't really fit into my initial Baby Bonanza post, so I am dedicating this post to pictures of many of the people who helped make our baby shower so incredibly fun.  (And just because you're not pictured doesn't mean we don't love you too!!!)

Fun friends - the other totally essential element to an incredibly success co-ed baby shower!  Thank you so much to EVERYONE who was there!

Baby Bonanza! - A Co-ed Baby Shower

June 11th (yes, that's right! 6 months ago!) was the first official Baby Bonanza. Just what is a Baby Bonanza?  Well, I would like to explain by taking the description straight out of the program that was distributed to guests.  (That's right, there was a program.) 

The celebration known as "Baby Bonanza" originated in the Mighty Alleghenies, and dates to the earlier part of this month.  In defiance of the more traditional gender-segregationist celebrations, the Baby Bonanza incorporated both male and female members of the community, and typically had a greater focus on jubilant revelry and celebration, and a lesser focus on sitting politely for 3 hours. 

Anyway, true to form - for us at least - we decided that we wanted to do this baby shower thing our own way.  First of all, it would be coed.  DH is a part of this baby just as much as I am, and he should get to celebrate and be celebrated in much the same way.  Additionally, although we had offers by many family members to host showers outside of Pittsburgh, we wanted a way to bring our Pittsburgh friends together as well.  So, DH decided that he would throw the shower for me, although obviously we all know that I was integral in the planning as well.

So you think you want to throw a co-ed shower for yourself or a loved one?  Here are the integral pieces to a successful Baby Bonanza.

1. An Awesome Custom Invite

We designed our own invites and had them printed on magnets.  We went with the "Baby-Que" (bar-b-que) theme, which I enjoyed a great deal.  And of course, since we think that our faces should always grace everyone's refrigerators, we put our baby pictures on the invite.

2. Decorations

There's no reason to be afraid of having a few classical baby shower touches, even at a coed shower.  It's still a party after all, and it's fun to decorate!  We like to do traditional with a twist, so we still had baby themed balloons, a traditional gift table, and of course, a giant baby-shower duck sign stuck into the mulch at the front of our house.

This got us quite a few horn honks from cars driving by.  I loved it. 

3. Food

No dainty cucumber sandwiches or petite fours here.  We went with some classic party food.  Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, baked ziti, chips and salsa, and of course cake.  We also ordered an enormous tray of soft pretzels aka BEST IDEA EVER.  They were amazing.

We loosely ran with the duck theme, for a number of reasons, including 1. it was the theme at my first shower, 2. we had a lot of leftover ducks, 3. the giant yard sign just happened to have a duck on it, and 4. I loved ducks as a teenager.

4. Alcohol

And lots of it.  This was the hardest part of this type of shower for me.  Everyone else drinking and enjoying it while I just watched...Fortunately I was so busy most of the time I didn't really notice. 

Ugh. I look rather large in this photo.

We had a 1/2 keg of beer, which we put in the wheelbarrow when it started pouring 10 minutes after the part was supposed to start, and it remained there for the rest of the night.  Keg in wheelbarrow is a genius idea.  People don't need to bend over to fill their drinks, and the keg became highly mobile.  Anyway, it was kicked in less than 6 hours (and to think we didn't even think we'd finish it!). 

We also had lots of liquor for mixed drinks.  I made a drink menu, but after the rain-out I forgot to do things like pick mint for the mojitos so most people either just drank beer or made their own concoctions.

5. Games

This is where tradition really went to the wayside.  Traditional baby shower games are mostly no-fun.  They're fine for a traditional shower, but we had a very different crowd of people.  So we went with fun, all ages, skill-based outdoor games.  Think tail-gating activities.  Anyway, we created a full bracket, pre-matched all attendees with a partner that they didn't know, and then had rounds of games.  

The bracket, stuck to the hood of a car with invite magnets
Round 1 - Bean Bags/Corn Hole

Round 2 - Ladder Golf

Round 3 - Beer Pong (beer drinking optional)

You had to win each round in order to advance, so the only game that every played was corn hole.
The partnering thing worked out way better than we had originally thought it would.  Our idea was that some people were more experienced with playing one or all of these games, and we didn't want one particular power couple taking home all of the prizes.  By splitting up couples and giving everyone a new, random partner, talent was spread out and it really evened the playing field.  On top of that, our guests are really great about getting to know new people and no one seemed pissed to be paired up with someone other than the person they came with.  Even now, our friends still refer to people from our party as "the girl that was my partner at the baby shower" or something along those lines.  Love it. 

5. Awesome Prizes

If you want people to have fun and be competitive at your games, you have to give them incentive to do so.  My sister made amazing prizes, which were appropriately adult, coed, and barbque themed.  

6. Manly Gift Opening Time

For some reason, everyone thinks that the woman should open the baby shower gifts. Umm... why??? Again, the husband/man had just as much to do with this baby as the woman.  Why shouldn't they open gifts?

Want to get your man interested in opening baby shower gifts? First, give him a few drinks.  This always makes them more willing to do something they might ordinarily be self-conscious about.

Second, set him up in a manly location, such as the back of your garage.  Men like to be surrounded by their tools and handiwork.

Third, take turns on the gift opening, and if you want to make it really interesting, try to have him identify everything that he opens. 

And if you want to make it even more interesting than that, have everyone at the party "take a drink" everytime he identifies something as a "onesie," because that's what he'll always guess, and it's almost NEVER a onesie.


We love, LOVE, LOVED our Baby Bonanza co-ed shower.  It was a great way to celebrate Baby Hartman, bring all of our friends together in one place, and make it gender inclusive.  We've since had friends tell us that they used our baby shower as the inspiration for other showers that they were planning, or had people tell us that they want their future baby showers to be just like ours!  :o)  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I love it. 

We had two more baby showers later in the summer that also followed the Baby Bonanza theme, and I'll be sure to post about them as well! (Although you know, it will probably be another two or more months before I get around to that...)