Monday, December 26, 2011

Twelve months


Today you are one year old. I've been thinking a lot about this day lately, remembering moments from this time last year. At 11:00 p.m. last night, I recalled how Jeff and I stayed up all night timing the contractions. At 7:00 this morning I thought about driving to the hospital and calling our families to tell them the time had come. At 6:48 p.m. tonight I looked at Jeff and said, "Only eight more minutes of pushing." When 6:56 p.m. came along, the exact moment of your birth a year ago, I was reading you a story and thinking about how far we've come since that day:

You have turned our lives upside down and inside out in so many ways. In the last year, I have been more overwhelmed, worried, frustrated, confused, and sleep deprived than ever before. There have been moments of peace, happiness, and clarity along with moments of complete terror. Before you, before I was a mother, I thought my life made sense. Then you came along and I realized how much I didn't know about life and love. 

For instance, I never knew that someone's smile could make me cry with happiness. Or that I could stay awake for three days straight and still manage to feel grateful for the one thing that's keeping me up. Or that I could talk so openly and unabashedly about the color and consistency of poop. For that matter, I never knew I could care so much about another person's gastrointestinal system at all. I never knew I could sing lullabies in the car, or walk and sway the same path through the house for hours on end, or wake up five times in the night just to stand over a crib and listen for the sound of breathing. Thank you for teaching me all of these things. Thank you for showing me what I never knew was missing.

I know you are just beginning to understand who you are. But we have known you and loved you for a year now, and you have made us smile and laugh every single day. You are happy, vibrant, and engaged. Everyone comments on your sweet disposition, big smile, and bright blue eyes. You love reading, music, talking, and bouncing. You can be very intensely focused and determined and often get a mischievous gleam in your eye. Your laugh is infectious. You get very excited and noisy when you're the center of attention, or when you see other babies and children. You squeeze and cuddle your stuffed animals and give kisses to the pictures in your books. You are such a blessing.

Happy first birthday, sweet girl. I'm already so proud of the person you are and can't wait to watch you continue to learn and grow. There is so much to look forward to.    

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Eleven months

With the holidays, Marla's broken arm, selling our home (more on that in another post), searching for a new home, and moving, the last month has been nothing but a big messy blur. I know Marla turned 11 months old at some point, so I'll do my best to capture a few of the highlights in her growth and development.

She can wave "hi" and "bye-bye" but is fairly selective about when she does it. In the below video, she was saying goodbye to family members at Thanksgiving. She may not always do it, but when she does, she makes it count!

Speaking of which, she had her first Thanksgiving! She loved the stuffing. The rest of the food didn't make much of an impression on her.

She's into pretty much everything lately.

Who, me?
The three weeks that she spent in a sling slowed her down a bit, but she's back to crawling everywhere and pulling herself up to things in the last week.

She's fallen in love for the first time... with the baby in the mirror. In fact, she loves "the baby" so much that "baby" is going down in the books as her very first real word. I didn't capture her saying it in this video, but hearing it is enough to melt your heart, trust me.


I just can't believe that she's turning a year old next week, but my denial hasn't slowed her down a bit. She has begun clapping, waving, pointing, mimicking words, dancing, giving high-fives, and doing "soooo big." So big, indeed. Happy 11 months, Marla Rae! 

Not at all humerus

Where to start? Our life as of late has been... chaotic? stressful? depressing? exciting? unstable? I struggle to find a word that really captures the rollercoaster we've been on. Fortunately, things seem to be slowly going back to normal in the last few days, so it's time to begin documenting some of it.

Marla broke her arm on November 21. We picked her up from daycare that day and she refused to crawl, which was very strange. She didn't seem to be in any pain or distress, so we waited it out for the night. When she still wouldn't crawl the following morning, we brought her to our pediatrician, who couldn't find anything of concern in a physical exam except that she didn't want to put any weight on one arm. He ordered an x-ray, which revealed a small fracture in her left humerus, which is the main bone in the upper arm. The doctor was flabbergasted that she could have sustained such an injury without showing any external sign of pain.

We saw an orthopedic pediatrician next, who also marveled at Marla's "stoicism" and apparent ambivalence to any pain in her arm. Because of the location of the break, it didn't need to be casted, but did need to be immobilized as much as possible. Imagine my distress when he prescribed a sling and swathe for our very active 11-month-old. Marla can't sit still for the length of time it takes a digital camera to snap a photo, but she was supposed to keep her arm and shoulder immobile for three weeks? Hardly. Regardless, we had to do our best, so we went to the hospital's orthopedic department for the sling. It turns out they don't make them small enough for a baby, so we were forced to come up with a contraption on our own.

We started with the doctor's suggestion of taping her arm down and putting an extra onesie on to hold it in place. That didn't last long.

Next we tried an ace wrap, but it was a major hassle to unwrap her every time we needed to change her, put her in the car seat, etc.

The winner ended up being some old sleep sacks and hand-me-down swaddlers from my friend Jodi. We cut the bottoms off the swaddlers, wrapped up her left arm, and velcroed the whole ensemble. She didn't love it, but it was tolerable!

We still don't know exactly how Marla broke her arm, but our best guess is that she fell at daycare. The great news is that she has handled all of this beautifully. She has not seemed to be in any pain whatsoever and adjusted very well to having the use of only one arm.

Fortunately, the sling didn't get in the way of her reading.

And she figured out how to get around pretty quickly.

I'm happy to report that last week we got the go-ahead from the doctor to take the sling off and set Marla free once again. He's pleased with the arm's healing and says there should be absolutely no issues with it in the future. It was a long three weeks, but it could have been much, much worse, and our girl took it all in stride. I'm so proud of her!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Two scoops of cute, please!

When it comes to Halloween, I'm a bit of a Scrooge. I don't like planning costumes, making costumes, wearing costumes, going to costume parties... you get the idea. But I don't want to project my bad attitude onto Marla, especially since Halloween is such a big deal for kids. Besides, how could I deprive the world of seeing this girl dressed up like an ice cream cone?

It started out a little rocky...

She settled in once we got Betsy posing too.

(Betsy didn't have a costume per se, but she did dress up as a dog wearing a pink jacket.)

We eventually got some smiles out of her.

Who needs candy when you've got a baby this sweet?

Happy Halloween!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ten months

Just when I got used to Marla being nine months old, she went and got a month older. Crazy how that works.

Wait... I'm HOW old??

Let's see... what's new with our girl? She's become quite the crawler:

But also spends a lot of time doing this:

And this:

And this:

(It's difficult to see in the cruddy photo, but that's a head stand she's attempting in her crib.)

She's growing enough hair to accessorize!

Apparently ten months is old enough to start sharing my clothes:

She even talks back to me sometimes!

(I hope you all enjoyed Jeff's psychology narrative. Can you tell his class is currently studying child development?)

Happy ten months, baby girl!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Apple orchard

We took Marla to the apple orchard a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful, sunny day and a good time was had by all.

We stopped at Papa Murphy's on our way home, and while we were waiting for Jeff in the car, Marla and I played a rousing game of peekaboo.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I know everyone has their quirks, but sometimes Marla is downright weird. Her latest fascination is with stuffing odd things in her mouth and letting them hang there while she goes about her business. I'm choosing to think of it as multi-tasking, rather than mimicking the dog.

Maybe this is where they came up with the phrase "put a sock in it"?

Last night she crawled around for about 20 minutes with her toothbrush hanging out of her mouth. "Hey Mom! Don't mind me, I'm just brushing my teeth while I head toward the power strip."

After much manuevering underneath the table, she reached her destination, where I was forced to intervene. She screeched in protest, which I took to mean, "You're no fun and you don't understand me at all!" I can only imagine what we're in store for when she's a teenager. 

Our bookworm

Marla has always liked books, but lately she just can't get enough of them. In fact, she bypasses all her other toys to get a hold of one. She turns them over in her hands, flips through them, talks to them, bangs them together, and of course chews on them. I think most parents want their kids to like books, but as an English major, it makes me absolutely ecstatic.

The only time she sits still is when we're reading to her, so we do it a lot. She seems to have a few favorite books and definitely a few less-than-favorites. She figured out how to turn the pages on her own, which has made reading with her feel much more interactive. Here we are reading "How Do I Love you?" (We read this book about six times a day. I could recite it in my sleep.) 

This morning I caught her "reading" one of her books by herself, turning pages and jabbering at each one. I'm amazed by the way she seems to be absorbing the whole process. She GETS it!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

For Grandpa

My Grandpa, Joseph James Martodam, passed away two weeks ago. He lived a long, full, healthy life. He was 85 years old. He was tough and proud, but still teared up when he said goodbye to his family before leaving for a winter in Texas. He was stubborn, with a gruff demeanor, but quick to smile and wink mischievously. He was a veteran and an athlete, and the only grandparent brave enough to jump on our trampoline with us when we were younger.

He worked for the DNR for years. He loved working in his yard and his shop. He was a fisherman, hunter, and jack-of-all-trades.

He was a loyal and loving husband, married to my grandma for 64 years. Joe and Marcella's wedding, October, 1947:

At our wedding, June 2006:

He was a father to five, grandfather to ten, and great-grandfather to six:

He was a strong Catholic and a faithful Christian. He was a good person, who loved and was loved by many.

I'll end this post the way Grandpa used to begin every evening meal, with the blessing that will always, always make me think of him:

Bless us, oh Lord,
And these thy gifts which
we are about to receive from thy bounty,
through Christ, our Lord.

Rest in peace, Grandpa. We love you, we will miss you, and we will not forget you.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Risky business

As soon as she learns how to slide across the floor in those socks, we're shipping her off to Hollywood to earn some money for her college fund.

Nine months

My Marla is three quarters of a year old! How??

Her latest stats:

Weight - 17 lbs, 10 oz (27%)
Height - 27.75 in (56%)
Head - 44.5 cm (65%)

Her growth rate has slowed a bit, which the doctor says is normal for breastfed babies. She's surpassed her bunny in size, which makes it easier for her to tackle him.

She's gotten a couple of colds in the past month, probably the result of being in daycare full-time. They've slowed her down, but she's maintained a positive attitude for the most part.

She's still just rockin' the two teeth, but continues to gnaw on just about everything. The rest can't be too far off.

She's gotten really good at feeding herself and her lack of teeth hasn't stopped her from eating all sorts of things. Like spaghetti.

She loves the sippy cup and recently discovered an unusual method of drinking from it. What a monkey.

She can get into a sitting position on her own, which has made life a little more interesting, to say the least. Here's a shot of the video monitor during what was *supposed* to be a nap.

Play time with Dad!

She started crawling last week. Watching her master this skill has been entertaining. This video was taken on her first day of crawling. As you can see, she hadn't quite figured the whole thing out.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Eight months

Our girl is eight months old already! I've been so amazed at Marla's growth and development lately. She's becoming so aware and responsive. I'll be honest, some of this makes our lives a teensy bit more difficult. For example, she often cries when we leave the room now. She also cries when I put her in her crib, take away a toy, or give her food she doesn't want. She refuses her pacifier most of the time, which has made naps more difficult. She stiffens her legs up to prevent me from setting her down on the ground. She reaches out to grab Betsy's fur. She hates having her diaper changed. She wakes up in the middle of the night. A lot.

And to top it all off, we've been seeing a lot of this face lately:

The noise that usually accompanies this face is a mixture of snorting (like a pig), snuffling (like a rhino), and growling (like a dragon). Adorable, right?

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of great things going on with Marla, too. See for yourself...

Food has become a lot more fun. She was never a big fan of baby food, so we've moved from purees on to table food. It's awesome to be able to feed her from our plates for the most part. Plus, she's getting better and better at picking up chunks and feeding herself. Cheerios are a favorite.

This weekend, we gave her an apple from Grandma Susie's tree. She didn't make a peep for half an hour while she gnawed away at it!

She gets bored of the jumperoo pretty quickly now, but still LOVES to bounce, bounce, bounce all the time.

She can get onto all fours and rock a little bit, but doesn't crawl yet. She's gotten pretty adept at rolling, squirming, and stretching towards things she wants to get her hands on.

She also does a lot of leaning and lunging from a sitting position. Observe as she attempts to eat my foot. Mmmm.

Check out her pearly whites!

Her favorite word is "da." She says it all day long, in a variety of volumes and intonations, to express a multitude of emotions. Needless to say, all of this "da da da da da" is going to Jeff's head. However, yesterday I caught her saying "ma ma ma," and was further surprised to see she'd learned a new skill. Who would've thought spit bubbles could make me so proud?

So far, eight months has been pretty exciting despite some new challenges. I think we'll keep her after all. :)