Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holidays in Cyprus

We had a wonderful Christmas here in Cyprus at Oma & Opas. We're here for New Years Eve, then off to see more family in Holland for a couple of days then back to New York. Once home I will upload photos!

Love to all.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Doha? Doha who?

We're moving to Doha ...in January! It is the capital city of Qatar and Richard has an exciting role waiting for him with the bank where he works. We're excited about the adventure this move will bring for our family. I'm sure there will be challenges, but what we hear from other expats who live there, or have recently lived there, is their experience is exceedingly positive. So the next few weeks are all about gearing up for expat life!

I'm still learning more and more about Doha every day, but here's what I know so far:

1) They have Starbucks
2) The weather is either hot or very hot
3) While driving you must watch out for camels
4) It's rich in oil money & is the leading home of natural gas, but it's also rich with Islamic culture. As with other major cities in the UAE, there is a growing dichotomy between increased respect for progressive, western thought & religions while honoring the conservative values that have dominated their culture for centuries. Do I have to wear a hijab or burka? No. Can Richard & I kiss and love on each other in the park? Probably not a good idea.
5) There will be lots of sand

To add to the craziness, we will be traveling to Cyprus to visit Richard's family for the holidays. We're very much looking forward to it, but I'm a bit suspect about my ability to stay relaxed on vacation while thinking of all that needs to be done here before our move. It's a good problem to have I admit, and it will be great to enjoy the holidays with family who have probably managed to get a tree up and various other holiday nicknacks to indicate for baby Isabelle that it's Christmastime. Otherwise, the only thing she'd know of Christmas is moving boxes & Skype.

In between seeing friends & family, working, planning for vacation followed by a move across the world, I am saying good-bye in small, manageable doses each day to this city that I have a sweet, strong love for. And good-bye to the people in it, who because of them, I have called it my home for the past 8 years.

Who we're dancing to this week: The Hotel Cafe presents
Winter Songs

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Big little Isabelle

Thanks Ginger for my very pretty pink boots!

Isabelle will be 5 months on the 24th! At her 4 month check up a couple of weeks ago she was in the 90% for height, for the second month in a row, which would explain why all of her pants are more like culottes. This proves tricky for the cold weather as socks are also no longer a reliable source of warmth, since her constantly moving feet are rarely able to keep them on. Fortunately, baby boots are really really cute and mom has a legitimate reason to buy them now as they are about the only things that stay on.

In other Isabelle news, her lukewarm relationship with pacifiers has officially turned cold. She's still determined to perfect the whole hand in mouth party trick. And she has found her left thumb quite useful, mostly for chewing. Her copious amounts of drooling and constant need for oral fixation continues to lead me to believe there will be a pearly white any day now, but nothing yet. Sleeping has been better once I was thoroughly convinced a little fussing wouldn't kill her. As a result, she's found a way to put herself to sleep...by talking. It's the cutest thing to hear her baaaing and gaaaing to herself before she drifts off. Don't get me wrong, talking herself to sleep is equally matched by fussing, but it's getting better. If there's anything I learned, what works this week doesn't always work next week. (Remember a couple of months ago when I said Bach would put her to sleep? That worked like a charm for a couple of weeks and then BAM, the magic was gone and eventually, I was so sick of playing that song to try to get her to sleep, that I could have boxed it and threw it out with the trash.) She still loves her walks in the neighborhood (as do I!), and is becoming a master flirt with all those who stop to admire her. Her giggles are contagious and her talking is gaining in breadth & sound - I think she's trying to bring 'inhale talk' mainstream.

{Baby's first Thanksgiving!}

Snoozing on uncle Steve was not part of her sleep regime, but oh well, it was a holiday

{She gets very excited about story time...}
I just...

...can't wait

...to see what happens next!

{Visiting the park where mommy & daddy were engaged!}

Baby Lucas with doula-in-training me :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Go go magic mamas!

Happy 4 month birthday, baby Isabelle

In a transient world, with family far and more far, and in the hustle of big cities and big careers, support networks can seem fragmented at best for new mamas in the western world. In some cultures women are still sanctified after birth, taken care of by their sister women, encouraged not to lift a finger for up to the first 45 days after giving birth. But we’re New Yorkers & frankly, I would have gone mad with the “mustn’t leave the home for the first 30 days” rule. I feel extremely grateful to have had family come support us for the first couple of weeks, which is a lot more support than many women get. But I’m not going to lie, when our beloved parents had to return home and my husband had to return to work, I found myself looking out the window with my baby in my arms, whimpering, “where’d everyone go?” To my friends who just got another hat to hang on their rack, called “mama,” & to those who will, I want to assure you that support will find you, sometimes in the most unexpecting ways. This support comes in the shape of your partner, your friends, a stranger in a coffee shop with their respective new family member, a book, a mommy & me class, or even a blog.

To that end, with a few dear friends about to be mamas (& very dear friend who JUST became a mama!), I was wondering what I could impart that would help manage expectations as they bushwhack their way through the first few weeks of new motherhood, regardless of how little or much support they have at their finger tips. And here are 5 things that I’ve come up with:

1. New motherhood, like all new chapters in life, is best understood in hindsight but must be lived forward, rather blindly at times. I'm only now beginning to look back on these 17 weeks with a decent amount of reflection. And I’m sure I’ll look back in a year with a sense of added clarity. For all my soon-to-be-mama friends, you will be amazed at how primal your instincts are and only when you look back do you realize why you felt such urges to get outside and take those walks during recovery, why you became the master defender of your child's sleep time, and why you didn't give up breastfeeding when you really felt it was a more challenging than birth itself. Trust your instincts, that’s why they are there & they won’t let you down.

2. It so happens that all of my new-mama friends have been or still are career women. Coming to terms with the career-self you’ve always known and the new world of baby that has you raptured, I find akin to catching ether. It is a colossal feat to find a way to have it all & to be honest, I’m still trying to figure out what’s right for me. Your gorgeous baby life will always be the muse of your day; but how do you retain the intellectual stimulation and financial contributor status to your family’s future at the same time? Not to mention time for exercise, learning to cook gourmet origami-type creations with philo dough, those mani/pedis & various other over-achiever goals that plague modern women. All of this on fragmented pockets of 2-4 hours of sleep. So brace yourself for what gives time management a new definition. I certainly don’t have the answers but am always willing to brainstorm. I’m dealing with this aspect of my life similar to the first time I took to the ice on skates – wobbly and on my butt most the time.

3. Let go and let husband. Remember how I said support comes in all shapes and sizes? Well, the honors go to husband. It’s more than support, its partnership and they should get a lot of credit. From someone who has been coined “the porcelain drill-sergeant” and a “miss know-it-all,” by more people than just her husband, I admit that I’m not always one who thinks someone else may have a better idea at how to run the show better than me. Now insert your baby into the picture and if left unmanaged you may find yourself in an army beret wondering why no one is saluting you when they leave. I digress, back to the partner in crime here, your husband. If, for example, its evening time and you think it should be “wind down” time for the baby because that's what all the books say, and dad comes home with 10 octaves of energy in his briefcase and sweeps baby up for airplane…well, try not to sweat it because she is seriously having way more fun in dad’s hands high in the air than being forced to sleep in her bed. Remember the little one is part him so if his style doesn’t make sense to you, it just might make all the sense to her. Looking back, Richard has been the one who’s come up with some of the most useful ideas and has certainly helped make my adjustment to motherhood easy. I’m so grateful for his confidence, his creativity and his willingness to get up in the middle of the night to feed her even though he has to get to the office in early morning. He is the best and I probably don’t tell him that enough… ‘scuse me while I make a call.

4. Lean on your mama friends. Even if you’re not used to leaning on others, just do it. You’re doing yourself a favor and gaining wisdom from these magical mamas to pass it on. It’s a tornado of support, if you’re willing to participate. I’m so thankful for my mama friends and their sisterhood to me. You too will have your Tracy, Hillary, Vanessa, Rachel, Susan, Heather, Leigh, Emily, Janalyn, Maria, Brandi, Keturah, Nicole, Christy & Natalie. And one of my friends who calls it like she sees it with more kahunas than I have, Andra, is especially refreshing. Check out this blog entry when you’re 6 weeks post-natal and you’ll feel hugely relieved that you’re not alone. The Bean Chronicles

5. And I’ve saved a doozy for last – breastfeeding.

The Baby Book
by William Sears MD & Martha Sears MD
Chapter 8: Breastfeeding
(First Sentence) “Breastfeeding is a life-style…”

Italics and all… When I read that I remember thinking “they ain’t jokin’!” As my darling French friend pointed out to me, there is reason beyond the obvious humane element of European maternity leave – it’s 6 months because if you’re breastfeeding, that in itself is a full-time job.

There is an Everest for every new mama, and breastfeeding has been mine. So forgive me for my rather long testimony, but I hope some of you will take from my experience that the challenges, if you have any, won't last forever. Whether or not you have said challenges, breastfeeding will be more difficult & time consuming than you can imagine it will be. I remember those first weeks home from the hospital, quarantined to the Dutatelier, undignified and unable to even wear a shirt half the time because of the sheer pain of engorgement and a potpourri of related issues that I pray will spare you, wondering what on earth was happening to me. Why oh why was I smug in that breastfeeding class that my husband and I took in my third trimester? I remember it clear as day, leaning over to Richard, giggling about how silly NYC is to have a class for everything - LIKE BREASTFEEDING - with a smirk on my face and my eyes on the clock. I was certain something so "natural" (haha) would come easily. After all, I was going to figure out labor and birth, how hard could it be to figure out breastfeeding? The damn breastfeeding gods heard me and my destiny was sealed the moment I whispered "lets sneak out early and grab Starbucks."

I had my last case of mastitis at 12 weeks and have (fingers crossed) been more or less out of the woods since. Whether it takes you three days or three months, if it's something you believe in, I promise you that you will get through it. I still may not be ready for nursing on the go a la Ergo carrier ("Just loosen the strap here, shift your baby to the side, and wah lah! you can nurse and run your errands at the same time." Please! That is not going to happen for this mama!) But I am finally to the point where it's more than the mere science behind all of the health benefits that keeps me going. I'm beginning to really appreciate what I'm doing for her. And I’m fairly certain this won’t be the last time I go through something tough on behalf of what I think is best for my child.

Whether or not breastfeeding is for you, you will have a new-mama Everest, and it is from that experience that you will discover endurance beyond anything you have had to exercise before. You will find in you an uncompromising will to stay the course for something you believe is best for your child. Be prepared to have your socks knocked off and remember to recognize the beauty in your challenges, however tough. Because despite how challenging it is to breastfeed, deal with colic, understand the unfamiliar world of your hearing-impaired child, or whatever your new-mama Everest is, those are the windows to the new depths of fortitude, tenacity, and sheer LOVE you have the capacity for experiencing. And those new depths are parenthood at it’s finest.


Daddy's little girl

Isabelle: "Someone has got to talk to her about taking all these pictures..."
"I know I'm cute and all...but COME ON..."

"Okay, enough already. I'm going on a smile strike."

"Except when I look at daddy"

She's been teething since 10 weeks, I wonder when a pearly white will rear it's head?

{Growing baby Isabelle!}
Week 1 of life

4 months old

{Having brunch at French Roast with Molly}

I can't get any peace with all of these passerby's stopping to flirt with me...Okay, I admit I like it!

Monday, November 17, 2008

One big happy baby

Isabelle loves reading

If I could write a song, I would. And it would be called "Ode to the Bugaboo Carriage"
It was a rainy day about a week ago and even though I knew we wouldn't get far, as Isabelle's naps are getting shorter and her desire to SEE the world is great, we took good old orange out for a final stroll. It was an end of an era for mommy as we've enjoyed so many lovely walks with the carriage these past few months, but we've got good times ahead. We're trying out various baby wearing gear - wraps, slings & carrier packs mostly - for our walks these days, which Isabelle seems to love because she can flirt with all the passerbys. Just yesterday she got a wink and a nod from Chris Noth, (Mr. Big from SATC) in the neighborhood. She's a ham and will flash a big smile for just about everyone.

A walk through Central Park on NY Marathon day

Big girl!

Election Day shoes

All bundled up and ready to go to Gymboree

Who we're dancing to this week - Keeley Valentino