Thursday, January 31, 2008

getting ready

tomorrow eliana and her mom fly to los angeles. again. elie's accompanying me and two of my colleagues to a work conference in my hometown. my mama, bless her heart, will stay down at the hotel with us and watch elie while i learn about international education and how to be the best darn teacher i can be. and i'll tell you what. while traveling is great, getting ready is tough. i've had an insanely busy week trying to juggle all my work obligations with my little one. and i couldn't have done it without the help of eliana's other grandma, nana roseann. take today for example. i had to be at work an hour earlier than normal and stayed almost two hours later than normal. she was so adaptable with our changing schedule, arrived with a smile, and somehow managed to clean the kitchen, wash and fold our laundry, organize jeff's closet and swift the floors all while playing with her six month old grandchild. my house, at this point in the week, would be a disaster if it weren't for mi suegra. i'm thrilled for her that she too will get a break from our hectic routine and be able to have some fun city time in portland with her daughter, kelli.

how blessed are we to have two such willing grandmothers for our beautiful girl? while one vacations, the other one is waiting to take over for a week or so. and the cycle of love continues...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

working women today

my sister and i used to have a little inside joke about "working women today" when we would walk around new york city in our running shoes, but still try and pull off some sort of fashion friendly, new york savvy, outfit on top. the image of the nine to five worker, getting off work and changing into her walking shoes, is very much an image of growing up in the early eighties. now this nannied for many wagons and the kids schedule and say, "see ya in eight hours." i remember feeding a four month old solid food for the first time when i was a mere college student, his mama off doing her job while i tried to working woman today isn't too concerned about shoes, but instead, how to keep the whole gig in balance. i feel like last week it really hit me. i am officially BACK at work. back with the meetings and report cards and lesson plans. back with nights spent awake in bed trying to figure out how to reach one child, how to inspire another out of lethargy. how to challenge A without leaving B in the dust. my work life has finally moved back into the forefront of my muddled, scattered, alert mommy brain and i'm not sure how to feel about it. i know all of my thoughts and concerns and plans are an important part of my job. i just don't like how eliana takes the backseat. like last week when i was writing report cards. i would just put her in her jumper and let her jump away and pretend to be talking to her, when really i was reading over my narrative reports aloud to be sure they was clear and accurate. thank god she is so easy going. one night i swear i spent six solid hours on reports - again, thank god she takes good, long naps in her crib and enjoys her exersaucer, or i don't know what i would have done. i'm wondering how other women have done it. i know so many women who go back to work full time when their babies are six weeks old, and return to much more challenging, intense careers than my own. i'vefamiles over the years and watched women leave me the keys to their volvofinagle the plastic padded spoon into this little guys toothless mouth. i remember wondering how i had the privilege of feeding him first, how i ended up in that position and when i would be doing the same thing with my own child. how much life i would lead between "playing mommy" and "being mommy."

well, i'm happy to report that there was a great deal of "life" between the two. lots of travel, lots of fun, lots of adventure and, thankfully, lots of years logged into this teaching gig. i've been at this eleven years! i don't know how i would have returned to this job if it were earlier in my career. i didn't have space in my brain or my heart to think about a whole lot else. now the challenge is trying to figure out how to share the space of my brain and my heart, how to not get so caught up "talking" to eliana (we do this new grunting thing back and forth - she goes "eh" and then i look back at her and reply "eh" and then she stares back and says "eh" and we go back and forth about ten times until she just busts up laughing and i do too because we really are communicating and we are so madly in love and it's just so damn fun and how could i have room in my heart for anything else?) that i don't make it out the door in time for a meeting or recess duty. lots of yoga helps. so does walking in the mountains. and writing this all down.

so now that i've had my coffee and processing time, it's time to get dressed and put myself together before sleeping beauty gets up. that way i can give her my full self for that precious time before i have to leave her again and step back into my other world.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

winter in montana

so i realized upon looking over my bloggy this morning, that i've really been fixated on this whole crib/sleep thing. yet there is so much more happening! we are in the middle of winter in montana. winter here is intense, to say the least. and about this time of year, you start to get a bit sick of the whole thing (or you do if you're me and you don't downhill ski...). but instead of ranting about gray days and cold winds, i'd like to focus on all the growth i've made through these winters. i believe this is my sixth montana winter! who woulda thunk that this so cal girl could survive so many frigid seasons! but i've found a beauty in winter. winter has come to mean slowing down. i've spent may, may winter saturdays over the years, holed up sola in the house with a good book, watching the snow fall out the window, wrapped up in a blanket, and at udder peace with doing just that. the sun, god bless her, is an energy button. when it's sunny, especially in montana, you feel like you have to be outside enjoying every single second of it because it's so hard earned. we didn't have these sorts of "rest" days growing up in l.a. at least not with the furious consistency of winters in the great rockies.

so winter with baby. right now i'm drinking a cup of coffee, a candle is burning, eliana is beside me playing with her alligator on the floor, and our daily forecast looks pretty simple. penelope and aluna will come play for a while. we'll take lucy out for a walk. dad will come home from snowbowl and we'll all snuggle. and i'll make deerchiladas for the grillo-shannons for dinner. at that's it. simple. lovely. slowing way down.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

more shots of the big girl

eliana loves to sit up and can "walk around" with assistance. she is such a tough little mama!

crib girl

eliana first goes on top of the blanket auntie hilary knit, then puts her green softie under her head, her yellow and pink softies at either cheek, her little body goes in her grobag, and finally, we place her personalized, navajo, pendelton on top to keep her warm through these long, winter nights.

she is tremendous, this little girl of mine. in just a few days, she trained herself into digging on her crib. now she loves it. she can lie in there, awake, and just sort of trip out on her fishies, or rub her little soft blankets, or space out on the pattern on her bumper pads, until she falls asleep. and now she takes these amazing, long, luxurious naps during the day. when she slept on me, when i walked, like a fool, for miles and miles to get my daughter to sleep, the minute the walk was over, she'd wake up. but now, in the stillness and white noise splendor of her own bed, she sleeps until she's done, calls the shots, does it all on her time. i am so impressed with her. she just wants to be the very best baby she can be. and she's surpassing expectation.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

love songs

i'm not sure if i've ever been in love like this before. actually. on second thought, i'm most certain i never have been. and i've been in love. i've fallen. hard. but some things i just haven't done in a long, long time. like i just had this compulsion to make a mix of all the love songs that remind me of elie. there are love songs that remind me of when she was in my belly last spring. there are songs for lazy summer days when i was so huge and so ready to meet her. and then there are fall tunes, the songs i'd listen to on my headphones while i walked these montana hills carrying my girl. the other day i was cross country skiing by myself while jeff stayed home with elie. songs would come on my shuffle that reminded me of her and my heart would flutter, literally skip a beat, as i pictured her little face in my mind. as i skied back towards the car, i got that excited, anticipatory feeling of going home to see someone who you are just beside yourself in love with. so as i type this i'm listening to eliana's mix. she's sleeping again, and i don't want to keep pestering her, so i'll just listen to our songs, gaze at her photos on this silly computer, and continue to feel as blissfully smitten as i do right now.

comida corrida

so little missy is enjoying her food. this morning i made her a special blend of fresh sweet potato, breast milk and rice cereal. she loves to suck on her little spoon and navigate it towards her mouth on her own. putting all that good, fresh stuff in the blender this morning reminded meof when i was a kid and i'd make special potions in the bathroom sink. except now my special potions have a purpose (i used to soak bark from our tree in the potions to 'clean it'. i then polished it with clear mail polish and gave it as christmas presents to my seven brothers and sisters...). here are some shots of love child getting busy with her spoon.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

as good as it gets

my little girl is just too much. now that she's this expert crib sleeper, i hardly know what to do. not only did she have another exceptional full night's sleep all by her lonesome in her ginormous crib, she's also taken to napping there (sometimes even putting herself to sleep after having some quiet, chill time with her animals). a few minutes ago i was nursing her and she fell asleep in my arms. i just can't really believe sometimes, even still, that i created such a beautiful creature. as i marveled at her thick eyelashes and looked at where her hair is starting to get a bit darker, i thought of how i wanted more than anything, just to freeze this moment, just to hold her like this forever. even though i had a million things to do and i could just put her down in her crib and let her nap there, i kept procrastinating, kept stealing a few more precious moments with my little sweetness. finally i talked myself into getting up, thinking of the report cards to do, the house to tidy. but i think this is perhaps as good as it gets. a snowy winter day, a blanket over the two of you, your baby in your arms. time is frozen and all is peaceful.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

she did it!

I am thrilled to report that baby E, wonder-child of the universe, slept through the night in her crib. I cannot tell you how proud we are of her! Of course, I managed to wake intermittently through the night to tiptoe into her room and check on her breathing (I mean, could she really manage that long without me?) But she slept like a little angel. When I woke up and saw that the clock read seven, I could hardly believe it! Within a few minutes, I heard the little one stir, and proudly picked her up out of her crib. Of course, my breasts had been leaking for the past few hours, engorged as I was having not feed her for, like, nine hours or something insane like that. But stinky shirts aside, there's nothing like watching the little one pull through!

Friday, January 18, 2008

what a big girl does

here are some things a big girl does. a big girl hangs out in her crib and actually plays with her toys. when she's feeling like she needs an extra little kick, she puts them in her mouth.
a big girl goes out to eat in restauraunts and actually makes conversation with her girlfriends. a big girl listens to daddy reading stories and looks at each and every page as he goes. a big girl sits up in the middle of mommy and daddy's bed and is ever so proud. a big girl plays on her playmat independently. and best of all, a big girl soothes herself back to sleep in her crib when finally given the chance.

and a big mama, lets her cry, even for just a few minutes, and gives her the chance to take care of herself.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

crack down

so we're cracking down on sleep in the kessler household and i'm experiencing my first bout of "stay out of the nursery." eliana is screaming and crying and jeff's been in there for the past fifteen minutes or so (though it feels like hours), trying to soothe her back to sleep, without picking her up, and without letting me in. she has learned the power of her cry. she knows it will bring her right back to the boob. so here we are. our first lesson in tough love. it suddenly will sound quiet and i'll wait to hear jeff's footsteps edging out of elie's room, and then it starts up again, the pained wail of the teething girl. she is too much. so charming and intense, so powerful and helpless, all rolled into one, perfectly put together little package.

i would hold her all night if i could. but i know that's not good for any of us.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

six months old

i honest to goodness can't believe how fast this is all happening. little baby eliana turned six months old today. with her sixth month birthday come all sorts of changes and unexpected happenings. eliana, the sleeper, has now turned into eliana the awake and alert and, dare i say it, manipulative. last night she refused to go to sleep, though she continually wiped her little eyes and threw her head back in exhausted despair. finally i put her in her crib and rubbed her little head, exasperated and spent. when jeff came home, i put him on the case and took myself into the other room for a breather. i heard her gearing up for him, her whines becoming louder and then, escalating, into full on cries. because i'm a wuss and i just can't handle her upset, i pulled myself off the bed, stumbled right back in the nursery and picked her up. she then, as if on cue, ceased crying, and flashed a huge grin at jeff as if to say, ya see, i know how to get what i want.

i'm wondering what the next six months will bring as our little one comes into her power.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


a beautiful thing is happening between eliana and her mama. we are starting to find our independence, eliana for the first time, me, well, i guess i'm re-discovering. i felt it this morning while she was in her exersaucer, getting her morning workout. she was all the way in the living room, and i was all the way in the kitchen. usually i would keep her closer to me. but she was actually out of my eyesight for a good fifteen minutes, completely self contained. when i came back in the room with my coffee and called her name, she turned her head and gave me the most gorgeous, absolutely contented smile. then she hopped her little feet around to face me and we stared at each other like long lost lovers for a good couple of minutes. later i put her in her crib, while i got myself dressed. she used to cry and whine if i left her for too long, but today, she just played with her toys, pulling on her alligator, pushing the buttons on her radio, twisting her funky ball in her fingers. it's the most beautiful thing to watch. to watch her find her way.

Monday, January 14, 2008

tiny dancer

who needs sleep training?

eliana's making peace with her crib. mom's not having the same luck...

so eliana rocked the crib again last night. she fell asleep at 8:30 and slept soundly until 1:30 in the morning. i gave her these holistic teething table thingamajiggers, perhaps that helped. or maybe she's just getting used to her own space. the unfortunate thing is, her mama isn't. i lay in bed wide awake from about 9:30. finally around midnight, i decided to go out into the living room and read and stretch, try to settle myself down a bit. i knew i was feeling the loss of her, missing her, as she slept on, on her own. then at 1:30, i heard it. the little cry. i leaped off the sofa with excitement. finally. it was like i had been waiting for it, like i couldn't complete handle the fact that she was able to sleep on her own, in her own bed, in her own room, all alone. like i can't handle her growing up. now i know why the pre-school mom's hover outside of the classroom door the first week of school. it's all about letting go.

so i nursed her and hung with her a while and then tried, even though my heart wasn't at all in it, to help her get settled back in her crib. but after some fussing and crying, i scooped her up, and brought her to our room. she and i both slept, eliana safely in my arms. at least one of us is learning to sleep on her own.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

pink boots

eliana and i had a special, mommy- daughter weekend, while dad was away on a back-country ski trip. we did all sorts of sweet things like hike with lucy and cuddle on the sofa and meet friends for coffee and have the girls over for wine. but the sweetest part of our weekend was just being together, quietly, the two of us. it's so beautiful to watch the way she relates to me now. it's like she really, truly knows me. she knows how to communicate with me and talk to me and express her needs, without just crying. she gives me different looks for different things, has times when she wants to be independent and times when she wants to be held. in these pics she's posing in her pink boots while she practiced standing up on the moving glider chair. this was a bit anxiety producing for mom, but another proud achievement for babe.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Here's Eliana, last night, when she completely sat up in her bucket. She was so damn proud of herself, I could hardly stand it. I think she might have been letting us know that she maybe, perhaps, is the tiniest bit ready to sleep on her own.

I have been reading more mommy blogs and once again feel the compulsion to capitalize. I know the next time I post in a pinch, I won't be so self-conscious. It's one of those weird things. I get paid to teach children how to capitalize, for heaven's sake. I know how to do it. I also excelled in my typing classes in middle school. I work the shift key just fabulously. It's just one extra step that makes this a bit formal for me. But that's not at all my point...

So, since Eliana's birth, she's been a pretty damn solid sleeper. She sleeps in this little "criblet" or "bucket" or "Safe and Secure Sleeper from Target" between us in our bed. It's tight, but it's sweet and that's how we've been going all along. Well, homegirl is getting pretty damn big and has just about busted out of the bucket. Last night we had her asleep in the box in the middle of the bed and Jeffy and I had to keep checking on her because we were both hyper-paranoid and sure that she could roll right out of the thing (even though she's swaddled which paints a picture somehwhat like that of a quadriplegic falling out of her wheelchair, a rather unfortunate and upsetting connection, I know, but I just couldn't help going there...). So Jeff build this little fortress of pillows all around the bucket and Eliana continued to sleep, her long legs dangling off the side of the box (later to kick and push against my back the whole night). On top of this ridiculous set up, Eliana was also waking up every hour. This is not common behavior for our angelic girl. I, of course, did exactly what you're not "supposed" to do and marched right in there, picked her up, and nursed her right back to sleep. At some point, around the third or fourth pick-up, Jeff and I had the conversation. Homegirl has got to try her own room, her crib, her lair. It's kinda funny because our house is tiny and Eliana's room is right next to ours. It's also gorgeous and perfectly set up for a little baby girl to sleep in. But I've grown so attached to our little set up. I love being able to put my hand on her belly to check on her breathing. I love the way Jeff and I watch her sleep. I love it how, sometimes after her morning nurse, I move her bucket and just let her sleep in my arms. It's really the absolute best thing in the entire universe.
But we're not getting enough sleep. And on our travels, Jeff and I had our first opportunity to actually sleep next to one another in a bed. And I have to admit, it was kinda nice. It was nice to be able to move. To not have little feet walking up and down my spine in a deliriously sleepy rhythm. It was nice to feel sort of like, well, my old self again (this is a concept that continues to come up lately, one that I need to further explore). So tonight, I bit the bullet. I nursed Elie, we had some "quiet play time" with her pink bunny on the bed. And then I surreptitiously moved her into her room. I let her hang in the crib for a while, to sort of get a lay of the land. I then picked her up, nursed her to sleep in the glider, and then, ever so carefully, put her back in her crib. Now I still know that I'm breaking all sorts of rules. You don't rock or nurse your baby to sleep because then they grow dependent up on you, yadda yadda. I know all that. But still, she is an attachment baby. And this is the first time, EVER, under my care, that she has slept alone, in her crib. Now it will be a wonder if I can actually sleep in my bed in the other room. I have a vision of myself curled up on the futon by the crib with one eye open and on her at all times. And maybe she'll wake up screaming in a few minutes and the whole deal will be off. I'm not sure. I do know that I love her more than anything and I can't stand to be away from her. But I also know, that she's approaching six months and it's time for me to, at least give her a bit of space to, spread her little wings and fly, just the teeniest bit, solo.

Monday, January 7, 2008


so when i find myself trapped in some ridiculous position at the computer with a sleeping baby in my arms, i would love to have some other good mommy blogs to read (besides nici's and casey's...) anyone have some sites for me?

helping 'attachment baby' detach

so it's actually that time. eliana is approaching the six month mark. and this mama doesn't feel all that ready to help her baby detach. for example. eliana is in great need of a longer nap (because silly dog decided to bark wildly at a shadow passing by our window and subsequently woke up the little new year's resolution is to be kinder to my dog...she continues to push me). so i tried to do what the grandmother's seem to be able to do and "put her down". after a few torturous minutes of crying in her crib, i of course relented and picked her up. then i tried my mom's best trick, the bouncy seat with her green blanket. she screamed in my face. so here i am, resorting to my easiest trick, the ever reliable breast. and eliana's back to sleep. and i'm stuck in this awful position, one-hand typing because i lack the cajones to attept to move and re-position her. so i guess i'm the weak one. i can't stand to hear her cry, don't want any pain or harm to cross her path. so what if i have a sore back? that's what yoga's for...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

so cal in all its glory

i am realizing that i'm no good at writing about things too long after the fact. i don't think i have it in me, at least not tonight, to go in to too much detail about my trip. the long and the short of it is- we had an excellent adventure. the weather was glorious, perfect for long city walks and beach time. i explored the new metro system and went down to chinatown and alvero street - what a fantastic new system. eliana and i loved mass transit! what else - on new year's eve, jeff and i hiked in the mountains close to where we met, while gran watched eliana, and relived our silly, l.a. youth. sissy even took me to see 'wicked', a delectable treat i would have never been able to afford on my own. what was truly a treat was having my mama watch elie while i went to do fun things! i haven't yet banked much babysitting time when i wasn't working. it's much better to do things you really, really enjoy while someone else is watching your baby as opposed to going to a job! especially if that person is your mom and you know she is enjoying every second, quality moment with your beloved little tike. it was really a perfect situation. so anyhoo...i drank lots of good coffee drinks, ate lots of sushi, and had some kickin' burritos. but most importantly, we spent time with our family. we laughed and hung and played games. we reminisced and strolled and loved. it was just perfect. the next few posts have some pictoral highlights...

eliana delights in her cali family

i just love showing my daughter off and who better to share her with than her family! here she is getting loved by all her peeps in so cal - i think the pics say it all!

auntie hilary would do anything for her baby niece, eliana. i was so thankful for all the quality time we had together!

nothing like those san gabriel moutains in the wintertime!
you can never love too much!

oh how i love my gran!
with uncle kent and auntie alison, and crazy cousins cameron and harry...
but the silliest cousin of all is little piper who absolutely adores her baby cousin.

grandpa don don and mary sue even made it in from new york to share in the love.

eliana takes lala land by storm!

i've had my longest blogging break yet because i was busy, busy exploring the wilds of southern california with my little new family, and my larger, old family. what a time we had! i think i'll attempt first to tell some stories through pictures....

no first trip to southern cali would be complete without a trip to venice beach! here eliana searches for the perfect pair of shades....

admires the sea with her mama,
let's daddy get her toes wet and sandy,
poses on the sand with her silly parents,
lets auntie hilary roll her along the boardwalk,
lets johnny and dad haul her ride over the sand,
and even takes in the local culture and wildlife!