cuba band #happeningnow

I would be lying if I said balancing work and life as a new mom was a breeze. Most days I crawl into bed and feel like I just finished round 10 of a prize fight! Friends keep telling me that I don’t need to give 100% to all aspects of my life, and I get that. But it is so hard not to, so inevitably I am tired by the end of the day…truly exhausted to my core. Yet, since Henry has found his new sleep pattern, I have been able to sustain this momentum (for now). If I had five of me, I would dedicate each of them to the following: Wife & Bestie to David Melissa, Work Melissa, Mom Melissa, Life Stuff Melissa, and House Chores Melissa. I feel bad for house chores Melissa because this area of life has really fallen behind lately (sorry!). So yes, everyday is a little bit of a push and pull to get all things done for everyone. But then every so often, there is a treat that makes all the racing around worth it!

Today my class gets to do an interdisciplinary exchange with the school’s Jazz Band that is preparing to go to Cuba. The Cuba Band has been working hard to prepare their repertoire and learn their instruments before their departure over Spring Break to Havana. Simultaneously, my class has been working hard to learn all about the Cuban Revolution and Cuban History. This morning these two worlds will collide for two hours.  My students will present their understanding of the history of Cuba from Batista to Raul Castro and the band will present the history of their instruments and play some of their Cuban music for us. We will all do some activities around beats and syncopation and enjoy the fruits of individual labors during this shared event. When I started the school year, it was a goal of mine to seek out an interdisciplinary opportunity for my students. I thought it would be an exciting opportunity for them to take hold of their learning and truly see its connection across disciplines. Of course, I felt a bit overwhelmed by just the regular daily needs of my courses and my life, but I am SO glad that this opportunity presented itself. It will be great watching my students take full ownership over their knowledge on this topic and, in exchange, have an opportunity to let their hair down and enjoy some fabulous jazz music (and maybe even some dancing)!

lion man

I am not sure what Henry’s first Halloween will look like exactly. Since it falls on a Friday, David and I will both have to work during the day.  Once we get home, it might be either too late or too cold to take the lion man out. Of course, if these two concerns do not present themselves, then we are aiming to taking the little lion out on the town (for at least a few minutes) to “trick or treat.” It will be funny bringing him by our neighbors homes or bringing him over to close friend’s. If nothing else, he will don his little costume and we will observe the holiday through photographs! I am sure Henry is psyched about it!

Regardless of how we celebrate on October 31, Henry was able to spend a little afternoon with his friends recently at a pumpkin festival in costume!  It was adorable seeing his little buds dressed as a strawberry, cow, and astronaut. And, of course I loved seeing their parents as well. It is nice being a part of a little group of moms to share stories, insights, goofy moments, and, most importantly, to watch our babies grow up, thrive, and begin to reach out and “play” with one another. It is such a fun part of mommy-hood. To me, this was our Halloween celebration!

dogs & babies

It has been said that a dog is man’s best friend, and “a dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” In our house, this is incredibly true. Since welcoming Henry into our lives, we have not been the best puppy parents. Henry’s needs have constantly come before our own and before our pups. He has laid a fog over our eyes in which we see only his little self and his little needs. And despite this negligence, Buster and Bella have been unflappable in their love for their less then mindful pack leaders. They continue to be love and loyalty personified.

In the middle of night when Henry chirps and squawks, the dogs cock their heads to the sound, confirm that the little man is being addressed by one of the humans, and return to slumber as best as they can. Just like the humans, they have not had one restful night since July. Yet, they remain ever present. They come to bed each night and brace for the restlessness. They warm the bed on chilly nights and occasionally lick an exposed leg or hand to remind us that they are there and there they shall remain. In the wee hours of the night, when I am awake with my little owl, I know I am not alone since their half-watchful eyes and their always ready to secure selves remain close by.

When I am frustrated that they are crowding the bed while I try to nurse Henry, a short “move, move, move” and Bella lumbers over to the end of the bed in order to make space for this unapologetic newcomer and her sometimes distraught and disheveled adult human . During the day when we aren’t always able to take them for walks, they head out back and make do with the yard. They romp about and play with each and return to the house and maintain their quiet, watchful place. When Henry is on the floor flaunting an interesting toy, they don’t rush ahead for it, they lay beside him, sometimes steal of lick of his little hand or of his toy.  But, they know these are not their toys and instead wait for this little human to grow up into the boy who will chase them about the house. As a result of their condition, the dogs play a long waiting game. They wait for David and I to pet, cuddle, and play with them, they wait outside a lot longer these days while we wrangle the little man inside, they wait and wait for Henry to grow up.  They are truly beautiful, wonderful, amazing pups. They have proven that despite their world being turned upside down by this pint size new ruler of the home, that they are calm, loving, patient little beasts.

favorite things: right now

Since gaining more adequate head control, Henry has really become a little person. Obviously, he was a little person without head control, but now he is SO much more interactive and playful. As a result of this, “play time” is no longer me sitting in front of him and showing him things while he stares through the items. Now he reaches out and grabs for stuff, puts everything in his mouth, laughs, squeals, and bats at things. With this new skill set, we opened up some of the boxes we had stored away as “toys for later.” One of our newest favorite things is the door frame jumper. When I was little, my mom said my Jolly Jumper was my absolute favorite toy. I would sit in it for hours hopping and bopping about. My mom could move it from room to room and my favorite place to bounce was near the kitchen so I could watch my family prepare a meal while I did my “exercise.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like you can buy the original Jolly Jumper any more. Canada seems to own the market on the super cool original harness.  We had to settle then for an imitation version, but it will do. We set Henry up near the kitchen and while he was skeptical at first, he batted his feet about on the floor and was able to stare the pups straight in the eye from the comfort of his harness. I can see Henry really enjoying this odd device in the upcoming days.

Similarly, he has been enjoying his stationary bouncer. He goes in here everyday for about 10-15 minutes and just plays and plays and plays. He knocks the little vegetables off their posts and turns the pages of the sensory book. If you take him out sooner than he wants, he fusses until you realize, “Oh hey, I think he wants to go back into that bouncy thing!”

And, where would a new mom be without her diaper bag. We went with the skip hop duo and didn’t really know if we would end up liking it or not. When you are new to this whole parenting business it is really hard to know what you need and what is just excess. Thankfully, the bag we selected worked out. It is small enough that when I carry it around I don’t feel like I am carrying around Henry’s nursery but big enough to actually store diapers, cream, wipes, changing pad, 2 blankets, change of clothes, 2 hats, socks, a monkey mat, a mommy hook, pacifier, emergency bottle, Sophia, and also my personal items as well. While I am not sure what we will need as Henry gets older and his needs advance, I am happy that this bag is working out for us right now (and fingers crossed will continue to work out). Lastly, let’s talk about the Merlin Magic SleepSuit, otherwise known as MY FAVORITE ITEM YET! Henry was struggling with being un-swaddled and rolling over all in one night. Sleep was hit or miss and by the end of two weeks David and I were reeling from exhaustion. We checked out some blogs, talked with our pediatrician, and also met with our mommy friends. With these powers combined we chose to start a gentle sleep training program and included using this sleep suit. We followed our usual sleep routine: bath, books, snuggles, pjs, nurse, pacifier, and bed (this time with the suit on). We were prepared to let him cry for one minute then go in and comfort and repeat this process up to 5 times.  But, once in the suit there was no need for a second of crying. Henry passed out in his comfy suit and slept a 5 hours shift followed by a 4 hours shift!! YAY Merlin Magic Suit!!! Best purchase ever as it bought us the more precious gift of all: Sleep!