Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Baby 101

It's been 100 days since we left the hospital with Leah. That corresponds to roughly:

200 loads of laundry (and our highest water consumption ever)
400 mood swings (those are mine)
600 feedings (I'm a cow)
800 diaper changes (more than half with poop)
1000 bouts of crying (which Michael thinks are cute)

Yes, things have changed but we knew that would happen. For years people have told us life changes more than you believe.

But... what are those things they don't tell you?

My vote: lack of warning about the true pain of the [insert pause for added dramatic effect]... THE CLUSTER FEED.

I first heard about this mysterious thing a few weeks before Leah was born. I was informed that at some point during the first week the baby would have a growth spurt. This growth spurt coincides with cluster feeding, an increased rate of feedings resulting from increased hunger.

I suppose this happened when I was in the hospital but everything is a bit of a blur the first week. The baby seems to be doing nothing more than eating, pooping, sleeping, and crying. Therefore, a slight increase in the frequency of feeding did not seem alarming.

Trouble is, I was not really warned about the future cluster feeds. Had I been thinking logically, instead of thinking like a sleep deprived new mom, I may have realized this would happen. After all, I knew there would be future growth spurts.

Here's a short recap of the last 24 hrs:

Tuesday morning is Baby Day at the Alamo Draft House theater. I burst out in laughter when I saw the warning signs posted on the doors.

I fed Leah before we left and brought a bottle, assuming she would not want it until the end of the movie. Shortly after the movie began, the crying began. Warning sign #1: an off schedule feeding. We fed Leah, changed a diaper, and walked around the back of the theater with her for another hour. Apparently she was in no mood to sit still (I still have no clue where that trait comes from).

When we returned home we fed Leah again, changed her, and put her down for a nap. She slept for 1.5 hrs and managed to soak through her diaper so extensively that three large spots soaked her bed when she woke up. I'm pretty sure this is the first time she's managed to leak through all three diaper holes. Warning sign #2: massive amount of pee in a short period of time

Since yesterday afternoon Leah has followed a stringent pattern of eating every 2.5 hours (it's normally every 4 during the day and 8 at night), sleeping a bit, and waking up for more.

I'm sure you can guess how our night went! Not much sleep and a lot of frustration that I have to squeeze even more liquid life out in a short period of time. These type of nights make a mom want to rip out her hair. I thought twice about this as I remembered my hair is already falling out at a rapid rate due to nursing.

We responded to this eating frenzy with logic. In a classic example of an over controlled process we pulled about 3 feedings worth of milk out of the freezer. Of course, once she starts eating more my body will also respond with an increase in the cow factor. It's impressive how quickly the body can respond to an increased demand but it's not much fun when the discomfort level rises.

Biggest concern now is our flight tomorrow. It was already going to be a logistical challenge for us but the eating frenzy adds some increased fun factors. We'll see how it goes. For now, I'll just have to repack all of Leah's clothes. She's been wearing 0-3m stuff but after this last cluster feed I think we'll be exclusively in 3-6m before the weekend.

Maybe Leah felt the need to grow enough to fit into the snow suit before it warms up in Austin:

Another picture, Leah with her favorite nerd toy:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Busy Gear Garels

I just returned from a quick trip to Target to buy some red-topped bins for baby clothes (and pass along to the next J&A baby girl). While I was there I made a necessary trip over to the toy section.

I continue to wonder what I will do when Leah gets older and insists on buying every toy she's interested in. How can I possibly say no when I can't resist the urge myself?! Tonight I just had to get this:
Seriously, the Playschool Busy Gears was a need! My curious engineer in training likes colors and moving objects. How could I pass up such a perfect toy, especially once I noticed it was on sale.

I was reassured when I was in the checkout line. There were two young girls (and their mother) ahead of me in line who thought I'd picked some cool toys. They also had an eye for my blueberries so they must be smart girls.


We decided it was time to take a family adventure. For me, it felt like the past few months have involved a lot of "your turn to watch her" instead of doing things all together. That was our goal this weekend, to work on doing things together as a family. We had a great weekend together, I'm happy that we've been able to start introducing Leah to being a Garel.

After living in Austin for a decade it was about time to make a trip to Enchanted Rock. I can't believe we waited so long to head out there, it was well worth it.

As usual, Leah was the smarter one with logistics. Michael read mention of the parking lot filling up during peak season but we assumed this weekend would not be that popular. Leah knew better, she woke up at 3:30 and 7:30 to eat (1 hr earlier than usual). We arrived at the park at 10:30, too no line. We walked to the top of the summit and noticed a string of people heading up on our way down. Then we made another hike through the park. When we left at 2:15 there was a huge back-up of cars, waiting to get into the park. Almost seems Leah knew it was smarter to get out of the house and arrive early ;)


Lesson of the weekend: Bench press is not a necessary exercise while nursing. I went to the gym yesterday for the second time since having Leah. I decided it might be time to test out my arms a bit since I was no longer concerned about the risk of dropping the bar on my belly. Let's just say the added soreness is not good when you already have tugging in that area.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Things happen a little differently on days with both parents at home. There's more time to get chores done around the house but some things in life don't change too much after kids. Instead of settling down to a productive day of finishing the fence project or purging out things we don't need we decided to introduce Leah to the Garel lifestyle.

Here's a list of today's activities
- Feed Leah
- Change Leah
- Mom is "that person" waiting for the gym to open at 8am
- Dad runs at Town Lake
- Feed Leah
- Change Leah
- Farmer's Market trip
- Austin Children's Museum visit
- Feed Leah
- Change Leah
- Take care of brother's cat
- Mom runs at Town Lake while Dad & Leah play at Jack & Adams
- Feed Parents
- Feed Leah
- Change Leah
- Read story
- House chores and web surfing

The parents out there may notice something was missing from this list... there was no mention of a nap. I suspect this type of weekend oversight may become a serious issue in the future. Or... Leah will quickly realize her parents are crazy and will begin to sleep through all the activities we drag her out too.

When I returned back from my outing at Town Lake I asked Michael what they had done while I was gone. Michael happily showed me a phone full of pictures of Leah testing out a tri-bike.

As I carried a bucket of laundry upstairs I asked Michael what he was doing. "I'm morphing pictures of us to find out what Leah should look like." Apparently there's a website that allows you to morph pictures to determine what your baby would look like. This would probably be a great application for those who do not have a baby sleeping in the next room. With his lack of sleep Michael forgot that he already knows what our morphed baby looks like.

But... this was fun and took less than 9 months of waiting before we got to see it.

Thankfully, I think Leah lucked out and looks cuter than the morph prediction.

Aside from morph_baby there's also a morph_old feature. I have to be honest, this one freaked me out a bit. I'm hoping this strange shadow looking morph is not the way Leah will look in 30 yrs.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Neighborhood Watch

Our neighborhood has a yahoo news group which seems to be used primary to make complaints (regarding neighbors with tall grass) and report on the wrongdoings of teenagers in the area.

Lately, the neighborhood safety and break-ins have been a hot topic. Although it's a serious issue there is a bit of humor when I read all the reports of "suspicious vehicles" in the area. My favorite is when (1) neighbor A reports a suspicious vehicle in front of someones house and says they are about to call the police and (2) neighbor B writes back not to call the police because that car belongs to their visitor.

There are signs posted for the neighborhood watch program and the local police are often called into the area when a problem comes up. As I was crossing the street at the beginning of my walk on Friday a Policeman called over from his car, "Excuse me, do you happen to recognize this dog?" As he said this he held a brown chihuahua out the window.

"Of course, wasn't he in the Taco Bell commercials in the 90's?!"

No, I didn't really say that. Instead I answered with a less sarcastic remark, "No, Don't know the dog. Are you really sitting here to see if someone knows the dog?"


Good to know the police are monitoring the important things, I thought they were just out to give people speeding tickets. Note, I saw four people pulled over on my drive home from the pool.

Later on in our walk, Leah and I came across a suspicious vehicle. I was tempted to report it to the neighborhood news group but I wasn't sure if they'd see my humor. Maybe they would have been more understanding if I also reported on the suspicious men hopping out of the vehicle in camo clothing. Obviously, they were trying to sneak around the neighborhood unnoticed!

Good thing the keen eyes of the 3 month old spotted them.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Sometimes I wonder how much Leah understands. I'm sure every parent would love to think they are raising a little genius, a future Olympic medalist, or just a great person in general.

Some parents seemed to be convinced they have a rock star at a young age and try to tell everyone about it. It's funny what things can lead parents to believe their child is exceptional. Last week some people showed my brother how well their 3 month old could stand... they were holding onto the kid at the time. There's always the parents who brags about the size of their kid: my kid is in the 100 th percentile for head size or my kid has an abnormally large femur (some of you may know who that kid is but I'll keep him anonymous until he gets chicked by Leah in a few years).

What makes me think Leah is so special? I think it's this remarkable ability to understand what I'm saying to her. Or... just my impression that she understands me and seems to listen to my requests.

Here's how my day went today:

Michael joined a friend to run at City Park and I slept in, a long time, due too a few months of cumulative sleep deprivation. I woke up at 9:30 and thought it would be real nice if Leah would stay asleep long enough for me to eat some breakfast. I checked on her and asked her to wait a few more minutes to wake up. Somehow she managed to wake up just after I finished the dishes.

I fed her and played with her a bit. At that point I wanted her to take a nap for a while so I could hop on the trainer and get in a good ride. I was hoping for 2:45 ride which seemed a bit unreasonable since she would probably want to eat in 2 hrs. But why not try, "Hey Leah, can you take a long nap so I can get in a 2:45 trainer ride?" Almost like clockwork, she woke up minutes before my ride was ending and Michael held her while I took a quick shower.

I fed Leah and got ready to burp her, "Okay Leah, mom just took a shower so let's try not to spit milk all over her."

At this point Leah gave me a smile as she was laying on a pillow in my lap. She opened her mouth and spit out a huge stream of milk. I burst into laughter, "No problem mom, I didn't get it on you."

We then laid on the floor to play a bit. When Michael came over I told him to take a picture of us, "Wave to the camera Leah" (see picture above).

I know it's quite impossible that she could actually have the cognitive ability to understand me but she just keeps making me wonder. Maybe I do have a genius. Or maybe I'm still sleep deprived and have dilutions of a genius.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Leah has seen her cousin a couple of times in the past few days. Rylee is turning two next month and is therefore quite a bit more interesting than full grown adults. Leah has been very curious about Rylee and seems to be quite content watching the little giant at play.

Rylee's favorite words of the week appear to be "No" and "Mine." She's getting herself in good position for the terrible two's.

We've decided to disperse the negative characteristics of that year over a larger time frame. Therefore, we will be teaching Leah about the concept of possession (mine) at a young age. To help in our plans, Leah has been sent more personalized items.

Hopefully the new towels will allow us to fully explain the concept of mine, yours, and ours.

Only trouble is... how to we teach her about sharing? Do we get her a library card so she can learn about sharing books with other kids? This could be dangerous if she takes after me. When I was younger I defaced the library copy of Harold And The Purple Crayon by drawing all over it with my own purple crayon. You may wonder how I recall this... my mother made me go apologize to all the librarians for what I'd done. It was probably a good call on her part because it ended my graffiti career at a young age.

Here's a picture of me sharing Leah's skoot with her. You may notice a couple of things about the bike: (1) there are no pedals - this allows us to teach Leah balance (2) there are disk wheels - this implies Leah is stronger than her mother since D.W. let her have disk wheels and told me I was too small

A picture of Leah asleep in my arms at the Austin Children's Museam. After about an hour of watching shadows, lights, and the other kids she was passed out. I'm sure it had nothing to do with my attempt to get her on the bike that counted pedal strokes

Lastly, another picture in a Hungry Catipillar outfit. I think these are guite fitting for our good eater

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yawning is Contagious

I've heard many times that yawning is contagious. I've seen the effects before yet I just can't seem to make Leah yawn when I do. She has the power to make me yawn. She's so good at it that I even began to yawn when I looked at this picture again.

It's pretty interesting to observe Leah's personality evolve. I've begun to call her "Curious Leah." It might not be the most catchy nickname but it's a lot better than some of the other ones her father has tried; Porker, Bugger, Goober, etc.

Here's a few pictures for those of you watching Leah grow from your computer...

Curious Leah watching her airplane mobile:

Leah comparing herself to the measurement worm:

Blowing spit bubbles:

Getting ready for a birthday party:

A few people have asked me how the workouts are going lately...

Last week went pretty well. There were some solid arm workouts with dumbbells (a.k.a. rattles) and we managed 3 sets of 10 baby crunches. Leah is learning her multiplication tables as well as developing her core.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Tuesday was our first 'bring your daughter to work day.' Michael watched Leah while I was at my eye appointment.

He's been trying to teach her to shake her rattle for a while. Grasping it and shaking it was a difficult task. As he was driving along her heard the rattle shake, she'd accomplished her goal.

This morning Whitney attached the pulley system for us to try swimming against resistance for part of practice. The first time I tried this, about 1 month ago, I made it about half way. After that practice I promised myself I'd get to the other side at my next attempt. A few weeks later I swam to the other end with a 8 lb weight attached to the pulley.

Today, I had a new challenge: 10 lb. It might not sound like much but getting myself across that pool took a lot of energy. I managed to scrape my finger tips at the other wall 4 x this morning. I was toast for the rest of practice but I'd made progress.

I should probably thank Leah for this. I suspect my arms are getting stronger as I continue to pick up my good eater.

Keep working at those seemingly impossible tasks, every little accomplishment is a sweet reward for the effort put in.

A good quote from Vince Lombardi for all those football fans out there (although I doubt any of them have ever read this blog) :

"The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Everybody Poops

The last time we went to the pediatrician's office he told us, "Don't be surprised if she only poops every couple of days."

"What? Did you say every couple of days or every couple of diapers?"

Apparently some babies go as long as a week without pooping. I want to find out what those moms are eating (or not eating) to cause this. We were excited when she was no longer pooping every couple of hours. It's pretty exciting when you get one of those surprise poop-free diapers; less cleanup is always good.

Which brings us to the topic of the day, diapers.

As some might know, we use a combination of cloth and landfill diapers. The landfill at night is a compromise to make things a bit easier for my wonderful husband, who is nice enough to change most of those diapers.

Why did I want to use cloth?

My initial reasoning was to reduce my carbon footprint a bit. Although I must admit, my brother and one of my old co-workers seemed to think I would give in after about of week of using them. Proving them wrong was enough incentive to use the cloth ones.

Some people use cloth for the money savings. I haven't had the time to do a full cost / carbon footprint analysis on the topic. If so I'd have to consider the processing of the landfill diapers and their waste versus the processing of the cloth and the increased water consumption for all the laundry we now do. There are many other things to consider, but I've let my six sigma certification run out so I'm not going to bother with that. For now, I'll just share some observations...

There are many types of cloth diapers and a lot of jargon to confuse the novice parent. The best thing I did was talk to people who use the cloth diapers and try to absorb some of their knowledge. Biggest thing I learned, every kid is a bit different and those varied body shapes seem to have an effect on what diapers you will prefer.

The cheapest way to cloth diaper is to use prefolds and covers. Although pictures of Leah are appreciated she prefers not to be seen in only her diapers.

(Leah's reaction to the idea of pictures in her diaper)

Therefore, Mr Blue Hippo has volunteered for the job of showing you some of the different ways to fold your prefolds.

The prefolds are what most people think of when they talk about cloth diapers. Thing is, people have been inventing a lot over the past 50 years. Not only do we have phones that take pictures, we have cloth diapers that go on just as easily as the trash diapers (easier if you ask me). My current personal favorite are the BumGenius one size and BumGenius 3.0 all-in-one diapers.

As I said earlier, there's more laundry to be done with these diapers and a baby. For decades my laundry has consisted of a load of lights, followed by a load of darks, and maybe a load of towels or sheets. Sometimes we managed to create a non-dryer load during peak ironman training. Now we have something new: a load of diapers followed by a load of pinks. You don't even realize pink has it's own load until you have a baby girl.

(the load of pink and white clothes)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Snowing in Austin

For those of you living in Austin I'm sure you've heard about the potential snow all week. From the way people have been talking you'd think we were going to get some huge storm that would shut down the city for weeks.

But all those people buying up the bananas and water were correct, it has been snowing in Austin today.

Look at the neighborhood kids who got sent home early from school...

No, of course that's not Austin in 2009! Don't the moon boots give it away? That's western New York in December of 1984. Yes, the dorky one with the big glasses is me.

Here's what it was like in Austin (complete with some commentary from Leah)

If you watch again you might actually see the snow flakes. Seriously, they are there. We were lucky enough to have 3 min of snow while Michael was home for lunch. We almost missed it because it took almost that long to get Leah bundled up enough to venture out into the frigid weather.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Being in the right place

While we were flying the other day Michael and I were having a conversation about relativity. It was a very interesting discussion about the velocity and acceleration of airplanes and bugs within the airplane. Lucky for you, that is not what this blog post is about.

Instead, a brief recap of my lucky coincidence today...

Text message from RY: " [my license plate ID] I think I'm parked next to you"

We were both running some errands mid day and some how ended up parked next to each other on the almost_roof level of a parking garage.

It sounds like a funny coincidence but I have somehow run into Rich in many random places; the airport, Barton Springs, races, etc. The first encounter (while he was a tour guide at Carnegie Mellon) has been a huge factor in shaping the past 15 yrs of my life. Had he split the tour group differently I might not have gone to CMU, might not have met Michael, and probably would not be living in Austin right now. Thank you Rich for inadvertently shaping my future.

We, on the other hand, deliberately shaped his future by introducing him to Kelly.

Back to the story... We both got done at the same time and decided it would be fun to head to lunch. RY had never been to EZ's so we made the short walk over there and enjoyed a good chat. Mid way through our meal the kids at the next table decided it would be fun to dump their glasses of water and ice. Crash, a huge spill all over and a water fall pouring off the table.

"That's what you have to look forward too," Rich said with a laugh.

I quickly reached over to cover Leah's eyes, "You don't see anything."

When we were growing up my brother spilled his drink about 9 of 10 meals. I honestly think it became a game of 'try to wreck Michelle's dinner' instead of a mere accident. My brother seemed to love spilling milk and OJ onto my food too see how much liquid was required to keep me from clearing my plate.

It should be fun to see what sorts of messes Leah gets into as she grows. I suspect there will be many of them. I also suspect a certain person (who will remain nameless) will burst out into laughter and therefore encourage this type of behavior.


A few more Leah pictures

Wishing a happy B-day all the cool people born at this time of year:Encouraging mom riding the trainer, after a stellar 20 min nap:

For those of you wondering about the picture at the top of this post, that was my failed attempt to take a self portrait with my iPhone. It didn't quite work as planned.

Leah is much better at taking self portraits with the phone: