Katie’s Half Birthday

We have a little tradition in our family of celebrating a baby’s first half-birthday (that is, when they turn six months old).  We make a half-cake, top it with a half candle (Brian takes great pleasure in cutting a candle in half lengthwise) and then sing “Happy Half Birthday to You” while the baby blows the candle half-out.

Older siblings usually blow out the other half.  You can read about William’s half birthday here.  Katie’s was much the same.

William helped me frost the half cake.  He took his duties as Quality Control Inspector quite seriously.

The finished half cake is below.  I was gratified that it turned out well.  A recent attempt at making yellow cake was a spectacular failure.  This one, on the other hand, was perfect.

Everyone was so excited to celebrate!  We told Katie that if she was a good girl and ate all her carrot puree, she’d get to watch us eat her birthday cake.  She thought this was a great idea!

After cake came the giving of the half-gift.  Half-gifts in the past have included baby socks and half-finished handknitted sweaters.  William and I went shopping together and picked out this:

It’s a little mini-blankie shaped like an owl.  We’re hoping it deters her from finding and chewing on other cloth objects, like Jeffrey’s discarded socks.  (Yeah, ew.)

Eleanor used the package ribbon to make a “crown” for our little half-birthday girl.

She is getting improbably big.  How dare she grow so fast! — although we love every inch.

Allergies vs. Cold

The cottonwood is blooming, which means itchy eyes, a runny nose, and more sneezes than I know what to do with.  For me.  Nobody else is affected, which means I spend a lot of these sunny afternoons watching my children through panes of glass as they frolic in the backyard.

Katie, meanwhile, is dealing with her very first cold.  This means a runny nose and weepy red eyes for her.  It also means that if she’s awake, she needs to be held.  By somebody.  Most often, me.  You put her down?  WAAAAAAA!  (From her.  And then, me.)

I have essentially turned into a human Barcalounger for a three-month-old.  My activities are limited to what I can accomplish with only one hand:

1. reading

2. surfing the Internet

3. loading/unloading the dishwasher

4. goading children into homework/piano practice with a riding crop

Well, maybe not the riding crop.  But that’s about it.  I made an attempt to stir-fry green curry vegetables while holding Katie, and ended up accidentally dumping half of the vegetables on the floor.  Aaargh.  And keep in mind that during all this, I keep sneezing — and I’m a repeat sneezer, ricocheting off at least 5-7 sneezes with every go.  (My personal record?  23 sneezes in a row, set when I was fourteen.  It hurt.)

In other words, not a whole lot is getting accomplished around here.  But I’ve found that, when parenting newborns, one of the secrets of success is to have very low expectations for yourself.  Caring for the baby is the Main Job.  Everything else is just gravy, right?


If only I could convince my nagging sense of guilt that this were true.

Katie’s Muppet Twin

My sister-in-law, Kristen, came to Utah for a visit last weekend, and she was quite pleased to meet Katie.  Kristen’s main theory is that Katie looks like one of the Doozers from Fraggle Rock.  And to prove it, she sent me this handy comparison photo in an e-mail today:

Oh, I admit it!  My daughter is a Doozer!  Who likes to doze!  Awwww.

And to round out the Muppet comparisons for the rest of the family (personality-wise, anyhow):

Jeffrey = Gonzo

Eleanor = Prairie Dawn

William = Grover

Brian = Kermit

Me = Um . . . there really aren’t very many adult female Muppets, so let’s just say that I claim Sweetums and leave it at that.


I was feeling so smug, thinking I had finally managed to capture one of Katie’s smiles on camera.  But then I realized that Katie smiling . . .

. . . really isn’t all that different from Katie not-smiling . . .


. . . oh, well.   But I see the difference, and trust me, the smiles are cute.  They go a long ways towards moving her away from what I call the “Beardless Orson Welles” phase.

In the meantime, when I was downloading pictures off of my camera, I also found about fifty different variations of this photo:

This, according to Jeffrey, is titled “Blueberry Muffins in Mountain Landscape.”  The foil represents the mountains, and he referred to the muffins as “the villagers.”  Ah, there’s nothing better than child-created Outsider Art.  Do you know of any good examples?

Baby Smiles

Katie has begun to smile over the past week.  The smiles are always big, beautiful, and far too brief, like a flashlight with faulty batteries.  For a few fleeting instants, Katie’s face looks like it has a personality beyond “feed me.”  I’ve been trying to get a photograph of one, but the smile is always over before the camera’s ready, so instead I have a lot of pictures of Katie looking adorably cross-eyed and confused (in other words, same as usual).  I’ll post a smile as soon as I manage to get one.

In other news, Katie has also begun to recognize voices.  If she’s crying in her crib after a nap, she’ll calm down as soon as I enter the room and start speaking to her.  Diaper changes are no longer the traumatic experiences they once were.  Nursing is a cinch; she knows just what to do.  Best of all, she’s still growing at a fabulous rate.  She’s topping 10-11 pounds by my estimate, and her body is sturdy and strong, without any more of the fragile floppiness that so often plagues newborns.

And she’s still beloved by all.  A charmed life, in other words.

Ten Days Old

My sister in law, Debbie, came over this past Monday to take photos of little Katie.  Here are some of the results: whaddya think?


I’m a big fan of the one where’s she’s crying.  Maybe because it makes her cheeks look even more like dinner rolls than usual?  (Mmm, delicious baby dinner rolls . . .)

She’s Here!

Introducing . . .

The fabulous Katherine Suzanne!

She arrived this past Friday, Jan. 21 at 2:55 p.m.

Clocking in at 7 lbs, 9 oz. and measuring in at 21″ long . . .

. . . she’s one cute-but-exhausting handful.

The delivery went very well; like the other kids, she came faster than expected and surprised everyone.  (You’d think we’d be able to recognize the pattern by now.)  We came home from the hospital on Sunday afternoon and Katie is settling in well.  She’s a pretty mellow baby, excepting when she’s getting a diaper change.  The other children are crazy about her, and always want to watch while I nurse or rock her.

Annnnd that’s about all I can write while holding her in one arm.  More to come later (um, maybe.  I’m really tired).

Countdown to Katie

The whiteboard on our fridge is keeping track for us.  I’ve been counting down since day 100.  This picture was taken yesterday, so it’s a little out of date.  It’s seven days to baby.  Accuracy is everything.

As Jeffrey puts it, my body is “just putting the finishing touches on Baby Katie so she’ll look like a human being.”  Everybody is predicting she’ll come tomorrow (Jan. 13), since so far everyone in my family has their birthday either on the 26th of the month (me, Jeff, Wimmy) or the 13th (Brian, Eleanor) — a coincidence that is cool but gets confusing whenever I have to fill out a form that requires me to write down everyone’s birthdates.

The nursery is all gussied up and ready.  Mucho props to my sister-in-law, Deb, who helped us pick the paint colors for the wall.  The browns are soothing and delicious, like walking into a giant candy bar.

Best of all, Brian helped the kids spend time creating art for Katie’s room.  He had a bunch of old canvases from old high school art projects that his parents recently handed over to us.  Brian painted three of them a pale yellow, then let the kids do what they wanted.

Brian helped William create this sweet number.  Can you see the foot- and handprints hidden among the flowers?  I love love love it.

Eleanor also went the flowery route, although she included mini portraits of Katie at different ages (“the one with longer hair shows Katie when she’s five years old like me”) and a self-contained landscape in the upper left hand corner.  Because, why not?

And then there’s Jeffey’s painting.  Can you guess what it is?

Time’s up — it’s Yoda.  Brian and I tried to encourage Jeffrey to think about what would match a pink-and-brown baby girl’s room, but he insisted on Yoda.  “Someone has to make sure to teach Baby Katie to go towards the Light Side of the Force instead of the Dark Side,” he told me.  “Yoda will help her do that.”  Later, Brian tried to get Jeffery to compromise.  Maybe Yoda could stand near some flowers?  Jeffrey balked at this.  “There are no FLOWERS on DAGOBAH!”

In the meanwhile, I’m scrambling to finish knitting a little pink baby sweater.  It’s made from the softest yarn, with a little cabled rib all over.  All I have to do at this point is finish sewing the buttonhole band and weave in all the loose ends (ack, a job I dislike.  Weaving in loose ends is tedious).  I feel like the girl in “The Wild Swans,” which was my favorite fairy tale in fourth grade.  In it, the princess’ brothers have been turned to swans.  She can only free them by collecting nettles from graveyards and then using them to knit (or is it weave?) into shirts for each of them — and she can’t say a single word until she’s finished.  During this labor, a handsome prince marries her, and then she’s accused of witchcraft and condemned to burn (since she can’t talk, she can’t defend herself).  On the way to the pyre, the swans come and chase the executioner away.  The princess throws the shirts on her brothers, and they become human again — except that she didn’t have time to finish one of the sleeves for the youngest brother, so he is left with one human arm and one swan’s wing.

I may not be awaiting an execution, but I’m still working under a rather unpredictable deadline (as of this writing, I’m already dilated to 3 1/2 and 75% effaced.  Labor could come at any minute).  Instead of knitting my way to a witchcraft trial, I can easily see myself knitting in a wheelchair on the way to labor & delivery, trying to finish at the very last minute.  Hopefully, it won’t come to that.