Lydia is 27 inches long at the 90 %, 16 pounds and 12 ounces 75% and her head is 16 5/8 inches in circumference reaching the quite perfect 50%. She was a trooper yesterday with her 5 shots and getting her ears pierced. It was fairly traumatic for all of us, including her pediatrician that is a veteran said it was rough. Lydia turned about the 7 shades darker than Bob the Tomato and bellowed so profoundly it shook us all to the core. Luckily it was all over in less than a minute and she happily napped most of the morning. Poor baby.
I have never been a real high maintenance person. I don't dry my hair unless it's cold or I have a cold or it's some sort of formal event. For awhile I was keeping a moderately stable length of hair just long enough to be thought of as long. My plan was to let it grow until the wedding and then I could cut few inches. During this time a good friend at work died of Leukemia (Still miss you Mo!) and just a few months earlier one of my advisee just 15 years old, Layla, also died of Leukemia. I am not very good at grief, not that many people are, but I decided that I would grow my hair and donate it to Locks of Love in their memory. I remember when Layla got her first wig how nervous she was and then when Mo got hers for her son's wedding. I thought it would be a nice tribute. It was something tangible that I could do in a terribly unexplainable sad moments. When I mentioned my plan to my hair dresser she confirmed some rumors that I had heard about the unreliability of Locks of Love. I was not going to just give my hair to some cheats especially since the thought of some corporate entity cheating cancer children may have killed Mo all over again. I held off cutting my hair until I found another nonprofit which I did; Wigs for Kids is my choice.
Honestly what may have begun as a seemingly altruistic intention is now just a necessity. My hair is long. It's ubiquitous. It's heavy. And it's got to go. At least for awhile. Luckily my hair is curly and it will need to be straightened to donate which should leave me with a length that may not be as shocking. If Lydia is 27 inches my hair is about as long. Thus today I cut my hair!
In a precious and hopefully brief two hours, I will be on Spring Break. My school generously gives us two full weeks of break which is exactly what the entire campus needs to make it through the last push before summer. Previous years I have done some great traveling adventures including my first time in Europe and a trip to Spain with my folks who had not been back in almost 30 years. Millions of Spring Break memories over a lifetime of being either a student or a teacher flood my thoughts but the anticipation for this vacation is more than it has ever been before. I am ready to be home with my baby. I can't wait to wake up on Monday and just be a mommy and a wife for that matter. I like the idea of that. Perhaps it is a little Pleasantvillestic but I don't really mind owning that daydream.
We have some appointments: the pediatrician, the hair dresser and some lunch dates with friends, as well as some lofty goals of scrapbooking to accomplish. We are also taking a mini-trip to Atlanta. Eliot lived in Atlanta during pharm school at the same time I lived there going to grad school (one of the many coincidental things about us) and I haven't been back since then which is about 10 years. This actually means two things one: I am old and two: new things to check out. My folks are coming with us which will also be nice. My mom's close cousin who is still in Cuban his daughter lives in Atlanta and has been there for the last couple of years. My mom is so excited to see her and catch up.
Our trip albeit short will be a nice getaway. Eliot and I have a bit of a Top Chef obsession and are planning on going to Richard Blais' Flip Burger and Kevin Gillespie's Woodfire Grill while we are there. The one complication is that we have given up desserts for Lent. Traditionally Sundays are days that fast can be broken but instead of breaking fast on 5 consecutive Sundays we are planning on using our fast days in Atlanta. I have discussed it with the Big Guy (or Big Gal) upstairs and we have the okay. This will be Lydia's longest road trip yet. We plan to leave in the evening to facilitate her sleeping on schedule and the XM radio is geared up to stay up to date with March Madness! Hooray Spring Break!
A few years back with the initiative of Rick Baker, former St. Petersburg Mayor, every neighborhood in town developed a small park. Some are simple grassy areas with a couple of benches but most have playground equipment for children to enjoy. Last night after dinner we thought we would take advantage of the extra sunlight and go for a walk. Instead of packing up the car and heading to our usual park, we decided to walk down Allendale and swing by Roberts Recreation Center for bit to have Lydia swing there. It is a tiny little park but it was super fun. She loved all the kids running around and somehow we still managed to get a few good pictures of her looking at the camera. Lydia is so strong; most of the time she is completely holding on to the bars by herself with us in the back for safety. It was a beautiful afternoon.
Yesterday at school, I relived that pre-adolescent moment when you first become a "woman" at school. I must say that it was a bit traumatic. I had gone to the restroom after lunch and tin roof...rusted! In that moment I didn't know what to do. I actually had to rationalize that this in fact was natural and that if it wasn't for this part of nature's order I wouldn't have Lydia. I went to the school nurse to get supplies and she was kind enough to notice that I had a spot on my white skirt (argh), just like an afterschool special. She removed it with peroxide and I went off to my next class traumatized. I had to chuckle when Kim commented that I must be the prototype that all the textbooks mention: water breaking, birth on the due date and return of Aunt Flo 6 months exactly.
On Friday night we went out to dinner with Aunt Kim and the Littles (Eva and Eli) to Cappy's Pizzeria in St. Pete. They have selected the best little bungalow for their location with tons of outdoor seating. It was a little cool for the outdoors on Friday night but we were seated in the perfect location with window views and space for 2 high chairs. Almost every table in the restaurant has a feel of privacy which makes it a great location for babies and kids. Cappy's also provides a selection of toys so Eli enjoyed picking out things for Eva and went back and forth several times. They were attentive and patient! And their food is always great. By the end Lydia was ready to go to bed so Eliot was rocking her in her carseat. We weren't the only ones that felt that this was a child friendly place because as we left kids were climbing the stairs outside and waiting patiently with parents. If you are close by these guys always have great take-out service.
Saturday we spent the day at the Renaissance Festival. Eliot and I had never been before and were very impressed by the experience. It is now located at MOSI in Tampa. The efficiently moved cars in to park and directed us into the main entrance. Many patrons attend in costume which we didn't realize and something surely to consider in the future. The event was very shady and had tons of food every where. We immediately go a turkey leg when we entered and barbarically ate it. There are tons of merchants everywhere. There are shows going on everywhere acrobats, human chess, jousting and stage acts. Every where we turned there was something to watch. Lydia rode in her front carry thingy for the first time and loved it (the picture doesn't show the ecstatic amusement but I promise she couldn't stop smiling)!
We liked the feel of the crowd who were welcoming and laid back even though many were tied up in bodices with bulging bosoms (the fair is not for the weak stomached.) There was a Children's Realm that had a playground, a fairy princess, a wizard and a giant who was hosting story time. Beer tastings, heena tattoos and carnival games crowded the field and some how we still found a shady haystack to sit on with Lydia while she lunched. Lydia also enjoyed the wooden mushrooms that were just the perfect height for her to stand.
The one thing I would say may be complicated would be bathrooms. If you don't like portapotties you will not be happy. And I am not sure where you would change your infant unless you did so on that haystack we found but if you are as laid back as we are and pee before you go like me, you don't even have to worry about it. It was a delightful time and we could totally image going again in years to come. Eliot even said he would dress up next time!
Never get it wet. Don't feed after midnight. And never expose it to the sun. 3 simple rules and somehow all I remember from that movie is a lot of nasty crazy Gremlins.
Lydia has similar rules. Mommy can't be gone after dark. Always get at least 2 hour nap. And never ever leave the room.
The thing is that lately the attachment issue has become more evident. I certainly do not want to have a baby that can't be held by anyone but me or that she loses her mind every time she is left alone. Interestingly, during the day she is great. My parents and Eliot alternate her care and she not once has been upset by my absence, but when I am there alone with her and I leave the room the universe melts and the rage arises. And just like that adorable Gismo, Lydia after the sunset wants her mommy if she isn't there she turns into a Gremlin.
Slowly, I have been working on letting her cry a bit and then popping my head around the corner to remind her that in fact I am still very much on the planet, then pop out again for a few minutes. The thing is that there are few worse things than hearing your baby cry, seeing tears running down their little face and getting all worked up into a real frenzy so I give in eventually. I think to myself she will only be 6 months once and it will disappear in a snap of a second. If the worse thing I do is give my child too many hugs and kisses, is that really so bad?
She has also seemingly become savvy enough to know that if she wakes up at 2AM I am just going bring her into bed with us and though every parenting book, guru, swami and grandma will tell us that this is starting a hard to break pattern that will cause difficulties in many aspects of our lives. In truth, I don't sleep as well because we only have a queen size bed and I need to spread out a little. Of course add the fact that I wake up with every wiggle she makes. But at the same time, I can't just put her in her crib because she will scream still keeping us up. I can't stay up with her because I will still be up. See what I mean? What is the other option? I just snuggle her some more, is that really so bad?
Will the real Lydia please stand up!....OKAY! My baby that isn't even 6 months old just grabbed the side of her pack and play and stood up. She did again and again! My mom cried. My dad freaked. I can't believe it! Everyone is shocked. Clearly she is gifted. :)
Since I don't have a photo of her miraculous efforts today, I have attached a video of her last swinging experience at the park (below). Man she loves that swing. She played in the car too as you can see. She just squeals with delight and I am barely pushing her. She loves the park.
Last night she also tried organic puffs for the first time. They were delicious! It took her a minute to figure out what she was suppose to do with them. She keeps trying to pick them up which will improve her fine motor skills but can't quite do it yet. I tried to explain to her that she will be able to pick things up and put them in her mouth that taste good not just taste like plastic like most of her toys. On the advice of her Aunt Kim we invested in Sophie the Giraffe and that was real success! Sophie is made with all natural elements and decorated with food paints so there is no reason why she can't stick it in her mouth. Plus all the curves and notches are designed to make her gums feel good.
Eliot makes fun of me because I take pictures of food all of the time. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to go to new restaurants. I wish I knew this when I was younger because I think I would have really been good on the Food Network or as a full time Chef. Eliot reminds me often when I daydream of going to the Culinary Institute of America that Top Chefs work a lot of hours specifically into the wee hours of the night. And still when I look back at my years as a waitress, I smile because by far that was my favorite all time random job. St. Pete is a hopping place for new cuisine and I have been storing various food opinions for this post.
1. The NEW Bella Brava is awesome! I am not sure what happened but the original was pretty good and then they had a radical menu change which was not good. I hadn't been there is a long time but they have relocated to Beach Drive and I think the move has done them a load of fantastic. My friend CD and I have gone there twice. I love going to eat with her because we always share food and so we can taste several things while we catch up on life. The last time we were there we had a bite of a sandwich that was so damn good, it was like a taste extravaganza in our mouths. The service has been top notch and I think we have tried a good bit of the menu at this point with no complaints. I must say that their tiramisu is the best in town.
2. Acropolis Greek Tavern ironically has taken over the old Bella Brava location and it is a delightful addition to the downtown eateries. Eliot and I are BIG BIG BIG fans of Greek food, so you can imagine how excited we were at this new restaurant option. We have high expectations since one of our favorite take outs is Athenian Gardens. Acropolis scored well! We had tzaziki and pita, greek salads, savory entrees of mahi mahi and orzo and finished with chocolate baklava cheesecake. The servers dance around! They throw napkins and scream OPA! Love it. Actually heading there tonight for a friend's birthday.
3. Brunches. 400 Beach Drive though many of my friends have not had the most successful of visits there, my family has enjoyed every first, including a pretty spectacular brunch buffet. I love me some brunch. Accuse me of treason because if there is a Benedict on the menu I am sold. I am particular about my eggs. I like a runny but warm yolk and not all quick order cooks pull that off. 400 Beach Drive managed this at a buffet! Pincho y Pincho (the small place next to and run by Ceviche) also had a terrific brunch and a really fantastic spicy bloody Mary. My ladies and I went there for brunch for my birthday and though our servers were slow and perhaps recovering rock stars, the food was great. After church last week we beat the brunch rush downtown and ended up at Crowleys. The food was inexpensive and standard but pretty good. They did have some bangers on the side that made a bit more Irish. My yolk was cold on my fried eggs but the coffee was good and the service was too. I must say I was put off my the smell of beer on my sugar packets but that is sorta what you get when you end up at an Irish pub for breakfast. The best thing for me here was that we found another pub that has our favorite Belgian beer, Palm, on the menu.
There is a difference between kid friendly locations and baby friendly. Since I am a native, born and raised, St. Peterburgian it has recently dawned on me that I know few places that are particularly baby friendly off the top of my head. Eliot and I lead a very active life with our wonderful family and friends and really enjoy taking Lydia all over town. I started looking for resources on baby friendly locations in the Tampa Bay area and what I found was a lot about where to take kids. A kid can move and interact with things on their own so of course, Great Explorations would be a good choice. Duh. Thank you internet! My 5 1/2 month old would not be as amused, yet. Hence, I have decided that along with my periodic food establishment critiques (which is coming soon!) I will begin to evaluate the baby friendliness of various locations around town. Here is what I got so far.
1. Lowry Park Zoo. Fun for all ages. We took the Abuelos and Lydia so old and young got a kick out it. Just looking at giant animals was pretty awesome for Lydia. It has been voted the #1 zoo by parents likely because it's wide sidewalks and kids section. Lydia enjoyed the merry-go-round and seeing the elephants. There was an indoor air conditioned restaurant that was discrete enough for nursing and comfortable to get the stroller in and out. They even had infant sized hats at the gift shop when we realized that we needed one to block the sun from burning Lydia's head.
2. Crescent Lake Park. The two streets that hug the park always have some available parking and most of the time some of it is shaded. Crescent provides a lot for a family. It has over a mile path for walks and runners, tennis courts, dog parks for little and big pouches, many benches along near the lake and a playground. I go to this park at least once a week if not more. The baby loves being in the stroller and checking everything out. She loves looking at the geese and all the birds that come to the park. She has even gotten big enough to put in the baby swing. The playground has an area for smaller kids.The park also has a massive open field. You can take a blanket, some toys and relax.
Eliot is a pharmacist. For the most part he has two types of shifts at the hospital basic 8 hour shift that ends around 3:30 and a ten hour shift. The ten hour shift can vary but most of the time it's an IV gig that ends around 6:30 but with Tampa traffic and the commute from USF to St. Pete he gets home around 7:15-7:30. By the time he gets home we, Lydia and I, have already accomplished a lot and started the nighttime routine.
I get home early in the afternoon and most of the time need to nurse Lydia. We then get ready to go for a walk where she naps while I don't think about my knee throbbing (my right knee is pretty much made of paper and held together by that water pasty solution similar to paper mache. I had a simple surgery a while ago and its usually okay except I wore the wrong darn shoes the other day on a long walk. This of course caused my knee to have it's own personal coup d'etat. It will pass.) We then run whatever errands need to be run like Target or Publix. A handy cart (or buggie) near by helps with the car seat in and car seat out process.
Back at home, Lydia sticks her butt in the air and gets to work on crawling and I have a little snack on the floor next to her. I sneak into the kitchen to get things going for dinner, put away dishes, yada yada yada until Lydia realizes she is alone and freaks out. Then I put her in her high chair with various eating toys (spoons, bowls, plates, etc) and a yum yum mum. I fix the dinners. Last night on the menu for us was parmesean panko crusted chicken strips and over roasted brussels sprouts/portabela mushrooms. Lydia's menu had corn and butternut squash, a stage two delight, and bananas. Once our dinner is on the way and Lydia's patience has begun to run thin, I feed her. She gets corn and butternut upper her nose, in her hair and of course all over her hands. She eats. I wipe. I eat standing up because she can't be put anywhere with the other various food goo stuck on her and I can't leave the room. I could sit down but it's the easiest step to skip.
I wash and rinse the kitchen sink. At this point everything is in the dishwasher and out of the way of curious little hands. I get the bath time fun basket and a baby towel. I strip Lydia and stick her in the sink. While she is sitting and playing in the water, I am getting her bottle ready. We play. We laugh. She freaks out when water gets in her eyes. I remind her shes fine. We drain the sink (the other day I drained the sink before she was out for two reasons. One, she was having a great time and didn't want it to end. Two, because we have a giant turtle shaped sponge on the bottom for her use only. I thought the sponge would minimize the sucking. Instead, Lydia freaked out because she could feel the sucking underneath her.) I wrap her up and off to the bedroom we go. We dry, lotion, diaper. Brush her hair and dress her.
Typically it's about now that Eliot gets home. I hand her to him so I can pee. Then he needs to eat, so I get her back. She plays. She enjoys some age level appropriate television. Reads some books. She gets the bottle and normal is rocked to sleep. Eliot is a gamer and more than happy to help, but Lydia's momitis is really only apparent at bedtime. So we rock. She falls asleep. I put her down in her crib. Scub is on (the aquatic projection toy that has soothing nighttime music) check. Puff the Magic Elephant is on (the cold water humidifier that helps Lydia's stuffiness due to the recycled air in our homes whether heat or cold air.) And she screams. I pick her up. Rock some more. And more and more. Finally she is really asleep. Down she goes.
I look at the clock and it's 9:30. My feet dragging, my paper mache knee aching, my hair knotted, I plop next to Eliot on the couch. Exhausted. Ideas of showering or moving glide through my mind because I don't have the energy to make them race through. Eventually I get to bed and sleep peacefully knowing that Eliot has two full days off in a row in the middle of the week.
Thus my praise for to all single parents everywhere! Well Done! Your efforts are recognized and you are amazing! I can't imagine how you do it because it's not easy. Being a mom is another full time job all of the time. I have said it once and I will say it again, it is easier to go to go teach all day than being a stay at home mom. But every Monday I still wish I was home with little pelusita!