Sunday, March 28, 2010

A day out of the house

We broke out of the house as a family today which felt incredible. Scott has been working 6 day weeks for the last three weeks so we were overdue for some time just the three of us. We had tickets to a uniquely Portland function, a rock concert for parents that was kid friendly. We've been excited for this outing for a few weeks and a few reasons, primarily I love the band (Blitzen Trapper), we would be seeing some friends, and we could drink beers with said friends while they met Cora and we heard some great music.

Away we went running late of course, because who doesn't run late when they have a new baby. Diaper bag fully packed and two different sling options in the car we finally arrived. After we found our friends we hunkered down on the floor with them and took in the show. It was so awesome to see an inspirational band and a room full of adults and children dancing and laughing together. I can't wait to go again, which we will since it is a monthly series.

Scott took a few photos of me and Cora since I've noticed I am normally behind the lens. Cora did great, she really liked the music and the interesting sun shaped lights they had on the ceiling. It must be working that we play our music around her because she was completely unfazed by the band. Afterward we met up with our friends at a restaurant and Cora was great the entire time, we never even needed the slings. It feels like such a relief to get off the couch, or away from the same neighborhood we walk in every day and have a little fun.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cora's Namesake

This is a photo of my great grandparents Cora and Neil Vanderstouw, I'm not sure what year it was taken. They had many hardships in their lives but I love how happy, connected and in love they look in this photo. I had the good fortune to know my great grandmother for the first 9 years of my life. Just as I was beginning to bloom and learn about this world she was starting to wilt and withdraw from it. Regardless her vivacity and iron strength shined through and she made an enormous impression on me in those few years.

I have vivid memories of days spent at their farm, my three brothers and I running wild harassing the chickens and crawling through the corn cages. Grandma Cora was always busy in her kitchen or her garden ready with home made sweet tea and molasses cookies bigger then my head made from the molasses they kept in the barn to add to the horse feed. She was a very short woman, especially in comparison to my great grandfather but she never felt short to me, her personality making her seem larger then anyone else in the room. I loved being with her, I loved watching her in her kitchen.

When I struggled through the years of infertility I would often find myself talking to my great grandmother, asking for her help from the other side. I would implore her to guide and help along the baby who would one day join us, to watch over her and help her find us. As strange as it may sound there were many times I felt my great grandmother close at hand watching over me and loving me.

The elder Cora immigrating to this country from Holland when she was 2 or 3 years old, passing through Ellis Island into this country. Many years ago I visited the museum that was created from the entry point on that island. I was very young at the time and was heading there just to "check it off" my tourist list. Once there I was silenced and awed to stand in the very room where so much of our history, so many of our loved ones finally came into this country. Looking out the barred windows at the Manhatten shoreline I could feel the anxiety still resting in the still air of this room.

I tried to imagine what it was like for these people who travelled the huge oceans spending their family savings only to be turned away when their dream was a shining vision outside that window. Luckily for me my great grandparents were not turned away.

Those few years spent crossing paths with my great grandmother laid a bedrock foundation within me that respects and loves the homesteading way of life. Her knowledge was lost to me somewhere in the mix of the generation in between. It wasn't until almost 20 years later as a married woman of my own living in a city all the way across the country that I began to stumble through the magic I watched her work. Slowly, slowly I have taught myself how to can food, to put up the harvest for the harsh winters that we do not have here in Portland. Slowly I taught myself how to bake so I could make huge molasses cookies and pie crusts with little effort and mostly from memory. Slowly I have begun to learn how to grow food for my family in my kitchen garden. My sunflowers are still not as high and magnificent as hers but I am getting there, and last year I put my planning to work and we built a chicken coop and are raising hens for eggs. I can still hear the verbal lashings I received from my great grandfather after repeatedly crawling through the hen house on the farm and upsetting all of those comfy fat hens. I was obsessed with those chickens which I guess shows through today.

This is who my daughter is named for. This is her history and her legacy through her mother, combined with the immigration history of her father's Italian family weaves a beautiful complexity that is uniquely American and uniquely hers forever.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Routine, what is it good for?

Over the last few weeks Cora & I seemed to fall into a pretty set routine sleeping well at night and waking early. Imagine my surprise when she broke from our comfy routine the last few nights by waking in the middle of the night and wanting to party. Here we go, the dance of the Aquarian & Virgo. I know she is in our lives for many reasons, one of which is to challenge our double Virgo (yes, Scott & I are both Virgos) addiction to routine with her lovely air energy. It's hard to see the value in that at 2am when I just want to put my boobs away, roll over and go to sleep.

After a few hours of sleep this morning I woke up stressed that we had been up late and that most of the morning was gone. It's a gorgeously sunny morning here and I wanted to get a jump on it. Funny thing is as soon as I let go of the notion of a set routine everything immediately felt better. Who cares if we are still in bed at 10:30? She is only 5 weeks old and I've got lots of time to try to sell her on the benefits of routine:) I keep reminding myself she is only this small once and I am lucky to have the time to be this flexible so I try to stop stressing and enjoy it.

Cora in the morning from Crystal Calanca on Vimeo.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Like me with darker skin

When my mom came to visit she brought some of my baby pictures to share. I was looking through them today and wondering how Cora is going to look as she ages. She inherited her dad's lovely dark Italian skin tone and apparently lots of traits from me. It's amazing watching her change every day as her healthy cheeks fill in and her eyes seek us out.

What do you think, any similarities?





Thursday, March 18, 2010

2 mom's go for a walk

My friend Jenn stopped by with her daughter Luna and we all made it out for a nice walk. Luna is 10 weeks older then Cora and it's wild to see how much bigger she is!!! Hard to believe in 10 weeks Cora will be so different then she is today.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One month old!

Cora turned four weeks old last Saturday and we took an idea from our friends Donn and Lauren and snapped a photo of Cora in her sleeper. We will do this every month so we can compare her growth.

And really, is there anything sweeter then a happy babe, drunk on milk asleep in your arms?

There is so much I want to say, to write. So many epiphanies these last few weeks but the star of the show just woke up. She is good at knowing exactly when I sit down to write or sleep. Eventually the words will find their way.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

With Scott's help I managed to make it to the gym yesterday for the first time in a very, very long time. It was a quick hour, in and out and showering at home and it was heaven. It feels great to focus on my body without the big belly and shortness of breath of pregnancy. I have a gym membership to a small local owned gym and really love it there. Yesterday I discovered their small day care which has incredibly reasonable rates and accepts infants. This is great news so Cora and I will be visiting the gym together starting next week.

Today we are taking Cora to her first movie. There is a theater here in Portland that has baby friendly matinees and I am very excited to go today. We will be seeing the latest Wes Anderson movie the Fabulous Mister Fox. This is a fitting first choice for Cora since Scott and I have a history of bonding over his films.

I am consistently amazed by how exhausted I look these days:

Cora is getting stronger every day, hardly resembling the tiny baby of four weeks ago. She is holding up her head most of the time, is smiling at everyone and working hard at controlling her arm movements. She is sleeping a bit better every day which is really, really great. I am managing to get more sleep then I thought I would at this point, even if it is broken up into 2-4 hour chunks.

Here is Cora visiting with Grandam Shannon

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Another First for Cora

This morning Cora and I escaped the house on a mission to find me a new nursing bra. After a slow morning of waking up and eating we both managed to get out of the house around 11. Off to the mall we went, me more then a bit nervous to be taking an outing like this alone with no help. Diaper bag packed and Cora full I figured it bought me about an hour.

The stop into the pregnant lady store went well and the quest for a better fitting bra was a quick success. Once I left the store I noticed a baby Gap across the aisle and thought we would do a quick check of their clearance rack. We scored big and got Cora's first outfit (that she can fit into anyways, we have many more waiting for her to grow into). It's pretty wild to see her in coordinated clothing instead of just onesies. So cute!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Beautiful Sleep

We've had two nights in a row of 6 hours of straight sleep. My fingers are crossed that this is a growing trend and not just a fluke. Cora and I had a great day today just the two of us. Scott had to work and mom and Jeff went to the coast. We woke up and realized the chickens were out of food so made a trip to the Urban Farm Store here in Portland. Not only do we enjoy going there for any reason we can think of but today was a bonus. We got to meet Rois, one of our fellow blog friends who works there. It's always great to meet someone in person who's writing and support you enjoy.

I have managed to start writing Cora's birth story in small increments when I have a moment. I hope to finish it soon before I forget all the crazy details.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pretty Exhausted

So we went from breastfeeding challenges into thrush infection of the mouth to gassy colic within the last week. Boy am I tired. Really, really tired. I am looking forward through the fog of this time wondering how I will ever be sentient enough to return to work and function like a professional adult. Everyone keeps assuring me it gets better, easier. I know it will but for now it is all consuming as I suppose it should be.

My mom is here visiting right now which is great timing. She arrived the morning that Scott went back to work so I still have an extra set of hands for help. We just finished a nice walk around the neighborhood with Cora which is one of my favorite things to do as I still can't get over how good it feels to walk now that I'm not pregnant. We broke down and got ourselves an Ergo carrier. I thought we were jumping the gun since Cora is still so little but last night when I was walking her around the block in it hoping to help her fall asleep I was saying a prayer of thanks for this awesome carrier. It blows all the others out of the water. When we are home bumming around the house I use a simple sling but when it's time to hit the fresh air our Ergo is more comfortable and enjoyable to use.

And of course, here are a few recent photos:

Scott trying out the new baby carrier

Hanging out with uncle Jeff