Back To The Grind

Actually, I don't have a grind because I'm still "on maternity leave," but Billy is back at work. I have to say, we really enjoyed our Memorial Day. So much so that it took Billy & Bella several long, hard naps to recover.

I came out of the long weekend unscathed, but the poor Javinator played hard and came home red. His poor back is sunburned, so we've been doing daily vinegar baths, smothering him in Noxema and coating him with Solarcaine. The sting is gone, so now he's just soaking up the attention from being an invalid.

How was your weekend?

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Happy Memorial Day!

We'll be enjoying our long weekend - we hope you do the same!

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The Star of the Show

I took Bella to Weight Watchers with me yesterday. It was almost like a coming out party. Everyone fawned over her and gushed about what a beautiful baby she is. I, of course, accepted their compliments with grace and only a little bit of beaming pride.

I also met a woman with a 14-month-old adopted son whom she doesn't usually bring to meetings and a woman with a 6-month-old whom she does bring to meetings. We bonded over babies and the art of packing a diaper bag (which I'm slowly regaining). We also exchanged numbers and plan to get together later this week to walk at the park. It's really nice to hang out with other new moms as my other friends don't always get the Mama stuff and only another mom wants to discuss sleep schedules, cradle cap and first giggles.

Anyway, this weekend is Memorial Day and we have a pretty full schedule. We've got a cookout on Saturday and again on Sunday, plus a baby shower on Sunday, and we'll probably ride out to the lake for at least a few hours on one of those days. Billy has Monday off, but Javi has school so who knows what crazy mess we'll get into then!

In the meantime, I'm watching little Bella Wayne sleep with one hand propped up on her Buddha belly and the other tucked behind her head. What a way to spend the day!

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Middle of May

We've had a recent cool down in these parts. I love it because I can take Bella on long walks and not feel like a pile of wet, humid mush at the end of it. I also am crushing on this weather because it has coaxed out our clematis, which we planted last year (and it promptly died about 2 days later). This morning I found two beautiful blooms all the way at the top of the waist-high trellis:

Bella loves the spring too. Can't you tell?

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Are you tired?

We have a little girl who fights sleep so hard that she'll go a whole day on a 10-minute cat nap. I think the reason for this could be that when she does crash, she does it hard and it's not always pretty.

But to our unbiased eyes, even this marshmallow-face-sleep is sigh inducing.

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More Quinoneses

Look at these cute kids. This is my sister Taylor and brother Ricky. I guess they are proof that we look like our father.

I see both Erin and me in Taylor. I'm not sure about Ricky but I think that's because he's a boy. Standing next to my father, you can tell who he belongs to.

Think they also inherited the hustler gene?

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Use Your Periods!

Javier has spent the past eight months learning how to turn letters into words, words into sentences, and sentences into stories. He's extremely proud of his ability to read first- and second-grade level books. He will also write you a five- or six-line story that you must read right this instant if you're not careful.

This talent with the written word has not come without some struggle. While he learned to read and write fairly easily, punctuation has been a whole different ball game. The child blazes through periods, exclamation points and question marks - forcing us to interrupt his reading with "start over" at least every other sentence. The past month or so he has finally recognized that punctuation exists and he's even begun using inflection to signal the question or excitement.

The best part of his realization is that he now gets frustrated when other people fail to recognize punctuation. I thought this was directed only toward his classmates' reading - until this morning. We were watching the news and a story came on about Michael Moore's trip to Cuba. The report cut to a conservative radio disc jockey's rant about how Michael Moore is using the situation to get free publicity.

So this DJ is going on and on with barely a breath between words. Out of nowhere, Javi jumps up from the couch and yells, "WHERE ARE HIS PERIODS?!!!" He stood there for a second - fists clenched at his sides, forehead furrowed - and then blew his breath out and sat back down. I asked him if he was okay. His response? "I'm going to be fine, but that man needs some periods!"

Amen, brother. If only more people gave the period as much respect.

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She's a LaKisha fan

Who'd've guessed that little Bella would be an American Idol fan? I was watching LaKisha's performance of I'm Not Going on YouTube this morning and the child about broke her neck trying to see the source of that delicious singing.

I didn't understand why her eyes got so big and what she was trying to see at first.

But I could tell she wanted to turn, so I turned her and low and behold - she smiled all big and drooly at LaKisha! She wasn't nearly as impressed with Blake, Melinda or Jordin. Oh well, good thing she has no clue that LaKisha got sent home last night. It might break her heart.

If you haven't heard LaKisha's version of this DreamGirls hit, you must listen!

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Nicholas Vann Wade

My friend Brook had her third baby on May 1, 2007. It's crazy that Bella was as small as him just a short month ago!

You can be sure there will be more pictures to come - especially of the two wee ones together.

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Hump Day

This is how our morning has been so far (notice the lack of The Plug):

She's cooing and smiling now, but I know she could turn on me at any minute. Yep, there she goes!

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Dude! I love this kid!

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Daddy's Little Smiley Girl

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Cinco de Mayo

Yesterday Javi, Bella and I picked up Erin and her boys and drove to Clayton for my cousin Karen's son's birthday party. The day began as a comedy of errors, but we only wound up 30 minutes late to the party. I also managed not to drop off any kids on the side of the road - so I consider the day a success.

That's not to say there was no bloodshed. Somehow, with all the kids at the party, it was Javi and Ethan who wound up crashing into each other. And since Javi's a little bit softer, it was his nose that busted. This was his first bloody nose, so he was more excited than upset. Of course, being that he's six and not six months, I no longer bring a change of clothes for him. Hence this cute-face picture:

And here's the culprit - looking as though he's ready to bust some more noses, and perhaps knock some heads and stage a coop while he's at it:

I tried to get a picture of all the second cousins together, but considering they range from 15 to 1 month, corralling them was harder than expected. I kept seeing other people taking pictures, so I thought I'd get some that way, but the only pictures of any Quinoneses featured Bella front and center. I suppose that's the drawback of bringing a newborn to a birthday party. All the women fawn over her and the men stay as far away as possible.

After I got everyone home, I took a girls' night pass and went out for margaritas and fajitas at San Felipe. Considering I haven't had much alcohol in the past 10 months (a glass of wine last fall and a wine cooler about two weeks ago), the margaritas about did me in. The fajitas were great, too. I normally get them with shrimp, chicken and beef, but I tried chicken, beef, chorizo and roasted pork last night - YUMMY!

Today we plan to try Bella on six ounces of formula per feeding as four ounces don't seem to be cutting it any longer. I hope we're not overfeeding her, but I've been told that babies will stop eating when they're full. This is unlike Bella who will suck on her fists after sucking the bottle dry. We usually use The Plug but if she's hungry, I think she should be allowed more food.

We'll let you know how it goes!

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Letter to Bella, month one

Dear Bella,

You are one month old today. Just four short weeks ago, you were an instinct-driven, squirming bundle who spent her waking minutes rooting for more More MORE! Since then, you've learned to turn toward your father, brother and me when you hear our voices. You've stopped startling when the dogs unleashing their wailing, barking attacks on defenseless leaves and other inanimate objects.

You've also developed a love of the bath. Where once you'd cry and fuss when I lather you with soap and then pour warm water over you, now you sigh and suck on your paci as if you could lay there all day. You even tolerate me washing your hair, even though it requires lifting your head and neck and usually the loss of the paci. (I often refer to that pacifier as "The Plug" as it's the one thing you demand ... NOW ... and without it, your discontent can be heard for miles.)

Speaking of your hair, you still rock the dark mop you were born with. Most days it stands straight up. My favorite, though, is when only a few strands stand their ground, giving you the Alfafa look that's only adorable on babies and precocious kids. I've been warned you're going to lose all of it, but so far the only changes I've noticed are that it has lightened from black to reddish brown and it's now much silkier than it was when you were born.

The biggest change between this time last month and today is that you are no longer breastfed. Formula has been good to you. You've plumped up, which means your cheeks now prove who your mother is. And you now sleep for stretches up to five hours at night. This is a huge improvement from the every 1-2 hours you were allowing me to sleep when we were trying to breastfeed.

The downside to formula is we all reek of it. The same thing happened when Javi was a baby. Your Auntie Kati and I used to laugh about how our breath, sweat and other excretions all smelled just like Isomil. Your dad tries to deny it, but he's taking on the formula smell right along with me.

The other bad part of formula is the infamous constipation and gassiness. You toot day in and day out, but you can only force out a poo once a day. I think you spend all day trying to make that happen and then pass out for a good, long sleep to recover. Then the process begins again. I've begun slipping a little dark Karo into your morning bottle if you go more than two days without relief. It seems to help.

As your dad, brother and I adjust to having your in our lives, several amazing things have happened. You've become Javier's first good morning and last goodnight. He has the biggest plans for you. They include Spider Man toys and ninja turtle movies and lots of gum. I catch your father gazing at you. In the afternoons, you often nap together. It's scary how the two of you are already so much alike.

As for me, I've spent the past 30 days nursing you, holding you, soothing you, cradling you ... being everything you need. It's amazing how different this experience is when you're doing it as part of a family instead of on your own in an icy apartment in Revere.

I can hear you now, wiggling and grunting and slowly making your way into wakefullness. It's time for you to eat again. After that, you'll curl up on my chest, your mouth will fall open as you drift back into dreams. I'll hold you for a while longer, watching your eyes flutter open and closed until finally your body goes completely limp.

Those are my favorite moments. Sitting here in the dark with your father asleep beside us, my body relaxes along with yours and I am again astounded by how perfectly and easily you have rounded out what I thought was a completely full life. Thank you for that.

Love, Mama

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