28 December 2010

Lila: Three Months

Lila turned three months on December 27. She had a great Christmas. She got some cute clothes, fun chew toys, and other various baby items. She is no longer a newborn and is officially a baby.

She doesn't like tummy time, but she's pushing herself up now. She's also smiling like crazy. Huge, full mouth smiles. They are fantastic!

27 December 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from the Struckman-Brown family! Check out our holiday card here. (It only opens in Explorer.) We didn't send out a paper copy this year. We're going green!

17 December 2010

November Pics




Lila: Two Months

















It seems that I'm about one month behind on posting pictures of Lila. She's two months and smiling in this photo. I'm not sure we've taken any more pictures of her since then! Yikes - second child syndrome!

She'll be a whole three months old on Monday (when I return to work - yuck!). She's in Benny's room now and we're all sleeping better (for now). Her head control is improving and she likes to "socialize" with us. Sometimes when she cries she's just letting us know that she wants to look at us and smile and coo. Cutie patootie!

03 December 2010

Voyeurism

Thanksgiving weekend was perfect at the Struckman-Brown house. We made a 14 lb. turkey and all of the fixings on Thursday. We are still eating leftovers. My family came into town for a quick visit on Friday. And we generally relaxed and caught up on sleep the rest of the weekend. On Sunday I sat down on the couch to feed Lila. The curtains were open and I was daydreaming. It was a gorgeous sunny day. I noticed a pick up parked outside of our house with someone sitting in it. I didn't think much of the situation. But the guy was just sitting. So, I kept an eye on the pickup.

Then...

I saw something moving in the passenger seat. At first I thought it was a dog jumping up and down. Then I realized what was happening: I yelled to Nate, "I think someone is getting a blow job outside of our house!" Nate ran into the living room to take a look. When the girl came up for air, I was sure what was happening.

I provided commentary to Nate since I was stuck on the couch. I said things like, "Who gets a blow job on a sunny Sunday afternoon in a neighborhood?" and "She just came up for air" and "She's still going!" and "Did she just swallow?" Nate thought it was fascinating.

So, that's right, faithful reader: I watched some random guy get a blow job while breastfeeding my daughter. Keep it classy Park Hill!

19 November 2010

Heading Back to Crazy?

One of my biggest reservations about getting pregnant again was experiencing postpartum depression again. Women who experience PPD with one child are more likely to experience it with subsequent children. But, as many of my PPD friends say, at least you're prepared to recognize the symptoms earlier and deal with them.

Lila has been an extremely easy baby. She has an excellent disposition and sleeps fairly well for a nearly two-month-old babe. However, about two weeks ago she caught a minor head cold. She was so congested that she couldn't really eat or sleep well for a week. That means that I didn't sleep well. To top it all off, Nate had his vasectomy performed in the middle of this chaos. I was doing double duty on less sleep. At least my friend Jayne was in town to help out!

This all added up to some minor anxiety last weekend. It was bad enough that I couldn't sleep well. Luckily, I had spoken with my OB about my history with PPD and requested a backup of anti-depressants. I figured having them in the house would make me feel better. I'm really happy that I had that foresight.

The anxiety has decreased in the past week (thanks to some good sleep) and I've decided to take the anti-depressants for the next few months. I'm hoping to avoid another case of the crazies. As long as I can get through the next two months and continue to get decent sleep, I think I can make it. Here's hoping that I'm not heading back to crazy!

Lila: One Month

Lila will be two months next week. This photo is a little old, but I figured I might as well post it. She is MUCH bigger now. A chunky little monkey!

11 November 2010

Who Needs Sleep?

Since last Tuesday Lila has thrown me for a loop on her sleep patterns (or lack thereof). She has been such an easy baby up to this point. Sleeping well, eating well, not crying much. Last Tuesday she must have gotten a minor cold and had some pretty awful congestion. On Tuesday it was bad enough that she couldn't eat or sleep very well and only took small catnaps during the day. She didn't sleep well through most of the weekend either.

Yesterday was the most challenging. Lila slept pretty well in the morning, but was up from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. She took a short nap and then was up from 7:30 until about 9:30. She was pretty upset too. Nate thinks it was gas. I'm not so sure. Long story short, it was a bear to get her to fall asleep last night.

But today she's done nothing but sleep! She slept in until 8:30 and has woken up briefly to eat throughout the day. She's a cutie, but this sleep thing is throwing me off! I just keep reminding myself that she will sleep better at some point! It may take a few months, but we'll get there!

07 November 2010

The Name Explained

I want to post more photos of Lila, but Nate forgot our camera at work, so I have to wait until Tuesday to upload more pictures. We have some great ones of Halloween! Such a fun night.

In the meantime, I thought I would explain Lila's name. Many people have commented that it's a beautiful name. And it is. But Lila Marie is also very special to us.

Lila is Arabic for night. Marie is English for bitter. We didn't choose the names for their meanings. Nate's grandma's name is Lila and my mom's middle name is Marie. Lila is named after two of the most amazing women in our lives.

While I'm explaining names, I'll also explain Benny's name: Benjamin Jasper Brown. Nate's mom passed away six months before Benny was born. It breaks my heart that she never got to meet her grandchildren. We decided that we wanted to use her initials, BJB, for Benny. Benjamin was the only "B" name we could agree to. We spend part of our honeymoon in Jasper National Park in Canada.

I felt strongly that our kids have meaningful names. I am happy that they are named after three strong women who have influenced our lives in profound ways.

In other news, Lila is now SIX weeks old! She's gaining weight like crazy and already has rolls on her thighs and has a double chin! Lovely little Lila!

23 October 2010

Book Review: A Friend of the Earth

Read it. Liked it. Don't know if I'll be reading any more T.C. Boyle again though. A little too doom and gloom for my liking. Gotta take a nap...

13 October 2010

Lila: Week 2.5

Well, we are officially a family of four now. Benny is back from Nana and Papa's and we're all trying to live as harmoniously as possible with each other. I'm happy to report that everything is going relatively smoothly. Benny isn't very interested in his sister, but he's not acting out ... yet.

Our big sleeper has decided to go on a sleep strike at night, however. She started her strike on Sunday night and is holding on tight. I'm definitely not excited about this new development. The poor girl has gas and a snurgly nose, so she often wakes up after falling asleep and needs comfort. She and I are now sleeping in the basement so Nate and Benny can get some rest. I'm also guessing that she's going through her two-week growth spurt because she's eating every 1-2 hours. That's a lot of breast time.

She is gaining a lot of weight. Her cheeks are now chubby and she's getting little rolls on her thighs. She's also able to focus on my face and her eyes don't cross. These brain synapses must be connecting!

07 October 2010

Book Review: After the Plague

I stumbled upon a new fantastic author at the library last week. Apparently everyone knows about T.C. Boyle except me. He's sarcastic, serious, funny and writes really, really well. I picked up a collection of his short stories called After the Plague when I was at a loss for books at the library. Our local library is great for children's books, but it's not so great for adult books. I've taken to picking out books published by Penguin. They are generally good books.

Turns out that T.C. Boyle is fantastic. After the Plague was full of stories about inherently flawed individuals. Some of the characters ended their stories tragically (a few ended in murder), some ended with a hint of humor. They were all compelling and had some interesting parallels to real life.

Lila and walked to the library today and picked up another Boyle book.

05 October 2010

My Little Family of Four

Introducing my little family of four. Lila looks a lot like Benny when he was a newborn - minus the little cone-shaped head. She came so fast, her head is perfectly shaped. Benny had chubbier cheeks too. He was nearly a half pound bigger.

Lila is a great little baby. She sleeps a lot. However, she doesn't really like to sleep unless I'm sleeping next to her. We'll have to see how this arrangement works out when Benny returns from Nana and Papa's house next week. She may be spending some time in the bouncy seat.

A friend came over to take newborn shots today. I think they're going to be amazing - even though Lila didn't want to cooperate and stay asleep. If you ever need a photographer, look up Katy DeJong from Golden Paisley Photography. She's the best (and doesn't mind if babies poop on her nice blankets). I'm hoping that Nate will go on one of his photography binges soon so I'll have more pictures to post. Until then...

04 October 2010

Book Review: Good Faith

I started reading Good Faith by Jane Smiley before the arrival of Miss Lila. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. I finished the last half while breastfeeding Lila over the last week. While it wasn't the best book ever, I was drawn to it and wanted to know what was going to happen in the end. I don't have much more to say than that. It was a long book and its message was that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I'd recommend it as a nice, easy read. Also, Jane Smiley often includes fairly detailed descriptions of sex in her books. And they're pretty realistic. That's a perk, for sure.

28 September 2010

24 September 2010

Waiting for a Lovely Lady

My due date has come and gone. I am finished with work. My little lady has been moving around like crazy, but she's not moving OUT! She's one day late. And I'm beginning to really wonder what she looks like and what it will feel like to hold a newborn again. Please come soon, my lovely lady!

20 September 2010

Monday Morning

It's Monday morning and I'm back at work. My maternity leave starts on Thursday. I was hoping that it would start much sooner (like, maybe two weeks ago), but, alas, here I am.

I can't complain though. We had a really fabulous weekend with Benny. We also managed to get more done on the house. For the past three weekends, I've cleaned like crazy. I don't want to have a new baby and a dirty house. My mom reminded me that the baby will probably come on Thursday, just when the house is at its dirtiest. She's probably right. But, if she decides to come today, the laundry will be done, the floors mopped, the furniture dusted, and so on. We put all of the curtains up - even curtains in the basement! Nate said, "Wow, it's really starting to feel like a house!" And the house is looking great. We still have a lot do, but the house is most certainly baby ready.

We spent Saturday at the mall (exchanging curtains and whatnot). I love that we can bring Benny somewhere new and it's like a whole new adventure to him. There were some cars INSIDE the mall and his world was flipped upside down! We had our neighbors over for dinner and went to bed early. Yesterday Benny and I cooked breakfast for Nate and then read books, watched movies, and generally relaxed while Nate washed and waxed both cars.

And now we wait. And wait. And wait. At my appointment on Friday, the doctor mentioned inducement. I wouldn't get induced until absolutely necessary - two weeks after my due date. That means this baby could stay right where she is for another two and a half weeks. I shudder SHUDDER at that thought!

18 September 2010

Book Review: The Penelopiad

An amazing thing happened yesterday... Benny and I made a trip to the library. We haven't visited the library all summer. I have no excuse for this other than we were busy all summer working in the house. But that's not really an excuse.

Benny loves the library and so do I. There's a local library within walking distance. It doesn't have the best selection of books, but it does have enough to excite Benny. After I rooted around for awhile, I found some book selections for me. I checked out Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad and Jane Smiley's Good Faith. I am obsessed with Atwood.

I started reading The Penelopiad yesterday when Benny was napping. I was up for a couple of hours last night (a common theme in my life now), so I ended up finishing the book!

The Penelopiad is a version of The Odyssey, but in classic Atwood form, it is told through the eyes of Penelope, Odysseus's wife. I read The Iliad and The Odyssey way back in high school and I don't remember much about them. The closest reference I have is the movie O Brother, Where Art Though? by the glorious Coen Brothers. So, many of Atwood's references were completely lost on me.

However, the always amazing Atwood made the story very accessible for those of us who can't remember what we read last week, much less what we read in high school. The basic gist of the story: Penelope marries Odysseus and moves with him to Ithaca. She is the cousin of Helen of Troy, who is the bane of her existence. When Helen runs off to Troy with Paris, her husband asks Odysseus to help retrieve his wife. Odysseus agrees and thus begins his 20 year Odyssey. Back at home, young Penelope is left with a palace and a son. She is a smart woman, so she learns how to run a palace and farm and attracts the attention of young suitors who want to marry her for her treasures. Since there was little news of Odysseus, they pressured her relentlessly.

Penelope was able to stall her suitors by weaving a death shroud for her father-in-law and taking it apart at night. She recruited 12 maids to help her with this task. Yada yada yada, 10 more years go by and Odysseus finally returns. He kills the hundreds of suitors as well as the 12 maids. The death of the maids weighs heavily on Penelope - even in death.

Atwood tells the story as a modern narrative. Penelope is the narrator 2,000 years later as she resides in Hades. Atwood also includes "chorus" chapters, common to Greek plays, that the maids perform. Although the story is classic Greek and a little confusing with lack of background, Atwood's spin makes it amazing. I could appreciate her writing and now I want to know more about The Odyssey. One of the most amazing chapters was an "anthropological" view of the killings through the eyes of the maids. It was a classic anthropology lecture and I found it quite entertaining.

Atwood is pure genius!

15 September 2010

One More Week...

Maybe. Just maybe. One more week until we welcome this baby girl. We are ready. We cleaned the basement, bought a guest bed (finally), installed drapes, cleaned the house, packed the hospital bag. Twiddle, twiddle, twiddle my thumbs. I've tried to walk this baby out, clean this baby out, sex (yes, sex) this baby out. No luck. Waiting this baby out never really crossed my mind. That's pretty much what I'm left with though.

14 September 2010

Let's Hear It for the Boy

Or, in this case, man. I just posted some before photos of our house. We have made some major improvements to the house in the past 10 months or so. And we're rushing to get little jobs finished before Baby Girl arrives. However, when I say "we," I should be giving the credit to Nate. He has given up many weekends to devote to the house. Being pregnant has definitely had its advantages when it comes to getting out of DIY projects.

In addition to painting most of the house and finishing lots of random projects in the kitchen, Nate completely overhauled the yard this spring. He installed drainage next to the house, constructed a fence, and has tried to keep our garden alive (the same can't be said for the grass, but that'll come back in the spring, right?). He really has put a lot of sweat equity into this house and I can't thank him enough.

I'm going to make you wait for pictures. Mostly because Nate is still installing the drapery rods and I can't post an incomplete project!

The Dining/Living Room: Before





Posted by PicasaAlthough I've mostly been writing about our work to the kitchen, we've done some extensive work to the dining/living room area as well, including: re-texturing the plaster walls, painting the walls, painting the trim, and installing a new light fixture. Add to that a new dining table and new drapes and VOILA! we have a much improved living space! After pictures coming soon!

The Kitchen: Before





We took these photos when we were first looking at our house two years ago (almost to the day!). These are the before photos of the kitchen. After photos are coming shortly...
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08 September 2010

Two Weeks to Go

As I quickly approach the 38-week point (tomorrow), I am reminded that the last month of pregnancy is like a sick joke. And it gets sicker with each passing day. Wondering: Will she come today? Or do I have three weeks left to go?

Last night I woke up and swore that my water broke. Nope, I was just really sweaty because I forgot to open the window. Today my back and my abdomen were killing me. Contractions? Nope, just my body's reaction to carrying approximately 30 pounds in one localized area. To top it all off, Baby Girl was moving like crazy, which makes things a little uncomfortable at this point.

But, the fake outs are good reminders that we still need to prepare for this baby girl. I need to pack a hospital bag. Nate needs to install the car seat. I need to sterilize bottles and find my breast pump. Nate needs to install the stemware rack (priorities, yes). We both need to mentally prepare ourselves for a new addition. Benny seems cool with it all. Today I told him that I was going to grow my hair out to my belly. He said that the baby could eat it. Fair enough.

I'll try to keep the blog fairly updated in the next few weeks. It will mostly be complaints, but what more can you expect from me???

07 September 2010

Book Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

There's a reason this book is a classic. It's a classic story about a young girl who grows up poor and is able to pull herself out of poverty (in a way) because she is bright. It's a lovely story about Frances (Francie) and her family.

As Anna Quindlen writes in the introduction, it's really a story about nothing. There is no plot line, no resolution. It is simply a story about Francie's life and her family's life. And while it could be boring, it's not. I read all 500 pages wanting to know more about her life and her brother's life, and her mother's life, and her father's life.

I have time for one more book before baby girl. Hmmmm.

02 September 2010

Action Shot!



We are nearly finished with the kitchen (yes, after nine whole months!). Here's an action shot of me - at nine months preggers - painting the walls. I was pretty committed to getting this task finished prior to labor. We just need to install a stemware rack and then we're officially DONE. Well, not officially. We still need to finish up a few details, but DONE enough! Pictures coming soon!
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27 August 2010

Out of Touch. But STILL Rocking Out!

The other day my friend, Tony, posted this link to his GChat status. Tony generally posts interesting news articles to his status, so I checked it out. It's a fairly comical mash up of three different movies to a song by Cee Lo. I have never heard of Cee Lo and I have never heard this song: Fuck You and Fuck Her Too. Based on the title, though, I was intriguied. What is it about expletives that make things infinitely more cool?

I couldn't get the song out of my head. Don't let the title disuade you. Check the song out. It's so good and not at all what you would expect.

Thinking about the song, I wondered why it was so great. It's sort of a contradiction: Upbeat music, not-so-upbeat lyrics. It's completely unexpected. On my way home last night, NPR's All Things Considered, ran a piece on the song. It hasn't been released yet, but Cee Lo put it on YouTube to get more publicity. The reporter mentioned that Cee Lo will also be releasing a radio-friendly verson of the song called "Forget You and Forget Her Too." It doesn't have the same pizazz or punch. When you hear the song, you'll understand.

Here's the NPR piece, in case you'd like to hear the commentary.

I guess the point is: I am woefully out of touch with pop culture. I get most of my news from my friend Tony's postings and NPR. I wonder how long this song has been viral. It may be completely old news to all of you. But I will rock. I will most certainly ROCK OUT to this song - pregnant belly and all.

24 August 2010

The Tale of Two Pregnancies
























Picture 1. Me at about 35.5 weeks with Baby Girl L.
Picture 2. Me at about 36 weeks with Benny.
Same dress. Same size belly. That's pretty amazing. I warned everyone that I would get big, like really BIG. And here I am. However, my boobs are MUCH bigger this time around. Holy moly. I like my hair way better in the 2007 picture. Must grow it out!

23 August 2010

Showered

I am one lucky pregnant lady. I had a great weekend with the ladies. My mom drove up to help me clean the house before Little Lady arrives. We washed windows and organized the basement. My mom is the best!

Yesterday, two friends threw me a baby shower at Bistro Vendome - a great little French restaurant downtown. It was so nice to see most of my friends from Denver in one place. They made me feel showered with love and friendship. And they showered me with some great baby gifts: like eight weeks' worth of service from the cloth diaper service, some great clothes, a breastfeeding cover up, and other helpful stuff. This little lady is going to have some great role models! My mom wasn't able to come to my shower when I was pregnant with Benny, so this one was extra special because she was there.

16 August 2010

More Preggers Pictures

I finally worked on some pictures this weekend and posted them to our Picassa account. Here is a summary of my pregnancy. I have been big for awhile! The first photo is from Benny's birthday party. Nate was making weird gestures around my belly and you can tell how entertained I am! The second photo is from June - on a weekend when we were potty training. Benny is on his toilet, watching a movie. I am engrossed. The third photo is from a short hike on Mother's Day in May.

14 August 2010

Book Review: The Year of the Flood

Another book bites the dust. After nearly a year of thinking about reading The Year of the Flood, I finally finished it! It's the second in a trilogy about the post-apocalyptic world created by Margaret Atwood. The first was Oryx and Crake. Atwood hasn't written the third book yet.

If you remember, I thoroughly enjoyed Oryx and Crake. The first book set the scene for the apocalypse. It told the story of how Crake (Glenn) had created a plague that he distributed via sex pills. By the end of that book, Atwood made it clear that at least a few humans had survived.

In The Year of the Flood, Atwood writes about other humans who have survived the "Waterless Flood." She follows two women who had once belonged to a sort of enviro cult called the God's Gardeners: Toby and Ren. By the end of this book, we see that a handful of people have survived the waterless flood, including many of the God's Gardeners.

Atwood has the ability to weave stories together seamlessly. Even though it is improbable that things in this book could ever happen, Atwood makes it believable. Her writing is also amazing. She is able to tell a story from many points of view. Toby's chapters are written in the third person while Ren's chapters are written in the first person. By doing this, Atwood helps create believable characters.

I still have one more gift card left over from my birthday. I'm going to pick up The Russian Debutante's Handbook this morning.

08 August 2010

Preggers Faux Pas

As I get bigger and bigger with child, it's amazing to sit back and listen, really LISTEN to what people say to me as a pregnant woman. Of course, I try to take compliments well and other comments with grace, but sometimes I wonder what people are actually thinking when they comment on my appearance. Because I think most people are well-meaning, I thought I'd include some inappropriate things to say to a pregnant woman as well as some flattering comments (even if they're not true).

When a woman is pregnant, she knows how big she's getting. She's perfectly aware that her body is being contorted in ways that seem impossible. So, saying things like "You're getting so big!" "Are you sure you're not having twins?" or "Wow, you seem to have gained some weight" are all bad options. Also, don't try to guess a pregnant woman's due date. I can't tell you how many people guessed - at 8 months - that I was due any day. And then, to add insult to injury, they would often follow up with, "You're not due for another eight weeks, wow. Are you sure?" Yes, we're sure, people. We are most definitely sure.

I love, love, love the people who recognize that expressing disbelief at my body size is probably inappropriate. Rather, they focus on the positive: "I love the way you carry - it's all out front!" "You're all belly," and the like will go a long way to make a pregnant woman feel good about herself. The best compliment yet: "You look great! A lot of pregnant women would be envious of you." It might not be true, but those words certainly are nice to hear.

03 August 2010

The Redeemer

Over the past year I have had the privilege of giving Nate some major crap about my birthday last year. Not only did he not acknowledge it with a card, gift, or dinner, but he went into work ... on a Sunday! I've been able to hold that over his head in some major ways.

But, he has redeemed himself this year. And I can no longer give him crap. Last night he had Benny surprise me with The Year of the Flood, a book I've been wanting to read for a long time. Then he gave me lessons to water color painting at Denver Free University. And he signed me up for a class three weeks after Baby Girl is due. So, not only did he do something to encourage a creative outlet, he offered to take care of TWO kids for four hours on a Saturday. I feel very, very lucky.

Nate wanted to take me out for dinner, but I opted for a night in. We made quinoa salad and had cherry pie. Nate and Benny sang me happy birthday and then I watched them laugh and wrestle on the bed. It was the perfect birthday. The best in recent years.

02 August 2010

Best Birthday Present ... EVER!

A very thoughtful co-worker created this very entertaining photo for me. I have a healthy crush on Timothy Olyphant (and have since his Go days). The ladies I work with have to hear about him on a regular basis. The photo is hanging outside of my cube at work.

That's not to say that I'm not enjoying my other amazing gifts, like a new picnic blanket, TWO new necklaces from Lauren Haupt jewelry, and a B&N gift card. People must read my blog :).

Check out one of my new necklaces (I'm wearing it today!):



29 July 2010

Three Years of Benny

1. Hiking, May 2010.

2. 2nd birthday, July 25, 2009.

3. Two best buds: Bear and Bob, January 2009.

4. Last bottle EVER, October 2008.

5. Thunder thighs, May 2008.

6. First born, July 25, 2007.