Sunday, October 23, 2011


These past few months have been beyond busy. I'm back at the store full time and I have a new appreciation and awe for working moms around the world who are able to keep everything together without losing their minds.

I vacuumed up a Saint Bernard's worth of animal hair from my living room carpet this morning because it had probably been 3 weeks since I'd last laid a hand on my vacuum cleaner. That is a simply dreadful admission coming from someone who has 3 animals living in her house--three VERY HAIRY animals. But, all of the non-essentials to daily survival have fallen by the wayside. Vacuuming (and most other cleaning activities) have sadly been moved to the non-essential list. Making sure that my family has clean underwear--THAT is essential.

Here is a list of events that have been taking place in the Spaulding household as of late:
  •  Jackson got his first tooth! It looks like it's smack dab in the center of his bottom jaw and is only visible when he gives you a big, heart-melting smile. Tooth #2 should be making its debut shortly.
  • I have a twitch below my left eye. It's been there for what feels like weeks. I believe it plans on taking up permanent residence there.
  • Terry lost a fight with a large landscaping boulder and gouged his middle finger with gusto. I told him that it was God teaching his middle finger a lesson. He didn't think it was funny.
  • I bought a can of spray paint! Even though it's to use for a home improvement project, I still felt like a hooligan who was up to no good while I was walking out of Home Depot, spray paint can in tow. 
  • I've eaten approximately 6 slices of pizza in the past week. That's just plain ol' inappropriate for a woman in her 30's. 
  • The twitch in my left eye is more prominent due to the very deep, very dark bags below my eyes. I would like to sleep for 40 hours, please. 
  • I have been out of coffee for 2 weeks. 
  • I miss my boy all day, every day while I'm at work. My heart actually aches from missing him so much.
 Here are a couple of pictures that I've taken over the past few days. I'm realizing that I'm not doing a great job documenting Jackson's early months in photos. I need to have my camera permanently attached to my hand. I feel like I miss so much of his life while I'm away from him every day, so I need to make a better effort to take photos while we're home during the evenings.  Enjoy!

My brother Brian (Jackson has TWO Uncle Brian's) with Jackson

In this series, I think he actually looks Asian!

Sweet baby boy

My little love

Practicing some of his vocal techniques

This one makes me clench my teeth because he's so cute!

Our sweet little Mel. Good girl, Mel. You're so patient!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


There's something so refreshingly optimistic about pregnancy and childbirth--a new life with so much promise, the joy of watching a family grow and morph into a cohesive, functioning unit, the fun in witnessing a baby transform from "human slug" phase (as we liked to call it) into drooling, babbling, giggling toddler.

I received the usual questions from everyone while I was pregnant. "When are you due?" they'd ask. And upon answering, the barrage of questions, advice, and on more than one occasion, explicit birth narratives would begin.

"Is it a boy or a girl?"

"Do you have a name picked out?"

"Will you be trying for natural childbirth?"

"Will you use cloth diapers?"

"I breastfed my babies till they were 6. It's sooooo good for them. I can tell you think so, too." (Maybe they were confusing the look of wide-eyed shock as one of support and similar child rearing philosophies.)

"Will you be immunizing your child?"

"When I had my first, I was in labor for 27 hours and I kept pushing and pushing and there was just so much blood, and my husband passed out and....." (This is when I would find my happy place and just nod at the appropriate conversational cues, i.e. "You know??" and "Can you believe that I didn't die??!!?!?")

"Sleep now. For the love of all that is pure and holy--SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN."

I should have written them all down. Some of the things I heard bordered on the truly bizarre, but most of it was actually very thoughtful advice from experienced mothers and grandmothers. In general, what I took away from all of the advice I received is that on a basic level, everyone likes to share their pointers on surviving pregnancy and on making it through labor and delivery without medical intervention. But what is the compulsion that drives women (and sometimes men) to offer such candid advice to a complete stranger? I thought it fascinating that in such a private culture that generally has no interest or real concern for connecting with one's community, women from all walks of life were approaching me to offer their advice and wisdom. I felt such camaraderie for the women around me who had experienced pregnancy and childbirth. They knew something that I was only beginning to experience. I could sense on a very small level that I was in the process of entering a sacred sisterhood whether I was prepared for it or not.

I have always been on the more reserved side. I don't tend to initiate friendships, nor am I a starter of conversations. But something changed in me when I became a mother. I don't quite know how to explain it. In the past 6 months, I have accomplished more socially than in the previous 3 decades of my life: I make telephone calls, not just return them; I seek out friendships with mommies I admire; I invite people into my home, even when it hasn't been vacuumed and swept and mopped and scrubbed till shining; I offer my mommy opinions and advice to pregnant women who are complete strangers. I say things to them like, "SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN! And take a long, hot, 2 hour bath. And shave your legs as often as you'd like. Set your alarm clock for 2am, and then 2:20am, and then 4:15am, and then 5:07am, but relish the fact that you can turn it off, roll over, and sink back into a nice deep sleep." OK, maybe I don't say all of those things, but boy, I sure feel compelled to! I'm excited to be part of this vast community of women who have done something incredibly miraculous with their lives--they've dedicated themselves to raising their children. Their lives are no longer their own. Complete upheaval married with earth-shattering joy.

For some reason, I've always been hesitant to pursue friendships with other women. Perhaps it's due to a fear of being rejected because I wasn't "cool" or trendy enough, or because I didn't look a certain way. I think that most women can relate. But becoming a mom has helped to remove that fear by allowing me to see that we aren't so very different from one another. At the very heart of all things, mothers want their children to be safe, healthy, happy and to feel loved. I can approach any mother with the assumption that she holds those same basic desires for her child, and voila! A friendship has formed!! Glory! This wasn't nearly as difficult as I've made it out to be for so many years.

I have recently gained a small circle of mommy friends who are just sooooo much fun. We go on walks together with our babies, we sample San Luis Obispo's various ethnic restaurants, we compare stories and developmental milestones. There is encouragement, and there is quite a bit of laughter involved in every get-together. These ladies have become essential in the maintenance of my sanity and I look forward to seeing them every week. We're a rather eclectic combination of women, but we've been thrown together as sisters in this journey called Motherhood and I am so thankful to have them by my side to cheer me on. And I can admit to them that I haven't shaved my legs for 2 months, or that I consumed an entire jar of peanut butter in a week's time and that most of it went into my mouth via spoonfuls and NOT on a traditional pb&j. And you know what? There's no judgment--not until they behold my unshaven legs. But I'm saving that till we hit our next phase in friendship, because no one should be exposed to such an ungodly sight until I know they're in it for the long haul.

So all of you pregnant moms-to-be out there: watch out! I'm newly uninhibited and I have LOTS of advice to give. :) I promise to spare you all the gory details about my Cesarean Section and the catheter and what the nurses had to do to help me...never mind. I'll hold my tongue and stick to things like, "Bring your own pillow to the hospital, because the ones there are just awful," and I'll reassure you that everything will turn out just fine and that you are strong enough to get through it. I'll tell you what I heard so many times, because it's the truth: your life will be changed forever, and it's simultaneously the hardest and most magical thing you'll ever experience.

Mother And Child XI, Mary Cassatt

Friday, September 2, 2011

Let Me Count The Ways

Look at this boy!! Just look at how adorable this little grin is and how cute his eyes look when they squint together, pushed up by the chubbiness of his cheeks!

Just for the fun of it, here are the top 10 reasons I love my son. We're going David Letterman style on this one, so counting down from ten:

10: He's starting that droning/singing himself to sleep thing that both cracks me up and makes me want to eat his cheeks.

9: He can muster a smile for me, even when he's downright pissed off at everyone else in the world. It's good to be the mama!

8: His experimentation with a whole new set of vocal sounds--ranging from high-pitched raptor squeal to a surprisingly low laugh--fills my day with GREAT entertainment.

7: I love my son because he doesn't judge my horrible dancing skills. In fact, he loves me even more when I dance with him. He thinks I'm cool (for at least another 11 to 12 years).

6: He lets me kiss his cheeks, even when I have monster morning breath. Is it obvious yet that I am addicted to his cheeks? They are my drug of choice.

5: He's given me a whole new appreciation for 3am. Well....I still don't know if I can really say that I appreciate 3am, but it certainly isn't as vile an hour when I'm with him.

4: He's given me the courage to face my fears--my fear of saliva, boogers, and poo explosions. 

3: He's given me the freedom to live in the present for the first time since my own child hood. I've spent so much of my life looking forward to what the future holds, and now I am content to let time pass as slowly as possible so as to cherish every little second.

2: I have a whole new appreciation for my own parents because of him.

1: He made me a mommy.

The following pictures are just a smattering of photos taken over the past 6 months. They are in random order, but most of them are from the first month he was home from the hospital.

Monday, August 29, 2011

End of Summer Day Dreaming

I inherited a dying cyclamen from my sister-in-law shortly before Jackson was born. I revived it and kept it alive until I re-potted it a couple of weeks ago. I looked up what a cyclamen needs in order to thrive, and in 2 weeks time, it has started growing eight more leaves! I'm pretty proud of myself. And I feel like a crazy old gardening lady.

Someday I want to have a gigantic, beautifully landscaped garden. I will tend to it with my long white hair done up in a messy bun, wearing a wide-brimmed sunhat, a lavender button-up shirt, worn out faded blue jeans, and boat shoes like my grandma used to wear. I will have one of those gardening aprons with the different pockets for spade, gardening sheers, and the like. And Terry will watch from the comfort of our wrap-around porch on his rocking chair. He'll wrap on the wooden porch with his cane when he thinks I've made a mistake, or to tell the neighbor kid to get the heck off his lawn and can't they tell that his wife works hard to make it look a certain way??? And then he'll say, "Kid's these days...." and then his sentence will trail off into a long, contented, albeit grumpy snore.

Cyclamen (US: /ˈsaɪkləmɛn/ sy-klə-men, UK: /ˈsɪkləmɛn/ sik-lə-men) is a genus of 23 species of perennials growing from tubers, valued for their flowers with upswept petals and variably patterned leaves. Cyclamen species are native from Europe and the Mediterranean region east to Iran, with one species in Somalia.
It was traditionally classified in the family Primulaceae but recently has been reclassified in the family Myrsinaceae. (Wikipedia, August 29th, 2011).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

July & August Activities

We've been busy in the Spaulding household. I've been working from home now for a couple of months, which is both a blessing and a challenge. I've been able to work around Jackson's nap schedule with the help of my wonderful Mother-in-law, Nancy. Even though I'm back at work, Jackson and I still try to take walks on a regular basis and I am constantly amazed how many beautiful hiking trails exist on the Central Coast.

Jackson is now 5 and 1/2 months old, but developmentally, he's at a 3 and 1/2 month level due to being 2 months early. We're working on things like rolling over more consistently and on sitting up with the help of a Bumbo chair. Once he's able to sit a little more steadily, we'll be starting him on rice cereal!! How can it possibly be time for rice cereal already??

Terry's been busy at work and has been spending some of his free time on his new fishing boat. He's taken up fishing and has really been enjoying it. We're lucky to have 2 lakes within a relatively short distance from our place and Terry's already talking about the day he'll be able to take Jackson out on the boat with him. :)

Here are a few pictures from the lats week. Enjoy!
Jackson & his Ma-Na (Terry's mom goes by the Chinese name for "Grandma")

At the Elfin Forest in Morro Bay. A beautiful, overcast August morning.

Daddy & Jackson checking out his hand and footprint.

"Cool! I can still suck on my hand in this thing!"

"...but I can't stand up! NOOOOO!"

"Fine, mom. I'll pose, but I'm not happy about it."

Just a boy and his dog.

Mel: "Do I get a treat for sitting here so nicely?"

Jackson: "My dog is HUGE!"

Jackson: "Fetch me my bottle."

Jackson will talk to anyone who gives him the time of day. Remind you of anyone?? :)

Trip To Arizona

Jackson and I got a last minute opportunity to take a trip out to Arizona to see my parents. My sister was going to drive out for the memorial service of one of our high school teachers and she asked if we would be up for the trip. Kate graciously offered to drive us through the night so that it would be easier on Jackson. I'd been anxious to visit so that my parents could spend some time with their grandson--they hadn't seen him since he was 3 weeks old and have been patiently waiting for an opportunity to see him again.

While we were there, Jackson hit a major milestone: he rolled over from his back to his belly THREE TIMES! He hasn't done it since coming home, much to Terry's disappointment, but at least we know he can do it! 

And speaking of Terry, we sure missed him while we were gone. He had to work while we were away. We're planning another visit next month, though, so he'll get to go with us next time.  

We were able to spend 5 full days with my parents, which was wonderful. The trip was relaxing and Jackson did a GREAT job traveling. Here are a few pictures from our time in Arizona. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Time

I know it's been a while, but here are a couple of pictures to show you how big our little guy is getting.
You have to be creative with swaddling when it's hot outside and you have no a/c!

"Mommy, why do you ALWAYS shove that thing in my face??"

He loves bath time with daddy.

All smiles

Nap time in his swing

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Activity Mat!

Come play with me!

Mel loves her baby

It's my nap time. Can you tell?

I would really like to eat that apple, but I don't have teeth. So sad!

Mommy & Jackson

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jackson Shows Off His Range of Emotion

This boy has been smiling like crazy lately, which makes day-to-day life a lot of fun! Here are some of the cute expressions he's making these days. However, capturing a full fledged smile requires a quick, steady hand and I haven't quite mastered it yet. So I will keep trying so that I can showcase our little boy's excellent smiling skills.

We can't believe how big he's getting. Today he weighed in at 10lbs, 3oz, which means he has more than tripled his birth weight. Way to go, big guy!