9 months & Off to San Fran!

Benjamin is actually 9 months + 20 days today. But we finally got around to shooting these 9 month pics. Better late than never!


After a game of peekaboo with Mommy.



During a game of Drop-It-Mommy-Says-UhOh. This is his thinking face… “Hmmm…What will she do if I drop it?”




They were in the middle of the usual Dog-Lick-Face/Boy-Pull-Hair gridlock when I called their names.  They’re all like, “Huh? What? Nope. Everything is fine. No trouble here.”




A crying baby looks way cuter with a happy monkey on board.



More silly games. Also, what do you do when baby outgrows the changing pad but still has a year of diaper changes to go? Floor it?



Up to trouble once again.



And one short video full of chuckles:

I have more shots, but no time to post any more today. We’re in full force travel-prep here. We’re heading to San Francisco tomorrow for the wedding of our awesome friends Drew & Zoe. We also get to spend time with Benjamins Aunt Monica, Uncle Andy, & cousins Daniel & Cameron. He will love it!  Then Benjamin and I head to Michigan to spend time with Nana & Papa for the week. Yay! 🙂

This will be Benjamin’s first flight. Luckily, we have friends with little ones so I’ve been picking their brains all week about how to survive a flight with a baby.

Good luck to Laura (dear friend I miss so much!) and her little lady Lila (one of Benny’s many loves!) who also have their first flight this week, on Friday.

May the odds be ever in our favor.

Babies. Flying. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!


Webinar Disaster

I should be taking advantage of the last few minutes of Benjamin’s nap by working. I am quite behind in my pacing plan for my curriculum development work and trying to squeeze in a minimum of 5 hours a day, including weekends! But instead of working, I will instead recap the past few hours of chaos around here. I just spoke to John on the phone and he ordered me to do something to relax. And so here I am. Writing has always been therapeutic to me.

Chaos, you ask?  A few minutes ago I finished giving a 30 minute presentation on my curriculum in an online webinar. It was a minor disaster. Unfortunately, the disaster was carefully recorded and archived to a website for those who could not attend the webinar. (And I suppose for all those other randoms on the Interwebs who are into health science curriculum or just have way to much time on their hands.) …Do not ask me to share the link with you. I will not. …And do not try to google it. I doubt you would find it.

To look on the bright side, as I always do, it really didn’t turn out that badly. Oh wait…yes it did.

I prepared all morning for a Benjamin Disaster to occur during my presentation. Picture this: Screaming baby in the background while I present live to an audience of people in Illinois. And the ridiculousness is recorded to preserve the moment for all history to come. That would just be awesome and so, so professional!

So I had brainstormed at least 159 ways lined up to prevent this from happening.

The ideal plan may be obvious:  Childcare.   Well, Benjamin used to go to daycare on Tuesdays while I worked (so the last webinar I gave I had no baby to contend with, and it went great!), but since every germ known to mankind ravaged our bodies over the course of the winter, we decided the cost-benefit of keeping him in part-time daycare was not worth it. Without friends or family in the city and with our babysitter in school during the day, I couldn’t really come up with any options.

Fast forward to this morning, when I tried to plan for all contingencies:

Plan A: Pray he naps–after a huge mega-bottle to keep his belly full. (Mega-bottle prepped: Check!)

Plan B: Pray that if he wakes up during my presentation he can cry it out in his crib (most naps are only 45 minutes these days so I figured this was likely). The fear here was that he’d start pulling up and leaning over the crib. PS. he hasn’t yet but has come close, so we will be lowering the level on that thing TONIGHT!. (Video monitor on: Check!)

Plan C: Pray that no one will care if I ask to be excused for 60 seconds to rescue him from near disaster in the crib, and then pray he would quietly sit through Baby Einstein on nearly silent volume for 30 minutes straight. Questionable… (Baby Einstein: set up and ready to hit play. Check!)

Plan D: Pray that if he will not watch TV, he can make room in his belly for another large bottle and cut up toast–although lately he has discovered a high pitched scream that he likes to practice between bites of any food.  (Toast cut up, 2nd mega-bottle prepped: Check!)

Fast forward to post-webinar blog update:  After keeping the poor nugget up for four hours after his morning nap (so that his afternoon nap would be timed as close as possible to the start of the webinar), he has been sleeping for 2.5 hours now and counting. Longest. Nap. Ever. (Go figure!)

So why was it a disaster then?

Rewind to the webinar:

Plot Twist!  The disaster I was least prepared for happened:  TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES! To sum things up: My connection to the webinar freezes seconds before the presenter preceding me finishes. I emergency text John at work to figure out how to log into his computer. I set up both computers. I apologize profusely to everyone for the delay. And then I present for 5+ minutes to dead-air. (I thought they could hear me but later realized they could not). By the time all the glitches were worked out, I was so frazzled that I don’t think a single sentence of my presentation made sense. And as icing on the craptastic performance cake, I handled the questions at the end terribly.

Okay, I probably exaggerate…it may not have been that bad, but that’s how it felt!

Here is the double-computer emergency station where the disastrous webinar was broadcasted:

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Entropy: 1, Me: 0.

ps. For my non-science readers: In physics, the word entropy refers to the amount of “disorder” of a system.



Balloon Animals

I hope we are always lucky enough to live in a neighborhood like Mt. Vernon. The kind of neighborhood where you sometimes just stumble upon unexpected things like this:


We were walking down to the monument on a stroll around the ‘hood with Carol & Monica, John’s mom & sister, when we stumbled upon this balloon animal menagerie. Apparently they were a memorial someone created for a lost loved one. He or she must have been an amazing person to inspire such a beautiful, whimsical tribute!

We had a busy, but relaxing weekend with family in town. We caught another Centerstage show (Shakespeare’s The Twelfth Night), dined at some of our favorite spots (City Cafe & B Bistro), stopped by Fed Hill, & played Sorry (the game where the person in last place always seems to come back for the win…that was me for the record). We watched Michigan play in the B1G tourney, ate many delicious carrot cake cupcakes, & had some great conversation. And of course, there was plenty of time for play with Sir Benjamin. It was such a blessing to have them visit & Ben is very lucky to have his sweet Grammy & Auntie Monica!


John made the airport drop-off on Monday and then headed off to Richmond for the week. Benjamin was napping when they all left and when he woke up he spent several minutes just looking around trying to find everyone. He was quite confused by the silent, deserted apartment. It was heartbreaking, but adorable!

Luckily, we had another visitor a few days later, so the joyful sound of conversation returned to our little home to delight Ben’s ears once again. Our friend Katy was in B’more for a conference, so Ben & I had one fun day & night to hang with her. Soon we will be in Ann Arbor so we can see her so much more!

This will make Benjamin very happy because he fell head over heels in love with Katy. Somehow he has developed some serious flirting skills. He stared at Katy with his big blue eyes, then tilted his head down and buried it in my lap, then he looked up again, only to hide once more. And so on, over and over… it was precious! But by the next morning, he abandoned the shy-guy act and just wanted to cuddle with her.


So it’s been a busy & fun week around here. To finish the week, John got home last night from Richmond & we had our friends Seth, Theresa, & their two little ones (Chelsea & Clara) over to watch the Michigan game. We beat the Wofford Terriers (57-40). GO BLUE! Toby had a blast with 4-year-old Chelsea, but he was so sad to see his Terriers defeated. (HAHA!)

Unfortunately, Toby was so rambunctious running around with Chelsea that we received a noise complaint from the neighbors below us! Luckily, it didn’t stop the fun because we didn’t get the voicemail about it from the front desk until this morning. Oops. 🙂

Now we have one tired pup:

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I was about to end this post when I remembered something else! Yesterday Benjamin and I walked all the way down to Fed Hill (John had the car in Richmond) for his first music class. He LOVED it!

Here is Ben on the long 2 mile walk. We took the Inner Harbor route. It was windy, but gorgeous!


We arrived early, so Ben enjoyed playing in the nursery while we waited for his class:

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And then he slept the entire walk home:

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We finally got home, curled up in bed from exhaustion, and took a long, sweet nap together.

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Benjamin, my cuddly little balloon animal.  🙂

Frozen in Time

I am going to miss the lazy mornings this year has blessed me with. I will probably never again have the luxury of working from home. It’s likely that I won’t catch nearly as many mesmerizing sunrises, and surely not from such a stunning aerial perch. My first baby will certainly never be 9 months old again! I won’t get to indulge in meandering morning walks with two little creatures: exploring, making spontaneous stops, soaking in the world. The pace of life will soon go from a trot… to a gallop… to a sprint.

One of my resolutions this year was to have a more balanced perspective on a daily basis. What, specifically, does that mean for me? Well first, I think I was born a natural optimist and idealist; I truly appreciate the general outlook those traits give me. And I think I’ve always been pretty good at stopping to do a reality-check when things get too overwhelming. But unfortunately I am also (without fail) FAR, FAR too ambitious with my time. So on a day-to-day basis, my happiness gas-tank usually starts to peter out as the evening wears on and I realized that 90% of my to-do list will not get done.  Sound familiar? I think this is true for a lot of us.

So the wheels started spinning in my head about this dilemma again over the past year…as my life started transitioning from my first career (education) to the next (medicine)…  from the freedom of simply living for myself to catering to the constant needs of a little one and a blossoming family… from Chicago to Baltimore… to Ann Arbor so soon.

And what I realized is that I need to work on being mindful. Living in the present. Being content with the 10%. Choosing the 10% wisely. Choosing joy. Noticing the tiny details. Smiling more genuinely. Smelling the fresh laundry rather than just folding it. Seeing people. Marveling in this life.

Some of this marveling is made easier by this sweet little cherub. Babies definitely help slow one down, in a good way.

In keeping with my quest for balanced perspective each and every day, I decided that I’ll choose one day each month to grab random shots in black and white throughout the day. For some reason b&w photos just make me feel like time is momentarily frozen. And that brief respite from the fierce spinning of the globe beneath my feet allows me to notice all those tiny details.










…even the tiniest details of how he cries.


Artbaby Adores Avocado

Some random updates mixed up with moments of our day:

1) Ben is 9 months old. As soon as his nose is no longer a snot faucet, you’ll see his 9 month pictures. I feel like my baby is growing way too fast, so I keep putting him into small spaces to make sure he still fits.

Ben in Toybin

2) It was 61 degrees today! Thank goodness. We were starting to get the crazies from being all cooped up, so today we spent some much needed time outdoors.

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3) Case in point: Last week we were going so stir-crazy (and Ben was such a little clingy monkey from his “marathon” cold–I seriously think it lasted 26 days) that I decided to take him for walks indoors. We walked up and down the hallway… we went up and down the elevator… we  circled the apartment about 80 times. Then we got bored of that, so we took Toby for a walk:

4) Today, Benjamin had the first of three “ArtBabies” classes at the Walters Art Museum. He LOVED it! He’s at the perfect age to get more involved, especially since we called it quits on his once-weekly daycare. While I don’t want to overwhelm his days (or mine!) with too much, I am planning to start a weekly music or swim class (or both?), as well as storytime on Friday or Saturday (or both?) at the library, which is also a short walk away.

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5) When does the “knock down towers” phase begin? I keep building towers & trying to get Ben into it, but he hasn’t really taken the bait yet. A bunch of us parents were sitting around the babies at class and towers were going up left and right, but none of the babies seemed interested. Except for the 10.5 month old who went straight for our awesomely huge block tower. Ben and his friend Owen here were too busy working on crawling.

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6) Favorite food these days: AVOCADO! The little man eats it straight out of the skin and would probably eat the whole thing if I didn’t stop him.

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7) Daylight savings was manna from the sleep gods above. Ben has alway struggled to stay up past 6pm. Now he makes it until 7, so John gets to see more of him! Other facts about Ben’s sleep: He is still doing an early morning wakeup around 4-5am. If I’m feeling brave I let him cry it out and he usually falls back to sleep after 15-20m, then wakes up around 6:30. If I’m not up for hearing him cry, I go in to nurse him and he sleeps until 7:30. Yes, I know I should probably just pick one and be consistent so as not to confuse him. He is also down to a 2 naps/day rhythm (at 10am & 2pm). He usually sleeps for an hour and some change and wakes up cooing or crying. I don’t often get to wake him up, but I had to before his 9-month doctor appointment last week . Could it get any cuter?

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8) We are ramping up the eating. We learned at his appointment that he’s dropped to 20th percentile for weight. WHAT!? (He is still 85th for height.) So this skinny little man (except for his thunder thighs!) has some work to do. We’re adding snacks galore to our day more formula to supplement his bedtime bottle. In the past week, he has made strides in figuring out how to pick up his own food and developing more patience to practice his pincer grip, so he has been less frustrated at mealtime. And the avocados should help.


9) We are reading SO many stories. So, so many. It’s pretty much Benjamin’s favorite thing to do. On an average day, I’d say we read about 15. On some of his sick, clingy days in the past few weeks, we’ve read at least 30+. His favorite? Caps for Sale. (Who doesn’t love that book!?) Other faves: Brown Bear, The Hungry Caterpillar, Tails (in the pic), Peek-a-Who…..I could go on for a while. He’s been turning pages for quite awhile now and his patience is continuously developing. If it’s a story he doesn’t love though, he’ll hurry me up by trying to turn the pages faster. If it’s a story I don’t love, I creatively narrate to make it more concise.

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A Hard-Won Cup of Joe

A quick preface: 1) This post might have a first-world-problem tone.  2) The past few days (or weeks?), have left me pretty sleep deprived. My breakneck pace in my curriculum writing job, John’s crazy workload, and Ben’s wakefulness with his never-ending cold, have made me even more coffee-dependent than usual.

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It is 3:24pm and I am chugging the glorious cup of coffee pictured above. It is my FIRST cup of the day. The dark clouds of hopelessness are finally lifting. My hands have stopped shaking and my headache is retreating.

I woke up with Benjamin at 5:40am, and made a beeline for the coffeemaker. We were out of coffee.

When the small grocery store a few blocks from us finally opened at 9am, we took a field trip to get Mommy more coffee. Worried that a suspicious man was going to snatch Toby (who was tied up outside), I grabbed the expensive Zeke’s (a Baltimore favorite!) because it was in a display right up front. Having never splurged on Zeke’s, I was pretty stoked for this long awaited coffee. We got home and I put Benjamin down for a nap. He went down like champ and I made my second beeline of the day for the coffeemaker. Only to realize I had bought WHOLE BEANS.

What’s wrong with whole beans!? More flavorful and fresh, right?  We usually buy them, but in this moment I was not pleased. I had failed to consider that grinding beans (LOUD!) + naptime (QUIET) = screamo baby + no nap. And no nap = unhappy baby = exhaustion = my death jump from the 21st floor.  I figured I could wait it out (painfully) until the little man awoke.  I do not mess with naps, although this might have been the closest I have ever come.

Alright, I’ll speed up the story now…Nap ends, repair man shows up. Coffee delayed. Repair man leaves, we’re almost late for storytime at the libarary. Coffee delayed. We get home, someone is tired and sobbing, nap time. Coffee delayed. Nap time ends, nurse, diaper, BEELINE for coffee grinder. The joyful cacophony of beans pulverizing to dust.

I hovered over the brewing coffee until the second it was done. And then my day finally began.

Saint Toby

Ben bops Toby on the face or grabs handfuls of his fur in a vice grip pretty much daily. I try to teach him to pet Toby. I really do. But I am not redirecting Benjamin in this video because I just needed to document the inhumane treatment Toby puts up with on Ben’s account. One day, when Toby is a decrepit elderly man dog and Benjamin is a teenager and forgets all the sacrifices made by his old pal, I will play this video.

The face slaps actually started about 2 minutes prior to me getting this on film. Can you believe Toby’s patience!?

Before you go and nominate Toby for Canonization, it should be noted that he often has ulterior motives. Toby is constantly on the prowl for “treats” from Ben’s face (especially when Mommy is not looking). Benjamin has been a repository of snot lately as he tries to shake a 2-week cold. And an endless trickle of slobber is a given here in babyland. These are some of Toby’s favorite freebies. So perhaps Benjamin is really just defending himself from all the licking? Or getting revenge? Or asserting his alpha male status?

The jury is out.