Friday, May 30, 2008

Busy Day

Claire and I had a full day yesterday. The day started out with Robert and I greeted by this cute face:

Claire and I went to breakfast at Legal Grounds in Lakewood. I LOVE their "Prom Cakes" - pancake with oatmeal and bananas baked in, topped with granola and pecan praline sauce. Yum! They have free wi-fi, so I was able to catch up on some e-mails while Claire napped. We came home for a little while, and then met two of my co-workers for lunch at Chuy's. It was nice to catch up with them, and introduce them to Claire. Afterwards we made a trip to Babies R Us to pick up a few supplies and a gift for an upcoming baby shower. Claire was snoozing, so I stopped by a baby resale shop to return a swing we purchased last week - too squeaky. When we got home, Claire was ready for another feeding, and then she was ready for a story ("One Fish, Two Fish...") and some playtime on her play mat. It was a good chance for me to practice with my new camera lens (50 mm f/1.8).

That tuckered her out, so her naptime gave me a chance to get a few things done around the house. Later after Claire went to bed, Robert and I enjoyed watching the LOST season finale. I won't say too much about it in case someone is saving it to watch later, but I was glad to see how only 6 of them were rescued, and finally finding out who was in the coffin. Definitely some really weird parts too, though. What did you think?

We're heading to Oklahoma later today for a family reunion - hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Maternity Leave

I frequent a few message boards for expectant/new moms, and "What's your company's maternity leave policy?" is a common question. I knew my company had a good policy, but I didn't realize how good until I saw the large number of people who don't get paid maternity leave - or realized that my company's policy is usually the best out of all of the ones listed (Canadians have great benefits). I'm ending up with 16 weeks of leave paid at 100% - this is the max. Our policy has 3 components:
  1. Up to two weeks before your due date. If the baby comes before the due date, any unused time is lost. Since Claire arrived 2 days after her due date, I got the full two weeks plus two days.
  2. Short term disability - 6 weeks, with an additional 2 weeks for a C-section - so 8 weeks for me.
  3. Parental leave - up to 6 weeks, taken within a year of birth. I'm still deciding whether to take the full 6 weeks now, or save one or two weeks for later in the year.

In addition, you continue to accrue vacation time while you're on leave. I get 22 vacation days per year, so I accrue almost 2 days per month. If I take the full parental leave, I return to work on July 15th. I already have 14 days accrued, so I could take another three weeks off. It about makes up for all of the long hours and difficult clients! I have a client with work in July, so I'm planning to go back for that, but it's nice to know that I can use some of the leave or vacation time during slow periods - I'd rather spend time with Claire than try to find something to keep me busy at work when things are quiet.

Before getting pregnant, I'd never paid that much attention to maternity leave policies, but it will definitely be high on my list of priorities if I ever go to a new company. It's such a blessing to be able to spend so much time with our precious new baby!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

7 Weeks

Claire turned 7 weeks old yesterday! She's continuing to do a great job learning to hold her head up and making more little noises every day. Mornings are her favorite time - she wakes up in a such a good mood, waiting patiently for her diaper change and bottle.

We tried out the Bumbo yesterday - still a little big, but she enjoyed it for a few minutes.

Today we're planning to go to Baby Boot Camp. It meets at Northpark Mall before the stores open, and it's for new moms and their babies. It combines cardio while we push the babies around in their strollers and upper/lower body exercises. We went to a free class last week and really enjoyed it - and had a nice surprise when we ran into someone from my start group when I first started my job out of college. It was great to find a program that allows me to bring Claire. She slept the entire time - her favorite part was getting pushed around in the stroller. After a C-section, you're supposed to wait 6 weeks before starting an exercise program, and I still have to be careful with ab exercises. I'm ready to get off some more of this baby weight, so it's nice to be able to start being active again!

We have a scooter...

The past two nights, we put Claire in footed pajamas instead of a sleep sack. Robert has put Claire to bed with her head under her mobile, and we've found her the next morning with her feet almost at the opposite end of the crib. Little stinker!

Still sleeping 8-9 hours every night - so exciting!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May 20 - 6 Weeks Old

It's hard to believe that Claire has already been with us for six weeks. Some facts about Claire:
  • Started sleeping through the night! For the past 5 nights she's slept for 7-9 hour stretches, so we've been getting good sleep. Hopefully this isn't just a short phase!
  • Can follow an object with her eyes and turn her head towards a sound
  • Can hold her head up for long periods of time when on her tummy. We had a photographer come take pictures last week, and she was so impressed. She said she photographs older babies that can't do as well as Claire.
  • Makes lots of cute noises as she tries to communicate
  • Sleeps most of the time in restaurants, which allows Mommy and Daddy to take her out frequently
  • Recognizes that a bottle is coming when we put a bib or burp cloth under her chin. She'll be crying and anxious, but she calms down as soon as she feels that cloth.
  • Enjoys walks in her stroller. Mommy and Claire like to walk to the neighborhood coffee shop where Mommy enjoys her coffee and all of the people who admire Claire. :)

In other news... Robert was officially laid off from Bear Stearns yesterday. This is a good thing - there was a possibility that he would get an offer from the acquiring company, but it wasn't a job he really wanted, and by getting laid off he was able to get a very generous severance package. There are a few things in the works, but for now we're going to enjoy the extra personal time that he'll be able to spend with me and Claire and use to help settle his dad's affairs. Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers during this time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Road Trip!

On May 10th, my cousin Jonathan and my cousin David's wife Penelope graduated from WTAMU. We didn't want to miss it, so we drove to Vernon on Friday night, spent the night with my mom & dad, and then all five of us drove to Canyon Saturday morning to be there in time for J's graduation. Claire did great in the car, and slept through the whole ceremony. Jonathan just returned from a Congressional internship in Washington. It's something he's talked about doing for several years, and I'm so proud of him for achieving that goal!

We spent Saturday night at Aunt Nancy's house in Amarillo, then drove back to Dallas on Sunday after stopping in Vernon for lunch. It was so much fun to spend time with family and to get a chance to introduce all of them to Claire!

Sleeping through the ceremony in Grandma Patty's arms
Penelope, Jonathan, and David
Amy & Jonathan

Chair Picture Outtakes

It takes awhile to get a cute picture of Claire with her elephant in the glider. There are two hurdles - catching her when she's awake and not hungry, and keeping her from falling over. This is what happens almost every week.

Catching Up

With all of the events of the past few weeks, we've gotten behind on the blogging! We'll start with a few cute pictures of Claire...

4 Week Chair Pic

Play time - she's interacting with us much more now!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Robert's Dad

Robert's father passed away on Monday. Below is an excerpt from the obituary. We are so thankful that he was able to meet Baby Claire before he died.

Jim passed away peacefully with his family by his side on May 12, 2008 at an Arlington hospital after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Jim was born in Dallas, Texas on May 15, 1953. Jim grew up in Arlington, Texas and graduated with Honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors degree in Architecture. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects and practiced architecture in the DFW area with architecture firms such as HKS and Corgan until 1986.

Jim was confined to a wheel chair for over twelve years, but that did not keep him from living life to the fullest. He always maintained a positive attitude in spite of his long and often difficult battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Jim lived a life consumed with love for others and a passion for creativity. A high chair Jim designed [for Robert, and that Claire will use when she's older] was exhibited at the John Michael Kohler Art Center and was included in Fine Woodworking Magazine's Biennial Design Book in 1977. After Jim was unable to continue his work as an architect, he embraced his love of art and art history by attending courses at the University of Texas at Arlington. He was a true inspiration to all who knew him.

Jim was a founding member of New World United Methodist Church in Arlington, Texas. He is survived by his parents Billie and Bob, his brothers Lee and Clark, his daughter Carol, his son Robert, his daughter-in-law Amy, his granddaughter Claire and countless friends and extended family members.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

MS150 Weekend

Robert rode in the MS150 this past weekend, a bike ride from Frisco to Fort Worth, to raise money to fight Multiple Sclerosis. As most of you know, his father suffers from this terrible disease. I was so proud of him - he was rider number 5, which means that he was the 5th top fundraiser last year!

On Day One they rode from Frisco to Texas Motor Speedway - the ride that day was over 80 miles. We spent the night at a hotel in Southlake, and my parents met us there to spend some time with us (i.e., Claire!). We enjoyed dinner at the Reata in Fort Worth - always a treat. Mom and Dad gave us the best gift by keeping Claire in their room that night and getting up with her for the nightly feedings and soothing. We had adjoining rooms so I was able to pop in as needed, but Robert got a full night of sleep, which helped him tremendously with the ride on Day Two. It was a great weekend!

Playing with Grandma Patty Snoozing at the finish line
Robert crossing the finish line

At Sundance Square with Billie & Bob

Sick of having her picture taken?

I'm not sure Claire is as big of a fan of the new camera as I am...

"Can't you see I'm trying to sleep here?"

"What is that thing in my face?!?"

"Maybe she'll leave me alone if I show her Milk Tongue..."

"Can I go back to my nap now?"

Thursday, May 01, 2008

New Camera!

Mommy got a new camera! I'd been wanting a DSLR, and my desire for one increased after we found out Claire was on the way. I began saving my "fun money" several months ago, and Robert surprised me with a gift certificate for a good portion of the cost. I bought a Canon Digital Rebel xti, a good flash, and I plan to get a good portrait lens. I haven't even begun exploring the features and have only taken pictures on auto so far, but am looking forward to getting some great pictures of Claire! I love how fast the shutter speed is - makes it much easier to capture cute expressions.

Claire - Week Three

Claire - Three Weeks

My mom left on Friday, and we've been on our own since then. Being on our own most of the day, the swing and bouncy chair have come in SO handy. Now I have a place to put Claire for a few minutes when I need to make a bottle, take a shower, etc. She tolerates them pretty well...and frequently falls asleep in the swing.

Claire is awake and alert for a much larger portion of the day, so we've had some good play time!

I didn't know it was possible, but I think she just gets cuter every day - look at those eyes!