Lucy Month Ten

10Month

I was having a really busy work day. Thankfully, Lucy was also having a really busy work day.  She was telling her dolls stories in her adorable raspy, baby voice. She spent some time chasing Gordon (in her walker) in hopes of hugging him. And a good chunk of her day was spent daydreaming out of the big windows. Oh, what I would give to have a glimpse into her sweet, little soul and hear wonders.

Lucy is only allowed to use the walker on the lower level of our home. It's much safer when you don't have to worry about her busting through the baby gate like the incredible hulk. Plus, my office is downstairs, and so is the TV for when she's ready for her daily dose of Bubble Guppies.

Well, on this particular day Lucy found an unpacked box of text books in my office. She was determined to pick one up. With her tiny little fingers, she pulled and pulled to try and free one from the cardboard box. While the mini hercules was honing her skills, I ran upstairs to get my phone. My mom was calling. I picked-up the call, and hurried back down the stairs, down the hallway, and turned the corner to my office.

And my heart dropped. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Before I could find my words, my mom starts freaking out, 'What's the matter?' What happened? Is the baby okay?"

Well, little missy pulled a fast and mysterious one on me. Not entirely sure how she managed to pull-off this feat, but she did. When I turned the corner, lucy was sitting on the floor with a text book. She somehow managed to climb OUT of the walker, WITHOUT making it fall over or falling over herself, AND into an upright sitting position on the floor NEXT to the box of books and with a book in her lap. I just kept thinking, 'I'm not mad, but how in the world did you do it?' Needless to say, it's never happened since, so I'll never really know her magical ways.

Some other happenings in Lucy's 10th month

  • Celebrated her first thanksgiving, when she took her first steps
  • She talks a lot, and even asks questions in her baby language
  • She has more teeth than I can count (8+ and she bites really hard when I try to venture to the back of her mouth)
  • She is always ripping her socks off!  Nine times out of ten when I go to get her after her nap, her socks are on the floor
  • She has really taken to her dolly and loves to snuggle her at night
  • She cruises around the furniture
  • She eats everything! Recently she refused the puree I made for her and insisted on eating what I was eating - Indian masala curry. She loved it and ate my entire helping.
  • She started saying "Hi"

Since her 10 month birthday was only a few days before Christmas we decided to make this shoot her Christmas photos.

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Thanksgiving 2013

nic108 Our first Thanksgiving in our new home, and our first hosted Thanksgiving. Thirty-something people spread across two tables with lots and lots of food. Everyone chipped in and brought a dish, helped clean up, and helped break down, so the day was quite manageable.

We have a lot to be grateful for this year. And having so many people dear to us in our home to celebrate left us feeling happy and humble at the end of the weekend.

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My boo, giving thanks to all of our guests and carving our first turkey in our home. nic108

One very special milestone happened on thanksgiving. Lucy took her first solo steps at nine and a half months. We repeated the act a couple of time to be sure it wasn't a fluke. Someone even caught it on camera. I'm so proud of my little Lucy bear. She's incredibly brave and determined, a thrill-seeker of sorts. Constantly exploring and learning.

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Here is a photo of all of our out-of-town guests. We are so happy they all made the journey out to Chicago this Thanksgiving. It made the weekend extra special.

Lucy Month Nine

nic108 On the weekends when Lucy wakes up, one of us goes to get the Goose and bring her in our bed. Mostly in hopes of her falling back to sleep again, but only rarely does it turn out that way. Usually, Lucy uses our bed and our faces as part of her impromptu jungle gym. Des and I tag team wrangling her up and keeping an eye out while the other one catches some extra z's.  On this one particular morning, we really wanted to get her back to sleep. She had just finished breast-feeding, so we snuggled her in between us, got her all comfy and started looking for her Ducky. (Side note, Lucy's Ducky is a Wubbanub - a beanie baby like stuffed animal attached to a green soothie pacifier. A lifesaver of sorts.) I spotted Ducky underneath her and went to pull it out. Well, when I did that the pacifier was ripped off of the stuffed animal. And with that Des and I jolted awake, waiting to see Lucy's reaction. She paused and calmly took both pieces from me. The pacifier in one hand, and the ducky in the other. A moment passed while she looked at her ducky in two. Then she very sweetly brought them together, then apart, then together, as though she was trying to reattach the two. Made my heart very sad.

She went on taking the pacifier for a few more days sans ducky. We went to the store to buy her new soothies, and even a new ducky, but she wanted nothing to do with them. Then just like that she dropped the habit. It's been a few weeks now, and she still has no desire to use a pacifier. I can't say I'm sad about the situation because I know how hard it can be for kids to separate from their pacifiers, but there may be a little guilt lingering.

Some other notables from the month -

  • Pretty much the day Lucy turned nine months her little attitude magically appeared. I told her no to something, and she snapped back at me...
  • Two more top teeth have dropped down, for a total of 6 teeth
  • She's adding to her selection of dance moves with a very rhythmic side-to-side move
  • She started saying ma-ma and gda-gda
  • She learned how to blow kisses with just her lips - no hand motion yet
  • She has a thing for long hair and likes to play with mine while she nurses
  • Lucy celebrated her first Halloween as a sailor/lollipop kid! We skipped the trick or treating though, it was really icky outside

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Sonny Acres

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We made our annual trip to the local pumpkin farm, Sonny Acres. In tow were my folks, my sister, my brother, Des, and first-timer Lucy. Seeing my little chubby pumpkin amidst a sea of real pumpkins made my smile stretch from ear to ear. Our trip was a few days after my birthday, a very special time for me. I love birthdays. One day in 365 that you are celebrated for being here, in all your unique glory. A day for the spotlight, and just about as much spotlight as I'm comfortable with.

Growing up my family, especially my parents, always went above and beyond on my and my siblings birthdays. I would wake up to a decorated bathroom. Was treated to a special hot lunch for me and sometimes a friend. Had the tastiest homemade cupcakes to share with my class. Was thrown both a large family birthday party with all my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins AND a separate friends party. And there was always a small, intimate birthday dinner with just my immediate family at any place I chose. The last one is still in play.

Anyway

Sonny Acres was a good time. The weather was less than desirable. It was cold and damp, and started raining at the end. All the more reason for comfort food. We took the liberty of ordering a half dozen freshly made apple cider doughnuts, fresh cut fries with that oh-so-good-tasting but incredibly bad for you cheese on top, and I think there was a grilled cheese in there somewhere. We all had our eyes set on golden yellow sweet corn dipped in butter, but surprisingly they were sold out.  The age gap (and the weather) kept the visit short and sweet. Lucy was having plenty of fun picking at the pumpkins and observing all the kiddos around her.

I love my family and I treasure these times we spend together. There have been far too many tragedies in the last year, both personal and worldwide, and these photos keep me grounded. They keep me from lashing out over something insignificant. And they keep me humble and grateful. These photos are little slices of my happiness.

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Lucy Month Eight

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Maybe it's because we've been together every day for a while now, but I haven't felt time has gone by fast until  this month.  Until now, time has gone by at a reasonable rate. When I'm with Lucy, I rarely look back and I rarely look forward. My biggest wish is to be with her in the present. To praise her latest accomplishments, and as her world expands to allude to her boundaries. Yet this month, things have changed. Perhaps it's because I've been a lot busier growing my business, or perhaps this this the baby stage where things go into over drive. Either way it was the first time I thought to myself, 'whoa, slowww down.'

Every time I think we've out-smarted Lucy, she 'one-ups' us. For example, a few weeks back she learned to stand up in her crib...

I was in my office working, when I heard Lucy on the monitor. I had just put her down for a nap, so I decided to let her 'cry it out' for the next 10 minutes to see if she would doze off again. After about five minutes her little whimper turned into a panicked cry - a scream for help. Now, we don't have a video monitor (invasion of privacy?) just a sound monitor, so hearing my babes sounds of serious distress made me bolt upstairs and into her room - where I find her standing. She was fine and safe, but I think she panicked because she stood up and didn't know how to get down. She grasped on to the side of the crib so tight her knuckles were white.  So I picked her up, hugged her, calmed her down and lay her back down in her crib.

And this time I got to witness the whole thing.

She rolls on to her hands and knees, crawls to the side of the crib, starts inching her hands up the bars while scooting her knees close to the side, reaches her tiny fingers up to the top of the crib, then with all of that small (but mighty) core strength pulls herself up to standing.  So there goes letting her cry it out.

That night we put her in her sleep sack, and AH HA! Lucy can't stand up while in the sleep sack... until the next day when she figures out how to stand up in her sleep sack. I'm so proud of her problem solving skills.

Some other notables from this month...

  • Lucy's top two teeth dropped down for a total of four teeth
  • We bought Lucy a walker and she loves it! Keeps her busy for a long time. She especially loves chasing Gordon, and the big work out ball
  • She's very talkative these days, adding new sounds constantly. Starting to sound like a little language
  • She knows how to stand on pretty  much anything
  • I celebrated my first birthday as a mommy
  • She clicks her tongue and whistles when she crawls
  • She waves her arm when greeting people, sometimes.
  • Lucy has begun doing some preliminary dance moves to music- the up and down bob.

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Lucy Month Seven

nic108 Wham, her hand slams on the table. She looks at me - eyes wide, mouth open, and a little grunt squeaks out. Hit me again, I want more food.  She takes in her spoonful of the daily special. A little bit of the food finds it's way through her lips and on to her face. I squeegee it back on to the spoon, add a little more, and the whole thing starts over again.

I'm not sure if it's because we waited until six months to start feeding her solids or if she is developing a healthy relationship with food at a young age, but dang - this girl is a healthy eater. We started her on cereal, then vegetables, and most recently have introduced fruit. She's tried carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, kale, blueberries, bananas, apple sauce, and peaches. And every single time, she eats with great enthusiasm.

Des and I make Lucy's baby food at home. It's easy, I mean really easy, and incredibly cost effective. We've given her store bought baby food too, when we are in a pinch. But otherwise she's getting fresh, nutrient packed food everyday (which has forced me to reassess my snack choices throughout the day.)

Recently we joined some friends for a Friday night baby shower BBQ. Carly and Hus (I photographed their Chicago wedding) are about 8 months pregnant (I did her maternity photos too - still editing) with a little baby boy. Hus is originally from Chicago, so his parents hosted a rather large gathering a few weeks back. We were happy to see familiar faces from the wedding, and we picked-up conversations where they left off.

What really got us were all of the kids running around - that we weren't related to! Lucy glued her eyes to these kids. She didn't want to be in the sling, chatting amongst the adults. She wanted to be running around, bouncing off the walls, tumbling on the ground, making friends. So after she make it clear to me she wanted to be inside, we joined the kids and moms playing on the floor. First lucy sat in my lap, wailing her arms around, then sat on the floor kicking her feet as fast as she could, then on hands and knees. Now prior to this night, Lucy had no problem getting into crawling position and rocking back and forth. Lifting an arm, putting it down. Lifting a leg, putting it down.  This night was different - she was motivated.

And it clicked.

Baby girl started crawling. Like really crawling, not scooting or army crawling. She was up on all fours, coordinating hands and knees, working her core, and beaming with pride. Showing off to anyone one who was willing to watch. Des and I were proud too, our baby is crawling at six and a half months!

Then shortly after some one said, "How fun, now you have a mobile baby." A brief moment of panic surged through my body, then with a deep breath, it passed.

A few other notables from this month -

  • Lucy's hiccups have decreased substantially
  • She prefers to drink from a cup, not a sippy cup or a straw, straight from a cup
  • She does not like to be in a room alone for too long - which kinda throws a wrench in my morning routine
  • We've started some basic sign language with Lucy - more, eat, drink, sleep, mom, dad, please, thank you
  • I skipped over 9 month clothes and went straight to 12 month. They are kinda big on her, but nothing some sleeve/pant rolling can't fix
  • Lucy recognizes and smiles to familiar songs, I'm hoping preliminary dance moves are next.

Here are some photos from her seven month photo shoot. What I love most about her new crawling trick is that when she is tired she rests her head on her hands, takes a minute to re-coop, and then is off again.

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Lucy Month Six

6monthThis month was a special one. It was a month of big milestones for both us and Lucy. After moving eight times in ten years, Des and I finally picked a place to sink our toes and grow some roots. We both agreed we are staying put for at least five years.  This was our first month on the path to making our house a home. There have been too many trips to Ikea, Home Depot, and Target - which is dangerously close to us.  Lucy sleeps through the seemingly endless drilling, pounding, and box breakdowns that accompany setting up a home.

This month we moved Lucy into her own room.  Not too long after that, she transitioned to her crib. Probably a little late on our part, but we decided not to set-up the crib in our city apartment. She took to her new crib well, really well. Maybe it's all the roaming space or being able to see through the bars. Either way, I can leave her in the crib for extended periods of time. More often than not Lucy wakes up from her naps and quietly plays until she's ready to get out. I hear her through the monitor experimenting with new sounds, some soft, some loud. When I peak through the door I watch her push her feet on the bars flipping, rolling, and turning until she tires her self out.

A few days before her six month birthday I found her in her crib rocking on her hands and knees. Baby girl is so ready to go. She wants to crawl. She wants to be mobile and discover more about the world around her. Those motor skills better to catch up with her ambition, and fast.

Other notable things from this month...

  • Lucy celebrated Des' birthday for the first time. They actually share half birthdays. There are photos of the celebration below.
  • Lucy tried solids for the first time and love it!
  • We survived our first move with a baby and a dog, also making Lucy a city kid living in the suburbs.
  • Lucy's first tooth came in just before the move and her second one shortly followed.
  • Now that we are living two stop signs away from my folks, Lucy has a crib set-up at their house too
  • She sat in a shopping cart and restaurant high chair sans car seat for the first time.
  • She finally has thick enough hair for me to put bows in!

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Lucy Month Five

nic108-5month Lucy turned five months on July 21, just days before our big move to the suburbs.  Scrambling for ideas to document her fifth month in our lives, I played on the growing chaos of our apartment.  As you can see Lucy ended up in a  moving box, with all of her stuffed animals and a few blankets. And she worked the camera.

I remember thinking Lucy is a feisty five month old. Her personality shines bright with loads of smiles and playful conversations. She understands anticipation as well as cause and effect. "If mommy unbuckles my car seat that means I'm getting out, so I'll arch my back to help her pick me up."

The milestones are coming so fast these days (and I'm a little late on this post.) There is definitely a blurred line between what happened in her fifth month and what happened in her sixth month.  One thing I know for sure is that everyday I get to spend with my little Lucy is another day my heart swells with love and thanks. I'm grateful for a healthy baby, grateful for a happy baby, grateful for a beautiful baby, and grateful we are the ones chosen to raise this baby.

Here are some notable notes on Lucy's fifth month...

  • Lucy celebrated her first Independance Day
  • She learned to sit-up by herself
  • Lucy got really grabby. Gripping onto anything within arms length.
  • Lucy got her first tooth!
  • Baby girl is still nursing like a champ. Trying to get as close to six months as possible before introducing solids.
  • Des is pretty sure Lucy says 'Ma' , especially when she's hungry or tired or in distress. Sounds like Muaaa, Muuuum, Maaahhh, Mmmm. Either way she is definitely trying to communicate, and is certainly successful.
  • She has a very distinct body language when she's hungry. She throws both hands out in front of her, clasps one fist in the other palm, and pulls the joined hands to her face, over and over. We're sure she's mimicking pulling a bottle or breast to her face. It's freakin' adorable.

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Grace Street

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And like that, we are out of the city. It's been about two weeks since we moved out of our cozy little one bedroom in Lakeview.  I loved that apt.  I loved the apt more than the location.  Sure living down the street from Wrigley Field is a novelty (you can see the stadium lights from the window) but we were sold on the apt before we were sold on the location. Exposed brick, lofted ceilings, complete rehab, and no apartments below us or above us - it was an easy decision.

However, after two years we outgrew the space, and now have different things to consider. The commute out to the 'burbs was quite a hassle. Our gateways to the outerlands (I90/94 and I90) are by far the worst highways to commute on, just about anytime of day. So when Des started working in Schaumburg his days were consistently long and stressful, even on his short days.

Then the baby came in February.

She is obviously small and takes up minimal space, but her things take up quite a bit of space, and we didn't even splurge on the big stuff. It was time to make a decision. It was either we move out when Lucy is five months, or lease for another year and move out when Lucy is a year and five months. Which, it would be nearly impossible baby-proofing that place. The sharp corners, exposed brick, and raw wood seem like a recipe for disaster.

We got our ducks in a row, assessed our new needs/desires and bought a house... in the 'burbs. It was a really hard decision for me to make. I cannot be more sincere when I say I love the city, and city living. I've basically been living in some sort of metropolitan area for the last ten years. I love it. I love public transit, hate looking for parking, hate paying for parking, love the little corner bakeries, love walking to diners to meet friends for lunch, love biking down the lakefront trail, love taking Gordon to the Montrose beach, love the festivals, love the diversity, love being walking distance to everything I need, and above all - I LOVE the food.

There is just no match for restaurants in the suburbs. And it doesn't help that I'm kind of picky.

I'm pretty much a vegetarian. I'm not a fan of the label because god-forbid anyone see me eating a burger from DMK. I'll eat meat when I feel like it, when it's responsibly sourced, we it's grass fed or free range, when I feel right about it, when it's my mom's meatballs, when I don't want to offend anyone, when I don't want to inconvenience anyone, when I have a taste for a crispy-almost-burnt piece of bacon, when it smells really good, or when I just want a damn beef from Portillo's. I just don't want to have to explain all that to people when they ask. So in the rare instances I do actually eat meat and for labels sake - I'm pretty much a vegetarian.  And I'd be pretty much vegan if it weren't for my love of cheese.

Back to the point.

Being a vegetarian in the suburbs means ordering salads with out the meat, but being charged for the meat anyway. It means lot's of pizza, and deep fried appetizers. It means seeing fish on the vegetarian menu (wtf?) It means very limited options. But not in the city. It's easy to be a vegetarian in the city, even a meat eatin' city like Chicago.

After two weeks in our new abode, I'm really happy with our decision.  No buyers remorse here. I love having our very own house, and yard, and garage, and laundry room. I love that Des, Lucy, Gordon and I can walk right out our back door and play outside. I really love that Des' commute is a fraction of what it used to be. Most of all, I love being so close to my family. We can see them whenever we want, or really it's whenever they want to see Lucy. They can help us, we can help them. It's good, and I'm sure my parent's are thinking "it's about time."

Anyway, I digress, again. Here is our lovely little city apartment. Hopefully it won't be our last city apartment.

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Newborn Photo Shoot : Maida

NewbornMaida_Nic108-3 A little while back (this beauty is almost two months) I did a newborn shoot for my dear friends, Mike and Jen. I'm so lucky to have friends that also have kids. Before Jen had Maida, we had weekly lunch dates. We'd sit around for hours, talking about babies, parenting philosophies, and other similar topics. Once I get my life back in order (we just moved, more on that next) I hope to continue our weekly meet-ups or at least bi-weekly meet-ups.

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Baptism

 nic108 A little while back, we decided to Christen Lucy. While Des and I are not avid church-goers, it was still very important to me to celebrate the arrival of our baby in a spiritual fashion. Not to mention both Des and I were both baptized at a young age. To me this was more about following a tradition than anything else. Not being a part of a church regularly made it difficult to pick a place to go about the ceremony. We researched various religions and Christianity denominations, but nothing felt quite right. Except for of course, The Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It's the only church I've every really felt connected to. It's authentic, traditional, and needless to say breath-taking-ly beautiful. It's the church my maternal grandparents went to, and the church my mom grew up in, and the church my parents we married in, and the church I was Baptized in. And technically the church Des and I were married in. It's the church I've spent every Christmas eve in since I was born. It's the only church I've ever seen completely submerge itself in the community.

We had recently connected with one of the priests at Mount Carmel, and knew baptizing Lucy with him was the right decision. I remember sitting his office and being fascinated by his bookshelf. Lots of scientific reads, and some well known fiction novels too - Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code.  Most devout Catholics I know would see this as blasphemous. It means a lot to me when a person can be open-minded, especially a religious person. It means they aren't afraid to challenge what they think they know. Or change perspectives and adapt to new findings. We all evolve, why fight it?

Anyway, I digress. The Christening ceremony was lovely. Des and I asked my younger sister to be Lucy's godmother. Shoes I wouldn't want anyone else to fill. She gladly accepted.

We were surrounded by our close family members, and finished the night with a mouth-watering meal from Sorrento's. I was most excited and honored to have Lucy wear my dress from when I was Christened some 27 years ago. A beautiful, little lace number imported from Italy. The shoes were recently gifted to Lucy from our good friend, Lily. They were made in Belgium. Apparently, the Belgians are known for their lace making skills.

The photos are taken at my late grandparents house in Melrose Park. We got Lucy for ready for the big day here and walked to the Church.

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Punta Cana

PuntaCana_Nic108-0243 We took our first trip as a family to the Dominican Republic for a destination wedding. Not even four months old and little Lucy has a passport with a couple of stamps in it, baller. She is quite the traveler, and held it together even in the tough moments. We had a direct flight ORD ---> PUJ. Four hours, on a plane filled with friends and family headed to paradise, and she did what she does best in these situations - she slept. She slept hard. She slept through the yelling, and pilot's announcements. She slept through the take off and the pressure change. And even slept through all of the hand offs for potty breaks. I wanted to get her a treat or something for being so cooperative. The she woke up in time for the decent and fed 'til we landed.

The mini get-away was just what we needed since Lucy joined our family. We stayed in a swanky room, the pools had swim-up bars, and the beach was picturesque with white sand and clear water. Being that it was a family wedding, we were surrounded by babysitters and extra hands to help with Lucy. I don't think we would have enjoyed ourselves otherwise. Not that Lucy isn't cooperative most of the time, but it's nice having other people around who want to spend time with her.

I can't say for sure, but I think the fact that I nurse Lucy helped to keep her collected. She generally loves being outside and socializing with people, but the scene was far different from our Lakeview neighborhood. And the climate was humid, so humid, like you can eat the air humid. So even though we were starting to establish a schedule before the trip, we had more of a feed-on-demand couple of days. If Lucy wanted to nurse I nursed her. I let her find her comfort zone and relax... as needed.

I'd say it was the perfect age to travel with a little one. Old enough to fly, but not old enough to be crawling or walking. We didn't have to stay at the kids pool, or worry about lugging a toddler around on our shoulders. I'm sad I didn't get any pictures of it, but Lucy hung out with me in her sling a for good chunk of the vacation, including an evening beach dance party!

The trip was a success. Lucy is my new hero, especially after we were diverted to St Louis on our way back for bad weather. Which kept us traveling for an extra seven hours - and the little peanut still held it together. So. Awesome.

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Lucy Month Three

nic108 Here we are at month three. A little late, but here nonetheless. This wee one is taking up a good portion of my schedule these days. She's very interested in my day-to-day activities - cleaning, cooking, walking Gordon. She's very social, and especially likes being in crowds. She loves being outside, watching the leaves dance on their branches and the bunnies and squirrels dash across the sidewalk. Her new found love of nature and the outdoors couldn't have come a better time. We are at the tail end of spring, creeping in on summer, with plenty of sunshine and fresh air to soak up.

She has taken to communicating quite well. Sometimes she's soft-spoken, and shares her little secrets. Other times she's loud and silly, experimenting with new sounds. Most often she has her fingers in her mouth. All ten on a good day, and a few toes here and there.

Other things I've learned this month:

  • Lucy  l o v e s  to stand. If she's sitting she'll always use your hands to pull herself up
  • I'm a ninja breastfeeding champ - anytime, anywhere and you won't even know it
  • I'm giving in to Lucy sitting in front of a screen, but to be honest sometimes it's the only thing that will grab her attention and occupy her time
  • Lucy has more hair than I think she does. She was complimented twice yesterday.
  • I've never been more excited to move to the suburbs - laundry room, attached garage parking, home studio, and a huge yard? yes, please.

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Lucy Takes Gordon to the Beach

nic108 We're finally heading into beach weather in Chicago. And by beach weather I mean dog beach weather. Don't get me wrong we can take Gordon to the beach all year round, and he usually goes for a dip no matter the temperature, but we've got a 4th wheel now. Lucy happily tags along most places we take her, and the dog beach is no exception. She even lets us dress her up in sun hats and sunglasses - no complaints.

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Papa Carmine Meets Lucy Carmen

nic108_PapaLucy My maternal grandfather recently passed away. I knew him as a loving, hard-working man who took much pride in his family. Before he left us, he and Lucy got to meet briefly.

As with my grandmothers passing, I was asked to give the eulogy at Papa's funeral. It's difficult and emotionally draining to write a eulogy, but here is what I came up with...

"Those who knew Papa know he loved life. He was a simple man, with simple pleasures. Loved soccer. Loved to cook. Loved to go on walks with his grandchildren. And he absolutely loved sitting in a folding chair with a beer in front of his house. I’m sure many of you here have spent countless hours on the sidewalk of Cortez Ave chatting with Papa. He loved the company. Papa was a people person. Like a true Italian his heart swelled with joy whenever he was surrounded by his friends and family, especially when it included a big meal and a glass of homemade wine.

Papa immigrated to Chicago from Italy with my grandmother in the 1950’s. Although it was hard to leave the only home they ever knew, they were in search of a better life for themselves and their growing family. Throughout the years he worked hard to provide for his wife and six children. He once told me he worked up to three jobs at once to support his family. He spent much of his career working for the village of Melrose Park, driving his truck #102, and pouring concrete for various projects. Papa was always cooking for the Village. Whenever they would ask, he would respond with “cinque betz,” five dollars. He was so important to the village that they even gifted him with a street in his honor. Papa was more or less a Melrose Park icon. You always knew where he was because of the American and Italian flags that stood on his car.

Besides working for the village, he was incredibly involved in his community. As a devout Catholic, he spent much time volunteering at Our Lady of Mt Carmel. Always ready to help when he could. He took much pride in his services to the church, especially every summer when he would help carry the Madonna around the neighborhood along side his friends, brothers, and nephews. When I was a child I remember watching Papa walk the collection baskets around during Mass and think “Wow, he must be really special to have a job like that.” He was also heavily involved with the Annual San Francesco feast. A tradition that he carried with him from is hometown of San File in Calabria Italy. He even he helped start The Flowers of Italy club with his brother, Joe.

Papa knew everyone and everyone loved him.

What made Papa so special are the traditions he carried on throughout the years. Most people don’t understand the time and effort someone has to put in to making homemade wine, homemade sausage, or even keeping a luscious home made garden. For Papa these things weren’t optional. These were traditions engrained so deep, that they became more than annual events they were his way of life.

Papa will live on through the traditions he has passed down to us. We will keep him alive with every story we share and every memory we relive. Every time my cousins think back on the times he would take us to the deli to get candy, or the soccer games they went to with him, or the playful pranks Papa would play with them. I want them to be filled with the joy of having a grandfather that cared. A grandfather that always wanted to know how they were doing. And a grandfather that was so proud of his family.

Many people have expressed their sympathies about my Papa’s long, painful battle, offering their warm hugs and kind words to help fill our sad hearts. Cancer is a viscous sickness, and Papa took it head on for over five years. Over and over again, he beat the odds and bounced right back. Always eager to help, and ready to drive his sister-in-laws around for the next errand. Papa fought up until the very end.

I am grateful to have known Papa for as long as I have. He got to see me as a baby, a child, an adult and most recently a mother. After he passed, I realized that as much as it hurts to see him go, this is all a part of the cycle of life. And just like the symbolic flood of the Old Testament, we’ve had our own flood in these past few days. A flood to help wash away our sorrows and pave new paths for our family."

Cosley Zoo

nic108 Sunday we went to a party at Cosley Zoo for my little cousin's third birthday. Cosley is more or less a glorified petting zoo. Lots of farm animals, ducks, and bunny rabbits. Perfect for a little person's birthday party.  When I was a camp counselor back in the day, I used to take my little kiddos here for "field trips." It's always nice to put kids up face to face with other species. A little reminder of who we share the earth with.

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This little fella LOVES the camera. Every time I pulled it out he put on a great, big cheesy smile.

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Lucy of course slept through the party. All three hours of it. She slept through lunch, and smelly animals, and cake and presents. Then woke up in time to say bye to everyone.

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Lucy Two Months

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The second month is so much different than the first month. And I'm sure the following months will be just as different as the second month. Lucy has really started to show her personality. Awake, and alert for a good portion of the day. Smiling. Cooing. All the beginnings of a little girl with a bright personality. I get a kick out of watching her scan the room until something catches her eye. It's almost as though you can see all of the little connectors in her brain shooting off with excitement. Then she flails her arms around kicks her legs signaling to me that she found something she likes. That thing is typically the ceiling fan, but sometimes its the window or the decor or her mommy or daddy. Precious little movements, huge developmental milestones.

Lucy let's me wedge her into the couch at least once a day. She's likes sitting up and looking around. I turn on the tunes while I work on the computer, and we take turns talking. The lighting was particularly awesome the day of this shoot. And Lucy decided to show off her many faces.

Things I learned this month...

  • Lucy likes to hold your finger. It helps to calm her down.
  • Lucy is definitely a comfort nurser. Even if she's full, she likes to latch and stay there until she's drifted off to her dream world.
  • I've mastered the art of laying on my side and feeding Lucy at night. Then we snuggle in bed until her morning feeding.
  • She really likes when you talk to her and tell her stories.
  • gDiapers are pretty sweet, but only when you use them at home.
  • Lucy loves her Sakura Bloom sling, and so does Des. She almost instantly passes out every time she goes in it.
  • It's really good to meet-up with other new moms. All of the moms from the Bradley Method birth class Des and I took got together today.
  • No more raw onions and raw garlic until Lucy is done nursing.

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