Wednesday, October 31, 2007


On Sunday we took Elynor trick-or-treating on Southport Ave. Before you get embarrassed for (or mad at) Ryan & I for using this lame excuse to get candy, know that we only actually took candy from one business - and the guy offered it to us. Really, we just strolled Elynor around in her adorable pumpkin suit (thank you GG Jean!) and took in all the other cute kids in costume prior to a delicious fall food potluck back and Chris & Lauren's. Here are some pics of Elynor and her friends.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Hands Are Full...

And I need to unfold the stroller. What do I do?
A. Hand baby to wife to free a hand
B. Unfold it with one hand
C. Lay baby down in cold grass
D. Tuck baby under my shirt to free a hand
As you can see, yesterday Ryan chose option C. Fortunately, Elynor didn't seem to mind. So rather than pick her up, I snapped some pics (check out that tummy!:)!

A Day At the Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday we celebrated the beauty of fall by taking a trip to an apple orchard/pumpkin patch in Maple Park, IL (WEST... past Aurora and St. Charles) with Stephen & Alisha (and Baby Rylander growing in Alisha). Unfortunately, due to the unseasonably warm fall we've had, the u-pick portion of the orchard was already closed for the season. So we settled on filling ourselves with yummy apple donuts and cider, a photo-shoot with the pre-picked pumpkins, and filling a bag with pre-picked apples. For us city folk, this still felt like a taste of the

On our trip home, we drove along the beautiful Fox River through quaint Geneva & St. Charles. We also stopped at Old Navy in Naperville to check out their maternity section for Alisha. At about 7:30pm we were thrilled with how great Elynor had done. She must have heard us talking, as around the same time we noticed a smell in the car. Since we were in our car in a parking lot of a business without a changing table (this should be outlawed), we debated if we should 'check' her diaper or if we should just try to get home (good parents, I know). Were it not for the smell, we would have hit the road, but we just couldn't take it (and also subject Stephen & Alisha). Our 'checking' showed us why God made baby poo smell... so parents like us wouldn't leave their adorable children sitting with poo up their backs for hours on end! That's right, the poo in her diaper had traveled 1/2 way up her back and all over her clothes, etc. And yes, we were stuck in the car with no handy access to a convenient changing station. It's at this point we faced a tough decision: to change in the cramped confines of our VW Jetta, to go in and use the floor or a booth in the Oberweiss Dairy, or to put the poopy baby back in her carseat and drive to another, changing-table blessed establishment. We chose option A. I won't go into detail, just use your imagination to visualize Elynor lying (and sliding around on) the backseat, car door open, Ryan & I standing in the dark, chilly outdoors, doing our best to change her while minimizing the additional spread of poo. All the while our innocent (and very patient) bystanders Stephen & Alisha wonder what lies ahead for them next spring!
Ryan is not wearing a purse... that's the Baby Bjorn, sans-baby

Yes... those are pink socks posing as gloves. I can't find baby mittens other than those sold in hat/mitten combos!

Snuggling with Daddy in the Baby Bjorn (watch for a future post with photos of Stephen & Ryan figuring out how to put on this contraption)

Next year Baby Rylander will don the Baby Bjorn

Shopping with what feel like 'play' grocery carts

Dishes, laundry & dog hair

These seem to be my never-ending chores. It's much more difficult to ignore an overflowing kitchen sink, hamper, or piles of dog hair when you're at home for the majority of every day. And I seem to dirty a lot more dishes, and Elynor creates more dirty clothes. I'm not sure how Ally can possibly deposit so much hair. Too bad we can't collect it and sell it for pillow stuffing or making Halloween wigs or something. We would definitely be rich!

Would You?

...let another woman breastfeed your child?
...breastfeed another woman's child?
...if yes, under what circumstances?
These questions spurred some interesting discussion amongst a group of lactating friends this afternoon. I think the overwhelming and immediate group response was, 'NO WAY!'. But then some intriguing scenarios were debated.
What if you were babysitting a really good friend's or sibling's child and their mama was stuck in traffic, delaying her 2 hours past feeding time, leaving you with a screaming child and no bottle?

What if you could make some really good money?

What if your babysitter fed your child without your permission?

And since there are wet nurses, why not bottle and sell breast milk in the grocery store, as an alternative to formula?
What do you think?

p.s. I think this conversation was triggered by me dropping & spilling approx. 3.5 oz. of pumped milk. That's one great way to silence a room of women who know the great value of every drop of stored milk!

Brandtrust Baby

Almost 2 weeks ago (I know, I'm a little behind...) Elynor & I took a solo trip to North Michigan Ave. Though we couldn't resist a little shopping, the main purpose of our outing was to visit my Brandtrust colleagues at our office in the Hancock Center. As usual on our outings, Elynor was a doll... sleeping soundly in her stroller and loving the snuggles from her Brandtrust friends. Since she is the first baby born into the Brandtrust family since most of us have been there, there is no shortage of Brandtrust love for Elynor!

One of Elynor's fave sleeping spots (and check out her left arm)

Cuddling with Carmie, who has the magic touch

Plenty of admirers (Jenny, Daryl, Carmie & Beth)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More fun times w/ Trinity & Everett

Look how much Elynor & Everett have grown in just 3 weeks! He evidently didn't like a girl being bigger than him. He will pass her up in no time (though she might have him on the belly and cheeks for some time...:)

And a few more shots from their photo shoot. Thanks to Everett & Trinity's awesome photographer mama, Leslie!
Everett didn't get the memo about the purple dress code.

Elynor is definitely smiling now... for most of her waking hours!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Future cheerleading squad

Last night Elynor and I, along with several other mamas and babies cheered on our husbands/dads at their Chicago Sport & Social Club basketball game. Their purple team was victorious, as I'm sure you can tell from these elated babies after the game. Though they weren't very vocal, I do think the very site of 5 babies (Caroline left before this pic) frightened the opposing team comprised of single guys!

Austin Hill, Elynor, Addison Riedberger, Natalie Kent (L-R) with their mean 1/2 time show (thanks for the pic, Meredith!)

More Introductions

As you can imagine, the past month has been filled with many introductions. We haven't been great about capturing them all in photos... but here are some shots from just a few stops on Elynor's introductory world tour.
Cuddling with Katy

An honorary member of the handsome Lee family

Snuggling with Beth

Thumb Sucking?

Last week Elynor's thumb found her mouth... or possibly her mouth found her thumb... who knows. For now this is adorable, but I can't help but wonder if we have a future thumb sucker on our hands? Please, God, no... Braces are not in the budget!

Meeting Lauren Dee

We spent Wednesday evening with our dear friend, Lauren Dee. As you can see, Elynor loved her (some people call Lauren the Baby Whisperer... but since I'm not so fond of TBW, I refuse). Doesn't it look like Elynor could be Lauren's little girl? Hopefully she'll be as beautiful as Lauren one day!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tummy Time

Thus far, Elynor's tummy time has taken place on the kitchen counter in order to avoid the curious Ally. But after rolling onto her back (and very close to the edge of the counter) during yesterday's playtime, it looks like we've turned a new leaf in her life. No more counter playtime. Today marked our first session training Ally to leave Elynor alone while playing on the floor (and it went very well - phew!).

A final counter tummy time

Adventures in Babysitting w/ Molly & Maggie

Last Saturday marked our first date night sans-baby thanks to my fab cousins, Molly & Maggie. They touted themselves as professional babysitters and I don't think they were kidding. They say Elynor didn't cry once while we were out. This could be due to their creative entertainment, which included a walk in her stroller, where she fell asleep, so they carried her up the 3 flights of stairs (in the stroller) and parked her (in the stroller) in the condo's hallway. They say the only foil to this plan was Ally... who was incredibly curious about why the Elynor & the stroller were blocking the hallway.

Unfortunately, we didn't take any group shots... not even of our post-date time out at the pub watching the Illini & Red Sox (Elynor is growing quite fond of our local pubs). We set a new post-baby record, not coming home until around 11pm! Crazy kids, I know. So enjoy these shots of their adventures in babysitting...

Molly (who's expecting another Keeton cousin this spring, yippee!) on feeding duty

Maggie on diaper duty (she's really having fun, huh?)

Molly covers playtime

And Maggie takes care of naptime

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Visit from Aunt Katy & Laura

Ryan's sister Katy and her friend Laura visited us during their time off from school for the Minnesota Education Association conference. We spent Thursday afternoon together up in Evanston (they were also visiting a friend in grad school at Northwestern) and then Friday at our place. Thank you ladies for keeping me company on a dreery, cool fall day and chillin' with Elynor! Here's my only pic from our fun times (Katy or Laura, please send me any good pics you have) -
The Very Photogenic Elynor & Aunt Katy

Monday, October 22, 2007

Busy Bees...

Please accept our apologies loyal blog readers... I've been a silent blogger for the past week due to a full and fun social calendar! Here's what we've been up to:
- Wednesday: A visit to Brandtrust and Michigan Ave. shopping
- Thursday: Lunch in Wilmette w/ my friend, Carmie, visit to the endocrinologist, an afternoon at Panera in Evanston and meeting Aunt Katy (Rye's sister) and her friend, Laura
- Friday: Hanging out with Aunt Katy & Laura
- Saturday: Molly & Maggie (my cousins) hang with Elynor while Rye & I get our first post-baby date (dinner & a movie), followed by an evening at the pub watching Illini football and Red Sox baseball (1/2 of us were happy)
- Sunday: REST!!!
Stay tuned... new posts are coming highlighting our fun times!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Dramatic Baby Dedication

Rounding out Elynor's 1-month birthday weekend, we dedicated her to the Lord during Sunday's church service. I had prayed all week for Elynor to be on her best behavior as we stood before the congregation, keeping any drama to a minimum. And my prayers were answered. She was an absolute doll, sleeping for nearly the entire time. Some other mama's prayers were not answered, however. The 10am service didn't actually start until nearly 10:30 because one of the other children being dedicated decided the fire alarm looked like a cool toy stuck to the wall... and decided to pull it. Yes, as about 25 babies and parents were lined up, ready to go into the service, off went the blaring siren, sending moms & dads scurrying, covering babies' ears. Elynor slept through the entire thing. Blaring siren, then standing under the bus shelter out front in the middle of a crowd as a cool drizzle came down (now why isn't sleeping at home so easy?!).

For those wondering, baby dedication is modeled in the Bible in verses 1 Samuel 1:28 and Luke 2:22, where Samuel and Jesus were presented to the Lord by their parents. For Ryan & I it's a time to publicly thank God for blessing us with Elynor and to dedicate her life to Him, committing to raising her according to the Bible and requesting the support of our church family (and them dedicating themselves, in response). Dedication does not mean Elynor has accepted Jesus or has received His salvation. This is a decision she'll make on her own, later in life, according to the Bible verses Romans 10:9, John 3:16, 1 John 1:9, and John 1:12 (to name a few).

We chose Psalm 73:24-26 as Elynor's dedication verses:
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
These verses were very encouraging to me during my pregnancy... when I felt so physically responsible for Elynor's well being and when it became easy to allow the desire for a child to overtake my existence. Ryan and I will continue to draw on this prayer as we raise Elynor, gaining strength in the truth that we are also God's children, whom he will counsel and strengthen. Likewise, we hope Elynor will live by this prayer - that she will look to her Heavenly Father for counsel and strength, and that she would not be distracted by worldly desires over that of heaven.

Here are some pics from the morning. Pardon some of the generic group shots. It's difficult to get anything spontaneous with a baby!
The fire trucks respond to a curious baby's call.

Waiting for our turn... we were the last of approx. 25 babies (read = a long time for Elynor to cooperate)

Our prayer partners, Ed & Leslie Campins (Everett's parents), pray for us and Elynor

Cheesy photo 1: The happy family

Cheesy photo 2: The happy family plus Grandma & Grandpa Cochrane

Cheesy photo 3: 2 happy families, the Westy's & Camp's (Everett was also dedicated)

Cheesy photo 4: Happy small group family (Emilyn was also dedicated)

Chillin' at home after her big morning (I also wore this beautiful dress when I was baptized for the first time as a baby. Thanks to Grandma Cochrane for keeping all kinds of stuff and cleaning/ironing it in prep for Elynor's dedication).

How to fix a squeaky floor?

Does anyone know how to fix old, squeaky wooden floors? Short of completely replacing them? Among our many lessons learned when purchasing our gut-rehab condo a little over 3 years ago is to ask very detailed questions about what, exactly, will be done to "keep the beautiful, original floors" while repairing/adding insulation (possibly putting this in writing)... should we ever purchase a home of similar construction, again (as an aside, we would not recommend anyone in Chicagoland ever purchase from the developer Art Collazzo, who markets through Koenig & Strey... our list of quality complaints along with general shady factors is long).

The squeaky floors have been a nuisance since the day we moved in... but since were were rarely here and awake more than a few hours a day, it was something we could live with. But now that I'm not only home for the majority of every day, frequently walking and bouncing about the entire 1,000 square feet trying to calm a fussy baby, trying to sneak out as a drowsy baby nods off, trying not to disrupt my husband's sleep at 3am, or trying to enjoy a rocking chair in peace, I notice every inch of this poor construction.

Any advice? Or should I just start focusing on this adding charm to our home?

Whatever you do...

In small group we've been studying Colossians 3:17:
Whatever you do, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
This verse has challenged me during many seasons of my life... and this is no exception. In the past the message has usually applied to my school work or job. Today it pierces my heart for my new role as mom.

The words 'whatever' and 'all' are tremendous challenges. Nothing is exempt from this command. In thinking about this, I made a list of verbs describing the many things my days are now filled with. All of them relate to caring for Elynor:
Feeding, changing, holding, rocking, bouncing, dressing, cleaning, comforting, caring, driving, playing, singing, reading, bathing....
The Holy Spirit has really challenged me. Do I do all of these things... as trivial and/or mundane as they may feel... in the name of the Lord, with thanksgiving? I have been called to be Elynor's mama. God has gifted her to me (and Ryan) to serve. I pray that I live out this new role with the same spirit I have approached many others. I pray that I may serve her (in all the associated verbs) in the name of the Lord, with thanksgiving.

Happy 1-mo. B'Day Elynor

It's hard to believe that Elynor has lived outside the comfort (for her) of my belly for just over 1 month! We celebrated her birthday on Saturday with a special brunch at Sola... complete with some amazing appetizer donuts that we think were actually little funnel cake balls. We had to eat them for Elynor, of course!

This milestone was also marked by her 1-month visit to the pediatrician, yesterday. Praise God, she again checked out with flying colors on her physical exam, and she is also getting more calm while being poked and prodded by the MD. She now weighs 11 lbs. 10 oz. and measures 23 inches - both of which putting her in the 95th percentile. The MD said her feet are not big, however, so she doesn't think Elynor will be a giant (her word) forever. Good to know. :)

The gift of her life is truly amazing. How slow our 9 months of anticipation seemed to go... yet it's already become difficult to remember many aspects (not all... ) of our life before her arrival.

Here's to many more celebrations of Elynor's life... days, months, and years!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall = Fabulous Food!

So I've decided fall really is the best season for food. Give me a bag of candy corn (any variety, though I prefer the Indian Mix) and a glass (or even 1/2 gallon) of apple cider and I'm a very happy girl. Add to that some pumpkin bread or apple donuts and I'm in heaven.

It's truly the little things that highlight my days right now!

Friday, October 12, 2007

If I worked for the Baby Whisperer

As you loyal readers know, this week was Baby Bootcamp for Elynor & me. We stayed in most days (the yucky weather made this easy) and worked very hard to teach her to sleep in her own bed. This has involved using the "shhh patting" technique, which you can learn more about in the book, The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, (I hate that book title, by the way... I mean, can she shrink my stomach back to it's pre-baby size? can she make sure a parking spot is always available right in front of my building?) any time she sleeps. With great effort we have made tremendous progress. Though, as with any training program, I'm sure a few more weeks will be necessary to really master this skill.

Anyway, during my many hours of leaning over the crib ssshhhhh patting, I've had lots of time to think. This morning I came up with several new product ideas that I would get to market ASAP if I worked for the Baby Whisperer company. What do you think? Should I be in touch with some of my designer friends?
1. Mama Spit Shield: Go ahead, try doing a long and loud SHHHHH. Now try doing 5 - 10 long and loud SHHHH's. Is your computer screen covered in spit? Kinda gross, huh? Now imagine doing this to your child's hair and face multiple times a day. I suppose I can think of more disgusting things, but something about spitting all over my child is not a story I'd like to tell her some day. I think a simple Mama Spit Shield could be created... Something you strap to your face and block this icky shower.

2. Recorded SHHH Device: If the Mama Spit Shield doesn't do it for you, just forget Shhhing yourself all together (it does start to hurt your lips after awhile). I can't think of a creative name right now, so this SHHHH device would simply have unending SHHHING contained in a handy little device. All you'd have to do is push a button and hold it near your child's ears for hours of SHHHHing fun. If you wanted to get really fancy, this pocket-sized device could also have a little flashlight for middle of the night SHHHING.

3. Arm Extentions: As my arms and back were hurting this morning, I was thinking about Inspector Gadget's go-go gadget arms. How cool would it be to have arms that extended on demand? But since I don't see this happening any time soon, this product would be an improvisation. Something you hook to your wrists or elbows to extend the length of your arms, and hence, your patting ability while saving your wrists, back, and any other muscles from unnecessary pain.

4. Shhh Patting Cushion: This could be marketed with the arm extensions. Leaning over a crib for long periods of time means resting your ribs, collar bone, or boobs on a wooden crib bar. Ouch. This SHHH Patting cushion isn't a novel concept. Simply a small pillow that hooks around the crib railing protecting moms & dads from the injuries associated with this parenting gig.

5. Shhh Patting Bed: Okay, this is the big kahuna. Basically, packaging all of the above in a very stylish bed with the SHHH Patting or Baby Whisperer trademark. It's The Sleep Number bed for babies (or parents). It's sold through Pottery Barn, Land of Nod or an even higher-end kid's store. Definitely not at Babies R' Us or Target. But I think there's a market here... you know, for the folks with Bugaboo strollers, wipe warmers, designer jeans at 3 months, etc.
Really, I need to get these ideas into development... and be on my way to moving up to a place with a parking place, a second bathroom, and maybe even floors that don't squeak!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Brakes or Baby?

Elynor actually went back to sleep after her middle of the night feed last night - YIPPEE! The only problem was that I struggled to do the same. Instead of enjoying this precious gift, I laid in bed wide awake, on high alert for her to scream. During this time there were several instances where I thought she had squealed, only to realize it was some squeaky brakes on a passing car or bus. I guess this is just another one of the joys of parenthood on a moderately busy city street. Even at 4am cars are driving by with annoying brakes.


Okay, so the books say Elynor shouldn't really smile for another month or so... but what parent doesn't like to think their child is advanced? In my book, she shared some big grins yesterday as I sang the song "Tomorrow" from Annie. I struggled to capture this moment on camera... but here are a few of my attempts.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Welcome to Baby Bootcamp

Why are Elynor & I partaking in Baby Bootcamp today/tomorrow?
A) I am a sleepwalking zombie
B) My back is writhing in pain after holding an 11 lb. baby most of the day
C) I left her to sleep in the Baby Bjorn (strapped to my front) while I went to the bathroom
D) All of the above

Answer: All of the above
There are probably several other reasons (some that are a little less me-focused)... but these are the key factors influencing my new resolve to teach this little girl to sleep on her own.

As any regular reader of this blog knows, our primary challenge with Miss Elynor is getting her to sleep in her crib or other locations other than me or while in motion. We have gently 'tried' some sleep training methods (I prefer to call it sleep teaching, training sounds like she's a dog), but honestly, by about the second round of the day, I usually give in and let her sleep on my chest or just hold her. But after several more days of this difficult routine, and some cheerleading from a book, I am newly resolved to really give the teaching a go for the next few days. I realized that I was losing confidence not only in my ability to stick with it/help her... but also in her ability to learn to sleep. I found myself getting really frustrated at her for not getting it.

But that's just it... she's in the process of learning to sleep (who ever dreamed a baby would need to learn this?!). This little girl already learned to breastfeed under difficult circumstances and seems to be catching on to her bedtime routine... so why shouldn't I believe she can do it during naptimes and in the middle of the night? Really, this is probably a great lesson for the rest of our life together. If I can't support her/stick with her through a learning process, who will?

So midday yesterday we entered into Bootcamp with a new resolve. This Bootcamp will take place at our house, just her & me (and Rye in the evening), and it will involve staying steadfastly committed to a nap/sleep routine. The goal is for her to start to learn the cues and eventually sleep on her own. I may be absolutely wiped after the next few days, as this process will surely be difficult. But I'm convinced that we can do it... together... and the promise of some naps/more nighttime sleep/less back pain/ and private bathroom breaks (as well as benefits to Elynor, which I wrote about before:) are the reward hanging before me.

Please prayer for us... especially late in the afternoon and around 2-3am, which are like mile 25 in the marathon of our days... when I'm at my weakest and really want to throw in the towel.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Post-Bathtime Photo Shoot

Elynor showed off her facial expressions and her curls after her bath this morning. Really, where did this hair come from!? Enjoy!

A Future Together?

Yesterday Elynor met her new friend Everett Asher, his big sister Trinity, and their mommy & daddy, Eddie & Leslie. Everett was born 2 weeks after Elynor... though these pics suggest she has months on him. As mentioned in a previous post, Leslie and I shared all the ups & downs of our pregnancies and were thrilled to finally celebrate two healthy babies. Who knows... years down the road, will we share these pics at the wedding of the two "E.A.'s"?!

The Illini's Secret Weapon

Illini football has been on the upswing since Elynor became a fan. Yesterday she & Daddy put on their orange & blue and cheered them on to beat nationally ranked (#5) Wisconsin! She will be wearing this outfit (courtesy of Justin & Jessica) every Saturday for the rest of the fall.