A great first Christmas

Here are a few photos from Hazel's first Christmas. I'm not gonna post pics of her presents because that might make me feel guilty and then I might do something crazy like box them all up and send them to Africa... along with the broccolli I didn't finish the other night.

click to enlarge

Clockwise: H with Gma and Gpa Baird; Gma Kosker putting on H's baby ring; H enchanted with the Christmas trees' candles; H playing with wrapping paper; the Kosker Christmas Eve portrait; H showing her bloomers and wearing Santa's hat; H with cousin Phoebe; cousin Kaelen in his snow fort; H getting ready to decorate the Christmas tree; Dad, Aunt Amy, and Willem preparing for a fondue feast; cousin Kathe lovin up some Hazel; proving you're never too old for a snowball fight (the FL Krumichs featured); Willem aiming for the photographer; the fondue party guests (Krumichs from PA, VA, LA, FL).


May your days be jolly...

I'm sitting here listening to 4 of my favorite people in the galaxy play a game. Yes, my Krumich relatives have taken over the house! Tonight, we're having a fondue for 15! That's a lot of cheese (and wine...and Kirsch).

So, I can't write much (if you feel relieved about that... HUMPH!). However, after two nights of laughing until I cry (one night with Lutherlyn friends and one night with my family), side splitting guffaws, and an almost constant smile on my face... it's time to put it out there... PEOPLE ARE FUNNIER ON THE EAST COAST!

I had been told this before and never brought it up because I didn't want to anger my Oregon friends. But, it's TRUE! Yes, I know funny Oregonians, but it IS different here.

One of my (Oregon) coworkers told me once that they read an article in which Tina Fey talked about developing her sense of humor growing up in Philly and it reminded her of me. I make no claims to be anywhere near Ms. Fey, but I think there's a shred of truth in a cultural sense of humor.

Time to rejoin the party!


*cue Rocky Soundtrack

I'm a WINNER! One of my favorite things to feel bitter about is the fact that I enter contest after contest in the blogosphere and have never ever won ANY of the contests.

That all changed when a fellow MUC alum decided to make a gorgeous blog and share peeks into her life.

Check out Kate's blog and drool over the prize package that's coming MY WAY (while you're at it, you'll find yourself drooling over her gorgeously decorated home and uber cute family... to me, her blog is more like a look into an alternate universe where a woman somehow manages to decorate, cook and raise kids SIMULTANEOUSLY)!

Thanks Kate!


Favorite things: Birth - 5 months

This post is in reply to frequent questions about what were the best baby gifts. Since many of my readers gave Hazel gifts, I want to BEG you not to take this personally! This is merely a list of gift ideas for future use, not the list of my personal favorites.

  • A Summer Bonnet. This is really just for summer babies, but unless the parents plan to stay inside all day (barf. I don't want to be their friend.), it's really hard to keep the sun off of little baldie without overheating said baldie.
  • Trumpette Shoe Socks. Fit better than most baby socks, stylish, and guaranteed to get compliments (not that my baby needed help in that department!)
  • BLANKETS! After Hazel arrived and baby gifts were pouring in (we felt very loved! ooo, do I measure love by tangible gifts? YIKES!), I began to stress because we received SO many blankets! Flannel, fleece, knitted, crocheted... I had blanket guilt because there was NO way we'd be able to use all of the blankets. Oh, to be young and naive again ;) Flannel blankets are my preferred burp rags because you have either a blanket or a burp rag while you're out (note: one set of flannel blankets are extra large and they were/are my favorite flannels because they worked for swaddling much better than all the postage stamp sized ones). Knitted and Crocheted blankets are lovely because I love the look of homemade, they can look a little girly, and most importantly they have air holes which gives me a little piece of mind now that Hazel has learned how to pull the blankets over her head when she sleeps. The fleece blankets are great for playing on the floor and wrapping up in for short walks. Though I have found uses for the smaller blankets, let me repeat that the largest baby sized blankets are the most helpful!

  • Diapering supplies. I'm a primarily cloth diaper user, so keep that in mind. However, universally the Prince Lionhart Diaper Warmer and 30+ flannel wipes would be a great way to help any mom be a little greener. (I also have a Munchkin Warm Glow that is great, but the PL is my favorite because it has a soaker pad that keeps the wipes from drying out). If a mama is curious about cloth diapering, it would be awesome to buy her one or two diaper systems... any kind! That's the only way she'll figure out what she prefers. Read this old post to get some ideas!
  • Long sleeved onesies, sweaters/hoodies & pants. Yes, Hazel was born in July... during a heat wave. HOWEVER, newborns have so little body mass! So, regardless of the season, I recommend holding off on buying onesies in exchange for a few warmer clothes items! We received SO MANY ADORABLE onesies that I decided not to use bibs so that I would have a chance of using the onesies. Now it's winter and I'm finally able to pull out the larger onesies... and she's not wearing them :( Seriously, I have onesie guilt now.

  • I have one wish for every new parent out there... that they may be given a SLEEPY WRAP!

Jake and 1-month old Hazel frolic with some sharks.

  • A close second is a homemade SLING! I'm having trouble finding a picture of Jake or I wearing our slings. Probably because I am ALWAYS wearing one these days and it's difficult to take a picture of one's self. Baby carriers enable parents to continue to use their hands, calm the babies, promote bonding, and look cool. Slings have to be custom made to fit the parent, so the Sleepy Wrap is a little more universal. However, I can easily just slip the sling on and after 5 seconds of fussing, Hazel is asleep. Seriously, ask any member of my church. Hazel is in a sling during EVERY church service and she sleeps the whole time! I also use it when I'm out shopping. So much healthier for your back then carrying one of those car seat contraptions and 1000 times safer for your baby (those seats are not supposed to be placed on shopping carts 'cause they fall off... not saying that I never do that, but typically I slip her into the sling and leave the seat in the car.).

  • TOYS! Until recently, toys were of no interest to my newborn. However, the HABA brand is my favorite. Quality German-made toys that look cool and are fabulously interactive.

Oh boy, I'm having trouble knowing when to stop. Looking around, I see so many other great things that I use a lot: the Ikea LEKA gym, her vibrating bouncer seat, the Boppy pillow, a Bumbo seat (which I've only borrowed, but it's so handy that now I know I want one!), BOOKS...

You really can't go wrong when buying a baby gift for new parents! Everything you buy saves them money and lets them try out a product that they may otherwise not splurge on. Babies grow so rapidly that it's great to give stuff for the early months, but I also really appreciate the fact that I have some clothes and toys that she has yet to grow into. I've mentioned before that I love organic clothing. Without a doubt, the organic items are MUCH softer. They are a little more expensive, so that's why they're a great gift to give... something the parent may not spring for themselves. Her homemade gifts (knitted hats, sweater, felted booties, blankets) will be added to the "family heirloom" boxes....


*one final thought: I REALLY appreciated the mama gifts I received. I had just gone through such an intense experience (labor and delivery) and was functioning joyfully on very little sleep... so the tokens (mama & baby yoga video, lotions, jewelry, food) that reminded me that I'm still a woman and seperate from my newborn were much appreciated!


Can I tie this photo in with Advent?

One of the perks since moving back to PA is getting involved with my old home congregation, Good Hope Lutheran Church. I took an extended church holiday while living in Oregon. We were Christers (Christmas/ Easter attendees) and that was about all the willpower I had come Sunday morning. However, living near Oil City, I am able to return to the church I grew up in.

For perhaps the first time in my life, I'm LISTENING to the sermons. I feel my religious (similar, but not the same as spiritual) mind reawakening. I've always enjoyed studying religions, but as my non-religious/Biblical scholar friend Dave once pointed out, I am rather ignorant of a lot of the Bible. I've gone through the whole questioning/ soul searching thing. Ok, well that is a life-long process, but I've gone through the rough times and discovered that I love the ELCA faith (I'll write more about this another day).

That means quite simply, that I believe that WE are saved by God's GRACE. PERIOD. In the words of Pastor Scherr, we GET to go to church, we GET to serve our neighbors, but those things have nothing to do with our salvation. Change the "I have tos" to "I get tos" and suddenly life feels free, exciting and guilt free, eh?

Last night was the last of a set of three mid-week Advent services. The congregation (more like 10% of us) get together and share a potluck-style soup dinner and then we follow a beautiful liturgy, the Holden Evening Prayer. I think it helps to be a singer when it comes to religion. Part of the reason I enjoy church so much is I love to sing, I love to sight read, I love to try out harmonies, I love to listen preludes and postludes, I love to hang-out with the choir folk (it's true, they are a super fun/ slightly naughty group of individuals)...

ANYWAY, I've become really excited about Advent this year and what it represents (or the small portion that I've finally grasped). Perhaps it's because I have my own babe and so the birth of Christ is a totally new experience through my "mom" eyes.

All that being said, I also believe in Santa Claus. To me, Santa represents a belief in the unseen, an excitement of things to come, a spirit of charity and love to others... hmmm... kinda like the Christ child! I'm looking forward to the upcoming years when I get to witness this faith and excitement in Hazel. I'm also looking forward to teaching her about Advent and the beauty of Christ's birth. Someday I'll help her wade through this season and sift through what's imaginary, what's real, and what's important... but let's not get so focused on reality that we steal any of the mystery and excitement from this beautiful holiday!
There are seven glorious days left to reflect and prepare for what's to come. Yes, shop, wrap, bake, watch White Christmas... but also remember Mary, a woman travelling at the end of her pregnancy and prepare yourself to celebrate THE birth that changed EVERYTHING!

Do you believe? In the above picture I clearly see God in two forms.


Extra Extra!

Hazel made her first appearance in the newspaper today! She will not actually be in the performance, but the photographer (me) just couldn't use a baby doll when such a Heavenly creature was available!

Click on the photograph to access the newspaper article


5 months (and one day)

photo by W.Killinger

Wow, I have been living in PA long enough to be writing ANOTHER month birthday post for Hazel!

Things are really heating up for Hazel while winter wraps its hands around us. This month she has begun to roll/flop over and to giggle. However, she really holds out on those new skills and we rarely see/hear them. She's also getting strong and will spend chunks of time on her belly with her head and feet up (such a skilled yogi!), she can sit on her own for a few seconds before tilting (TIMBER!) and judging by the drool and fierceness with which she chews on her hands, teeth are just around the corner. She may be holding out on giggles, but she has a HUGE smile that she's willing to flash at anyone who tells her she's cute. Quite the flirt (must be her father's DNA!).

She still likes to eat and sleep about every 3 hours, but can tough it out between midnight and 6am to give her mama a nice rest (except for every other night when she cries out for her feeding and due to her stubborn nature, it takes her awhile to realize that I'm really NOT coming!).

She's definitely in a mama phase. On one hand, it's pretty awesome to be someones absolutely favorite human. Yes, my parents and husband adore me, but there is something uniquely wonderful about being Hazel's end-all-be-all! On the other hand, she can be quite inconsolable (just WHERE did she get this stubborn streak?) when I try to leave the house for an hour or two. We know that she recognizes her dad, but when she wants her mama- she is serious about it! So, though this phase is inevitable, we are going to start giving her regular no-mama times in an effort to help her be more flexible. I'd love to go on a date with my hubby or snag a drink with a friend and not spend the whole time imagining her screaming her head off!

(side story: last week Jake took her home after church while I stayed for an hour long choir practice. I returned to a quiet house and eventually found them upstairs. Hazel was lying naked on the heated floor of the bathroom while her daddy was staring at her with a glassy eyed expression drinking a brewsky. After an agonizing hour of trying ever trick he knew to quiet her screaming, he was attempting to soothe her by preparing a bath and learned that she was happy as a clam just being naked. Sorry future Hazel, but it's the truth... you little exhibitionist you!).

I'll end this post with a picture of our happy little elf. (the hat was a souvenir from a Saturday Market in Seattle, the shirt was picked up when her dad and PapPap Kosker went shopping (in an attempt to even out her girly, pink wardrobe) and the felted booties are an Aunt Marianne speciality!)


new favorite

And this is when my hubby is THANKFUL that I rarely give in to shopping sprees. But, when I do, HELLO HAPPY CHICKADEE!


a Christmas gift

I've mentioned my friend, Whit, on this blog a few times. She is a life-long friend and I can say with complete confidence that she will always be my friend. She is also Hazel's Aunt. Not biologically, but an Aunt just the same. She is my stylista and soon-to-be decor consultant. (Her home looks like what would happen if Audrey Hepburn shopped primarily at Pottery Barn.) She is also a photographer.

Never one to hesitate from taking advantage of a friend, we pried ourselves off of the couch for a few hours during Thanksgiving (a huge deal!) and had a photo shoot. My grandmother and mother have saved a few baby outfits for the past few generations and so we had fun dressing Hazel up. Though the lighting was a problem, Whitney worked her magic (without photo shop!).

My mom bought this outfit in Switzerland. My first Christmas pic is in this outfit :)


recognize this?

"Solve World hunger... tell NO ONE!"

Hint: I heard this familiar line while decorating my Christmas tree. It's so wrong, but brings me so much cheer :)

bleeding hearts

Babies need patterns. They need a schedule. At 4 months, babies should sleep through the night. Crying is good for a babies lungs (ahem- dad). Let them cry through the night for 3 nights and then all your problems will be solved.

If you've had a baby, you have most likely heard these exact statements. In general, Hazel has turned into an easy baby. She just endured 5 days of company with very few crying jags. Then the floodgates erupted and she let us know that she'd like her calm life back. Cue 2 days of screaming and that brings me to this morning. I'm typing in an effort to not go to her while she screams through the first part of her nap.

There are different types of baby cries, though I can't always discern them. However, their are real tear cries, vocalizing cries when she's annoyed, and ANGRY cries. It's the angry ones that make my eardrums bleed and make me want to climb back into the womb.

Last night I put Hazel to bed in her crib (on her belly WITH blankets...ooo! Sorry western world, but when a baby prefers her stomach, there's nadda you can do about it and her fleece sleep sack just isn't enough for our chosen temperature.) promptly on schedule, at 9pm. Then I went over to the main house to tidy up and do a few dishes so that my busy parents wouldn't have to see the mess.

I returned to our apartment to find a happy Dadda with a baby on his lap. Hazel's cheeks were rosy and she had this calm, content, victorious look on her face. I kid you not, the girl KNEW she was pulling one over on her dad! As soon as Jake saw me staring, he sheepishly said "I thought she was napping until I brought her out when she fussed and I saw the clock." Juries out on whether that's the truth, but I certainly can't fault him for loving some cuddle time.

Part of me desperately wants to have Hazel sleep with us. There is nothing better than leaning my forehead against hers while I fall asleep, smelling her sweet breath throughout the night, or being greeted by a smile as soon as I open my eyes. However, I do keep her in my bed after her 6am feeding and on the mornings when we fall back asleep together, I wake up stiff from not moving.

So, I'm back to trying to give her life some predictability and I'll just stuff cotton into my bleeding eardrums.

(Author's note: crying has ended. Mama 1, Hazel 1000)