Friday, February 27, 2009

3 Months

I remember the day my mom headed back to Texas after helping us with Stella for the first week or so. She was telling Stella that her parents had no idea just how much she would change in the next few months. And it was so true.

In those days, it was pretty much eat, sleep, need a diaper change. While those are still pretty major components of our days, Stella has a whole new repertoire of interests and sounds. She has a favorite toy, smiles, and notices the cats. She loves hands (mostly ours, but also her own), has started rolling onto her side, and even laughing in her sleep (about the cutest sound ever). She's so alert, taking the world in--she even likes to flirt with herself in the mirror, as you can kind of see below.

Stella and the mirror

And she's growing big! She's probably 15 pounds and stretches well beyond the length of my body. (Also, at three months, she's wearing 6-9 month clothes-crazy.) It's incredible to realize that I've helped this little person grow from nothing to the size she is now, just with my own body.

Stella was such a little girl in this outfit--very pink and she kept pulling up her skirt like little girls do.

Thanks to Jeanne and Tim for this cute outfit--9 months, supposedly, but it already fits. And we got a smile in the picture!

Apparently sometimes Tyler amuses himself during his time with Stella by taking photos.

Of course, the other big change this 3-month milestone brings is my return to work. So far it's been going well. Tyler is doing an amazing job watching her four mornings a week, and we've been really happy with the nanny who's coming three afternoons a week so Tyler can get his new business up and running. I've enjoyed the mental stimulation of being back at work among my colleagues and clients. However, it is an adjustment. Pumping milk three times a day is challenging and can start feeling monotonous, but I'm happy to be able to keep helping Stella grow in these early days.

On Valentine's Day, our friend Breanne came to do a photoshoot with Stella. Here are just a couple of the cute shots she got. Of course, we had to get at least a few naked baby bum shots, too!

Stella, almost three months

Mama and babe--and a preview of Stella's current fascination with hands

The happy family

Tummy time

Baby feet

Happy parents, naked baby--and no accidents, amazingly enough!

Just as we didn't know what lay ahead in the first few weeks, we still can't really imagine what she'll be like in another three months. But it's been an amazing adventure so far, and I can't wait to get to know Stella better in the days ahead.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Back to work!

Sarah went back to work for the first time since Stella's birth and, as you might imagine, there were tears shed by all involved parties. I think, as much as Sarah is eager to get back to work, there is an equal part of her that regrets having to spend time away from Stella. And, it was only as she was walking out the door that I feel the reality hit me of how little time they'd spent apart since Stella's birth. Before yesterday, I think the longest Sarah had been away from Stella had been, maybe, and hour.

Luckily, her company is a small one that has allowed some flexibility with her schedule, so at least for the immediate future, she will only be working three full days, one half day, and get Friday's off completely!

As for Stella, she was quite a trooper on her first day away from mommy. The idea of being feed from a bottle for a better part of the day seemed confusing for her. But, she made do by snacking lightly from the bottle and saving the main feast for mommy's return that evening.

And, what about me? Well, on Monday, I sent out this message through email, Facebook, and several other venues:

Hello everyone,

As most of you know, the last few years have been eventful and exciting ones for Sarah and I. From our Round of World journey to buying our first house and the birth of our daughter, Stella Rose, just three months ago, life has been an amazing and ongoing adventure for both of us. It is with this same sense of adventure and optimism that I'm excited to announce my next big endeavour: the creation of Tyler Hill Illustration and Design.

After over eight years working as a contractor and in-house designer, I've decided to go freelance. I think that this will be a great opportunity to not only continue to grow as a designer, but also to focus more on illustration work opportunities.

To help kick off my new freelance career, I've redesigned and updated my portfolio website, General Theory of Creativity. The new site includes an expanded selection of illustration, design and Flash work I have created personally and professionally. In addition, it features my resume, contact information and a link to my ongoing art blog of the same name. Please check it out and let me know what you think!

So, perhaps you have a project I can help you on. Or maybe you know someone who might be in need of a designer or illustrator. Or, perhaps you are an illustrator, designer, developer or photographer yourself and are interested in working with me on a future project or just grabbing coffee and "talking shop." If any of these things are the case, don't hesitate to call or email me.

Finally, a quick personal note: I'd like to thank Sarah for her support on this decision. It takes a special sort of person to go: "Let's see, we have a new baby, a new home and the economy is in the toilet... Yes, I think now is the perfect time for you to go freelance!" I'm lucky to have found her! And this wouldn't be possible without her.

Thanks, everyone, for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Tyler Hill Illustration and Design, LLC

As you can imagine, and as I hopefully convey in that message, I'm really excited about trying to go freelance. After roughly eight years working for in-house design teams, I've been feeling like I've sort of explored that route as much as I'd hoped to. In addition, I'm using this as an opportunity to push my illustration skills, since frankly illustration was the reason I initially got into design in the first place, and has always been my "first love," so to speak.

Finally, and just as importantly, I'm happy that this will provide me a greater amount of be with Stella. Through some creative schedule juggling, and the help of a nanny who will be watching Stella for a couple hours a day, three days a week, Sarah and I have managed to engineer a schedule that should hopefully provide us both with plenty of time to focus on our profession, without having to leave Stella with childcare eight hours a day, five days a week. If everything works out according to plan, I will be very excited about the future! And for the lives we will have created for ourselves!

Of course, that is a lot of "if"s. And, if we've learned anything these last couple of years, life's fond of curve balls. So, we'll see how things go. But, honestly, I'm really optimistic.

OK, now I could ramble more about my new adventure into freelancing(and maybe at a later date I will), but right now, I feel like I should probably be working on getting some clients! Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Valentines

I'm not particularly sentimental about Valentine's Day, and because a business trip took me away for the day itself a few years ago, Tyler and I started celebrating on the 13th. We realized it was a great way to celebrate our love without feeling like we were totally buying into the commercialism of the day itself, and it had the added benefit of being the halfway point of our wedding anniversary. Plus restaurants are less busy since most people are planning to go out the next evening.

This year we had planned the 13th to be our first post-Stella date night. One of my colleagues at work had generously offered to watch Stella for us, and we had picked a restaurant we had been meaning to try for quite awhile. Beyond the annual tradition, it also seemed a nice way to also mark the end of my maternity leave, with all three of us home together. Alas, it was not to be. All three of us had been playing tag with some kind of cold, and Friday was my day to be laid low by a general sense of ickiness. Instead, we got some spicy fried chicken, watched a few episodes of Michael Palin's Pole to Pole series, and went to bed early.

We've had a few momentous Valentine's Day moments (two years ago, we left for our RTW trip this day), but this one seems special because it's our first with our newest Valentine Stella. You hear about falling in love with your baby, and it's true. I'll find myself just gazing into her eyes some mornings, just transfixed by her sounds and movements. You know it's love when you adore everything from the smiles and squeals to the frowns and the farts.

One of my new favorite Stella pics, taken by Tim while he was visiting. Also known as the "Stellagator" picture

Sarah and Stella on the bouncy ball--the answer to all the world's (or at least 99% of Stella's) problems.

But this experience with Stella has also shown me new parts of Tyler to love as well. During some of the more difficult early days when I was sometimes exhausted, overwhelmed and emotional, he showed such compassion and patience and love. And he's an amazing dad to Stella. I love watching him singing her new songs, flying her around the room, giving her "baby spa" time or bouncing on the ball even though it hurts his knees..and he hates it. She's a lucky little girl to have him for a dad. And I'm lucky to have him as my husband.

An action shot of my valentines!

Beyond the lovefest, we've had a few other photographed moments in the last few weeks:

Some of Stella's cohorts from our midwifery clinic at our monthly get together to commiserate with each other and see how all the babies and new parents are doing. It's pretty ridiculously cute to watch six babies lined up on a couch.

Hanging out with Uncle Tim and Aunt Jeanne who came to visit from the Bay Area. They were both so great with Stella--I know she missed their attention and games after they left!

Stella actually awake on a walk during Tim and Jeanne's visit--generally she sleeps the whole time.
Baby legs! One of the downsides of being a winter baby is we hardly ever get to actually see Stella's body since she's always bundled up. Here she's wearing some new baby legs (baby leggings)--so cute!

Oh, and remember how I mentioned hearing slurping last time? Tim got this video while we were driving around last weekend:

Tasty fingers

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I see you baby!

Two weeks from today I'll be halfway through my first day back at work. In some ways, it's hard to believe. My maternity leave has passed by quickly--and largely in a bit of a blur. And while I'm a bit anxious about this new transition (I feel like I can hardly get anything done now; how will I get anything done when we add work to the equation?), it's also helping me enjoy these days with Stella that much more.

Of course, I'm still going to miss her and worry about stuff like having enough breastmilk on hand while I'm away, but part of my feeling better about going back to work has to do with some changes Tyler's making professionally. Rather than going back to a full-time design job, he's going to make a go of it as a freelance designer and illustrator. Which means that he'll hopefully get to do more creative and professionally fulfilling work...and be home with Stella more. We're going to need less child care, and even when we do, he'll be downstairs working. So while the financial aspects of starting a new business can be a little scary, both of our minds are much more at ease about Stella.

And now that we've figured out what foods I shouldn't eat, she's a joy to be around--smiling and interested in things. It's amazing to see her world expand a little day by day. Lately she's been really into sucking on her hand and fingers. She's been trying to for a long time, but she's recently gotten enough motor control to get them where she wants them and to keep them there, so now we regularly hear loud slurping noises.

Looking cute in a sweater knit by Nana.

More of that morning's photo op

Night-time cutie. You can't really tell in this picture, but we like to call her "hombow baby" in this hat

I kept wanting Stella to be more of a sling-baby. She's finally old enough to face forward and seems to like this a little more.

I get a lot of comments that Stella looks like Tyler. In this photo from this morning, I totally see it.

She can be a daddy's girl, as evidenced by "reading" comics with dad last night.

You always hear that dad's play with kids differently. Here's some video proof (it will make more sense if you have sound):

Now we're off for a walk in this lovely sunny January weather. This weekend, she'll finally get to meet her Uncle Tim and Aunt Jeanne!