Giving Ourselves

As I reflect upon the generosity of our friends, family, and even a stranger or two, I admire each household’s selflessness in giving time, wisdom, and creative and generous presents. Most of all, I am astounded how each gesture is a direct reflection of who they are: playful, pragmatic, caring, formal, experienced, and the list goes on.

Way back in 1983, it was believed that gifts become “containers for the being of the donor who gives a portion of that being to the recipient.” (John F. Sherry Jr. “Gift Giving in Anthological Perspective,” Journal of Consumer Research) In layman’s terms: we are what we give. Case in point…

Lucie’s pink Oshkosh b’Gosh overalls came from our friend who spends her weekends on a tractor and is basically a walking Better Homes and Gardens manual.

A mother of two young ones herself will drop her boys off at her family’s house to spend a few hours with Lucie so that Mama K can run errands, go to meetings or take a much needed nap on her own schedule.

The former Johns Hopkins librarian and her Ivy League-educated partner contributed to Lucie’s college fund.

A set of onesies that read “I love grandpa” and “I love grandma” came not from Lucie’s grandparents, but from family members who cherish the extended family unit, and are grandparents themselves.

Photos from the photographer.

Music from the musician.

A piggy bank from the financial advisor.

“Best of Breed” items from new parents.

Lactation advice from the former lactation consultant.

…this is in NO WAY a comprehensive list of the amazing generosity to which we’ve been privy. But since it is the only Mother’s Day present we received, I can unabashedly single out this very awesome gift from an old-school gamer:

She prefers Yoshi.
She prefers Yoshi.
"Mama C, what's an 'overlord'?" "It is someone who does everything her mama tells her to do."
“Mama C, what’s an ‘overlord’?”
“It is someone who does everything her mama tells her to do.”

Getting her wings

Lucie flew for the first time last week. What a champ, what a champ. She had every bystander fooled into thinking that the circles under her mamas’ eyes were of their own doing, for certainly it couldn’t be the fault of this wonderfully behaved little angel (who is, by the way, relentlessly screaming at Mama K’s face as I type this).

Anyway, it was a great trip to San Diego with an intro to Big Sis Alyona and quality time with Uncles Justin & Jon. Plus, a little stop by the San Diego courthouse to convert the mizzes (Ms.) into missuses (Mrs.). We are home now, but I can still feel that sand between my toes and the tacos and guacamole in my belly. Que bueno.

Coronado Island (that is really a peninsula)
Coronado Island (that is really a peninsula)
The advantage of going to the beach on a Thursday
The advantage of going to the beach on a Thursday
Vacation pose
Vacation pose
Yum! Lucie learns the secret menu.
Yum! Lucie learns the secret menu.
San Diego court house
San Diego court house
Judgement day
Judgement day
I do.
I do.
4 lanes is nothing! This photo was taken after driving through the 6-lane section.
4 lanes is nothing! This photo was taken after driving through the 6-lane section.
Lucie is an excellent flyer and attractor of compliments. She slept the entire flight, both ways!
Lucie is an excellent flyer and attractor of compliments. She slept the entire flight, both ways!

Clocking in

3:10 AM Get up to retrieve stirring baby (yes, critics, the baby is now sleeping in her own crib).

3:15 AM As Mama K feeds Lucie, I recall getting up around this time to get ready for an opening Starbucks shift. It was ridiculous then; it is ridiculous now.

3:25 AM BUUUUURRRP! After congratulating the baby on sleeping 4+ hours, I realize she is not falling asleep like she usually does after feeding…

3:30 AM Diaper change. That ought to do it. Famous last words, eh?

3:40 AM I’ve been bouncing on the otherwise trusty yoga ball for 6 minutes, to no avail. Lucie has managed to get drool/spit up on the back of her swaddle wrap, enough to soak a patch, rendering it fuss-able fodder. In other words, change now or forever hold your peace.

Reenactment of prior night.* Objects were more disgruntled than they appear.  *Yes, that's a cone of shame on Tom in the background.
Reenactment of prior night.* Objects were more disgruntled than they appear.
*Yes, that’s a cone of shame on Tom in the background.

3:43 AM Bending over to change Lucie’s swaddle has given her an opportunity to grab a chunk of my hair. Merciful release is far from imminent. Struggle ensues.

3:56 AM I’ve made a bottle so we don’t have to wake Mama K up again. Now if the baby would just open her mouth…

4:05 AM Mama K peeks her head out of the bedroom. I assure her that despite the screaming fit that woke her up in the first place, all is well. Truthfully, I would LOVE to hand the baby over, but Mama K has been taking care of Lucie all week, including weeknights. Though initially I tried to take the nights off of Mama K’s hands, I realized I couldn’t continue when I sleepily told a room full of 401k participants that $2400 less 10% is $2000. Sleep deprivation does not make for good math, which matters when your job entails being good at math. See the conundrum?

4:45 AM Lucie is still fussing, but seems to be mildly quelled when I am standing or walking. Of course. Every other minute or so I will glance down to see if she is sleeping. Every other minute or so I see a pair of black eyes in the dark, blinking purposefully.image

4:46 AM Mama K gets up a second time and mercifully takes Lucie from me, who promptly falls sound asleep. The dogs think it would be a great time to go outside! Why not?

4:56 AM The Platters mock me, singing “You’ve Got That Magic Touch” as I fall face first onto my pillow.

7:50 AM I wake up and Lucie is magically sound asleep in her crib. I have no recollection of this happening, but I do know that one baby divided by two parents equals 5-7 hours of sleep per night. When you multiply that by the daytime happiness factor, that comes out to at least 2000. Right?

Skipping a Generation

Dear Lucie,

Your Grandma Robart (along with all the grandparents) is an amazing person. Your Mama C may never achieve motherhood greatness of her caliber, but I will do my very best.

While I may never sew you a werewolf costume so awesome you want to wear it two years in a row, I promise to always try to help you come up with cheeky and timely Halloween ideas.

While I may never be a patient Girl Scout troop leader, putting up with my clowny daughter’s shenanigans, I will try to be extra nice to your leader to afford you extra grace if needed.

While I may not yell at the larger base runner plowing into you during a collision at home plate, I can sit next to her parents and make passive aggressive comments throughout the rest of the game.

While I may not make you a quilt so loved it has 14 holes in it by the time it goes to the big quilt closet in the sky, I will let you sneak into bed with us if you have a bad dream.

While I may not bake to impress, I vow to show you where all of the best donut and cupcake spots are in town.

While I may not be skilled enough to help you with your art projects, I can take you to museums around the world for inspiration.

While I may never have to cry along side you when you reveal your true self, I promise to love who you become.

Grandma Robart and Lucie, April 2014
Grandma Robart and Lucie, April 2014

Take this down: a memo from L. Roe Requardt, VP

To Whom it May Concern:

This is Luciana Roe Requardt, future middle manager of any corporation that will have me. I will be the finest boss you have ever seen, drawing from such sources as “Dilbert”, “The Office” and Office Space for inspiration.

Here are the qualities I possess as a one-month-old that will transfer seamlessly to middle management:

1. Two words: arbitrary demands. Just when my employees (the Mamas) think they have a plan, I come in and “suggest” something entirely different. Thought it was bedtime? I’d like to go another direction…

2. It may seem like I’m staring mindlessly at my mobile (that thing hanging from the ceiling, not a cell phone, you nut), but I’m taking in everything you say and do. Storing it all up for later…

Or maybe I am staring mindlessly. So sue me. I’m entitled to a little “me” time.

3. This gal likes the perks. Toys and gadgets and plaid diaper covers! That’s what I’m talking about.

4. Just when the workforce is on its last legs, I recharge them with a simple smile. That random reinforcement works wonders, I tell you.

5. Jargon is my specialty. Not so much acronyms and esoteric ideas, but rather a nuanced language with the power to keep ’em guessing (see #1).


6. I can create immense paranoia with the silent stare. What’s my mood? What am I hoping for? What’s wrong? Am I gearing up for a meltdown?

7. Encouraging multi-tasking is my specialty. You were born with two hands for a reason.

8. Teamwork is a must for me. From midnight feeding hand-offs to napping rotations, the only way to work for me is to divide and conquer.

9. I excel at motivating people to meet deadlines. Think this is going to be a leisurely bath? A couple of warning toots will get things going faster than you can say “poo in the water.”

10. Speaking of which, I literally make people deal with my s**t. Clean up on aisle 4!

Adventures in Bathing

Lucie’s last bath was a special one because of an unfortunately common condition called “cradle c(r)ap.” If you Google it, I suggest you do so on an empty stomach, because it’s gnarly. Just writing about it makes my head itch.

Here’s a bathing play-by-play for your amusement.

Step 1 (optional and somewhat debated): add olive oil to hair, do best New Jersey car salesman impression.

I "something" Mommy, but it isn't "love" at this particular moment.
I “something” Mommy, but it isn’t “love” at this particular moment.

Step 2: express displeasure in being treated like a Rachel Ray dish.


Step 3: brush hair with toothbrush (free dentist samples work great!) to break up scalpy grossness.

Mad scientist look
Mad scientist look

Step 4: add water!

The camera adds 10 pounds?
The camera adds 10 pounds?

Step 5: buff it out, pat it down, wrap it up.

Snug as a bug
Snug as a bug

Step 6: forget all about the last 20 minutes. No, really. Baby brain is on to the next adventure. Look! Shadows and lights on the wall!

All sharp objects have been removed from use... just in case
All sharp objects have been removed from reach… just in case

Step 7: be hungry all night long because, despite shampooing, hair perpetually smells like you’re at an Italian restaurant.

Supply and Demand

I reach out to a lot of moms for advice, and during a particular conversation with one of my favorite gurus, I was cursing whomever came up with the light-colored diaper cover. I mean, seriously? Why did anything other than black seem like a good idea. She agreed, and said that newborn onesies should only come in mustard yellow. I suppose formula-fed tan would be the color of choice if not breastfeeding.

So that got my capitalist wheels turning to produce this list of baby products I would pay for in a heartbeat (some more feasible than others):

1. Pacifier strap. I’m talking Bill Laimbeer face mask style. Take that, Gravity.


2. Infant sized foam helmet. I swear I could have two hands on Lucie and a stack of pillows below us and she will find a way to slam her little baby skull onto something unexpected, like my chin or her fist.

3. Fluid sensor with alarm function. More than once I’ve been in the midst of changing a dirty diaper when the aftershock catches me by surprise. Not fair. Also, though my dry cleaner undoubtedly enjoys the extra business, it’s difficult to keep a supply of suits around that don’t have spit up on them.

4. Ventilated car seat. Seriously, how has this not been invented yet?

5. Baby cry-o-pedia. At one month old, there are, like, five things you could possibly want. How is it that I am so confused all of the time?

6. Breastfeeding buzzer. Let me explain: Lucie does this thing we call “sleeting”, which is her way of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out her feeding via a cycle of sleeping and eating. This is not a big deal at 1:00 PM. This is a big deal at 1:00 AM. I would slap down my AmEx for a gentle buzzer that reminds her to keep going every time she dozes off. Because let’s face it, sometimes we don’t catch her sleeping because we’ve dozed off as well.

7. Harry Potter style time turner. I want to say it’s for posterity–to re-live the best moments of Lucie growing up. But really it’s so I can just rewind her sleeping moments and catch some z’s at the same time.


8. Sound proof bassinet. Is that mean? I would use it sparingly, I swear!

9. Corgi saddle. Because the Yorkie is just too small to ride.