Jennifer Oakland »

Great Falls is one of those areas in my sales territory that I don’t normally look forward to visiting.  The drive is LOONG… It’s a pretty drive, yet LOONG.  This time, Martin offered to be my driver for the day, which made the trip so much more enjoyable… actually likable!  I was able to really enjoy the gorgeous scenery outside of the car instead of my usual routine of pedal to the metal driving, in hopes of defying my always-late departure from Missoula and making it to my work appointment on time.  It was a gorgeous day and I should have stopped and gotten out of the car to take some photos along the Rocky Mountain front (next time).  And to really top the trip off, we had a delectable dinner at the home of our dear friends Brian and Shannon, with their adorable almost 3-year old daughter Margo.   We really don’t see them nearly enough but every time we do, it’s like we just saw them the week before!  On our departure out of town, we stopped to visit a friend of Brian who is starting an organic vegetable farm just outside of Great Falls (which is where I finally took out my camera).  Walking into their greenhouse was like walking into the land of Oz… Greens sprouted from their starting containers and baby chicks peeped from their warming hutch. It was a welcome contrast from the chilly day outside! Margo loved watching the chicks scurry around and Finley loved the bright green colored kohlrabi plants. It was a fun way to end our visit to Great Falls. Now, if I can just convince Martin to be my driver more regularly!



We had a very fun week in Spokane, working and visiting my parents. Although traveling for my job is challenging, going to Spokane is a bright point since I get to see my parents and stay in the home I grew up in.  And now, it is even more special to go to Spokane for work because I get to take Finley with me.  I get to see her when I wake up and after work and she gets to spend time with my parents all day.  It’s a true win/win/win.

This week was also Easter. We didn’t do anything very special since I had already been gone for the week. We had our good friends Keila and Justin and their daughter Athena over for a nice brunch. And then our nanny Sarah came over and watched Finley while we went fly fishing for a few hours. It was nice and relaxing and we even caught a couple of good fish before we got the call that Finley was hungry and we needed to get home.  She is still not taking a bottle, which has been a bit problematic. But we are planning to start solid foods next week, so that might take the edge off, we’ll see!

So, here are some photos from Easter that we took in our back yard.  It happened to be a gorgeous spring day!  Excuse my lovely spit-up stain!

We are unlucky in that neither of our families live in Missoula.  But we are so fortunate that we get to see and spend quality time with our families quite often, considering the distance between us.  Each spring break, Martin parents Valerie and Martin graciously make the long trip west to visit us in Montana for Valerie’s spring break week.  In year’s past, we have ventured to Cooke City (aka the snowmobile ride to no return) and x/c skied Lolo Pass (shirt-less for some of us).  This year’s trip highlights included a wonderful salmon dinner with all of the grandparents (yes, Finley was completely spoiled with more attention than she could imagine possible), visiting the beautiful nesting Trumpeter Swans in Ronan, Finley’s infant swimming class, shopping in Hamilton, and spending time bonding with Finley.  There were many giggles, smiles, and a blow-out or two (of the diaper-type).  It was a wonderful week and as always, it went by way too quickly. As this is the last year that Valerie will be teaching (she’s retiring in June), we are really looking forward to them spending more time out here with us in the future.

So, here are a few photos from our week together. My parents came through Missoula on their way home from Arizona so we even got to have a special dinner with ALL of us together, which was so memorable!

It should be spring. Right? I mean, it’s early April now. Seriously, this is getting O-L-D… I feel like I’ve never spent so much time wishing and hoping for spring, literally counting the days until I see a robin. Or a sprig of green grass. Or a sign.. just ONE sign, of spring.  Okay, I digress. I know it’s coming but those of us who live in Western Montana know how much patience it can take to make it through the winter months.  So much patience that a new business called Staycations that specializes in little mini- stay in a room vacations where you go and sit  in a beachchair in the sand (yes, SAND that’s heated even) under UV lights and a watch beach scene playing on a big flat screen TV, thrives in this town. It’s bad.

Anyways, we are making it through. Martin always goes into some kind of home improvement mode- this winter he’s finishing the basement laundry room. And I am specializing in Finley-care. I’ve been using my camera quite a bit but I have to say that the gloomy grey days aren’t always conducive to my creative juices. So, here are few tries from the week…

Baby blue eyes… or brown eyes? Hazel? Possibly greenish? We’re not sure yet. When Finley was born, she had the typical newborn-grey eyes. Then they turned a beautiful teal ocean-blue color. Now they’re a sort of blue/grey with brown flecks.  I not-so-secretly hope that she will have blue eyes, like her dad. I mean, when everyone and I mean EVERYONE comments on how she and I look alike, I can only hope that she inherits at least one visual quality from her dad.  So, I continue to hope for blue eyes. For now, the jury’s still out.

Well, one week into work and my body put me/us on hold. Starting Tuesday night, I began having very sporadic and sharp nerve-like pain in my back. It was so severe that I contemplated going to the ER at 3am.  I met with my nurse practitioner and she gave me a prescription for hydrocodone and physical therapy. It hurt. It hurt when I breathed, sneazed, when I moved, when I tried to nurse, sleep, walk… basically all the time. I got a referral from a friend to a chiropractor, who I met on Friday. He was great and I feel like I am finally on the mend. But it’s been a long couple of days. We’ve also had a few sleepless nights. Finley’s been unusually and particularly fussy in the middle of the night, which has been rough on Martin and me.  But, we’re on the mend, the sun’s out, and things are looking up!

This is Finley in the *magic* swing. On the highest mode, the baby can sway like no other. She loves it… and so do we!

Well, this is the week that I have returned to work. I am thankful that I had an incredible extended maternity leave that lasted four months. Those four months were the best in my life and that’s no joke. I have experienced more emotion, happiness, and sheer love than at any other time in my life. Especially the last month, when I really feel that I watched Finley turn from little helpless feed-me-and-change-me-all-the-time critter into a real and beautiful human soul. The first smiles are the BEST.  She is very a happy baby and for that I am eternally grateful. She meets all of her age-defined developmental criteria. She is at about 35% for her weight and 40% for height and eats like a champion. We sometimes call her an awesome possum.  She sleeps pretty well… she is the most predictable in the mornings after her first feeding when her smiles are uncontainable and contagious. She loves being in the Baby Bjorn with her dad. She loves walks and looking outside into the bright day. She smiles and coos at Libby and Larson (does she think she is one of them?), and she loves watching her hand-made origami crane mobile above her changing table spin and the wind-up musical turtle that plays “You are my Sunshine.” She’s not a fan of onesies being put on over her head, but who would be when you have a sweet, plump little body like hers? She sits in her Bumbo chair on the dining room table with us when we eat our dinner and besides a bit of wobbling, she holds her head up very steady. She has endless curiousity- she looks when she hears a noise, and smiles when someone smiles at her.  She makes very sweet cooing and “HYE” noises and it seems a new, unique tone comes out of her daily.  She is our world and we love her to the moon and back.

The transition to work will undoubtedly be full of challenges: no-one can ever care for your child like you can. But I need to let go a bit and I want Finley to be able to know and trust others, too. She has a family who loves her and who will always make sure that she is extremely well cared for and is always safe.  We have a wonderful nanny, Sarah, who will be spending several afternoons per week with her and will give her so much love. Martin will be with her the other times and I can’t wait to hear their stories of adventure together!  When I cannot physically be with Finley, I will be thinking of her and loving her and counting the minutes until we’ll be together again.  With the support of Martin and me, we think that she will flourish in the environment we will create for her.

So, with that, I will let the butterfly’s wings begin to flutter just a bit. A tiny bit. Because I am still holding her in my hands ever so delicately.