I almost can’t handle the cuteness that is Parker’s 23-week photo. The thigh rolls, his little hand waving, and that almost smile…kills me. Sometimes I just can’t comprehend how lucky we are to have this adorable boy in our lives.
We’re also lucky that Parker is a wonderful traveler! He proved that this past week during our trip to Florida, which is actually the second time he’s been so far in his short life. We turned my music therapy conference into an opportunity for a little family getaway, with my mom there half the week, and Zach there for the other half.
Parker did AMAZING being away from home for almost a week; he flew like a champ, put up with us keeping him up way past his bedtime almost every night, and slept well in the hotel room. He was a good sport about meeting all my friends, too, which is a good thing because I had lots of friends who wanted to meet him! The funny thing is that Parker actually got recognized when he was with my mom and Zach, thanks to Facebook. My celebrity baby :)
While I was busy doing conference things, Zach and Parker went on several adventures. They visited Neptune Beach, where Zach took this amazing photo of Parker in his happy place: next to the ocean. We realized back in August during our trip to Naples that he LOVES the water, and that definitely has not changed.
These two got to explore Jacksonville and enjoy the warm weather while I enjoyed the inside of the conference hotel, but I did have a chance to soak up some sun when we went to Orlando on the last day of our trip. I was SO happy we had the chance to meet up with my friend Vanessa, her husband Luis, and their sweet baby Kennedy while we were there.
After breakfast with them, we met up with our friends Wade and Jenni and their little girl, Caroline, at Downtown Disney. We made the most of our day in Orlando, to the point where we just about missed our flight home!
We literally arrived at our gate just as the doors were closing, and were the very last people to board the plane. Luckily the flight wasn’t completely full, so we had a row to ourselves.
We had a rude awakening when we landed in St. Louis; it was FREEZING outside. Zach still had on shorts and I only had a light jacket, since it had been 85 degrees in Orlando. That’s always the hardest part of returning from vacation, but luckily we’ll be heading back to Florida right after the holidays.
Living in the Midwest is good for a few things, though; you can’t get photos like this in Florida.
Another conference is in the books! While this was not my busiest, or most stressful, or most exciting conference on record, it was definitely the most interesting. Being a mom, not to mention having my baby there with me, put a whole new spin on the conference experience.
I was lucky enough to have the help of my mom, and after she left, my husband, so that I could leave Parker in good hands to attend conference events. But I still spent a good amount of time with my little guy; here we are in the airport waiting to board the plane and then hanging out in the hotel room between sessions.
It’s funny how the conversations change when you get a bunch of moms together (who also happen to have the same profession). Sure, I had plenty of chats about business, entrepreneurship, clinical work, and other music therapy topics, but some of the most memorable had to do with parenting and balancing all that come with it.
I loved getting to introduce Parker to so many of my friends! Here he is posing with Meryl Brown and giving Kimberly Sena Moore a big smooch :) He is quite the charmer.
This year, Deb Layman and Kimberly Sena Moore hosted a concurrent session called Is the Work-Life Balance a Myth? — and I was lucky enough to serve as a member of the panel. Not only did I have a chance to share my story, but I learned so much from the other panel members and session attendees. It was really fascinating to hear how other music therapists (especially business owners like me) juggle the day-to-day duties of mommyhood and their careers. What I heard over and over is that it’s okay to not “do it all”, which is something I’ve struggled with since Parker was born.
But don’t get me wrong: becoming a mom has had plenty of positive effects on my work, too. During my maternity leave this summer, I started looking into NICU music therapy and felt inspired to pursue training in this area. So I registered for the NICU-MT lecture training at conference, and it was easily the highlight of my week.
Dr. Jayne Standley led this 8-hour training with the help of several other presenters, and I soaked up every minute of it. Learning about a completely different realm of therapy was so exciting; now I’m counting down the days until I go to the fieldwork training in Orlando this February.
Of course, learning and professional development are high on my list of priorities when I attend conference. But another important priority is spending time with my friends, since I only get to see them once a year! Kimberly, Michelle Erfurt and I — also known as the hosts of the Music Therapy Round Tablepodcast — have our booth in the exhibit hall, but we also get together for a special dinner every year during conference.
Michelle’s husband, Ed, who is an honorary member of the Round Table after years of setting up and manning our booth, always joins us for this dinner. And this year we had the treat of my husband, Zach, joining us as well. Parker was also in attendance, and he even took a little nap so that we could enjoy some adult time while we ate. Cheers to that!
I spent quite a bit of time in the exhibit hall, which meant seeing lots of familiar faces. I ran into Freddy (see below), who I met last year as a student (he’s now an intern getting ready to enter the field as a new professional!) among many other wonderful friends. I would try listing them, but there were SO MANY that I would no doubt leave a few out by mistake.
I also had the opportunity to meet tons of new people. It was so fun to hear from students, interns and fellow professionals who read my blog, use my songs, and are inspired by my work. But let me tell you: I’m the one who is inspired by all the amazing things happening in our profession thanks to my unbelievable colleagues.
Attending conference this year required a LOT more planning, packing, and juggling than ever before, but it was SO worth the extra effort. I’m feeling completely re-energized and ready to take on some new professional challenges, which of course I’ll be sharing with you along the way.
This might be my favorite weekly photo yet. I know I’m 100% biased, but this baby is quite possibly the cutest creature I’ve ever laid eyes on. My heart seriously leaps every morning when I pick him up out of his crib.
Not a bad way to start my day. Occasionally Parker will wake up crying, but most mornings he’ll entertain himself for quite a while…babbling, blowing bubbles, rolling around. I love watching and listening to him on the monitor, but it’s that smile on his face when I walk in that gets me every. single. time.
Morning playtime is the best, because now that he is sleeping so well, he is always in such a good mood. We usually lay on a blanket and play with toys, though now that he is rolling so much, he’s off the blanket in a matter of minutes.
I made a bigger effort to get out and about this week, mostly because it’s easy to go stir crazy spending so much time cooped up at home. Last weekend was gorgeous, so we made two trips to Washington Park. The first one was on Saturday, when we met up with Grandpa Alan and Grandma Jill.
On Sunday, we went on a walk with my friend Jen and her baby Ellie — Parker and I are going to miss those walks now that it’s getting so cold. Speaking of cold, it legitimately snowed on Monday. SNOWED. In November. Not cool, Mother Nature, not cool. I keep it nice and toasty inside so Parker can be comfortable in just a onesie, but we bundle the heck up to leave the house.
We found a few reasons to get out and brave the elements this week: shopping at Target, baby group (as always), getting my oil changed, and other random errands. Grandma Betsy came to babysit on Thursday morning while I visited a kindergarten classroom for a singalong, which ended up being lots of fun. I did a lot more of that kind of thing pre-baby, so it’s extra special when I have the chance nowadays.
As great as it is to get out, I think Parker is happiest when we’re just hanging out together at home. He usually chills in his swing while I vacuum the house, but he is enjoying it less and less now that he prefers being upright all the time. Can’t you tell by the look he’s giving me? The jumperoo is his apparatus of choice these days.
This is all probably very mundane to read, but I’m learning that I have to find joy and excitement in the routine. Next week we are off to Florida for my music therapy conference, so that will provide some much-needed adventure! No matter what is happening in our lives, it’s all good because, this.
I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow November arrived and that means it’s almost conference time. It will be my 5th year attending the American Music Therapy Association’s national conference, which is in Jacksonville, FL this time around.
I’ll be arriving on Monday night, because on Tuesday I’m attending the NICU-MT institute; can I tell you how excited I am about that? I already have my trip to Orlando booked for February, when I’ll be attending the clinical fieldwork training componment of the NICU certification at Florida Hospital.
The rest of my schedule while at conference is jam-packed as usual, between serving on the technology committee, being an exhibitor at the Music Therapy Pro booth, presenting on a panel, and — this is a first — finding time to hang out with my family.
I had always planned on bringing my baby to conference, and since I’m going a couple days early, my mom and husband are tag-teaming on Parker duty while I’m busy doing conference things. My mom will fly there with us on Monday and leave on Wednesday morning, and then Zach will arrive on Wednesday evening and fly home with us on Saturday. Gone are the days of easy-breezy solo traveling, but I’m looking at this as an adventure!
At last year’s conference, I was several weeks pregnant (but not far enough along to make it public knowledge) and feeling pretty queasy. While this year brings new challenges (like finding time to nurse and pump), I’m pretty sure it will be much more enjoyable.
I can’t wait to see all my music therapy friends in Jacksonville…will YOU be there?
Guess who is 5 months old?! Parker is becoming quite the mature little man — getting older, gaining weight (almost up to 14 pounds), rolling all over the place, and working on sitting up by himself.
But lucky for me, despite getting bigger he still loves snuggling up in the Ergo whether it’s to go grocery shopping, walk to grandma’s house, or just do some work around the house (as pictured above). I read this blog post about a mom’s last time wearing her baby, and it made me so sad to think about that time coming for me. It’s not happening in the near future, though, so I’ll just keep enjoying the snuggles.
Each time I sit down to write these updates, the past week seems like a blur. The days fly by, and I have a hard time remembering exactly how they were spent. We have our weekly happenings, like going to baby group every Wednesday and doing a bank/Starbucks run every couple of days, but other than that, my memory is a jumble of tummy time, jumperoo’ing, nursing, reading stories, impromptu photo shoots, and trying to fit in a little work here and there.
That’s the story of my life, now that I’m a stay-at-home/working mom hybrid (which, in itself, is a whole other blog post for a different day). With lots of travel, holidays, and other fun things coming up, these blog posts will hopefully be a bit more interesting! Until then, I’ll leave you with an adorable photo of Parker sound asleep in his new coat with ears on the hood.
Welcome! I’m Rachel Rambach, board-certified music therapist and creator of Listen & Learn Music — educational songs and musical materials for children. I love sharing my work with you, along with my behind-the-scenes creative process, adventures in business ownership, and life as a mom of two little ones.
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