Saturday, November 14, 2015

Nine months with Silas...

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."

-Robert Munsch

It seems we have finally found our rhythm this month. We are living into our daily and weekly routines, and they feel good. We're definitely on the move, trying to stay one step ahead of our now very mobile baby.

What's Silas up to?
Silas is learning new things everyday. This month he learned to clap, pull himself to sitting, crawl on his hands and knees, and pull himself up to standing. After watching him on the monitor one night as he pulled himself up to his knees and peered over the edge, Daddy ran in there to get him and vowed not to let him sleep in there until we lowered the mattress the next day.

Silas' teachers say that he "found his voice" this month. They commented about how uncharacteristically loud he has become... and stubborn, apparently one morning he refused to drink his first bottle because his regular teacher was absent. Sometimes at the dinner table, he will scream with his whole body like a crazy baby, and then stick his thumb in his mouth and look all innocent... it makes us laugh so hard.

We've started trying to introduce some baby sign language: "more," "all done," "mama," and "daddy." Occasionally it looks like he's signing "more," but maybe he's just clapping?!? However, we can hold a whole conversation back and forth with him, each phrase sounding like the short "a" vowel sound. Doesn't make much sense, but it entertains us both!

This boy can eat... he often uses his thumb to push more and more food into the roof of his mouth, until we have to give him a sip of water to clear it out. I'm packing his lunch and snacks on school days to avoid the processed food that daycare offers. Everyday I send a "serving" of protein (usually chicken), two vegetables (either frozen or fresh), a fruit (always fresh), and sometimes a bit of cheese. In addition, he's still taking three 5 oz bottles of expressed breast milk during the day, and nursing three additional times in the morning and night. For dinner we usually try to feed him from our plates, although occasionally we offer him an additional veggie to supplement. He shovels the food into his mouth faster than we can even get it on his plate. We're also practicing using an open cup, and although he still spills a lot, we can see progress.

And miraculously, once we started consistently feeding him real meals, he started sleeping through the night again. Which makes all the difference in the world for Mama and Daddy.

From Mama's perspective...
Although things seem to be going pretty smoothly this month (nursing and pumping is still going well... maybe the best yet, we're sleeping through the night, etc.), I'm not getting much productive accomplished. By the time we get home in the evenings, Silas is very clingy and only wants to me to hold him. Which means cooking dinner is a challenge, much less cleaning the house, folding the laundry, and working on hobby projects. So instead we read board books, roll the ball back and forth, or sing silly songs. Sometimes I carefully prop him up on the bar stool at the kitchen island so he can watch me cook, and honestly sometimes he sits on the floor of the kitchen and wails as I chop something really quickly or adjust something in the hot oven.

One particularly memorable moment from this month... my milk wasn't letting down quickly at bedtime, frustrating both Silas and me. As tears rolled down my face, I started singing our bedtime song, "I Love You So Much." Silas calmed down, looked me in the eyes, and latched on, and then the milk began to flow. This song has become so special to us... as I begin signing the tune, I can feel Silas just relax in my arms.

A few of Silas' favorites...
There aren't many "new" favorite toys or gear this month... Silas is still rocking out with his guitar, throwing his ball around, and jumping like a maniac in the jumperoo.

Overall the favorites this month were the adventures that we went on...
  • Picking pumpkins at Berry Patch Farms

  • Visiting with family friends (my first grade teacher and our flowergirls!) in Peachtree City

  • Meeting my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Atlanta
  • Playing with new friends at the park

  • Cheering on Daddy after his 245-mile Beach Ride

  • Putting his feet in the ocean for the first time

  • Trick-or-treating with his cousins

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Eight months with Silas...

“If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.”
-Vincent van Gogh

As mentioned in the last post, we started the month with pink eye and ear infections. Sickness seemed to hover over our heads for a couple of weeks. But the highlight of the month was our family vacation to Richmond, VA for the World Cycling Championship races. We urban-hiked/rode in the stroller over 40 miles as we cheered on the cyclists for three straight days. Silas was a great little tagalong for the whole adventure (minus the one night in the hotel when he uncharacteristically screamed for an hour at bedtime).

What's Silas up to?
Oh my, Silas is really mobile now! No longer can we leave him somewhere and expect him to stay put. He's even learned to flop onto his belly from sitting... it's not pretty and maybe a little bit dangerous as he dives headfirst into the floor, but it's effective.

He is fast with his army crawl. Usually he grunts with every scoot forward so you can hear him coming, but sometimes I look up and he is halfway across the house. His little rocking chair sits in between the living area and the kitchen, and while it's never directly in his path, he always chooses to go under it, rather than around it. Unfortunately he's ruining onesies as he mops up the floor with every scoot.

He has also started dropping things to watch them fall. This is both amazing to watch the wheels turn in his head and maddening to keep picking up the same toy over and over again or to watch all of his food land on the floor rather than his mouth.

Silas is a good little eater. We usually feed him bits of our dinner; he picks out the pieces of meat to eat first. I let the daycare start feeding him breakfast and lunch, until one evening when he projectile vomited it all back up (in the car on the way to Richmond!). Rob and I feel really uncomfortable with how processed the daycare food options are (beef-a-roni and strawberry Pop Tarts, for example), so I've decided to pack fresh fruits and veggies for him for the time being.

Silas is certainly a Mama's boy these days. Daddy is okay, but only if he isn't reminded that Mama isn't around. Luckily he seems to be okay at daycare drop-off, but he has cried through his stays in the church nursery the last couple of weeks, and they even paged me to come get him one morning (so fun to teach Sunday School while simultaneously trying to calm a baby). Although one day when he was hanging out with me at work while he was sick, we discovered that he can be comforted by someone else with long hair (he must associate the long hair with me).

A week after the ear infections cleared up, I got called to come pick Silas up from daycare because he had a fever again. The pediatrician couldn't find a reason for the fever; however a few days later, two bottom teeth popped through on the same day. Poor baby! No wonder he's been so grumpy.

While at the doctor's office, she did diagnose both of us with thrush (Silas had a rash in his diaper area and white patches in his mouth; I had the bright pink and bleeding nipples.) Luckily we may have caught it early, and after ten days of antifungal meds, we seemed to be symptom-free. (Funny sidenote: I had to wrestle Silas down to give him the oral medicine in each cheek for the first week. But on days 8-10, he just opened his mouth and took it like it was candy.)

Even more firsts this month... first music class at church, first time sitting in the grocery cart, first Georgia Tech game on TV, first clapping, first trip to the pumpkin patch, first solid poop!

From Mama's perspective...
Although I'm trying hard to stay present this year as a part of my "one little word" inspiration, it was all I could do not to wish away the weeks when we were under the weather. And, yet, Silas was still learning and growing and doing all of the cute things that I want to remember forever, so I tried to live in the moment as much as I could.

The daycare food situation brought on all of the anxiety this month. I'm really uncomfortable that Silas' environment during the day is so different than what it would be with me at home. I've been trying to decide if it's just a control issue (isn't parenting just a giant exercise in letting go of control?) or if there's something to genuinely be concerned about. It makes me second guess all of my "motherly intuitions" and makes me feel very unsure and haphazard about the parenting philosophies we ascribe to (I even feel unqualified to use the word "philosophy" to describe the decisions we've made). I'm determined to check out a few different childcare options next month, but I'm afraid that it will all just be more of the same.

This month I've been trying to put together/wrap up a big project for church. It feels a bit thrown together at the moment, as the direction of the project was decided much later than I would have liked. My time for creative endeavors is so much more difficult to plan these days (I can't just drop everything to chase a creative idea, nor can I schedule aha moments to emerge during naptime), and without a generous lead time, I feel really stressed. Luckily I think I will get it done in time and hopefully it will look polished to the outside eye, but this is not how I like to work.

A few of his favorites...

  1. MULA Shape Sorter :: Silas will scoot across the room fast when this toy catches his eye. He loves banging the plastic pieces together and on the wooden box. We are no where close to matching shapes, but there are two pieces of each color and each shape, which in the years ahead will provide many potential games/learning activities.
  2. Mini Acorn moccasins :: These adorable moccasins were one of the first purchases I made when I found out that I was pregnant last summer. I'm so tickled that now there are baby feet to fill them. We've only recently begun to wear shoes (and then, only every now and then), but he will keep them on for pretty much the whole day. 
  3. Haba Allegro Stacking Ball :: Silas likes to play "catch" with us. We're not sure if he "gets" the game yet, but when we toss this ball into his lap, he will bat it away, sometimes back towards us. Just like his other favorite (Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack), the rings of this ball come apart leaving a center core. And, even better about this toy are the fabric tag that he likes to grab hold of and the crinkly sound that the end piece makes.
  4. Melissa & Doug First Bead Maze :: I had heard mixed reviews about bead mazes and whether kids actually played with them. However, when I found this one at the thrift store for $2, I went ahead and bought it. This model is just the right size for Silas at this age; he can hold onto the metal wires and spin the beads around. He doesn't quite get the idea that beads move from one side to the other, but he will push the beads down, if I get them started for him.
  5. Just One You Made by Carter's Boys' 6pk Month Socks :: Totally an impulse buy at Target. But the boy was in need of socks. These make for the cutest photo ops.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Seven months with Silas

"Making the decision to have a child—it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body."
-Elizabeth Stone
Sickness has invaded our house for the last couple of weeks... which has pushed the monthly post farther down on my to-do list. I was determined to get it posted before the the 3rd rolls around again. So here it is... pardon any jumbled half-thoughts! And, I wrote as if it were actually September 3...

What's Silas up to?
This month Silas moved up to the big baby class at daycare. As his daycare teacher says, "For a baby who can't crawl, he sure can get around." If you leave him alone for a few minutes, he'll end up under something. He pulls himself forward with his arms, army crawl-style. But he won't go after a toy that's more than a few scoots away, even if he ends up pushing it forward and continues after it. He'll go the farthest for a cell phone screen; he'll end up doing laps around the living room floor chasing it. However if another toy gets in his path, he is totally stumped.

We celebrated Silas' 6th month birthday with his first solid foods: sweet potatoes and roasted squash. I was impressed with the baby-led weaning approach, so we've been giving Silas table food since we started. He hasn't ingested much, but we've already seen an improvement about how much he gets in his mouth and how much less he gags. Right now his favorites are green beans, plums, and corn on the cob.

I was leery about letting him eat solid foods at daycare. When his teachers bugged me about letting him eat food, I explained what we were doing at home, but I didn't expect that they would want to deal with it during the day. However, his teacher was interested in the baby-led weaning approach and has been willing to try it. Following "strict" instructions from us to guide them, Silas' teachers offered to start feeding him snacks. They were amazed how well he did with strips of banana on the first day.

Silas definitely knows his name; I love to call out his name and watch him whip his head around. Silas always looks to Mama when he's sad, but looks for Daddy when he's happy. By the end of the month, we have entered the full-fledged separation anxiety phase. He wants Mama and only Mama. Daddy is only good if Mama is right there with them.

Silas went on his first road trip this month, up to Ohio for one of our best college friend's wedding. We broke up the trip into two parts on the way there, but made the long haul back in one day. Surrounded by his favorite toys (monkey, Sophie the giraffe, a rattle, and toy cell phone), Silas rode pretty well, although on the way back, he was a little bit whinier.

By the time we got home, his eyes were goopy, his nose was running, and he had a fever over 101. At the pediatrician the next day, he was diagnosed with a double ear infection and double pinkeye. Neither the oral antibiotics nor the eye drops seemed to work very fast (although trying to wrestle a baby down to give him medicine is not the most efficient form of treatment), and he was out of daycare (Rob and I took turns out of work) for the whole week. He looked and felt pretty pitiful. Finally five days and a new antibiotic later the fever broke, and as Rob said, "we got our boy back."

From mama's perspective...
The ear infection at the end of the month did a number on us. I wrote about some of those feelings in one of the last posts. I'm really grateful that my job and workplace is flexible enough to occasionally let me work from home or bring Silas with me. As pitiful as he was, I enjoyed being home with him once again. Although my introverted self was (and still am) eager for some alone time, I also wish that he could come alongside me everyday.

This month I struggled with pumping enough milk. The day care teachers told me that they were having a hard time making three bottles stretch all day, which felt awful to hear. We've had to dig into our frozen stash a bit, I've had to squeeze in extra pumping sessions in the morning and evenings, and I'm taking fenugreek supplements three times a day. All of it makes me anxious which probably doesn't help my supply at all.

It's so weird to think that Silas is closer to a year old than to his birth. And yet I already can't really remember what it felt like to hold and cuddle a newborn.

A few of his favorites...
  1. Chicco Caddy Hook On Chair :: We received this as a hand-me-down and opted to use it instead of purchasing a free-standing highchair. It's great because Silas can pull right up the table, and we can pull the fabric seat off and throw it in the wash. Unfortunately he is a very messy eater, and sometimes it's absolutely gross before we get around to laundry, which means we're considering buying something that wipes down easier, but this seems to be working pretty well.
  2. Baby Einstein Rock 'N Roll Guitar :: After seeing how much my nephew loved his Baby Einstein piano, I was looking for a similar toy that plays real songs rather than kids' diddies. What a neat surprise when Aunt Callie sent us this guitar! Silas loves it! And, we love it, too because he is easily distracted by it, which is perfect when he's about to scoot into something that he's not supposed to get into.  
  3. Fresh Starts Baby Food Prep Steamer :: At this point Silas is only eating a few green beans at a time, so it seems a bit over the top to pull out a huge pot to prepare his dinner. This little tool is my favorite because all it takes is 70-90 seconds in the microwave and the veggie is soft and ready for little man to eat. Although we try to feed him some of the same things that we're eating, I often supplement his plate with steamed green beans, butternut squash, carrots, and broccoli. 
  4. Summer Infant Tiny Diner Portable Placemat :: I can't say enough wonderful things about the trough on this placemat. It's perfect for restaurant... saving us from cleaning up a huge mess on the floor. It also rolls up nicely to fit in the diaper bag. Unfortunately the suction cups don't work everywhere, but that hasn't caused too much trouble so far.
  5. Bumkins Super Bib :: I can't say enough great things about these bibs. Baby-led weaning is definitely not for the neat freak (although who's kidding, neither are purees!), and the Super Bibs are big enough that they cover most of his front. These bibs are great because they wipe clean, and they have a pocket in front; after a meal, it's always amazing to discover what 's hiding in there.
  6. Baby-Led Weaning :: This is the book that started it all. My sister let me borrow it, and the premise makes a lot of sense to me, both from a scientific/developmental and parenting perspective. If you're interested in this concept, I would also recommend the website/Instagram account Baby-Led Weaning Ideas/@blwideas; I've found some great meal ideas from her feeds

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Goodnight Silas...

“Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.”
-Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon 

While my last post was about Silas' newborn photobook that I will treasure forever, it's not actually my favorite book right now. A few weeks ago a surprise package showed up on our doorstep, and inside was this gorgeous storybook that my sister had written for Silas.

Inspired by the children's classic, Goodnight Moon, Callie had written a story featuring the details of Silas' room. The poetry is amazingly clever (love the rhyme about sprocket and rockets!), and the verses are illustrated with photos that either my mom took when she visited in February or from our professional newborn shoot with Erin Drago. And, surprisingly, (because great minds think alike!!) Callie picked the same cover photo that I did for his photo album.

I hope that she doesn't mind if I show you a few snapshots. We are just so in love with this book. It sits next to the rocking chair, so that I can read it to Silas as part of our bedtime routine. I love that Silas can feel a bit of love from his aunt each night before bed.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A photobook to treasure...

"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose."
~The Wonder Years

As I posted back in March, we splurged on a professional newborn photo shoot by Erin Drago here at our house when Silas was just thirteen days old. I was so excited with how the images turned out, and as I mentioned in that post, I hoped to create a photo book of the pictures. However, this was the only thing on my maternity leave to-do list that just didn't get done before I went back to work full-time.

But I am finally checking it off the list! And, I could not be more thrilled with the book that I ordered from Artifact Uprising. I can't wait to show you!

Although usually I'm a Blurb girl for my travel books, I knew I wanted something of heirloom quality for this particular project. I read so many good reviews of Artifact Uprising and thought this would be just the project to start with.

While sometimes I design photo book pages in PhotoShop or InDesign before publishing, this time I wanted the photos alone to tell the story, so I decided to stick with the provided page layouts. Artifact Uprising's online book-making software makes it easy to upload photos in bulk, but I was simply overwhelmed with trying to pick the best image from the tiny thumbnails in the interface, while at the same time pick the best page layout. So needless to say, I started and stopped this project several times before completion.

A few weeks ago when I decided to give it another go (thank you once again, One Little Word project for encouraging to get things done!!), I tried a new approach. As I scrolled through the photos in iPhoto (where I had already given them a star rating and could easily magnify them to see them better), I chose the best photo from each "scene" along with up to four accompanying images. I then uploaded the photos in small batches to the online software, and chose a pair of page layouts accordingly.

I'm on the Artifact Uprising email list, so I waited a week or so until I happened to receive a coupon code for 10% off and then placed my order. The book arrived on my doorstep about a week later. 

It is gorgeous... with its matte paper pages and crisp colors. I absolutely love it and can't wait to flip through the pages with Silas as he grows older. A moment of newborn life captured in time...

Stay tuned because you may see that cover image again in the next post!

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Random thoughts from 6+ days nursing a sick baby...

“Much of your pain is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.” 
-Kahlil Gibran

Double ear infection, double pink eye, fever over 101° F, a runny nose, and an overall grumpy baby. It has been a long week.

Here are the random thoughts that have been running through my head...

Mama vs. Daddy
When he's happy, Silas will do anything to watch and be with Daddy. When he's sad, he wants nothing to do with anybody but Mama. Which means it has been the "Mama show" around here all week.

I remember the lactation consultant explaining, "when baby's hungry and his tummy hurts, he comes to Mama, and she makes him feel better. It makes sense that when something else hurts, he wants only her. He knows she will make him feel better."

Project Management
Because I feel fine, I had great aspirations to get things done during my days off from work. However, the only thing I have been able to finish off lately is a bag of M&M's or a package of raw cookie dough.

I finally put my finger on why I'm feeling like I can't get anything done at home, even when I feel like I've used my time wisely. My time these days comes in 10-minute chunks ... This is the season of "fringe minutes" rather than "fringe hours".

I also realized that I get through life one project at a time... maybe it's about time that I start thinking of cooking dinner and sweeping the floor as projects.

Embracing the Present Moment
A sick baby meant extra days at home with him. Even though he wasn't feeling the best, I tried hard to savor these unexpected moments... him falling asleep in my arms, sweet cuddles to make it feel better, and even the night that he wouldn't fall asleep anywhere but on top of me.

However, now that Rob's got a sore throat and runny nose, and my eyes are itchy and bloodshot (thanks for sharing, son!), it's almost impossible not to wish these days away.


Sunday, September 06, 2015

Summer of '15

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” 
-L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams 

As this summer comes to an end, we're checking off the last of our summer bucket list items.

I posted a list on the refrigerator back in early June, hoping to get Rob excited about some fun activities this summer. He was quickly on board and planning how we could make each adventure happen.

Here's how we spent the Summer of '15!

1. Swim with Silas. We went to the neighborhood pool twice and even took a dip in Lake Bistineau while in Shreveport.

2. Visit Shreveport. Where Silas met dogs for the first time, went to the Farmer's Market, celebrated Luke's birthday, and had fun hanging out with family.

3. See grandparents... Grandma Theresa, Lovey and Papaw, Great-Grandpa Tom, and Mimi

4. ...and aunts and cousins. Aunt Stephanie and the Bunch boys as well as Callie and Luke.

5. See fireworks. At Barnet Park for Fourth of July.

6. Dine al fresco. Many times at Chipotle, Sonic, and Chick-Fil-A.

7. Visit Dottie's Toffee. Yummy toffee ice cream made right here in Spartanburg.

8. Take a hike. A Sunday morning hike to Little Bradley Falls was life-giving in so many ways.

9. Celebrate our 31st birthdays. Mine and then Rob's a few days later.

10. Celebrate Silas' half-birthday. First solid foods!!

11. See a movie at the drive-in theater. Spontaneous trip down to Greenwood, SC.

12. Roadtrip!! Up to Columbus, Ohio for a long weekend.

13. Party it up at Mike and Amy's wedding. Well, if you count sleeping through it...

The only thing on our original list that we didn't do was "grill out." Rob is scared of fire, and after an unfortunate incident with a mouse living in our grill a few years back, I am scared of opening our grill. We just weren't willing to face our fears this summer.

Now we have to decide what to put on our bucket list for fall...

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Art in Public Places...

"The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection."

Silas and I had some time to kill in Dublin, Ohio this past weekend while Rob performed his groomsman duties for the wedding of our best college friend, Mike. After a quick internet search of "things to do in Dublin," I was intrigued with the Art in Public Places Cell Phone Tour sponsored by the Dublin Arts Council.

I had hopes of hitting some of the highlights, but with a few hours to spare in the morning and then again in the afternoon, we made it to quite a few of the sculptures. At each location, there is a phone number to call to hear more about the piece, usually told by the sculptor himself.

Although Silas slept through the first few stops at Coffman Park, he was a willing photography subject at most of the sites. I used the GPS for directions to some of the stops, but I wasn't afraid to make a u-turn and pull over on the side of the road if we drove by one unexpectedly.

One Scene by Daisuke Shintani
Injection by David Middlebrook
Narrow #5 by Shawn Morrin
Ascension by Brian Russell
Watch House by Todd Slaughter
Leatherlips by Ralph Helmick
Sanguine Standing Stone by Joseph Wheelwright
Tree of Life, Future Tense by Mary Jo Bole
Jaunty Hornbeam by Joseph Wheelwright
Field of Corn (with Osage Oranges) by Malcolm Cochran
The Simulation of George M. Karrer's Workshop by Brower Hatcher
Dancing Hares by Sophie Ryder (not really on the official Dublin Arts tour)

So thankful for this little guy who goes along with my "harebrained" ideas. I hope that he will always be up for adventures like this with me.

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