Friday, December 27, 2013

14 weeks/Christmas in Paris

Christmas day marked fourteen weeks for Ian! We spent the early part of this week with my parents on Paris Mountain. Ian's had many great cuddles and play partners throughout the days.

Even though he is very young, Christmas really is different when you have a child. I've enjoyed just watching him and opening his gifts (for him) and seeing him interact with my family members. He has been the biggest and most wonderful gift of all. I love the joy of this season and he brings even more of it into the lives of each member of the family.

Every new stage is full of excitement, I tell you what. He is getting to be so interactive these days, which is very fun! He laughs, smiles, and giggles while playing or seeing people's faces. So full of joy, that boy.

In the picture on the right, he is with my mom who discovered that he greatly prefers the side of the block with the cow. It's pretty neat that he's already showing preferences for small things like that! She'd shake the block, with a bell inside, and show him all of the sides. When she'd turn it to the side with the cow, then he'd get the most excited!

He also liked it when she swooped him around! (Left) I also love this picture of Mom and Phoebe playing with him. Check out that WIDE mouth! That's his happy, ecstatic face.

I would have WAY too many pictures in this post (Ha! I already have too many, eh?) if I showed all of his new tricks, so I'll just tell you about this one. We lay him down on the floor and then slowly pull him up to sitting by holding his arms. After he's sat for a bit, then we slowly lower his back down to the ground again. Within this one week he's gone from weak and wobbly to strong and steady, crunching the entire way up and down now. It's so fun! He can multi-task by doing that while also sucking on his fingers or hand.

Christmas morning Ian woke up early (surprise, surprise!) and so we went and woke up all of the other sleeping people in the house. Äma & Grumps were up, but Papa, Uncle Willem, & Aunt Phoebe needed a little prodding. No bah humbugs this Christmas... they all smiled and laughed as they were greeted by this little elf (Thank you, Iris, for the wonderful outfit!!!).

Here Ian is with his Grumps before everyone else joined us around the tree.

 It wasn't long before the stockings were emptied and some of the presents were opened that this little boy fell fast asleep again. It's exhausting being the center of attention, don't ya know. Check out the little reindeer bum! Haha!

Apparently both of our boys don't mind being the center of attention!

It was a wonderful morning of gift-giving. Ian was certainly blessed with many great gifts and immediately hopped into one of them as soon as he woke back up!

I can see a lot of jumping in our future! Right now he turns around and around, looking and smiling at whoever passes him by.
He's still fascinated by his hands. He has more coordination, as far as actually sticking some of the fingers in his mouth. Normally he has his left thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger all shoved into his mouth. He refuses all pacifiers, preferring only his hands.

I've also started to keep a lovey around during times when he needs to be consoled, nursed, or to go to sleep. Perhaps he'll start associating it with comfort in the future, though I know that's a ways off.

Uncle Willem!
One day last week we went to a get-together of med school friends, spouses, and their babies. It was there that we watched Ian crane his neck and body, turning onto his side to watch the other babies lying on the same blanket. Since then he's started doing the same thing when lying on a blanket, but he hasn't fully rolled over all of the way, yet. He rolled by accident in the early weeks, but hasn't done so on purpose. His bum has also started raising into the air a few times.

As per Christmas tradition, we did our annual hike up to the Paris View. Here are a few pictures from our time up atop the mountain.

Sisters, sisters....

My "artistic" shot. Little did I know it would include ALL of the members of the hike. Look closely :) 

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a very Happy New Year!!!
Here's hopin' our paths cross often during the year 2014.

Käthe, Jim, Ian, & Leif

Happy 14 Weeks, Ian Forrester!!!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Ian woke up at 5:58 AM, ready to celebrate Christmas morning! So this is how we greeted each of the sleeping family members on Paris Mountain. Don't worry... we did wait until 6:30 to actually wake anyone up. They were all warned and accepted him as their alarm clock the night before. Ha!

Photo taken by Phoebe :)

Merry Christmas from my favorite little elf!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

These hands.

When I was in sixth grade I was in a show called "Working." There wasn't a main story line, only scenes, songs, and dances portraying different occupations. For some reason I was chosen to be the retired doctor (Funny, now I've married a doctor-to-be!) and I was given a long monologue discussing what I had done throughout my career. One of the teachers at my school, Mr. Daum, wrote the script and it was all about what my hands had done. I'd birthed babies, held people as they were passing away, cared for young children: all important and impactful moments. I would repeatedly say, "These hands," all throughout it. I cannot remember the long monologue now, but somewhere I do have the script.

Now that Ian is completely engrossed with his hands, the saying keeps coming back to me. In his thirteen weeks of age there's not much he can say that his hands did, so it's a bit comical, really. "These hands have flailed wildly and by happenstance have grabbed my toy or knocked down the blocks." "These hands have held me up as I've pushed my neck and head into the air." "These hands have wrapped themselves around my parents' fingers as they play with me." "I've watched the shadows of these hands dance across my cradle, when the light's shining just right."

Like boy, like pup.
Leif decided to hop into Ian's spot soon after I moved him. 

But one day we'll know the story of his hands better. We'll know what talents he has, what sports he enjoys playing (if any), and what impact he'll make in this world. We'll be on the sidelines cheering him on, crying the tears, feeling the woes, laughing at the jokes, and walking this life with him. ***Cue teary-eyed mother over here.***

Right now Ian really doesn't need any toys. His hands completely suffice. He'll lie surrounded by toys and choose only to suck on or hold his own hands. Soon I know this will change, but for right now it's enjoyable to observe.

Although he has no clue that they are a part of his body, his feet have also been fun to watch (for us) these days. When he lies on his back, he spends much of the time attempting to match the soles of his feet together. He doesn't actually look to see if he's doing it, his feet just constantly are trying to match each other. A yoga pose, I believe.

The best time to "chat" with Ian tends to be when he is lying on the diaper-changing pad. He's right at eye level and loves to coo back and forth. It makes changing diapers quite enjoyable, actually. He's always content to be lying down on these pads. He likes to be changed! Who would have thought that he'd like to have a clean, dry diaper?!

For a while there he did not seem to mind being placed somewhere while I ran to the bathroom, made a quick breakfast, or some other short task. Recently, he has started to really mind if I leave him for any period of time. He knows too well!

He continues to enjoy airplane, giving me smiles, some giggles, and cascades of drool as we play. The yoga DVD I mentioned before has exercises that you can do during airplane to help strengthen the non-existent abs after a baby is born. I want to get into more of a routine of actually doing it. But I do pieces here and there throughout the day.

Ian loves bath time! He kicks and kicks the water and breathes in deeply when we pour any amount of water over his body. It normally takes a few minutes to get excited, but then he is all jittery. It's a blast.

He also loves it when I sing, "What does the Ian say?" And then proceed to make up a bunch of random sounds. This morning he was full of smiles and his mild giggles over this game. So fun.

I cannot say this enough- he is one VERY active boy. He wants to move all of the time and he wants to see absolutely everything. This makes it very hard for him to start the process of falling asleep for nap times and bed time. He often has to let off some steam by moving a lot and crying a bit before falling asleep, no matter how early I start the process of putting him down. It can be quite wearing and draining to put him down. We're both figuring it out together.

In the carriers he only wants to be facing outward if he is awake and inward if he is asleep. I read an article this week that gave me some "mom guilt" in talking about how babies should be worn facing their caregiver because their spines are developing and it is best for them to face inward. In talking with Jim and a friend, I'm feeling better about the fact that I am following his lead and his personality. He is getting to observe and learn about everything around him. His spine will be fine. He is held the correct way every time I hold him, rock him, and soothe him... which is almost all day.

There's so much information out there, each holding different opinions. It's easy to get lost and forget to rely on my intuition. All babies are different. Breathe. He's a happy baby. Thank you to Jim, Jessica and Joi for talking me through this stuff!!!

Other than visiting family for the holidays next week, we're home and all together now for the rest of the year! No more boards. No more tough rotations. Whew. It feels good. Jim's pretty psyched about it, too. Ian? Well, he has no clue ;)

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

A HUGE THANK YOU to Jessica, Andrew, Esther, and Evangeline for hosting us in Bristol, Tennessee! Esther, the three year old, gave up her room for us and "Baby Ian" and we were so grateful. Thank you for the wonderful meals, conversations, babysitting Ian for the first time, ventures to the park and around Bristol, and taking us to the lights on the Bristol Speedway (our first time at a real racetrack)! You were incredibly gracious hosts and blessed us by your generosity and kindness. We look forward to the next time we are together!

Did you hear? I turned three months old this week. No joke.
Happy three months, Ian Forrester!

You love: your hands, sucking on our knuckles and toys we hold near your mouth, smiling at us, bath time, "airplane" rides, walks and strolls outside, looking at everything, and moving as much as you can.  

We're looking forward to celebrating your first Christmas with you next week!

Handsome lad.
We love you, love you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 17

Seven years ago today I started dating this viking & mountain man. 

We've had many an adventure so far: winter backpacking the AT after an ice storm, hiking The Narrows in Zion, hiking the Grand Canyon down & back in one August day, getting a kayaked knocked by an alligator in Louisiana, sea-kayaking across a bay in Alaska, road-tripping through the Catskills and NE to hike in Maine, a life-threatening injury, 3.5 years of medical school, childbirth (Jim delivered him!) and have just embarked on our biggest one yet: parenthood.

Life will never be dull with him. Love you, Jim!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013


 Oh my!

We have a twelve week old.
A growing, learning, active, hungry, smiling, red-headed twelve week old.

His cheeks are kissable and his thighs are squeezable.

Recently I've been rooting through pictures from his birth until now and I cannot believe how much he's changed. It's amazing how much growth & learning has occurred since his birth.

I never wrote about his 2 month appointment, and that will have to come another time, but he did weigh 15 lbs. 5 oz. That's almost twice his birthweight and he may have reached double at this point. He's the only weight-lifting regimen I've ever followed consistently and he certainly ups the ante for me every day!

He certainly hit the 12 week growth spurt this week, since he ate a lot!!!

Those eyes, when they look me directly in the eye, melt me. And fortunately they do that a lot these days.

He's started reaching for and knocking the soft blocks (Thank you, Nicky!). His arms are still not very controlled in their movements, but they are consistently knocking down the towers of blocks that I build within seconds after they're built.


Two cool dudes.
Though there's no picture to document it (yet!), Ian enjoys playing airplane. I place him on my legs or hold him over my head and he enjoys seeing my face from above, for once. It often elicits a giggle from him

My cousin, Julie, gave me a yoga video to do with your baby and that is so much fun. The video includes baby stretches and massage, an abdominal workout, and some yoga practices. All of these are done either with the baby on your chest or in your arms, or with them lying on the floor watching your hand, foot, or face as it comes into view during the activities. Well designed!

I managed to get them to crack a smile :)
Ian's also focusing on everything around him and he's very aware when someone enters the room. He can spot me across the room now, which is fun and he'll smile at someone a distance away from him, if they lock eyes.

Recently, we've spent time with a baby that's 5.5 months old and the two of them look at each other and smile. They are fascinated with each other. Do they know that it's another baby? Do they have a special language? So many questions I'd like to ask him. If only he'd remember for one day...

I do not actually have a picture of this yet, but he has started to hold his own hands. He'll just be lying down or sitting propped somewhere and will be holding his hands. Sometimes his fingers are haphazardly intertwined and sometimes they are actually holding the whole opposite hand. This means he's found his midline! Go Ian!

 We have continued to go on walks every day, which keeps me sane and also provides stimulation or a moving nap for Ian. Here's one of us heading out for a walk at home in Blacksburg last weekend.

And here's one picture of the park where we've been walking in Bristol, Tennessee. Beautiful, huh? This is a pull to living in Bristol. One doctor told Jim that you can walk all day on different trails throughout this park and never retrace your steps. Again, you can barely see the napping Ian in the stroller.

He's always had a strong neck and done well lifting his head, but the duration of his tummy time has never been very long. He'd get tired and then fuss after only a short period. It was one of those things that I knew was important for him to continue doing and practicing, but I'd wince each time inside. I do the same thing with fingernail clipping- that's the only thing I absolutely despise about taking care of a baby! It's so hard and I felt HORRIBLE the time I nipped part of his skin. Anyway, within this last week he has seemed to, dare I say, ENJOY tummy time. He lasts much longer than before and calmly looks from side to side. I will say that I have wised-up since the early days and I only place him on his belly shortly after a nap, when he's the most content and rested.

Check out that tummy-timer! I love these shots with the drool hanging out of his mouth. He's a baby through and through. Who cares about a little drool?! Not me. Poop, spit-up, and drool from this guy don't phase me at all. None of it's actually smelly or unpleasant. And I'm sure that it's just because he's my baby and he's breastfed by me. Love these eyes and this red-headed baby boy!

Happy 12 weeks, sweet boy!

* Sidebar: Jim & I had a discussion about what makes the three month mark. I am going by the date (September 18, November 18, December 18...) and Jim's going by the week numbers (4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks...). I'm not sure which is correct, but I'll post his third month post after the 18th of December. Either way, I guess it's only a week off.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Aunt Beth

Happy birthday, Aunt Beth!!!

It's the birthday of my dear Aunt Beth! Jim and I were so fortunate to be able to spend time in her company earlier this fall. We're forever grateful to Aunt Beth for opening her doors to us, our dog, and our four week old child for four weeks. She is truly one of the most hospitable and generous people I have ever known and we felt so fortunate to be able to spend this time with her.

I timidly wrote her an email last spring asking if our stay would be possible and she responded with a "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Of course you can come!"

Growing up I spent every summer of my life at our cabin in Cook Forest, Pennsylvania. Aunt Beth and her family lived forty-five minutes away. Throughout the years she's been a second mother to me. Sharing in the joys and in the woes. This past year and forever more we will continue to mourn, remember, and celebrate the life of my Uncle John, her husband. He was very much a part of our conversations during our time in Tippery Pines. His handiwork surrounded us at every turn in their house and I could picture him sitting in his favorite chairs, stoking the fire, making himself a whiskey, or laughing in his chair at the head of the table. We'd think of some quip he would have said or laugh about what he did say, or shed tears about the hole we knew was missing.

Aunt Beth generously allowed Jim to work in Uncle John's workshop during his time there. She not only allowed him but she strongly encouraged him to use the tools and some of the wood. She said that she enjoyed having a woodworker working in his amazing shop. Jim was honored and decided to build something that we can always cherish. He built Ian a cradle that can serve as a sleeping/lying place now, but in the future can be used as a boat, or whatever he makes it up to be! Thank you SO much for this opportunity, Aunt Beth. We'll always talk about Uncle John whenever he's, or future children are, in the cradle.

Between the conversations, laughter, cuddling and soothing Ian, and family meals every night, we had a great time with our family in Pennsylvania. We hope that you are having a good day today, Aunt Beth! I'm sure that a couple of cute little girls up there are singing you a sweet birthday song today.

We love you!
Käthe, Jim, Ian & Leif

Monday, December 9, 2013

Swinging & Strolling

Happy 11 weeks, little one!

This week Ian swung on the swing for the first time ever! I started outside with him just to walk around the backyard and then spotted the swing and thought, "Why not?!" His neck is strong and he doesn't slump down too much when sitting in a reclined position. Well, he loved it! I see lots of swinging in our future.

Ian and I spent our first real time apart this week! I've only left him for about twenty minutes before to run an errand, but on Tuesday Jim had a dinner with the residency program and asked me to come. Our hosts didn't bat an eye and shooed me out the door, honored to care for Ian for the first time. It was hard to take those first few steps, but I did it. Jim was a bit surprised I was willing to come. Fortunately,  Jessica sent me texts with updates the entire time and he was happy and smiling while we were gone and when we got back. Whew.

Papa's hands
Though his sleeping habits are still unpredictable, he is falling into more of a rhythm. He sleeps after about 1-2 hours of wakefulness, just as one of the books said he would (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Mark Weisbluth... I recommend it!). And I'm starting to feel comfortable with when it's okay to start the process of putting him down to sleep. When he starts yawning I know that it's imminent, but when he starts rubbing his eyes on my shoulder I know that he's communicating it's time for me to start rocking and singing to him. Before he's fast asleep or already asleep I lie him down to be swaddled and then place him in the middle of the bed, his crib, or the pack-n-play. Fortunately it doesn't seem to matter where I put him, but I know that time will eventually come. With our mobile lifestyle right now I am grateful for his flexibility.

Nursing is becoming more of a rhythm, as well. I know he's hungry when he starts mouthing my shoulder or making a specific pre-cry sound. Before he wasn't so blatant with his cues, so I now appreciate a little more communication in that area! He does still sometimes cry for a while because of a gas bubble after nursing, which is hard on both of us, but it's not happening every time anymore. Lately he's been in another growth spurt and has been eating often. During the night I feed him and then place him back in his Moses basket or pack-n-play, depending on where we are living at the moment. For the last feeding around 5:30 I keep him in bed with me to finish out the morning. Sometimes it's an extra hour and sometimes, those glorious sometimes, it's an extra two or three hours. This morning was one of those glorious mornings when I slept until 8:15!!!

A frigid day at home in Blacksburg this weekend.
The weather was so nice and mild in Bristol this week that we spent almost every day going on a walk in the park behind the house where we're staying. It's a beautiful park with paved walking/jogging trails that bend and curve around the large pond in the middle. I've taken Ian out in our BOB stroller (Amazing stroller, by the way!) and normally try to time it around the time when he'll be falling asleep anyway. Then I get some exercise and he gets lulled to sleep by the movement. I bring the Boba with me just in case he does wake up and want to get out of the stroller and that pacifies him for the remainder of the walk. One day this week Jim interview all morning but then got off early in the afternoon, so he joined us for a nice, long walk all of the way to the dam. It was great to have some extended time to talk together and weigh the pros and cons of each program we've seen so far.

But honestly, the weather has not deterred us in our desire to head outside. Thanks to an awesome bunting from LL Bean (Thank you, Mom!), Ian is able to stay warm no matter what the weather is like outside. Jim also had the idea of heating up a warm flax and lavender pack a friend (Thanks, Trisha!) made me and putting it down in the bottom of the bunting for extra warmth.

The best part of this week has been the mimicking. I haven't actually gotten the posts up on Wednesday, which should be his weekly "birthday," so some of this has really developed within his eleventh week and not his tenth week. BUT, I want to document it here anyway. The mimicking is the most fun thing so far. He'll make a sound and we mimic it back to him, then he smiles REALLY big and sometimes laughs, and makes another sound. He did some of this last week, but now he does it for minutes on end. He's also learned how to make almost a raspberry sound with his mouth and gets quite a kick out of us responding with the same sound. We have a video of the first interaction like this. To our surprise he actually did it for the first time while the camera was rolling.

The mornings tend to be his happiest extended period of time. Although it's hard for me to turn on the light and get the morning started as early as he'd like to, it's always worth it! As soon as the light comes on he is all smiles. We play "Trot, trot to Boston" and he smiles, we talk to him and he smiles, and we play our mimicking game. He also likes to "crawl" up my chest. I place him down at the bottom of my abdomen and then put my hands behind his feet and let him push up and crawl all of the way up to my face. His legs are really doing all of the work right now, but he is determined to keep his head up as best he can.

He's looking more and more like a little boy and less like a newborn. Everyone who meets him comments on how big he is! He is big. I have met a few babies while out and about and he towers over any his same age and is the same size as most who are five or six months old. Makes sense, since he is now wearing six month clothing! I'm grateful that Iris, a family friend, sent us a Christmas outfit in the six month size. Otherwise he'd never be able to wear it.

Just chillin' while Mama prepares the water.
Ian seems to enjoy bath times. That's one thing I don't think I've really written about. We purchased a whale-shaped bath tub and are borrowing one from our friends while in Tennessee. He gets excited/startled every time we pour water into the tub or on him, but he never cries or fusses. He kicks his feet in the water, too.

It's so fun getting to know him better as each day passes.

Someone's just a little excited about his first Christmas! Haha! 
One of the first smiles or giggles I've been able to capture on camera.

Oh the wonder of the season. Oh the wonder of a child.

We love you, Ian Forrester!!!