Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Frigid Snowy Days

This winter has certainly been a cold one! With temperatures in the negatives and barely climbing out of the single digits and teens, we've had lots of time indoors. We've also had lots of our activities cancelled, keeping us home. And we've had some snow.  Living on the farm means that it is absolutely beautiful to look out the windows and to walk outside. And sometimes you just have to savor the cozy warmth of home and made a delicious soup, as I did yesterday.

Fortunately, Ian is an awesome cold-weather baby! He must take after his papa, who lived in Minnesota for a few years. He never whines about being outside in this cold weather. We do try to bundle him up as much as we can and he normally stays quite toasty. Inevitably, he falls asleep in the carrier or the stroller by the end of the walk. There's nothing like the lulling of movement to put him to sleep.

Ian likes to be rocked on my shoulder and sung or hummed to sleep, or close to it, before being put down to sleep. It always makes me feel somewhat accomplished when I can get him down without a tear shed. The first two naps today were two such accomplishments. He's an active boy and doesn't really like to slow down for nap times.

He's also started to snuggle purposefully with loveys. I've been including one in our nursing routine right before he goes down to sleep for the last month or so, and only recently has he seemed to notice that they are there and cuddle them. Now, when I put him down in the crib, I make sure that one of them is in reaching distance and he snuggles with it when he's first waking up. It seems to prolong the time he's willing to spend in his crib before he wants me to come get him. I can see that because we are currently borrowing Diana's video monitor while she's in Africa, to see if we'd like to purchase one. So far, I'm sold.

Before he heads to bed each night, we have a family reading time. Recently, he's really been reaching for and grabbing the books as Jim reads. He's fast! Good thing Aunt Christine got him a book that's indestructible for Christmas!

Lately, he's started sucking his bottom lip and making a humming/moaning sound. Funny!

He's also started flinging his toys across the room, especially his green and red balls with lots of holes in them. They barely last a minute on the mat before they are gone.

In my notes for this blog I wrote "Nothing's safe." Jim had a good laugh about that! Haha. What I meant was that we're entering the phase when if it's in his reach, then it's in his hands and then his mouth. At a restaurant or at home we have to make sure that all of the items on the table are moved far away from him, if he's in our laps. The same for if he's in our laps while reading, eating, or drinking a glass of water. I got doused with water one day this week.

Last Friday we went out to dinner and Ian fell asleep while nursing, much earlier than I thought he would. Fortunately, we were in the corner table and so there was plenty of room to lay out my coat and lay him on the floor. Parents of the Year Award goes to us!

Ian has started to observe us as we eat. His eyes follow the food from our plate to our mouths with intent fascination. It won't be long before this boy's ready to eat, too! I cannot believe it's time to think about feeding him solids already. Time is flying.

He's only content to be put down if I'm right nearby, he's in the jumper in the kitchen near me, or if he's in this giant thing! Check out the action. He's bouncing like crazy these days! He often dons this elated smile and loud, exuberant squeals ring throughout the apartment.

A boy & his dog.

Leif has become a bit of a celebrity around here. When Ian sees him walk by he turns to look at him and then smiles. Sometimes Leif rushes by him while in the jumper and Ian closes his eyes in surprise and then smiles and turns to watch Leif go. Leif likes to check in with Ian every once in a while, as you can see in this picture.

Ian smiles each time Leif returns while playing fetch in the yard. It's pretty sweet to see him enjoy having a dog at such a young age.

Just recently Ian has started to try to flip the "pages" on the contraption. He will try for a while and get frustrated, knowing that he's not flipping them. But sometimes he turns them on his own, as seen in this picture!

Last week we had his four month appointment! Another round of shots, which he handled much better this time, though still heart-wrenching. He cried for less than a minute and then started smiling and giggling again. He weighed 18.5 lbs, putting him in the 94.17%. His head circumference was 17 inches, which puts him in the 89.09%. And he was 27.5 inches long, which puts him in the 99.73%!!!! He's a thriving guy and we're grateful. :)

Jim noticed that Ian has started crossing his ankles when he's lying on his back. He seems to love going barefoot, although it's difficult in this cold weather and he normally has socks or booties covering his feet. He also likes to be as naked as possible, but that can't happen often either. When it's warmer, I'm sure he'll only be running around in his cloth diaper a lot of time time. Why not? You can only get away with that when you're a baby, so he might as well enjoy it! ;)

Jim's message one morning.
This week has been a rough one for reasons other than Ian, but also for sleep. Ian has been getting up many times a night. I'm talking sometimes five or six times, then sometimes three or four. I've heard that this happens. Just when you think one or two nights will become the norm, then a change happens again. I've switched back to co-sleeping because it is so much easier when we're getting up often throughout the night. And it's the only real time he cuddles, since he's such a busy, go-get-'em baby.

It's all worth it. Every day we learn just a little more about him and he learns more about the world around him. It's fascinating nurturing and watching a baby as he grows.
Someone's getting a little goofy with all of these snow/cold days inside!
Papa's winter workout. Quite resourceful, eh?

Happy 19 weeks, sweet Ian!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Busy Boy!

This week Ian has been perfecting the roll. He's getting faster, his arm stronger with the final lift, and his abs thrusting him all of the way over. Then, once he's rolled, he likes to start moving his trunk from side to side. One time he rolled over and his feet were facing me. Before I knew it he had scooted himself with his hands so he could look at me. He has also started to kick his legs way up in the air and bring his arms up, too. My parents used to refer to this as the airplane when I was his age, so I've adopted the term. He does the "airplane" often!

All too often he's rolled all of the way off of his mat. He's on the move, I tell you! And by the mischievous look of his face in the picture below, he may be up to no good. My brother joked that Leif and Ian will soon be allying against me. Leif will open the door (because he can... crazy, I know) and Ian will be out the door before I know it.
This week I finally got pictures printed and put into a little play photo album that my cousin Julie handed down to us. Now he can look at pictures of his grandparents and aunts and uncles any time. Each one is a picture of them with him. One day, I'm sure he'll enjoy pointing to each of them and telling us who they are. For now, it's an extra thing to suck on and manipulate with his hands, but it's nice to have them "around."
Thank you to my host parents, Meg & Mark, in Germany
for the adorable Adidas gear!! Check out that cute tiger!
Ian has his four month appointment tomorrow and I am looking forward to learning just how much he weighs these days! I definitely get my arm workouts day in and day out. Best workout ever.
It continues to be blast bantering back and forth with him. The more I read the more I hear that it's important to imitate his sounds. Supposedly it gives him confidence to continue trying to verbalize and enjoy making different sounds. If I ever repeat what you say, it's just turning into a habit to regurgitate what I hear. Haha... just kidding.

At the moment, the toy in the picture above seems to be his favorite. He enjoys chewing on it with his gums and grabbing it. The stuffed cotton hands, feet, and head, must feel really nice. Thank you, Julie!

He has just started to really hit and grab the hanging toys in his play-yard consistently.

The nights have been pretty long this week. Sometimes he gets up three, four, or five times. He seems to really like to get up at 4, then in the 5 o'clock hour, and then again in the 6 o'clock hour before getting up to start his day, or to go back down until seven or eight. This means I've been exhausted!

This boy is always busy, only cuddling when he's very tired, nursing, or has just gotten up from a nap.

Ian playing in his rocker while Leif and I play fetch.
Jim's been working with an otolaryngologist (ENT) and has had some long hours. One day he texted me around 6 o'clock and asked if we could swing by the hospital between surgeries, so he could get some time with Ian that day. Ian & I hopped in the car and had about 45 minutes with Papa. Here's the sweet picture of the men in blue...

He seems to be finding his thumb a lot these days. We'll see if it sticks!

Happy 18 weeks, Ian Forrester!!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


It's amazing to think that just four months ago you weren't in our arms.

We had no idea what you'd look like, how cute you'd be.
Or even if you were a girl or a boy...
 Or if you'd have all of your toes.
We definitely didn't know that you'd have darling red hair!
  Or that you'd have big, beautiful blue eyes.
 Or how adorable your squeals and coos would be.
 And you surprised us with your strength from the very beginning.
And make us daily fall in love again as we learn about your active and on-the-go personality,
As well as your playful and observant sides, too.
 But we knew we'd love you...
...we just didn't know how much love and joy could come in such a small, amazing bundle.

We sure do love you, little one!

Happy four months, Ian Forrester!!!!

You love grabbing things and bringing them to your mouth, bouncing in your jumpers, rolling over, watching Leif, observing everything!, laughing when we laugh, listening to music, & squealing to your little heart's content!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How I Roll

Let me show you how I roll...

Did you see that?
Yea, I did it!
So proud.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

He's on a ROLL!

Whew! During these two weeks, Ian's hit some pretty major milestones.

We went to the Floyd Jamboree at the Floyd Country Store, which is a well-known place to go to watch flat-footers and listen to bluegrass music. The people there are incredibly friendly and encourage newcomers to get up and dance, too. We wanted to see Ian's response, since he seems to really love music, and he certainly did not disappoint us! As soon as we arrived, he was entranced by the dancing and the music. He even started doing a little flat-footing of his own on our laps. We didn't take the camera with us, so you'll just have to imagine the adorable little man with wide-eyed excitement!

It wasn't long before three grandmotherly figures were watching him and then talking and laughing with him. One of them even had the gumption to take him out of my arms, invite us to her table, and then proceed to hold him while I ate my ice cream! That's the first and last stranger who will ever do that, I promise! He was fine and smiled at me from the opposite side of the table.

He has started to grab things, hold them, and bring them to himself. There were a few times when I knew that the toy had been beside him and then all of a sudden it was in his hand and mouth! So quick, that boy. Holding him in my lap during meals, when he's not content to be somewhere else, has also gotten pretty exciting. If I'm not careful, he has ahold of the plate or bowl and is pulling it to the end of the table. Whoa baby... times are changing!

Rollin', rollin', rollin'...
All week he had been so close to rolling!! He'd roll onto his side and then return to his back. Then he started rolling his hips all of the way over, but was stuck lying on one of his arms. On Friday we had dinner with some friends and he was lying on the floor next to the table. Two times he was on his back and when I looked again he had managed to roll onto his stomach. I missed it both times! If a baby rolls over and his mama doesn't see it, did he really roll over? This weekend he rolled over and I DID see it. He only did it a few times, so it's not something he's doing often yet.

Oh, and he is really, really SQUEALING! I'm talking ear-splitting, excited, joyful squealing! Yeesh! But it is oh-so-adorable. Sometimes he starts squealing due to happiness and then switches to being upset in the middle, but you can hardly tell unless you watch his facial expressions.

Happiness for Ian is making his mouth as HUGE as he can get it. This happens when he's playing or rough-housing with his Papa, sees his mama, or is playing in the jumperoo or the new, behemoth, bouncy contraption that Diana lent us.

We now have some sort of a play area for Ian in each room of the house, which gives him lots of variety throughout the day, when he's not in my arms or in a carrier.

He's also doing a lot of "talking" and ooooing, still. It's quite fun to banter back and forth with him.

For Christmas my mom, his Äma, gave him this adorable pair of overalls and Christine, Jim's sister, gave Jim this awesome log pillow. I may have had a little fun doing a photo shoot. Is he Jim's child or what? The man who is content with a pile of logs and an ax during his free time. I think Ian's well on his way to enjoying the same thing! All he needs is a flannel shirt, like Papa always wears. So, I present to you Ian Forrester the Lumberjack! He looks like such a little boy in this picture!

I had just a little fun with this photo shoot. There is a picture of me as a baby with the same expression as the one Ian has in this goofy picture below.

We have decided to have a family reading time right before Ian needs to go to bed. Jim reads, while I hold Ian and listen. It's been really sweet so far.

When the whole country was swept with the frigid cold spell, we decided not to take Ian out on our normal walks. Instead, we went to IKEA for a family expedition. The closest one is in Charlotte, NC, so we drove all of the way there and back in one day while Ian slept and we got to talk a lot about our coming year. We tried to do our best to get only the things we needed from IKEA and I think we did a pretty good job. I was THRILLED to find the play-yard I was looking for when I went to IKEA in Pittsburgh. They had it in Charlotte! Ian loves it.

On Monday Papa headed back to rotations, so it's just been Ian and Mama. I'm trying to figure out a good, flexible routine. Smoothie & coffee in the morning, baby & mama yoga, nap, walk Leif. That's our morning right now. We'll see what else falls into place. I'm attempting to start working out with Jim in the evenings... wish me luck!

Happy Boy

Happy 16 & 17 weeks, little lumberjack!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Two Little Lines

One year ago today two little lines were positive on a pregnancy test. My heart leapt and I waited all day long to tell Jim in person. We had been checking over the previous few days, to no avail. Then we checked that morning and then left it to sit, as I returned to sleep. A couple hours later, there were the two lines.

What a journey it's been!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Life as a Mama

Some people have asked me questions like this... "Love the posts about Ian, but what about you?" or "How are you doing with motherhood?" Here's my best attempt to answer this honestly.

34 hours of labor. 2 false starts. 1.5 hours of sleep. 1 hour of pushing. Back labor that wouldn't desist. When Ian was born, I quickly moved from unbearable, piercing pain, to joy and exuberance. So strong are the endorphins that I no longer pleaded for sleep or rest. My body had just accomplished an unbelievable feat and I had been given the greatest gift of all. I wanted to shout from the mountaintops and share my great joy.

This feeling didn't leave me, but the lack of sleep and the physical exertion it took to birth a 8 lbs. 14 oz. baby definitely caught up with me. Those early days were filled with exhaustion, unrelenting soreness and pain, and a desperate desire to soak in as much of my newborn as possible. After all of those hours of labor, my body was weary, my legs shaky, my eyes heavy.

I was filled with contentment while getting to hold my sweet boy. My heart burned with love as I held him. My emotions were on my sleeve because of the miracle of birth, the sleep deprivation, and the feeling of being physically unable to walk a few feet to fill my water or make a meal. During the days I felt alone & worn, but also completely whole holding my child.

In the weeks after he was born, my one goal was to sleep whenever I could. I was content to stay home and try to sleep at any time possible. I went out or visited with friends, but that was the one and only thing I'd plan for the day. And that was fine by me.

It took about five to six weeks for me to feel like I didn't need to nap at least once during the day, though it still was nice. Getting out and about, exercising, and spending most of the day out was more feasible, to me.

Crying shook me to my core. One of the first times we were in the car with Ian he started crying. Desperately I begged Jim to stop the car, even though we would only be in the car for a few more minutes. Ian was crying and I was crying. What a sight we must have been! For the most part I could keep it together, but hearing him cry meant I needed to try everything I could to help him stop. It's amazing how we're designed. The baby can only cry to communicate and the mother cannot stand the crying until it's resolved. Other people would tell me that his crying didn't bother them, but it was impossible for me to allow it to happen.
Breastfeeding has been challenging at times because of my strong let-down and Ian's fast gulping which leads to gas, but it's evened out. I've breastfed in some weird places (the pumpkin patch, sitting on the floor in the soda aisle of Walmart in Seneca, PA, the car in many-a-parking lot, etc.), spent time on the phone with lactation consultants, read and reread books, and talked to many mamas. It's been an all-engrossing journey.

How wonderful to be all that another being needs to survive! My body sustained him before he came into this world and it nourishes him completely now. I love the sweet time we share when he nurses. It's guaranteed time with him when we're visiting family and it's such a strong bonding time just between the two of us. It makes the hardest challenges worth it.

I've second guessed everything. Is he getting enough to eat? (Let's be clear... this was in the beginning.. I'm sure he is now!) Am I giving him enough attention? Too much attention? Holding him too much or too little? Is he getting enough sleep? Should I soothe him to sleep or allow him to soothe himself? Sometimes I think this is good because it challenges me to respond the best I can, but sometimes it's too much. Every mom I've ever talked to struggled with things like this for their first baby, at least.

During the first three months of his life we were traveling so much. Mainly for rotations, but also to visit family for the holidays. Throughout each location I told myself that once we came home we'd get into a routine. This was our first full week at home and I felt the mounting pressure to establish some sort of normalcy and consistency. I'm still working this out.

Since there's always been the next place to live with the next people to see, I haven't had a chance to feel settled. But I also haven't had a lot of time by myself. Hopefully my spirits can stay high and my mind active. I always felt lower after the college year ended because I was not nearly as busy or surrounded by people. This may compare, in a way, even though I am still busy keeping up with Ian. I look forward to returning to the activities I enjoy while home and hope to stave off any blues.

I have honestly loved being at home with him. Hard with him doesn't compare to hard within a classroom of 27 students. Late nights, early mornings, crying fits, goopy poops, figuring out his cues...  it's all a different kind of hard.

Well, trimming his nails is definitely something I wouldn't mind hiring out. Their nails are so dainty and delicate. It's too easy to catch his skin, which each of us has now done once. It's the worst. We've learned it's okay if you do it when he's sleeping. In this photo I was braving it while he was awake.... no nicking this time, though.

Whenever someone watches him for me so that I can get some extra sleep (Jim, Mom, Kim, or Stacy- thank you!), I feel like a different part of my brain is allowed to work again. Though I am much better rested than those early weeks, my body definitely knows it's not getting enough, with Ian waking twice in the night, usually.

I feel like the moments are fleeting and I want to get as much out of time with him as possible. The time is flying and I don't want to miss a thing.

I could do a better job of taking time for myself and time for me & Jim. Balance is certainly necessary. The time I do have is often wasted or filled with to-dos that really could wait until later. Checklists litter the house. I'm now making checklists that REALLY matter and some that don't. Oh checklists...

As with any life-changing event, there are adjustments and kinks to work out. Mistakes to make and learn from. New habits to lose and to make. Growth and limitations. As I've said before, it's a steep learning curve. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Thanks for making me a mama, Ian!