Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Upward & Onward!!!

Whew! Buckle up... 
Lots of changes. Lots of happenings, visits, & events. Lots of love.

Once again, I'm combining two weeks into one post. Writing each of these posts is such a good way for me to document and remember the growth that can occur in just one week. As each new development occurs I try to write them down in my agenda, noting them for myself, but also for the blog and family near and far. Hopefully one day Ian will look back at these posts and enjoy learning and hearing about his first year of life (and more!). When I wait one extra week to write, I am shocked by how much can change during such a short amount of time. If I've learned anything during these last seven months it's that time is fleeting. I am trying to savor the small stuff, find joy in the challenges, and attempt to be present in each moment.

It's not too hard to do these three things because this little guy is so fun to be around!! Each day we learn just a little more about his personality.
We had some friends we met at birth class over for dinner and FINALLY got our little ones together. Thanks for coming over, Trisha & Kevan!! Never mind that it took us seven months... sheesh! Here is Jade, five days older than Ian, observing him play with his new toy cars. Quiet and gentle, Jade is a true sweetheart. Ian was the vocal one that afternoon/evening, squealing and loud, grabbing her hair and pulling. Both of them were fascinated by the other and happy to chew and suck on the toys together. 
Perhaps my favorite moment of the night was the one captured here. This was done all on their own, no prompting or staging. Promise. Isn't that just so sweet?! The cars and carrier truck pictured with the babies above was a Christmas gift from cousin Jef. We didn't use the gift card until just last month and we wanted to get wooden toys that would be able to grow with him. Thank you, Jef!!!
Ian has pretty much transitioned to two naps a day. It's amazing how much easier that is to manage in my head, as I move throughout the day. His naps have tended to be longer, each at least an hour and ten or twenty minutes. He never goes longer than about an hour and forty-five minutes. He wakes up very rested and ready to move! Occasionally he will take a third nap late in the day, but it's pretty rare.
The last two days he's gone to bed on the late side, around 8:30 or 9 PM, woken up twice in the night, and then awoken at 8:30 AM! Wooo! Three cheers for sleeping in!!! Prior to this little phase he was getting up at 6:30, so I'll celebrate this while I can, knowing full well that it won't last forever!
Someone likes a good campfire!!!
Aunt Erin came to visit us over her spring break!!! She's a teacher in Philadelphia, but chose to whisk her way down here to spend time with us. We were honored to be her destination. Grandpa joined her for the drive and to see Ian, of course.

Erin took every minute she could to explore with Ian, to play, and to share in his joy. Thanks for being such a wonderful, loving aunt, Erin! He's so fortunate to have you in his life.

We enjoyed visiting the horses, playing with Ian, campfires, and good conversations. Erin and I attempted to start a craft project, but we didn't get too far before Ian would wake up each time. Perhaps one day it'll get done and I'll share it here.

Ian loves watching the horses and getting a chance to pet them. But who doesn't enjoy horses, really? They are such spectacular creatures!

Here are a couple pictures of Grandpa, who lovingly observed and cheered for Ian during the entire visit. The second picture includes a cell phone with Gramee, cooing and sending her love to Ian. She sure wished she could be there, too. Only two more weeks!

While they were here, we let Ian hold the avocado peel on his own to feed himself. I am really trying to do baby-led weaning. Well, it was a HUGE mess. Which is exactly what it should be in baby-led weaning... a sensory, enjoyable mess. I got the "Mommy of the Year Award" when Ian swallowed the stem of the avocado (not the pit, the stem!). Yup, swallowed it. He seemed to be gagging on it, but then managed to swallow it before we could swipe it from his mouth. Well, two days later I was doing his cloth diaper laundry and I was moving the diapers from the washer to the dryer when something went pinging across the floor. Lo and behold, it was the avocado stem!! Safely through his body and out the other side. I'm ready to march across that stage and get my award... :(
I just love this picture of Ian and Aunt Erin. He's just really starting to rest his head... it makes sense because he his using a lot of energy!!! Thank you for the new outfits, Gramee & Grandpa!

Chillin' in his pajamas in the grass. Barlow style. 
We had a couple of days at home after our visitors returned to Pennsylvania when Papa was home. We tried to fill them with more time outside, and included a longggg nap in the stroller at the park, and good food.

One day last week Papa checked Ian's ears and discovered that one of them was irritated. We had a feeling he might not be feeling well. We decided to wait a day or two and it seems to have cleared up!

Ian's been very easy to get down to naps, lately. He's worn out and ready to nurse, rubbing his eyes, scratching his head, & placing his head on my shoulder (often) to signal it's time. The transfer to the crib is super easy, since he's ready be comfy and on his back.

For the first time ever, Ian fell asleep on the floor and took a nap. His head fell heavy on my leg and I stroked his head until he nodded off to sleep. Then I carefully slipped the alligator stuffed animal where my leg had been and snuck away to get a couple things done. He managed to take his entire nap!

Why is he so sleepy? Well, I think there are lots of reasons! The main reason is that he has hit some MAJOR milestones, as far as his movement is concerned. One day before our company came, I was putting something away in the bedroom (4 seconds tops) and I returned to find Ian standing, having pulled himself up on a chair!!! What?! I missed it! I exclaimed something and then had to rush to him because he was smiling so big and surprised by my voice- I was sure he'd topple right over. Since then, there's been no stopping him! More on that later in the post!

Friday we headed to my parents' home for a visit and got to see Uncle Willem, Äma, & Grumps.
 Saturday morning I felt and discovered his first tooth budding on the right side of his bottom jaw!! His tongue is doing a lot of playing with this new phenomenon and his fingers are taking much of the brunt of his chewing.

Other than visiting with my family, our main purpose that weekend was to attend the SCORE concert. SCORE stands for string, choral, Orff and recorder ensemble. My dad has directed The American Children of SCORE for the last 20 years and this was a concert to commemorate, remember, and celebrate those years. I was one of the original crew and it was fun to see old pictures and look back at old concerts and events from my childhood. It was a big weekend for my dad, as he prepares to take a little hiatus from SCORE. I was so happy to share this day with him. I've loved sharing SCORE with Jim over the years and then this concert with Ian.

The final song was "Let the Circle Be Unbroken" and it was powerful. The alumns joined SCORE and Dad asked that I bring Ian up with me. Well, the meaning of the song, combined with my love for SCORE music, and then also holding my son.... whew... I was a puddle of tears. Thank you for twenty years of beautiful, soul-warming music, SCORE & Dad!!!

And, at seven months, Ian made his first appearance on a stage!! He was a champ. He took it all in through observing and listening. Jim & I got to hear the entire concert AND I got to sing on stage... I wasn't sure how that would go!

Uncle Willem and Ian on stage. Pretty appropriate!

A professional photographer took a photo of our whole family (minus Pheebs) and I'll have to add that here when we get a copy.

The rest of the weekend, Ian was the star of the show. Grumps was able to kick back and relax a bit, debriefing the concert and feeling relieved that it went well.

Here are just a couple of guys kicking back in their pajamas, and relaxing over coffee and breakfast.

Note: Ian has Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle PJs. He's one cool dude (Thanks, Jana, for the awesome hand-me-downs!!)

Äma found a few special "toys" for Ian in the kitchen drawers, which kept him quite entertained during meals, while the rest of us ate, and playtimes. Here he is with the ice cream scoop!

Oh, the things this boy has conquered within just two weeks! He is pulling himself up on chairs, the couch, our fingers, our knees and into a stand. He's also walking himself along furniture and transferring himself to a new piece of furniture.

Those things would be enough, right? Wrong.
He is so incredibly proud of himself. We try to let him work through the obstacles on his own, problem-solving each step of the way, allowing for some frustration as he figures out how best to tackle his next feat. Sometimes he gets too frustrated and needs assistance, when something is beyond his ability, but often he'll work through the frustration and come out thrilled with himself! See the next picture. That smile.
So, so proud.

I love my mom's expressions in each photo, too. Her face mirrors that of his focus in the first one and his elation in the second one.

He's also started moving carefully from a sitting position, to all fours, and then back to the sitting position again. Sounds simple? When you've watched a baby try to figure it out for weeks, it's actually not so easy. Well, he's done it! It's extremely exciting, I'll tell you what. He's excited, but I think we're more excited than he is!

Ian met donkeys for the first time at Betsy's house! We stopped by there after the concert. Fortunately she owns docile donkeys who don't mind a little tugging on their lips and nostrils! Ian was absolutely fascinated. Perhaps we have a large animal vet on our hands. Thank you to Chris S. for the photo!!
We left Paris on Sunday, but not before we went on a beautiful hike up to the Paris View. We met lots of hikers and runners on the Appalachian Trail, who all had the same idea on this gorgeous day. Fortunately for us, it's just in the backyard!! Not a shabby place to grow up and another great thing to share with Ian.

 And another walk at home. I love how Ian took the handle of the backpack as reins!! No prompting.
 Welcome back, Spring!!

It's been a rainy couple of days since we've returned home, but we've tried to get outside when the precipitation has broken for a few minutes. Ian had fun watching the rain from inside. April showers bring May flowers, right?

And just when we thought he'd done a lot of development for two weeks, Ian started army-crawling today!!!!! He's been slowly moving himself forward to different things he really wanted, but today was the day he DEFINITELY conquered forward movements. He's quick. He'll cover five feet in no time, now. It's amazing. Truly!

It's so fun to see him pull with his arms and elbows and push from behind with his toes. He knows what he wants, this boy, and nothing's going to stop him now! Life is definitely changing for us! We have a boy on the move. As the Kathy Mattea song goes... "Life as we knew it ended today..."

Happy 31 & 32 weeks, baby boy!!!
You are so, so loved.
We'll try to keep up with you, sweet lad.

***The formatting in this post just about drove me crazy.
I apologize for how poorly the text wrap around the photos and for the odd spacings.
I'm honestly baffled.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Eggsellent" 7 Months!!

 Our little Easter bunny turned seven months old on Friday!!!

 We couldn't resist giving him his Easter basket a little bit early. And this mama couldn't choose just a couple pictures to share, so here are many (#sorryi'mnotsorry). A huge thank you to Becky & Mahlon (cousins in Oregon) for the adorable and snuggly bunny blanket! It's wonderful and I've been looking forward to using it for this shoot for months!! Also, thank you to Stacy for the fresh, farm eggs.

Ian, you are active, curious, and strong. You make tons of observations, every minute, with your eyes, hands and mouth, as seen in the pictures that follow. Always learning. Always searching. Always fascinated. We love watching you learn about the world.

This time, hardly any words will accompany the post. The pictures, as always, can really speak for themselves.

"So I says to the guy..." 

Happy seven months, sweet Ian!!!

You love: pulling yourself up to a stand by holding our hands, babbling A LOT (Bu-waba, most often), seeing Papa come in the door at the end of the day, reaching for our arms when we ask "Can I hold you?", when we sing songs or dance for you, Leif, emptying all of your toys out of the basket, playing in the grass and being outside, watching the horses, being tickled, playing with bottles from the recycling, smiling, laughing, grabbing your hair when tired, exploring, 
and knowing where we are at all times.

We just love being your parents.
Every holiday means so much more to us this year.

Happy Easter!