Sunday, December 16, 2007

Month 9: A Bad Morning

As a mom, I would like to think that I'll always have the right answer - the right words, the right reactions, the right amount of patience.

This morning I had none of that.

Being a parent is teaching me about new things - among them, the limits I didn't know I had. New amounts of love I didn't think possible, new abilities to wake up (willingly) at 3:00 a.m. if my beloved needs me, and new limitations on just how much "aaahhh!!!" I can take. Somehow, this last limitation took me nearly ten months to discover.

You're probably expecting a long list of all the bad stuff Daniel did this morning, or the one giant disaster he caused. But he was fine - in a good mood, even. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was my Nyquil hangover. But whatever the reason, this morning was a bad morning.

I guess I'm mostly surprised at how quickly that "I need to get out" feeling arose. Most days, it never happens. But this morning all it took was 30 minutes of feeling like ever other word out of my mouth was "Daniel, no..." as he managed to bee-line for the TV, the stack of DVDs, the one shaky table, and every other baby-hazard in the room. His energy level reached new heights and suddenly my patience reached new lows. For the first time I felt like I had no idea what to do with him. I couldn't make him laugh, he didn't seem to want to play with me, and I felt inadequate.

I snapped. I needed to get out, get away and get some fresh air. I got dressed, loaded Daniel into the car and headed for church. I checked Daniel into the nursery as he looked at me with "Mommy don't leave me" eyes. I left him anyway, and head to my office to catch up on work I missed while sick.

As soon as I sat down in my office, Sobfest 2007 began. Absolute breakdown. Tears, anger, the whole nine yards. Poor Fernando came and found me halfway through. The guilt of not knowing how to parent is overwhelming, and even worse is the feeling of Daniel not needing or wanting me. I think I cried for 45 minutes, not knowing even what about exactly.

I felt awful that I even needed a minute away from him - what kind of parent am I? I feel jealous when Fernando plays so well with him - wrestling and evoking uncontrollable laughter from Daniel, who rarely laughs that way with me. I feel hurt when Daniel pushes away from me, or wants me to put him down... then embarassed that I'd get upset at a baby for his actions.

After I ran out of tears, I went to pick up Daniel, who by some mistake was in the wrong classroom. He was a mess - hungry, tired, wet - and entirely needing his Mommy. And for that instant every wrong was righted - at that moment he needed me.

We drove home, and as I unload him from the car he curls up on my shoulder, sleepy and sweet. We change his diaper and cuddle under a warm blanket for a bottle before naptime. He's currently passed out, snoring quietly, with his rhino in one hand and a blanket wrapped around his legs. No doubt he's storing up for his next bout of energy while dreaming of a world where wall outlets aren't plugged. My little man.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Month 9: Before I Forget, Part III

This is, hands down, the most delightful stage we've encountered yet. If I could freeze time, and keep Daniel at this age for just a few more days or weeks, I would. Every day we seem to have more and more fun (and consequently, I have had less and less time for writing about how much fun we're having. I'm home sick today, which is the only reason I am taking time to write this one).

Before time flies all too quickly again, it's time for another installment of "before I forget" even though I know I've already forgotten things that should be on this list.

I never want to forget...

- How he loves straws... and learned to drink tiny sips from one.
- How he carefully picks up Cheerios one by one, somehow maneuvering them into his mouth.
- How much he loves bathtime, and loves standing and holding onto the faucet.
- How jerky and quick his crawling can be when he wants to get somewhere in a hurry.
- How his babbling evolves daily... the word du'jour is "bah-doo" over and over.
- How he entertains himself by standing, sitting, standing, sitting, standing, sitting...
- How he really WANTS to stand with no hands, but doesn't quite have the balance yet...
- How he loves veggie poofs so much that he shoves all of them in his mouth (using both hands) without chewing or swallowing.
- How when he's sick, he gets very affectionate, laying his head on our chest and shoulders.
- How he dies of excitement when we pick him up from daycare - first laughing then crying if we don't pick him up fast enough.
- How dining room table chairs are the best baby gates ever!
- How every church volunteer or daycare worker falls in love with him the second they meet him.
- How he has to have his rhino (Zona) or his turtle (Diego) to sleep.
- How he snores quietly when he falls asleep in his car seat.
- How he runs his fingers over our teeth and lips in complete fascination.
- How he monkey crawls sometimes... on his feet and hands.
- How when he's really congested, he'll blow "boogar bubbles". Ew!
- How he loves his little Santa hat, and will leave it on all day long.
- How his poop smells worse and worse every day! And yet we still celebrate when it happens.
- How his favorite snacks come right off the kitchen floor... before we can stop him.
- How it's absolutely impossible to keep him clean. Impossible.
- How quiet he is when he first wakes up - sleepy eyes and puffy face... just looking around the room.
- How banging his hands on doors and walls can amount to 30 minutes of entertainment!
- How he looks like a different boy every day - and my eyes have to re-study every detail.
- How my heart actually breaks with the unexpected amount of love I feel.

On a less nostalgic note, we are getting ready for Daniel's first plane trip, and I have to say, I'm terrified. He is not a "sit quietly in laps" type baby, but since he's under 2 years old, we didn't have to buy him his own ticket (to save $300-something bucks). I'm worried for those little ears during take-off and landing, and I'm worried for our sanity (and the sanity of those around us). It's an evening flight (two flights, actually) and I'm sure Daniel will be sleepy and fussy. I know we'll all survive those few hours, but I'm still nervous.

Anyway. He'll be ten months soon, and then a year before I know it. I cannot believe how quickly it's going, or how much fun it is! Those first few weeks were rough (I'm not gonna lie...) but everything afterwards has more than made up for it! Here's to a successful flight(s) and a fun Christmas family get together!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Month 8: The Disease Called "Daycare"

Yes, Daniel has it. The disease called "daycare". It's a tricky disease, taking on new symptoms every other day. And apparently it lasts for months.

Finally tired of responding to "How's Daniel doing?" with "Not so great...", we took Daniel into the doctor's office today. His seemingly endless two month run of being under the weather included everything from spiking fevers to crazy long naps to projectile vomiting (more on that in a minute). The doctor listened patiently as I recited all the symptoms, and then he said "You're not going to like what I have to say" followed by a little speech on how Daniel most likely will be this way, on and off, until Spring.

I'm not surprised - I had half expected the "daycare" speech. It's funny how something that does so much good can also do harm - but on the flip side, the doc said that if he has a rough winter this year, next year's will be easy and uneventful (in the good way).

Back to the projectile vomiting... I have always read that you know your baby is vomiting (not just spitting up) when they eject the entire contents of their stomach. And I always thought, "How do you know what's the entire contents?"

On Sunday, I discovered the answer: You just know. No question. He drank a few ounces... sat up... got a strange look on his face... and BOOM! All over every piece of bedding we own. That stuff probably got 8 - 10 inches of horizontal air before gravity took it's toll. In one of my finer moments, I yelled "Holy crap!" and leaped off the bed, stripping Daniel, my bed, and myself all at the same time.

In other equally messy news, we got Daniel a high chair. One of those very functional $20 IKEA models... and it's fantastic. He does great in it, and it seems to encourage less-distracted eating than our other attempts at improv-chairs. He's doing much better with solids, and now loves to eat strips of toast and fruit along with his baby food.

He's crawling all over the place, and standing everywhere too (usually using the wobbliest chair he can find as support). We lovingly refer to him as "destructo" but I know we're in for much much worse as he learns to walk and (heaven forbid) run.

On a closing note, Daniel has never lacked for attention anywhere he's been. At home, he's adored. With extended family, he's revered. At daycare, he's treated very very well. But this last week I realized just how much he's fawned over at our church nursery on the weekends. We had a small weekday event where he was the only baby in the infant room, and instead of going home early, four nursery workers all stayed just to play with him. To take turns literally passing him around. The same thing happened one early service last Sunday, and four (different) volunteers came in the infant room to dote on him. When we arrive to the nursery, he's greeted with choruses of "It's Daniel!" "Hello my Danielson!" "He's here!!" Sometimes, they say hi to me too.

It's funny, but it makes me breathe easier to know that mine is the baby they love - not the one they dread. To know that it makes their day that much better when Daniel is in it. I jokingly call them his "weekend mommies" - not that I want to be replaced, but I love knowing that Daniel gets the most possible love all the time ... even when I can't be there.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Month 8: New Shoes & Those Magic Words

It is an electrifying and terrifying moment to see your baby stand up by himself for the first time. Your pulse quickens, your breath stops, and your mind races ahead to the mounds of baby-proofing you have yet to accomplish.

Daniel has always been exceptionally strong for his age, starting with his crazy head control the night he was born. So I shouldn't be surprised to see him achieve developmental milestones at the speed of light, but I can't help it. I laid him down in his crib for a nap (which he apparently wasn't ready for), he sat up and smiled and me, letting out this funny little chuckle, and began the climb. He grabs the bars, and kind of hoisted his bootie up to a kneeling position. Then one leg... then the other... and suddenly my baby was standing on his own two feet, obviously pleased with himself. Within minutes he was jumping, bouncing, doing the one-arm swing, and working his way around the crib interior, from bar to bar.

In honor of his new accomplishment, we picked up a few new pair of shoes at Wal-Mart (gotta love those $9 specials!). He now sports little white sneakers wherever we go, and is doing great about keeping them on. (The other pair of shoes was a pair of yellow work boots for his Halloween get-up. He was a lumberjack, complete with a red flannel shirt, red hat, homemade foil axe and a beard made with Mommy's mascara.)

In other news, Daniel finally transitioned from his all-encompassing word for everything: "da-da", to the sweet little syllables I have been waiting eight months for: "ma-ma". It happened this week - Wednesday - at 5:11 p.m. (not that it changed my life or anything). His voice has never sounded sweeter. Since then he's been using it more and more, and only when I'm around or when he's looking for me. If he's not there already, I think he's close to using words with intentionality. (All that said, there's no question that he still prefers saying "da-da" - lately, he's been using it to test the limits of his little vocal chords.)

That perfect little man just gets more perfect everyday.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Month 8: Sick & Loving It

That pesky little ER incident from last month (and the last posting) revealed a virus that didn't exactly stay in San Diego. While the hospital treatments did help for that week, Daniel's persistent "flu" didn't get any better. In fact, 3 and a half weeks later, it was worse: constant coughing, green sinus stuff, and a general feeling that he was just not himself. We finally took him in, and they prescribed an antibiotic for a sinus infection, and lots of rest and fluids.

Four days into the antibiotics and things took a turn for the worse - suddenly he was burning up, and the fever got worse throughout the night, spiking at 103.8, and tapering off over the next few days (during which he decided it would be fun to reject all food and drink. Our best guess is that it was a really sore throat, so it hurt to swallow. So he didn't - and the amount of drool was insane).

Let all that (kind of boring) information serve as the foundation for my main point: I love it when Daniel is sick.

Don't get me wrong - it's tough to watch him suffer, and I just want to "fix it" when anything is wrong. I'll probably be that mom who bullies the bully who picks on my son. But when Daniel doesn't feel 100%, a whole new side of him comes out: an affectionate, cuddly side. He's a very physical kid normally, but isn't usually prone to sitting still in laps, giving long hugs, or cuddling for extended periods of time.

Sick Daniel is a whole other animal. The night his fever spiked, Daniel slept in bed with me. We decided before he was born that he'd only sleep in his own room, and so far he has. (And for the record, I completely believe that it has helped him sleep through the night from early on). But a piece of me has always wanted him curled up next to me every night, even knowing I wouldn't sleep a wink.

That night, he was just so miserable, and burning up from the fever, I just couldn't bear for him to be in a different room. So we laid down for a quick nap in the bed, and just stayed there. He was cuddly, and sweet. He put his little forehead on mine, and slowly babbled himself to sleep. Some of my all-time favorite Daniel memories happened that night, and I uncovered a deeply maternal, nurturing piece of me that hadn't surfaced up until that point. (And wonderful Fernando slept on the couch, leaving room for a giant body pillow that prevented Daniel from rolling off the side of the bed :).

Daniel is feeling better, which is great, and some of that affection stuck around. He's giving longer hugs (and at this point, his version of a hug is flopping over on your shoulder while you hug HIM!) and he's more insistent on being physically close to us. Crawling into the kitchen (on our un-mopped floors) while we're cooking, or following our voices into another room.

He's also back in his own crib, which I know is the healthiest decision for all of us. But the next time he wakes up with a bad fever, I'll probably convert to attachment-style parenting... but just for the night. :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Month 7: Shamu, Road Trips & Steroids

Ah, vacation. We recently returned from our first family vacation since Daniel was born (I suppose last October's Chicago trip could count as his first vacation, but he didn't have much of a skyline view from inside my belly).

It was an adventure, to say the least. He bonded with his car seat (and did great on the long drives), was fascinated by all the creatures at Sea World (he seemed to prefer Shamu, but hey - who doesn't!?), and got to stick his little toes in the ocean sand for the first time. Fernando's parents joined us - and Daniel loved every minute of having his "Mema & Papa" along for the ride.

Just before we left, we learned Daniel had been exposed to RSV at his preschool (nasty respiratory infectious thingy) which kind of freaked us out about his already bad cold. So a quick trip to urgent care (that proved completely useless) and we decided to go ahead and go on vacation. Two days into the trip, 3 a.m. strikes and we all wake up to extremely scary noises from Daniel's room - poor kid just couldn't breathe right and was choking on all the junk in his airways. Thankfully there was a great Children's Hospital less than 5 minutes from our beach house. Seven hours later, he had been suctioned by this crazy machine that clears out your sinuses and had been given steriods to open his little throat back up. He was happy, we were happy. We celebrated at IHOP.

What struck me most on this trip was his rate of change. I think I mention how fast he's growing up in every posting ... you probably are sick of reading it, because I'm sick of writing it. But last week, seeing him all day every day, it was absolutely out of control. One minute he couldn't clap, the next minute he could clap, and would do so with glee whenever anyone said "Bravo!" One hour he couldn't pronounce certain syllables, and the next he happily named the Cubs hat, his favorite stuffed toy, and Fernando as "di-da!"

He has also grown quite attached to stuffed animals. Against all rules in the parenting manual (What? You didn't get a copy?) we now put all kinds of things in his crib at night. Blanket, stuffed toy attached to his pacifier, a few other stuffed animals (namely, "Tex" his long-horn steer, "Osito" his bear, "Diego" the turtle and "Zona" the rhino). And he loves them all. If you sneak in an hour after he's falled asleep, the kid is somehow holding on to or at least touching every single one of them.

I could write forever about the vacation details, but I'll spare you. Suffice it to say that we had an amazing time. We all re-fell in love with each other, took time to enjoy the little things - a rousing round of chinese checkers, a little wooden roller coaster, or just the shade of a really big tree - and have set the bar so incredibly high for family vacations that I'm kind of scared to start planning the next one. :)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Month 7: Picking Up Speed

And I'm not kidding. The first 6 months were a casual walk in the park compared to the incredible rate of development Daniel seems to exhibit daily. Hourly. Minutely.

I guess the biggest change is his energy level - he is absolutely all over the place, all the time. (And that's even without the "official" crawl...) But there has been a dramatic change in his willingness to "sit still" over the past few weeks. It's not a bad thing - it's tons of fun, and he's so strong and coordinated, he can do all kinds of fun games. But I will admit that restaurants are becoming a little more difficult. And bath time. And Mommy's nap time. :)

The army crawl is upon us - it's hilarious, and pretty efficient - but definitely not the graceful knees & hands thing I know is right around the corner. Up until now he's done a pretty amazing job of barrel-rolling to get from place to place. The day he got really good at it, he barrel-rolled right into a coffee table leg and had a big red line that went from his forehead down his nose and onto his chin.

He's also become very aware of us being in the room - if we leave, he expresses his displeasure. The same thing with being held - he's a little monkey, and monkeys want to play up in the air, not on the ground with toys. It's a strange dichotomy - I LOVE it when he cries for me, or reaches for me, or throws himself around my ankle so I can't walk away. No question there. But I also don't want him to be spoiled, so I know I can't indulge every little whine. (But while I attempt not to indulge him, I can secretly feel needed and loved, right? :)

Daniel enjoyed a two-week visit from his Gramma from Texas - lots of play time in the park, on the living room floor, and out and about town. Including a 4-hour visit to the local Urgent Care when Gramma broke her little pinkie toe. Not fun at all, but we all still worked in as much (immobile) bonding time as possible for the time we had together. It's always fun for us newbie parents to watch an experienced parent in action. My mom knew all the tricks of the trade - how to make "homemade" toys of empty crystal light containers, some packing tape and a bouncy ball: the result? A toy that Daniel MUCH preferred over his store-bought items. She showed us the miracles of straws in restaraunts (it's like feeding iced tea to a little bird!) and the 20 minutes of entertainment a simple spoon will provide.

Next week we're headed out to San Diego for our first family vacation since Daniel's birth - I'm excited and a little apprehensive about traveling with him, but he's such a good baby that I think we'll be fine. We rented a big beach house for the week - about 10 steps from the ocean, and on the other side of the house, about 15 steps from the bay. Not a bad set up at all :)

Stay tuned for the inevitable adventures to come...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Month 7: Ingestion Update

(Sorry, but that's the most creative title I could think up for: "Here's what Daniel's been eating lately"...) Starting just after he turned six months, we dove into the brand new world of baby food. A little scary, a lot messy, and a ton of fun.

As of now, Daniel's breakfast is a small bottle along with oatmeal & prunes - which he eats in man-sized portions. Lunch #1 is fruit & a bottle and lunch #2 is a different fruit (or vegetable) and a bottle. Dinner is brown rice and a vegetable, followed by a bath, followed by a bedtime bottle. Snacks along the way include little sweet potato puffs or a small bite of whatever fruit Mommy is snacking on.

As for preferences, we started out ok with green beans, but by the end of that week he turned up that cute little nose to those poor beans. Peas were an ABSOLUTE no, but the rest were great - carrots, squash and sweet potatoes. He got a little stomach bug during the carrots week, and he pooped watery orange for quite a few days. (The really bad part of that story is he gave me that bug, and all I could stomach was blue gatorade. You can imagine how colorful my trips to the bathroom were...)

In other non-nutritive news, his vocal skills are becoming entirely amusing. He's definitely doing more immitation - number of syllables and type of sound. He seems to pick a particular sound for a day or two and just practice non-stop. "Mah" "Dah" "Ba" - that's his recent favorite. I actually think he may be using it with meaning: "Ba-ba" for bottle... it's not every time, but frequently when he's hungry, he'll cry/whine "baaaa - baaaaa". Pretty cute.

Personally, my favorite types of conversations with him are the non-verbal ones. Take for example - the raspberry conversation. This intellectually stimulating encounter consists of Daniel blowing a raspberry for a few seconds, then the second party following suit. Then Daniel. Then the second party. It can last as long as twenty minutes ... something I don't think the adult tongue was meant to do, as mine is usually numb after these conversations.

Daniel's recent favorite is a fake cough conversation - back and forth, back and forth. I think he learned the fake cough from a little girl in his preschool class (definitely not as bad as the fake scream he learned from a different little girl). The fake coughing usually leads to real coughing though, so it's not quite as much fun as the raspberries.

All sore throats aside, I will never forget the first time we had a "cough" chat - in the bathtub, about to get out, and Daniel fake coughed. I replied. He looked up at me and giggled. He coughed. I coughed. He laughed outloud, and put his little hand on my cheek. I think we coughed and laughed for a good ten minutes, soaking wet and naked in the lukewarm tub water. It was one of those "oh please let time stop RIGHT NOW so I can never leave this moment" moments.

(Also one of those "better remember this forever cause there's NO WAY we're taking a picture of this moment" moments :).

As a closing note, I believe I forgot to mention that Daniel's third and fourth teeth arrived - together, top and center. I thought he couldn't get any cuter - but I was wrong - he's hilariously ferocious with four teeth, and that much more determined to stick things in his mouth.

The difference is that before, he'd just kind of suck on whatever was in his mouth - now he bites. Hard. We need to invest in a little "warning" sign and mount it to his chin. Just in case people have never seen a four-toothed monkey before.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Month 6: No Sibling For You!

There is nothing more fun than watching a baby try to figure out the solution to a problem. Not just blindly stab at a guess, but really think through it.

Having already mastered the art of rolling from his back to his front, yestereday Daniel set out to overcome the next obstacle: rolling from his front to his back. Easier said than done, by the way. He apparently had done it in his sleep the night before (we put him down on his back, Fernando snuck in at 2 am and saw him on his tummy, and I found him on his back at 8 am). But doing it intentionally, while awake, was a whole other challenge.

First, he would attempt to turn his torso. Arms would stay in the same position, and he'd just rotate that little butt as far as it would go. First one direction, then the next. No luck. Then the legs were the next attempt. He'd swing the left leg as far to the right as he could, and vice versa. No luck. Then the winning ticket: that giant noggin of his. (Whoever said that your weakest point can't work in your advantage never saw a baby flip over).

He figured out that it's all about the head. First, he'd suddenly drop his head onto the ground, looking left or right. This usually was accompanied by the butt twist. Then he'd try the other direction. The problem was his little arms, that acted like a kickstand on a bike. Acting confused that the sudden head drop did nothing, he stared at each arm for a minute. Then, in a stroke of genius, he threw his head again, but this time, over the weight-bearing arm. In slow motion, the momentum of his oversized cranium slowly lead the rest of his body and he landed on his back (in a fit of giggles, of course).

The rest of the day was filled with rolling practice. He looked like a dog that someone was training to "lay down!" or "play dead!" with all that head dropping. It was priceless.

The past two days have been fairly eventful overall - our air conditioning unit bit the dust, and we had to pack up a few bags and escape with out lives (we do live in Phoenix, after all). The result was Daniel sleeping in his pack-n-play all night for the first time. We were skeptical, but he came through like a champ - 12.5 uninterrupted hours of sleep. Out of town vacations, here we come!

The downside of yesterday was last night, when for no apparent reason, Daniel decided he wanted Mommy & Daddy's company at 9 pm, 1 am, 3 am, 4 am, and 5 am. And he wanted to scream the whole time. We had no idea what happened (still don't know) but it was utterly exhausting. We tried everything in the book, and the only thing that put him to sleep each time was rocking him in a specific position. We all woke up at 8:30 this morning - Fernando and I feeling like zombies, and Daniel in a dandy mood.

It was a blast from the (not so distant) past ... just six months ago, that was our nightly sleep routine ... and the nightmare of it all came rushing back in a torrent. This morning, I had a nice little chat with Daniel about how I wasn't angry with him, but that every action has a consequence. I let him know that his actions last night might very well have cost him a future sibling - that Mommy and Daddy just couldn't go through that again! I'm sure he understood every word, as he contentedly sucked away on his morning bottle.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Month 6: A Goatee of Prunes

That's right, folks. It's food time. Not this measly formula concoction they call food. But REAL food - in a bowl, with a spoon, all over the face. Yup - those days have officially begun.

Breakfast is a delicious puree of prunes & rice cereal. Not for the faint-of-heart... Fernando nearly lost his lunch when he tried a bite. But Daniel is a brave boy with adventure in his heart - he loved every bite. In fact, he cried if we didn't get the second spoonful to him fast enough.

A few times, he grabbed the spoon from us and attempted to feed himself (from both ends of the spoon) and giving up on that method, he grabbed the bowl by the sides, and attempted to "drink" the food as if from a cup. Smart cookie. And a smart handsome cookie when we created a goatee of prunes on his little face. (And you think he looks like Fernando NOW! You should see him with a purple beard!)

The photos from that first feeding session reveal what rookies we are as parents. It's like one of those games: "Can you find everything that's wrong with this picture?" 1) No bib. Lesson learned. 2) Glass bowl = completely unthrowable, and not baby teeth friendly when you child decides to suck the rim of the bowl. 3) No high-chair. We just put him in a toy that has a tray in front, and toys off to the sides. The toys are a little distracting, and dried prune mush is pretty hard to get off of baby dinosaur eggs and plastic palm fronds.

Lunch & dinner are green beans - which smell way better than the prunes, but still had that same pesky gag-reflex effect on Fernando. (Further evidence to back up my theory on the paternal compulsion to try everything their kids try. Reference Appendix A: My previous post called "Month 4: Teethies & Guinea Pigs" ... you can guess which half of that title applies).

At any rate, it's all going well. Daniel's still taking bottles, but hasn't been finishing them. Which I suppose means he's filling up on food. After another week of green beans, we move on to the next green veggie. The photo ops never end!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Month 6: When Life Gives You Lemons...

Having a baby is limiting in many ways - especially in the way of having a social life that includes more than your immediate family. Last Sunday, we decided to test out our "adult friends in a public setting" capacities, and we took Daniel to his first real restaurant outing. (By "real" I mean that he didn't sleep all the way through it).

He was a big hit - and actually ended up being quite the life of the party. He was interactive, smiley, energetic, and mildly destructive throughout the whole meal. Near the end, having run out of small talk, we decided to try the ole "give the baby a lemon and laugh at the reaction" trick. So, we found an unused lemon wedge and stuck it in his mouth. Nine grown adults, all on the edge of their seats to see this sour-faced reaction. We held our breath. Daniel's eyes went wide... he grabbed the lemon with both hands... and started sucking.

That's right. My son loves lemons. He sucked the juice right out, and continued to knaw on the rind. Insane! And hilarious. It was a tart one too - we checked to make sure it wasn't an orange or sweet lime by accident. Lemons are now on our grocery list for our next trip to Fry's. That trick is just too good NOT to repeat.

Not everything this month has been that enjoyable - Daniel got his first (big) cold. Poor little guy could hardly breathe, and even had trouble falling asleep. The magic boogar-sucking-blue-ball only does so much, and the only relief he ended up finding was with some baby Vicks on his chest and under his nose. On the up side, when he's this congested, some of his vocalizations sound INSANELY like Chewbaca. (Maybe it makes us bad parents, but every time Daniel did it, we just died laughing.)

We saw the doctor a few days ago for the routine shots and check-up. All is well - Daniel is still above the 95th percentile for all categories: Weight (22 pounds, 5 ounces), Length (28.5 inches), Head Circumference (18 inches). The doctor said he's doing exceptionally well in all areas, and he has no concerns. (Except that Daniel's slacker parents need to get their booties in gear and buy their son a new car seat... he outgrew his a month ago...)

The fun isn't over yet - we start solid foods in a few days (once his cold has completely cleared). Rice cereal & prunes for breakfast, and green beans for lunch and dinner. Lucky kid. Could have been peas.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Month 6: Tummy Time & Big Pictures

You know how at every birthday someone always asks, "So, do you feel older?" Well, 3 days into his sixth month, Daniel most definitely feels older.

The past two mornings I have discovered him fast asleep on his stomach (after having put him down on his back). Might sound like a small deal, but it's actually pretty monumental for a kid who hated tummy time more than I hate split pea soup. Which is a lot. He now can turn over by himself, from back to stomach, and loves showing off his new trick. He also sits very well, but tends to lurch forward in an attempt to get onto his stomach. (Who IS this child?!)

He seems to cry less and less - but just expresses himself differently during fussy times by whining, and muttering the same syllable over and over. Recently, it's either "mah" "da" or "bah". So cute and pathetic at the same time.

I realized that I end up giving a lot of specific information in this blog without the "big picture" kind of stuff. So here's a paragraph of "big picture" items. He loves the jumparoo - and spends quite a bit of time in it each day (and jumps incredibly high). He adores fake flowers. And by adore, I mean he bursts out into laughter/giddy smiles whenever he sees one. (Remind me to tell you about the forbidden orchid in the hallway sometime). Baths are fun - I have been just getting in the tub and having Fernando hand me Daniel. There's just more room for him to splash and play, and it's safer than the shower. Bedtimes are easy - a bath, a quick massage, and a bottle are enough to knock him out nightly, and keep him out for around 11.5 - 12.5 hours a night. He loves smiling and laughing - and does it most of the day. Even if he's smiling at nothing, or at a passing cat, he seems happy to be happy. We can make him laugh easily by making funny faces, or dancing around like lunatics. The best is when he's looking over your shoulder and thinks he's being "chased" by the person walking behind you. Guaranteed laughs and usually shrieks of joy too.

Anyway. Month 6 has barely begun and already it's the best one yet!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Month 5: Applesauce and Balance

This month is proving to be a big one for Daniel - lots of new skills each day. He's now sitting unassisted - and he even flew right past the "try to balance" stage right into the "what can I grab now?" stage. I have since discovered that my house is 0% baby-proof.

It's crazy to see this little baby evolve into a functional human being. He's interested in the world, interested in the people around him, and tries to communicate with a charming series of syllables and high-pitched squeals.

He's not technically starting solid foods until he turns 6 months, but Daniel's mommy seems to have a slight tendency to put new foods in his mouth to watch the reaction. Daniel's daddy isn't so happy about this (who knew that I would be the rebellious parent?!). But I think Daniel's daddy is starting to come around - this morning, he gave Daniel his first spoonful of real food. It happened to be applesauce.

Maybe it's all babies at this stage, but Daniel is entirely interested in eating. He watches us like a hawk if we're eating dinner in front of him. Every forkful of food - every sip of drink. He reaches for it, if at all possible. It's probably my fault - I keep putting new things in his mouth - pieces of fruit, different drinks, even bacon... I know what you're thinking, but you should have SEEN the look on his face! We even tried out having him drink from a regular cup - it was more like a cat lapping up water than a person drinking, but now he's fascinated with cups and wants to try drinking from every cup he sees.

The only downside to this month has been the pooping issue... constipation is entirely more uncomfortable as a baby than an adult, it seems. Poor little guy has struggled all month, and we're now giving him apple juice, mylicon AND karo syrup daily to try to help things out. His next appointment is just a week away, where we will be looking for some more concrete answers (no pun intended).

Everyone told me it would be this way, but I really have loved every passing day more and more. Each stage is more fun than the previous one. His affection for us grows daily, and having that love reciprocated is the most rewarding feeling I have ever felt!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Month 5: Our Little Man

What's crazy is how every day (heck - every hour) he looks more grown-up. Something about his eyes... and his smile... make Daniel look more like a little first grader than a baby. He's so intelligent, so curious - those little hands run over and over any new object we give him to explore. Some of his favorites are Daddy's beard, the cat's fluffy tail, and his own hair.

I did this a few months ago, but I think it's once again time for a "before I forget" list. Time is flying by at warp speed, and if I don't take just a few minutes to document some of these moments, they'll be gone forever.

I want to remember...

- How he ever so gently traces my hand with his fingers.
- How waltzing or doing the polka makes him laugh really hard.
- How his eyebrows can change his expression 80 times a minutes.
- How when he's tired, he cries while still jumping in the jumparoo.
- How he thumps his legs in his crib for fun.
- That little ratty bald spot, and the almost-dread.
- The feeling of joy and celebration we feel when he poops.
- The look of recognition on his face when we walk into daycare to get him.
- His startled face when the wind ruffles his hair.
- How he loves to be startled - he is going to love roller coasters and scary movies.
- His dramatic fake cough - and that heavy breathing!
- How he makes the craziest faces - and his lips disappear.
- How I cry whenever I think of him growing up.
- How his little legs & feet move when he's taking a bottle.
- How he pulls leaves off of trees and tries to eat them...
- How much he loves playing in the new sheets on our bed.
- How he blows raspberries with his tongue all day long.
- How he's fascinated with the cats, and just watching them move makes him giggle.
- How he reaches out with both hands to touch my face, and smiles at me.

There are so many more. The desire to stop time and capture this moment is so strong - and so sad. I love that little man so much - I can't imagine loving him more, and yet I know that's what the future holds.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Month 4: Teethies & Guinea Pigs

Yes, you read that right. Teethies. Daniel grew a tooth last Thursday - July 12th. And not wanting to feel excluded, tooth #2 made an appearance within 48 hours of tooth #1. Fashionably late.

It does explain all the drool and the constant chewing on his fingers (and our hands, and our shirts, and anything else close by).

But aside from the novelty of the whole thing, the teething process isn't so much fun. He's been flushed and feverish since Thursday afternoon, and congested beyond belief. It's difficult-to-impossible to take a bottle or pacifier and breathe through his nose. But after a quick (and probably unnecessary) doctor's visit, he's sleeping better on an elevated mattress and with his new humidifier.

And looking on the bright side, the combination of whimpers and him feeling his teeth with his tongue result in a sound that's remarkably similar to "Ma Ma". :)

The other half of this posting's title is in reference to Daniel's sweet loving and absolutely hilarious father. Yesterday he commented that what he's learned about parenting is that it means "Daddy buying a whole lot of completely unnecessary items" for Daniel. Like today, when we showed up at the doctor's office with a handful of possible remedies (only one of which was approved for use).

Being a father also (apparently) means experiencing all kinds of new things... and I don't mean emotions or feelings. I mean new things. Like baby formula. And breast milk. And Baby Oragel. (Just a warning... the tiniest dab of that stuff will completely numb your gum and tongue instantly.) Why does he feel compelled to try this stuff? I think it's because he's a very involved dad who wants to experience whatever his son is experiencing. It's empathy. Kindness. Love.

And it's completely hilarious to the spouse to gets to watch it all take place :)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Month 4: In the Blink of an Eye

This week, I was a single parent. Fernando went to Kids Camp to lead worship, and had to be gone from Sunday - Thursday night. It might not seem like a long time, but for the Dad who can't see his kid for 5 days (and for the Mom who's on her own at home) it IS a long time.

So, in the spirit of taking away something positive from this week, here are the lessons we learned over the past seven days:

1) I am not made to be a stay at home mom. Period. I love my son, and I love spending time with him. But right around the third nap of the day mark, I start going stir crazy.

2) 4-month-olds change immensely in five days. This can be shocking to the parent who is gone for those five days. Babies are able (as demonstrated by my son) to outgrow clothing within five days, change diaper sizes, learn new tricks, learn to make new sounds (he has discovered his inner motor & bubble machine - the spit showers just don't stop...) and grow long hair (again). All in five days.

3) While I could probably survive as a single mother, I NEVER want to. I would miss the help, the support, the love, and even the body taking up half of the bed :)

4) Daniel sleeps through fireworks. I don't understand how, but he didn't budge when those gunshot-sounding explosions starting happening outside. His first encounter with fireworks was the same - he was only 6-weeks-old at our Easter service. They were LOUD. Come to think of it, most loud noises don't bug him. On Monday, I hit the panic button on the van keys. He didn't even blink - stayed sound asleep. Thirty minutes later, his aunt Keila sneezed and it scared him and made him cry. I don't know if that's selective hearing or some magic power.

That's about all I can think of at this point. And after that initial "re-adjustment" period, we're just all happy to be re-united. It's been a loooong week, and we're looking forward to not doing that again until this time next year!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Month 4: Old Car Seats & New Bouncy Seats

Daniel's 4 month appointment was today - I can't believe he's already this old. Just a warning - this posting is going to be all kinds of boring updates, so if you aren't all that into babies (or Daniel), then you probably won't be enthralled.

Everything looked great - the doctor kept saying how healthy he looked. Apparently 4 month olds usually don't sleep 12 hours at night (we're not complaining) and they usually aren't over 20 pounds (but Daniel weighed in at 20lbs 4oz.) The funny part is that the doctor said it was great that he's so big, but he couldn't figure out how he got that big based on his formula intake - 7 oz, 4-5 times a day. He kept saying "That's it? That's all?" I told him we tried to give him more, but he wouldn't take it. Anyway - Daniel is officially 95th percentile for length (27 in.) and weight. I'm just glad he's back on the charts :)

I have heard lots of parents say that their babies act differently for the doctor than they do at home. A sick baby will have no trace of a fever, or a fussy baby will be all smiles. And, it's true. One of my concerns for the doctor was that Daniel still hates tummy time, and usually cries through it, with his little face planted in the carpet. So, to demonstrate, I put Daniel on his belly on the table, sure that he'd do his usual thing. What happened next was a miracle. He pushed up with his arms and held his head higher than ever before, looking around the room. I'm convinced that Daniel learned to hold his head up right then and there, on the doctor's table, because when we got home, we tried it again, and he did the same thing - even smiling and laughing for a few minutes. Incredible.

Our usually sweet, smiley, no-fussy baby decided to exercise his little lungs right in the middle of the appointment. We had given him tylenol ahead of time to counteract the fever caused by the shots, so I think he was extra tired. He started wailing in the middle of the appointment and didnt stop for at least 20 minutes, until he exhausted himself and fell asleep on my shoulder. The doctor wasn't even slightly phased - and even laughed at our confusion. He said "He's not usually like this?" and chuckled under his breath in that "they don't know how good they've got it" kind of way.

All in all, it went well. Daniel did great with the shots (and by great I mean "screamed his head off and turned beet red"), and is napping lots today - probably from all that tylenol. We even enjoyed a little family nap today in our bed - those are the best.

A few "four month" side notes - he has fallen madly in love with: 1) the bouncy seat (with such enthusiastic bouncing that his knees hit the ground and parts fall off the chair), 2) his own voice (read: high pitch squeals and mini-screams at anything that tickles his fancy) and 3) his tongue. I know I said this before, but seriously, the kid forgets to put it back in his mouth.

So, steady as she goes - Daniel seems to be doing super well for his age. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to do a little research on car seats - our 95th percentile son has managed to out grow his infant one already.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Week 16: Ode to Dad

I'm horrible with remembering holidays, but I have managed to remember that Father's Day is this week. And with it comes the realization that I'm long overdue in acknowledging the better half of our parenting team: my amazing husband.

Daniel has been blessed with the most compassionate, tender, natural father I have ever seen. Which is a good thing, because Daniel's mother has a lot to learn in the area of parenting. Lessons she's mainly learning from watching Daniel's dad in action. And I'm not kidding, in case you thought that clever self-deprication was a stylistic tool. God knew what he was doing when he put us together - that poor kid wouldn't last a day on my watch :)

Watching Fernando with Daniel constantly reminds me of what it takes to be a good parent. He is endlessly inventive, and can make nothing at all tons of fun. He is resourceful with whatever is handy - I have seen him hold Daniel's attention for a solid 30 minutes by doing nothing but moving his hand into different shapes. Once, a full 20 minutes was spent wearing the child as a hat. Yes, a hat. He is impossibly patient - when I can't take another minute of Daniel's mystery cries, Fernando takes him and manages to calm down both baby and Mommy within minutes.

He is the ultimate protector - I used to think it was quirky how he keeps a bat next to the bed - now I know it's just the tip of the iceburg. When we compare dreams in the morning, I tell of abstract scenarios involving a castle, a rhinocerous and a jar of miracle whip. He tells of saving me from an avalanche, or rescuing Daniel from kidnappers.

I grew up with an amazing father - better than any child could ask for. And when I look in the mirror and see him in me, I'm proud to be related to him. I can tell already that Daniel is going to look a lot like his Daddy - and I couldn't be happier about it. But I'm even happier knowing that Daniel will be raised under the guidance of such a strong, Godly, wise, loving man. Happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Week 15: Growing WAY Faster Than a Weed

Today was a big day in Daniel list of "firsts" - a day of import in the life of any fashionable young infant: his First Haircut! Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the actual process, since one of us had to give Daniel a bottle while the other trimmed his hair... the only way he'd hold still long enough for us to feel safe with scissors by his head. (Come to think of it, that's how we do everything... trimming nails, fishing for boogars, administering medicine... he's at his calmest while eating!)

All in all, the haircut came out great (thankfully) and it's nice to see more of him again. So much was hidden under all that over-the-ears hair :)

And as the title of this posting indicates, he is growing faster than ever. He is going to be a very tall man, I think - and very strong. He is supporting his whole weight as we help him stand, and has very powerful legs. And of course, boundless energy. His sleep habits are insane too - he's going nearly 12 hours a night now, and sometimes I still have to wake him up in the morning so we're not late for work!

His bodily functions are going strong - but are increasing in intensity. Just today, he managed to spit up IN the hair dryer and poop on the living room floor. (And in his bouncy, and all over Mommy and Daddy...) And for future reference, the pet stain cleaner works great on baby poop - I guess it's all pretty much the same stuff.

Anyway. In spite of that last paragraph, life is amazing - more fun each day, actually, as Daniel is becoming a much more interactive little person, able to respond to the world around him!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Week 14: Ten Little Prizes

Sometimes it's unreal how quickly Daniel changes. Fernando jokes that he becomes a new kid overnight - always keeping us on our toes just when we think we've got something figured out.

Here are just a few of the new things we've noticed this week :

On Sunday, he found his feet - and let me tell you - he's crazy about them! As soon as we lay him on his back, he grabs his toes and doesn't let go. We sat him in the Bumbo chair, and he spent a good 10 minutes just watching his toes curl and uncurl. He takes longer to fall asleep because he's distracted by the fun attached to his feet. (This week's picture was snapped right after we poked his mouth with his big toe... another favorite game of his...)

He also accidently rolled for the first time - not all the way over, but from his back to his side - a direct result of grabbing his feet and gaining momentum :) Pretty fun.

His nap schedule has been completely turned upside down. He's still going 10-11 hours a night, but naps have decreased quite a bit. Now, he ends up taking a "power" nap (30-45 minutes) in the morning, and one or two in the afternoon/evening. He takes one 2 hour nap around noon. And he's diffiult to put down for a nap - he used to be a breeze! But the great thing about his new self-imposed schedule is that he's awake more throughout the day, which means more playtime for us!

Daniel now bears his weight on his legs when we support him - and this has actually become one of his favorite things to do. Especially in front of a mirror - he talks to himself, smiles and sometimes laughs. I have a sneaky suspicion that he's going to be crawling and walking all too quickly... that kid is incredibly strong!

The vocalizations have become even more frequent, now with all kinds of new sounds. He actually sounds like one of those babies in the movies, complete with a full vocabulary of goo's and gaa's. He's very conversational, and near the end of each awake time he becomes very vocal, carrying on conversations with anyone (or anything... read: ceiling fans) close by.

In other news, Daniel has a new cousin! My little sister Stacey just had her first baby June 1st - and both she and baby Lucas are doing great. Daniel and Lucas couldn't look more different (or act more different - I hear Lucas is a champion nurser!) but I'm so excited to be able to go through this "having a baby" process with my sister - such an amazing experience!

You can check out more info/pics of her new family here: :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Week 13: Fish out of Water

This week's discovery: Our son is a water rat. We had our suspicions early on - all those relaxed baths... that time he fell asleep in the shower... his newfound love of splashing... the fact that he is a descendent of two water rats... you know - little clues :)

And this weekend our suspicions were confirmed during Daniel's first swimming pool encounter.

Being Memorial Day weekend, we headed for Fernando's parents' house for the traditional day of "lots of food, lots of family, lots of swimming". The water was take-your-breath-away cold, so we thought Daniel wouldn't last a minute. And our first attempt was unsuccessful - dipping his feet right in didn't go over well at all.

But then I sat on the shallowest step, and put him on my lap, and one by one I splashed each foot and hand in the water until it was acclimated. Then we slid a little deeper in, constantly splashing and moving. Not only didn't he mind - he actually smiled and had a good time. Once all the way in, he had a blast. Fernando tipped him forward and Daniel kicked his little legs like he was swimming. It's incredible how much of that comes instinctively. I have always heard that babies born under water swim immediately.

Anyway - we took about 300 pictures (I know, I know... our second child is destined to feel neglected...) and then Daniel enjoyed a bath in his gramma's sink (a staple in every kid's childhood memories). Also - we stuck him in the pool fully clothed - diaper & onesie - which not only prevented pool poop, but made him much less slippery to hold onto.

In other news, Daniel's daycare girlfriend Ava was kissed (twice!) by another little boy in daycare. Not sure if we should worry... the other little boy is about to move to the room for crawling babies... hopefully we won't have to call off the wedding. Yet.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Week 13: Steady As She Goes...

We're in the middle of his third month, and so many little things keep constantly changing that it's hard to keep track of it all!

Daniel's doing better each day in daycare - they've started having him nap on his side, without the wrap - and it's actually working pretty well. He was developing a flat spot on the back of his head - so now he's napping on his side, and he's sleeping through the night swaddled on his back.

And speaking of sleeping through the night - this kid is incredible! Last night he did 10.5 hours. Insane! His diaper was way beyond soaked though - I should look for something made for extended wear.

His eating habits have also changed in the past week - he no longer greedily gulps the whole 7 ounces every time. Sometimes he'll stop at 5 or 6, or become so distracted with other things that he doesn't want to eat anymore. (Who IS this child?!)

He smiles and laughs more - i suppose the amount of expressed happiness will just keep increasing from this point on. Kissing his feet or squeezing his thighs almost always makes him giggle - and seeing one of our faces after being apart for hours elicits the biggest smiles from him I've ever seen.

The only bad thing to happen recently is that he's outgrown the sling - I need to find a different one. Apparently 3 month olds don't usually weigh this much, so the standard pouch sling that we've been using now seems a little too restricting for his lower body. He doesn't seem as comfortable as before. There's another position we can use with this sling, but his head control isn't quite good enough yet, and his legs aren't long enough to "sit" on my hip. I'm looking for a new one to use - I'm still determined to find a way to carry Daniel on my body instead of in a stroller. Surely he isn't the first big baby with this issue. (Today in Pier 1, the clerk asked if he was 1 years old...! I'm going to hope that she was just clueless to the world of babies...)

He is doing a great job of sitting - with our assistance, of course. He's incredibly strong - and his head is huge, so he's got a pretty daunting task ahead of him. He can sit very well just holding our thumbs ... he can even look around the room, up and down, side to side ... all on his own.

He still loves both showers & baths - we did buy him a new bathtub that seemed MUCH more comfortable for him until I actually put him in it. He's too tall for the baby part - his head is a full head above where the head cushion is. Hilarious. The shower is still lots of fun - he actually doesn't mind the shower water hitting him directly in the face (not for a long time or anything, but a few seconds is ok). And he still loves mirrors - now he consistently smiles at himself when he looks in a mirror.

There are lots of tiny little changes daily and it's so much fun to watch - to see the light go on when he learns to actually reach for a toy instead of hitting it by accident. Or when he wraps his hands around the bottle and holds it on his own for a few seconds. Today he was sitting in his bouncy chair and he reached his right foot out and touched one of the dangling toys. Then he did it again and again. Every time I put him in the chair, he sticks his right foot out. Incredible. And for the the first time he reached both little hands out and put them on either side of my arm - intentionally. These little changes absolutely amaze me.

What hasn't changed is how much I love him. Scratch that - it has changed - I love that kid more every day. It's amazing how he has a special control over my heart that no one else does - how sometimes my insides physically hurt with how much I feel for him. When I do something that makes him laugh, I feel such incredible joy that my heart aches. Today I found out that scaring him makes him laugh - I said "boo!" and opened my eyes wide, and he jumped a little and laughed and laughed. That game lasted a ridiculously long amount of time... no way was I stopping while it still made him laugh.

He is such a fun baby - and we're having the time of our lives watching him grow up!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Week 12: Our First Date

Since Daniel is a whopping three months old, we thought it was time to try out the "leave him with someone else for a few hours and have some grown-up time alone" thing. Not that we wanted time away from him (we never do!) but we did want some time with just the two of us. All in all, leaving him for a few hours wasn't as bad as I'd feared, but not as easy as I'd hoped.

It was surprisingly strange to drive around without Daniel in the backseat - we've only had him three months, but already life doesn't feel the same without him. Fernando and I ended up having a great time just the two of us - and really this was the first time since Daniel was born. We gorged ourselves on sushi & caffeinated beverages of all sorts... delicacies I have been sorely missing for nearly a year now.

Amazingly, Daniel survived just fine without us ... (What?! Life goes on without Mommy & Daddy?!) ... he even took his nap right on schedule, and was very playful and happy while awake. Fernando's Mom & Sister took care of him, and did an excellent job.

Now for our next date... we haven't had massages in almost 2 years... and I think I'll actually be able to relax knowing Daniel's in good hands.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Week 12: Magical Sounds & Nasty Colds

Today, he laughed. Not like a tiny giggle, or a "maybe that was a laugh" but a real, bonified, tickled-pink laugh. Fernando was making silly faces at him, and when he started doing raspberries, Daniel let out the most incredible sound we have ever heard. I came running, and we both started doing silly "tongue out" faces, and he just kept going for at least a minute. We starting laughing, of course, and that seemed to perpetuate his laughter. There we were - all three of us on the bed, unable to stop laughing.

By far the most magical sound he's ever made - and while getting a smile out of him is still so much fun, nothing compares to the feeling of him laughing with you. After a few minutes of it, his laughter turned to tears (just like mine does when I'm really tired...) and we put him down for his evening nap.

We have all been sick for the past two days - home from work and daycare - as we have managed to pass a pretty nasty cold around between the three of us. We took Daniel into the doctor, and he came out with apparently the least amount of discomfort - just a low grade fever and a little congestion. Fernando and I wound up with a big ole cold, complete with headache, sinus stuff, coughing sore throats, etc. So the place is now littered with kleenex and empty containers of Vicks Vapor Rub. We couldn't resist taking a picture of the three of us in bed - not the world's greatest picture, but we weren't exactly feeling fantastic either. Unshowered, in pajamas at 3:00 in the afternoon... you get the idea.

While at the doctor, we found out that Daniel weighs just under 17 pounds... pretty impressive for a kid who's not even 3 months old yet. The doc said to keep up what we were doing - not to decrease his feedings - that he's just going to be a very tall little boy. (He's eating 7 oz. five or six times a day). He was also amazed to hear that Daniel's been sleeping 9.5 hours a night - and has been through the night for almost a month now.

A few other "week 12" tidbits (even though it's only the beginning of week 12)... 1) Daniel's still running marathons when he's laying on his back - those little legs just pump like crazy for really long stretches of time. So cute :) 2) He's still obsessed with his tongue - sticks it out all the time, and loves to watch other people stick their tongues out. 3) Daniel has started reaching for objects in the past two days. It's not consistent, but today when he was playing on his back in his little jungle gym toy, he figured out that he can smack the mirror part with his hand and it spins in circles. It's fun to watch him make little discoveries like that. 4) His head and neck control is amazing - he loves to sit up (usually propped up against our stomachs) and can look around the room and control his head with almost no help. 5) His love affair with ceiling fans grows more intense by the day...

Wow. We're only two days into week 12 and he's already changing so much. He'll be 3 months old next Monday - feels like yesterday that I was 3 months pregnant. It's absolutely impossible how much we love him, too. Tomorrow we all go back to work (and daycare, for one of us...) and while I'm glad we're all feeling better, I'm a little sad not to have just one more day of being sick together.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Week 11: That Time of Year

Today is my first Mother's Day. Well, there's a tiny chance that last year was my first, but we were definitely not aware of it at the time :)

So far, it's been great. Daniel slept late - until 8:00! I opened two very sweet presents (more on that later). Then I fed the little monkey, and took a nice long shower with him. Now we're about to leave for church - he's being dedicated today. But I have about 20 minutes before he wakes up again, so I thought I'd go ahead and write a little.

Daniel finger-painted this week at preschool. That's right - my 2 month old finger-painted (and I was there, like the paparazzi, taking a million pictures). He painted a beautiful green blob for me - and the teachers at his daycare put little pictures of him and stickers all over it. It's our first official "fridge art" - it's already up on the door with magnets.

Apparently, Daniel did great, too... most babies don't like the feel of cold paint on their hands, but he kept his fingers outstretched the whole time, and did the whole painting himself. Mommy's little Van Gogh. It's amazing how much pride I feel over his accomplishments - no matter how small.

So what were my Mother's Day presents? :) A brand new hard drive from the cats (they're so thoughtful!) and some really cute canvases with foot prints and hand prints from Daniel. Which completely explains why his cuticles were orange on Friday... I almost called the doctor, thinking he was having some kind of allergic reaction! It looked like he had stuck his hand in a bag of cheetoes. (One of his teachers suggested that maybe he'd been raiding the pantry at night...)

Later today Fernando's family is coming over - we're making burgers and just spending some time together to celebrate the day. It's fun to do special things for Moms - but so far, every day has felt this celebratory. I love being a Mom so much already - just interacting with Daniel, feeding him and playing with him... those are the best gifts I could ever have asked for.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Week 11: Melting my Heart

Daniel's smiles are completely infectious. It's absolutely impossible to remain in a bad mood when he flashes that grin.

This week he woke up smiling in his crib, kept smiling during his diaper change, and even was grinning during mid-bottle burps, when he used to cry like crazy. And he definitely knows his Mommy & Daddy - we get the majority of his smiles and giggles - he smiles a little bit at daycare, and every now and then with other people.

But that flash of recognition that comes across his face when he sees us is priceless - sometimes he just smiles at us without us "trying" - like just knowing we're there is enough to make him happy.

To be realistic, it's not always us that makes him smile. Sometimes it's nothing - an imaginary something in mid-air. Yesterday he beamed at the ceiling fan for a good 15 minutes, smiling and babbling. (Meanwhile we couldn't stop laughing at the (very bad) pun, "he's a fan of the fan!"... In our defense, we were very tired...)

A few things consistently make him smile: kissing his feet, tickling his collar bones, and a few lines of "little bunny foo-foo". Daniel particularly likes the "DOWN came the good fairy" and "the next day" parts. :)

Of all the types of smiles and laughs, my two favorites are when he laughs at something then can't seem to get the huge grin off his face. He just leaves it there a minute, and then it drops off his face in a second. Hilarious. My all time favorite though is the little lop-sided half grin... it's like we're sharing a secret. He usually turns his face away a little bit, and gets this perfect little gleam in his eye. I imagine if he could talk he'd say "Mommy you're so silly..."

Most days, I live for those smiles.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Week 10: Sling Wonders

Today I learned a lesson I wish I'd learned months ago: Slings Are Wonderful.

After reading Harvey Karp's theories on the "fourth trimester" I wanted to try out the whole baby-wearing thing. So, with the help of my friend google, we found and ordered a beginner's sling, in a very classy shade of chocolate brown. This sling is supposed to work for a bunch of different ages, as there are multiple ways to carry the baby.

It arrived two days ago. And within 5 minutes of it's arrival, I had it unwrapped and in use. (Maybe I should have washed it first...:) Daniel loved it immediately - he became very calm while in it, almost suspended in this "calm awareness" state where he just took in the world around him. After about 30 minutes in it, he got sleepy, and fell asleep in it. Deep sleep.

It took me a few tries to figure out how to get him OUT of the sling (I panicked the first time - I thought we were stuck!). But now we're naturals - and it's MUCH easier running errands, going to friend's houses, even house-cleaning. I love carrying him everywhere - but my arms were getting worn out. This is the perfect solution. No wonder the majority of cultures around the world wear their babies... we are definitely the dense ones when it comes to baby care.

And the final evidence that it's an awesome product? The first time I had him in it, I thought (for the first time since having Daniel) ... "I could do this whole baby-thing again." God save us all.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Week 10: Mommy's Lack of Objectivity

Ten weeks already. I can't believe it. As my Dad said this week, "double digits already!" I'm terrified of how fast time is flying already - and I know it's only going to go faster.

Daniel's doing great - sleeping through the night like a champ. The one night he woke up at 4 a.m. was the night we skipped his late night feeding and put him down at 8:30. So we learned our lesson there. Now his last feeding is at 10 p.m. for at least a few more weeks. He goes all the way to 7 a.m., usually. Sometimes longer!

This week I did the unthinkable and volunteered in our church's nursery. That sounds tame enough, but our church sees anywhere between 1200 and 1400 kids on a weekend. So I thought it would be a fun way to learn more about baby care from the experts while keeping Daniel in the same room as me. It was actually fun - I worked all three services on Sunday and in each service we had about a dozen babies.

And I did learn a lot about babies, but the main three lessons I learned were about Daniel:

1) daniel IS the cutest baby in the world.
2) daniel IS the best behaved baby in the world.
3) daniel IS the most fun baby in the world.

I feel vindicated! Now I know I was right all along - i wasn't just being biased. :) (It won't do you any good to reason with me... my mind is made up!) It was amazing how well behaved he was. At times he was actually ignored because the workers all had to take care of the screaming ones. It helped that he was in the same room as his daycare during the week. And it was fun to have all the volunteers come in and ooh and aah over him - how great his hair is, how cute he is, how perfect his lips are, etc. Heaven for a proud mama.

The other thing we started this week (well, by "we" I mean "my husband") is teaching Daniel good manners. It's pretty cute, actually. Every time Fernando gives him a bottle, he has the same conversation with himself. "Daddy, may I have a bottle please?" "Yes, Daniel, you may." "Thank you, Daddy!" "You're welcome, Daniel!" Too cute. Now Daniel just calms right down when he hears the word "bottle".

I have also been thinking a lot about what I'd do differently if I could start over with Daniel. And the more I think about it, the more I realize it's a pointless thing to think about. As parents, we're learning to respond to a need in a particular moment, and it's going to play out a little differently every time. I guess I'd just be a little more flexible from the beginning, and not freak out when he doesn't act "like the books say he will". Daniel is developing his own personality, and the more we can remember that he's his own person - not a statistic - the easier life will be.

Needless to say, my policy on not rocking him to sleep has become a little more... flexible. All too soon I'll look back and wish I had indulged him just a few more times. And there is nothing in the world that's more fun than watching him nap in my arms. Nothing.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Week 9: Change Begets Anxiety

I have a few dozen adorable smiling pictures that I could have posted today, but for some reason, this one felt more appropriate. It's been a big week for Daniel, and change usually doesn't happen without some degree of anxiety.

Big event #1: Daniel started daycare on Tuesday, and it was anything but a smooth start. I think what it came down to was conflicting parenting styles between us and the staff, and a lack of clear communication. I suppose the latter is to blame for the vast majority of problems in the world.

We couldn't have asked for a better staff for his room - they are truly sweet women who care a great deal for babies (and have done so their whole lives). However, they are of the generation where you rock babies to sleep and pick them up every time they whimper even a little bit. I'm certainly not bashing other parenting methods, but we have chosen something different for Daniel. I left a page of notes for them, detailing his typical schedule (and asking them to adhere at least loosely to it), yet every time I went over to feed him, he was screaming his head off, having not been led through any of his schedule.

Not wanting to insult their expertise, I wrote it off as the stress any young baby experiences in a new environment, and didn't say anything to the staff. (And on a side note... I had NO idea how much it would bother me to smell "another woman" on my Daniel... it was awful. I cried and cried and then "washed Ms. Gloria right out of his hair"!)

The next day was the same - if not worse. Daniel learned new ways to cry - I had never heard some of those noises I heard that day. I even cried while giving him his bottle, feeling like I had put him in a bad situation, and that he'd never adjust.

We decided to do something about it on the third day, and when we dropped him off, we approached it from the "Here's what works for us at home" direction. We showed them the swaddle technique again, went over the "put him down sleepy but awake" concept, asked that they not rock him to sleep, etc.. The teachers were very receptive, and he actually had a much better day, even getting in a few naps at the right times.

The lesson there is that we just have to learn to be firm on how Daniel is handled. We know him better than anyone, and now is the best time to start practicing the "Because I'm the Mom, That's Why" approach :)

Big event #2: This week he had his first big round of vaccines - and along with it, his first big fever. Let me just say that if watching your child get four vigorous shots in the thigh wasn't difficult enough, WE had to hold him down. Torture. What really got to me was those little drops of blood running down his tiny little legs. Throughout the rest of the day, he did ok at home with Fernando ... a little sleepier with the tylenol, and a little fussier - but not much at all. We gave him a warm bath at night - he always loves those. The next day he got a hefty fever (103) but with tylenol, it was gone by the end of the day.

Big event #3: Daniel officially slept through the whole night without waking up - about 8.5 hours - which is pretty darn good for a nine week old :) We've been using some Babywise guidelines to help get him to this point - and I think they made the difference. We seem to be on a roll - four nights in a row, and counting. The first night, Fernando and I didn't get any sleep - we kept waking up, worrying why we hadn't heard from him (and occasionally tip toeing in to make sure he was still breathing).

I think what helped him get to this point was an increase in food - the pediatrician told us this week to nearly double what we've been feeding him - from 4 oz. every 3 hours, to 6-8 oz. every 3-4 hours. And as soon as he had 6 oz. in his tummy, he slept nearly 9 hours. We're up to 7 oz. per feeding - and he takes all of it, every time.

Anyway. Big week for all of us - lots of new events, along with Daniel's ever mounting energy, personality, and smiles. He's more fun every day, and as long as he adjusts to daycare soon, I think that's one trend that will continue.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Week 8: Before I Forget

Daniel's day: 1) Sleep. 2) Eat. 3) Repeat. That's right - it's Daniel's first big growth spurt! Starting this last Monday, April 16th, Daniel has been extremely sleepy and hungry. We got worried at first, until we realized that being sleepy and hungry are the classic symptoms of a growth spurt. He's still active during play time, just not for as long as before.

Next week he starts daycare - and while I'm extremely nervous about the whole experience, the whole situation couldn't be better for two working parents: the preschool is right behind our offices, we get to walk over and feed him every few hours, we can monitor his room online, and the staff is truly wonderful.

I have been feeling pretty nostalgic about these past two months - for all the ups and downs, they seem to have gone by in an instant. So before I move on to the next era in Daniel's life, here are some of the seemingly mundane details of every day life with Daniel that I never want to forget...

- How he grabs his hair in the back to comfort himself
- How he squeezes my pinkie when he's taking a bottle
- How he gets really excited when he sees me and starts "exercising" by pumping his little arms and legs
- His perfect little cry face - all wrinkly and adorable
- How he's starting to blow bubbles of spit on his lips
- How he peed in his eye (twice) and made himself cry
- How sometimes he spits up and keeps it in his mouth a while (eww!)
- How he's learning to keep the pacifier in his mouth (by us tugging it away)
- How he's learning to make noises - same noise about 5 or 6 times in a row
- How he grabs my hair when he's on my shoulder - doesn't pull it, but uses it as security
- How he cries in "waves" when putting himself to sleep
- How much he loves the purple bouncy chair, and watching us from it
- How he stretches in the shape of an "S"
- How sometimes his cries are decidedly "not committed"
- How his eyes open so wide as he pulls his chin back
- How he looks like a pit bull when he wakes up hungry with dried formula on his mouth
- His "3 in 1" changing table disasters (multiple squirts of pee, dairy queen style poo, AND spit-up)
- How he smiles just before drifting off to sleep
- How he manages to fit his whole fist in his mouth
- How he flexes his little toes while drinking his bottle

There are so many more, but I know that this list will make me smile in a few years when Daniel seems so grown up. (Honestly, it will probably give me baby fever again...but THAT is something for another time...another place...another blog...)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Week 8: Accustomed To His Face

Today was my first official day of work since having Daniel. I'm a product of the multi-tasking generation ... in college, a typical semester included taking 20+ credits, working two part-time jobs, volunteering in a few places, and still having a social life. I not only managed to stay sane, I actually enjoyed the chaos. So I assumed that being a working mom wouldn't be a big deal.

Part of being a good multi-tasker is the ability to compartmentalize pieces of your life to deal with them on an "as needed" basis. But I found out today that it's simply not possible to place my role as a mom in one of my handy little compartments. Or more to the point, it's not possible to set aside that compartment to focus on other things.

Work was fine, actually. I enjoyed being back, and seeing people I have missed over the past 8 weeks. But my heart ached for Daniel all day. I surprised myself by choking up a little when Fernando and Daniel left for the morning walk that I usually take Daniel on. And again when I came home and Daniel smiled at me ... something he apparently hadn't done all day.

I had a hard time focusing on one thing for more than an hour and a half ... and then I realized it was because my body had settled into the rhythm of Daniel's schedule, which was made up of hour and a half intervals. I kept noticing the time, and wondering what he was doing just then.

I have heard it said before that having a baby is like wearing your heart outside of your body... and it felt true today. And my heart was miles away from my body all day long.

If you've seen "My Fair Lady", you'll recall a song at the end of the show where Professor Higgins realizes that he's in love with Eliza. He hadn't understood the depth of his affection until she suddenly wasn't there - and somehow, while a completely different situation, these lyrics describe why today was so hard for me.

I've grown accustomed to her face
She almost makes the day begin
I've grown accustomed to the tune she whistles night and noon
Her smiles, her frowns, her ups and downs
Are second nature to me now
Like breathing out and breathing in
I was serenely independent and content before we met
Surely I could always be that way again and yet
I've grown accustomed to her looks, accustomed to her voice
Accustomed to her face

I knew I loved Daniel, I just don't think I realized how much until today.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Week 7: Family Flood

My sister and I often talk about what an incredible upbringing we had - we were always safe, warm, fed, loved, and truthfully, spoiled! But in the good way (we'd like to think). And all of our fondest childhood memories are the direct result of our amazing family - a loving support system that knew how to laugh, relax, survive tough times, work hard, and play together.

This week, Fernando, Daniel & I had the rare privilege of spending a few days with a lot of my family at once - something that doesn't happen often, since we are a 21st century "long distance family". My parents, along with my 3 remaining grandparents, passed through Phoenix on the way back to their home in Texas. They had been in California, helping my Mom's parents pack up and move to Texas, to be close to everyone else.

All that to say, for two solid days, Daniel was hugged, squeezed, kissed, passed around, spoiled, tickled, sung to, rocked, and adored by two grandparents and three great grandparents. I don't know a lot of little kids who get that honor. We took plenty of pictures, so that when he's older, he'll get to see this incredibly special experience for himself.

Watching my family interact with Daniel brought out sides of them that recalled memories of my own childhood. My grandpa's quiet but tender gaze... my gramma's joyful smile and constant exuberance... my mema's quiet wisdom... my mom's loving playfulness... my dad's overflowing pride in his grandson.

I was telling my Mom the other day that I understand her better now that I have Daniel. It's hard to explain exactly what changed, but holding my own baby in my arms, loving him so much that I could cry... and knowing that not so long ago it was HER holding me and loving me the same way... I now understand a part of her that I simply could not have known before. I suppose it's only natural that becoming a mother makes the bond with your own mom stronger. She stayed at our house for two weeks after Daniel was born - and I don't know if I could have survived without her. Just like I know I'll never survive this parenting thing if she isn't a phone call away for all the little questions and joys that arise.

It's not just my Mom that I'm seeing in a new light - it's the rest of the family too - just in different ways. I appreciate them more - love them more - and now I'm more determined than ever to give Daniel the kind of childhood I had. One where he never has to experience a lack of love or support.

Of course I worry that I won't measure up - that I won't have all the answers (my Dad knows absolutely everything!), or I won't have my Mom's magic comforting touch. But I'm determined to learn every trick of the trade they're willing to pass along.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Week 6: Momma's Shoulder

There is nothing like the feeling of being needed by someone or something. I think it's why so many of us have pets - we love them and take care of them, but they give us emotional gratification in return - they need us!

This week it really sank in how much Daniel needs me. (I'm not comparing him to a cat or dog - but having pets was my only experience with "parenting" before.) I know he needs me to feed him and change him and keep him safe. But the emotional kind of "needing" wasn't as apparent until now.

He has always preferred to be carried over one shoulder - even from the week he was born. It lets him hold his head and shoulders up and investigate his new world from a safe look-out.

But this week he became a "Momma's Shoulder Addict". There were times when he wouldn't stop crying (for no apparent reason) until I put him on my shoulder. There were times when he would wake up crying in a nap, and wouldn't go back to sleep until he was on my shoulder. More than once I let him finish his nap in my arms. Not a great habit to get into, I know, but I just couldn't resist the feeling of being needed. And I think if he had his way, he'd live on that shoulder.

Daddy can do the shoulder trick too - but it doesn't always work as well. There's just something about Momma's Shoulder.

I know Daniel will (all too quickly) grow out of this phase, and I'm already sad for that day. So while we're still in it, I think I'll indulge my little shoulder addict - and in doing so, indulge myself as well.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Week 6: Chit-Chat & Swaddling

Week 6 has been a huge week for all of us - lots of new skills mastered (by Daniel) and new lessons learned (by Daniel's parents!).

Those amazing smiles of his have gotten even more consistent - now we can make him smile (and sometimes laugh) by rolling our eyes around, making funny noises, tickling his cheeks and collar bone, poking his nose, and contorting our faces into all kinds of odd configurations. We really are a sight - two grown adults acting like circus clowns in the hopes of extracting one sweet little baby smile. I sure wish I knew what Daniel was thinking when he watched the two of us!

As much as we love those smiles, they have started showing up at some pretty inconvenient times... like during his middle of the night feeding. And believe me - it is hard to put him down when he's grinning at you! A few nights ago, my husband came to bed at 4:00 a.m. after giving Daniel a bottle and said to me, "Honey, I'm so tired... Daniel will NOT go to sleep... for 15 minutes non-stop he's been smiling at me from the crib!" I know, I know... there are much worse problems to have. But I definitely don't want to encourage a routine 4:00 a.m. playtime!

His sweet little faces are now accompanied by attempted conversations on his part - lots of semi-articulated noises showed up this week. Before, it was kind of the same ole grunt sound... now he's trying out all kinds of sounds, and will participate in a conversation of sorts, where he makes a noise, then I make one, then he does, and so on.

I know crawling is still quite a ways off, but sometimes I get nervous at how determined Daniel is to master it! During tummy time, he has a newfound energy, and spends quite a bit of time doing what I can only describe as "fake crawling" - all the necessary components are there, he just doesn't go anywhere! With enough effort, he can propel himself forward an inch or two. I'm hoping it stays that way for a while - I am NOT ready to chase him all over the house!

Another fun thing I learned this week: I can wear Daniel in the Bjorn and vaccum the whole house. Daniel seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, but not as much as my husband, who about died laughing when he came home in the middle of this experiment to a barefoot wife in boxers and a tee-shirt with a baby strapped to her chest.

We also celebrated Daniel's first Easter - the church where we work held Easter service at the University of Phoenix Stadium (home of the Arizona Cardinals and Superbowl 2008!) so I took Daniel in the stroller. He was so well-behaved... took a bottle in a very loud chaotic environment, and didn't seem bothered in the least. He didn't even cry during the surprise fireworks - he barely woke up!

The last lesson learned this week was a biggie: swaddling. I only wish I had discovered this about 6 weeks ago! Someone recommended the book "Happiest Baby on the Block" and I picked up a copy. I didn't really read it until Daniel started waking up in the middle of every nap last week. We finally sat in his nursery to observe the problem - he would startle in his sleep, then flail his arms, and smack himself in the face! This triggered his hunger reflex (even when he wasn't hungry) and he'd start yelling his head off.

We started swaddling with a big square receiving blanket, like the book suggests, but Daniel is so big and strong that we had to wrap another folded blanket around his arms straight-jacket style. (My husband couldn't resist commenting that wrapped like this, our son looked like a doobie). I did a little research online and read raving reviews of "the Miracle Blanket" for swaddling escape artist babies.

I ordered one (and was so excited that I paid too much for 2-day shipping :) but after just one use, we couldn't be happier with it. Daniel is comfortable and doesn't get overheated, and doesn't startle himself out of a nap anymore. We only use it for sleeping, and he gets plenty of exercise during his awake times.

Anyway. Highly recommended for all babies - the blanket and the book - I loved the concepts presented by the pediatrician who wrote the book. They make a lot of sense - and in Daniel's case, are completely true. Everything about him has improved since I read the book - his moods, his sleeping habits, his fussy times. And I truly think that it's because I understand him better now - and can meet his needs more efficiently.