Warm Moments

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Luke and I have a favorite spot. It’s probably the ugliest spot on our property. In fact, before Luke was born I just pretended that it wasn’t there because it faced a fairly busy street and was in sorry shape. But when I’m sitting out on our front steps with Luke (sometimes others join us), on the crappy old concrete steps with tiny patches of green carpet that must have been there before we bought the house, it becomes the best seat in the house.

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We watch the cars, calm down if one of us is getting cranky (Luke), and wave to passers by. The steady stream of cars provides audible and visual meditation. It’s a nice place to just enjoy being.

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I’d say on average we spend about 30 minutes each day sitting on the steps. Sometimes it’s early the morning as we watch the traffic pick up, late morning when people are out walking, early afternoon when Luke’s somewhere between awake and ready for a nap (there are days when the nap starts on the steps), and evening as we watch the sun fall behind the trees. Never mid-late afternoon though, the sun is just too intense on the steps during those hours.

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This morning Luke and I were on the porch bright and early. It was a little bit crisp outside in the mid-50s so we wrapped a blanket around us. Luke drank his bottle while I observed a tree that had been taken down yesterday several houses away (we saw them sawing off the branches as we sat on the steps yesterday early afternoon). The cars were just starting to appear, the whole scene was perfection. I started to feel a warm sensation when I knowingly looked down and noticed that Luke had just peed through his diaper onto us. Ah well (insert a knowing grin here), I took that as a signal that it was time to go wake up Mike.

A little bit of holiday

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My two favorite holidays as an adult are Thanksgiving and 4th of July. Both are centered around social gatherings with family and friends and plenty of good food. Unlike Christmas, there isn’t a ton of preparation with a month’s worth of shopping and decorating (I do enjoy the Christmas season as well). As a kid, my 4th of July consisted of watching (or marching in) the local parade in the late morning/early afternoon, a gathering at my parent’s house, and an evening topped off with a private fireworks show in the backyard. Now that Mike and I are married, we’ve merged our 4th of July celebrations to be inclusive of both families – so we spend the late morning/early afternoon at a large town gathering in the park with his family (a longstanding tradition for Mike), and then have dinner and did fireworks with my family. Last year was the last year for the firework show in the backyard, it had gotten quite large and we’ll just say that it rubbed someone nearby the wrong way, so that was the last year of that. Not that I would have been awake for fireworks this year anyway.

With Mike working the entirety of the long weekend, Luke and I were on our own for the day. He took a stellar early morning nap, during which time I was so excited for the rest of the day’s festivities that I laid out our clothes, our back-up clothes, and everything else that we’d need for the day. Since Luke concluded the “4th trimester” as some call it (basically the first three months when a baby sleeps a bunch and doesn’t do much else), I’ve learned that days when we’re off of our usual routine (we’re not on a schedule, but there’s a usual flow to our day) the goal becomes to keep Luke happy on what little napping he’s willingly going to do (my Mother-in-Law correctly labeled him a Party Baby, aka doesn’t want to miss out on the action when lots of people are around). I’d hoped that he’d stay awake long enough to us to make the 1 minute drive to CVS to pick up bug spray that would be safe for him (which we didn’t even end up using hah) and then for him to fall asleep for the rest of the drive to my in-laws.

Luke was out cold by the time we got to CVS (seriously, 1 minute, 2 if there’s traffic) and I carefully held him as we made a bee-line for the bug spray. As expected, he woke up in CVS – but thankfully was back asleep for the next 15 minute leg of our journey. The goal was to then transfer him into his stroller and let him take the rest of his nap at our picnic site. But he was awake by the time we reached the rest of the family. He held out as well as could be expected for a baby who had only taken a fraction of the nap that he would have usually taken, and we lasted long enough to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday with gifts and cake.

After he peed on me (somehow that never happens at home or at my parent’s house… where I actually have clothing readily available – though I thought I’d packed an extra pair of pants for myself, but apparently I just packed shirts) and eventually became quite whiny (we got a solid 2.75 hours in), I decided it was best if we made our exit and went home instead of straight over to my parent’s house. I drove as slow as possible and took a less-than-direct route to ensure as long a car nap as possible (sometimes he’ll stay sleeping after a car ride, and sometimes his eyes will pop open upon reaching our destination). After the 20 minutes that I made it take to get home, Luke stayed asleep for another hour (!!!) and I puttered around my bedroom trying to figure out the parental logic of: if you have two pairs of jeans that currently fit, and your baby has spit up on the first pair (this was before we even left the house) and peed on the second pair, which pair do you wear to your next event? The answer ended up being neither when I noticed that the chocolate ice cream on my sleeve wasn’t coming out (I gave Luke a couple of tiny tastes of ice cream and he wiped his mouth on my sleeve) and I changed into a maxi-dress.

Luke was a bit of a roller coaster the rest of the evening, but that’s par for the course starting around 5pm each night. He ate bananas while the rest of us got to dine on delicious BBQ grilled chicken + sides, and we dipped a cheerio into the BBQ sauce (not spicy) to see what he’d think – after a thoughtful/pensive face at first, he seemed quite okay with it (though that was the only taste of that that he got). As we were leaving my parent’s house I noticed how light it was outside. It felt strange heading home so early (8pm), but honestly, after I put Luke to bed, the tired set in and I doubt I could have made it out and about much longer myself. So after I wrap up this entry, I’m going to go listen to the fireworks from my bed, hope that they don’t bother Luke, and thumb through Martha Stewart Living before falling asleep.

one, two, three, four, FIVE

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Can we take a minute to take in the fact that I’ve got a five month old. Holy cow! I remember before Luke was born, when people asked if I was excited I usually replied that I’d be excited in March, once we were all sleeping and I was all recovered from having the baby. Looking back, I really overestimated the chaos of the first couple months. I was pretty much physically recovered by my 6 week check-up and for the most part we’ve all been sleeping since the beginning of February. Luke remains a very happy and content baby, and has been that was since well before March.

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Anywho, it’s well passed March by now. Easter and Luke’s baptism have come and gone (I keep meaning to post about that day, but in the meantime I’ll state that Luke handled his baptism like a boss – I think that’s the term that the cool kids are using nowadays). Easter also meant that Luke’s Auntie (Aunt Tory… Aunt-T… Auntie) and Uncle Ian were coming into town. But, again, more on that in the Easter/Baptism post that I have yet to write.

In the photo above you see Luke’s mouth is open in a purposeful way. If there was sound with that photo, you’d hear a loud excited yell. Luke has traded his soft coos and babbling for loud, excited shouts and sequels. We often joke that he doesn’t have an indoor volume. He mostly likes to excitedly shout when he’s standing on a lap, making eye contact.

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We try to give Luke plenty of tummy time, but honestly, the kid really just likes to stand (and shout). Perhaps he’ll take after his dad and run before he does anything else. In the meantime, when we do work on tummy time, Luke has been perfecting the roll, off of his tummy and onto his back. He’s also mastered grabbing. Grabbing his toys, grabbing blankets… grabbing my hair, grabbing Mike’s beard.

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This past month or so, Luke’s hair has really started to fill in. He still has the swath of dark hair on the back of his head that he had at birth, but the rest of his dark baby hair has been replaced with light brown/blondish. Above, you might also see a couple of tiny scratches around his forehead. That’s because, 1. he tries to scratch his head when he’s tired (and we try very hard to keep that from happening), 2. we’re still dealing with the cradle cap (which went away for his baptism… only to come back the next day). He’s also got a little bit of stubborn eczema on his left cheek. Thankfully, we’ve found something that’s been decreasing both the forehead cradle cap as well as the eczema, so hopefully those will clear up soon.

Another big focus for us this past month has been crib naps. When Luke was smaller he’d take the occasional nap in the crib, but would nap much longer if napping on someone. Thanks to a device that is strapped on the side of his crib that has soft lights and music, he’s more likely to focus on that and drift off to sleep than before when he’d cry upon being placed in his crib for a nap. I was worried that the device would become a sleep prop and negatively affect bed time, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. He still goes to sleep awake at night and drifts off to sleep naturally sans help from any lights or music.

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Month five also marks a wardrobe change for the trumpet photos. Luke’s grown out of the original onesie that he wore, as well as that same onesie in the next size up. Mike and I wanted to continue with the grey stripes, orange details and navy, so we selected this outfit and purchased it in two sizes. But since his pants now blend into the blanket that he’s laying on a little bit, I’ve also included a pantsless shot, because who doesn’t love baby legs!

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Not Quite Ship Shape

I knew when I got pregnant that I was going to have some weight to lose after the baby was born. I also knew that stretch marks were pretty much inevitable. They tell you those things. What no one mentioned was the fact that my actual level of physical fitness was going to take me back to square one.

At my peak of strength and endurance I was doing three 5:30AM boot camp classes a week and running 5k’s at a decent speed without training whenever I felt like it. That period of my life lasted for several months until I got a cold while wedding planning and then started to trade mornings at the gym for much needed sleep.

Even my normal level of physical fitness was satisfactory to me. I walked over four miles a day commuting and, according to my pedometer, logged at least an extra mile daily on top of that. If I felt like going for a run (which wasn’t often haha) I could pickup and run a couple miles.

Even as a pregnant woman I was walking at least five miles five days a week up until I pulled my groin eight months in while foolishly running to catch a train that I wasn’t even planning on catching in the first place. For days after that I could barely walk, and several weeks later I was able to work up to one mile of walking each day (I’m sure it was some combination of the pull and being very very pregnant).

I assumed that after walking through pregnancy and delivering Luke naturally, I’d be able to jump right back into walking. After my first week home with Luke consisted of scurrying around the house and too many trips up and down the stairs I got monster cramps, and at the urging of Mike, my mom and my mother-in-law, I reluctantly took it easy for the next five weeks.

I assumed after my six-week postpartum check up that I would get right back to walking and running and that I’d start dropping sizes in no time. That was in mid-January. Mother Nature had other plans and dumped a bitterly cold and snowy winter into Chicagoland’s lap and kept it up through the beginning of March.

Before resuming a commute, I headed into the city once to interview with my new job and once to clean out my desk at my old job. Both trips left me exhausted. To help make commuting easier, I started walking at an indoor track occasionally with my mom for 30 minutes at a time. By the end of each walk I was really feeling the workout. I resumed commuting and thankfully my body adapted to the 2.5 miles of total walking the two days a week that I’m downtown.

On a recent solo trip to the indoor track (this past Thursday) I power walked one mile, then walked/ran one mile (alternating laps) and walked a third mile. That was all I could take for the day. And walking approximately four total miles around town yesterday (Friday) with Luke and my mom has left me sore and resting in bed this morning (with Luke napping on me of course).

It’s humbling really; Working my way back to my old daily physical fitness level, starting at square one. I may not be able to control how my body sheds the excess pregnancy weight and what actual shape the will leave my figure in and I have no real control over when and how the stretch marks will fade. But I do have control over my physical fitness. Regardless what pant size I end up in, I’d like to be able to walk five miles in a day (without feeling tired or sore) like I used to and I’d like to be able to run two to three miles whenever I feel like it – whether I’ve run in the past month or not. But for now I’ll settle for getting Luke and I out of bed and started with the rest of our day, one sore step at a time.

Two Months

While to the rest of the United States today is Super Bowl Sunday (don’t get me wrong, Luke and I are huge Seahawks fans… so today is definitely a big day), in our household it’s also the day that Luke turns two months old.

I’ve found myself saying “that’s classic Luke” quite a bit. I think it’s because he’s developing a bit of a personality and there is some predictability to his actions/moods/patterns. Some “Classic Luke” things are:
• How no one makes sleeping look so uncomfortable as Luke. We’ll hear him over the baby monitor grunting and shifting around in his sleep, or witness it first hand when he’s sleeping on our chests.
• The intense stillness that comes over him once he’s pooped and is having that particular diaper changed, almost as if he’s horrified at what has transpired in his diaper and just wants it off as swiftly as possible.
• The way that he thrusts his head at whoever is holding him’s chest when he’s hungry.
• The incredibly smelly gas that he emits.
• When he’s hanging out in bed with us (we’re awake, no co-sleeping in this household), if he’s placed on Mike’s chest, he’ll scoot himself until his head is on Mike’s pillow. Every time.
• When it gets close to 7pm he’ll start to act like he’s sleeping for about 10 minutes, then as soon as you have him hovering over his crib or snug on your chest, his eyes will pop wide open, he’ll be very alert and looking around excitedly, as if to be saying “I’m back guys, what did I miss?” This continues until we put him to bed between 8-9:30.

Speaking of 8-9:30, this past month we’ve definitely turned the corner on sleep. Luke used to stay awake for what Mike referred to as “special time” with just the two of them until 11pm, sometimes as late as 1am (I’d be sleeping during this time). Then all of the sudden a natural bedtime emerged. Now if we put Luke in his crib awake between 8-9:30 after giving him one last meal for the night, he’ll put himself to sleep without a peep and, several times this past week, has slept until 5:30-7am (I’ve probably just jinxed it).

Luke’s awake time has become more interactive as well. Instead of just laying on his play mat staring up at the little animals hanging down and moving his arms and legs involuntarily, he will sometimes hit specific things while looking at them. The same goes for the animals hanging over his bouncer seat. He can easily occupy himself for 20 minutes chatting with the various creatures and taking swats at them. The chats that he has with people are even more endearing. Luke always seems to know just what to say 😉

I think this is the last month that Luke will be sporting this particular outfit for his monthly photo (it was also his coming home from the hospital outfit). When I put it on him today it seemed that he was wary of hulking out of it as he laid incredibly still while I took the majority of the photos (the first several photos he’s got his arms at his sides and his legs straight out), eventually moving a leg slightly and reaching an arm out. He also seemed more aware of the trumpet’s existence and showed a little interest in it by glancing over and touching it. So, without further ado, Luke’s 2 Month photos:

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De-Christmasfying

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The Saturday after Thanksgiving is for decorating – it’s pretty much the kick-off to the Christmas season. With Christmas music setting the tone, the house is transformed from donning its metaphorical street clothing into its finest holiday dress. It’s something that Mike and I really look forward to (I’m not just lumping him into that statement, he is all about the Christmas decorating).

Two days before Luke was born, Mike and I decked the halls. While Mike put up the tree (which also entails covering it in as many lights as humanly possible), I went about decorating the living and dining rooms with nutcrackers, angels, stockings and other Christmasy do-dads. Later that evening (Mike was still working on the tree – 720 lights is a time commitment) my in-laws came over to keep us company. It was a festive evening of anticipation for both the upcoming season and Luke’s (at that point Hans’) big arrival. Little did we know, that would actually be less than 48 hours later.

From the moment that Luke came home, until yesterday afternoon, the Christmas tree was lit. Seriously, we never unplugged it. In addition to being the center of our Christmas decorations, the tree became a large night light while we were up with Luke in the dark and something to carry him over to, to look at and tell him about, during the day. Sometimes we’d set his bouncer next to the tree and he’d turn his head and just stare – at what probably looked to him like a bunch of blurry bright blobs.

For as long as I can remember, I always dreaded taking down the Christmas decorations (Mom, before you chime in, note that that sentence isn’t insinuating that I necessarily helped take down the Christmas decorations as a kid… merely that the fact that I didn’t look forward to when you did it). As an adult, I look even less forward to undecorating – since now not only is Christmas being packed up, but I have to be the one to do it (Mike helps).

When I woke up with Luke this morning around 6:30, it was a little strange not seeing the familiar multi-colored glow of the Christmas tree welcoming us into the living room. In its place, Mike had put a single night light. And yet, as the sun started to rise and the room came more into view it felt fresh, open and familiar. Almost like a visual to the end of an era (albeit a short era) – we used up the last of Luke’s newborn diapers last night, he’s out of his newborn clothing as well. Yesterday the holidays were officially over and today I have a 6 week old baby wearing size 1 diapers and his 3 month clothing and waking up from his nap as I type this… gotta go attend to Luke!

One Month

Today marks one month since the day that Luke was born. I cannot believe that December, the holidays and the first month of Luke’s life have come and gone. Looking back to our first week with Luke, we’ve come a long way. It used to take upwards of an hour to wake him up for a feeding, now he lets us know when he’s hungry. Gas used to have him in tears, now if it bugs him at all – he’s just a little fussy until it passes. A few minutes of awake time between feedings/naps has turned into an hour or more of awake time which gives both of us time to play and bond with Luke. Mike and I have made strides as well, we’ve got a nighttime routine that gives us both sleep, and the time it takes to get out of the house with Luke decreases with each outing.

Below are a couple of photos from the day after Luke was born (taken by Bella Baby Photography in the hospital) compared to what he looks like today:

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When Luke turned one week old I took a series of photos of him with some of Mike’s musical instruments to blow up poster size as Mike’s Christmas present. Today I decided that it would be fun to use one of Mike’s trumpets as a prop in a monthly photo of Luke to watch as he grows and to act as a gauge for size comparison. On the left is the photo taken at one week, and on the right (in the same outfit) is the photo taken today. Thankfully Luke was much more cooperative during our mini photo shoot today than he was during his one week photo shoot. At that point, he didn’t like being laid down unswaddled and the photo with the trumpet was the only one where he was photographed as such before I wrapped him up for the remaining photos. Today he was cool as a cucumber thanks to the time he spends unswaddled on his play mat and the occasional naps where he just wears his PJs.

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As much as I’m going to miss the sweet serenity of Luke’s early weeks, it’s been so fun to watch him experience new people and places, start to learn his likes/dislikes and to introduce him to new things like the swing, bouncer and play mat.