Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seven Weeks Old

This was by far the hardest of the weeks to get a photograph of Connor. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with the teddybear and promptly fell asleep when we caved in and gave him his pacifier (normally we try really hard to keep it out for pictures). In the chair, he just wanted to pout. This was the only one I could get of him where his eyebrows weren't all the way to his nose in a big sourpuss pout.

Mr. Howard brought him for the first time to school to meet my little ones and they were sooo excited (I looped with them, so they got to see me from 0 months pregnant to 8 months). I keep thinking that at Open House this Spring we might have a walker and then they'll be REALLY excited to see him!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

I promise we are not hippies!

In July I blogged about our diaper service and how we had chosen to cloth diaper Connor. Well, our diaper service ended last week and we began it ourselves this past week. It has been far easier than Mr. Howard and I thought it would be. In fact, while we thought we'd move to all-in-ones when we started it ourselves, we've continued with the prefolds and covers. We've decided to move to the all-in-ones when we have enough to send to daycare. People have a very antiquated view (and love to share with us why they think we're crazy) about what cloth diapers are like and I thought I could address some of those in this blog. Let me first say, however, that I don't think I'm somehow better than any mom who chooses not to cloth diaper. Some moms are able to make decisions that are good for the environment in other departments (composting, recycling everything in the house, edible gardens, green homes, solar energy, shorter showers, etc.). This was simply the way that Mr. Howard and I could contribute to the environment.

Things people have tried to tell us:

(1) Cloth diapering requires pins which are annoying and difficult to figure out. Cloth diapers no longer require pins. In fact, there is an entire line of something called "all-in-ones" which look exactly like disposables. It is one diaper, which you put on and take off just like a disposable with velcro, except they come in the most adorable colors. See here for the bumgenius ones we have.

(2) Cloth diapering requires plastic pants, which are gross. Even if you choose not to go the all-in-one route, diaper covers are no longer plastic pants. They are laminated fabric with Velcro or button snaps. See here for the covers we have.

(3) You'll be doing laundry for days or you'll actually break your washer and dryer. I have only added two extra loads into my weekly routine, which includes washing Connor's clothes. I'll admit that at first the idea of washing diapers in my OWN washer and dryer freaked me out, until I realized that breastmilk poop is 100% water soluble and literally washes right off and CERTAINLY would never-ever break a washer/dryer. And I'll also admit that I'm frightened about doing it when I have a toddler who is consuming solid foods. But, at the end of the day, I am more frightened about what the earth is going to be like when Connor is older. I'm a mommy; I can tackle a few poopy diapers.

(4) Disposable diapers aren't really that bad for the environment, are they? In the US alone, 18 billion disposable diapers are used a year, which adds up to 82,000 tons of plastic a year and 1.3 million tons of wood pulp -- 250,000 trees. It is estimated that each disposable takes somewhere around 300 years to decompose and sits in a landfill for the remaining time.

(5) Cloth diapers are expensive ($18 each). This is actually true. But, the part that people fail to mention is that they last the life of the child. Just ask my mom (who cloth diapered all three of her kids) to show you her prefolds that she still uses for her cleaning chores (26 plus years old).

(6) Because cloth diapers are less absorbent, they cause more diaper rash. Actually, most find this to be the opposite. Because disposables are so absorbent, they tend to be left on longer and lead to more rash. Of course, every child is different and I have talked to moms who've switched to disposables to temporarily clear up a rash.

(7) They are HARD to fold. This is one of the biggest misconceptions I've heard. Actually when I was recovering after having a baby, Mr. Howard took on the cloth diaper challenge. He figured out the best folds after only a few diaper changes. He will tell you that he wasn't a diaper expert or someone who had even changed a baby before Connor came along and he had mastered cloth diapering in less than a day!

Everybody has to make their own choice about diapers and I certainly would never judge someone else for using disposables (heck, I used them when Connor first came home from the hospital and I even used them on our recent mini-vacation), but it is tiresome for Mr. Howard and I to have to defend the choices we have made. I thought maybe this might clear up some of the confusion about our choices and answer some of the questions/false comments we hear daily! :-)

Goodbye Maternity Leave...Hello Working Mommy Club

I officially ended maternity leave last Thursday. :-( It's going to be hard on so many different levels.

The hardest part, so far, has been keeping up with the pumping. It definitely takes a plan and a commitment. Having spent 6 weeks nursing while being at home, I can tell you that pumping is about 5 times more difficult. After the second day, I fully understood why people give it up. Lucky for me I have a lot of friends who are super supportive in telling me what to do to make it easier, access to a free lactation consultant (with my healthcare), and most importantly, a husband who fully supports my decision to continue to nurse. Being a teacher presents another layer of difficulty as I can only pump during very SPECIFIC breaks and can't go over my allotted time. I only get a morning recess and lunch to do it in and on days when I have after-school meetings, I have a fellow mommy (who is an instructional coach at my school) who is going to take my class for an extra 5 minutes in the afternoon, so that I'll be able to pump. I haven't figured out what I'm going to do on rainy day recesses. Hmmmm.

My return to work also meant Mr. Howard got to try his hand out at being home with Connor by himself (it was the first time he had ever been by himself with him for longer than an hour). I can't speak for him about what it was like, but I know he didn't get much done in the way of housework. ;-) I can't imagine why!!

Top 10 List

Things No One Told Me When I got Pregnant:

(1) Half of the things in Belly Laughs. Read it.

(2) The mere mention of food can make you sick. You don't even have to ingest it or see it to gag.

(3) Some women experience regular contractions for the four weeks leading up to birth and that you may not, "just know" when you're in labor. In fact, that some women who've had several babies, still sometimes don't "just know" when they're in labor.

(4) An epidural can make you REALLY itchy.

(5) Pitocin makes you swell. A LOT!

(6) The post-partum period is hard. Very hard. Incredibly hard.

(7) Things you were able to eat while pregnant, you may not be able to eat while you're nursing (example: I could eat onions while pregnant, but can't eat them while nursing because it makes Connor VERY sick).

(8) That your brain is literally sucked out during delivery and doesn't return for a while.

(9) That pumping would be THIS hard.

(10) That after you have a baby, you can not only be hormonal, but certifiably crazy....like crying in the car because your husband asked you why you were dialing a number...and translating his question into the idea that he is YELLING at you...literally yelling.

And a bonus:

(11) That you forget what pregnancy is truly like almost immediately after giving birth. Otherwise, how else could we do it all over again??!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

First, Smile Photos...Now Smile Videos

Connor continues to play with us and smiles more and more daily! It's so funny how you can see so many other babies smile and coo, but when your OWN baby does it, it's like no other baby in the whole world has ever smiled at you before! I just think, "We created that. We made him. How did something so perfect come from us?"


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Six Weeks Old

Last week I mentioned that Connor started smiling and this week I was able to capture it. This is his first smile photo ever!! So much is happening that it's hard to capture it all. He's begun gaining control of his arms and can manage to hold his paci in his mouth quite often. He loves being held and can absolutely recognize us. His appetite skyrocketed this week and went from eating 1 oz every couple of hours to 2-3 ounces. When I left him with my mom last week, he only ate 2 ounces from about 8am-3pm and this past Monday when I dropped him off at daycare for the first time, he ate almost 9 ounces!!

Weekly Photos and New Link

I've been trying to figure out a good way to display Connor's weekly photos, so that we can see the comparison. I tried the slideshow at the top of the blog, but I didn't feel like it was easy to see (you have to sit there while it plays). So I'm trying something new. To the right of the blog, there is a link to The Howards' pictures. I have created a weekly photo album. It will make it easier to see how much he's growing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

San Francisco

This past weekend we packed up the car and headed on a little mini-vacation. First Stop: San Francisco.

First we had to make sure Connor had warm enough clothes for the chilly city of San Fran!
After packing our bags, we headed to The City. We checked into our hotel, The Sheraton, and then went straight to Pier 39 to introduce our little one to a fun hangout. We were starving and decided to try the Hard Rock Cafe on the pier. It was Connor's first taste of San Francisco and we wanted to make it memorable and apparently, so did the restaurant hostess. She did something I have never seen done before!!! Drum roll, please! She gave our 5 WEEK OLD INFANT a children's menu and crayons. Mr. Howard and I laughed our heads off at this and even took a photo of Connor with his menu and his red crayon! You can see how memorable it was for him:

Daddy and I, however, had a great time!
We then headed out to the pier for some picture-taking. Connor mostly slept through the whole experience and it took us a while to get a photo. Unfortunately, despite the fact that my hair is blowing away and Connor is making fists (visibly upset), this was the best we could do.
Mr. Howard didn't have the same hair problem (as you can see), but did still have the same fussy baby problem.
What you can't see in the above pictures is the fact that as people would go by us, they would point and stare, oohing and ahhing at the adorable tiny baby in our arms. Of course, did a single one of them offer to take a photo of the entire family? No! They just mocked us as we tried desperately to get a single good photo!
As you can see from the photo below, the Fussy Baby problem did not remedy itself upon the return of Connor to his cozy carrier.
After our End of Pier Calamity, we decided to end the night with some frozen yogurt.
We headed home to our lovely, warm, cozy king size bed (a very nice treat, as we've had an infant wedged between us on our queen bed for the last 5 weeks) and called it a night. It was the perfect end to a wonderful trip!

Moro Bay

After a relaxing, sleep-filled night (Connor slept through the whole night), we woke up and headed to a delicious Saturday morning buffet! We got on the road and began our beautiful drive down the coast.


We couldn't leave without one last photo in San Francisco (look my hair isn't blowing away):
We stopped at one of the biggest lighthouses in America, which was built in 1872: The Pigeon Point Light Station
Afterwards, we continued down the coast to the beautiful Moro Bay:
We couldn't pass up some photo opportunities on the coast:

What made the drive so much more fun was the fact that we were in the Mini. We could coast along the 1 Freeway engaging in what Mr. Howard and his fellow mini owners call: Mini Motoring.
After "motoring" for 2 hours, we made our way to Monterey!

Monterey

Upon arriving in Monterey, we first stopped at a garage to meet my parents. My dad lead us down the stairs, where he showed us his new (well new to him) 1957 Lincoln Mark II. Afterwards, we walked to the Old Fisherman's Wharf where we ate lunch.

We finally got a family picture from our trip
After lunch, we made the mile walk to Cannery Row where we oohed and ahhed at the view, strolled the main promenade, and shopped.

That evening, Connor made his very first trip to a five star dining experience: The Sardine Factory. We all got dressed up (well, everyone, except baby Howard - they don't make suits for infants - I checked) and headed to the restaurant.


We dined in the Captains Room (hence the walls behind us):
For our appetizer, we had fried artichoke rings, Dungeness crab & prawn cocktail, calamari puffs. For dinner Mr. Howard and I both ordered meals - which we split with each other! I had the 1/2 Lobster Tail & Petite Fillet Mignon and Mr. Howard had the No. 1 Sashimi Grade Ahi Tuna, Coriander Crusted which was seared rare with citrus aioli, wakame & soba noodle salad and sweet soy dipping sauce. MMMMMMMMM. We all ordered cocktails and a delicious wine (they won the Best Wine List in America award). Thanks Mom and Dad for taking Connor to his first fancy dinner! :-)

Carmel-by-the-Sea

On Sunday morning, Mr. Howard and my dad headed off to Pebble Beach Concourse d'Elegance. My mom, Connor, and I headed off to Carmel to shop and explore the stunning city! I could have spent hours photographing all the shops and houses, but I have only included a few of the highlights.

After a few purchases at Coach and a tourist shop, we headed to a delicious lunch. As you can see, Connor was quite enthused about the whole trip!


We journeyed a little further South down the coast and took Connor to his FIRST BEACH ever!! I'm not entirely sure what my hair is doing in the photo (this seems to be a theme on our vacation):
Nana and Connor
Beautiful Views:
We ended our Carmel trip with a scenic tour of the homes near town. They were absolutely breathtaking and left my mom and I wanting to own a house there. Of course our grandiose plans of moving to Carmel were put on halt when we discovered a "tear-down" 2 bedroom house that was for sale for $999,000. We decided we'd both move there when one of us wins the lottery (I guess we'll need to discuss that with our husbands at some point). The quaint houses in Carmel have no street addresses. Instead they are identified by adorable little names attached to the front of all the houses (the one pictured below is "La Maison Rustique" or The Rustic House).
After leaving Carmel, we met up with the boys and began the trek back to the very sweltering Sacramento (we went from highs of 68 to highs of 101). The trip ended with a final dinner in Davis at Mikuni for sushi!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

First Smile

Connor had his first smile this week. It was very shortlived, so much, in fact, that it left me wondering if I had really seen it. Of course I googled "Babies Smiling" (wondering if it was just gas or an involuntary face) and found out babies can start smiling as early as four weeks.

He just melts my heart!

Five Weeks Old

We took several photos for his five week picture, but I liked the one to the right best. There is a hilarious one where he is wailing too (well, hilarious, I guess is relative).

So obviously we do not have a genius baby who is speaking real words yet, but Connor did speak for the first time this week. It was his first non-squeek/non-coo noise. It was a definite word said loudly with a perfectly content look on his face. I'm sure he knew what he was saying, but Daddy and I filled in our own blanks. Whenever he'd say it, I would say, "Hi Mommy!" Whenever Mr. Howard would hear it, he would say, "Is that so?"

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Little "Working Mommy" Practice

I had to temporarily go back to work to get my classroom set up and my sub squared away and it was the first day I had to leave my baby boy. While it was incredibly difficult, it was great practice for me on a day when I didn't have to teach. I was able to practice pumping and am far less nervous about the whole ordeal. I love that I get the best of both worlds: a stay-at-home mommy (SAHM) 2 months a year and a working mommy the rest of the time. Although, I wish that the SAHM part could last longer. Thankfully, my mom could watch him, which also made the transition less stressful for both Connor and me.


Most importantly, I survived!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Visit With Amy & Joe

Amy and her boyfriend Joe came over to visit Connor for the first time and of course, catch up with Mr. Howard and I (we hope). We had a great time and were sooo happy they made the trek from Southern California to visit!

I had so meant to get a picture while they were here, but I got busy talking and catching up and completely forgot. So, you'll have to imagine Connor in the middle of them. :-)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Many Faces He Makes

This video is from when he was one week old:

Life Goes By Sooo Fast

A friend posted this on her facebook:


We love you, baby boy!

Lyrics:
He didn't have to wake up
He'd been up all night
Layin’ there in bed listenin’
To his new born baby cry
He makes a pot of coffee
He splashes water on his face
His wife gives him a kiss and says
It gonna be OK

It won’t be like this for long
One day soon we'll look back laughin’
At the week we brought her home
This phase is gonna fly by
So baby just hold on
‘Cause it won't be like this for long

Four years later ‘bout 4:30
She's crawling in their bed
And when he drops her off at preschool
She's clinging to his leg
The teacher peels her off of him
He says what can I do
She says now don't you worry
This’ll only last a week or two

It won’t be like this for long
One day soon you'll drop her off
And she won’t even know you're gone
This phase is gonna fly by
If you can just hold on
It won’t be like this for long

Some day soon she'll be a teenager
And at times he'll think she hates him
Then he'll walk her down the aisle
And he'll raise her veil
But right now she's up and cryin’
And the truth is that he don't mind
As he kisses her good night
And she says her prayers

He lays down there beside her
‘Til her eyes are finally closed
And just watchin’ her it breaks his heart
Cause he already knows

It won’t be like this for long
One day soon that little girl is gonna be
All grown up and gone
Yeah, this phase is gonna fly by
So, he's tryin’ to hold on

‘Cause it won’t be like this for long

It won’t be like this for long

Friday, August 7, 2009

Not a Dry Eye in the House

I was literally asking my friend Jen yesterday whether or not her daughter Ellie had started crying tears and if she knew when babies start to produce them. And guess what happened today?? My little baby boy cried his first tear. About an hour ago I put him in his crib so that I could get a few things done and within minutes he was in hysterics. When I went to get him out of his crib, there it was - one single tear on his right cheek. Somehow the presence of tears made his pain seem so much more real and I found myself wanting to cry too. Uh-oh! I think he may already have me wrapped around his finger!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Four Weeks Old

How on earth can we have a four week old baby already?!? I think this is going to be the theme of these updates for the next 18 years. He's been incredibly fussy the past few days during the day, but last night he slept 5.5 hours, so I'm hoping that the trend will continue tonight!

Typical New Mommy

Because I had experience with countless babies from my babysitting, nanny, and pre-school work, I have escaped a lot of the typical new mom experiences. I never worried when we brought him home from the hospital that he would stop breathing. I never stressed about little coos or squeaks when he was in his cradle at night. I never worried that I would break him or how I should hold him. I thought I was an old pro....that is, until today!

Mr. Howard went off to work and I was charged with watching our baby boy. After making myself breakfast, I returned to our little one and found him with a wet back and hair. I had just changed him, but somehow he had managed to pee all over himself. I was a little nervous about bathing him by myself (he's so squirmy and can't control his head yet, which makes him vulnerable to squirm his head into the water), but I undertook the task. "How many babies have I successfully bathed sans Mr. Howard? 20? 30? 40?" I asked myself. Heck, I was even a lifeguard at a few toddler's parties. I got the camera ready, got his little towel and wash cloth, filled the tub, and put him in the bath.

Things went pretty well and I even snapped a few adorable photos for his baby book. I took him out and put him in my lap, getting ready to put lotion on his legs and feet (they're still peely), when all of a sudden I heard him "gurgle breathing." It sounded, I swear, as though he had swallowed water and had it in his lungs. Even though logically I knew this couldn't be possible as I had never taken my eyes off him, I panicked. "He's drowning," was my first thought. My second thought was, "I have to get to the phone to call Mom. She'll know what to do." After burping him a bit and having my mom tell me there was no way he could be full of water, I calmed down. His breathing went back to normal and he's taking a nap now (FYI: I've checked on him twice to make sure he's still breathing). :-)

I guess no mom, no matter how experienced, escapes the new mommy syndrome.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Connor's First Train Ride

Yesterday, we took Kathe and Tim to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. There we were able to see 21 locomotives and cars. Although Connor certainly is too little to appreciate it, we'll have tons of pictures for him when he's older. We also took a train ride (see picture above) along the levees of the Sacramento River.

The view from the train (below):
Connor slept through the train ride, but we have documentation (below):
One of the locomotives (below):
Connor, Kathe, Tim, and I in one of the trains (below):

Birthday

For my birthday yesterday, my wonderful husband took me out to dinner at Ruth's Chris and we had the most delicious food EVER! Of course, this begins the birthdays that will forever (well, at least for the next 20 years or so) involve babysitters. Mr. Howard's parents were gracious enough to stay home with Connor and love him for us (he also got his very FIRST bottle ever).

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