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 I was searching for articles discussing laughter and babies and stumbled upon this…

“We start laughing around 3.5 to 4 months old; Scientists believe it is a way to build relationships, not necessarily as a response to something funny.”

This makes a lot of sense if you stop to think about laughter in relation to babies.  We acquire the ability to laugh long before we acquire the capacity to speak words.  Therefore, laughter serves as a means of communication and a bonding activity between a baby and its parent or, in cases like ours, its sibling.  A parent gets a baby to laugh and then continues to do the behavior that illicits the laughter. In turn, the baby carries on laughing at the antics of the parent almost as a means of positive reinforcement.

The laughter of babies and what it might portray about the workings of babies’ brains is being studied by Birkbeck Babylab, a London based research group.  The most popular post on their Baby Laughter project blog is the discussion of “should we tickle babies”.  When it comes to tickling, something to consider is that the idea of tickling is not necessarily a pleasant experience for everyone.  In fact, many adults do not enjoy being tickled and because babies cannot defend themselves, perhaps they shouldn’t be tickled. One theory about why we are ticklish is so that we are sensitive to bugs and small parasites that might crawl on our skin while we are asleep.  A pretty creepy thought, I must say, but it certainly does help to explain the reason we wiggle and squirm away from the tickling.  The researchers believe that babies, for the most part, do enjoy being tickled and actually probably see tickling as a game they can play with their favorite people.  The researchers go on to suggest that babies can tell you by crying or squirming away when they have had enough. So, as long as we pay attention to their cues, tickling can be a fun way to trigger a baby’s laughter and reinforce that bond between parent and child.

Rigby sure does seem to enjoy it and, as I mentioned in his four month update, I find it to be one of the cutest things I’ve ever witnessed!

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Giving Up My Day Job

  I’m a lucky, lucky lady. My days are filled with so much wonder that I often find myself in awe of these two boys of mine. I’ve been a Mama for nearly 6 years (??!!!???) now, yet I’m still learning the ropes of parenting every day. Recently, we made the decision that I will quit my day job, for at least a few years, to devote more of myself to these two rad dudes of ours and to my sweet husband and home. I’m pretty sure my learning curve won’t grow exponentially as I navigate this new role, but I sure do feel grateful for this opportunity. I’m over the moon to be around for all of Rigby’s “firsts” and to be able to walk Jack back and forth to school each day while he is still allowing me to hold his hand and to kiss him hello and goodbye. 
  

 

I know the days of little boy Jack are numbered…the eye rolls and looks of exasperation have already been happening for months. And, earlier this summer, when we went to see Inside Out, he climbed into my lap only to be disappointed that his growing body couldn’t quite get comfy. Instead, he kissed my cheek as he climbed back into his own chair to finish the movie and my broken heart was left to mend.

   

I want to savor these days. I want to be home to bake cookies and make delicious homemade snacks and dinners. I want to build Legos and read chapter books out loud, I even want to change diapers! I also want to be around to foster this budding friendship between these two boys of mine because that’s what I believe is my most important job as a parent.  My greatest wish is for these two to be best buds for life.

But, I also want to read smart magazines and good books so that I can be an interesting conversationalist and I want to photograph more with our real camera and I want to do more writing and I want to keep up with the latest nutrition research. I have a growing fear that my intellectual abilities will start to diminish, that my brain will turn to child mush and I will have nothing interesting to talk about with grown-ups. I know my day will look a lot different than David’s, which is full of academic stimulation and a self-driven quest for learning, I just need to stop comparing the two and be okay with the differences. 

 

I’m searching for my way. Trying to find balance in my new role. Trying to stay patient with the boys despite feeling the need to be doing a million things at one time (nursing, making lunch, and listening to Jack tell his 15th story of the day while looking at his latest Lego creation all while the dishes pile up and Sadie is begging for her dinner). Trying to enjoy this luxury, which I realize is a great luxury, of being able to stay at home rather than feeling inadequate that what I’m doing is not quite good or worthy enough.

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Six Weeks Old

 

A friend told me that a baby’s fussiest period is between weeks 4-8. I am hoping this is true as we are smack in the middle of that window of time, and I can assure you that nothing is wrong with Rigby’s lungs. He exercises them most evenings, falling into the stereotypical baby bewitching hour(s) routine which consists of loud wails and Mama bouncing him up and down in the baby Bjorn or baby wrap while trying to eat dinner and then passing him off to Pops or Nonna while we do Jack’s bedtime story.

   
   

Our once magic sleeper-baby has woken up and turned into a real baby, a waker-baby. As of the past week, we seemed to have figured out our day time hours with a reliable routine of scheduled nursing times, the morning spent outside on the deck and then on a walk/run, 2 good naps (on his belly- please don’t tell the baby police!), and then a crying period around our dinner time. But the night time, well that is a different story. He easily falls asleep in his crib after he nurses at 7:30pm, but this is the last reliable part of our day, This waker-baby of ours is loud, like really very LOUD, and he has decided that the crib is not the place for him after 11:00pm. It turns out that he would like to be held all the time extra please, and he hasn’t the faintest idea how to fall asleep and gets rather upset about it. And when I say upset, I mean he wails, he does not simply whine or fuss.

   
 
 

Remarkably, I have faced this wakeful, refusing to sleep in his crib baby business with patience, which is probably an artifact of this being baby number two (and last) and understanding that it passes so quickly these sleepy (sleepless) days. Of course, there are times in the night I have to say to myself, quit it. He is a newborn. He doesn’t have to shape up. He doesn’t have to get with the program. He can do whatever he wants or needs. One day all this lack of sleep and discussion about how to approach the nights will be a distant memory. I think I perhaps see his worst at midnight. But I’m not really seeing him, I’m just fretting over my lack of sleep and his future sleep habits, which is undeniably important but not the stuff that defines life.

  
 

I love when I am able to stay in the moment and see his best. Like when he wakes up to the sunlight and stares at me with his big blue eyes as he nurses. When Jack comes into our room in the mornings and crawls into bed next to us and Rigby just stares in awe at his big brother. When he curls up on his play mat or in our bed to take his naps with his little bottom sticking up into the air and his hands folded up underneath his face. When he perches on my shoulder or chest and I rub his bare back that feels softer than the softest fabric. I love watching him watch shadows dance or the leaves blow in the breeze. I love to watch him discovering the world and appreciating the things that are wondrous but often taken for granted. I am thankful for theses moments when I can take pause and dream about who he is right now and who he will be.

  
   
   
  

Sleep or no sleep, we love you sweet Rigby!

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Last Tuesday marked my original due date and Rigby’s 16th day of life. Despite having to endure labor contractions, we feel so lucky that Rigby chose his own birthday and, particularly, that he chose to arrive early. My last weeks of pregnancy were pretty uncomfortable.  As expected, the days are slipping past so quickly; I wanted to capture some memories, along with many photos, of course, of Rigby’s first few weeks of life.

I unexpectedly went into labor at 4:00 in the morning of April 26th.  Jack, quite thankfully, was spending the night out at a dear friend’s house so despite not being able to tell him in person that his little brother was coming, we knew he would be well taken care of which eased our worries for him.  We got ourselves and things ready (since I had a c-section scheduled for May 5th, we had not yet packed our hospital bags or even installed the infant car seat!) and headed to the hospital around 8:30am. After being monitored and checked in triage for about an hour or so and learning (with great joy and relief) that my OB, Dr. Flum, was the OB on call that day, I started being prepped for Rigby’s birthday!

 

Rigby arrived at 11:31am on Sunday, April 26th. To say that the actual c-section was as different as night and day when compared to Jack’s isn’t quite doing it justice. It was strangely peaceful in the OR and I was completely pain free. The whole surgery was brief. They were able to pull Rigby’s head out without any trouble (even though his eyes and face were bruised to a bluish-purple like he was working really hard to try to push his way out), but his shoulders were wedged in pretty tight and they all commented that he was like a little line backer. When he was finally pulled out, he let us all hear how well his lungs were developed and when he gets mad, he still has this same very loud cry! When they showed him to us, our tears started flowing as we squeezed each other’s hands a bit tighter. There is nothing quite like meeting your babe for the first time.

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I only had to wait a few minutes until I was able to hold him skin to skin, and I just drank in that newborn smell while falling in love as his eyes met mine and he peered up at me as if he were thinking, “Oh, there you are! I’ve been anxious to meet you, Mama”. I was moved from the OR to the recovery room where we stayed for 2 hours under the care of a wonderful nurse, Allison. After recovery, I was moved down to the 4th floor, which became our base for the next two days and nights.

Shortly after being settled into the room, Jack was brought up to the hospital to meet his little brother. The meeting was such a sweet exchange between brothers that I hope was the beginning of a close lifetime bond between Jack and Rigby. I was holding Rigby in the bed as I was still unable to get up and Jack came right over to snuggle with us and then requested to hold Rigby himself. The love he felt immediately for his brother was so touching as he showered him with kisses and snuggles. Jack came back for a visit on night 2 and this time he ate his dinner with us before returning to another dear friend’s house for a 2 night sleepover. So thankful for such a wonderful community!

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We were discharged on Tuesday, a week before Rigby’s scheduled arrival, and we enjoyed a Thai food lunch with a beer to celebrate our homecoming. David picked Jack up from school that afternoon and we kicked off our life as a family of four. Jack has had some trouble adjusting to his role as big brother, but with every day, things seem to be getting a little better. And, despite, some unusually mean behaviors towards us which drives this hormonal Mama to near daily sobs, he has shown nothing but adoration towards Rigby and is always wanting to be close and to help. We have taken extra care to carve out some special activities for him like an ice cream outing and to uphold some of our typical routines like bedtime and morning book reading and drawing, but I know he is not so fond of Rigby being in my lap so often for nursing and the undeniable changes that have impacted his world, for good and bad.

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After a few days of just the four of us, our visitors began to arrive. First, came my Mom and Dad along with my Aunt Diane and Uncle Wayne.  We are so appreciative of my parents for agreeing to spend their summer here with us. It’s been so nice to be able to do the simple things like take a shower every day, to have help with errand running and meals, to have a clean kitchen at the end of the day, and, most importantly, to have their company.  Next, my sister arrived for nearly a week visit.  And, Mother’s Day weekend, brought the arrival of my wonderful sister-in-law, Martha. Having such great visitors was a treat for all of us, particularly for Jack.

So far Rigby is a dreamy newborn.  He nurses well, when I can keep him awake, and he is sleeping so well swaddled in his crib at night that we keep pinching ourselves and waiting for the day when he really wakes up and decides that he no longer likes sleeping or his crib!

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Rigby Joseph is now 3 weeks old and growing even faster than the weeds in our garden which we are currently not tending since we are busy tending to him.  He entered this world at 6 lbs and 11.2 oz and lost down to 5 lbs and 15 oz before his weight regain began. Now he weighs more than he did at birth.

He’s had a busy two weeks and checked off a lot of “firsts” for being such a little guy…he has been to his first doctor visit (twice, actually), his first tee ball game x 2, swim lesson x 2, a trip to a brewery and several meals at a restaurant, a stroller walk, Trader Joe’s shopping, his first holiday celebrations – both Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day, and his first picnic. The second child always achieves these firsts much sooner given life’s structure, I presume.

And, he has already earned several nicknames: Rig, Rigo, Rigster, Moonshine, and Rig-a-ma-roll.

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Oh, how all of our lives have changed in two weeks! I still have trouble believing that I actually get to kiss and hold and mother these two beautiful boys. I feel like the luckiest Mama, especially, since I have the most amazing life partner to share it all with.  These boys have a great Dada.

Welcome to the world baby Rigby…we love you so!

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We celebrated Jack’s 5th birthday at Bob’s Corn and Pumpkin Farm surrounded by friends and a beautiful, yet muddy, setting of corn fields and pumpkin patches.

 

 

 

 

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It was a Star Wars themed party so we made light sabers as party favors and Jack got a “real” Darth Vader red light saber.  These were more of a hit than we could have imagined!  Turns out 4 and 5 year olds love to pretend fight and run around!

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We shot the apple canon, rode the cow train, and played in our own part of the kid’s corn maze, nestled between the tall rows of corn.

 

 

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And, we, of course, had birthday treats- Devil’s Food cupcakes with cream cheese frosting decorated with Star Wars characters.  It was a fun fall afternoon and the birthday boy was all smiles!  I was so happy to find a festive outdoor venue to host the party…we will probably use this type of setting again.

Happy Birthday, sweet boy!  Cannot believe you are soon turning FIVE!

 

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Jack played t-ball for the first time last month. In fact, it was his first team sports experience outside of school. I won’t say it was all fun and games…there was one night where we both left crying after a long and completely frustrating protest of t-ball playing. It was one of those moments that leaves you, as a parent, wondering why you are even doing said activity in the first place. It drove me to read parenting articles and blogs, which led me to a clearer perspective of my goals and a plan to use in navigating this obstacle moving forward.

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And, I’m relieved to say that, aside from that one night, we all 3 had a blast meeting new friends and Jack loved being part of a team and learning something new. He was quite serious about it at times- check out that look of pure determination when he’s running the bases with his tongue sticking out, just as his Auntie used to do- and there were moments where he was completely the opposite of serious- when he twirled around in the field with his glove atop his head or when he sat on the base cones and pretended they were horses. In other words, he acted just a t-ball player should.
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This week Jack starts a new t-ball league, with actual games, that lasts through August. We are looking forward to more fun, more new friends, and more mastery of skills. And, of course, the most exciting things- trophies and end of the season parties (with baseball cupcakes)!

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These sweet freckles make me weak in the knees.
Photo credit goes to David; picture taken on Jack’s last day of Lil’ Sluggers t-ball.

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