Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolve.

I enjoy a fresh start.

In my life, each year presents itself with multiple fresh starts, and I take advantage of every one.  I get New Years, I get two new semesters, I get summer break, I get Lent.  I enjoy making goals and organizing my thoughts.  This year, I'm being a little ambitious.

Last year, I was pregnant, and to me, that was the only thing I needed to concentrate on.  I was eating healthier, I was in good shape.  Nothing was more important to me than having a healthy, successful pregnancy.  This year, I have other (smaller) goals.

I'm breaking them up into small chunks.  A few are year-long, but others are monthly or seasonal.  I'm only committing to a few now.  I don't know what my priorities may need to be come March (that's when I'll hear back from graduate schools).  I'm also not posting all of them here, but I'll leave you with a few.

For 2012, I want to simplify my life.  Fewer junk emails, fewer online obligations, less stuff.  Most of my other goals work into that.

  • By Elliott's first birthday, I want be back in shape.  When my little guy turns one in July, I want the only reminders of my pregnancy to be pictures, the wisdom I gained, and of course, my little man.
  • During Lent, I'm going to make a square-a-day blanket.  I'm also going to do the modified 40 Days, 40 Bags challenge from Clover Lane.
  • January's goal is to be 100% ready for the History semester, and flexibly ready for my American Studies class.  I've taught the history class now 5 semesters, so my assignments are refined and my lectures just need a little tweaking.  I'm teaching a new class this year, so I know when that happens, being too unyielding is detrimental overall.
  • In February (in which we have an extra day!), I will have my kitchen in order by the end of the month.  This includes meal planning, organizing, and just eating better.
  • In March, in honor of the Academy Awards, I will write a movie review every day and revive my movie blog.  I got a movie journal for Christmas, so I'll watch movies throughout January and February, but I'll make sure there are 31 new articles / reviews on my movie blog during the month of March.
  • I also have a reading goal of 20 books for the year.  I'm terrible about reading, which is especially sad considering my profession.  When I'm assigned new books, I read them, but I don't just sit down and read.  I got some great books for Christmas, and I always have quality access to books.  I have a GoodReads account, so I'll keep track and review there.
These may seem ambitious, but they don't cost a cent, and they will help me achieve all of my year-long goals.  I'll add to these after I see what the graduate school situation is (or isn't).  

Happy New Year!

- J & M (& E & B)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Elliott's First Christmas!

Someone couldn't wait to open presents...6am.

One of the many super cool outfits he got.

We'll wait a few years, but we do love Charlotte's Web

Rock 'n' roll!  

Special gift from Mama.

Jason, Elliott, and Grandma Bebe.
Christmas was wonderful!  A few notes:

1. We got so many wonderful things for Christmas and we are truly blessed to have such wonderful family members.  The highlight of the gifts include: PJ pants that look like acid washed jeans (Jason); Beatles print   and a Vera Bradley laptop case (Megan); and a stuffed aquarium (Elliott).  Again, we loved everything and didn't have to (or want to) exchange a thing.

2. We are exhausted.  Elliott is definitely feeling the rush-around.  We've had plans every day, and even though Elliott hasn't joined us on each one, being left with a babysitter (grandparents), its a disruption to his schedule.  We have all had colds.

3.  Church was weird.  People don't know how to dress for mass anymore.  Casual jeans and hoodies are not acceptable church-wear, even for Saturday vigil.  Nor are hooker heels and too-short dresses.  The homily was REALLY WEIRD.  The theme was "Christmas is for adults only."  Father likened it to fireworks.  It made no sense and I really hope he didn't give it at the 6:30 children's mass.  I'm also still getting used to the changes in the mass's wording, so I felt silly.

- J & M.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmastime is Here!

Christmas is here, and I have a lot to post about!

Starting the day after Thanksgiving, Jason and I decorated for Christmas.  Over the last few years, I have accumulated some really nice stuff, so I don't overdo it and I didn't buy any new decorations this year.  I don't have picture right now, but if I find the time, I'll post some.

The only things we didn't have were stockings.  Jason and I (and Barney) have celebrated Christmas Eve and Day at our family's homes, so my childhood stocking is still at my parents' and Jason's mom has stockings for us there.  We don't have one for Elliott, and at our house, we don't have one for either of us.  Barney, on the other hand, has two.  Go figure.  (Side note: One is actually going to reside permanently at Grandma or Nana's house).  So, we went to Target.  I didn't want to spend much, but I knew Target had a good selection.  I was initially inspired by one of my readers, MJ, to get matching stockings for us, preferably with our initials on them.  I thought that was a nice touch.  Well, J and M were in supply, but forget finding E.  They must have had a run on them or something.  So, we ended up getting stockings that matched our personalities better.  Jason and I have knitted stockings that remind us of our craftiness.  Elliott's actually goes well with Barney's.  They are both fleece appliques' with cuteness by the pound.  Elliott's is a skiing snow man, and Barney's is a cat (of course).  They look really nice hung up on our wall (in an apartment, you don't have a hearth and you don't have a staircase, so the wall it is).

Stocking traditions are interesting to me.  My family fills our stockings with small things: nail polish, gift cards, toiletries, gum, a bag of our favorite candy, hair things, and a clementine in the toe.  We love clementines, and it keeps things from falling into the abyss that is the toe.  In Jason's family, it is pretty much all candy and a gift card or two.  Jill puts other little things on gifts to sass them up.  Last year, Jason and I got a Christmas ornament that was a "Y," so Jill used that almost like a gift tag.

What are your feelings on stockings?  What gifts do you put in them, if any, or are they strictly decoration?  What are your traditions?  What do yours look like?

- J & M.

Monday, December 5, 2011

In Praise of the Moby

This entry is brought to you by the Moby.

What is a Moby?  Oh, it is a lifesaver.  It allows me to comfort my son when his teeth and gums are so very sore, while also making dinner or grading papers.  Right now, he is asleep on my chest, calm as could be.  20 minutes ago, he was crying and giving me that look.  Moms know that look.  It says "Mama, why are my gums on fire?  AHHHHHHH!"  A few minutes of walking around in the wrap (with the lights low) and he is out.

The wrap is one of those things that people stereotype in Mommyland. Some women see the wrap and think "Attachment Parent!  Oh noes!"  I used to.  I lumped it in with crunchy granola parenting practices such as nursing until age three, co-sleeping, and raising gender-free children.  However, I saw it in action not long before I got pregnant.  It was on the street, and the couple was having a quiet conversation, and their little one was blissfully dozing.  They looked a lot like me and Jason.  I registered for one.  My cousin's wife used it with much success, and when I opened it at my shower (thanks Aunt Jan), she immediately sang its praises.  Another friend used it when she and her family chaperoned a school trip to Italy.

I tried it early on, once I got confident even holding E.  He was not happy about it.  I asked the friend who used it in Italy (in the summer, no less) for advice.  "It's all about confidence," she stated.  "If you seem tentative and awkward, he won't feel as secure."  I tried again when E was about 4 weeks old.  He fell asleep immediately.  I used it for the next couple of weeks, including on our beach vacation.  When we stayed a night at a hotel, I used it to carry him to breakfast and eat.  After the earthquake, I carried him around for the next few hours, just to calm my nerves.

At about 2 months, he wanted nothing to do with it again.  He was too big for the newborn hold, but did not possess the muscle development to hold his head in the hug hold.  I put the Moby away, assuming I wouldn't see it again until Baby #2 (which is a number of years away).

Cut to the past week.  Elliott has been teething and inconsolable during the late afternoon and early evening.  He wants to be held and walked around the apartment, which as he pushes 16 or 17 pounds, does a number on my arms and back.  I thought about the Moby.  I slipped him in (he has excellent head control and has for a little while) and he fell asleep.  I used it at my parent's this past weekend.  Jason learned to use it on Sunday.

I honestly urge Mamas with colic-y or "high-needs" babies to give the Moby a try.  It's a bit pricy ($40), so ask to borrow one from a friend.  I had great success, but some babies may not take to it as well.

 - J & M.

PS: This product endorsement is all due to the joy of having a happy baby.  Moby did not pay me to say any of this.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Shopping, How I Loathe Thee.

This weekend, I went out on my first shopping trip of the year.  It was not a pretty sight.

Almost every year, my mom, her sisters (and sister-in-law), and her mother go on what we now call "The Brewer Ladies Shopping Trip."  For years, it let them spend time with each other, go on a little trip, and be kid-free to shop for Christmas.  It changes every year, but the girl cousins usually have to be a certain age to go on the trip.  For a while, it was once you were 21, but this year we included my youngest cousin on the trip (it was a more casual day trip and she's 12 1/2, so we weren't carting around a little kid).  Anyway, it's always a lot of fun to spend the day shopping, eating out, and laughing (we find everything funny).

This year, we went to the PA Christmas and Gift Show, which takes place at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Arena.  The Farm Show is PA's version of the state fair.  Food, a rodeo, and lots of animals and farm / country supplies.  It's a unique experience.  Because January is a quiet time in the life of a farmer, the Farm Show takes place then, and the show is all indoors at the arena.  It's a MASSIVE building.  The PA Christmas and Gift Show is a MASSIVE craft / gift fair.  I was overwhelmed.  I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but I kept my eyes open for more unique gifts, which I found.

We were also grossly unprepared.  We thought by eating a hearty breakfast and getting cash, we'd be in the clear.  In the parking lot, families were hauling out those grocery carts that you use in the city to haul food, giant tote bags, and strollers to the door.  They were in it to win it.  We were just there to look good.  We all had cute outfits on, but we should have worn matching T-shirts and sneakers.  We were a group of 8, and we lost each other constantly in the shuffle.  There were over a thousand vendors.  ONE THOUSAND.  People were leaving with loads of stuff, just to go back in!  I left with a book for Elliott and some soaps (handmade in Bucks County.  I had to go all the way to Harrisburg to find Bucks Country soaps).

We left exhausted.  My mom and aunts say they'll go again next year.  I don't know if I will.

After a late lunch / early dinner, we headed home.  My Aunt Chris had driven Elliott and I to Harrisburg on Friday night, and Grandpa watched E all day.  Jason met my aunt and I at KOP to switch cars, and boy was that a mistake.  I forgot that KOP is a zoo in December.  I'm so glad I'm doing almost all my shopping online.

The day would have probably been easier if Elliott hadn't had some tummy and teething issues the night before, finally falling fast asleep at 4 am.  I was flying solo (well, without Jason), so I was pretty tired in the morning.  It's amazing what you can do if you really want to.  I went to sleep last night at 10pm.  I woke up at 9.  I feel much better.

What shopping traditions, if any, do you have?

- J & M.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crafty Lady Tuesday on Thursday

I failed.  I was ready to post on Tuesday, but life took off without me.  Grading papers, teething babies.  Both required my attention, one a little more loudly than the other.  On to crafting!

Every serious crafter, no matter what his/her craft, one day wishes for a space set aside for your pursuits.  When I was a kid, my parents finished the basement, and along one wall was a long counter, puncuated with cabinets.  At the end was a huge cubboard for games and craft supplies.  My mom stored her sewing machine and its accoutrement, while Sarah and I stowed our markers and Perler beads in the drawers.  My dad did a fantastic job.  Today, I long for such a space.  A place where I could leave my projects out and not have to start all over every time I want to work.

When we moved into our current apartment, I wanted to ensure my things were organized, and the first on my list were craft supplies.  An abandoned dresser, far too small to hold anyones wardrobe, holds my scrapbooking supplies, ribbon, tape, scissors, stickers, and notions.  In the hall closet, I housed my two plastic drawer towers of yarn and used the shelf to hold my scrapbooks (I have 8).  I wanted to make a table out of the the drawers, but the space wasn't wide enough.

Anyway, one day we'll have a house with the space for an office / craft room.  I want a glass topped table, that way paint and glue are easily cleaned up.  Ikea has a few really beautiful options.  This End Up has sturdy kids furniture that would be good for Elliott to craft along-side Mama.  Sarah and I had that brand of stuff in our playroom growing up, and aside from the marker, it held up well.

Because I prefer to hide my things in drawers, it can be difficult to find supplies when I need them.  This is why I love Ravelry.  It has a feature to organize your yarn (pictures and other tools so you can look through your supplies before you dig through drawers), hooks, patterns, needles, and even their "notebook" feature to track the progress of  your projects.  Most patterns can be stored in your "library," along with the books you may own in real life.  It takes a little time to get it set up, but once it is, it truly makes life easier.

I'm thinking of opening an Etsy store, but I really don't want to have to pay commission on my sales.  I would really rather just sell things on my blog or something and install a "PayPal" button.  I don't know. I'm saving those decisions for after the holidays.  I have a lot of gifts (and a couple of commissions!) to make.

This was a boring craft post, but I wanted to discuss it.

- J & M.

Recipes coming soon!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Elliott's First Thanksgiving

The holidays are going to bring about so many "Elliott's firsts," and I'm glad that Thanksgiving went so well.  Christmas will be a lot more complicated, but I think Elliott will do well.

On Wednesday night, Elliott went to bed easily, which allowed Jason and I to finish our baking and "cooking" for Thanksgiving.  Jason made mint-chocolate cookies, which are always delicious, and I made a mango salsa.  We wanted everything finished before bed so we could just get up, shower, and go in the morning.

It didn't feel like Thanksgiving when I woke up.  This was the first Thanksgiving that I couldn't watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Jason and I don't have cable or anything, and we had to get ready anyway.  I watched some clips online, but it obviously wasn't the same.  We also thought we'd hit serious traffic on the way to my aunt's house, but we didn't see anything!  We made record time.

When we got there, Elliott was almost instantly picked-up by his Aunt Sarah, who he hasn't seen since August.  Everyone was excited to play with him and cuddle him, which is probably why he was exhausted by about 2 o'clock.  We ate a delicious dinner (my mango salsa was gone well before we sat down to eat), and Elliott slept until about 5:30!  I even took a walk with my aunt, mom, sister, and grandparents.  My sister wanted to see the Muppet movie, so after Elliott woke up, he got settled in with Grandma Tay-Tay (my mom), and Jason, Sarah, and I had a great time at the movies.  It was so nice to spend time with my sister while she was home.  It makes me antsy for Christmas.

We stayed at Aunt Chris' until about 10, when we decided it was time to head out.  We made record time home and we all went right to bed, which was about 2 hours before Jason and I normally do.

On Friday, we had a second Thanksgiving with Jason's parents and brother.  Jason and I rearranged our apartment to make it more conducive to a dinner party, and we actually decided to leave it this way.  We have some other things to move, but it looks pretty good.  We never used our table before, but now we use it a lot.  Anyway, the dinner was really nice.  We had pasta-in-a-pot, which is kind of like lasagna, but with shells.  Jill also made a banana cream pudding pie, which is one of my favorites.

The rest of the weekend was just like any other.  Saturday, Jason worked, and today we shopped and did things around the house.  I have a few projects I want to get done before the end of the year, so I'm working hard whenever I can to finish them.

I have another post in the works for Crafty Lady Tuesday.  :)

- J & M.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful.

It's Elliott's first Thanksgiving, and we are so thankful for everything we have!

Barney is thankful for...
 - His "mommy" and "daddy" who take care of him, scratch his ears, and feed him.
 - His "brother" who DOES NOT pull on his tail or mess with him.
 - his toys and comfy bed.
 - the birds, squirrels, and leaves that entertain him all day.

Elliott is thankful for...
 - Mama and Daddy, who love him and take care of him.
 - His extended family, who visit him as much as they can and love him.
 - His "brother" Barney who sniffs his head.
 - Teething rings and his toys, which help him relieve his sore gums.

Jason and Megan are thankful for...
 - Each other.
 - Jobs that let them support their family.
 - Their healthy happy little boy (and the fairly easy pregnancy)
 - Their (mostly) sweet and fluffy kitty-cat.
 - Their families and friends, who have supported them 100% through this last crazy year.

Enjoy time with your families tomorrow, and enjoy the weekend of turkey-based leftovers.

- J & M.

Crafty Lady Tuesday

Starting today, and continuing when I remember, I'm going to post on Tuesdays about my latest craft projects.  I have a craft "tumblr" and a Ravelry account, the latter of which is essential for anyone who knits or crochets.  Tumblr, Ravelry, and Pinterest all provide me with a lot of inspiration, both for needlecraft and for other little ideas.

I can't actually discuss many of the projects I'm currently working on because they are gifts for readers of this blog and I'd hate to spoil the surprise.  Therefore, to get things started, I'm going to answer this 30 Days of Crochet questionnaire from Tumblr.


1: What was your first finished project? - It was a pink hat from Stitch 'n' Bitch: The Happy Hooker, which is still my favorite crochet guide.  I messed up a little on the bottom and it ended up flaring out, probably because I didn't count correctly and wasn't using stitch markers.  I dressed it up with a little ribbon, but I don't wear it a lot.  Still, I was pretty proud.
2: What is currently on your hooks? - The advantage of having a lot of hooks (thanks Jason!) is that I can have a lot of projects going at once.  Some are almost done and in the sewing stage, while others are actually in the design and layout stage.
Day 3: Do you have any other WIPs (works in progress)? - My official WIP's (the items I have started crocheting) include a blanket for my cousin's daughter (baby gift to one-year gift to Christmas...)and a blanket for Elliott for Christmas  I've finished  A LOT of long term projects lately.  I also have a lot of projects on deck for Christmas.
Day 4: How did you learn how to crochet? - I tried to learn from videos online and from a small book I bought at the craft store.  However, a little help from my friend Jenny and her copy of SnB (I have my own now) got me moving.
Day 5: How long did it take from the time your learned how to crochet, to finish your first project? - Not long at all.  That's the beauty of crochet, to me at least.  You can learn a few basic stitches that build on one another, and complete a project that's not just a scarf in a few hours.  
Day 6: What is your favorite piece that you’ve crochet? - This is really difficult to answer, since I've completed a number of really cool things in the last year.  Asher's blanket, my La Salle cowl, and the owl hats I made for Little Miss Anne and Kaius are probably my favorites off the top of my head.
Day 7: Your least favorite? - I started making a kitten stuffed animal for a friend's daughter and it looked like a convict's art therapy project.  I finished it and kept it for myself.  The face I had sewn on it was just too cute to frog it (rip it out, for non-crocheters).
Day 8: What’s your most challenging project? - In retrospect, none of my projects seem too difficult because I've mastered the stitches by now.  The "Wool Eater" blanket included a lot of new skills, but I got into that quickly.  I bought a pattern for an ear-warmer a year ago and few people on Ravelry can figure it out.  The designer has gone AWOL, and those who did complete it can't actually explain how they did it.  I'm annoyed because it should be easy, and my sister requested it as a gift, and I still haven't come through.  I get really ambitious with projects for my sister, and as a result, she gets very few finished items.  
Day 9: What fiber or yarn do you love working with? - I adore cotton and any sort of merino wool blend.  Cotton is a workhorse fiber, while merino is soooo soft.
Day 10: Do you have a favorite pattern or designer? - Hannah Kaminsky makes adorable little amigurumi creations (it's a Japanese form of crochet that is used for making stuffed animals).  I usually have trouble with the sewing parts of amigurumi, but her instructions are just so easy to follow and they are worth the time.  I love any designer who takes the time to write a clear and concise pattern that is easy to understand.  I'll go back to them again and again.
Day 11: Do you have a “Crocheting Hero” or someone that is just way too awesome for their own good? Do share! - Again, those designers like Hannah Kaminsky impress me.  I don't know how to design projects yet, or at least the inspiration hasn't struck me, so I'm super jealous of their skills.  My friend Jill is an amazing knitter, so I look up to her when it comes to needlecraft in general. 
Day 12: Where do you keep your stash? - We are blessed with ample closet space in our apartment.  Because Elliott is small, he doesn't really need his closet, so we use that for storage.  Our hall closet is used for crafts and other fun things we use a lot, like puzzles, board games, and exercise stuff.  I have my stash and supplies organized in there.  My other craft supplies are in a dresser in the hall way.  
Day 13: Do you have yarn that you love but can’t find a project for? - Yes.  I bought bamboo yarn (so soft) for a project that didn't work out.  I still haven't found that special project, although I do currently have some contenders.
Day 14: What’s the worst yarn/fiber that you’ve worked with and why?* - Any really cheap, stiff acrylic (Red Heart Super Saver or Caron One Pound comes to mind).  It's no fun to wear (itchy) and isn't fun to touch while I'm making stuff.
Day 15: What was your least favorite pattern and why?* - Almost any amigurumi that requires me to sew on arms, legs, ears, etc.  My sewing on things like that looks terrible.  
Day 16: Have you ever had a crocheting related injury? - Right after I had Elliott, my wrists got sore from nursing, pumping, and crocheting, so I'll say that's a crochet related injury.  
Day 17: Have you ever had a project that you loved become ruined? What’s the story behind it? - No, thank goodness.  If that happened, I'd rather not know.
Day 18: What are your preferred hooks made from (metal, steel, bamboo, wood, plastic)? - Maybe I'm odd, but I love metal hooks.  They don't get caught on the cheap yarn I buy and they slide through everything easily.
Day 19: Do you watch movies and/or listen to podcasts while crocheting? What are your favorite things to crochet to? - I usually crochet while watching TV.  I've never been able to sit and watch TV without doing something else.  As a kid, I would craft or color in coloring books.  Now I crochet.  I love to crochet to Parks and Recreation (because I've seen the episodes so many times) or one of my many favorite movies.
Day 20: Do you crochet in public? Was anyone offended/incredibly happy/curious that you were doing so? - I usually don't because the project just doesn't allow it.  I did when I was pregnant at doctor's appointments and during tests.  I also crochet while my students are taking tests so I'm not just sitting there.
Day 21: Do you crochet gifts for friends and family for the holidays or birthdays? - Goodness, yes.
Day 22: Have you ever stricken someone off your to-crochet-for list because they didn’t appreciate/take care of your last crochet gift to them? - No, but I do think about that sometimes.  When I first started crocheting, I gave a number of people things that I am now not 100% happy with, so they can stuff them in the back of their closets, and I would not be offended.
Day 23: If you had the supplies (and patience) for it, what project would you start today? - There is a really cute cardigan that I want to make.  It's blue striped, 1/2 sleeves, and really the perfect cardigan in terms of weight and style.  It's going to take a lot of not-so-cheap yarn though, so I'm hoping to get some gift cards or the like to defray the cost over Christmas.
Day 24: Have you ever made your own pattern or dyed your own yarn? How did it turn out? - I'm working on a Mario Brothers scarf for my cousin (a design anyway), but it's only partly original, so I guess my answer is sort of.  
Day 25: Do you have a crocheting book or a place where you keep patterns, ideas, size measurements? - I have an accordian file where I keep all of my patterns.  However, it's getting a little tight in there, so I might move to a 3-ring binder.
Day 26: Have you ever been a part, or wanted to be a part of a crochet-a-long? What was it? If not, why? - I've wanted to be a part of one, but I really can't crochet on someone else's time table right now.
Day 27: How do you acquire most of yarn? Online retailers, local yarn shops, swaps, or large chain craft stores? What’s your favorite? - I buy everything at chain stores.  I'd love to be cool and hip and such and buy my supplies at independent stores, but I just don't have the cash flow.
Day 28: Do you do any other crafts besides crochet? What are they, and did learning to crochet come before or after learning these other crafts? - I'm re-learning to knit; I scrapbook, decoupage, and do a lot of DIY projects.  
Day 29: Do you have any tips, or things that you’ve learned from crochet? - I've learned to be realistic about my time.  I used to think I could get more crochet done in a certain time, but now I know what my abilities are and how long things will actually take me.
Day 30: What’s your name on Ravelry? If you don’t have a Ravelry account, why? - I do have a Ravelry account, and I suggest everyone who crochets or knits signs up.  It's an invaluable resource.  Tons of free patterns, access to beautiful pay-patterns, and the other members are always happy to leave a supportive comment or answer questions about mutual projects.

Hope you enjoy!  Comment with questions or things you'd like to see in the future.

- J & M.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

4 Months!

We cannot believe our little peanut is four months old already.  There are days when it feels like we just came home from the hospital, and others when it feels like a lifetime ago.  We don't have our 4-month appointment for another 2 weeks (scheduling issue at the doctor's office), so we don't have any stats, but we estimate that he is about 15 pounds, based on previous weight gain.

Elliott is teething, which has been a joy (ahem).  He's just miserable at times, and it's very difficult to watch him cry.  We try to do what we can (cold teethers, Tylenol, washcloths, fingers), but sometimes nothing works.  If anyone has any other solutions, we'd be happy to hear them.

He's also working on rolling from back to belly, which is pretty cute to watch.  He enjoys when I sing with (read: to) him, especially "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider," "If You're Happy and You Know It," "Octopus' Garden," and "The Tiki Room."  I also modified the song "Lollipop" to say "Elliott" and he enjoys that too, especially the part where we make the popping noise.

We had a very long day yesterday, and he was great all day.  We went to Homecoming at La Salle, and he let our friends hold him and talk to him.  We then went to a party about 30 minutes away and he was pretty agreeable.  He went right to bed after, and so did we.

Here are some 4-month shots:

I'd do business with this trustworthy face.

What do you mean that Greece is defaulting?

Attempt at self-soothing.

I love seeing this little face everyday.
This week has a lot going on.  Short work weeks for me and Jason (which translates into more Elliott time), Thanksgiving with my family, Friday-Thanksgiving with Jason's family, and possibly a dinner out with my best lady friends (plus men and baby).

- J & M.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's How Elliott Rolls...

Since we were all battling colds and midterms, I haven't updated much.  However, based on the number of projects I've finished, I'm pretty cool with that.

First, I have a goal to be back at pre-pregnancy weight by my 26th birthday.  It's a month away, and I'm only about 5 pounds away, so a totally do-able goal.  I want to be back in shape by April (the first possible time I would end up at the beach...outlandish, I know).  I'm trying to eat better (although I have a real weakness for sweets and things that are easy to make).  I'm starting a work-out regimen that includes yoga, walking, and pilates.  That being said, Jason's making "Once a Year Cupcakes" tonight.  They're yellow cupcakes with chocolate icing...and filled with cookie dough.

Elliott is growing up too fast.  There, I said it.  He's starting to teethe (what?!), rolling over, working on sitting up, and developing a personality.  When I look at him, I don't see a newborn, but almost a little kid.  It doesn't help that he's at a healthy weight, so he just looks bigger.  Here's a video of him rolling over:


Finally, I'm finally (FINALLY) learning to get things done with Elliott is actually awake.  I go to work a little earlier than usual (like, 20 minutes earlier), and I manage to get a lot more done at work.  This way, I can more or less keep work at work (for now).  It helps me enjoy my time with Elliott more.  My mind is here with him, rather than in my work bag.  If I need to clean, I set him up in his bouncy-chair and talk to him while I clean.  I'm sure it's exciting, but at least we are still learning words and singing.  Finally, I save leisure projects (crochet, blogging) for naps.  I know I only have an hour (more if I'm lucky) to work, so I get my mind in gear and focus.  As a result, I have completed a number of projects that have been in my "to-do" box for YEARS.  Honestly.  Not finishing projects had nothing to do with lack of time, just lack of focus (or in the case of a year ago, lack of alertness).

Well, cupcakes are done!  For my loyal readers, I will be featured soon on a blog called "Early Mama" in the next few weeks.  She talked to me about being considered a young mom, as well as my impending role as a Ph.D. student-mom.  I'll link it when it goes up.

Question: Should I start a blog about crafting, or feature it here?  I'm curious to see what my more dedicated bloggers say.

 - J & M.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sniffles.

The change of seasons has brought a set of three colds to the Yinger home.  Jason has a cold that wipes him out, my cold is due to allergies, and Elliott is just especially stuffy, which makes being a happy baby more difficult.  I'm trying to use natural remedies (vitamins, Vicks, fluids) to help my symptoms, while only taking Clariten (sp.) for my allergies.  When I was pregnant, it was OK, so I figure it is even less present now while nursing.  I've been trying to use all the remedies we can for Elliott.  We got him baby nose drops, baby Vicks (which smells amazing...they should make a larger tub of the stuff for adults), and a cool-mist humidifier.  He's always been a little stuffy, and we've been meaning to pick up the humidifier for weeks.  The problem with being a stuffy baby is that it interrupts his sleep and makes eating a whole new challenge.  Despite it all, he's actually been a fairly happy baby.

Last week was so busy because of midterms, so I'm happy to have a chance to breathe, get some things done, and not grade!

I'm also still debating taking E out to trick-or-treating.  I keep thinking "why not?"  He has a costume, and we live next to a cute little neighborhood.  It would be a good excuse for a walk.  On the other hand, I'd be by myself.  Maybe I can get a friend to come out with me.

- J & M.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

3 Months!

Sorry we've been MIA lately; it's just been a busy few weeks.

Elliott has been developing by leaps and bounds lately.  He can hold himself up (for a little while) on his arms, although we're still working on that skill, since he can only seem to do it for short spurts.  He started really laughing and smiling.  Today, he actually started to try rolling over from his belly to his back.  He gets sort of stuck on his arm.  He'll get it.

He had his 3 month "birthday" on Saturday, and we celebrated with a new crocheted toy and a lot of naps. I barely got any pictures because he just slept the sunlight away.  He was up late the night before because we had eaten Taco Soup, and something in it that got into my system didn't agree with him.  He wasn't fussy, just not able to sleep.  He seemed content to schmooze with the ladies at our little party we had.  His Nana and Grandpa visited him on Sunday.

I really feel like I've bonded with him in a new way.  Before, it was the feeling of him needing me that really drew us together.  Now, it's a little more mutual.  Because he has started smiling, laughing, and "talking" (or really just making noises as if he is talking), I feel like the interaction is two-way.  We read books, we watch movies, we play on the floor, and we just enjoy each other's company.  I know this is a long way off, but I will really miss cuddling on the couch when he gets too big.

Here are some pictures of Elliott (and Jason and I) over the last few weeks:

Modeling the newest fashions from Mama's crochet hook.

M & J at Pat and Kimm's wedding...we do exist!

Strongest baby in three counties.

"Mama, can I stop being strong?"

Me and my E.

Happy 3-month old.

Unhappy 3-month old.

Thanks for the new toy, Mama.
We have another big week ahead.  I have two consecutive assignments to grade.  Once I'm done with a smaller paper (3-4 pages, and only 1/2 the students chose this assignment), I'll have midterms.  Ugh.  Jason has a lot of work to get done for his grad class' research assignment.

I found out my new work schedule for the spring, and I'm pretty thrilled with the way it came out.  I'll teach my American history survey course to three separate sections, and I'll run my seminar on Tuesdays.  This is a full course load, all from La Salle.  No more writing to teach / grade!  I love teaching at La Salle, so this spring will be very enjoyable.  It will require a little more juggling, and a lot more grading, but I'll also get by knowing that it is my last semester of teaching before graduate school starts in the fall (I'll keep you updated on the status of that as it develops).

- J & M.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Autumn Appears

At every change of the season, I get excited.  I'm tired of heat and humidity, and I'm more than ready for the crisp fall air.  I adore fall for a number of reasons: The changing foliage, especially on drives to Central PA via the Turnpike; high school football; Halloween, and the candy that comes with it; and the approach to Thanksgiving.  This year, everything is more exciting because it is all "Elliott's first."  He has a sort-of Halloween costume.  It's a Halloween themed onesie and a pumpkin hat.  I don't know where to go trick-or-treating, and I can't go home because our area does it the Thursday before, and that's obviously not possible.  Perhaps near-by friends will take us along.  It's not that important, since he can't eat the candy anyway!

I started decorating, but I'll finish with the Halloween stuff in a week or so.  It seems like jumping the gun to put it up in September.

I'm also so busy with a number of projects.  I'm applying to graduate schools to hopefully enter a Ph.D program next fall.  I have a number of crochet projects to finish and start.  Because I'm teaching a seminar this spring, I need to plan for that, as it is a brand-new class.  Finally, I have to keep up with work and grading.  It's quite exhausting!

We have a few things to look forward to in the coming weeks.  Two good friends are getting married, and my parents are coming up to babysit over night, giving Jason and I a night away.  Other friends are visiting, my dad's birthday is in a few weeks, and my sister comes home at Thanksgiving.  Hopefully, Elliott will be baptized in the next few months, but it really depends on when my sister (his godmother) can be here from Raleigh.

What kind of fun fall things do you have planned?

- J & M.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Busy week!

We Yingers have had quite the busy week!

Last Saturday, my parents came up to visit.  They like to see Elliott about every 2 weeks, so we've been lucky enough to see them more than ever.  They helped me get our apartment in order because it's hard sometimes between work and Elliott to really get cleaning done the way I want.  If I have someone here to entertain E, it's much easier.  Afterwards we went to Main Street at Exton, which is a pretty extensive outdoor mall.  We also met up with my Aunt Chris, who lives nearby, and my dad watched Elliott while the ladies looked around and shopped.  I found some really neat stuff at Pier 1, and I actually can't wait to go back before Christmas.  We ended the day with soup and sandwiches at Aunt Chris (I'm still wishing I had more homemade chicken noodle soup).

On Monday, Elliott and I ventured across the Delaware to the Allen's for a jewelry party.  While I really didn't look at jewelry much, I did get to catch up with Sara, and Elliott got passed around between her parents.  It was a successful little trip.  It was the longest trip I've gone on with just Elliott, so I feel much more confident that I can do things on my own.

Elliott had his two-month appointment on Thursday, and it turns out we have quite the big boy.  He weighs 12 pounds and 8 ounces (12 1/2 pounds!), which is in the 75th percentile.  He's 22 3/4" long, and his head is 16" around.  He had to have his bellybutton cauterized because something wasn't healing as well as it should (he didn't feel it, as your bellybutton has no nerves!) and he did pretty well for his shots.  Granted, he cried, but he didn't stay upset for long and was just sleepy afterward.  Otherwise, he hasn't seemed to have any side effects.  Yay!

Today we are waiting for Jason's parents to come visit.  They haven't seen Elliott since Labor Day, so I'm sure they'll be fascinated by all the changes he's made over time.

Right now, the "year of babies" is really ramping up.  One friend just had a baby on Thursday, and my friend Nancy is ready to pop.  I know no less than 17 people who either are pregnant or have a child under the age of one.  Elliott will have lots of cousins and new friends around his age.  I'm totally OK with this.

Here are some new pictures of our guy:

Playing with Grandma Tay-Tay.

Just being sweet.

Look at that grasp!

Hanging out with Aunt Chris.
 - J & M.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

2 Months Old!

Happy 2 Month Old.


Today, September 15th, Elliott Zachary is 2 months old.  I'm amazed at how much he has changed, but also how much he has stayed the same.

He is still the happy, adaptable boy we brought home from the hospital.  When we took him to Mom and Dad McGee's over Labor Day, he was happy to sleep in the Pack 'n' Play away from Mommy and Daddy.  He let the cats sniff him and anyone who wanted to hold him was greeted with a smile.  He still looks like a baby version of my dad, which almost everyone who knows my dad comments on.  He's still the easy little dude we love.

On the changes front, he has really started to enjoy playing with toys and following them with his eyes.  He is happiest watching his mobile go around and around.  He's sleeping like a champ too.  He goes down usually between 9 and 10 and wakes up between 6 and 7 for a bottle or nursing session, then he's down again until about 9 or 10.  Bathtime is another favorite of Elliott's.  He is also growing hair on the top of his head to match the hair on the sides.  He looked like a man with male-pattern baldness until this week.  It's so fuzzy and cute!

This weekend we're looking forward to a visit from Grandma and Grandpa and possibly a little trip to my aunt and uncle's.  It'll be nice to get out of the apartment for something other than work.  When I'm home after work, I don't go anywhere because Jason has the car.  Therefore, I have to rely on friends to come and visit me.  Meg and Em visited on separate occasions, which helped break up the week.  We're also still working on getting the house in order.  I'm purging stuff like crazy because we just have so much that stays in boxes with each move.  It's nice to have the extra storage space.

I wonder what month three has in store for us!

- J & M.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Zzzzz...

In my last post I discussed Elliott's sleep issues.  We took the advice of many of our friends and family, and we seem to be finding success.

We now have a pre-bed routine.  It sometimes includes a bath (other times he gets a bath before a nap...either way: bath = sleep).  It always includes a story, then a bottle with just a nightlight on.  The last three nights he has fallen asleep pretty easily that way.  Tonight, though, since I was the one putting him to bed, he wasn't happy until he nursed again.  He's asleep now, but he's stirring...

Saturday into Sunday he slept 9:45p to 7:40a, and Sunday into today he slept 9:00p to 6:30a.  It's awesome and I hope it lasts for a little while.  :)

- J & M.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sweet Sleep

Sleep has been on our minds a lot this week.

We spent the Labor Day holiday with our families, staying at my parents' house.  Elliott got carried around by everyone, especially my dad.  It was wonderful to see our families and friends, since this was the first time we had gone to Harrisburg since Elliott was born.

However, since this weekend, Elliott has not been sleeping as well as before.  His naps are all over the place, if he even takes one, and getting him to sleep at night is difficult.  Jason generally takes bedtime duty, although I've been trying to get E to sleep earlier (Jason doesn't get home until 11pm certain nights!).

Someone mentioned to me that around 8 and 9 weeks, babies have what is called "a wonder week," in which they are making a huge developmental leap forward, and may exhibit regressive behaviors to deal with the new skills or stimuli.  If this is the case, we'll just keep on doing what we are doing and wait for it to pass.  Otherwise, I'm not sure if we need to change his bedtime routine.

Tonight took hours.  We think gas was the culprit, but we're not sure.

On the plus side, once he does get to sleep, he stays down for 6 or so hours.

- J & M.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lessons Learned

Here we are about 7 weeks into Elliott's "time on the outside," and I would like to think that I've learned some things.  I can survive and thrive on the same amount of sleep that I did in college, I can balance things better than I thought, and I love sitting in rocking chairs.

I'm sure every mom looks back at the things she "had to have" and thinks "how silly."  Granted, certain things won't be useful until Elliott gets a little older, but other things have already proven to be either life-savers or space-wasters.

LIFE SAVERS
1. Bottle brush: Because my dishwasher leaves a lot to be desired with my bottles, I love using a bottle brush.  Mine even has a hidden brush in the handle for a small brush to clean tight spots.
2. Boppy: What would any nursing mom do without this wonder pillow!  My arms would probably give out before Elliott was finished with each session.  Also, it's a great way to prop him up to play with him. Could they make adult Boppys?
3. Pack 'n' Play: We use this so E can sleep in our room.  It's portable, so we can pull it from one room to the other if need be.  It's great for traveling, although we've only used my mother-in-law's so far (she bought one from a friend to have at her house for her and my mom to use).
4. Medela pump / bottles: I've had great luck with this pump (I use the hand-model...I wasn't impressed by the electric model in the hospital).  The great thing is that any bottle or container from that brand is meant to work with the pump.  I can pump right into bottles!  Silly, I know, but nice to only dirty one container.
5. Hand-sanitizer: All babies have less-than-awesome immune systems, so it's always a good rule of thumb to scrub up before you touch a little one.  However, after having an ICN baby, and having to literally scrub up when we entered the nursery, we are really into keeping our hands super clean.  We have little bottles in every bag and purse, and we have larger pumps in the living room and our bedroom.  I even keep a little bottle in the dresser / changing table so I can wash up without walking away.
6. Baby tub: Some people can deal with a sink or tub and freestyle it; we can't.  Ours has a little shelf built in for his little bum to rest on.  Plus, it's a whale and has little toys to attach to it when he gets a little older.
7. Glider: He's soothed by it, so it's awesome.  Ours has a gliding foot rest too.
8. Diaper bag: This kinda goes without saying, but we love our diaper bag.  It's perfect.  We have the Skip Hop bag, which has a lot of pockets that are easy to access with one hand, as well as a cell phone pocket and a holder for a water bottle.
9. Dry Erase Marker: I use this to temporarily mark bottles after pumping so I remember which one to use first.
10. Water Bottle: I used one to death (literally...it eventually cracked) when I was pregnant, but I use this just as much now since I'm nursing.  I have a 25 oz Camelback, which doesn't spill and is easy to carry and clean.

SPACE WASTERS
1. Dishwasher rack: I think it's the quality of my dishwasher, but all my bottles come out spotty and the nipples don't really look clean.  I just use my handy-dandy bottle brush instead.
2. Mittens / socks: Elliott doesn't keep these on, and it's pretty hot out to boot.
3. Diaper holder: It's not super close to the changing table, so we don't really use it.  It's holding the Luvs diapers that we don't use right now.  Luvs leak for Elliott.  Lame.
4. Changing "table" & mobile on Pack 'n' Play: The mobile is not being used because for a while, we moved the PnP all the time.  I guess we could put it back on now that we don't move it.  The changing table on it tilts, making diaper changes interesting.
5. Baby powder and oil: Perhaps I just haven't found the reason for baby oil, but I just don't use it (and I have two GIANT bottles of it).  I registered for these massive containers, thinking they were baby care staples...not so much.  I did the same with Vaseline though and that was a good decision.  Apparently baby powder is also no longer en vogue, but it's lavender scented, so I'll just use it in the summer to keep dry.

NICE TO HAVE, BUT NOT ESSENTIAL
1. Burt's Bees Baby Bee products: These smell so good and they work just wonderfully.  Elliott smells like lavender and honey when his bath is over.  :)
2. Wipe Warmer: Right now, it's a wipe holder (we just buy wipe refills), but in the winter I'm sure it will be nice for him not to have cold wipes.
3. Moby Wrap: I use this a little around the house, but because of the heat, I have held off.  He likes being in there and being close to me.  I used it on vacation only once, which was to go to breakfast.  The rest of the week was too hot.
4. Diaper Genie: It's a glorified trash can.  We got it for free, so no complaints.  I also made a diaper pail out of a kitty litter pail (they are huge and air tight).  I covered it with fabric, but it's not the best looking thing in the world.  Oh well.

There you have it!

 - J & M.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Preparedness Pays Off

Before Irene arrived, I wrote a post about how we were preparing for her wrath.  I have never been so glad I prepped for something in my life. 


(Following paragraph reposted from my other blog, Chex in the City.)


We decided against leaving, despite my parents' "invitation" (I think they were using Irene as an excuse to see Elliott).  Around 10pm on Saturday, I deeply regretted that decision.  The lights in our parking lot were out, so we couldn't see what was going on.  Our electricity stayed on (thank God), so at least we had the internet for information.  At about quarter to 2, just as I was drifting off to sleep in the living room, a strange alarm started sounding.  I woke Jason, who grabbed Elliott, and I attempted to wrangle Barney into his carrier, with no success.  Jason and I switched "dependents," and I got Elliott into his car seat.  I put my shoes on, grabbed the car keys and prepared to leave.  But hold on...what is this alarm for?  We had already experienced tornado warnings, so do we go to the basement, or was this flooding, in which case we should probably just chill on the 2nd floor.  Or, perhaps, was it a fire and if so, where do we go in this storm during a fire?  I looked out in the hall.  No one was leaving their apartments.  Hmm.  Jason finally got Barney into the carrier, and we pondered our next move.  Jason ran down to the lobby to see if anyone was down there and had more info.  He returned with the report: there was one guy downstairs just as confused as we were.  We headed back to the lobby, evac bag, baby, cat, and diaper bag in tow.  We were totally prepared to leave at any moment because of the storm.  After about 10 minutes in the lobby, where about 3 more sleepy people joined us, the alarm went off.  The firemen, who responded to the alarm, believed it was tripped by the weather.  Great.  So much for sleep. 


Jason and I spent the rest of the night watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix.  Elliott was pretty unfazed about the whole thing, and Barney just stayed close the rest of the day.  Around 4am, the storm calmed and we decided to go back to sleep.  In the light of day, we discovered that Evil Tree, whose branch had totaled my parents' car in April, had bit the dust, damaging nothing more than the fence it was adjacent to.  The tree was dead, or dying, so it's not surprising that it went.  The other trees, while they made us nervous, are very healthy, so they stayed strong.  


Good riddance, Evil Tree.




This week, we are looking forward to calm and beautiful weather, craft nights, getting back to work (La Salle cancelled Monday and Tuesday classes, so that won't be until Wednesday), and Labor Day weekend.  Elliott will get to meet his Great-Grandma Bebe, see Oma and Pappy again (my grandparents), as well as Grandpa Marc, Grandma Tay-Tay, Nana, and Grandpa Dave.  There might be some other family and friends involved, since this is our first trip "home" since he was born.  :)


How did you "weather" Irene?  We hope you stayed safe and dry.  


- J & M.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Disaster Planning.

I have lived in the Mid-Atlantic region my entire life.  I was born in North Plainfield, NJ and moved to Mechanicsburg when I was 4.  I attended school in Philadelphia and Middletown (PA), and returned to Philadelphia when I got married.  I know what hazards we face here and how to prepare.  When a blizzard approaches, buy milk, bread, and eggs, and hope for the best.  If a tornado is possible, find an interior room and hope for the best.

That being said, I was and am very prepared for the disasters of this week.  I'm fascinated by geology and have been since I was about 8 years old.  I'm fully aware of what to do in an earthquake: Duck, cover, and hold.  In other words, get down under a piece of heavy furniture (a desk or table is good), and stay there until the shaking stops.  Don't run outside like a ninny.  You run the very high risk of something falling on you from the exterior of the building.  It seemed during our seismic event this past week that EVERYONE I talked to ran outside.  No!  Bad!  Don't do that!  Buildings here are grounded in solid bedrock and aren't going to just topple over because they're not built with earthquakes in mind.  You are safer inside.  Still, it was pretty scary when the earthquake happened because I didn't register what was going on right away.  I thought it was my neighbor walking upstairs.  It was only when Barney bolted under the bed and cried that I realized it was an earthquake.  Animals generally sense the ground movement earlier, especially cats and dogs (they can feel it in their paw pads!).  I ran back to Elliott, who was sleeping peacefully in the Pack 'n' Play, scooped him up, and got under the doorframe, mainly because there wasn't an easy piece of furniture to get under while holding an infant.

For this hurricane, we have taken a few precautions, since we decided to stay in our apartment (which is under no evacuation notices):
 - We moved our car far away from the scary trees.
 - We gathered important documents into a ziploc bag.
 - That bag is ready to go in our go-bag, which has some important items in case we do have to leave in a hurry.
 - Elliott's diaper bag is fully stocked and ready at a moment's notice.
 - We took everything off of our patio.  We don't want our things to become projectiles.
 - We are ready to gather Elliott and Barney at a moment's notice.

Preparedness is the most important thing in a situation like this, and I think we are ready.

Stay safe readers, and we'll see you on the other side of Irene (and this surprise long weekend; I was supposed to return to work on Monday, but they cancelled classes for Monday and Tuesday)

- J & M.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Smiles.

Elliott's all smiles at one month.


I was just reading over the last two posts I put up before vacation, and so much has changed in those almost-2-weeks.

First, the day mom came up to help was INCREDIBLY productive.  Before Jason even left for work at 1:30, he got a hair cut and got the oil changed in the car, and we at home reorganized the kitchen and started spaghetti sauce (I always make spaghetti sauce before vacation to take with us so we don't have to cook the first night...it's a big hit).  After he left, I went to Target for some last minute vacation stuff (a new tankini, sunblock, and other supplies) and I got my pedicure!  It was delightful.  When my pedicurist found out that I had just had a baby, she didn't believe me.  It's nice to be returning to pre-baby form so quickly.  I came home to a house that was vacuumed, dusted, and tidied.  How lovely!  Mom and I made pizza margherita for dinner and watched 30 Rock together before she left.  It was a lovely day.

My plan for Thursday was to get packed and prepped all day and go to bed early.  Well, Elliott wanted less nap time and more mommy time, so I didn't have a free moment  until about 8pm.  Jason and I gave E a bath and then prepped until his next feeding at 2am, then we all slept.  We woke up at 7:30 on Friday with intentions to leave at 9.  Ha!  We had enough trouble getting out the door on time with no kids, so right now, E just gives us a better excuse.  We finally got on the road at 10am (after a stop at Dunkin' Donuts) and had a fairly uneventful trip to Elizabeth City, where we stayed the night with Jason's family at a hotel to break up the trip.  This is tradition, not a new thing because of the baby.  We did hit a snag with the AC in the car; it just, essentially, got tired.  This resulted in sweaty parents and a cranky baby.  We made lots of stops so E could get changed and eat and get out of the car-seat (which if it's not moving, he really doesn't care for).  Once we got the hotel, we sponged him off, changed him from head to toe, and he was the happy E we love.

Elliott in his polo onesie at the wedding.
The ride to Avon was pretty good.  E was sleepy and sweet.  We couldn't get into the house until 4 (argh), so we squatted on our covered porch until the house was ready.  The rest of the week was relaxing and wonderful.  Some highlights:
  - Elliott is now smiling socially, not just due to gas.
  - Elliott turned one-month old.
  - We attended the wedding of family friends on the beach, and we had a great time.
  - Elliott started sleeping longer at  night!  It's not every night, but I can count on a few nights a week of 6+ hours in a row.  I don't want to call it "sleeping through the night," but we're getting closer.
  - Jason and I finally saw Harry Potter.  We had seen almost all the others on opening day or at midnight showings, but this year we were in labor when the movie debuted.
  - I read a ton and got some crocheting accomplished.

It was a great week.  The drive home was good, but long.  When we returned home, we discovered that the storms had knocked some of our power out...some things work and some don't.  We hope to have that resolved soon.  My parents visited yesterday to see Elliott, and Megan was finally able to meet him (she was in a German-language immersion program at Middlebury College in Vermont for the last seven weeks.)

School starts next week, so I'm sure we'll be busy around here.  I'm looking forward to the stimulation of work, but not the being-away-from-Elliott part.


His shirt says it all.

 - J & M.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mmmm.

Today was a pretty good day.

Elliott napped a lot, providing me with the time to crochet, prep for vacation, and watch Downton Abbey.  He wanted to cuddle most of the evening, which was adorable.  When Jason got home, we gave him his first bath in his little whale tub, put Elliott in his jammies, and he went right to sleep.  Now Jason is making me fried brownies and Oreos.  Sounds gross?  Trust me...it's not.

- J & M.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On My Own.

Jason returned to work last week, and this week, I'm flying solo during the day.  His mom was wonderful enough to help me, and my sister was here on Monday, but yesterday I was a one-man wolf pack.  I think it was successful, although the urge to call Jason in frustration appeared a few times (and I resisted).

Elliott cluster feeds almost everyday, and yesterday was no exception.  I should just assume he's cluster feeding if he cries because that seems to be the only reason he gets upset.  He makes me sad when he cries because I just want to fix whatever is making him unhappy.  Last night was kinda hellish for us, as he was cluster feeding from 8 pm until 4 am.  We gave him formula twice, just so I could get more than a half-hour of sleep.  I hate relying on formula for the extra sleep, but Jason has no other way to feed him!

At the pediatrician today, we got some sage advice on combatting cluster feedings, mainly through keeping my supply up so Elliott doesn't feel like he needs to cluster feed.  First, we will forgo formula as much as possible for the next week or so.  I cannot miss a feeding, since this early in the breastfeeding experience, my supply is "fragile."  One missed feeding and  my body may begin to assume that I'm over breastfeeding.  Crazy.  If I have to miss for some reason, I need to pump instead.  Second, we learned to help him sleep better over all.  We used to swaddle him with his arms out, as he would pull them out on his own.  Now, we learned to swaddle him with his arms straight down.  He may not like it at first, but it will keep him from his arms waking him up accidentally.  If he startles, his arms may hit him and wake him up more, and as a result he may think it's time to eat.  A brush from his arm also may trick him into thinking food is near and he'll start rooting and want to eat.  Hopefully all this will keep him sleeping soundly between feedings.

Despite all this, which makes it sound like breastfeeding is so hard, he is growing well and feeding is usually very easy and makes him happy.  He is 8 pounds, 15 ounces (50th percentile), 21 inches (25th percentile), and his head is 15 inches (also 50th percentile).  Right on target.  I knew he was growing fast, as my arms were trying to adapt to my quickly growing boy, but I had no idea he gained a pound and a half in two weeks!  The doctor also mentioned that growth spurts will also bring on restless nights and cluster feedings, so last night might have been partially due to that as well.

After my mid-day nap, I was super productive.  We got rid of the bed that was in his nursery (well, just a really good futon mattress, but we gave up looking for a frame and gave it to my sister, who is moving this weekend).  This opened up a ton of space, so I rearranged his nursery a bit.  I also organized some of my crafting supplies, and perhaps after dinner, I'll do some crocheting.

We leave for vacation in a little over a week, so I have a list of things to get done.  Nothing crazy, just cleaning and packing and normal vacation prep.  My mom is coming up for a day next week to help me out with this, so I think it's totally do-able.  My parents and sister also treated me to a pedicure, which I'll get while my mom is here to babysit.  I'm so excited.  I love getting pedicures, but I haven't gotten one since about a month before I got pregnant.  I considered getting one around month eight or nine, but the idea of the fumes put me off.  I'm also psyched for vacation because we will have a lot of help with the baby and I'll get to relax a bit (and hopefully catch up on reading and crochet).  Elliott can't really go out in the sun and I can't get in the pool, so he and I will spend quality time indoors.  I am about a quarter of the way done with his blanket, so I hope to get that finished before the fall.  Crocheted blankets, especially one done with granny squares, are so cozy and will be perfect to cuddle in on chilly fall walks.  I also have a bootie to finish and some other small items on the back burner.  My reading list is also calling me, and while I get a lot of reading done during feedings (sometimes I read out loud to him, but mostly he closes his eyes anyway), I will love having nice nooks to read in.

Thanks for the supportive / helpful / lovely comments.  Motherhood is so much easier when you know other people are experienced or experiencing it with you.

- J & M.